“It will always be there!” That is what my mother said when I asked her to photograph my favorite ride as we walked away to our `64 Chevy Impala from the Lake Compounce Midway on a cool, Labor Day Weekend night of 1978. “Take the photo yourself when you’re older because it will always be there and I’m getting cold.” daddy added.
      Now, take a trip with me back in time to Memorial Day Weekend 1976. I was only four years old and very excited as we found a parking space in front of the Wild Cat roller coaster at Lake Compounce on the day of my grandfather’s company picnic.

      My parents, aunts, uncles and grand-
parents lumbered up the path to the rented pavilions at the edge of the woods up behind the fastest coaster in New England at the time, the Wild Cat. I still remember the sunny, beautiful day and being surrounded by many trees and mountains and the people I loved.
     As the common activity of the clambake ended and I became bored in anticipation, my grandfather, Frank Baixauli, insisted on our walk down to the midway. As we descended down the dirt path passing the maintenance shop on the right gradually turning left, the giant, athletic looking Wild Cat panther adorning the sign painted by Peter Rasulo poised me to look through the tree line to the midway and the entrance of the Timothy Murphy carousel (purchased from Savin Rock in 1910).
      I remember the cracking thunder of the Philadelphia Toboggan Company coaster train racing around the nearest horseshoe turn as I looked for my pride and joy. At this point my grandfather and the older members
of our group departed to the other part of the casino building to sit under the giant stately trees and listen to Slim Cox and the Cowboy Caravan country band and drink and eat more to their hearts content, as my parents, young uncles and aunt would go left to the center midway, I remember
my little self propelled legs leading the way in a nervous joy to my magical obsession.

      And there it was! Standing mysteriously at the end of the midway between the Lusse Skooter pavilion and the penny arcade was the red lettered Laff in the Dark. The giant, black vampire bat painted on the 35ft wide, 18ft high façade seemed to invite me with a creepy laugh that only I could hear as if it were challenging me.