Voted the World’s Best Seaside Park

Working my way through school, 1935

As I sit around at age 86, after a long caeer including four years as a Naval Officer during WWII, a long career with NASA-Ames, including managing Space Projects, I recall it all started while working on the Boardwalk at Santa Cruz.

At age 14, in 1935, I worked my first summer at a Pin-ball Gambling concession called Sportland, located next to the Merry-Go-Round. For the next six years, I worked at Winnies Turnover Pie Shop, located in the main Casino building between the Penny Arcade and the Plunge. The job provided most of my income while attending Santa Cruz High School, Salinas JC, and UC-Berkeley, where I graduated in 1942 as an Electrical Enginner before joining the Navy as a Combat Information Center Officer.

My Pie Shop job involved arriving at the Boardwalk every day at 7 AM, swabing the floor around the stools, lighting the oven, making coffee, and serving the early customers before the other help arrived aroung 9 AM. The rest of the day was devoted to making the pie fillings, cleaning baking pans, etc. The early customers were mostly boardwalk employees or managers. Typical were Skip Littlefield, the Seaside Company public relations and salesman, and Malio Stagnaro, who managed his family speedboat concession at the end of the Pleasure Pier.

Occasionally, I served Don Patterson, the star of the Boardwalk’s Saturday night Water Carnival in the Plunge. I listened in while Skip told my boss how he was going to name Patterson as “The Mighty Bosco” after a popular health drink at the time, and have him ride a cable from the top of the Casino to the end of the Pleasure Pier, while wrapped in cloth, soaked in karasene, and on fire. Ultimately, Patterson made this spectacular ride on many Saturday nights, while I watched.

It ended when one night, the pully stuck after they had lit him. He showed up at the Pie Shop later, all bandaged, and said, “Never Again, it’s not worth the pay.”

Jack Foster

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