ABOVE: Healey's Park in Perth, shortly after its opening in 1924. The red sedan is heading south toward Amsterdam on the Amsterdam-Broadalbin Road, now known as Route 30.

Today it's hard to believe that the tall pines once gleamed blue in the glow of Japanese lanterns or that clarinet whinnies echoed across an old millpond dug by horse teams pulling clamshell scoops.

Even in flush times like the 1920s, life ground hard on working people in the Glove and Carpet Cities. Rug mills were full of clattering looms and drifting lint, the pace of glove work was driven by piecework pay, and the "hair pond" where deer hides from the "skin mills" were soaked clean can hardly be imagined. When the mills ran steadily, a standard work week was 44 to 48 hours. Small wonder that people wanted to play as soon as the whistle blew at noon on Saturday.

Thomas Healey must have heard many tales about weekend jaunts as he clipped hair in his Amsterdam barbershop. In 1924, he and his wife Edith purchased a former silver fox farm in Perth. They hired a farmer to dig out a mill pond and rebuild a sawmill dam, hauled in some sand, and opened Healey's Park that summer.

Unlike such nearby Victorian rail line resorts as Sacandaga Park and Mountain Lake, the Healey's new park on the busy Amsterdam-Broadalbin Road catered to automobile traffic . Thomas Healey even ran excursion buses from Amsterdam and Gloversville for those patrons who had not yet purchased a Model T.

ABOVE: Healey's from a 1929 directory, showing the highrise slide and whirligig swing.

BELOW: The bed of Healey's pond today. The swing set once probably launched swimmers into the water.

Surrounded by tall pines on steep hillsides, Healey's pond resembled a small lake in a mountain valley. While it lacked a ferris wheel, carousel, or midway, the park featured a sand beach, highrise and corkscrew slides, a whirligig swing, high dive, and rental boats. It did not offer overnight accomodations, but rather provided daytrippers a spot for class outings, company picnics and family parties.

Healey's got off to a rough start when the refreshment stand burned during its first season. But the park survived Prohibition, the depression, and a world war by periodically reinventing itself. Healey's centerpiece was "the pavilion", a bungalow-style building on a pine-shrouded bluff overlooking the southbound lane of the Amsterdam-Broadalbin Road. According to Sylvia Zierak's Perth, Memories and Reflections, the pavilion was originally a dance hall where bands played to a packed house. In those days Healey's early-rising rustic neighbors were frequently enraged to find overflow parkers on their lawns. The guests at the Bible Miracle Camp across the road were probably not much happier when Healey's opened a dance hall bar after repeal.

The pavilion finally became a roller rink to cash in on the skating craze that just preceeded World War II. But postwar prosperity was what the Park couldn't endure. Healey's closed in the late 1940s, an ironic casuality of the growing popularity of long-distance automobile travel and the weeklong vacation.

Also ironically, Healey's is probably better remembered as a ruin than as a going concern. Cattails had long infiltrated the pond's shallows and surrounded the red spiral slide by the time the dam was breached in the 1970s. By the 1980s, the pavilion's eaves seemed a thatched roof under heaps of fallen needles. In the rear, the roof had buckled in the rear under the weight of massive toppled pine trunks, inspiring visions of the maple strip dance floor rolling in warped waves like swells on the ocean. It was not until the late 1990s, a half-century after last call, that the pavilion and surviving pines finally disappeared completely.

A few fragments of Healey's stubbornly survived for another decade . Perhaps the park's most conspicuous memorial was the sagging hipped-roofed bathhouse above, which is also depicted in its glory days at the top of the page. During the past several years, development spread up Route 30 from the Sanford Farm Shopping Center area and leapfrogged past the park's site. During the winter of 2007-2008, the final blow fell.

Click here to see "Monday Morning", the last of Healey's Park.