The Building of Crystal Beach Park's
“Laff in the Dark”
Page 1

By Richard Doan
{with Archival materials & photos courtesy of Cathy Herbert}

Crystal Beach Park's "Laff in the Dark" building, actually started out in 1908 as a Bowling Alley. In this first photograph you can see the 2 towers of the building being built in this very rare postcard. A sign in the front says "Crystal Swing Bowling Game, the Latest Skill Invention 1908". On the left of the picture can be seen the Park's first Roller Coaster. The new Bowling Building was built along Ridgeway Road.

A later picture (#2, below) shows the 2 towers and the front of the "Bowling Alleys and Pool Room". When visiting a park at this time period, as seen in the picture, you wore your Sunday best. And I can't imagine on hot days how people tolerated, all the clothing they wore, including women in their full dresses and men in their suits.

The Bowling Alley and Pool Room were successful until 1935 when H. Hall the General Manager of the park, decided to update the park and put in a dark ride.

In the earliest correspondence on the LITD dated Sept 23,1935 [See Letter #1,}, H. Hall sent a letter from his Buffalo office which was called the "Crystal Beach Transit Company Inc" to Jake Nagel, the Parks superintendent at Crystal Beach. He states that was several old Dodgem cars stored in the Basement of the Dance Hall and was wondering if these cars could be used in "Our LITD ride as the Euclid Beach cars operating now in their LITD were formally Dodgem cars.  If we can use them it will save us a lot of money."

On Oct 5th 1935 R.E. Chambers from Beaver Falls Pa. Writes Mr. Hall and says "I am working on the LITD proposition from another angle and would like to have you get prices from the Canadian General Electric or Westinghouse on the following motor: 1 H.P Brush Riding Repulsion Induction Motor 110/220 volt single phase 25 cycle 1425 R.P.M ball bearing no base or pulley. We may be able to work out another scheme to save you a substantial amount"

It is obvious that Hall had talked to Chambers and wanted it built as cheap as possible!

Chambers goes on to say about the building; "The towers are the predominating features of the building and he(the architect) has shown these towers with the thought in mind of making very little change in the part between the towers which carries the sign."

A modern day view of the Laff In The Dark building

Continue to Page 2


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