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Posts Tagged ‘Reginald Marsh’

This past Tuesday marked the 90th birthday for the iconic Cyclone Rollercoaster at Coney Island. I have a single memory of that fabled old wooden rollercoaster, sitting in the couch-like red vinyl seats next to my dad as we hurtled through the Brooklyn sky. I thought I’d use this occasion to rerun a favorite post here along with a few more images and a video of the work of American painter, Reginald Marsh. Coney Island in the Swing Era was one of his favorite subjects so the music in the video- Sing, Sing, Sing — seems like a perfect fit.

Give a look and a listen and enjoy Mr. Marsh’s Coney Island.

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Reginald Marsh Coney Island Beach I’m always intrigued by the paintings of Reginald Marsh, who painted scenes depicting the urban world of New York City throughout the early part of the 20th century until his death in 1954.  His paintings always seemed densely packed with figures and constant movement, all rendered with easily recognizable line work and colors that were strong yet had a soft transparency.  Striking.

One of his favorite subjects was Coney Island, the famous part of Brooklyn with its beach, boardwalk and amusement park.  Whenever I see Marsh’s Coney Island paintings I am always reminded of the several trips I made there as a child in the late 1960’s.  My parents and I would go to NY to see Mets’ games, leaving my older, busier siblings at home, and would sometimes go to Coney Island on the day when the games were at night. 

It was always like entering an exotic, much different world than my country home.  It was dirty with  trash strewn everywhere.  I remember the first time we swung into the parking lot at Astroland, the amusement park there, and thinking we’d entered a landfill as there were literally piles of paper and bottles over nearly the whole lot.  If you spent much time in NY at that time, it was not an unusual sight.

Reginald Marsh The Lucky DaredevilsBut it was great fun and over the few visits there I had many memories that burned indelibly into my memory bank.  My parents, and my aunt and uncle who sometimes were with us, would, after a while stop at one of the bars that opened to the boardwalk to have a cold one and I would wander alone.  It was a wonderland of colorful attractions and games, their facades faded by time and sun. I have sharp images of a burned in memory of standing at one bar’s doorway and watching a singer all dressed in cowboy regalia standing on the bar with his electric guitar singing out country songs in the middle of the afternoon.    

 Reginald Marsh Coney Island SceneI remember seeing the crowds down on the beach and suddenly seeing everyone there pointing out to the water and yelling.  Looking out, I saw two legs bobbing straight out of the water, almost comically so.  The lifeguards rushed out and dragged the body in.  Dead and, now that I think about it, had probably been so for a while.

I also remember going into a boardwalk arcade and approaching an older man with a gray moustache and a coin changer on his belt.  I asked for change and handed him my dollar bill.  He made a couple of clicks on the changer and poured a pile of nickels into my hands.  As I turned to go the machines, he put his hand on my shoulder.

Reginald MarshTunnel of Love“Hold on!” he exclaimed in a thick accent that sounded Greek and a little angry to a terrified nine year old.  He started chastising me.

“You don’t know me! Don’t ever trust anyone you don’t know.  I give you money and you trust me and don’t count.  You should not trust me.  Now, count!”

I stood there petrified and counted out loud.  It was the right change, of course, and the man’s gruff demeanor suddenly changed and he beamed a smile at me.  “You understand? Now go.  Have fun,” he said as he gave me a pat on the shoulder.

A little life lesson along with the change on the boardwalk in 1969.

That moment is clear as yesterday and it always reappears when I see images from Marsh or images of Coney Island.

Reginald Marsh Pip and Flip

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There’s so much craziness taking place in this country at this point in time.  I wanted to write something that would plead for our patience and tolerance,  asking us to avoid the knee jerk reactions, finger-pointing and extreme behaviors that have brought us here.  To ask that we just breath and take a moment to consider the consequences of our words and actions.

I could do that.  But there has been so much said, so many words asking for calm  and some unfortunately, asking for retribution and more anger.  So instead I am going to focus on a different time and place.  Below is a piece from back in 2010 that focuses on the Coney Island paintings of Reginald Marsh, a favorite of mine, and some of my recollections of Coney Island.  Reginald Marsh

Reginald Marsh Coney Island Beach I’m always intrigued by the paintings of Reginald Marsh, who painted scenes depicting the urban world of New York City throughout the early part of the 20th century until his death in 1954.  His paintings always seemed densely packed with figures and constant movement, all rendered with easily recognizable line work and colors that were strong yet had a soft transparency.  Striking.

One of his favorite subjects was Coney Island, the famous part of Brooklyn with its beach, boardwalk and amusement park.  Whenever I see Marsh’s Coney Island paintings I am always reminded of the several trips I made there as a child in the late 1960’s.  My parents and I would go to NY to see Mets’ games, leaving my older, busier siblings at home, and would sometimes go to Coney Island on the day when the games were at night. 

