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Nunley's Carousel reader memories

A Stein/Goldstein horse at Nunley's Carousel Horse in

A Stein/Goldstein horse at Nunley's Carousel Horse in Baldwin, circa 1985. Credit: NCA Archives

This weekend, Nunley's Carousel celebrates it's 100th birthday and we asked readers to share their favorite memories. Here's an edited look at what some of them had to say.

"I moved to Baldwin at age 9 from Queens. My first summer there, my new friend and her mom took me to Nunley's. . . . I couldn't believe there was an amusement park in the middle of my neighborhood. I still recall the first time I sat on the carousel and my friends yelled for me to grab the golden ring. I had no concept about such a thing!"  -- Kellie Ramsey, 43, Malverne

"'But you promised!' My mother always told the story of how that was my lament as a youngster about going to Nunley's Carousel in Baldwin during a hurricane! I was a lover of the carousel and the trip from South Massapequa to Baldwin was not a quick one in the 1950s, before AC in the cars. I loved all the arcade games, but the jewel was the carousel -- brightly colored, majestic and captivating to a child. When the organ music began, the excitement swelled. . . . Years later, when the carousel was to be sold at auction, I considered buying one of the horses, but thankfully it remained intact and will continue to entertain children and make family memories for many years to come." -- Susan Bruno, 65, Amityville

"In the early 1940s, when my sister and I were in elementary school in Malverne, on Friday nights my parents would take us to visit family in Freeport. On the way there we always passed by Nunley's. Our parents would promise us that if we "behaved" while visiting, they would stop on the way home at Nunley's so we could ride on the carousel. With a promise like that for a 5- and 8-year-old, we sure did mind our manners! My sister and I still have fond memories of those Friday night rides. Nunley's Carousel has always had a special place in our hearts, and years later, when we had children, we took them to Nunley's, too." -- Eleanore Klepper, 75, Setauket

"On Sundays, after breakfast, it was off to Nunley's! We would all fight for the horses on the outside because we knew those were the ones you could reach out and grab the rings. If you got the brass ring, you got a free ride!

"I clearly remember the sound of the bell ringing as the ride began, horses in a rainbow of colors proudly prancing to the music, smiling faces everywhere. I remember the anticipation as I approached the spot where you could pull the ring. . . . I would edge as far as I could off my horse, hoping to grab a ring, any ring. Somehow, partly because I was only 6 or so, I NEVER got the ring. Week after week I tried, week after week I failed, but I never gave up.

"Time went by, I grew older and we stopped going to Nunley's. I remember the sadness I felt when I heard they were closing, but I also remember the many happy Sundays spent there as a family. When life would get tough and knock me down, my father would always tell me, 'Krissy, never stop reaching for the brass ring, always try your best and you will reach your goals.' My dad passed 16 years ago, when he was only 57. His battle with cancer was tough, but he never gave up. His words are in my mind every day, and I often tell my children my story." -- Kristina Clancy, 45, Old Bethpage

"I remember such fond days of going to Nunley's as a kid. My sister and I would ride the carousel and she always got the gold rings. I would wind up with the brass ones. Every time I went there, I was determined to get those gold rings but never did, but it made me more determined to do as well as my sister.

"And I remember the railroad tracks ride that you turned by hand, which was always such a treat. I couldn't wait for my parents to take me there. Later, when I went to Freeport High School, it was great to hear the sounds of Nunley's rides and to sneak over to get some refreshments. Those were wonderful days and great memories." -- Barbara Chichester, 61, South Huntington

"I lived on Milburn Avenue in Baldwin, a short walk to Nunley's Carousel. When I was really young, my dad would stand next to me and hold me as I rode. As the years went by, I especially loved riding the black stallion with the red roses. It was one that went up and down as the carousel circled. The pleasure of leaning out from that beautiful horse to try to catch the gold ring and get a free ride is something I will always remember." -- Susan Morse Zawyrucha, 63, of Baldwin

