As a kid, I spent many wonderful summer days at Riverview Amusement Park, the largest in the country. When I was thinking about a plot for the fourth Spencer book, I thought of Riverview and the plot fell into place. I had to call on some time magic because the park closed in 1967 and the story takes place in 1984, but so far I haven’t had any complaints. As I wrote Missing Boy, the memories flooded back. There were certainly the rides and the attractions, but do you remember Two-Ton Baker and Wizzo from Bozo’s Circus? I include a lot of the flavor in the book, but there is so much more. And if you ever went to Riverview you have your own memories. But how did it all get started?
In 1879, German war veterans held rifle practice at what they named Sharpshooters Park in Chicago (Belmont and Western), setting up paper targets on land and floating targets on the north branch of the Chicago River, which bordered the park on the west. After complaints from wives about being abandoned on Sunday afternoons, they installed a playground and opened the park to the public for picnics and band concerts. Rifle practice was ended but shooting galleries (with real bullets) became a part of the later amusement park. [Read more…]