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Patricia W. & J. Douglas Perry Library
Norfolk, Virginia 23529-0256
telephone (757) 683-5350
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The Papers of Dudley Cooper and Ocean View Amusement Park

Dudley Cooper
Dudley Cooper

Ocean View Amusement Park Exhibit


Dudley Cooper was born in Tarboro, North Carolina in 1899. His family then moved to the Norfolk area in 1900. While a student at Maury High School, Dudley enlisted in the army when the United States entered World War I. He was trained in the Students Army Training Corps at Virginia Polytechnic Institute. At the end of the war, Dudley was discharged with the rank of sergeant and returned to complete his high school education in 1919. Dudley then attended the American Institute of Optometry, which later became an extension of Columbia University. He earned an optometry degree and returned to Norfolk.

Though he was the first college-trained optometrist to practice in Norfolk, Dudley Cooper became well known in this city chiefly through his ownership and operation of Ocean View Amusement Park. This came about in 1944 when he purchased land along the beach of Chesapeake Bay in the area now known as Ocean View. During World War II, Dudley set aside part of the land for the U.S. Army Coastal Installation, the Navy Relief Fund Raising, Naval Reserve Recruiting and various civic affair groups.

By studying the papers in the collection he donated to the Old Dominion University Archives, researchers can get an idea of the details involved in owning and operating a large amusement park. While still setting up Ocean View Park, Dudley Cooper was approached by three Black professional men: a dentist, a lawyer, and a high school principal. They wanted his help in establishing a special amusement park for the Black community. Dudley helped these men establish Seaview Beach Amusement Park, also on the Chesapeake Bay, which operated until 1966.

Dudley Cooper was active in civic and service organizations on both a local and national level. He was instrumental in bringing the 1937 National Conference of Christians and Jews to Norfolk, a meeting that led to the establishment of the annual Brotherhood Week. He was selected by the Armed Services Committee to serve as chairman of the Jewish USO in Norfolk and continued thus for the duration of the War.

After the war, Dudley served as chairman of the Norfolk United Jewish Appeal, and in 1947 was responsible for doubling the previous highest contribution ever received. Dudley and his wife, Mary, were also among the many American Jews who aided the European Jewish refugees of the steamboat Exodus by signing affidavits that allowed their entry into this country. Other activities include a local campaign begun by Dudley in the late forties known as "Cooper's Crusade" which eventually replaced Norfolk's antiquated street car system with a publicly-owned bus system. He also aided the journalistic education of young newspaper reporters with the foundation of the Norfolk Newspaper Guild Scholarship Fund. Dudley's civic and charitable activities continued throughout his life. At the same time he operated an optometrist's practice and successful amusement parks. In 1975 Dudley received the Distinguished Service Award from the Arnold Basmey Lodge No. 1195 of B'nai B'rith in recognition for his past leadership in Norfolk business and community affairs.

Scope and Contents

The papers of Dudley Cooper, dated from 1924 to 1978, are primarily concerned with the operation of Ocean View Park. This collection is divided into eight series: Correspondence, Legal Documents, Financial Papers, Printed Material, Photographs, Miscellaneous, Scrapbooks and Maps & Architectural Drawings.

Series Descriptions

Series I: Correspondence. Arranged by subject and within each subject folder the papers are chronological. Some letters will refer to such things as bills or insurance policies, in which case the document referred to will be found in the box containing that type of document. Pictures of many of the rides and amusements mentioned in the letters can be found in the series on photography or the folders containing brochures.

Series II: Legal Documents. Contains several folders of material on accidents that occurred at Ocean View and suits brought about by the injured parties. In these cases all documents and correspondence relating to each case have been clipped together. This is to make research of the accident cases simpler. Legal documents also include contracts, insurance forms, and lease agreements.

Series III: Financial Papers. Contains all bills and receipts. In most cases they have simply been arranged in chronological order rather than subject. VEPCO and C&P bills are separated; as are automobile receipts. All bills are together preceding the receipts. In some cases it is difficult to determine whether a document should be termed "bill" or "receipt".

Series IV: Printed Materials. Includes brochures, flyers, advertisements, news releases, and news clippings, and schedules of events.

Series V: Photographs.  Most of the photographs are of entertainment groups that performed at Ocean View, or who wished to perform at Ocean View and sent photos with their ads. Some are of special events at the park and one folder contains a group of color snapshots of the Park.

Series VI: Miscellaneous. Includes items on the construction of the bathhouse, the movie “Roller Coaster” filmed at the amusement park, documents relating to the fire of November 8, 1964, sketches and architectural drawings, tickets, and articles relating to amusement parks, and Dudley Cooper.

Series VII: Scrapbooks of news paper clippings and mementos documenting the history of Ocean View Amusement Park, dating from 1948-1967.

Series VIII:  Framed Certificates and Photos. Contains framed certificates, awards, and photos from 1946 to 1991. Not all items are dated.

