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West Seattle Memories Part 4: Luna Park
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This file contains memories of West Seattle's Luna Park taken from oral history interviews conducted in 1999 by the Southwest Seattle Historical Society. Luna Park, Seattle's "Coney Island of the West," enticed visitors with thrilling rides, garish amusements, and the "longest bar on the bay" for only six years, from 1907-1913. George Shephard describes some of the rides and Carroll Mage recalls observing the Luna Park Fire of 1930 (the natatorium was still in use). Carroll Mage was interviewed by Lois Watkins and George Shephard was interviewed by JonLee Joseph.
Luna Park Memories: George Shephard
"I don't ever recall dancing down at Luna Park but we swam in the swimming pool many times. As a matter of fact, I don't recall there even being a dance hall down there. There probably was, but I don't do much dancing. They had a big figure eight, I believe they called it, where they hauled those little cars on tracks. You'd get in this little car with four wheels and they'd pull you up the hill up high, maybe a hundred feet. Then they'd turn the car loose and it'd go around this figure eight and make several loops before it came to the bottom. That was considered quite a deal.
"Then they had another thing that they called the Canals of Venice. They had a little boat and you'd get in the thing and you'd sit in this boat and go through this little canal. You would go in and they'd draw the boat through and make its different circles. There were different scenes of Venice painted on the walls.
"Our biggest experience was to go on the merry-go-round. At the time, I think the merry-go-round was the largest in the world. What we used to do was sit on the outside seat, and as you went past the little arm which was sticking out, you tried to grab a little metal ring out of a holder. Pretty soon, if you got the brass ring or a gold ring, that entitled you to a free ride. We used to go on that merry-go-round a lot. When I went down last year to the Puyallup Fair, darned if I didn't ride on the merry-go-round. I had a lot of fun."
Luna Park Memories: Carroll Mage
"In 1930, I got a job taking early morning weather observations. One morning, I was on the roof of the Federal Building on 1st and Marion, and I looked across the water and I saw a light in the sky ... a flame. I saw big flames shoot up in the sky and I said, 'Oh my gosh, Luna Park is on fire!' I knew where it was by its location. It was the building that housed the dressing rooms and the diving boards that was on fire. This great big wooden framed building, three stories high, was on fire. 'Oh my gosh, Luna Park is on fire.'"
Lois Watkins Interview of Carroll, 1999; JonLee Joseph Interview of George Shephard, 1999. Oral History project conducted by the Southwest Seattle Historical Society. Transcript excerpts of these interviews were used in two Memory Book projects: West Seattle Memories: Alki (Seattle: Southwest Seattle Historical Society, 1999) and Memories of Southwest Seattle Businesses (Seattle: Southwest Seattle Historical Society, 1999); Excerpts are also available on a video produced by Valerie Vazza, BJ Bullert, and Sadis and Vaughn. All can be seen at the Log House Museum, 3003 61st Avenue SW, Seattle, WA 98116. See Log House Museum in HistoryLink Museum Library, (www.historylink.org).
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