The then-Nancy Elwell was still living in West Newbury with her parents after high school graduation when she took her first job at Adventureland in 1957. She would work there two summers and didn’t take a honeymoon after marrying Rodney Lewis in 1958, because she had to work at Adventureland.
“It was built by a man named George Spalt, and Fred Allan managed the place,” Lewis said. “I worked the first year in the castle at the entrance selling (admission) tickets,” she said. “Then a company named Boston Concessions came in to run the food stands. I worked for that company managing the concessions stands that were in Dodge City and Storyland. It was fun. It was an interesting experience.”
Lewis ended up being Callahan’s boss when she was still Denise Duggan and a Newburyport High School junior grilling hamburgers for visitors during the summer and fall when Adventureland was open.
“I worked at the Root Beer Saloon in Dodge City,” Callahan said, stopping to laugh. “I worked at Adventureland for two years. The second year I ran the Flying Horses merry-go-round. I sold the tickets and pushed the (start) button. It was small, but very cute. The kids just loved it.”
Callahan applied for a job at Adventureland after a visit.
“It looked like such fun,” she said. “A lot of people wanted to work there. One of my best friends, Liane McWilliams, had a horse and she could ride. She was one of the cowgirls. She went out and robbed the stage coach. “
Horses played a big part of Adventureland and its attraction for kids. That’s not surprising, since television programming in the late 1950s and early ’60s held more than its share of Westerns in the top 10 ratings.
Finding people with a Western flare to handle all the horses wasn’t hard, according to both Lewis and Callahan.