by Jay Ducharme
(All text and images copyright Jay Ducharme 2018.)
The building was a clearspan structure that featured giant curved arches that park supervisor Roger Fortin built by hand. Attached to those arches were hundreds of light bulbs that provided illumination and looked magical, especially when I was a kid. The arches weren't really structural; in the winter, the park crew had to install 8" beams to hold up the roof from the snow load. But given the size of the building and its open nature, I was afraid that it would collapse on itself if it was made of the standard card stock I'd been using. The sides of the building itself were rather featureless, painted a flat white. And there wasn't much of the building exterior visible. The area facing the midway was a wall of garage doors. The area facing the parking lot was hidden by trees. So I opted to make the entire structure out of foam core board, which would give me the rigidity I needed. The roof would still be card stock.
I debated whether to recreate the building's arches. While they'd help support the roof, I didn't need that much support. And people looking at the model would never be able to see the arches. It would be a lot of work with no tangible benefit. So instead I created a simple roof support in the center of the structure. The foam core board was trickier to cut. I didn't get the clean lines I was used to from the card stock. That was most noticeable with the garage door openings. But once the model was complete, they'd be difficult to see.
The puzzle on this building was the stage, which was a clamshell attached to the back of the building. I assumed I'd just glue triangular strips as I did with other roofs. After all, the actual stage was built that way, albeit much larger. I wasn't sure I'd be able to curve the card stock correctly. But first I noticed another issue.
While I was double checking photos of the stage, I noticed that it was actually raised off the ground about a two feet. In fact, the entire east side of the pavilion (facing the parking lot) was floating above the ground on stilts. I remember that spare ride parts and equipment used to be stored underneath it. The ground had sloped away sharply away from the pavilion, much like the problem I had with the merry-go-round and Dodgems. But my surface had no slope there. Also, the ground abutting the stage not only sloped, it dropped off a cliff much like the area below the Cutie Caddy. I could have left it alone and racked up another inaccuracy. But instead I took a deep breath, got my chisel and began tearing out the Homasote below the pavilion. I didn't go so far as to remove anything under the pavilion itself, but I painted a dark grey line along the base of the building giving the illusion that there was space below it. Then I sanded and repainted the surface to match the pavement and grass in other areas.
I was debating how to raise the stage area up off the ground. Then I discovered I had lots of spare cork from my model railroad. So I cut strips and glued them down behind the pavilion. Then I cut an arc out of foam core board and glued that to the cork strips. I also added a horizontal brace so that I could attach the paper strips to the back of the building. I let that dry, then cut out the roofing triangles as I had first done for the merry-go-round building. I wasn't happy how the wood glue I was using (which bonded really well) was leaving yellow streaks on the building's white surface. So I got some regular white glue to attach the triangle strips. The stuff just wouldn't hold. Pieces kept popping up and I'd have to press them down over and over. Finally, everything held in place, but the result wasn't pretty. It was comical, actually, appearing to be a deflated hot air balloon that had collapsed there. I tore it all off and pondered my options.
To give my mind a break from that, I began work on a simpler structure: the mini-arcade building just across from the pavilion. It was a simple narrow box structure, but it had one tricky part: the signs over the different concessions formed a sort of tall extended facade that tilted outward. And capping the building's north end was Frosty Joy, the ice cream concession that had an even more elaborate facade.
So I began with the main building. I found various photos of the mini arcade and attached concessions. One of the left side of the arcade featured the park's matron, Mabel Zinn, standing out front. I couldn't find a photo of the right side, so I copied the left side and flipped it, making a clone of Mabel in the process. The Gifts concession was nearly always closed, at least in my memory and in the photos I had. So I found a picture of the Novelties stand (which I couldn't place anywhere in the park) and used that. The last concession was the Cigarettes game. In later years, it simply featured stock prizes like radios and lighters. I had a picture of that as well. So I sized them and fit them onto a strip, framing it with blue cinderblock and pink trim. I didn't have a good photo of the sign above the arcade, which had three-dimensional angled letters coming off the building. So I simulated that in Photo with perspective and drop shadows. I printed out the whole thing on card stock. I also printed out a stock sheet of white clapboard, which I could then cut for the oddly-angled upper side pieces, and a sheet of tar paper for the roof. As with merry-go-round, I placed bamboo skewers at the corners to secure the sides of the building and caulked everything in place. I even was able to recreate the clown head that hung on the side of the building. Within a couple hours, the mini-arcade was finished. Peering over from the south side, I could actually feel myself standing back on the midway.
