In June of 2005, his son, Bob Goodwin, and his daughter, Marilyn Cummings, related memories of their formative years growing up in their father’s business.
Leslie Burt Goodwin was born on April 25, 1895 in Craftsbury, Vermont.
Daugter Phyllis, wife Pearl, daughter Gloria, Leslie, and son Norman
Leslie began his career working for various amusement companies including Coleman Brothers, LaGasse, Deluxe, and Knapp (in Bennington, Vermont), among others. They’d provide entertainment in the form of amusement rides, food vendors, and everything else associated with classic traveling carnivals. Leslie Goodwin’s work would find him setting up at fairs throughout the six states of New England. Daughter Marilyn remembers him going to an Air Force or Naval base in Maine–perhaps Portland–and Lewiston is the town son Bob recalls. Marilyn and her husband, Joe, also remember him going to the annual Rocky Hill Fair in Warwick, Rhode Island.
Daughter Marilyn recalls her dad working for Coleman Brothers for six to ten years before he went out on his own. The family relocated to Athol, MA, and Leslie often kept fairs there.
Neighborhood kids enjoying the kiddie carousel
Marilyn remembers that by the age of ten she was able to make cotton candy, candied apples, popcorn, and French fries, as well as selling tickets.
Leslie Goodwin’s Grandsons and in the background his granddaughter selling tickets
Leslie’s wife, Pearl, was a vital part of the carnival life and drove the large truck that housed the rides and cotton candy machine. She drove until she was well along in years.
Grand-daughter Darleen and Grandson Len enjoying a pony ride
Bob said that one year his dad bought him a pony for his birthday. Bob brought his pony to an L. S. Starrett company outing in Packard Heights (North Orange, MA). People asked Bob if they might have a ride on his pony, and being an enterprising boy, he charged for the rides. At the end of the day he told his dad of his profit. Leslie then bought six more ponies, which he used at the carnivals. This is when he formed the company called Bob’s Rides, named for his son. The name was later changed to Goodwin’s Rides & Concessions. He worked church fairs, outings, bazaars, etc. Leslie Goodwin’s company became so well known that he was booked up for much of each year.
Partial newspaper article about an attempted robbery of Goodwin’s Rides & Concessions
Leslie manufactured his own rides, with kiddie rides being his passion. He made a kiddie automobile ride, a kiddie ferris wheel, and a swing which he called the “Chairplane.” Here is the Chairplane, set up in the field beside his house, taken in June of 1970. On the plane is Bob’s wife, Martha, their two sons, Bobby and Philip, and possibly one of Marilyn’s boys.
Leslie Goodwin’s grandson on the custom built kiddie automobile ride
He bought a gasoline-operated train, and eventually had about fifteen ponies.
Leslie Goodwin’s gasoline-operated train
The carnival was his lifelong work and he finally retired shortly before he passed at age 80 in Athol, Massachusetts.
Leslie and Pearl Goodwin
Very special thanks to my mother, Darleen, who interviewed her aunt and uncle, and to Marilyn Cummings and her brother Bob Goodwin for their memories of their father and his business. Photos courtesy of Darleen and Marylin.