Save Tillie, a “volunteer organization comprised of 1,000 friends of Asbury Park,” New Jersey, is an organization dedicated to saving the Palace amusement park and its iconic Tillie image. After the demolition of the building in 2004, the group “saved more than 125 internal artifacts from the Palace and the Tillie mural from the Cookman Avenue wall…; In the last few weeks, another prized element from the Palace’s past is on its way home: the photobooth.
In a great story on the Save Tillie site, the group tells the story of the photobooth, which had been at Palace for 30 years, making a move to Folkheart, a store in Vermont, in 1988. Now, nearly twenty years later, as the photobooth sat in disrepair and Folkheart’s owners prepared to close up shop, they donated the booth to Save Tillie. Folkheart was long on Photobooth.net’s radar as home to the only booth in Vermont, so we’re saddened to hear that it’s no more. Any other leads, readers? Now, back to the story:
On December 28, 2006 Save Tillie members Dan Toskaner, Frank Saragnese, and Mary Lynn Purcell drove to Vermont with a large trailer to rescue this valuable Palace artifact. Despite some dust, grime, and a large spider web inside the camera window, they found the machine to be in remarkably good condition. The exterior oak and white/gold speckled Formica is completely intact. The illuminated script “Photographs” sign still sits on top. In recognition of its history, someone stamped a small Tillie face next to a handwritten $2.00 sign. Best of all, beneath a sheet of plexiglass on the outer graphic panel there is a homemade collage of very old photo strips. The owners of Folkheart confirmed that these strips were already there when they bought the booth, which means that they were taken at the Palace. Save Tillie is hoping that some of the people in these photos can be identified.
The photobooth is currently undergoing restoration, and will be ready for action again soon; Save Tillie hope to return it to use in Asbury Park, where it began its life. Besides being a great story about nice people who care about history, the story is a testament to the power of the photobooth and the pull it has on generations of New Jersey amusement park-goers and Vermont store-browsers and all of us. We wish the best of luck to the folks at Save Tillie, and hope they keep us updated with the progress and the future of their beloved booth.
Photo of Save Tillie volunteers and the booth outside Folkheart from savetillie.com.