Jutting out into the Delaware River just above Riverview Beach Amusement Park in Pennsville, New Jersey, were long piers of creosoted pilings and cross-timbers that served the ships of the Wilson Line. Tourist boats from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, belonging to that company would come in to the park once or twice a day, loaded with people eager to escape the heat of the city. On Saturday nights, there would be hour-long fireworks displays set off from those piers. Sometimes sparks from particularly big explosions would start a fire on the piers, and the local fire company would have to respond and put out the fire. The smell of charred wood and burned creosote would remain into the following week, and then the whole process would be repeated.
Sounds from the amusement park often intruded on life in our family home on Pittsfield Street. One could often hear the music of the merry-go-round as it gently revolved, the Tilt-a-whirl with it’s bouncing hiss and screaming passengers, the cogs of the high wooden roller coaster as it dragged it’s metal cars to the top of a 90-foot hill, then releasing them to go rattling wildly down and up, down and up again, and of course, the maniacal mechanical laughter from the fun house with it’s crazy mirrors and maze of corridors. All of this was followed by the booming fireworks explosions each Saturday night. When the initial boom signaled that another brilliant hour-long show was about to begin, our poor dog Shorti would dive, whining, under the nearest bed. She spent every Saturday night of every summer in a state of terror. She was not a fan of fireworks shows!