In Woody Allen’s film Annie Hall, the house under the roller coaster was a sight gag. For Mae Timpano, it was home. In 1946, while working as a waitress on Coney Island, Mae met Fred Moran, the owner and operator of the Thunderbolt roller coaster. They soon fell in love, and for forty years they lived together in Fred’s house — right under the Thunderbolt’s first turnaround.
Fred died in 1982, and the Thunderbolt carried its last thrill-seeker soon after. In 1988, Mae moved out, and the house was sold to a developer who dreamed of building a new amusement park on the famed island. But the coaster was silent for twelve years, and in November 2000, with no warning, the city of New York bulldozed away one of its great urban treasures. Here, Mae tells the story of her years living in the house that the Thunderbolt rattled.
First aired on NPR’s Morning Edition September 4, 2001.
This documentary comes from Sound Portraits Productions, a mission-driven independent production company that was created by Dave Isay in 1994. Sound Portraits was the predecessor to StoryCorps and was dedicated to telling stories that brought neglected American voices to a national audience.