You CAN Go Home Again!

 OK, I am about to get a bit dramatic here, so please forgive me in advance. This post is actually about Kennywood, but I wanted to set the tone prior to beginning my post. There IS actually a method to my madness, so hang in there and read on.

When I attended Serra Catholic High School in McKeesport, part of our required reading was a novel by Thomas Wolfe. Wolfe wrote the novel during the 1930’s. He died in 1938 after being diagnosed with diagnosed with miliary tuberculosis of the brain, just 18 days before his 38th birthday.  It’s somewhat ironic that Thomas Wolfe’s, You Can’t Go Home Again, one of his most celebrated novels, was published posthumously in 1940. Truly, the author’s window of opportunity to relive his childhood memories had passed him by. Of course, the intent of the title and the point Wolfe made in his writing was that “You can’t go back home to your family, back home to your childhood … back home to a young man’s dreams of glory and of fame … back home to places in the country, back home to the old forms and systems of things which once seemed everlasting but which are changing all the time — back home to the escapes of Time and Memory.”

Since I began this blog last year I have had over 600 comments from all of you. In many of the comments, it is obvious that you are aware of the extensive deterioration that has taken place in the City of Duquesne. Personally, so many of the places and people that were part of my childhood either no longer exist or have been abused beyond recognition.

  • Holy Name School – GONE
  • North First Street – GONE
  • My Dad’s business – GONE
  • The Library – GONE
  • My childhood home – UNRECOGNIZABLE
  • My Grandfather’s Hamilton Ave. home – GONE

One would find it very difficult to feel “at home” in most of Duquesne. Although I love going to mass at my childhood church, it too has evolved both physically and by name as well. Three parishes have merged to become “Christ the Light of the World” Parish. Holy Name Church, St. Hedwig Church, and St. Joseph Church are now pastored by Reverend Dennis J. Colamarino, affectionately known as Fr. Dennis. The exterior structure of Holy Name is basically unchanged from the time I attended, but the interior has been updated in keeping with the evolution of the liturgy.

I need to put in a plug here for Fr. Dennis. In spite of the changes that have taken place around our beloved City of Duquesne, attending mass at Christ the Light of the World, when celebrated by Fr. Dennis, is like comfort food for the soul. I have yet to leave after one of his masses that I wasn’t blown away by the feeling of community, spirituality and love that his celebration creates. Not only is Fr. Dennis one of the most charismatic disciples of the word when he speaks, but the musical program he has created is unparalleled in my opinion. Debbie Walters, Ray Judy and Greg Lesko are the core of the Music Ministry and NEVER fail to exceed my expectations when attending mass on my visits. I only wish that I have an opportunity to attend Fr. Dennis’ Christmas Eve celebration on of these years. I am sure it is remarkable.

As much as I feel “at home” during mass at Holy Name, Kennywood evokes that same feeling of being home. There are certain sounds, sights and tastes that immediately bring me home again. Unlike Thomas Wolfe’s conjecture that “You Can’t Go Home Again,” I do feel like I’ve traveled back in time on certain attractions at Kennywood and even eating certain foods as well. As much as Holy Name is comfort food for the soul, Kennywood is comfort food for the heart.

Leading the way toward that sense of “home” and “belonging” has to be the coasters that Kennywood has been famous for throughout the years. The Racer, The Jack Rabbit and The Thunderbolt (formally The Pippen) are the catalysts for immediately evoking memories of days gone by. When you enter the Racer, you can’t help by having the feeling of indecision as you head to either the blue or the red cars. Will this be the winning train??? Even on the approach to the loading platform. It is hard to resist sitting on the bars that separate the approach lines. How thrilling is the roar of the trains as they pass overhead while you are waiting in line. At the top of the first hill, nothing says “welcome home” like the warmth of the sign that warns “DON’T STAND UP,” accented by a pair of matching skull and crossbones! Ahhh… good times. There has always been an urban legend that the train that loses the previous race will be the winning train on the next race. I never had much faith in that notion. Perhaps there is some operator first hand testimony out there that can validate or dispute that legend. Please, if you know, leave a comment!

