fifteen years Ed Gaida lived in the apartment above the offices of
Playland Park, the popular amusement park that closed in 1980. In
1996, he realized that he was literally sleeping on top of a book,
as the room below his bedroom contained the archives of Playland
Park Corporation of San Antonio.
Remembered by generations of San Antonians and others as “The Fun
Spot of the South", Playland was not only a tourist attraction but a
hometown tradition for family outings, birthday parties, high-school
dates and, for many, first jobs.
Though the park’s many rides and other features have long since been
sold and moved from Playland’s former near-downtown location,
founder Jimmy Johnson kept everything else. “A pack rat at heart,
Jimmy never disposed of anything to do with his amusement park,"
says Gaida, who was able to draw on this collection of photographs,
memorabilia, financial records and mementos to write Just for Fun!
In this book Gaida skilfully weaves a
story starting in 1930 on Chicago’s North Side and ending in 1983 in
the Alamo City, for a dual biography of Playland’s Jimmy Johnson and
the amusement park he created. For anyone who ever spent a Saturday
at Playland Park - or has wished they could have - this book is the
next best thing to a time machine.