Posts Tagged ‘Coney Island Baby’

Coney Island. By the famous photographer Andreas Feininger. 1949

Coney Island. By the famous photographer Andreas Feininger. 1949


Coney Island beach

Coney Island beach

This is Eileen. She was 16 years old when I took her under the boardwalk at Coney. Silver gelatin darkroom print.  Leica film camera with Tri-X.   Paul Goldfinger photograph ©


2013 re-post:

CONEY ISLAND:  Nathan’s hot dogs. (“baloney on a roll” **, Steeplechase Park, on top of the boardwalk, under the boardwalk, freak shows, barkers, Tuesday night fireworks from a barge in the ocean, Shatzkin’s Knishes, the Parachute Jump, the Cyclone, the Wonder Wheel where the cars moved in and out, the beach where it was so crowded that somebody might bite your tuna sandwich, riding the waves, holding the ropes and dunking yourself, changing clothes in the back of a car, and searching the surf for the Coney Island whitefish.

There were guys trudging through the hot sand wearing pith helmets and carrying heavy freezers over their shoulders while yelling, “Hey, get your ice cream here.” And there were always couples “making out” on their beach blankets. But I was a little kid, so other things were more interesting.


I could go on and on about one of my favorite places on Earth.  We would come from Jersey. We never went to the Jersey Shore except once when my Aunt Marion and Uncle Al rented a place in Bradley Beach.  They shared a kitchen and fridge with other renters.  But it couldn’t  beat Coney Island.

Sandy zapped  Coney Island , but not too bad.   Unlike in Seaside Heights, the Cyclone stood fast.  Nathan’s just re-opened (they cut a ribbon of hot dogs), and many millions of dollars have been spent on the Coney Island recovery.

I associate music with Coney Island, and there is one song “Coney Island Baby” which will be sung in Ocean Grove on June 22 in the Great Auditorium by the Excellents.  It seem that a certain kind of girl came from there–like the Jersey Girl.

“Under the Boardwalk” by the Drifters makes me think of Coney Island, but it really isn’t about that.   The memory there is that there was an actual city under the Coney boardwalk with stores and attractions. It was always dark, damp and exotic to a little kid.    I thought that people lived in that subterranean place and never emerged.

That Saturday night, we will hear The Brooklyn Bridge, Freddie Parris and the 5 Satins, Barbara Harris and the Toys, plus John Kuse and the Excellents.  Big Joe Henry from 101.5 will preside. It’s sad, but he stepped on a dog’s tail, and the dog died. (Yikes!).  And also, Barbara Harris and her two young Toys  do an amazing set featuring covers of the big time girl groups of the day. Don’t miss it.

—Paul Goldfinger  2013.

THE EXCELLENTS:  “Coney Island Baby.”

This song brings tears to my eyes; not for any romantic reason but because of the aromas, the sounds, the sights, the foods, and the family.    Even though the beach was crowded, I would lie on my stomach and contemplate counting the grains of sand.  Those moments quickly dissolved into thin air, and then I would race into the water, getting salt up my nose and sand in my shorts.

This summer, take a ride there and visit Nathan’s. Then walk on the boards and hear Russian being spoken, men, with their shirts off reading Yiddish or Russian newspapers, and gaze at the myriad of sights, still present, but just a remnant of another world.   And don’t forget Woody’s movie “Wonder Wheel” set at Coney.  Here’s a link to our review:

BF review of Wonder Wheel


**Go to Coney and eat baloney on a roll” Is from the Rodgers and Hart classic “Manhattan”

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