The Legion Carnival Train and Booths

1978 Carnival, Gary Saretzky

The previous post on the American Legion Carnival in the 1970s resulted in wonderful discussions and memories on Facebook. These lead us to the new discoveries below – the “Carnival Train,” and a better understanding of the variety of booths at the event.

This annual Hopewell event was held in the 1960s and 1970s at the post home of Hopewell Valley American Legion Post 339, on Van Dyke Road in Hopewell Township.

And people on Facebook clearly have great memories of the carnivals:

  • “I have the fondest memories of those carnival days. Can’t tell you how many goldfish we came home with through the years.”
  • “It was the high point of the summer for teens!”
  • “The highlight of my childhood!”
  • “Growing up, this was the big event of the summer for us!”
  • “My absolute favorite memory growing up in Hopewell.”
  • “The goldfish, the train, dancing to Cream’s “Sunshine of your Love”.”
  • “I loved that my parents went a couple of times when I was a young teenager and let me wander and mingle. I know it really wasn’t their type of place to go. So it was special that they did it.”

The Carnival Train

Carnival Train [Andree Wyckoff]

People also remember the Carnival Train, a trolley / bus that ferried passengers to the Legion grounds on Van Dyke Road from around the Hopewell area:.

  • “The “carnival train” was a favorite till I became a teen.”
  • “It was a motor vehicle that looked like a train. You would pack like 30 kids in it and they would drive around the Valley blowing the horn and bell. Good memories.”
  • “We would take the trolley up some days. It would run from the corner of Broad St. and Greenwood Ave. to the Legion.”
  • “The train rides through town all the way out to the elks in Montgomery and back! The driver didn’t let any grass grow under his wheels blowing the horn all the way!”

And we now have a photo of this vehicle, thanks to Andree Wyckoff. This is apparently the local train, marked “Mercer County, N. J.,” but unfortunately the location in the photo is unclear and the photo is undated.

These train-looking vehicles were operated by a charitable honor society for veterans, the “Forty & Eight.” The group was formed in 1920 after the First World War, and named for the French boxcars that carried American doughboys to the front lines. The boxcars were labelled “40/8,” for “quarente hommes et huit chevaux” – since they were designed to carry forty men or eight horses. The organization then has carried this shared experiences as the theme for its name, symbols, and activities.

The Carnival Booths

We also can reconstruct descriptions of the popular Carnival booths from people’s happy memories.

We’ll group these into three categories, as shown in the images:

Amusements – Typically games of skill and/or chance to win a prize, with different individual booths offering various games for specific types of prizes. These included multiple spinning wheels and pitch and throw type activities, to win prizes from cartons of cigarettes to household appliances.

Refreshments – Individual booths, each for specific kinds of refreshments, including hamburgers & hot dogs, cotton candy, and homemade goods.

Kids – Children’s activities and attractions. These included the perennial ping-pong ball throw into bowls to win a goldfish to balloons and plush animals.

Amusement Stands

  • “Big Six” – Big Wheel – Cigarette cartons
  • Nickel pitch – Win 5 packs of Kool or Camel non-filters
  • Glassware – Dime pitch
  • Flower stand – Small wheel
  • Glassware – Throw dimes
  • Watermelon – Wheel spin – Numbers on table
  • Appliances – Wheel
  • Darts – Small appliances
  • Raffle – Groceries from Pennington Market
  • Candy wheel – Spinning vertical clicker wheel – red, white and blue numbers
    Some marked “box” to win full box of your choice

Refreshment Stands

  • Food Stand – Hot dogs & hamburgers, sausages, coffee
  • Popcorn Stand
  • Cotton Candy Stand
  • Fancy Stand – Homemade goods
  • Birch Beer Stand

Kid Stands

  • Goldfish – Ping Pong throw into small glass fishbowl
  • Golf Ball Roll – Toys / Small appliances
  • Fishing
  • Balloons
  • Plush Animals – Wheel – pick a number (1-60)

Thanks to the folks on Facebook for sharing their memories. We welcome additional memories and images from the Legion Carnival that we can share.

  • The color snapshots of the 1973 Carnival are from Hopewell Post 339 Scrapbooks.
  • The black & white photos of the 1978 Carnival are from Gary Saretzky.

== View the Legion Carnival photos in the Image Gallery ==

== View the Gary Saretzky photos of the Legion Carnival in the Image Gallery ==

More on Veterans Organizations

Posts on the American Legion and other local veterans organizations
See also Town Events and Memorial Day



Media / Materials

More on Town Events

See also Memorial Day

Hopewell – Harvest Fair, Community Day, Fire Dept. and Legion Carnivals

Pennington – Pennington Day

Titusville – Fourth of July

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