Yesterday I had one of those “small world” experiences that reinforces the idea that there aren’t many degrees of separation between all of us (and Kevin Bacon). Every Wednesday I volunteer at the Brooklyn Historical Society, helping Oral History Coordinator Sady Sullivan organize audio files that are backlogged or fall through the proverbial cracks. Sady had recently found some old Coney Island related interviews, including one with the son of Marcus Illions, a Lithuanian immigrant that became a world class carver of horses on the Coney Island Carousels, and Lillie Santangelo, founder of Coney Island’s famous “World in Wax” Museum
So yesterday I was listening to another “lost” interview, that turned out to be with Matt Kennedy, who was a long time employee of the Coney Island Chamber of Commerce. He grew up in Coney Island, working summers at the roller coasters and bath houses of the mythic play land. Here’s the crazy part: I had just 2 weeks ago received a Harvey Wang photo print of Matt Kennedy posing in front of the Cyclone Roller Coaster, a prize in the StoryCorps Staff Fundraising Contest (I work at StoryCorps, the National Oral History Project, as my day job). Turns out Dave Isay, the founder of StoryCorps, had interviewed Matt for the the “Holding On” collection, produced by Sound Portraits, Dave’s radio documentary organization. I picked that print because Matt looked intriguing, Coney Island is a magical place for a kid from Suburban Milwaukee, and I liked the general look of the photo.
Weird, eh? –Andy Hollenhorst