Monday, April 25, 2016

Author Robert McLaughlin, Wakefield's Pleasure Island, and a new book

Robert McLaughlin is the author of two enjoyable books about a subject I have great affection for:  the theme park Pleasure Island, which was located in Wakefield, Mass. (1959-1969), not far from Boston.  To many New Englanders, Pleasure Island is legendary.

One of Mr. McLaughlin's books--titled, simply, Pleasure Island--was brought out in 2009, as part of Arcadia Publishing's "Images of America" series; its pictures (nearly 200) are in black and white. His follow-up book--Pleasure Island: 1959-1969--was published in 2014, for Arcadia's "Images of Modern America" series, and features 160 images, most of them in color.  (I wrote about Arcadia, and another of its authors, Boston historian Anthony Mitchell Sammarco, in a recent post.)

One of the best-known attractions at Pleasure Island--something I experienced, in childhood--concerned Moby Dick.  One rode in an open boat, and I recall, vaguely (and perhaps inaccurately; I was five or six years old), seeing a cove, of sorts, in the distance.  Soon, an immense Moby Dick facsimile rose from beneath the water. The experience terrified me; I've told people about it for years. (And spoke with Mr. McLaughlin about it; he appeared, twice, on an online talk show I hosted for a few years, until 2014.)

Moby Dick, from Pleasure Island: 1959-1969 (Arcadia Publishing, 2014)

In addition to researching and writing about Pleasure Island, Mr. McLaughlin--who lives in Wakefield, the town where Pleasure Island was located--is the President of the group "Friends of Pleasure Island," and gives periodic walking tours of the former site. (Please see:

Mr. McLaughlin has also written about Freedomland, the 1960s theme park in the Bronx, for Arcadia, and  his latest Arcadia title, about the Golden, Colorado theme park Magic Mountain, is being published today (April 25th). (All three of the venues he has written about--Pleasure Island, Freedomland, and Magic Mountain--were designed by the same firm, Marco Engineering, of Los Angeles.) 

Here are links to his Pleasure Island books:

(Please note:  the paperback edition, included in the above amazon link, is of Mr. McLaughlin's 2009 book; the Kindle version, part of the same link, is for the 2014 book.)

Here is a link to the paperback version of the 2014 book, from the Barnes & Noble website:

Lastly, this is the amazon link to Mr. McLaughlin's book about Colorado's Magic Mountain, released today:

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Prince, in 2004

The video, below, features a beautiful/stunning guitar performance by Prince, at the 2004 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony. This was the year Prince was inducted--as was George Harrison, posthumously.

Others performing here, on Harrison's "While My Guitar Gently Weeps," included Tom Petty and Jeff Lynne, who played with Harrison in The Traveling Wilburys--as well as Harrison's son Dhani.


Along with millions of others, am deeply shocked, and saddened, by Prince's death.

Friday, April 1, 2016

Martin Grams, Jr., "The Big Show," and "Truth or Consequences"

In a March 6th post, I mentioned the author and historian Martin Grams, Jr., and his forthcoming book about The Big Show, the early 1950s radio variety program. The show, which starred Tallulah Bankhead, aired on NBC from 1950 until 1952.

Martin's book about the radio show is scheduled to be published in September--as is his book about the program Truth or Consequences, which aired for years on both radio and television.

I asked Martin about both books, in a recent e-mail.  He told me he's hopeful both will be released in time for the Mid-Atlantic Nostalgia Convention, which runs this year from September 15-17. (He will be making presentations at the convention about both shows.)  The convention--run by Martin and his wife Michelle--takes place in Hunt Valley, Maryland.  

Martin has written a great many books about radio and television programs; his subjects have included The Twilight Zone, the Sam Spade radio show, The Shadow, The Green Hornet (a book written with Terry Salomonson), and The Time Tunnel.