Thanks to the generosity of a couple from Vermont, Save Tillie has acquired the photo booth that operated at Palace Amusements for more than thirty years. One of the most popular coin-operated machines of all time, it produced a vertical strip of four different black & white photos in two and a half minutes. This machine was a perennial favorite of couples, who would often sneak a kiss behind the curtain while their pictures were being taken. The owners of the Palace installed the photo booth in the late 1950s, and it continued to operate there through the final summer of 1988.
Soon after the Palace closed, the photo booth was moved to Sandy's Arcade and Amusements on the Asbury Park boardwalk, and eventually was sold. The couple that bought it rented a truck and moved the machine 329 miles north to Vermont. They installed it in their small art store named "Folkheart," where it became an instant success. For nearly fifteen years the Palace photo booth operated at two different Folkheart locations in Vermont, first in Burlington and later in the tiny mountain town of Bristol. In 2003 the strobe unit, which powers the flash tubes, stopped working. The owners sent it out to be repaired, but it was returned in the same broken state. A second attempt to repair the strobe made the situation even worse, a different individual took the unit and promised to fix it, but instead he disappeared. Unable to operate without this component, the photo booth sat idle for three years until Folkheart went out of business at the end of 2006.
Before vacating their store, the owners of Folkheart contacted Save Tillie and kindly offered to donate the photo booth to the organization. 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 in Asbury Park. Save Tillie is hoping that some of the people in these photos can be identified.
The photo booth is currently in Rye, New York, where it is undergoing a professional restoration. A new strobe unit will replace the missing one, the cabinet will be thoroughly cleaned, and all of the internal mechanisms will be overhauled and adjusted. In the future Save Tillie hopes to return the photo booth to operation at a public place in Asbury Park.
If you know the identity of any of the people in these photos, please let us know by writing to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Beyond the Palace
Roll your mouse over the photo to see who we've identified so far. EMail email@example.com if you can identify anyone else, and thanks for your help!