History of the West Park
Cleveland, Cuyahoga County, Ohio

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The West Park Historical Society Tribute to PURITAS SPRINGS PARK was on Sunday, 8 June 2008  at the 100th Bomb Group Restaurant, 20920 Brookpark Rd.

by Gary Swilik

Puritas Springs Park

Puritas Springs was the creation of a group of businessmen who wanted to promote ridership on the Cleveland, Berea, Elyria & Oberlin Railway, an interurban railway line. The company took notice of the beautiful hillside overlooking Rocky River Valley at the corner of Grayton and Linndale Roads, and the mineral springs which flowed there. In 1894 the company began buying land along the north side of Linndale Road in order to gain access to the springs.

The railway company capitalized on the springs by bottling and selling the mineral water. Many preferred it to city water supplied from Lake Erie which was considered unsafe. The name Puritas Springs, based on a Latin phrase meaning “pure springs,” was created by the railway company for marketing purposes. The name stuck and within a few years what had been known as Linndale Road was officially being called Puritas Springs Road, and is still called Puritas Avenue today.

However, the plan all along was to establish a park on the site and gain new customers by running their railway line to the park gates. Such a park was called a "trolley park."

The concept of a trolley park was simple: a railway company would establish a park with recreation facilities - often a picnic grove or dance hall -  at the end of their rail line. In order to get to the park, the public had to travel on company rails. This not only increased ridership but gave the public a reason to ride the cars on the weekend. This meant more money in the fare box. Since the company owned the park, money spent on entertainment and food also went into the company coffers. There was a legitimate need for public recreation and the railway lines found a profitable way to meet that need.

In January, 1899, Albert E. Akins, vice president of the railway line, put it this way: “I have long thought that spot (Puritas Springs) would be ideal . . .  for a summer resort . . . A resort at that point would draw crowds from Cleveland, Berea, Elyria, Oberlin and surrounding towns. . . . The site at the springs is one of the beauty spots in the country. Few Cleveland people know the beauties of the place.”

Puritas Springs Park opened in late spring or early summer of 1900. It makes a lot of sense to consider June 10th, 1900 – the day the rails of the Cleveland, Berea, Elyria and Oberlin Railway first opened to the park gates – as the unofficial opening day of Puritas Spring Park.

The entertainment at Puritas Springs Park during its early years was consistent with the times but unlike a modern amusement park. The atmosphere was more like a family, church, or company picnic. The facilities included a picnic grounds with tables and swings, baseball fields, a dance hall and pavilion, a restaurant, modern telephone service, sanitary stations, electric lights and a free campground. There were also Shetland pony rides to amuse the children.

Although the merry-go-round, Ferris Wheel, and roller coaster existed in the early 1900s, they had not yet become fixtures at every successful park. A simple picnic ground, dance hall, and athletic field, set in scenic surroundings, made for a grand time and a popular park. However, later in the century, starting in about 1915, Puritas Springs would develop into a classic example of a Golden Age amusement park complete with mechanized thrill rides.

Many sources incorrectly credit John E. Gooding as the founder and original developer of Puritas Springs Park, stating he came to the park as early as 1898. Our own research reveals John Gooding was not involved with Puritas Springs until about 1908 when he managed the park for the railway company. He may have also begun setting up a merry-go-round and a few other mechanized rides at that time.

However, John Gooding become sole owner of Puritas Springs in 1915 when he bought the park outright from the railway company. He soon moved his family onto the grounds and spent the rest of his life there developing the park. He died in 1936 but the park continued to be operated by his daughter and grandchildren until 1958.

In 1922, Gooding had a huge enclosed roller skating rink built at the north end of the park, with live music provided by a $20,000 Wurlitzer band organ. Many local residents can trace their very existence to their parents' first meeting at the extremely popular Puritas roller rink.

In 1927 John Gooding hired coaster designer John Miller to construct a roller coaster at the park. Miller was known for very fast coasters with horizontal and vertical curves, and particularly steep drops. The Cyclone roller coaster officially opened on June 10th, 1928.