For you trivia/history buffs out there, according to Wikipedia:

“The Racer is a wooden roller coaster located at Kennywood Park, in West Mifflin, Pennsylvania, near Pittsburgh. It is a racing, moebius loop coaster; one of only three in the world.

The first Kennywood Racer was first built in 1910 as a side friction roller coaster by Ingersoll Brothers. It was a twin-track racing coaster designed by John Miller that cost nearly $50,000. When it was built, it was the largest racing coaster in the world. The original Racer had two trains racing side by side on two separate tracks, but it didn’t have wheels under the track, so dips and curves were gentle. The trains consisted of three-seat cars with a seating capacity of 18. The Racer was torn down in 1926 and replaced by Kiddieland.

The second Racer was designed by John Miller in 1927 and built by Charlie Mach. Because they liked John Miller’s previous work, Kennywood hired him to build a new twin or racing coaster. Brady McSwigan wanted a “snappy ride that wasn’t too much for mothers and children to ride.” It cost more than $75,000, because Miller didn’t use the topography as effectively as he had with the Jack Rabbit and Pippin. The highest hill of the Racer was built in a ravine and much more lumber was required. The moebius layout is caused by the setup of the station, where the trains turn away from each other upon dispatch. When the trains meet again at the lift hill, they are already on opposite sides than they were in the station, and the tracks do not split for the remainder of the ride. The new Racer’s trains were locked onto the tracks, which permitted banked curves as well as curves on the dips. Andy Vettel took the final hill out of the coaster in 1949. The loading platform’s facade was redesigned in 1946 by Hindenach and in 1960 by architect Bernard Liff of Liff, Justh and Chetlin. The original front was restored in 1990.”

The Jack Rabbit evokes the same feeling of “virtual time travel” for former Duquesne citizens that The Racer does. I remember being more excited about riding the Jack Rabbit that I was the Racer. I never got over the thrill of the double dip, especially if I was able to capture the coveted “last seat” on the train. It doesn’t matter if you haven’t ridden the coaster since you were in your teens, you will still have the same wobbly legs when you get out of your train’s car after finishing a spin around the track. If you haven’t ever tried the last seat, put it on your “bucket list” of things to do before you die! Who needs to skydive when you have The Jack Rabbit?

Again, I defer to Wikipedia to give you the nitty-gritty facts about the Jack Rabbit:

Designed and built by John Miller in 1920, it is one of the oldest still-running roller coasters in the world, opening on June 18, 1920. The ride’s three trains were manufactured by Edward Vettel, Sr. in 1951 and contain three cars of six seats each. The aging cars are considered an essential part of the ride’s nostalgic experience but also lead to some young children being disallowed to enter the ride (36″ is the minimum), due to the use of only a small lapbar to hold in riders. A popular early feature of the ride was a tunnel which covered the turnaround section after the first drop, but this was removed in 1947 when the new cars were ordered. In 1991, the tunnel was restored, even though it’s a bit shorter than it had been.

 The Jack Rabbit was built shortly after Miller patented a new track design in 1920 (which all wooden coasters built since have used). This design involved the use of wheels both under and over the track, which allowed Miller to create the then enormous 70-foot (21 m) drop that is the attraction’s largest. It is most well-known for its double dip following the lift hill. The double dip produces strong airtime that makes the rider feel that they will be thrown from the seat (they are perfectly safe), and a feeling that the train leaves the track (it rises up but the up-stop wheels keep it firmly on the rails).

 According to Rick Sebak, producer of Pittsburgh history programs for WQED, the attraction was designed so that each train’s last seat would provide the strongest airtime, and therefore the most desired ride.

 It is an ACE Coaster Classic Coaster and was designated as an “ACE Roller Coaster Landmark” by American Coaster Enthusiasts in June, 2010.

