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Gentlemen Will Not Get Gay: 1925

Gentlemen Will Not Get Gay: 1925

Funhouse at the Glen Echo amusement park in Maryland circa 1925. Note the many cryptic signs. View full size. National Photo Company glass negative.


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Thank You

I appreciate the translation, I've been sitting here (in our current Internet vernacular) going o_O trying to figure that one out, ha.

Chautauqua Amphitheater

According to the historical marker at Glen Echo, this building was the original Chautauqua amphitheater built in 1891. It opened as the fun house in 1911 and operated till 1948. In 1956 the termite ridden building was burned to make room for a parking lot.

Attractions in the building included, the Rocking Pigs, the Whirl-i-gig, Crossing The Ice, and the Barrel of Fun. The Anonymous Tipster (07/25/2008, 4:36pm.) is remembering correctly: the roulette wheel was later altered by sinking it into the ground resulting in a low wall around the edge.

Crapo Parks

I was born in Burlington & grew up in a neighboring town. I know I've gone down that slide but it's been years and I can't remember if the slide is at Dankwardt or Crapo Parks. (For those not familiar with the area, yes Crapo is an unfortuante name for a very pretty park. Pronounced "cray-po"). At Crapo, there are two artillery guns (I don't know exactly what they were - they had seats & long barrels). They were up on a bluff and I remember sitting on them and shooting imaginary shells to Illinois.

Going Up

Similar slide in Burlington, IA:

It is scarier going up than down.

Slide in Burlington, IA

Laughing Sal - East Coast

For those of us on the East Coast, the "Laughing Sal" who used to reside on the Ocean City, Maryland, Boardwalk is currently on display at the Ocean City Life-Saving Station Museum. She's no longer mobile and they have her enclosed in a glass case, but you can push a button to hear a recording of her laugh.

In fact, if you click here, there's a (not very good) photo of her at the bottom of the page, and a sound clip of her laugh will automatically play, so turn up your speakers!

The Wheel

The wheel at the Fun House in SF which I used to frequent in the early 40's I remember as having a low fence around it into which you slammed when you were eventually swooshed off the platter. Am I misremembering? This one looks a bit hazardous for passersby. Scariest thing for me? Those big padded spinning wheels you had to walk between to get in the place. My friends were usually well on their way before I worked up the nerve.

Does anyone else remember

Does anyone else remember the "disembodied head" versions of this Laffing Sal thing that were a gift-store fad in the late '70s-early 80s and scared the crap out of me( and probably most other small kids) at the time? They don't seem to have stuck around very long, for obvious reasons.


I am enjoying the posts about the old Fun House at Playland-at-the-Beach. In our Playland-Not-at-the-Beach museum in El Cerrito, California we have many artifacts from the beach amusements. A few points I would like to correct:

1.) The Fun House was not demolished in 1971. It was torn down after September 4, 1972 -- the date the whole park closed and was demolished to make room for condominiums.

2.) At San Francisco's Playland she was named Laughing Sal -- the variant spelling "Laffin' Sal" was used in many other parks across the country. She was also known as Laughing Lena and many other names. The Sals were mass produced and purchased by amusement parks out of a catalogue.

3.) The Laughing Sal that is now at Santa Cruz was the final Sal at San Francisco's Playland. There were earlier ones that wore out. Santa Cruz purchased her from the John Wickett estate for $ 50,000. Wickett had purchased her for $ 4000 decades before.

To learn more, visit our website:, or better yet, visit our museum for the time of your life!

Richard Tuck
10979 San Pablo Avenue
El Cerrito, CA 94530
Website is
(510) 232-4264 x25 for reservations
(510) 592-3002 24-Hour Information Line


You're right, Dave, that was tterrace:

No matter, thanks for stimulating so many great memories.


Looks boring for the women

Not much a woman of the time could have had fun doing there, modesty ya know.

As seen on the Silver Screen

I've seen this ride in a silent movie -- if I recall correctly, it was "The 'It' Girl" with Clara Bow. Looked like fun -- if I ever make it to Australia, I'll have to check it out!

Re: Laffing Sal

Here is the Laffing Sal at Santa Cruz.

The Slide

Longtime visitor, first time commenter ... love Shorpy.
Anyway, there's a slide almost identical to this, from the same time period, in my home town of Burlington, Iowa. You can still go on it, and it is indeed terrifying climbing up those steps -- you don't realize how high it is until you're about halfway up. I have a photo but am not sure how to post it.

[First, register as a user. Then log in and click the Upload Image link. - Dave]

Where's Sal?

I thought Playland's Laffing Sal lived at the Musee Mechanique now (

Rowdyism and Reminiscences

The one sign must be "Rowdyism is the birth-mark of a rough neck."

Here in the Twin Cities, we had the Excelsior Amusement Park (on Lake Minnetonka) up until the early 70's. It was built in the early 20's and replaced a park that had been on Big Island in the middle of the lake. Excelsior Park had a fun house with similar attractions. The "roulette wheel" was rarely operational by the time I was around (in the 60's), but I do remember riding it once and staying on it until the operator gave up (I was near the center, didn't weigh much, and had sweaty palms).

There was a revolving barrel, which they later built a catwalk through and decorated the interior with fluorescent paint and black lights. Apparently they got tired of rescuing people who fell down trying to walk through it.

There was a giant slide, and one of those obstacle-course-like things with sliding or jumping floorboards. It was equipped with air jets, presumably for blasting ladies' skirts into the air, but no one was ever operating them in my day. There were a couple of other attractions in the fun house as well.

I also remember that they had "Report Card Day". You could bring your report card, and for every A, you got 3 ride tickets, for every B you got 2, and for every C you got 1. Very nice of them.

