When I was a kid, I remember that this time of year was almost as exciting as the Christmas season! I was FULL of anticipation and would be counting down the days until two MAJOR events would happen.
The first event that I’d start nagging my mom about was “How many more days till school’s out?” Granted, although the end of the school year was still 6 or more weeks away, it would have been difficult to maintain my excitement had it not been for the other MAJOR event that was just around the corner….. KENNYWOOD OPENING!!!!
Kennywood first opened as a trolley park 115 years ago and was called “Kenny’s Grove.” What is now the oldest ride in Kennywood, the Old Mill, was opened in 1901 and has gone through numerous major theme and structural changes throughout its existence. The idea that the Old Mill has been there for 112 years is amazing! Equally amazing to me is that one of my favorite rides has been operating since 1920, 93 years ago! Believe it or not, the Jack Rabbit is only 7 years shy of being 100 years old!
So, in an attempt to rekindle some of the old excitement that I felt and that you also probably recall, I would like to share a few things with you.
- First of all, as I was rummaging through the numerous images I have of Kennywood, I thought it would be fun to pull together a short video of these moments in time. If you click the arrow on the video below, you’ll be whisked away to that time in your youth when you were getting as excited as I would about the approaching Kennywood opening!
- Frank Mullen recently forwarded some pictures that he unearthed at his home. The year was 1957. This was just about the time that I was going full throttle nagging Mom to take me to Kennywood! The location of each of the photos is immediately recognizable to me. I’m sure many of us knew Kennywood like the back of our hands. THANK YOU FOR SHARING FRANK!
- There is a YouTube series that has grown and grown in popularity, The Pittsburgh Dad. It appears that many people enjoy this internet series. I however, am not a fan. I think the “Pittsburgh Dad” is a bit “over the top,” making the character look more like and uneducated hillbilly than someone who actually lives in the area. I am reluctantly posting an episode about Kennywood simply to let you can catch a glimpse of what the park looks like today, and so that you can enjoy the sights and sounds once again.
He’s b-a-a-ack. And so is the Whale’s Tongue:
Never say you are too old, (tired, arthritic, MATURE, etc) to have a little fun in your life.
John “Johnny Zero” Dzurcanin is my father and living here in San Francisco. He is 85 and fairly strong for having had a major stroke three years ago. He likes his nursing home because its full of women, and his long term memory is great! Call him at 415-567-7372. Scott Durcanin
Couple of questions. Is there still miniature golf at Kennywood? I played that a bunch o times. I remember it was very near the Merry Go Round, behind the restrooms. What a beautiful park Kennywood was and is. So much greenery and flowers and so well manicured. Us old timers can remember when you could GET IN FOR FREE, and just walk around the park and yak to friends and neighbors on a Sunday outing. That’s when tickets were used for the rides. My first job ever besides babysitting, was working in a refreshment stand at Kennywood. I forget the name of the stand, they all had names, but we made hotdogs on a stick and cotton candy so we were always busy. It was across from the Thunderbolt and the Potato Patch. A rite of passage was carving your name in the door. My name was still there until about a decade ago…. I agree with Chermonitz, Pittsburgh Dad, ain’t so bad. it just shows that parents tried to keep you in line as much as humanly possible. A losing proposition. I do understand your hesitation tho. Do kids still ask someone to go to the school picnic with them? That was so awesome when the guy you liked actually asked you to go to the school picnic with him. Mini-miracle…. Romance! Or do the kids travel in packs? I betcha your little grandson is gonna LOVE Kennywood. Thanks for the post.
The miniature golf course was removed at the end of the 2002 season, but I do remember enjoying it year after year. Although I could not find the specific year, I did find a vintage postcard that suggests that the course originally opened in the 1930’s. The food stand that you might have worked out is called “The Lucky Stand.” It is one of the oldest food stands in Kennywood and known for its age and fun-looking appearance. It is located in the center of the Kennyville stage midway between the Potato Patch and Noah’s Ark and serves a variety of carnival food. It has a pastel color scheme of pink, yellow, and green.