That leaves the last remaining coaster from our childhood,

“The Thunderbolt is a wooden roller coaster located at Kennywood Park in West Mifflin, Pennsylvania, near Pittsburgh. Originally built by John A. Miller in 1924, the ride’s name was Pippin until 1967, when it changed to Thunderbolt beginning with the 1968 season, coinciding with an expansion of the track headed up by Andy Vettel. The all-wood coaster follows the surrounding terrain with a track length of 2,887 feet (880 m). Its maximum height is 70 feet (21 m), but because of the track layout and the natural ravines on which the ride is set, the maximum drop is 95 feet (29 m). Reaching a maximum speed of 55 mph (88.5 km/h), the ride takes 90 seconds to complete its circuit.

 An interesting feature of the Thunderbolt is that after departing from the station, the train does not immediately go up the lift hill as on most other coasters. Instead, the lift hill is in the middle of the ride.

Most of the ride was left intact except for the double dip, station, and station turn-around to the first hill which were removed in 1968 for the addition of the new front helix hills necessary for the transformation of The Pippin into the new Thunderbolt roller coaster. The four drops down a ravine were incorporated in the Andy Vettel-designed Thunderbolt coaster. The Thunderbolt was rated the #1 roller coaster by the New York Times in 1974, and it still is the most popular ride at Kennywood. The Thunderbolt still uses the 1958 Pippin trains manufactured by the National Amusement Device Company, known as “Century Flyers.”

  • In 1924, the Pippin roller coaster was built.
  • In 1958, the Pippin’s open-front trains were replaced with Century Flyer trains made by the National Amusement Device company. These are the trains used on the Thunderbolt today.
  • In 1968, the Pippin roller coaster was rebuilt and the Thunderbolt was born
  • In 1969, a small hill was removed from the inner helix of the front of the coaster near the loading station.
  • In 1991, the tunnel located at the end of the first dip was removed, and allowed Steel Phantom (now Phantom’s Revenge) to go through Thunderbolt.
  • In 1998, for Kennywood’s 100th anniversary, the headlights on the front of the trains were restored when the trains themselves were refurbished.
  • In 1999, there was an accident on the Thunderbolt when the operators failed to brake the train coming into the station and it collided with the train being loaded. Thirty people were injured in the crash. [1] After the accident the headlights on the cars were removed partially because the electrical system did not hold up well to the vibration of the cars.
  • In 2001, installation of Phantom’s Revenge resulted in the ride being closed for a few weeks so that the new ride could be built through the structure near the Turtle’s Ride. Phantom’s Revenge still however retains Steel Phantom’s drop through the Thunderbolt. The ride was still being rebuilt even a few weeks after the new ride opened.
  • In 2006, the trains could be seen sporting the famous T-bolt logo on the fronts of the cars where the center headlights formerly were.
  • In 2008, Thunderbolt celebrated its 40th anniversary.”

Just like Mom’s meatloaf or stuffed cabbage, many of Kennywood’s delicacies fall into the category of “comfort food” for most of us. Who could ever forget watching as French fries marched along the metallic conveyer belt at the concession stand located across from the Jack Rabbit. I remember going for a drink of water from the water fountain next to the big glass window that looked into the French fry area. I was always mesmerized as I watched and of course, always had to buy a paper cone full. That same stand also featured some of the most entertaining treats as well. At the opposite end of the unit stood the cotton candy machine. Front and forward in all its glory, it too would mesmerize the kids to see how ordinary sugar would turn into fluffy clouds of pink goodness. About dead center was the popcorn machine which would always beckon me with that delicious aroma, PLUS you could always stand and watch it spew out mountain after mountain of freshly popped corn. Mom, hold the meatloaf…. I’m in hog heaven right now!

One rather curious treat was available at only a few stands. It was supposedly very very good, but I never liked it. Being the pickey eater that I was, I hated nuts. I never met a nut that I liked. To me, they were/are gross, reminding me of chewing on something that was the consistency of a 2×4 piece of lumber. The item I’m talking about was an ice cream treat. It was comprised of a slab of vanilla ice cream that was stuck into a rectangular cone. It was then dipped in to a vat of chocolate, and then hand dipped into a container of chopped nuts. The finale was a red maraschino on top. I remember every date that I took to the park HAD to have one of these cones. Seems the evening wouldn’t be complete without it.

