The glorious Pretzel delivery van with its proud message "Manufactured in Bridgeton, NJ" boldly emblazoned on its side. Famed show painter Slick Reynolds, who decorated the truck, stands beside it along with Pretzel Ride Co. owner Bill Cassidy.

"We drove that truck all the way out to California. Slick painted it. It got a lot of attention. Wherever we went, we tried to publicize our hometown, and we always tried to use local labor and materials whenever possible."

     Several artists were employed over the years to do the decorative painting on the fronts of dark rides. The "flash" on the façade was important. Some owners would have the outside of their rides repainted almost every year to make it appear like a new attraction, although seldom was the inside actually updated.
     Some of the artists employed by Pretzel for this work, in addition to Reynolds, were Shirley Simmons, Howard Hewlett and Bill Tracy. Tracy later went into competition with Pretzel when he started building and selling dark rides on his own.

On working with artists, Mr. Cassidy remarked:
      "You couldn’t control them. Craziest bunch of people to work with. You really couldn’t put a finger on any of them. I’d say, facing a deadline, “Hey, I gotta get this ride out!” They’d say, “Well, I didn’t feel like working today!” They had you over a barrel. You'd give 'em $5000 or whatever the contract to do the front.
     "Howard did some fronts for us. He did one in El Paso, Texas. I think he stayed in El Paso. I don't know what happened to him after that."


Left: Artist Howard Hewlett standing with one of his "Moon Man" creatures during a Pretzel ride installation at Lakemont Park in Altoona, PA.

Shirley Simmons was a multi-faceted artist reputed to have been a Hollywood set designer, and to have been schooled at various American universities and in Paris. In addition to painting, he was involved in creating figures and the first foam-fiberglass wall panels for Pretzel.

On Simmons:

Well, he was your typical artist. He did have a wife. He was a pretty nice guy. I drove to get lumber from the lumber yard and he ordered a whole slew of fancy knives. He really didn’t need them for what he was doing - maybe one of them. So I had to tell them not to sell him anything without my OK. And he would work nights, not days. All night long. He was a nice guy and I liked him. But he was just odd. Eccentric, you'd call it today. He'd usually have one of his Alaskan Husky dogs with him wherever he went. He had around nine of them."

Above: Shirley Simmons at work in the Pretzel shop preparing scenery for the "Caveman" portable double-decker dark ride.

Inset: Doug Cassidy, ride owner Al LeFleur, Elmer Lawrence and Simmons observe the construction of the "Caveman" ride at the Amusements of America carnival in 1964.

      The most notable artist to work on projects for Pretzel was Bill Tracy. Before concentrating on his own dark ride design business, Outdoor Dimensional Display Co., Tracy did sub-contract work for several Pretzel ride facades.

Regarding Tracy, Mr. Cassidy had these recollections:

" Well, we put in a ride at Atlantic City on a pier down the south end. He did the façade. It was the Orient Express. We put the ride in. He was contracted separately by the owners to build the front. I think the first time we got in touch with Bill Tracy, if I remember, I met him up in Newark or somewhere. And then we put, on Steel Pier, underneath the pier, we put a ride with sheets with luminous paints. He was involved in that. He did put fronts on our rides like the Haunted House at Seaside Heights. The Orient Express - that was a beautiful front - he did that one. He was my competition at one time. He put a ride in at Eerie, PA., Waldameer Park. We gave them a price too, but he won that one. Last time I saw him he was living in a lobster house or something like that in Cape May."

Tracy designed this elaborate facade for the Pretzel-built Orient Express ride which was built on Million-Dollar Pier in Atlantic City.
Tracy's familiar Whacky Shack-style facade on Pretzel's Haunted House double-decker ride which was located on Casino Pier, Seaside Heights, NJ.