Series IX: Maps, architectural drawing and blueprints of the Ocean View area and the Chesapeake Bay House, dating from 1924-1965.


Gift of Dr. Dudley Cooper, September 5, 1978. There were three separate accessions of material, August 24, September 11, and October 3, 1978. Additional accession 2007.


Open to researchers without restrictions. Questions on literary property rights should be directed to the Special Collections Librarian.


14 Hollinger Document Cases, 8 Oversized Boxes, 2 Map Drawers, 1 Archival Tube.

Collection Number

MG - 31

Container Listing

Series I - Correspondence

Box 1

Folder 1 Accidents and Injuries, 1944-1948
Folder 2 Accidents and Injuries, 1952
Folder 3 Accidents and Injuries, 1953-1954
Folder 4 Accidents and Injuries, 1955-1956
Folder 5 Accidents and Injuries, 1957-1958
Folder 6 Accidents and Injuries, 1967-1975
Folder 7 Acts and Shows, 1943-1951
Folder 8 Acts and Shows, Jan - Apr 1952
Folder 9 Acts and Shows, May - Nov 1952
Folder 10 Acts and Shows, 1953-1954
Folder 11 Acts and Shows, 1955-1957
Folder 12 Acts and Shows, 1958-1967
Folder 13 Acts and Shows, 1968-1970
Folder 14 Acts and Shows, Jan - May 1971
Folder 15 Acts and Shows, June - Dec 1971
Folder 16 Acts and Shows, 1972
Folder 17 Acts and Shows, 1973
Folder 18 Acts and Shows, Indian Village, 1961-1962
Folder 19 Advertising, 1943-1946

Box 2

Folder 1 Advertising, 1947-1948
Folder 2 Advertising, Feb - Mar, 1952
Folder 3 Advertising, Apr - Oct 1952
Folder 4 Advertising, 1953-1957
Folder 5 Advertising, Jan - Nov 1958
Folder 6 Advertising, 1963-1965
Folder 7 Advertising, 1966-1975
Folder 8 Banks, 1943-1975
Folder 9 Boats, 1949-1953
Folder 10 Boats, 1954-1955
Folder 11 Bus and Taxi Service, 1946-1956
Folder 12 City and Government, 1942-1947
Folder 13 City and Government, 1948-1953
Folder 14 City and Government, 1954-1958
Folder 15 City and Government, 1963-1975
Folder 16 Comments on Ocean View, 1943-1978
Folder 17 Concessions, 1943-1977
Folder 18 Construction and Repairs, 1943-1948
Folder 19 Construction and Repairs, 1950-1958
Folder 20 Construction and Repairs, 1965-1970

Box 3

Folder 1 Contributions, 1953-1971
Folder 2 Exhibits and Special Equipment, 1943-1951
Folder 3 Exhibits and Special Equipment, 1952-1953
Folder 4 Exhibits and Special Equipment, 1954-1967
Folder 5 Fireworks, 1945-1947
Folder 6 Fireworks, 1948-1958
Folder 7 Fireworks, 1963-1975
Folder 8 Free Passes and Gifts, 1944-1946
Folder 9 Free Passes and Gifts, 1947-1948
Folder 10 Free Passes and Gifts, 1952-1968
Folder 11 Insurance, 1943-1948
Folder 12 Insurance, 1949-1952
Folder 13 Insurance, 1953
Folder 14 Insurance, 1954-1956
Folder 15 Insurance, 1957
Folder 16 Insurance, 1958
Folder 17 Insurance, 1959-1963

Box 4

Folder 1 Insurance, 1964
Folder 2 Insurance, Jan - Feb 1965
Folder 3 Insurance, Mar 1965
Folder 4 Insurance, Apr - Oct 1965
Folder 5 Insurance, 1966-1967
Folder 6 Insurance, 1968-1975
Folder 7 Leases, 1942-1968
Folder 8 Miscellaneous, 1942-1971
Folder 9 National Association of Amusement Parks, 1943-1965
Folder 10 Navy and Shore Patrol, 1956-1971
Folder 11 Personal, 1945-1958
Folder 12 Personnel, 1943-1966
Folder 13 Rides, 1941-1946
Folder 14 Rides, 1947-1948
Folder 15 Rides, 1951-1958
Folder 16 Rides, 1967-1974
Folder 17 Special Events, 1948-1970
Folder 18 Subscriptions, 1952-1969
Folder 19 Taxes, 1943-1974