The one stop we were sure to make every visit to Kennywood would be the “sit down” restaurant that was located near the Park’s administration building. My Aunt Peggy and Aunt Fran were both waitresses there. It was always such a treat to sit in the restaurant instead of the cafeteria next door. I recall all of the bright windows that surrounded the room, the high white ceilings, the large ceiling fans that kept the air moving and just the general din of dishes clanking and waitresses bustling from table to table. They would always keep your water glass full, pouring from sea green Fiestaware pitchers. Due to the humidity I always remember that the pitchers would sweat with condensation. However, the Duquesne “Artesian well” water was always so cold and refreshing. I don’t remember much about the menu except the lemon meringue pie that we usually got each time we ate there.

In closing, I urge you to experience the thrill of Kennywood once again. Yes, certain things have changed, shifted or disappeared. However, if you truly want to “Go Home Again,” Kennywood is waiting to welcome you back home!

This entry was posted in Church and School - Holy Name, Kennywood. Bookmark the permalink.

37 Responses to You CAN Go Home Again!

  1. Bob Chermonitz says:

    Jack I know we never met but somehow you jog my memory! The OLD Kennywood bridge was built of wood for the Pittsburgh Railway Co. It was meant to carry streetcars from McKeesport to Pittsburgh. The streetcars were removed around 1959 if I’m correct. We lived in the brown brick apartments at the Duquesne side of the bridge across from Schreiber Chevy, next to the Dairy Queen. The older boys in the neighborhood would take us under the bridge and wait for the next streetcar to cross. Anyone who ran (from the loud noise and/or shaking of the bridge) was considered a “sissy” and cast out of the group! Life was tough on an eight year old back then and God knows I wanted to run!! They tore the old bridge down and eventually built the new one dedicated by, then, Gov. Lawrence in 1961 or 1962. I had a picture of it. When he cut the ribbon I was the first across in the bicycle race that ensued. 🙂

  2. Al Kansa says:

    Great story on the roller coasters at Kennywood. What a great time we had at the Catholic school picnics! My younger brother and I even walked to Kennywood a few times from our home in McKeesport. It was always worth it!

  3. Bobby says:

    I’m so glad to see what was said about Father Dennis. I am born & raised in Philadelphia, but I have a few friends in McKeesport that I visit. I met Father Dennis while at Mass at Christ Light of The World late last year. I’ve attended Philadelphia Catholic Schools from K-12 & attend Mass as often as possible, & I have never met anyone who’s as enthusiastic about their Parish & puts so much time & love into their Parish, than Father Dennis. I’ve met a true, lifelong friend in Father Dennis & he deserves every bit of praise that he or the Parish receives.

  4. Barbara Ruhe says:

    It was so nice to see Fr. Dennis’ picture. We met him when he officiated at a family funeral. Fantastic guy. Jim, he vacations here in Rehoboth. We invited him over for lunch a few years ago and had a delightful time. Maybe we can get together when he is in our area this year….along with the lady who owned the “mansion” in Duquesne Place who’s name escapes me. This old brain is not what it used to be. Contact me through e-mail and perhaps we can arrange something.
    Great Kennywood memories. I met my husband at the Kennywood pool. Now that is really dating myself.

  5. Evelyn (Csokuly) Sistrunk says:

    Ahhhh….Kennywood! Our family was not one for extracurricular activities when I was a child. Money was always an issue and even the cost of the (what was it -25 cents each)tickets seemed insurmountable for my mother to purchase at school picnic time. Thank God we got a strip or two in our final report card each year! For us the school picnic was an excursion! WE road the bus from Port Vue, transferred to the Duquesne bus, and could hardly wait to see the Kennywood signs as we approached. For me it compared to going to Disneyland!! We were in hog heaven! I remember each year we were each allowed either a cotton candy or an ice cream as a treat for the day. We drank from the public fountains and Mom would only make one trip to the restrooms. (smiling) My older siblings were allowed to roam the park on their own and meet up with us at the Old Mill for our final ride before the day ended. Waiting for the bus, tired as we were was most difficult, and annoying for everyone. We would finally gather ourselves into our seats and were sound asleep before the bus passed the steel mill. Ahhhh….Kennywood