"As a child in the '50s, I remember with great joy visiting Nunley's with my dad. I was too little to grab the 'golden rings,' so my dad stood by me and helped! Later on, around 1970, my future husband and I visited so I could relive those days, and we had a great time. . . . Now I live in Baldwin. I always remember the carousel whenever I drive by and hope that future generations will get to enjoy its magic!" -- Dorothy Vaccaro, 59, Baldwin

"Back in the '60s going to Nunley's was such a treat. We would go to church on Sundays. Only if we were good in church, we would get to go to Nunley's. I would spend the entire time on the carousel, trying to get the gold ring to earn a free ride. If we weren't good in church, my father would still drive past Nunley's. We would beg him to stop, but he would say it was closed. I'd say, 'But the Ferris wheel is moving,' and he'd say, 'That's because the wind was blowing.' It's one of my favorite childhood memories. I'm now 53 and after reading how the carousel was moved and refurbished, it brought tears to my eyes." -- AnnMarie Kiel, 53, West Babylon

"My family moved to Freeport, right on the Baldwin border, a month before I turned 5, so my two younger brothers and I spent many happy times at Nunley's with our parents. . . . As I got a little older, the rides became too 'babyish' for me, but the carousel always held its enchantment. You could still be cool and ride it, but of course you NEVER rode the stationary horses -- no, only the ones that went up and down would do.

"The thought of snatching the gold ring (and a free ride!) was thrilling, but getting the courage to stand up in those stirrups and reach that far out was scary at first. Eventually, I became quick enough to grab two rings at a time, thus enhancing my chances at that gold ring! I remember not taking my eyes off the arm that held the rings as I was coming around, watching to see if anyone in front of me had beaten me to it.

"I moved to Massapequa after I got married, but my three kids and I were frequent visitors to Nunley's. . . . Four generations of my family have gone there! I took my youngest son for a final go-round the last weekend before Nunley's closed for good. It was bittersweet for me, because I have such wonderful memories of that magical place, both for me and my kids. I haven't visited the restored carousel yet, but I fully intend to do so. And whenever I go past that spot on Sunrise Highway, either in my car or on the train, I can picture Nunley's in my head like it was yesterday, and it never fails to put a smile on my face." -- Robin Tierney, 56, Massapequa

"I have fond memories of riding on Nunley's Carousel during my childhood years. I cherish most the memory of Thanksgiving weekend 1952, when I went on a hay ride, which was a youth group activity from the Hempstead Methodist Church. It was my first date with a young college man, who had been a couple of years ahead of me in high school. The destination of the hay ride was Nunley's Carousel.

"We all had a wonderful time riding the horses and trying to grab the gold ring. I don't remember if either one of us got the gold ring, but we did fall in love and I got a ring, a diamond one, in August 1954. We will be married 57 years June 11.

"Those horses that pulled the hay wagon and the ones that went up and down on the carousel started us on our own ride to a life that has been 'golden.' " -- Susan Oman, 75, Huntington

"When my wife and I were courting, we rode on Nunley's Carousel many times, usually on one of the chariot seats. When we got married (32 years ago), the whole wedding party went to the carousel for pictures.We are thrilled the carousel was saved and restored. We have been to its present location in Museum Row and ridden on it. It has been beautifully restored and brought tears to our eyes when we saw it. We have a lot of fond memories of Nunley's Carousel." -- Bruce and Carol Clark, 65 and 64, respectively, Patchogue

"As a child, my parents used to take me there and I loved riding the horses, the music and reaching for the brass ring.

"We had five children and we took them to Nunley's also and they loved it. By that time, there were some added attractions, with some rides outside the building plus all the game machines and the fortune teller. However, the all-time favorite was the carousel.

