The saga of bringing the carousels to the Fair as told by
Edward Dunne.

Mr. Dunne was intimate with the people, the plans, the process and the carousel during its transition from two Coney Island carousels  to Carousel Park at the  New York Worlds fair in Flushing Meadows.  This is his story in his words.


Greer Marechal (age 40) and I (age 19), and incidentally B.W. who was carousel Park's manager, all lived in Greenwich Village (New York City) in the early 60's. Greer was a patent attorney. His brother, Kelsey Marechal, owned the Limelight Restaurant on 7th Avenue and it was there that he met Marshall Bates, a sort of odd fellow who I think was a friend of John Rogers. Bates was interested in getting money to get the Carousel moved from Coney Island to the Fair. By the time this started the Fair was pretty much underway--in planning anyway. There had been an original deal I think with S&H Green stamps to sponsor the carousel, but it had fallen through by the time we got involved. Moses had an idea about the Amusement area based on his negative memories of the same area in the '39 Fair--too tawdry, honky-tonk, etc. So he wanted a "family" fun place. Needless to say this disappointed many of the investors in the amusement area because they wanted nightlife and the money it creates. Also, for some odd reason the specific geography of the amusement area was not originally planned as exclusive to amusements. Thus it was that the site the carousel eventually landed on was originally the "American Indian Pavilion", which had already gone bankrupt but which had laid pilings for their building's foundation (the pilings were necessary because the whole area was landfill from '39). The carousel was placed on those pilings, reducing our cost considerably.


Early Feltman

                           Early Stubman

If my memory is correct, the Feltman had already been dismantled and in a warehouse.  The Stubman may have been inoperative but still standing. The deal that Rogers presented to us was that we would buy both (which I believed he had on option on, but did not own outright), use the horses from the Feltman (and maybe the organ) and then use the Stubman's works and platform.  I'm a bit vague on whom all the principals of American Cavalcade Corp were, but I think it was Greer, John, Kelsey, and Greer's accountant Walter Neville. It was immediately clear, however, that selling 15 cent rides on a carousel would never recoup the investment of moving Feltman's to the site. Also, the Feltman works were pretty much shot. However, the horses were magnificent--although in pretty rough shape. Hence the solution to put the Feltman horses on the Stubman works.  I believe the chariots were from the Stubman. The horses were restored by a truly wonderful artist who lovingly painted them in a warehouse. You can notice however, that they did not have carved tails. Instead they were supposed to have real horse's tails, so we ordered tails but the horses arrived at the fair without them. When the tails finally arrived a few weeks after the start of the operation, we discovered that they had not been cured! They were rotting, and reeked! We spread them on the roof of the bandshell in the hopes of letting them completely dry out. The carousel operated without tails for the complete first season. Also, the horses' internal lights were not restored since the Stubman platform did not have the requisite electrical connections.  


The Feltman pavilion at Coney Island

                 The Stubman pavilin at Coney Island


The Carousel Park idea arose in order to address the question of finances. Moses allowed us to build the "boardwalk" with its concession stands, even though there was a Brass Rail concession directly across the street, which had some sort of "no competition" clause in its lease. This however, didn't bother Moses who genuinely wanted the Carousel there and could understand the impossibility of financing it on 15 cent rides. So the boardwalk was born and that was what got Vinny Mastro involved. He had some sort of pavilion on the main fairgrounds and wanted a presence in the amusement area (but had been stopped by Brass Rail's exclusive lease). Also, he had invented a device which speeded up the rising of pizza dough--oddly called a "retarder"--which he was eager to showcase. His primary business was in selling restaurant equipment. (He went on to found Verrazano College, somewhere upstate NY, which I believe was eventually bought by Colgate College.) American Carousel Corporation was the owner of the boardwalk and leased the stands to different concessionaires. It also ran a few itself (I think the hamburger stand was theirs). American Carousel Corporation, I believe, leased the carousel from American Cavalcade Corp, which continued to own it as well as the remains of the Stubman. Principals of American Carousel were Greer, Kelsey, Mastro, and again perhaps Walter Neville. Most of the money was Greer's, but Kelsey also put up some capital.  Mastro's investment I believe was limited to his own concession stand. 