The Cyclone Roller Coaster was the park’s star attraction. It was a wooden “ravine roller coaster” which used the trees and terrain at the edge of Rocky River Valley to intensify the hills, turns, and dips. By all accounts it was a fantastic coaster and would still be World Class if it existed today.

Rumors and unsupported claims abound that the Cyclone was exceedingly fast and dangerous, with a top speed as high as 80 miles per hour. There are tales of cars flying off the track, careening down into Rocky River Valley and carrying many riders to their death. These accounts are false.

A thorough study undertaken for the book One Minute To Puritas Springs Park: Sixty Years of Fun on Cleveland’s West Side, published in 2011, indicates the top speed descending the first hill was 50 to 55 miles per hour. For the rest of the ride, it traveled about 35 to 40 miles per hour. The authors also determined only one person died while riding the Cyclone. In 1953, a deeply inebriated 21 year-old man fell from the lead car to his death. He may have been trying to climb from one car to another when he fell.

However, the Cyclone’s sharp drop and sudden ascent out of the first hill apparently contributed to at least one person severely injuring their back. Subsequently, a number of people also filed lawsuits claiming identical injuries. As a result, in 1946 the track at the bottom of the first hill was altered to reduce the angle of drop and ascent.

Puritas Springs was home to three dance halls during its nearly 60 years of operation. The first opened in 1900 and burned in 1910. The second and most impressive dance hall opened in 1911. It was an enormous rectangular wood-frame building with a high ceiling, hanging lamps, a bandstand, and a second-story interior balcony overlooking the polished-wood dance floor. Many big name bands and musicians appeared there, including Paul Whiteman, Jimmy Dorsey, Les Brown, Kay Kyser, Tommy Dorsey, and Artie Shaw. This second dance hall burned down in 1946 in a spectacular fire.

A third dance hall was built but it was an open-air structure providing nothing more than a roof and a platform. For all intents and purposes, the destruction of the second dance hall in 1946 marked the end of the dance hall era at Puritas Springs.’’

Through the years, the park offered many traditional amusement park rides including the Roll-O-Plane, Bug, Flying Scooters, Rocket Ship ride, Dodgems, Rock-O-Plane, The Whip, Old Mill ride,  Comet Junior roller coaster, Tilt-A-Whirl and Moon Rocket ride.

Puritas Springs drew crowds for decades but the magnetism began to fade after World War Two. Increasing insurance costs, limited expansion space, and encroaching residential development all played a part in the Gooding Family’s decision to sell the park to a land development company in 1958.

Puritas Springs Park did not close because it was destroyed by fire. The park had already been closed for months when, on the night of May 9, 1959, a fire of undetermined origin swept through the main section of the empty park. Thousands of nearby residents gathered to watch the flames shooting up into the night sky. The blaze left no doubt Puritas Springs was gone forever.

For more photos and history of the area visit westparkhistory.com

YouTube logoGo to YouTube to see videos (home movies transferred to video) of Puritas Springs Park.  (These are independent of this site.):
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n5g1LnOO-3g  (9 minutes, 45seconds) - Undated. Two segments taken at different times.
     (1 minutes,:50 seconds) - from 1952.

Memories of Puritas Springs Park Roller Rink
By Robert E. Baus

Rare color photograph of the Puritas Springs Park billboard that reportedly
stood near the SW corner of Puritas Road and Rocky River Drive.
Ken Dombey (1905-1991) was the popular organist at the park roller rink.
Courtesy of Kenneth Dombey, Jr.

