WILDWOOD LOSES A FRIEND
A letter to the Editor:
On July 6, the
Wildwoods lost a good friend as Fred Mahana Jr. passed away. I first
met Fred in the early 1970's when he opened Snoopy's Hut, a small
hotdog stand in front of the A&P store in Cape May Court House
where I was employed. Fred and I spent many a lunch hour talking
over his ideas for building unique rides for the Boardwalk. He had
an artist draw up a sketch of his proposed parachute ride and knowing
I moonlighted in photography, got me to take photos for a proposed
spot for his ride on the then Sportland Pier in North Wildwood.
This ride was way ahead of its time and Fred managed to get a group
of backers to finance his venture. Unfortunately, the backers "backed
out" at the last moment and Fred's new ride never came to fruition.
Fred came to Wildwood as a young man and along with his parents
operated Mahana's Marionettes on the Boardwalk in North Wildwood
for many years. Later, Fred turned the business into an eatery that
sold great food and displayed the talent and imagination he possessed,
in large-scale trains running around the inside of the building
along with many other "Freddie Original" decorations.
Fred was always working, sometimes only getting by wih catnaps in
a small room under the eatery. Over the years we stayed friends
and I continued to do occasional photographic work for him and listen
to all of his wonderful ideas. The only thing that stopped Fred
from becoming the second Walt Disney was money. Back in the 70's,
folks were leery to invest in these futuristic rides. Today when
we see the fantastic rides that the Morey Organization has provided
us, I often think of Fred and think he was born too soon. After
many years as a Boardwalk Fixture, Fred and his wife Sylvia sold
their Boardwalk Businesses and opened Treasure Island Beach Shop
in North Wildwood. Once again, Fred showed us his ability to create
the unique in the way he decorated his store. The man had a God
given talent. To his wife Sylvia, and to his son Andrew, we send
out our condolences. Fred, although you died still a young man,
you made many thousands of kids happy with your special talents.
You will be sadly missed by all who knew you.
James B. Elsey