MACK DADDY, Coney Island

by Kevin Walsh

LIKE most Brooklyn parents, mine accompanied me to Coney Island on numerous Sundays when I was a kid; I seem to remember getting a string of tickets that would let us get on any of the rides in the amusement parks. I even remember riding one of the hobbyhorses at Steeplechase Park and since I was 6 or 7 the last year it was open, that’s an old memory indeed. Our visits to Coney were a bit different. Even though the old man was an avid beachgoer and swimmer, and indulged himself when we went to Atlantic City, we really didn’t hang out on the beach and, amazingly enough, we never went to Nathan’s for the dogs and fries. It wasn’t till I began writing Forgotten NY in the late 1990s that I became a once or twice per year Nathan’s patron.

I have to say, though, that my main interest in going to Coney was the bus ride. In the Swinging Sixties, the B64 bus traveled down 86th Street and Bath, Harway, Cropsey and Stillwell Avenues to the corner of Stillwell and Mermaid, where this photo was snapped in 1965. My interest in the bus ride was keen because the B64 was the only route in which boxy Mack buses were employed (though as a kid I didn’t identify them as Macks; I only knew I preferred the look of the buses). I liked the rhythmic noise the coin box made and I wonder if a musician ever composed a piece based on it.

I’d be sure to grab a window seat and look out the window at, what else, the lampposts. I would have a pencil, Carvel ice cream spoon and flashlight bulb to construct the lampposts I saw out the window in my hand. If we went under an elevated train or highway, that same hand would stand in for the trestle. When incandescent lamps went out in favor of mercurys in the mid-1960s, I gradually lost interest and at least quit imitating lampposts with my little toolkit, but I still filled writing tablets with photos of lampposts, as well as signs, trains and buses.

You might think I would have worked for the DOT or MTA, but I had no idea how people got those jobs. I still don’t!

As always, “comment…as you see fit.” I earn a small payment when you click on any ad on the site.



Mike Olshan January 25, 2023 - 11:58 pm

When I was very young and my parents took me to Coney Island what I loved most was the penny arcade games. There were wonderful vintage coin operated devices in the back of Feltman’s restaurant plus skee-ball. When I was a little older I went to Coney Island myself by foot down Cropsey Ave from Bay Parkway and snuck into Steeplechase where I picked up unused ride tickets floor. I remember fondly frozen custard in a wide variety of flavors from a stand on the boardwalk and cotton candy from the store on the edge of the subway station. Nathan’s franks were already too pricey but there was a store nearby with excellent kasha knishes.There was a real freak show, too!

Marilyn A Zartler January 29, 2023 - 12:37 pm

I remember the Clam Chowder at Feltman’s. It was my favorite back in the 50s.

Joe Fliel January 26, 2023 - 12:38 am

The B61 and B62 still used them, plus the GM Old Style buses, up to 1965. I remember riding them as a kid in Greenpoint. The former garage on Commercial St. was full of both models.

Larry January 26, 2023 - 1:13 am

I rode those on the B68 too.

Eliot Wagner January 26, 2023 - 9:57 am

In the 60s, Mack buses were also used on The Grand Concourse in The Bronx. They were definitely on the Bx1 route, and probably on the Bx2.

Mark Olesnicki January 26, 2023 - 1:08 pm

Around 1966, a fleet of the Macks served the demanding 1st and 2nd Avenue routes in Manhattan. They accelerated and stopped quickly and were surprisingly maneuverable. The steering wheels were big!

christopher thomas brady January 26, 2023 - 4:34 pm

At Nathans there used to be a framed newspaper photo up on the wall of Jackie O eating a hot dog at
Nathans taken around 1965.The caption in the photo said “Jackie comes down off her pedestal”
Probably run by the Journal-American or Da News.I guess the newspaper felt that Jackie was stuck
up and had deigned to come down from her pedestal and mix with the hoi-poloi by getting a hot dog
at Nathans while her limo idled at the curb.

Andy January 26, 2023 - 4:40 pm

Please allow me to comment on the original posting and some of the subsequent remarks. From the 1920s until 1960, Mack was a leading US transit bus manufacturer. After 1960, Mack stopped building buses and concentrated on heavy trucks, still its core business (Volvo owns Mack Tracks now). Mack buses in New York and other US cities remained in service for many years afterward. Buffalo and San Francisco, in particular, were predominantly Mack bus properties through the 1960s.

The Mack bus in the photo was a C49 model, one of about 300 built in 1956 for NYC Transit Authority for Brooklyn and Staten Island routes. Some of those buses were assigned to the Ulmer Park depot on Harway Ave., where the B64 was garaged (probably still is today). The last of the C49s ran in 1971, on Staten Island.

NYC Transit Authority also had earlier Mack buses assigned to routes in Manhattan, Brooklyn, and Staten Island. First and Second Avenues had Mack buses until about 1958, but after that that route was only GM buses. The Grand Concourse routes in the Bronx, as well as many other Bronx and Upper Manhattan routes, were part of the Surface Transportation Corporation, originally the Third Avenue Railway. This property also had a large Mack presence in its bus fleet that lasted into the mid-1960s. By then Surface Transportation and its corporate parent Fifth Avenue Coach had morphed into the public sector and became a subsidiary of NYC Transit Authority known as Manhattan and Bronx Surface Transit Operating Authority (MABSTOA).

John January 26, 2023 - 5:32 pm

You should have come to S.I. We only had Macks until the mid 1960s They were called the 6 thousand series.

Bill Tweeddale January 26, 2023 - 5:39 pm

My folks took us to Coney Island on the MacDonald Ave trolley in the early 50’s. I remember wading in the ocean and seeing these white things floating around. My Dad told me they were “Coney Island Whitefish”, and to get out of the water! Condoms were not the worst things to get disgorged from the sewers, especially after a big rain. Your father might have had the same reluctance. Those Mack busses were the ONLY busses I remember from the early 60’s.

William Mangahas January 27, 2023 - 7:26 am

I loved those Mack C-49s on the B-8 when taking them to school at Ditmas J.H.S. 62.
Also on the B-68 Coney Island Ave. Unique bus, great memories.

Tom Riley January 27, 2023 - 11:47 am

My grandfather drove a bus in Sheepshead Bay. I have no idea how he got that job either.
Not a very talkative guy

Nunzio January 27, 2023 - 11:08 pm

I never got to ride on a Mack, but I thought it was a real treat when I was a kid, in ’72 on Long Island, we had a bus stop right outside our house (Bus routes in Suffolk were pretty rare!) so I got to see the buses coming and going. The small private company that ran the route had a small motley collection of buses. Used to love riding the Fishbowls…but the Fishbowls disappeared (According to a driver, “they couldn’t get parts for them”- which even as a little kid, I found absurd), so for a while thjey had a GM Old Look plying “my” route, and riding that bus once was one of only two times in my life that I got to ride an Old Look. Then the Old Looks disappeared from the route quickly, and they started using school buses! 🙁 Felt like i was living in a third-world country! Used to love it when we’d go to Queens to visit relatives, where I could again at least ride Fishbowls…and even a “weird Fishbowl” [A Flxible New Look].

Marilyn A Zartler January 29, 2023 - 4:15 pm

What were the names of the waiters at the carolina restaurant on mermaid avenue in the late 1950s

redstaterefugee January 30, 2023 - 11:14 am

WTF?! Considering the two individuals who are POTUS & VP it’s appropriate to ask whether or not dementia is contagious. Or, perhaps “Marilyn” is spoofing us; her “question” is just too bizarre to be taken seriously.


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