JeanAs kids one of our great passions was roller skating. The sandstone sidewalks along West 150th Street wore out more steel wheels on our strap-on skates than we cared to count, but that was small cost compared to the great fun we had.
Years later at Euclid Beach I heard the organ music from the park skating rink and, even as a teenager, was smitten by the great variety of attractive melodies. But it was not until my late teens I discovered Puritas Springs Park. And a fantastic discovery it was! I couldn't wait to buy a pair of rink skates to see if I still had some of the old magic or would have to learn to skate all over again.
At Puritas Springs I found Ken Dombey's organ music superb. After I got to know him I also found Ken was a great guy to call a friend.
I eventually learned many of the specialty skate programs and began making new friends to skate them with. The atmosphere was so friendly and light-hearted you couldn't help wanting to be part of the whole program.
Puritas had a smaller rink railed off in the center where less skillful skaters practiced their moves, out of the way of those on the main floor. But when Ken started playing one of his fast paced swing numbers, the center rink exploded with enthusiastic "flea hopping" daredevils who started a follow-the-leader chain around the inside of the railing, arms and legs flailing, every one hooting and cheering, wild but very precise, a breathtaking scene but not for inexperienced or faint-hearted skaters.
After Ken wore out the hoppers with a long spell of inspired swing music, he quieted the place down with one of his signature circle waltz numbers like "Sleepy Lagoon." Skaters would roll out onto the main floor to join their partners in a romantic waltz as the lights dimmed to set the mood.
Next an "all skate" would be called and Ken would launch into "Sweet Eloise," a sprightly number but not too fast. Skaters of all skill levels joined in, some flea hopping, some skating double, some trios, some going single at 50 mph in a 35 zone!
Ah, but Jerry the guard was on the floor, skating backwards, his whistle clamped in his teeth, his finger pointing at an offending speeder as he kept order. Everybody liked Jerry, who was about 50 but still one of the gang.
One young lady was often in Jerry's sights because of her desire to burn up the floor. Even though I wasn't too happy with speed skaters, I was captivated by her style and daring. I decided to ask her for the next circle waltz. She said she really didn't now how but she would try. I told her I would be glad to help her with the steps. Twice around the rink and we were an experienced couple. She told me her name was Jean James and that she lived in Brooklyn, Ohio.
 To make a long story short, in 1997 Jean and I celebrated 53 years of marriage together with our four great kids. All thanks to Puritas Springs Skating Rink!

THE PLAIN DEALER  Monday, 11 May 1959

Fire Lets Puritas Springs Park Die as It Lived — Amid Excitement

Thousands of persons were attracted by glowing skies to the fire which raged through Puritas Springs Park, above Rocky River Valley.
One of the night scenes was of firefighters battling a blaze in the Dodgem house, where the fire is believed to have started. Little patches of flames licked at the roller coaster framework silhouetted above the building in the night sky.
Few persons were around to examine the debris by daylight yesterday. Cars, probably from The Whip, are visible among the charred timbers.
The amusement park is scheduled to remain closed forever. The land has been sold and an apartment or housing development is planned for the 80-acre park, which for more than a half century thrilled young and old.

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Puritas Springs Park Memories
Present and former residents may feel free to contribute some of their memories of the West Park area.  Contributions would be welcome.  Send them to The West Park History website.

Go to the top for a brief history.                                   Go to Memories & Comments page

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Neighborhood Couple Remembers 1959 Puritas Springs Park Fire

Mr. & Mrs. Frank C. Osborn, Jr. lived in their home at 18908 Puritas Avenue from 1956 to 1995. Janet, who grew up in West Park, remembers being home that Saturday evening with her husband and 2-year-old daughter Marguerite. Recalls Janet, “You should have seen the line of cars passing our house to see the fire! People were parking in our driveway, then walking down to Puritas Springs for a close-up look.” Frank captured the drama of the blaze with his camera and has shared this stunning image with us, 50 years later.
— Dar McGeady                   

Cleveland fire fighters, at right, can only observe the intense flames as the root collapses on the Bug ride’s cars, 9 May 1959.    Photograph by Frank C. Osborn, Jr.

bug fire
Charred remains of the Puritas Park “Bug” ride and Cyclone roller coaster following the 9 May 1969 nighttime fire.   Photographs courtesy of Jim Kelly.

"My brother Doug and I skated at the Puritas Springs Roller Rink from 1949 to around 1954. It was a wonderful time in my life with Ken Dombey's music and the fun we had dancing and doing the crazy things we did. I made a lot of friends whom I've now lost touch with. I would like to hear from them and find out how life has treated them."