  6. Carol says:

    Wow, just seeing the pictures brings back many memories. I, too, have enjoyed Kennywood for more than 50 years, from my parents taking me as a small child to school picnics, to taking my children and on and on. It was magical. And I remembered the Howdy Doody sign also when at one time I wasn’t tall enough to get on a ride. My favorite food were funnel cakes. I received my first kiss at Kennywood and my first friendship ring. It was so much fun. I loved everything about Kennywood. Thank you for bringing back so many happy memories.

  7. I am going back to Duquesne in August for a wedding. The last 8 trips over the years have been for illness and funerals. February 2009 was the last one….for my mom. As the funeral procession left St. Joseph’s Church, we passed my old house on Seventh Street. The hedges in the back were as high as the house. It broke my heart as I remembered how my mother and father took such pride in their back yard. This will be my first ‘happy’ visit in many years and that visit will definitely include Kennywood Park. I can’t wait!!

  8. Marie Devlin says:

    Duquesne, oh what a place it was back in the Old Steel Days! My Grandmother lived on S. 1st Street catty corner from Joe’s Luncheonette. I still remember staying at her house in the summertime and sleeping in the spare room with the wind up clock. tick tick tick. I still love those clocks. I would sit on the steps of her porch and wait for my Dad to get out of work. He was an electrician in the Duquesne Works My Dad graduated from Duquesne High.

    My Grandmother worked at Finkelstein’s and we went “upstreet” alot. I was baptized in Holy Name Church and my parents were married there. My Grandmother belonged to the VFW. Lots of Fun Holidays at her house……Lots of Memories. Also, my Grandmother worked at Kennywood in the Cafeteria. My Dad did too, when he was very young. When we had our school picnics, I would always go and say Hello to my Gram. I still pass the cafeteria and whisper a prayer for her. God Rest her Soul.. I use to go to the dentist in Duquesne..( Dr. Ruey). Not the Best memories but well, I do remember reading Highlight magazines in his waiting room and listening to the sound of the drill……
    Always I will have fond memories od Duquesne……AND Kennywood. The sights and sounds are very nostalgic. I could never list them all……..

    • Barbara Ruhe says:

      Marie — Who was your grandma? I lived across the street from Joe’s Luncheonette and we always called North First Street “down street”. I remember Finkelsteins. Dr. Ruhe was my husband’s uncle and I well remember the sounds of that drill!!

      • Marie Devlin says:

        My Grandma was Mary Kellar. Sorry I spelled your Husband’s Uncles name wrong. Ruhe ….not Ruhey. So sorry! Her children’s names were Jim, Jean, and Bob. Do you remember her?

  9. Ena says:

    I also grew up in good old Duquesne. Kennywood is a classic the will always remain in the hearts of the Duquesne gang. How could anyone forget the wonderful times we had there. Who could forget the Tunnel of Love, Octopus, or the wonderful Merry-Go-Round. It has been 40 years since I had this wonderful experience at Kennywood… But, I am hear to tell you it still gives me a wonderful feeling every time I think of Kennywood. So many memories that cannot be forgotten. I heard it has changed but not in my mind or heart. Thank you for the pics of this awesome place. I have been to Duquesne and it was sad to see the changes. Thanks again for taking me back to GOOD OLD DUQUESNE!

  10. I took my grandchildren to Kennywood 2 yrs ago. What a thrill it was to share this place that held so many happy memories for me. Of course, they had heard so much about the park from their moms and me they felt right at home. We had a wonderful time with them and their pgh cousins. Even ran into someone we know. Susie Valco Anastas and her family. Great day !!!!!!

