- Historic Sites
August/September 2005 | Volume 56, Issue 4
And suddenly they were snarling and yapping a hundred yards away, drawn off in an undeserved miracle to the spot where Mark had unshipped some beer shortly after we’d come in. A week or two passed, there was another whistle, and when we finally hazarded a glance over the counter, we saw nothing moving in the pale chaos of dead rides. We were up; we were running; we were at the fence. It dipped beneath us as obstacles do in your best dreams, and I left Steeplechase there in the moonlight, the park already halfway between being a real place and a place one can visit only in dreams, as I have done on and off ever since.
A year later Steeplechase was gone. But I had emerged from my nocturnal foray with a minute flake of it, a Steeplechase Man face painted on a piece of Masonite, about the size of a pie pan, that I’d pried off a column while Mark was saving our lives by peeing in the corner, and had somehow kept hold of during our retreat. It grimaced down at me from the walls of various dorm rooms and apartments; and then, like Steeplechase, it disappeared.
I’ve been a loyal visitor to Coney, regularly bringing my daughter to shriek on the excellent kiddie rides in Deno’s Wonder Wheel Park, where the owners, the Vourderis brothers, are a near-constant, vigilant, and unfailingly amiable presence. But every season the seas of time carried off yet another terra-cotta prodigy from the great days. So it is deeply gratifying to be able to ratify Nathan Ward’s thesis: Brooklyn is coming back, and with it, finally, Coney !
For years all the island had to sustain it was its history. Now that history is nourishing a revival I hope will again make Coney one of the great places of the earth.