--- William Steiskal, Big Pine Key, FL. 27 July 2009

"We often walked to Puritas Springs Park from home. It never held the allure of Euclid Beach but I remember Nickel Days and school picnics there.  When you climbed out of the Cyclone roller coaster you felt like you had been mugged.  It still hurt the next day!
    Puritas Springs also had games of chance.  Although I didn't have a lot of money, I splurged and played the ring toss game.  Unbelievably my wooden ring landed on the best prize they had, a wrist watch!  I had been begging for one for a while.  The rule was you could take the watch or select any other prize on the board.  Of course the carny tried to steer me to a cheap kazoo or plastic toy gun but I would have none of it.  I thought wearing that huge watch impressed everyone.  My mom got me a Spiedel "Twist-o-Flex" band (you could tie it in a knot) to replace the leather band.
    To make a long story short, I've gone through quite a few watches since that day, some expensive, but I still have the watch I won at Puritas Springs.  Every year or two I find it in my drawer and wind it.  And it still keeps time!"

--- Doug Viant, Galloway, OH.  4 March 2009

"I started skating at Puritas Springs around 1940 before the war. My skating partners were Jean Miller, who lived near Kamm's Corner, and Shirley Finney whose dad was a high school teacher at West Tech. Shirley also played the organ sometimes with Ken Dombey. Another partner was Jean Colliers whose dad was a railroad engineer at the Linndale transfer station.
     We use to go in the afternoons and evenings from 8-10:30 p.m. Jerry was the guard and he wore a tan suit coat and pants that were trimmed in green. Jerry had a whistle.
     I knew Jim Goodman who was an owner of the park. I went into the army about 1942 and didn't get back to skate until 1945. I am currently retired and living with my daughter Heidi in Lorain, Ohio.  My wife Jean is a resident of the Lutheran Home in Westlake."

--- John W. Koglman, Lorain, OH.  28 February 2009

Puritas Springs Park was my second home. When I was 15 my parents gave me a pair of very good boot skates for Christmas. It's the best gift I've ever had because it introduced me to skating, to Puritas Springs skating rink, and to my husband who is now deceased.  The memory of our years skating together will be with me forever.
    I spent so much time roller-skating at Puritas Springs that Ken Dombey, the park organist, stopped to pick me up to head for the rink whenever I called. He became such a good friend my folks invited him to attend my birthday party one year and we all ended up at the skating rink. I always left my skates at the rink, under the counter, because I went so often and never to another rink. Skate waltz, fox trot, tango and jitterbug were all part of my life. I also remember the "line jitterbug" that a bunch of us would form when Ken's organ music got really jazzy.
   Those memories will be with me until the end. After Don Mader and I were married, he was in the Army so we moved from camp to camp until he went overseas. I followed him as long as I could and we took our skates for a short time but there was never the opportunity to use them. I finally had to admit I was not in condition to put them on again and I gave them up. How sad that day was.
   I am now 85 years old and the memory of those years still makes me some long to put my skates on and try again. After a hip replacement a few years ago I put that out of my mind.

--- Jeane (Miller) Mader, West Columbia, SC.  21 July, 2008

Our family went to Puritas Springs Park on a regular basis. My older twin brothers broke their arms roller skating and my other older brother cracked his head! But most of my memories come from the time the park was closed. A development went in and my parents built a brand new house. Our back yard overlooked the gully where the coaster went down. My Dad built our back fence and part of our patio out of wood from the coaster! What wonderful memories I have of the area. The Gooding house, where the park owners used to live, was bought by the Petrus's. It had an enormous mural on one of the walls. There was a little bridge over the gully and I received one of my first kisses on that bridge! The Hitchcock tree was one of coolest things to see at dusk. Puritas Hill was a real doozey on a bike and killer on the way back up.  Ahhhh, thanks for the memories!  I may have some pics, when I find them I will forward them to you.

