April 25, 1895 – March 13, 1976
Worked carnivals and amusements in New England his entire adult life

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.

8 Replies to “Tribute to Leslie Goodwin (My Great Grandfather)”

  1. This is a very nice tribute to my grandfather. I enjoyed viewing all the pictures, It brought back many fond memories. Thank You for doing this.

  2. That is me, Sharon (Arnold) selling tickets as a young teenager for my grandfather. I am grateful to my nephew, Josh Blood for making this website available. I remember going to many of the carnivals and sometimes being a part of them in some way.

  3. Thanks so much for sharing this! My great grandfather is George LaGasse and my family still runs the carnival. Do you have any stories about your grandfather working with LaGasse Amusement? I’d love to pass along some of your great grandfathers memories to mine.

  4. I believe that my dad worked for the Lagasse Carnival Company, perhaps in the 1940s. He was from Haverhill, MA. He’s been gone since 1986, and there are very few people that I can ask at this point in time. Thank you so much for putting up this page. I appreciate the information, and the pictures. 🙂

  5. My father worked on and off for Lagasse from the 30’s up into the early 50’s. I can remember going with him when the carnival played near our home in Lynn, Ma. I looked at some of the old pictures and the name on one of them was Henry Lagasse.

    1. hi.there were two carnivals in haverhill ma.no. one was owned by eli lagasse.no .two was owned by victor lagasse and its name was victor amusement service.henery was victors father.many carnies worked for each of the carnivals.victor was eli lagasse nephew.who worked for his uncle.and later started. his own carnival.this was after world war two.its safe to say youre father worked for vic.also lagasse amusement co.was owned by eli and marie lagasse.which i worked for as a kid.and was told the history of both companys.to much to write about.

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