Other attractions included bumper cars with metal bumpers, a rotted wooden roller coaster that occasionally jumped the track (my folks never let me ride it), a little train that took you out on a pier over the lake and many of the usual rides - ferris wheel, scrambler, tilt-a-whirl, etc. The carousel was a work of art by the Philadelphia Toboggan Company. It's the only part of the park that survives and is now an attraction at Valleyfair - the modern-day, sanitized theme park in the Twin Cities. Here's a link to a picture of the carousel:
You can see others by clicking Previous or Next.

Why is a mouse when it spins?

I'm pretty sure the sign at the far right says "Why is a mouse when it spins?", not "house." This is a pretty well-known example of an "anti-joke" (others are the classic "Why did the chicken cross the road?" and the shaggy-dog story "No soap, radio"). There are various different "punch lines," but Google suggests that "the higher, the fewer" is the most common.

I'm sure a historian of humour somewhere would be interested to find this documentation of the joke from 1925.

[Yes it should be mouse. The joke is mentioned in an 1899 newspaper article ("Mr. Scullin' connundrum"). - Dave]

Laffing Sal

I didn't realize until I just now did some searching that it's "Laffing," not "Laughing" Sal, and that the automaton was not exclusive to SF's Playland at the Beach, but a standard fixture of old-style amusement parks since the 1930s. Additional surprise: the Playland Sal is now ensconced at the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk. Man, if they only still had that giant clown face, what a then-and-now pic that would make, but they shut the fun house down in 1971 for liability reasons.

Fun house

I spent many a fun filled hour in the late 1950s in the Fun House. The slide was a favorite and the long climb in the narrow, steep stairs was kinda cool also. Do you remember "Laughing Sally"?


tterrace does indeed remember a fun house ride like this, but at San Francisco's Playland at the Beach rather than Santa Cruz. Not sure what the official name was; I called it the turntable. It was smaller and less elaborate than this, and just one of many things in the Fun House. Know what the best thing was about these things? They were made of wood! Highly-polished (in large part by the posteriors of the fun-seekers) hardwood, like this one. The giant slide was, too, as well as the tumbler, a big revolving cylinder. Those were the days when falling on your keister was fun.

Getting Gay

Based on one OED definition of gay:

Forward, impertinent, too free in conduct, over-familiar; usually in the phrase "to get gay". U.S. slang.

I'd translate the sign from 1925 slang:

"Gentlemen will not get gay. Others must not"

Into current vernacular as:

"Real gentlemen won't act like jerks. Others had better not."

High Ladder to slide....

Look how high the children climbed to get onto the sliding spiral....that must have been half the thrill climbing up that high...

Ride it, too!

There is still one of these operating at Luna Park, which is right on the Harbour in Sydney, Australia. Leave it to the Australians to take litigiousness out of the equation--have you seen how little padding their footballers wear?

Human roulette wheel

No doubt Dave will remember the "human roulette wheel" from the Fun House on the Boardwalk in Santa Cruz, CA. It was a great ride except for flying off and smashing into someone else or being smashed into. Funny but we all had a great time, survived, and didn't feel a need to sue anyone for a few bumps and bruises.

[I think you mean tterrace. - Dave]

Sign, Sign

Everywhere a sign.

1. Sit down on the wheel don't stand up.
2. Do not get on or off roulette wheel while in motion.
3. Last night we hung one rowdy. The rope still works.
4. The operator is a bird. He is perched high just to make the wheels hum.
5. Forget your cares. Be a kid if only for an hour.
6. Gentlemen will not get gay. Others must not.
7. The bull moose is for fun. Don't shoot the bull.
8. If you find a four foot round square please hand it over to ru---.
9. Rowdyism is the birth-mark of a rough n---.
10. The answer to the question "Why is a mouse when it spins" is the higher the fewer.

Dangerous rides

When I see photos of old amusement park rides I'm always amazed how dangerous they look. They use the throw people around like rag dolls. They would never have such rides nowadays. Maybe people were tougher back then- or maybe they didn't have good personal injury lawyers!

Human Roulette

Washington Post May 21, 1911

A New Glen Echo

Outdoor Amusement Grounds Present Many Attractive Features

With the opening next Saturday afternoon of the Glen Echo Park, which under its new management of local business men, has been practically rebuilt in the last few months, the Washington summer outdoor amusement season will swing into full stride.

No single department has been slighted in the complete rehabilitation of the Glen Echo Park, in which 50 attractions will be in operation when the gates are open next Saturday. Important among these is a new open air dancing pavilion, ample enough in area to permit of its use by 500 persons at the same time, and this is only one of a dozen structures recently erected to house the newest devices to provide fun and merriment in summer amusement parks. The spacious interior of the amphitheater has been entirely remodeled into a new midway, in which have been placed ten of the latest contraptions with which to defy the trials of the "dog days," including a "human roulette wheel" and a "giant slide-ride," said to be the largest in the United States. Other attractions include a novel marine toboggan, the "social dip," a thrilling topsy-turvy ride, Ferris wheel, modern miniature railway, a new boating pavilion at the canal bank.

Some Observations

1. It is awfully loud in there - See the kid lower-center.

2. Gentlemen Still Do Not Get Gay - 2008.

3. The Carneys are as well dressed the patrons.

4. Sometimes the Bull Moose isn't so fun - It's at those times that it may be necessary to actually shoot the Bull.

Was this ride called the Bull Moose by chance? Don't Shoot The Bull meant don't loiter after the "ride" is over??

[Also, who can tell us which building this is. - Dave]

"The Nauseator"

Boy, that ride looks truly thrilling.

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