--- Sandra Bees-Marr, Mount Clemens, MI.   18 June 2008

Puritas Springs Park, Captain Penny, Jungle Larry & Safari Jane Fondly Remembered by West Parkers
     Puritas Springs Park played a major role in West Park history. The park was also a big part of the career of two Cleveland television icons –
Jungle Larry and Safari Jane – and is indirectly connected with yet another of the city's best loved TV characters, Ron Penfound, who appeared Jungle Larry Jandon Channel 5 as "Captain Penny" for 16 years.
    Weekdays from noon to one, Captain Penny, appearing live, would host cartoons, old Our Gang episodes (then called The Little Rascals) and a variety of guests. One of the best remembered parts of the show is "Pooch Parade," in which the Cleveland Animal Shelter would present puppies and kittens available for adoption.
    The good Captain would always end the show with this bit of wisdom: "You can fool some of the people all of the time, all of the people some of the time, but you can’t fool mom. She's pretty nice and she's pretty smart and if you listen to her you won't go far wrong."
    The show had a huge audience virtually guaranteed in its time slot. Today most students stay in school for lunch but in the 1950s and 1960s elementary school children came home for lunch at noon then went back to school for the second part of the school day. Many kids timed their lunch hour by the Captain Penny Show. When the program was drawing to a close you knew it was time to head back to school.
    Through Captain Penny most of us first got to know Jungle Larry and Safari Jane. They'd appear on the show every week with wild animals from their Jungle Circus at Puritas Springs Park.
    During one show a snake bit Jungle Larry on the thumb and drew blood. This naturally prompted a look of shock and concern from Captain Penny. Jungle Larry didn't even wince, calmly pried the snake from his thumb and remarked, "Captain Penny, that felt like a thousand needles when that snake bit me." He then went right on with the show.
    Captain Penny became a close friend to Jungle Larry and Safari Jane, and was "best man" at their wedding in 1957.
    Captain Penny passed away in 1974. Lawrence "Jungle Larry" Tetzlaff passed away in Florida in 1984.
    On Sunday, June 8th, 2008, at the West Park Historical Society's TRIBUTE TO PURITAS SPRINGS PARK, we had a chance to meet with Safari Jane, known as Nancy Jane Tetzlaff Berens in her civilian life. We also met Nancy's gracious mother and son Tim. They were kind enough to share the following article with us:

Jungle Larry & Safari Jane at Puritas Springs Park
By Tim Tetzlaff.  Courtesy of Nancy Jane Tetzlaff Berens – Safari Jane

Larry and Nancy Jane Tetzlaff, better known as Jungle Larry and Safari Jane, met at his Jungle Circus wildlife attraction at Puritas Springs Park in 1957. A cougar of Larry's showed a great interest in Nancy and soon Larry did, too. They were married the same year. During the summers of 1957 and 1958, Jungle Circus offered park visitors a close up experience with species from around the world on the west side of Cleveland.
    Visitors watched as Larry milked rattlesnakes and educated guests about crocodiles, monkeys, lizards, vultures, lions, and other wonders of the animal kingdom. With gentle encouragement from Jungle Larry, thousands of guest overcame their fear of snakes by meeting their two pythons, famously named "Rock" and "Roll." Weekly trips to Cleveland's Channel 5 F station for the popular Captain Penny Show and school shows throughout the Midwest introduced many to Puritas Springs Park and the world of rare animals.
    The couple moved the animals to Chippewa Lake Park from 1959 to 1964 and then to Cedar Point where Jungle Larry's Safari spend 30 summers until 1994. In 1969, they began wintering their animals in Naples, Florida, where their legacy continues at the nationally accredited Naples Zoo. Nancy Jane serves on the nonprofit's board and sons David and Tim continue their parent's conservation work caring for endangered species while still connecting guests with the natural world through the same wonderful up close experiences with animals.

And this special message concerning Captain Penny:
I'd like to correct an unfortunate rumor about someone dear to us. Ron Penfound, so fondly remembered as Captain Penny, did not commit suicide. He died of cancer in 1974 in Naples, Florida. My husband Lawrence "Jungle Larry" Tetzlaff and I attended his funeral. Ron was a dear friend and best man at our wedding.