  11. tish says:

    any local who has experienced the “feeling” of entering or leaving kennywood thru the tunnel will cherise the memory forever….even now when someone in our family dresses in the same color etc. we say “hey are you going to kennywood?” we were allowed to have one treat before leaving the park…it was so difficult to decide between a candy apple/cotton candy/box of popcorn….and you know you’ve met a hometown friend when you are traveling and say “kennywoods open” and they truly know what you mean!!!

    • Jim says:

      Tish, you are so right. I think we will all keep the Kennywood memories in our hearts. IN OUR HEARTS WE WILL ALWAYS BE MAKING THAT JUMP IN THE TUNNEL TO TOUCH THE CEILING!!

  12. Alice Harris says:

    My parents met on the dance floor at Kennywood after he came back from serving in the Army Air Force WWII. I have pics of my Mom pregnant with me at Kennywood at the Westinghouse Picnic where just about all of her family worked .. so I have been to Kennywood since before I was born
    My Husband worked at Kennywood while in high school and his early college years. My school picnics and all my children’s school picnics are at Kennywood. My Husband’s work (URR) picnic is still every July at Kennywood. I have been to Kennywood many many times. Even though much of the “old” is gone, and I do miss it, I still love Kennywood and the MonValley. Love your articles, too ❤

  13. tom lane says:

    I worked there for 3 summers, 60,61.62. Worked on the Jetstream, which was/is one of those squirting water things that you win prizes at. It was fun, and I did not even mind getting wet (people or other workers like to squirt the attendents) on hot days. I remember one day when I got up at 6 to play 27 holes of golf, got home, walked to Kennywood, worked from 3 to closing, and then walked home! I was one tired puppy. Thought I would never make up Kennedy that night. And Lea, that sounds like a good idea for the 50th.

  14. Bob Chermonitz says:

    In the 50’s my father and grandfather (Doc Green) worked at the Union Railroad car shop under the Kennywood bridge. In the evening dad worked on the Racer and grandpap worked on the Pipin. My grandfather’s sister Aunt Mamie was the head cashier at the time. We always had plenty of tickets for friends and relatives. As a boy of 5 (1956) I was never allowed to cross the boulevard in Duquesne Place, but me and my cousin, Terry Kuchma, decided that going through the Kennywood tunnel, UNDER the boulevard, didn’t violate that rule! Kennywood was free in those days and a kid could spend an entire summer day there provided one of his family didn’t spot him or a family friend tell his folks. One 5 cent refreshment ticket bought a popcicle while outside the park they were 6 cents. At 2 cents each you only had to find 3 empty pop bottles to get 6 cents. Kennywood saved you a penny towards that next popcicle. 🙂

  15. Joe Haver says:

    You did it again. WONDERFUL MEMORIES !!!!!!! thanks again from an OLD Duquesner

    • Claudia Repko Misage says:

      Joe—-what do you mean OLD. If I am correct we graduated the same year from Duquesne—
      1960!!!! Just love this guy Jim althought he seems quite a bit younger—-he has brought
      up quite a few great and wonderful memories. Great seeing your name. Claudia

      • Jim says:

        I graduated 9 years after you in 1969, but I am definitely in your neck of the woods!!

  16. Claudia Repko Misage says:

    Just cannot tell you how very much I enjoy ALL of your posts on Duquesne, and Kennywood. Was there about five year ago and we did ride on just about everything we could. Went with the grandkids and this time I was the one giving out the monies to play the games and eat the ice cream—–No more popcorm in the special Kennywood box. Missed that! Our Holy Trinity Church still lives on in West Mifflin. It looks nothing like the “old” church and you do not hear the people speaking “broken” English anymore, most of our Slovak people are still there only behind the church and up the little hill in a more peaceful and restfull place the beautiful cemetery.
    Again Thnks Jim you are special for doing this!!!!!!!

    • Bob Chermonitz says:

      Claudia, I remember your brothers very well. We used to play together and, most often, in the old spooky church yard. I hope they are well.

      • Claudia Repko Misage says:

        Yes both brothers, Kieran and David are doing fantastic–living in Ohio–around the Cleveland area.
        Are you a related to a VJ? At least that is what we used to call her. Mary Virginia was her real name.
        Do you still live in Duquesne? Great hearing from you.

