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Whalom Park fits in a teacup; Amusement ride on view in museum.

Byline: Lynne Klaft

LUNENBURG - If your friends don't know where Lunenburg is, all you have to say is, that's where Whalom Park used to be and they will say, "I've been there!"

It's been 10 years since the amusement park closed its doors, but memories of the rides, the fun house and the water slide run deep.

Yesterday, a part of one of those rides took its place in the Lunenburg Historical Society museum. One of the teacups from the Bubble Bouncer ride was found, refurbished and placed next to the Whalom Park clown that greeted visitors on their way into the midway.

A few months ago, society president Paul Porter heard that the new owners of the park's land were going to get rid of artifacts they found on the grounds.

"I asked to see what they had and found the teacup in the old Skee Ball building. There were four or five of them and some roller coaster cars, all in sad shape, but I took the one that had the least number of holes. They used a backhoe to move them around because they were so heavy," said Mr. Porter.

It took several men to lift the teacup into the back of Mr. Porter's pickup truck. The teacup was taken to the society's building, where John Dupre, vice president of the society, torched off a heavy steel platform and ball-bearing housing.

Mr. Dupre's memories of the park go back to 1937, when he visited the park for the first time.

"I bowled there during World War II and you had to set up your own pins. Electric buses brought people from Fitchburg; it was hopping during that time. Famous people like Martha Raye and Guy Parmenter came to the Playhouse," said Mr. Dupre.

The teacup was taken to Tri City Marine in Lunenburg for fiberglass repairs and to New England Soda Blast to remove 20 layers of paint.

Lunenburg artist Anne Giancola then received the teacup at Rollstone Studio, where she did the fine detail work, filling holes and repainting it with a bit of artistic license.

Research showed it was made by the Custer Manufacturing Co. in 1947 for Kennywood Park in Pennsylvania. Whalom Park bought the Bubble Bouncer ride from Kennywood in 1977, according to curator James Larkin.

Drawbridge Puppet Theatre's Paul Leceuyer gave Ms. Giancola pictures from his collection of the ride, taken in the 1980s, to use as a model.

"During the off-season it was my job to clean and repaint those teacups; each one had six strange-looking clown heads and raised designs. I operated the ride during the springtime and got really good at keeping an eye out for riders that looked like they were going to get sick," Mr. Leceuyer said.

The ride was notorious for dizzying riders, so much so that a special barrel was provided for customers to throw up in. The teacups spun around a pole, and the floor of the ride spun around in a circle, suddenly rising up at a pitched angle and then dropping back down or "bouncing" to its original position.

The teacup and many other Whalom Park artifacts, including a Fun House mirror, a Kewpie doll from the late 1940s, the original Super Chick costume head, a signed Playhouse poster of Tallulah Bankhead and more are on display at the Lunenburg Historical Society, 10 School St., from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Wednesdays.

"Yes, I have ridden in it, and my kids and grandkids. And no, I did not get sick in it!" said Mr. Porter.



CUTLINE: (1) Several men carry a teacup from the Bubble Bouncer at Whalom Park into the Lunenburg Historical Society museum yesterday. (2) The teacup is transported in the back of a pickup from Fitchburg, where it was being restored, to the museum in Lunenburg.
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Title Annotation:LOCAL NEWS
Publication:Telegram & Gazette (Worcester, MA)
Date:Nov 13, 2010
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