--- Nancy Jane Tetzlaff Berens – “Safari Jane”  9 June 2008

Interview with Joyce Behrendt Biddulph of Puritas Spring Park
With folks now driving over 50 miles to Cedar Point in Sandusky, Ohio, it's hard to imagine West Parkers could once take a local bus, ride their bike, or even walk to their own amusement park right here in Cleveland.
    Puritas Springs Park, at the intersection of Grayton Road and Puritas Avenue, entertained local residents for sixty years. The park's big thrill ride, The Cyclone roller coaster, is still considered by many to be the most exciting coaster ever built. Puritas Springs is also remembered for its beautiful setting on the hillside overlooking Cleveland Metropolitan Park, the roller skating rink with popular organist Ken Dombey, and, of course, the traditional park food – popcorn, caramel corn, peanuts, taffy, cotton candy, hot dogs, hamburgers, french fries, taffy and candy apples.
    The family of Clarence and Helen Behrendt had a reputation for serving some of the finest park food in Cleveland. From the late 1940s until the final season in 1958, the Behrendts operated many of the food concessions at Puritas Springs. In May, 2008, we had the chance to communicate with Joyce Behrendt Biddulph, daughter of Clarence and Helen Behrendt, who now makes her home in Kingston, Georgia. Joyce graciously shared some of her memories:

    "I was born at Cleveland City Hospital. I have a brother, Frank, and two sisters, Beverly and Sharon.
    My parents, Clarence and Helen, were also born in Cleveland.
    My dad went to school with Bob Hope. They often skipped school to attend burlesque shows downtown. Dad was younger but we think it was Bob Hope who helped get my dad a job at Luna Park.
(Note: Luna Park was an amusement park on the city's east side that operated from 1905 to 1929.  Comedian and movie star Bob Hope grew up in Cleveland in the neighborhood around East 105th and Euclid Avenue. In his youth he sold flowers at Luna Park. Later he earned extra money appearing in an amateur dance act at the park.)
    My father used to tell us about dipping lemonade into cups at the Luna Park entrance gates for the hundreds of thirsty people climbing the hill to the park.
    Later dad worked for a man on 130th Street who sold wholesale snack foods. The owner of the company sold a bad supply of corn syrup to Kellogg's and ended up in jail.
    Dad was called up for service in 1941 when war broke out. When he got out three years later he went into the wholesale popcorn business with his brother Arthur. The company was called the B and B Popcorn Company, for Behrendt and Behrendt. The business was located on Ninth Street in Cleveland.
    I believe we started at Puritas Springs in 1947 when I was ten years old. If I recall correctly the man who was running the popcorn stand at Puritas Springs was sick. My dad knew him and may have sold corn to him. I remember the night we went to talk to him. Dad took over shortly after.
    We sold hot dogs, french fries, coffee, sno-cones and candy apples. We made our own donuts, too.
    My parents, my brother Frank and I had to be there from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. everyday. Beverly and Sharon were too young to help at the time.
    Our hard work put food on the table but the real advantage came later in life. We were taught a work ethic not found today. We were taught to be respectful and honest. We were taught to clean. My mom and dad prided themselves on the cleanliness of our food operation.
    There were disadvantages, too. We worked long hours and were not able to do the things other kids did during the summer. I have a very hot job. It sometimes reached 100 degrees while making waffles and I was often burned by the syrup while making candy apples.
    I didn't get to go on the rides very often because I was always working but I could ride free if I knew the worker. My favorite was the merry-go-round. It still is.
    The night a young man was killed on the Cyclone I was working in my cotton candy stand near the park entrance gates. I saw three guys go in and out several times. Two came back later and asked if I had seen their friend. I had not and asked where they saw him last. I told them to go to the office and have him paged. Then I saw Al the cop head to the coaster. Later I saw the hearse come in.
(Note: This accident took place in 1953. A passenger fell from a Cyclone coaster car and was killed. Research indicates it's very likely the victim was under the influence of alcohol.)
    I remember Pearl Gooding Visoky, who owned the park, inviting me up to the big house and having lemonade on the front porch. We were very respectful of her.
Pearl's son was James Gooding. He and his wife, Flo, were kind and gracious. Flo was outgoing and always spoke to us. They were both down-to-earth.
    James once lost his onyx and diamond ring in the park. We all searched for it. We found it behind the Moon Rocket where he'd been working on the ride.
    We also saw James Gooding's sister, Pearl June Andress, at the park.
    During the winter months I got to roller skate at the park rink where Ken Dombey's organ music was so poplar. Ken would always stop by mom's stand for cup of coffee before heading back to the rink.
    Ivan Klassin, who worked as a security guard at the roller skating rink, once took me to a dance at my school.
    'Al the cop' was with me the day a little girl was attached by a German-Shepard dog that escaped from its pen. The dog was used for security at the Penny Arcade which was being run by a subcontractor. Al hit the dog with a large wooden paddle while I got the girl. Mr. Wish took the girl and I to Fairview Park Hospital in his car. The girl was bitten badly, particularly on one side of her face and ear. She was very frightened, had a hold of me and was not about to let go.
    The Wish Family ran the ski-ball concession. I used to like to play ski-ball whenever I could. I was also acquainted with Al and Donna Arcuri who ran a pizza stand at the park.
    Other park employees I recall are Lottie Adelson, Harry Knox, 'Old John,' cops 'Big Al' and Dudley, Bob Stanton, and Bill 'Sluggo' Klassin.
    My father passed away in April, 1958, at the beginning of the park's last season. My family still finished out the year. But I didn't work that season because I was married in November, 1957, to my husband Lee and was expecting our first child. My last year was the 1957 season.
    I have to admit I didn't miss working at the park. It was long hours and hard work for a kid."

