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Ed Fruh

An article by and about Ed Fruh of Tinley Park, IL, known as
“The Guy Who Is Building Riverview”.

By Ed Fruh
Riverview Park in Chicago was and has been a special love of mine for as long as I can remember. For many years, I thought I was the only one with such a passion. That is until I met the National Amusement Park Historical Association (NAPHA) and its members. This fondness of mine has been, to my surprise, shared by many others who have ever visited Riverview.

One afternoon, a reporter from a local paper, The Daily Southtown, called and wanted to do an interview about the scale models I build of some of the rides that were featured at the great park. The reporter was taken up with the models and the stories relayed, so much so, I felt he forgot why he came in the first place. The article with color pictures was nevertheless very kind and prompted many calls from folks all over the Chicago area. A week or so later, WGN radio called and requested that I be interviewed on a program talking again about the same miniature models of Riverview. I was surprised but honored at the novel interest.

The Program was broadcast live on an all night talk show and I was to be on the air (via telephone) at 11:30 P.M. It was to last about 1/2 an hour. This was tough as my bed time is usually 9:30 or 10:00 and this night I had to stay, not only awake but alert as well. There was a great unexpected interest in the models by the listeners. Where can they be seen, and how did I get started in this unique hobby? I told them:

After retiring one needs a hobby to wile away the winter months. H.O. scale model railroading was, in the past, very active in our family. Now however, the railroad and all that went with it is long gone. Restarting this hobby was not in my future. Building a scale model of a carnival was something I had always wanted to do, and that is where it all began. After assembling several store bought plastic kits of rides, I tried scratch building - my favorite - “Aladdin’s Castle” - a dark walk through at Riverview. I would add Aladdin to my carnival.

Using several black and white photos and straining my memory, Aladdin started to take shape. This was the fun part. With no dimensions to work from, the model was first made from paper. I used file folder stock. First this facade, then the next. The foot print began to develop. After a lot of trial and terror of cutting a little here adding a touch there the correct proportions were taking shape. As I said this was the fun part as each area of the castle was designed, the memories were triggered and all the good times of many years ago returned.

Transferring the design and dimensions to bass wood, Aladdin was born again, in about two and a half months. He indeed sparked many memories of all who have seen him, again. I know this sounds like patting myself on the back but gosh, I am so proud of my friend, Aladdin and his castle!
Now several years after retirement, I have built only rides that were featured at Riverview. Models numbering 15 so far, include an art deco hot dog stand, the famous “Palace of Wonders”, or as some called it - the freak show. Shoot the Chutes, Ghost Train, the Main Gate that stood on Western Avenue in all its inviting splendor, and the most ambitious so far - The Pair-o-Chutes.

This is an all brass model standing some 30 inches into the sky and is now the tallest ride in the park. The Flying Turns has caught the notice of many observers as this was an unusual roller coaster - one without tracks. It is always interesting to see each guest gesturing with their hand how they remember the Flying Turns cars banking on the walls of this toboggan-type ride. The carousel revolving and the music spilling out into the park sets the mood of the day.

Do I have the “Bobs?’ was always asked by the callers. This favorite was finally added in 2002 some 35 years after it had been taken down. I will continue building and remembering Riverview as long as I am able. I love sharing the models and the memories they bring with others and hope you too will remember your favorite park and rides when you retire. Yes I have a second childhood, but it is in H.O. scale. My wife says I have never grown up, only out. Bless her.
I think.

Second ride - 10 cents. Have your money ready..

Ed Fruh
Tinley Park, IL.

It would be nice to hear from you.
efruh@sbcglobal.net
 
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