MEMORIES OF GWYNN OAK PARK

By Owens Pomeroy <opomeroy@msn.com>

     During the 30's, 40's and early 50's Baltimore had two outstanding Amusement Parks, Carlin's at DruidPark Drive and Edmondson Ave. and Gwynn Oak Park on Gwynn Oak Avenue. The more Family oriented one was Gwynn Oak Park. They had Picnic Groves, for Church or Club Picnics, an Ampitheater for outdoor enterrtainment, a boat lake where you could drive peddle boats all night long on the man-made lake.

     Gwynn Oak was the place for the Ethnic Festivals during that era. Such ones as Germen, Polish, Irish, Lithuanian, Italian Jewish , and even Chinese Festivals were held there one week after the other during the Summer. They drew such large crowds from all over the State, that the park was closed to the public on those Festival Days.

     Another feature of the park was the Dixie Ballroom, where some of the greatest Big Bands came on Saturday nights for a one-night only appearance. Such Bands as Goodman, Dorsey, Miller, Kenton, and Shaw, were a mainstay and regulars on the Summer curcuit. And local Bands were there during the weeknights. Joe Dowling, Bob Craig , and George Hipp were the regular House Bands during the week. Amission to the week-end Bands incrreased from 75c to $1.50 per person (a lot of money in those days). They had loud speakers mounted outside the Ballroom so the entire park could hear the music (and even as you got off the old #32 streetcar, you could hear it).

     Many a night you could see couples dancing in the park who did not have the admision to go. Yes, it was a sad day for Baltimore when Gwynn Oak was sold to developers in the eary 60's because attendance had dropped off. Same thing happened to Carlin's, where the only survivors of that park was the Olympic Pool and the Ice Skating Rink.

     With the closing of these two parks, it marked the end of Family Amusment Parks in Baltimore. Most of us journed down the Baltimore/Washington Boulevard to Glen Echo for what ever pleasure we could find. Ah, what memories.

Owens Pomeroy
Baltimore, MD

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