--- Joyce Behrendt Biddulph, Kingston, GA.  May 2008

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My friend Bev and I went to Puritas Springs Park regularly during the last two or three years it was open. On Friday evenings and Sunday afternoons we went roller skating at the park. We always ran to the Cyclone on Fridays for the last ride of the night.
    Sundays we used to ride the Salt-and-Pepper and the attendant would keep us upside down until we yelled, "Let us down!" Then we'd head over to the Flying Scooters. I remember snapping the cables until we were told to stop it or we wouldn't be allowed to ride again.
    My favorite game at the park was Skee Ball which I played every time I was there.
But my best memory is when Bev and I sat in the last seat on the Cyclone during its final run. Ivan, the attendant, told us it would be the last ride. The Cyclone was closing down.
    As the car headed toward the first hill it stopped on the chain lift. I looked down and found a quarter on the cat walk. I jumped out of the car and got it just before the ride started up the hill. A quarter was a lot of money then! 
    The Puritas Springs Cyclone was a great ride! It was a sad feeling knowing we would never be able to ride it again. 
    The last weekend the skating rink was open there was such a crowd you could hardly skate. Even my mother went the last day. It was the most crowded I have even seen it. Too bad it had to close. The last day the park passed out a Puritas Springs skating decal at the door as we left for the final time. I still have the decal. 

--- Donna Raba, North Ridgeville, OH.  14 February 2008

I was at Puritas Springs Park whena guy stood up in the front car of the Cyclone, fell out, and died. He was showing off to a couple of girls. Very sad.
     People would come to Puritas skating rink because they could really have fun. They could really whoop it up! They didn't hold it down like at some other rinks. I think it was the most popular rink in Cleveland. I could do anything on those roller skates in those days. Skate dance, the jitterbug. I did all of them. I just loved to skate. Of course, since my dad was the organist I could come and go as I pleased

--- Ken Dombey Jr., Daytona Beach, FL. 5 October 2007

I remember going to Puritas Springs and riding the Cyclone. When you went over the top and started down you weren't even on the track! We had a lot of fun there.

--- Kenneth Weiss, Cleveland, OH. 29 March 2007

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I used to go to the skating rink at the Puritas Springs Park on Saturday with my friends. I remember walking to Puritas Avenue at West 140th and catching the bus. I believe its last stop was Puritas Springs where it did a turn-around and headed back. We would exit the bus and walk through the deserted park to the skating rink. There was always a crowd on Saturday. I recall the early skating session was 9 a.m. to noon.
    Great rink! If I close my eyes I can still hear the organ playing and smell the popcorn and different mixture of odors that filled the building. After the session we would walk back through the park and the Cyclone was always in view, though it was no longer in use. Euclid Beach was the amusement park of choice from what I recall. I always wondered why Puritas Springs didn't do better.

