David Bettencourt is no stranger to the saga of Rocky Point Park. In 2007 he produced and directed the documentary You Must Be This Tall: The Story of Rocky Point and had coauthored a book of black and white photos of the park with Arcadia Publishing shortly after the film’s release. Now he’s revisiting memories of the park with another book from Arcadia, this time with full color images that span the entire life of our state’s late amusement park in Rocky Point Park.
From its humble beginnings as a seaside resort in the late 19th century to a place where Sinatra, The Ramones and even a sitting President would stop on their way through Rhode Island, the life and times of Rocky Point is preserved lovingly in this book of photos culled from the You Must Be This Tall archives and private collections.
“Depending on your age, everyone has a different memory of what the park looks like,” David explains. It was crucial for him to showcase all of those different eras, as well as the “mom and pop” nature of the park, which he felt was best represented by the unique attractions and the staff’s hand painted signage.
“People talk about this park like it was a member of their family,” David says. “I wanted to show my kids my childhood as a Rhode Islander.”
For Rhode Islanders in their 20s, or transplants like myself, Rocky Point is as mythical as El Dorado or Atlantis. It’s a fabled land where teenage memories were forged on hot summer nights in pools of neon glow coming off The Skydiver and where cherished family moments were forever sealed on Kodachrome. Lucky for us, many of those great photos have been held onto and are now being shared.