“It will always be there,” she said. I kept telling myself to calm down as we slowly entered the midway in June of 1983. Lake Compounce looked desolate, almost deserted like a nightmare I once had. Approaching my favorite childhood ride became my most disbelieving moment. “It will always be there,” and a creepy laughter from a long time ago hauntingly reached out in an echo out of the empty coffin of a building standing before me. The now white bat seemed to look down at me and smile. It won. Taking some final pictures and studying this amazing antique testament to a time long lost now, I have learned to enjoy life and remember all the people who helped me smile! In the end, Mom, you were right.
 Below: Stretch Norton and Wild Cat coaster - 1975
Photo: Richard Norton
Howard Behrendt
Below: Miriam Gurgigno (left) and sisters enjoying Lake
Compounce in 1938. Laff In The Dark can be seen under
construction in the background.
             Photo: Peter Gurgigno
Memorial Day weekend - 1976.
Charlie Burnham, age 4.
Charlie Burnham and Peter Rasulo
July, 1999
The early Lake Compounce Laff In The Dark frontage originally painted by Peter Rasulo was recently re-created by Charlie Burnham at Wild Bill's Nostalgia, Middletown CT.
Left to right: Mike Dudko, Carrie Norton, Charlie Burnham and Stretch Norton

Time to time, I paint down there and wonder if, in April of 1985 they really did demolish the structure because, when alone, I almost smell the ozone and hear the distant echoes of laughter and my family being together. But, there are water slides on top of the grounds now and the Skooter pavilion is gone. However, where does the sinister laughter of unfinished business come from? I think that ole’ bat continues to enjoy the last “Laff” at Lake Compounce.
I would like to thank the entire Norton family, Cliff Johnson, “Julie” Larese, Howard Behrendt, Mike Dudko, “Wild” Bill Ziegler, Ed Denehy, Peter Gurgigno, the Swenton family, Bobby Bechard, my grandfather Frank Baixauli, for his love and humorous memories, my antagonist uncles Angelo and Henry, my mother Vinny for being protective, my father Bob for adding so much extra fun, Laff In The Dark Editor George LaCross, and lastly but not least, Peter Rasulo my friend and artistic mentor, may you rest in peace my friend! Without all of you this project and these precious memories would never have been possible! Thanks for “Laffing” with me. Oh, and thank you too, Moo-Moo. (You can never be too careful.)
- Charlie Burnham    
Chuck Burnham is a show painter and decorative artist in New Britain, Connecticut, specializing in traditional
hand-painted scenery, nostalgic restoration, facades, and signage for dark rides, major attractions and kiddie themes.
He can be reached at Aneciakhi@aol.com

©2004 Laff In The Dark