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The Euclid Beach Boys 533 Bishop Rd. Highland Hts, Ohio 44143
Rocket Ship Car®
The history behind the Rocket Ship Car® goes all the way back to 1930's when the Humphrey’s decided to update a popular ride that pre-existed the Rocket Ships. They were the Airplanes that were popular after the Wright brothers made their historic flight at Kittyhawk. The famous comic strip Buck Rogers had become all the rage in the 1920's so staying with the times the Humphrey’s decided to retire the Airplanes and replace them with the ultimate space travel vehicle known as the Rocket Ship.
The load platform had been raised which made the effect of flying all that much more realistic. The stainless Rocket Ships were a huge hit and lasted the duration of the parks life. No one ever thought that Euclid Beach Park would ever close, but that day did come on September 28, 1969. The once great park hung the infamous "Closed for the Season" sign for the last time. All of the great rides came to a halt, and lay in wait for the demolition crews to arrive. Lucky thing for us, before the wrecking ball started to swing, people went into the closed park and started removing pieces of the park for nostalgia sake. The Rocket Ships were removed and put into storage and then eventually sold off to private individuals.
In 1997 we were in the process of buying "Laughing Sal", and the rest of the Chukayne’s collection, which included one of the Rocket Ship’s, we were contacted by a man who already had one of the Rocket Ship’s in his possession and said he desperately needed a second one. At that time we were very tight on storage, and had no plans to do anything with it, so we told him that we would not include the Rocket Ship in our deal with the Chukayne's and that he should make his own deal and we would move it for him. I guess if hind sight was foresight maybe we should have kept it, but knowing that there was still one more of the Rocket Ships still out there we thought there would maybe come a day for us to obtain one of the stainless airships. For one of the old Euclid Square Mall shows our towing company was asked to move one of the Rocket Ships from a location in Mentor to the mall for their annual show. That was the second time I came across the third Rocket Ship. The first time was about two years prior to the mall show I was in a warehouse on the grounds of the Collinwood Rail yards and on the far east end of the building sat the third Rocket Ship. I spoke with the owner of the building and he said that it wasn’t his Rocket Ship, and he was storing it for the person that owned it. The buildings were eventually torn down and I lost track as to where the Rocket Ship was taken too. We ended up moving the Rocket Ship to the mall and back to Mentor after the show. I asked the owner if he was interested in selling the airship, and he gave me a firm no. A year or so later I found out why. He had built a huge Christmas display for his yard and the Rocket Ship was a part of that display.
He displayed the Rocket Ship for a few years, and then one year it was not ever put up again. I took it upon myself to go over his house one day and ask him if he was ready to sell the Rocket Ship. I knocked on his door, and got a resounding "NO, it’s not for sale", but he said he did have a small band organ for sale. I looked at the band organ while I was there. Then out of the blue he asked me if I was there to try and buy the Rocket Ship for the guy who already had two of them. I told him "No". I said you know my partner and I own "Laughing Sal" and have for years been collecting numerous artifacts from the old park and we desired to own the last Rocket Ship and have it as part of our collection. I explained to him that we had passed on Chukayne’s Rocket Ship a few years earlier, and since then we had acquired more storage space so we had room for his if it was for sale. I got the feeling that he didn’t, for whatever reason, want the guy who had the two Rocket Ships to have the third one. A couple more years went by, and once again where I thought the Rocket Ship was stored the building was sold and it was gone again. Another year went by, then one day I received a call from a customer of mine who told me he thought he saw one of the Rocket Ships from Euclid Beach Park® in a warehouse in Eastlake. Six months went by before I even thought about the ride car again. I was out making sales call for our towing company when I happened into the very building my customer, Mike had told me about. I spoke with the transportation manager about having us do his towing and we got onto the subject of Euclid Beach and he said that one of the Rocket Ships was left here in the building by the previous owner, and it had been sitting there for over a year. I asked if I could see it to verify that it was one of the Rocket Ships from the park. customer, Mike had told me about. I spoke with the transportation manager about having us do his towing and we got onto the subject of Euclid Beach and he said that one of the Rocket Ships was left here in the building by the previous owner, and it had been sitting there for over a year. I asked if I could see it to verify that it was one of the Rocket Ships from the park. I went back to the shop and told my partner and we both just sat there for a second when I decided to call him and see if he was interested in selling it now. I figured that the worst he could do was say "NO" and hang up on me. To my surprise he asked me to come over and talk to him. I was a little shocked and told my partner what he said so off we went. When we got to his house before we were invited in he asked me again "Are you here to try and buy the Rocket Ship for the guy who already had two of them, and if I was I could just turn around and leave." Again I told him it was for our collection, and if he didn’t want to sell it just tell me and we would leave. He said no that he was ready to sell it to us as long as we were not going to resell it, and keep it in our collection. He asked how we were doing with the "Thriller Car" that we had motorized. I didn’t even know he knew about that car. I told him it was doing OK, but we really had not marketed it yet. Most of what we were booking was through word of mouth. He wanted to know if we were going to motorize his Rocket Ship and I told him that at this time we had no intention of doing that to his Rocket Ship. I asked him if that would be a problem down the road, and he said "no".
There were a couple of things we had to take in order to make the deal work with the Rocket Ship. The total deal would entail the complete Christmas display along with the Rocket Ship, and we only had 24 hours to decide because he had just signed it over to an auction house in Chicago and he had a 24 hour grace period to change his mind. If we didn’t step up to the plate in a hurry the Rocket Ship would be gone, probably forever. Needless to say we made the deal. The auction house wasn’t happy because they had very interested buyers in California, and New Jersey. We had finally gotten a Rocket Ship added to our collection. We had no idea how many Christmas display pieces we had adopted. Last count over 200,000 light bulbs, and over 40,000 feet of garland!
I’ll skip ahead a year and one day I walked into the shop after selling our towing company and said "Let’s motorize this thing". So we did. I hope this sets the record straight for everyone that heard stories of how we obtained our largest piece of Euclid Beach Parks history. Since we had sold the towing company and I wasn’t getting paid to be cold and wet I told my partner that we should build the Rocket Ship and take the cars south for the winters and if they did well, we would just eventually relocate there permanently when the time was right for our families.
I want to thank John for selling us his Rocket Ship, and for keeping it in such great condition while he had it. When he gets back we will all go out to dinner in the Rocket Ship Car®. For everyone’s information our car is named after the ride. Ours is one of the three "Original" Rocket Ships from Euclid Beach Park®.
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Check out Disney's version of the Rocket Ships at their park in California...The Golden Zephyr®
This site was last updated 05/19/15