Chuck Berry at Great Adventure

From friend Jim Ashworth:

With the sad news of yet another Rock and Roll legend gone, I felt compelled to post this: one of my fondest memories:

When I left Arlington in 1974 to work at Great Adventure Amusement Park in Jackson, NJ, the park had a huge 10,000+ seat arena (Cleverly named “The Great Arena!) used for shows like chariot races, circus acts, stagecoach holdups, etc. Neat, but once you saw it, you saw it.

The Jersey shore was full of vacationers every summer with not a lot to do at night but visit the piers and boardwalks on the shore. Again, neat, but not something to do again and again.

We decided we would use the arena for concerts and have “Date Night” and offer a concert and a 1/2 price ticket after 5:00. (The same successful promotion we had invented at Six Flags)
One of the first acts we booked was Chuck Berry. Back in those days (and still today), most acts traveled in buses or limos with large entourages. Not Chuck! He lived in St. Louis and when he had a gig, he would book a commercial flight and schlepp (A Jersey term) through the airport with his guitar and rent a car to get to the gig.

When we booked him at GA, the response was nuts. Not only did it empty the shore, by 3:00 we had the NJ Turnpike stacked up all the way back to Newark (GA was in the middle of the state) We were thrilled except for no Chuck!! This was in 1974, before widespread use of cell phones as hard as that is to believe. The NJ highway patrol was raising hell with us so we sent one of our operation guys, Doug Deel on his motorcycle, to go find Chuck! He rode up and down the grass median on the Turnpike and unbelievably found him. He got him to pull off the Turnpike onto the median and then found a trooper who gave Chuck an escort (with sirens and lights) to the park. I still to this day don’t know how Doug found him or convinced a NJ Trooper to give him an escort. I remember Doug saying he told the Trooper who was about to arrest him:”If you want to clear the damn turnpike, get your ass in your car and get Chuck to the concert; and go lights and sirens!”

I was in the backstage area when Chuck and the trooper pulled in. When Chuck got out of the car with his well traveled guitar case, he looked at all of us, thanked the trooper, said hi to the backup musicians we had hired and gave them the sheet music for the night’s playlist.

I said to him “Glad we managed to get you here, great to have you.” He looked around and said “Man, this place is a bitch to find” Next time you guys are gonna have to come get me!”
Chuck Berry – only one!!!!

We did send a limo for him the next time we booked him. His comment on arriving:”Damn man, a Chevy would’ve Been fine”.

Again, only one!!!

Thanks for this wonderful memory, Jim.


Worlds Fair 1992

Jumping around a bit here.  Just came on the Expo ’92 drawings.  Bob and Rich did a great job on this one beginning the project in 1987.

I loved the trip to Seville, 1988, even though I had to sit on stones in an outdoor theater that dated back to the 1600’s and watch a bullfight on a terribly hot day.  I was 6 months pregnant with James Randall.  The matador’s assistants (?) stabbed that poor bull so many times before the fearless matador stepped and delivered the final blow.  I’ll always be sorry I didn’t climb down the stone steps and stand between him and the poor bull making Mr. Fancy Pants choose.

One of our clients spoke like Silvestor the cartoon cat.  Bob was a fabulous mimic and after a few drinks at dinner Bob was Silvestor.  Bill Dawson was with us playing Bob’s straight man.  We all laughed so hard no one thought to make Bob stop in case he got caught.  Like most of our clients, these guys loved humor and would have retaliated mimicking Bob talking Texan.

After yet another night of dinner and us in front row seats watching flamingo dancers for hours Ira West decided we needed a walk.  Took us 2 hours to go about 6 blocks with Ira choosing every wrong turn.  I complained the whole time with Ira repeating, “We’re just around the corner.”  Yes, Dear Ira, we always are.


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Six Flags Over Texas Mexican Hat Ride

OK, this guy scared me then and now.  And I wasn’t a big fan of the Mexican Hat Ride perhaps because I threw up after my first ride.  But I did love how it was themed.  Is there a manufacturer who still makes this ride?  If so I’m going to talk to Rich about adding it to one of the designs he’s working on now.  I know Rich is the expert designer and I don’t interfere, but he’s great about listening to my crazy ideas as are our wonderful clients.  Wish I had a picture of the Trabant (the Mexican Hat ride).  If anyone does, please send it.


1965 Six Flags Over Texas

Found five pictures of 1965 Six Flags Over Texas on 11 x 14 cardboard.  One is signed:  To Juarez from John A. Gavia 1961.  Juarez Robert Minick was Bob’s Dad.  John was Mr. Minick’s protegee and a wonderful sign painter, also.  Mr. Minick and John ran the Paint/Sign Shop and produced millions of signs for Six Flags.  I remember watching them paint the signs free form by hand. I’m sure so many were thrown away not appreciating the art.  Wish I’d been a dumpster diver.

Anyone recognize the couple in the car?  I’m sure a publicity shoot.  Where are they now?  And where are those wonderful cars?  So great Bob kept  wonderful memories from his Dad, too.

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Doc Snooker’s

1973 – Bob designs, opens and runs Doc Snooker’s Magnificent Main Street Emporium at Six Flags Over Texas.  Fabulous. Some mechanical games and many games designed by Bob and then hand crafted.  The Tic Tac Toe, Cannery, Ring Toss, Bushel Basket, etc.  He even designed the game operator’s uniforms.  A success from opening day.  Seems like a slam dunk now, but then it was quite a big deal to put games in an amusement park.  Bob was innovative and creative always.  Thanks Rich Poling for continuing Bob’s legacy and mentoring his son.




Ice Cool Amusement Park

Rich and I lunched with the Fabulous Art Richardson, owner of the amusement park in Ghana.  Art, a long time friend and client is in town to meet about further work on his park.  We are always excited to work with long time clients.  They tell us their vision and we carry through.  It’s all about trust.



Funland USA

No one loved carousels, their histories and fantasy more than Bob Minick.  Here’s an interview that ended up in a great book, Funland USA, the complete guide to 100 major amusement and theme parks all across the country by Tim Onosko,  published in 1978.  Mr. Onosoka was also force in this industry.  Stay tuned, there are many interviews of Bob to come.  Mr. Onosoko started the “Handsome Texas Giant” moniker.  In another park in a land far away Bill Ott changed the moniker to “Gentle Blue Eyed Texas Giant” and that one stuck forever.  Here’s to my favorite forever Gentle Blue Eyed Texas Giant.


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