Saturday, August 10, 2013

The "Good Old Days" at Crystal Beach

The Cyclone. Laff in the Dark. The Wild Mouse.

Who can forget all those wonderful memories at Crystal Beach?

Author Erno Rossi captured the magic in his wildly-popular book Crystal Beach: The Good Old Days.

In our continuing effort to give folks a behind-the-scenes peek at the evolution of some well-known regional books, we chat with Erno about his literary adventure.

 Why did you decide to write Crystal Beach: The Good Old Days?

There was no book about Crystal Beach when I started the research about The Park. This was unbelievable that millions of people had loved this place and no one had shared this affection in a book.

How did you go about researching your topic? 
I advertised that my oral history about Crystal Beach Amusement Park would love your feelings about it, good or bad. The emails have never stopped arriving—92% of respondents loved the place.

What were a couple of the most interesting facts or "nuggets" that you
unearthed that perhaps surprised even the author?

I was amazed that the Harvard Trainer plane crashed into Lake Erie when it buzzed the Crystal Beach Boat full of kids and adults. An accident that killed only the pilot when it very nearly was a major disaster. There were several thousand adults and kids on board the boat that day.

I was working at Crystal Beach Park on Memorial Day in 1956 when fights broke out on board the Crystal Beach Boat on its way to Crystal Beach Park. Then the brawls continued in the Park between Black gangs from Buffalo. This ended the Crystal Beach boat’s life at this park. And these “Race Riots” as the media described them were bad for business there. I saw gang fights not Race Riots.

What chapter of the book would you label your personal favorite? Why?
My favorite part of this book is the reaction to it that I receive by email or on my website on Facebook or by phone. Truly an out pouring of love, affection and nostalgia for the Good Old Days.

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