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Bollinger Partnership

Carousel . Clara Peller . Coaster . Funtastic . Old Mill . Skyride . Games

Edward, Robert's father, helped him purchase his first ride in 1925 thus forming their gentleman's amusement ride partnership. Individually, they purchased rides that were leased to The Oaks, amusement parks and ride operators. In time, these rides also traveled the fair circuit which included both the Western and Central Washington Fairs.

While Robert was in the traveling show business, he was known as the Gentleman Carnie and honored the gentlemen's agreement not to book spots in California. In turn, the California operators did not compete with operators outside California.

Honesty in the midway games was a long standing problem. Read "Western Washington Fair Midway Issues" for more details. This September 23, 1949 article, written by an undercover reporter. Although relunctant, he agreed to take ownership of the midway games. This is when FunTastic entities were created. In a short time, Robert sold the games.

Edward had been providing rides for the Western Washington Fair for many years. He wanted more for the fair than just portable rides. In 1932 he constructed the Old Mill. A slow-paced ride known as a tunnel of love where boats moved with the current powered by a paddlewheel. Inside were scenes for viewing. Men could stop their boat inside for a short time.

Part of the ride's appeal was the last scene of a donkey eating from a manger. As the boat passed, it would trip a lever and the donkey's hind legs flew up. Boat occupants would react and be laughing as they exited the ride. Those seeing the laughter would purchase a ticket to see what others were laughing about. This ride was destroyed along with other buildings in a June 1970 arson fire.

January 2001, a crew from the fair traveled to Oaks Park in Portland, Oregon to retrieve the only surviving Old Mill boat (pictures to be added). They plan to restore it for display in their museum of 100 plus years entertaining the community.

On page 68 of "Doin' The Puyallup" (An Illustrated History of the Western Washington Fair Since 1900 (published in 1991) Edward Bollinger can be seen standing on the right wearing a light gray suit and white hat.

From 1932 through 2004, Robert was on these fairgrounds all but 2 years. During WWII, his duties included inspecting the grounds.

The Old Mill was such a success, Edward and Robert Bollinger built a wooden roller coaster around 1935. After 10 years of operation, the ownership of the coaster reverted to the fair.

John Miller was hired to design the coaster. While working on the plans for the area the Fair Board approved, he remarked the ride would be much better if it were 50 feet longer even though allowance for delivery trucks under the coaster was required. After another conversation with the Fair Board, permission was granted for the extension. John stayed up all night redrawing the plans on pieces of butcher paper and plywood. The Douglas fir framework was made on the ground then hoisted into position with Model-A Ford fitted with block and tackle.

Several pictures were taken using the roller coaster. The coaster crew positioned the train on the high curve and set its brakes. Those in pictures such as the Western Washington Fair's Board and Clara Peller (of Wendy's "where's the Beef" ad fame) walked the structure's maintenance walkway and boarded the parked train. Of course, there was a walk down after the picture taking session was finished.

Clara Peller had a breathing problem. Robert admired her unique way of putting things that made those around her smile while taking all that was asked of her in stride.

A Tacoma man, who spent 18 of his summer vacations working as a general handyman and track inspector, is the only recorded fatality of this coaster.

Below pictures were taken during the 1935 construction

Housed in a round building on the WW Fairgrounds is a 1917 Parker Toboggan Portable Carousel (PTC 43). This is one of five carousels that were mounted on a wagon so they could be easily transported with a traveling show.

Per August 15, 1989 note from Robert to Mr. Morgan of the National Carousel Association, "I feel very honored by your remarks in your last letter and would be happy to assist you in any way at the convention. I know most of the history of merry-go-rounds in the Northwest and of Perron's work."

". . . I gave a Philadelphia Toboggan MFG #43 built in 1917 to the Western Washington Fair. At present, there were only two of them in existence. . . I completely restored it with Pat and Tom Cooper doing the art work. The fair built a fine large building, sprinkled and electrically heated for the machine. It operates on special events and the 17 day fair each year. . . "

Robert is standing beside the house with his initials painted on the bridle (you can barely see REB in white on the mustard colored bridle)

The PTC 43 carousel has a Wurlitzer Band Organ (circa 1916). It was owned by Levitt, Brown, & Higgins Shows. In 1923 there were two rides available for sale. Both Earl Douglas and Edward Bollinger wanted to purchased the carousel so they drew straws. Edward drew the 'short straw' enabling Earl to purchase the carousel. In 1932, Edward and Robert Bollinger purchased the carousel from Earl Douglas' widow.

Robert donated this goat to the Western Washington Fair.

A third ownership interest in the Skyride was another contribution to the WWF by Robert Bollinger. The Skyride is an overhead ride consisting of enclosed cabins that take riders from one end of the fairgrounds to the other.

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Updated 11/28/2014 |