It was always like entering an exotic, much different world than my country home.  It was dirty with  trash strewn everywhere.  I remember the first time we swung into the parking lot at Astroland, the amusement park there, and thinking we’d entered a landfill as there were literally piles of paper and bottles over nearly the whole lot.  If you spent much time in NY at that time, it was not an unusual sight.

Reginald Marsh The Lucky DaredevilsBut it was great fun and over the few visits there I had many memories that burned indelibly into my memory bank.  My parents, and my aunt and uncle who sometimes were with us, would, after a while stop at one of the bars that opened to the boardwalk to have a cold one and I would wander alone.  It was a wonderland of colorful attractions and games, their facades faded by time and sun. I have sharp memories of standing at one bar’s doorway and watching a singer all dressed in cowboy regalia standing on the bar with his electric guitar singing out country songs in the middle of the afternoon.  I sometimes wonder if it might have been country troubador Jerry Jeff Walker who had come out of Brooklyn. 

 Reginald Marsh Coney Island SceneI remember seeing the crowds down on the beach and suddenly seeing everyone there pointing out to the water and yelling.  Looking out, I saw two legs bobbing straight out of the water, almost comically so.  The lifeguards rushed out and dragged the body in.  Dead and, now that I think about it, had probably been so for a while.

I also remember going into a boardwalk arcade and approaching an older man with a gray moustache and a coin changer on his belt.  I asked for change and handed him my dollar bill.  He made a couple of clicks on the changer and poured a pile of nickels into my hands.  As I turned to go the machines, he put his hand on my shoulder.

Reginald MarshTunnel of Love“Hold on!” he exclaimed in a thick accent that sounded Greek and a little angry to a terrified nine year old.  He started chastising me.

“You don’t know me! Don’t ever trust anyone you don’t know.  I give you money and you trust me and don’t count.  You should not trust me.  Now, count!”

I stood there petrified and counted out loud.  It was the right change, of course, and the man’s gruff demeanor suddenly changed and he beamed a smile at me.  “You understand? Now go.  Have fun,” he said as he gave me a pat on the shoulder.

A little life lesson along with the change on the boardwalk in 1969.

That moment is clear as yesterday and it always reappears when I see images from Marsh or images of Coney Island.

Reginald Marsh Pip and Flip

 

 

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I’m always intrigued by the paintings of Reginald Marsh, who painted scenes depicting the urban world of New York City throughout the early part of the 20th century until his death in 1954.  His paintings always seemed densely packed with figures and movement, all rendered with easily recognizable linework and colors that were strong yet had a soft transparency.  Striking.

One of his favorite subjects was Coney Island, the famous part of Brooklyn with its beach, boardwalk and amusement park.  Whenever I see Marsh’s Coney Island paintings I am always reminded of the several trips I made there as a child in the late 1960’s.  My parents and I would go to NY to see Mets’ games, leaving my older, busier siblings at home, and would sometimes go to Coney Island on the day when the games were at night.  It was always like entering an exotic, much different world than my country home.  It was dirty with  trash strewn everywhere.  I remember the first time we swung into the parking lot at Astroland, the amusement park there, and thinking we’d entered a landfill as there were literally piles of paper and bottles over nearly the whole lot.  If you spent much time in NY at that time, it was not an unusual sight.

But it was great fun and over the few visits there I had many memories that burned indelibly into my memory bank.  My parents, and my aunt and uncle who sometimes were with us, would, after a while stop at one of the bars that opened to the boardwalk to have a cold one and I would wander alone.  It was a wonderland of colorful attractions and games, their facades faded by time and sun. I have sharp memories of standing at one bar’s doorway and watching a singer all dressed in cowboy regalia standing on the bar with his electric guitar singing out country songs in the middle of the afternoon.  I sometimes wonder if it might have been Jerry Jeff Walker. 

 I remember seeing the crowds down on the beach and suddenly seeing everyone there pointing out to the water and yelling.  Looking out, I saw two legs bobbing straight out of the water, almost comically so.  The lifeguards rushed out and dragged the body in.  Dead and, now that I think about it, had proabably been so for a while.

I also remember going into a baordwalk arcade and approaching an older man with a gray moustache and a coin changer on his belt.  I asked for change and handed him my dollar bill.  He made a couple of clicks on the changer and handed me a pile of nickels.  As I turned to go the machines, he put his hand on my shoulder.

“Hold on!” he exclaimed in a thick accent that sounded Greek to a terrified nine year old.  He started chastising me.

“You don’t know me! Don’t ever trust anyone you don’t know.  I give you money and you trust me and don’t count.  You should not trust me.  Now, count!”

I stood there petrifiied and counted out loud.  It was the right change, of course, and the man’s gruff demeanor suddenly changed and he beamed a smile at me.  “You understand? Now go.  Have fun,” he said as he gave me a pat on the shoulder.

A little life lesson along with the change on the boardwalk in 1969.

That moment is clear as yesterday and it always reappears when I see images from Marsh or images of Coney Island

Read Full Post »

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