--- Lou Diamond, Garland, TX. 28 February 2007

The Puritas Spring Cyclone was a real ride!  I can remember that although I did not ride it too many times.  My mother, though, was a frequent rider from early on. I can recall her telling me that there had been some accidents on the coaster years earlier.  I thought it was pretty scary and only recall riding it a couple of times.  When I was in the seventh or eighth grade at Our Lady of Angels we had a class picnic, or field trip, at the Puritas Springs Park just prior to summer vacation.  I can remember some of the rides and also roller skating there as well.

--Dan Weber, Rancho Cordova, CA. 95670.  21 February 2007

 My sister and aunt once pushed me out to Puritas Springs Park in a baby carriage. I don’t actually remember the trip but they used to tease me about it later. When I was older I used to ride the Cyclone coaster. People knew it was kind of a dangerous ride so we kids thought it was fun and daring.

--- Richard "Dick" R. Morrison, Cleveland, OH.  15 January2007

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In the summer of 1955 my grandparents celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary and many family members traveled to Cleveland for the occasion.  My mother’s cousin, who was about 37, was a daring woman about 17 years older than I.  She had access to disposable cash which I did not have.  She was from Indiana, and was well aware of the Cyclone’s reputation.  Her husband was afraid of roller coasters but I had ridden the Cyclone from time to time.  Anyway, with her enthusiasm and ability to sponsor more rides than I could ever have imagined, we rode the thing for what seems like an hour.
    Time has distorted the true length but it was certainly more than once or twice.  She didn’t want to get off and I eagerly rode along with her for the afternoon.  What I remember most about the ride was not only the rugged terrain, dipping into woods, but the brief view looking out over the metropolitan park valley was also spectacular.  Most roller coaster rides have smaller hills as the ride progresses but the Puritas Springs Cyclone ended with a dip almost as deep as the start because it used a ravine to plunge into at the end of the ride

--- Henry Kieffer, Lore City, OH. 2 December 2006.

 I worked at Puritas Springs Park and ran every ride except the Cyclone. That Cyclone is still the fastest coaster I have ever ridden. You had to be 21 to operate that ride.  Anyway, one day I was operating the ride we called the Salt and Pepper shaker.  Can't remember its real name right now but it looked like two bullets on a long bar. It would go round and round but if you hit a certain switch it would also rotate up to a point where it was going around parallel to the ground.  This time one of my good friends was in one of the bullets with his girlfriend.  Normally when you hit that switch it made one complete revolution up and down, and then went back to the normal up and down rotation.  Dummy me, when I had them rotating parallel to the ground, I flipped the switch thinking that would keep them rotating parallel continuously until I decided to let them down.  Didn't work that way.  As soon as I hit that switch the entire ride came crashing down against itself and the center pole.  Fortunately, nobody was hurt but the ride was out of commission for 5 days.  My friend thought it was all very funny not realizing he almost got killed.

--- Bob Stanton, North Las Vegas, NV.  22 September 2006

I loved roller-skating at Puritas Springs. There was nothing like skating to Ken Dombey on the organ! I skated to his music at Puritas Springs from 1940 through about 1949. He always played the most popular tunes of the day but then he would mix some others in. What made his music great was that he didn't blast it. The melody was there. Ken was a master of the keyboard. He had style. His music was mellow. For some of the waltzes at Puritas Springs, they would dim the lights. You could converse with a partner and skate at the same time. Many people skated at Puritas just because of Ken Dombey, not just the rink. I met my husband at Puritas Springs and still skated until about two years ago.

--- Lois A. Koff, Fairview Park, OH.  26 June 2007

I remember "Kid's Day" at Puritas Springs. My brother and I got into a competition riding the Cyclone. We rode it 72 times!

--- John M. McKain, Cleveland, OH.  29 May 2007

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Updated 12 May 2015