I settled on a solution for the pavilion stage: a styrofoam ball. I went back to the craft store and to my surprise they had one that was 4.4" in diameter, just what I needed. I cut it in half, and then I cut the half into a quarter. It almost fit but was a little too high. So I cut off a bit more and it fit perfectly. I had to flatten the top a little bit. But it looked a heck of a lot better than my paper version. I painted it a sort of light grey to try to match the shingles on the roof. It dried a bit dark, but I would touch it up later. I glued down the roof with caulk. For now, the Clambake Pavilion was finished. But I still had the Towers and the Frosty Joy to make before this section was completed.
I created a sheet with the rest of the building sections on it. It went through continual revisions as I tried creating certain structures and failed because the graphic simply didn't fit. I started with the Frosty Joy ice cream stand. That was the most time consuming because of the graphics, which I pulled from various photos of the actual concession. The first version I made wasn't wide enough. So I tweaked it, and the second version looked much better. I was able to recreate the facade's curved and angled surface fairly easily. I'd try the same technique for the Towers facade. The concession had a wraparound counter, which I simulated with a curved cut of foam core board. I added the roof, and it was done.
While the Frosty Joy dried, I started work on the towers. I decided to try a new building technique. I started off with a foam core board base, around which I could wrap the walls. For the side of the towers that faced the Cutie Caddy, I added cartoon children to the wall. I remembered seeing them at the park, but I couldn't find any pictures of them. So I created my own. They were so tiny, it really didn't matter. Plus they'd be hidden by trees. I made the wall a textured white surface (only to later discover it was actually clapboard). I did notice in some photos that the Towers section extended further east than I thought, pretty much even with the pavilion rest rooms and forming a corridor leading to the doorway into the pavilion. So I extended the building's footprint accordingly. Then I added internal foam core walls for more support. I also cut strips of foam core and placed them internally along the roof line. Rather than cut flaps and caulk the roof, I could just glue it to the foam core supports with a new bottle of clear glue I bought.
The facade around the towers proved to be much more challenging than the Frosty Joy sign. I had created the graphic as an arc, which had worked well for the circular ice cream concession. But for the towers, the facade had a long straight run and then it curved at the end. No matter how I tried to adjust it, the facade was horribly warped. When I attempted to affix the roof, it simply popped off. So I tore the whole section out and redesigned it as a straight run. That fit perfectly. I also glued on the green and yellow fiberglass awning that hung below it. I affixed the facade square to the walls, but what I should have done was tilt it slightly forward. That would have created the angle of the original. But even so, the finished Towers didn't look too bad.
Meanwhile, my shipment of 200 trees came in. I was surprised to find they were all uniform in shape and height. I could have sworn the vendor said there was a variety of different sizes, and also some pine trees (as opposed to just maple trees). But hey, I now had 200 trees to work with. They supposedly were H0 scale, but they seemed really tiny, shorter than most of the buildings I had installed. I was worried they'd be too tall and I'd have to cut them down. So to supplant that, I ordered some pine trees online. I also found a bag of larger trees I had bought a while back for my model railroad setup.
To finish up the buildings at the park's south end, I wanted to tackle the Hot Rod garage, which was used as a storage building, and the soda game. The Hot Rods sat on the site of the short-live bumper boat ride behind the mini-arcade. The bumper boat pool was filled in and the east trough became the back wall of the mini-arcade. The ground was then used as a race track for little hot rod cars. The cars were difficult to maintain and the ride was removed in the 1970s. Its place was taken by the Scrambler and the Bubble Bounce. But the garage remained. It was a simple triangular building with a garage door. When I hunted for photos, I discovered that by the 1980s it was no longer there, its place taken by a large pine tree. So that was one less building I had to make.
The soda game was a simple box structure. As usual, I found a photo of the actual game and incorporated that into the model. This time, I cut a block of foam core the same size as the building's base. I glued the walls directly onto the foam core, added the roof and then glued the foam core down onto the table. That was a much easier way to do it, and actually created a sturdier building. It helped that the building was small and square. But with that, the buildings at the south end of park were finished.