Big Fun in the Cemetery

Yesterday we had a perfect late summer afternoon on our hands – -staying indoors was not an option. Luckily as we read on the indispensable blog Travalanche, nearby Green-wood Cemetery has just opened an exhibition in honor of one of their charges, William F. Mangels, a Coney Island ride and game designer and manufacturer.

Some may wonder at the propriety of Green-wood’s program of lectures, exhibitions, concerts and social events, but I think they’re fully appropriate. They are like extensions of the monuments themselves – -celebrations and remembrances of the lives of those who are interred there. People are frequently a bit illogical on this topic. If you believe in the existence of a soul, then you probably also believe in heaven…in which case, the souls aren’t HERE, are they? Just the mortal remains. This is a place to come and remember lives. If you think about it, a properly run cemetery ought to be a sort of biography park.

(The nicer photos below were taken by the Mad Marchioness. I am responsible for the ones that look like garbage.)


At any rate, Mangels was in the “Fun” business. He is said to have devised the mechanism that allows carousel horses to go up and down, and to have invented such rides as The Whip and The Tickler.  (See a short bio about him here at the Coney Island History Project). And so this wonderful exhibition:








William F. Mangels: Amusing the Masses at Coney Island will be up through October 26. More details here. 

After the exhibition we strolled the grounds as we love to do, and within a few yards of the chapel, encountered this:


Only silent film and comedy buffs would know why this would be of interest; in fact I wouldn’t have known to look for it if Ben Model hadn’t done a wonderful program here on the subject of Charles Inslee and others a few months back. (For my full article on Inslee, go here.). One thing confused me, though. Conventional dates for Inslee’s birth and death from most online sources say 1870-1922. Above, we see a discrepancy. Are there two Charles Inslees? Are the online sources wrong? Or this one? Send your cards and letters here.

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