About Me

Sunday, May 2, 2010

About the Author of Images of America: Rock Springs Park




Joseph A. Comm spent his childhood exploring every nook and cranny of his hometown of Chester, West Virginia, but the one place he could not explore was Rock Springs Park, a defunct amusement park which bordered his school’s ball field. The sight of the dilapidated rides and iconic Victorian carousel pavilion which still housed the hand-carved 1927 Dentzel merry-go-round beckoned to a ten-year old Comm, but the “No Trespassing” and “Beware of Dog” signs kept him from hopping the fence and crossing under the wooden supports of the Cyclone roller coaster for a look around; a boyhood fantasy and missed opportunity which led to a lifetime interest in the park.

Comm began researching Rock Springs Park five years ago when writing a children’s novel based on his experiences growing up along the Ohio River – a place once described as “The Showcase of the East.” While researching for that novel, Comm completed a detailed history and time line of Rock Springs Park and in 2008 he shared some of this research online, an effort to attract other fans to share their memories. Kassy Hand, granddaughter of one-time owners Robert and Virginia Hand contacted Comm and urged him to write a book strictly about the park.

Comm studied theater arts and education at the University of Pittsburgh and graduated with BA and MAT degrees. He is a gifted support teacher in Western Pennsylvania where he lives with his wife and four children. When not writing he finds time to sing and play his ukulele.

He hopes that Images of America: Rock Springs Park will bring back fond memories and inspire the telling of more stories to a new generation. Comm sees the book as his chance to give back to Chester and the entire Upper Ohio Valley Region on the 40th anniversary of park’s final season.

5 comments:

Will said...

Great book. I literally absorbed it in two evenings before bedtime. You did a great job on the research and will presented text along with the imagery. And thanks for sharing your personal feelings on the excitement, and thrill and deep nostalgia for Rock Springs Park.

It was a very nice presentation you put together over in the Chester Community Center. I was glad I made it and had a chance to meet with you.

Good luck on your future endeavors. For myself I've taken off with the History of the Cyclone and traced its designer/builders history trying to see if there was one coaster left still running that closely emulated the thrill of that ride. Turns out Coney Island Cyclone is about as close as we can get. Same builder (H.T.) and while not that same L shaped Out and Back, it's dips and turns are very close. It was also built the same year as RSP's.

Will said...

I also introduced your book during this years Family reunion. And sooo many people had stories and were excited to see a publication about their family fun spot as a kid. I know for sure that there were 10 people going to purchase it after viewing my edition.

A few people verified that (at least some time during th 60's) the dark ride by the Pretzel Amusement Co. was called Laugh in the Dark. A very common name for those rides at the time and previous eras.

I've been promised pictures by family members as well as one person whom has some 8mm film shot during one of their outings. I am really keen to see some moving footage of the park.

It has me interested in posting some flyers in the area asking for any and all pictures and more importantly any film to create a DVD for preservation of that footage.

Again thank you for sharing your passion and passing it on.

Average Joe said...

Will, thanks for your kind comments! It's been nice, now that the book has been available for a couple of months, to begin hearing feedback. I'd love to know if you uncover anything new on Rock Springs Park's Cyclone.

Average Joe said...

Will, more and more people are coming forward with images and video of the park. One gentleman, at the book talk in Chester, claims to have a home movie of a ride on the Cyclone. Now that's something I would love to see!

Will said...

Oh man I sure hope that footage of the Cyclone gets published to YouTube or some other site for videos! I'd love too see it. And what I'd like to get my hands on is the Blueprint of the coaster layout. I'd love to make a scale model of it (much like a gentleman did for the famous Wildcat once located in Idora Park. A trolley park just north of Chester in Youngstown, Ohio.

I am joining the Facebook page today. It's amazing how many more gems from the past are coming to light as your excellent book makes its waves up and down the Ohio Valley and beyond!

Who knows, maybe enough new and interesting info will become available and a second book might be an option. Or a supplemental DVD with lots of great footage would be even more wonderful. I imagine there are yards of film & memories moldering in quite a few attics.