The Spectator, July, 1942

The Coney Island of the West

By Clara Shepard

Portlanders with a merry-making mood coming on, always head toward Jantzen Beach park on the Columbia river. While there are no orange trees around it ... it has the biggest area of improved amusement park facilities (under one ownership) in America. (O.K., Coney Island is made up of many parks...lumped into one.) It is the picnic place par excellence; it really has what it takes for family entertaining en masse; and there are three special private areas for groups, with their own softball grounds and horseshoe courts.

There are 16 kinds of ways to snap one groggy by rides at Jantzen Beach. There is the giant dipper with its soul-wrecking and perfectly safe...crashes; the loop-o-plane where one is at the mercy of the single arm...and the rollo-plane which adds the final ga-ga trick of turning while looping; there are the buzzer, the scooter, the giant swing...thrills and chills and spills.

Then, as one gradually returns to earth and sanity, there is the boat ride through a dark tunnel where the bars to boy-meets-girl are entirely let down; and the pastoral boat ride through the park designed for grandpa and little Sally.

There is the Ferris wheel offering its private seat in the sky; the merry-go-round decked with tinsel which suddenly takes on the gold of "really true" right before one's eyes.

There is the newest thing in anti-air-craft guns (and any small boy in town can explain that beam of light principle)...and the strength testers and love meters in the penny arcade.

If a young man about town says dancin' to a girl, he might just as well say Jantzen beach at the same time...for they are synonymous as far as she is concerned. The golden canopied ballroom features the sweetest swing in the county every night of the park's season, with a parade of "big name" dance bands moving across its engagements of a night to a fortnight. The sixth season of Dad Watson's calling off old time square dances is in full swing. The old timers know that he holds forth every Sunday afternoon.

And anybody could be suited with a swim (or for a swim) at Jantzen. There are four crystal-clear, outdoor swimming pools...two for diving and swimming, and two for the small fry to wade in. There is complete natatorium service; the water is tempered; the diving equipment is all of the most modern type; there is a life guard on duty all the time that the pools are being used. . .