"Our youngest daughter, Patti, had her first job at the carousel when she was in high school. I recall buying her the Nunley's poster and having it framed. When our married children would come to visit us with their children, there was always a trip to Nunley's during their visit." -- Sue Fricke, 76, Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., who grew up in Baldwin

"I have always had a soft spot in my heart for Nunley's Carousel. . . . All the rides were fantastic because they were scaled down to fit the children perfectly. I still get excited visiting the four-cage Ferris wheel from Nunley's that is now at Jordan's Lobster Farm in Island Park." -- JoAnn Devine, Valley Stream

"My parents used to take my brother, sister and me to Nunley's quite often when we were young -- 5-8 years old. Afterward, we would stop at Pinky's Ice Cream Parlor. It was a wonderful day for a kid and still gives me great memories." -- Beth Meixner, 55, Brightwaters

"Growing up in Bellmore, Baldwin was just around the corner. My husband of 32 years and I started dating back in high school. . . . Nunley's was a regular date night. We would go to play miniature golf and then, of course, take a ride on the carousel. If you were lucky enough to grab that brass ring, it was even more special. . . . Fast forward and now our grandchildren are enjoying the carousel." -- Maureen Hirten Agostinacchio, 54, Bellmore

"Nunley's Carousel was a big part of growing up in Nassau County. My parents took us there, usually on a Sunday. When I had my children and still lived in Valley Stream, we took them there. Now I have grandchildren. I am looking forward to taking them to ride on the carousel. Even though it's not in the same place, it still brings back happy memories." -- MaryEllen Gathard, 57, Middle Island

"Despite closing when I was only 7 years old, Nunley's was a central part of my childhood. Just hearing that word makes a smile instantly sweep across my face, mostly because, more than anything, Nunley's reminds me of my grandfather. I'm not even sure how much I actually enjoyed going on the carousel, but I think it was one of those things where my love for my grandpa made me love anything he loved, and boy, did he love Nunley's.

"My first documented visit to Nunley's was in 1989, when I was just over a year old. Nunley's was Grandpa Al's favorite place to take me (and later, my brother and cousins), and I even had a couple birthday parties there. How fitting that the carousel turns 100 the same year Grandpa Al would have.

"It's been 10 years since Grandpa passed away, and even more since my last ride at Nunley's. But the carousel lives on in its new home, and Grandpa does, too, in my memories, at the center of which stands that slowly rotating platform, with its organ music and brightly colored horses, and Grandpa smiling and snapping Grandpa-quality (read: mediocre) photos of me from next to the pinball machine. I haven't been back to see it since my final ride, and even though I still have my last, unused ticket, I'm not so sure I'd want to see the carousel again. Aside from the fact that my ticket probably wouldn't be valid anyway, it just wouldn't be the same without Grandpa Al." -- Jaclyn Porter, 24, Rockville Centre

"I have such fond childhood memories of growing up in Long Beach in the '50s and '60s, but one of the most special was of the pilgrimage several times a year to Nunley's. My father, Vic Axelrod, would pack the family into the pink Rambler and drive out to Baldwin for a wonderful day of rides, games, hot dogs and popcorn.

"The highlight of the trip would always be the rides I took on what I thought was the most beautiful hand-carved wood and painted carousel in the country. I would wait patiently for the slowing-down carousel to stop, and positioned myself to jump up on my favorite horse, a gold Palomino with red roses that cascaded down its neck. I would eagerly await the three bongs that signaled the next ride would begin. The festive Wurlitzer Band Organ music and the aroma of cotton candy and popcorn would transport me and "Goldie" on a magical adventure.

"Best of all, there was the added challenge of leaning out as far as you could to grab for the iron rings that were suspended from a wooden arm. Among the gray-colored rings, there was a coveted treasure, one brass ring. All the others had to be tossed back into a bucket held out by the attendant at the end of the ride, but the brass ring could be traded for a free ride! My older brother, Michael, was the first of the Axelrod siblings to be big enough to reach for the rings. Soon after, I figured out the correct way to maneuver my body to achieve the longed-for goal. Finally, my twin sister, Mae, was able to join the club.

"I was heartbroken when I read in Newsday that Nunley's had gone out of business. It was as if a piece of my childhood had closed with it. I'm ecstatic that a new generation of children will experience my same happiness at the carousel's new home on Museum Row, and they, too, can grab the brass ring." -- Joan Perrin, 60, Port Jefferson Station

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