Laffing Sal was an adult sized automaton dressed like a 1940s woman which giggled and jiggled and bent over from laughter then straightened up. The laughter was loud and would certainly wear on the nerves if you were hearing it for a full work shift. This character from the Euclid Beach Amusement Park was on display at the Snow Road site of our local discount drug store chain, Marc’s back in the 1990s and brought back fond memories of my childhood visits to the long gone theme park on the edge of Lake Erie.
Unlike modern theme parks, there was no charge for admission to Euclid Beach Park. I remember going there with my sister and our parents on a warm summer evening and maybe going on one ride or two before heading back home. I remember the flying butterflies – everything was gentle and while we were excited with slight flights and modest speeds, they were nothing like the today’s thrills and spills. It feels like a really long time ago when as an adolescent with classmates I last rode on The Bug and the Flying Turns.
One afternoon in the early 1990s when I was working downtown I got a glimpse of one of the silver Rockets driving down Euclid Avenue with local comics Big Chuck and Little John decked out as Batman and Robin. Since then I’ve seen it a few more times with other drivers.
The nostalgia for the romance of Euclid Beach Park stayed with my parents for many years. Each time they visited my children and I at our Naperville, Illinois home, they brought popcorn balls labeled with the Euclid Beach entrance gate holding the cellophane wrapper closed. The children were not interested in these treats, I’d guess because they had no association with the reference and because the popcorn balls were not as sweet as most of the snacks they preferred.