We plan on taking Jackson on his first Kennywood visit this coming summer. He’ll have turned two in July and should be able to enjoy the rides in Kiddieland!!
The last time I saw you when you interrupted our golf game at the Duquesne Country Club!!! Dan was and is suffering from a cancer called Walderstrom, very rare, but not fatal. He had a horrible year last year but is back to almost 100%. May take you up on that Hawaii offer. Do you charge winter rates??
Kenny: No rates. Big Mike Sabol called today. He lives in Bakersfield Ca. Good to hear Danny is doing OK. Ron Clemons was with you guys at Duquesne C. C.that day. Now he’s gone too. DHS1953 has a reunion at the Club (now WESTWOOD) 26 & 27 of July this year. If your in the area drop in. We were going to join with DHS1954 & Jerry Summerly was the LINK but he had a stroke & passed before anything was firmed up. I’ve one of the best Single Malt Scotch Cabinets on the Island so I hope to see you in the future to drink & “TALK STORY” of old DUQUESNE & who is LEFT!….ALOHA……B.L.
Thanks for the note. With Jerry gone there is only me and some of your cousins left from Friendship St. I finished reading Bad Rad;s book. Lot of DHS memories. Anyone left in Tim Long;s family??
Remember his brother..Johnny Zero the boxer…
YES KEN. JOHN had just had a stroke & was in rehab in the San Diego area when Joe died last year. They waited awhile before telling him of JOE passing. John was visited by Rose (JOE’S widow) & she says he is slowly recovering. How is Danny Janacek getting along? I’ve pictures in the family Album of he & I playing in our yards circa early 1940s,during WW2. We are 6&7. JR. NOVACK was a boxer too. In the 1990s he was married & lived on ZEWE behind your family home( onFriendship.) If you get to Oahu from late OCT to early JUNE give me a call (cell 808-931-3333) I’ll give you a Blue Ribbon Tour & we’ll “TALK STORY” all night over Scotch.
Just got your e-mail from Madeya, & will send directt….. BL
that certainly brought back the excitement of being at kenny wood for opening day. Our aunts and uncle would take us for the opening day, sometimes it was on Easter right…
Not a big fan of school ,summer vacation did rate right up there with Christmas for me. The evening of the final day of school was always the sweetest , the whole summer with all it’s pleasures awaited.
In the 1950’s I enjoyed two Kennywood picnics each rear,both the Catholic School picnic and since my father worked there ,the Union Railroad picnic. My favorite ride as a child was the one in Kiddy-land that ran on small gauge tracks and was propelled by a individual hand crank system. When my children became old enough to enjoy it, sadly the ride was gone. The present carnation of the Old Mill is rather sad. It’s called Garfield’s Revenge and is really disappointing. I have no idea what the Park was thinking when they made the change. I hope some day they wise up and return it to it’s former glory. . Thanks again Jim for stirring the pleasant memories of summers past once more.
Jim, watched each of these videos over my morning coffee. Each brought a smile or laugh for different reasons. But I do like the Pittsburgh Dad series it’s fun to laugh at ourselves and we all have a little bit of “yinzer” in us. Times have changed but I still look forward to my teacher wife’s Kennywood school picnic ever year. We’re starting to consider matching outfits for this years outing. 😄
Joe Dzurcanin DHS1954 (passed last year APRIL 29th).His widow Rose met me for lunch & gave me the Kennywood sign he “brought” back from Duquesne many years ago. THANKS JOE, we miss you…..(when he retired as a LT.in the FEDERAL POLICE, he sent me a bullet -proof vest,a black-jack, Leather gloves filled with lead BBs in the palms, a S&W38 Detective SPL; lite-weight). We had sent each other goofy-gifts over the years but his retirement booty was best. Second best was a Freeze-dried Rattle Snake that scared hell out of me on opening. Now I have a Kennywood sign from Joe & his moustached passport photo on a mirror here in my condo. Thanks for the memories JOE.