      • Bob Chermonitz says:

        Small world. VJ Chermonitz is my aunt. Dad’s little sister. I remember you two being friends. Mary is doing well and lives in Bethel Park, Pa. along withe her husband, about a mile from me in South Park. She is retired from US Steel downtown but is always on the go. She still runs circles around me and my wife and we get together as often as we can. Glad to hear your brothers are well! Please extend my best. I can still remember visiting your house to see your brothers. God Bless!

      • Claudia Repko Misage says:

        Bob could you have VJ e-mail me. I am not on face book or anything like that. You guys can reach me at Love to hear from you and her—it’s been al LONG time. Thanks,

  17. Lea Meyer Chbosky says:


    My husband, Fred, and I worked in Kennywood during the very early 1960s. We both worked at the various refreshments stands, but much of my time was at the stand across from the Jackrabbit. Others may remember the cotton candy machine fondly, but for those of us that made the concoction, it was a nightmare. I can remember days when the wind would cause the cotton to separate and blow small pieces toward me. It would literally glue my eyelashes together.
    Still, I love going to the park – not as glitzy as a Disneyworld or Universal, but more rides than I can handle anymore, and the food is one memory after another. We are having our 50th DHS reunion next year — maybe we can incorporate a trip to the park into our weekend plans!

  18. Laurine says:

    Potato Patch fries can’t be beat! And to cool down, they have a concoction that is a slushie with ice cream in it (which I can’t think of the name, darn it – but it sells (sold??) across from the lagoon stage to the right of the “sit down restaurant”). I agree with Lori, the last time I rode the T-bolt, my friend from work and her 3 kids joined me for a day at the park and Barb and I were sooo stiff and sore when we got off. Funny but the Jack Rabbit did not have that effect on either of us!! Now I have mobility issues and don’t get to the park much. I do miss the old girl, though. The thought of carrying on a tradition started by my Grandparents, continued by my Mom, and then me, just makes me happy I was born and raised in Duquesne and spent many, many summer days at the Park and at her pool (which I still miss).

  19. Lori Achtzehn says:

    I just went to Kennywood this past Saturday. It still holds its “Magic” as I realized that I have been going to the park for almost 50 years!!!!!! I can’t ride all the rides anymore because they make me sick – which is very disappointing to me. However, just being in the atmosphere make you feel like a kid again. I too like the double dip on the Jack Rabbit. There is no ride that compares to it. And even though the Thunderbolt is a Chiropractor’s Dream, it is still one of my favorite rides in the park. To me, there is nothing like a “Wooden” coaster! I even won a prize (that I gave to my niece) at one of the squirting water games. The cafeteria now has air conditioning (Thank God) and to walk thru the park with an ice cream cone was delightful. Plain and simple – I LOVE KENNYWOOD!!!!

    • Jim says:

      Lori, I agree! Anyone who grew up in Duquesne had Kennywood for their personal playground. I too am transported back in time as I take that walk from the parking lot and through the tunnel toward the lights, the sounds and the smells of “The Park!”

  20. Harold West says:

    I worked at Kennywood during the summers from 1975-1980 (high school and college) earning sub minimum wage (minimum wage – 25 cents/hour) unless you lasted until Labor Day (closing day) when you would get a bonus of 25 cents an hour to bring you back up to minimum wage. During my college years I would work at the Kennywood’s game warehouse in the morning and then do the closing shift at the McDonald’s across the street while also taking a class at Penn State’s McKeesport campus. Those summers were just a blur of sleep, work, nap, study, work.

  21. Just want you to know that these articles you write bring back a lot of childhood/teenage memories, keep up the good work. ….. Vickie Brady

    • Jim says:

      Vickie, thank you so much. I really appreciate the feedback!!

      • Jack Schalk says:

        Doesn’t anyone but me remember how much the old bridge to Kennywood swayed while you were walking across, cojoined by a street car or two? Scared the heck out of me!
        But we all did it time and time again as it was the only way I was getting to the football games.

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