I don't believe that anybody except Rogers had any idea of what they were getting into with the two carousels. Greer and Kelsey saw it as an opportunity to "get in on" the Fair, which had not yet begun to generate the many stories about bankruptcy that would be its future legacy. Moses’ supposed recollection of the carousel was most probably hype. I think he visited it once in the two years, and that was to inaugurate a ramp built at right angles to the overpass over the LIE to allow fairgoers to visit Carousel Park without passing the Brass Rail visible. This was done some time in late July of the first season. 

Perpendicular ramp present in the center of the photo leadng from the bridhe to carousel Park (1965)


(The Organ) was a very complicated story as I recall. The Feltman one did not work but was gorgeous.  The Stubman one worked but was pedestrian looking. I believe we put both in the new hybrid and consequently came into possession of about 40 rolls of carousel music delivered in a crumbling cardboard carton. Many of these were torn, and some completely unplayable. We had someone working on keeping the organ going practically night and day. The toys on the Feltman might have worked initially, but I'm pretty sure that we did not keep them in operation.  And we very seriously considered tape recordings. I believe the impetus behind recording the carousel was the potential of playing tapes without having to keep the organ going.   I'm not sure who did the restoration on the works of the organ but I remember that he had been familiar with it from Coney Island.  Of the 50 or so rolls only about 10-12 were in playable condition, and some of those had been pieced together with masking tape so that the songs were pretty jumpy. Eventually we played probably only 5 or 6, which the customers didn't seem to notice but which drove the employees crazy since they had to listen to them for shifts up to 12 hours at a time! The recording was done at night after the Fair closed in order to minimize ambient noise (especially the traffic on the LIE but also the crowds at the part and other amusement rides). Many of the recorded songs were patched together in post production since the rolls would fall apart as they were being played. We did look into buying new rolls of music but it was prohibitively expensive, having to be done by hand because of the odd number of stops, etc. I think the estimate was over $1000 per roll, which since everyone was now losing (should I say hemorrhaging?) money, was out of the question.  I still have a least one of the recordings.


Moses knew almost from the first that he wanted the carousel to remain at Flushing Meadow so we pretty much had an assured buyer for the Feldman/Stubman hybrid from the beginning; although we did list it for sale because the city was slow in approving it. Where they would put it was another matter but eventually he persuaded the city to buy it and it was moved to it's current location across the LIE. The remains of the Stubman horses (which were also from Ilion's shop although not at all as beautiful, remained in a warehouse until after Greer's death in 1968. I believe the estate then sold them for somewhere about $100 apiece!. Most of the pictures on the cover of the album are of stubman horses in the warehouse which accounts for their "artsy" poses and dim lighting.

The carousel in the 1980's

Example of horses that didn't make it to the final carpusel, they were sold through a catalog in the 1970's


The whole experience was pretty much a nightmare. Everyone lost lots of money almost immediately. Moses had caved into the building unions to avoid a strike on opening day. Their contract required them to work only at night after the Fair was closed (after midnight for the Amusement Area)--thus everything was double time. To change one light bulb on the carousel cost $80. You can see how many incandescent bulbs we had to deal with. The whole thing got darker and darker over the summer until it was practically under 1/3 of it's intended illumination. The brass ring device had been installed, but it was never used as this was considered too dangerous by the insurance company. We were able to keep the organ worker on contract because the union couldn't handle the job. But round and round it turned for almost the complete first season and all of the second. I loved the horses, especially the ones with the portrait of Illions and his wife carved into the saddle. I think, however, the lion was the most sought after mount. I have only seen the carousel once since, about 4 years ago, and was not impressed with how it looks. CP's  restoration, as you can see from the pictures, was really magnificent. Regrettably I have lost the pictures I took of the horses once they were completely refurbished (can't remember the name of the artist who did this, but he was a genius, even replacing several of the "jewels" in the saddles and bridles. I will ask B.W., who is one of the few people directly involved who is still living). 

Carousel Park 1964 Carousel Park 1965
Many thanks to Mr. Edward Dunne for taking the time to put his story into written word.  We will update the story when possible.  
ALL pictures and content Copyright 2011 (c) M. Silverstein and those original owners who donated material for this website.