some poor, terrified looking sailor clutching the ship’s wheel
for dear life as it spins him around and around. Behind him
the sea yaws crazily beyond the broken deck rail.
With a rough hitch my boat navigates
sharply to the right. Another dark corridor. At the end, dimly,
I see a lot of broken boards, seaweed and mud. Ummm…is there
something behind there? I can’t tell for sure, but…up flies
something nasty and frightening! Way up! This thing is looming
over me and I am not pleased. What is it? Hard to tell for sure.
Lots of tentacles, sort of like an octopus, sprouting from a
body that looks to be made of red coral. That head! Something
from a nightmare! Bulbous, with red eyes full of hate and a
huge gaping mouth filled with jagged teeth!
Left, away from the terrible thing
that almost made me pee my shorts. I seem to be underwater.
Very weird. The walls are blue, and there are fish swimming
on them. Above me too. Well, the skeletons of fish to be precise.
The sound of rushing water is all around. To the left, in a
pit, is a treasure chest with some antique coins strewn about.
Behind this, a huge skull, water pouring from the eye sockets
into a pool. Or is that stuff blood? To the right, my boat moves
up a slight incline and suddenly there are flashing lights all
around me! The walls are made of mirrors and my own surprised
image (and there is my dad, laughing again) flashes back at
me seemingly hundreds of times! I curve through here, dazed
and dazzled, and all of a sudden there are no more flashing
lights and mirrors but in front of me are two skeletons in a
rowboat pulling an equally skeletal fish from the water at the
end of their line. Beyond them in the distance I can see an
old lighthouse, its beacon dark now. As I sail to the right,
past the fishermen, I am absolutely horrified to see a ten foot
rat reared on its hind legs amid some cargo crates, pawing the
air and baring its red fangs! How long have I been lost in this
madness? A few hours? A few days? Now, of course, the rat is
starting to pounce toward me…
My boat continues its right turn
and I get past the thing before it lands on top of me, and…WHOA!
HEY! Is that the outside I see through those doors ahead? Is
that fresh air from the sane world I feel? Yes! I did it! I…
With a weird sound a waterfall appears just a few feet ahead!
A wall of water between me and the outside! Rotten, stale seawater
with god knows what in it and I am going to go right through
it ohgodohgodoh… Before I can close my eyes, it stops! Just
vanishes! Although a few shuddery drops from the ghastly upper
recesses of this hellish ship fall onto me as my boat sails
through the final set of doors to freedom, I have made it! I
have done it! I have seen it all and I can tell about it! The
feeling is such pure triumph that it really, really is making
me wonder what my dad is finding so funny.
at top: Examples of Bill Tracy catalog photos showing
figures that were
typically supplied by his studio for use in Pirates Cove
and Ghost Ship dark rides and funhouses.
at bottom: Tracy's sketches of figures and scenes to be
fabricated for the
Kennywood Ghost Ship as described in Ned Johnstone's text.