Box 5

Folder 1 Telegrams, 1943-1948
Folder 2 Telegrams, 1952-1970; undated
Folder 3 Utilities, 1943-1948, 1966
Series II - Legal Documents
Folder 4 Accidents and Court Cases, 1948-1955
Folder 5 Accidents and Court Cases, 1956
Folder 6 Accidents and Court Cases, 1957
Folder 7 Accidents and Court Cases, 1958-1964
Folder 8 Accidents and Court Cases, 1965
Folder 9 Accidents and Court Cases, 1966
Folder 10 Accidents and Court Cases, 1967
Folder 11 Accidents and Court Cases, 1968
Folder 12 Accidents and Court Cases, 1969-1972
Folder 13 Contracts, 1943-1947
Folder 14 Contracts, 1952-1958
Folder 15 Contracts, 1963-1969
Folder 16 Contracts, 1970-1974

Box 6

Folder 1 Insurance Forms, 1945-1947
Folder 2 Insurance Forms, 1948
Folder 3 Insurance Forms, 1949
Folder 4 Insurance Forms, 1951-1952
Folder 5 Insurance Forms, 1953-1955
Folder 6 Insurance Forms, 1956
Folder 7 Insurance Forms, 1957-1958
Folder 8 Insurance Forms, 1964
Folder 9 Insurance Forms, 1966
Folder 10 Insurance Forms, 1967-1969
Folder 11 Insurance Forms, 1970-1974
Folder 12 Leases and Rentals, 1943
Folder 13 Leases and Rentals, 1944-1945
Folder 14 Leases and Rentals, 1946
Folder 15 Leases and Rentals, 1947
Folder 16 Leases and Rentals, 1948
Folder 17 Leases and Rentals, 1950-1959
Folder 18 Music Licenses, 1967-1968

Series III - Financial Documents

Box 7

Folder 1 Balance Sheets, 1943
Folder 2 Balance Sheets, 1944-1945
Folder 3 Balance Sheets, 1946
Folder 4 Balance Sheets, 1947-1948
Folder 5 Balance Sheets, 1951-1954
Folder 6 Balance Sheets, 1958
Folder 7 Balance Sheets, 1963-1966
Folder 8 Bank Receipts, 1947-1948
Folder 9 Bank Receipts, 1951-1955
Folder 10 Bank Receipts, 1956-1959
Folder 11 Bank Receipts, 1964-1966
Folder 12 Bank Receipts, 1967
Folder 13 Bank Receipts, 1968-1969
Folder 14 Bank Receipts, 1970
Folder 15 Bank Receipts, 1971
Folder 16 Bank Receipts, 1972-1974

Box 8

Folder 1 Bank Receipts, 1975
Folder 2 Bank Deposit Books, 1943-1975
Folder 3 Bills, 1944-1948
Folder 4 Bills, 1951-1952
Folder 5 Bills, 1953
Folder 6 Bills, 1955-1956
Folder 7 Bills, 1957
Folder 8 Bills, 1958
Folder 9 Bills, 1963-1975
Folder 10 Bills, VEPCO and C&P, 1951-1968
Folder 11 Receipts - Airline Tickets
Folder 12 Receipts - Automobile (I)
Folder 13 Receipts - Automobile (II)
Folder 14 Receipts - Automobile (III)
Folder 15 Receipts - Automobile (IV)

Box 9

Folder 1 Receipts - Miscellaneous
Folder 2 Receipts - Taxes

Series IV - Printed Material

Folder 3 Advertising Copy - Radio and TV, 1952-1957
Folder 4 Brochures - Acts
Folder 5 Brochures - Norfolk
Folder 6 Brochures - Ocean View
Folder 7 Brochures - Rides and Equipment
Folder 8 Brochures - Tidewater Virginia
Folder 9 Flyers (I)
Folder 10 Flyers (II)
Folder 11 News clippings re. Nov 1964 Fire at Ocean View Amusement Park
Folder 12 News clippings re. Closing of the Park, 1978
Folder 13 News clippings, 1943-1963
Folder 14 News clippings, 1968
Folder 15 News clippings, 1969
Folder 16 News clippings, 1983
Folder 17 News Releases, 1970
Folder 18 Newsletters - Virginia Transit Company; National Ballroom Operators Association

Box 10

Folder 1 News Releases, 1952-1954
Folder 2 News Releases, 1955
Folder 3 News Releases, 1956
Folder 4 News Releases, 1957
Folder 5 News Releases, 1958
Folder 6 News Releases, 1968
Folder 7 News Releases, 1969
Folder 8 News Releases, 1970
Folder 9 News Releases, 1976
Folder 10 Postcards (I)
Folder 11 Postcards (II)
Folder 12 Posters and Handbills
Folder 13 Schedules of Events, 1952-1970
Folder 14 Schedule of Events, 1971-1976

Series V - Photographic Collection

Box 11

Folder 1 Animal Acts (I) - Szymanski's Chimps
Folder 2 Animal Acts (II) - Dog Acts
Folder 3 Animal Acts (III) including poster 
Folder 4 Bathing Beauty Contests 1940s-1950s
Folder 5 Color Photo of Amusement Park in Virginia Beach
Folder 6 Easter Sunday at Ocean View Amusement Park 1940s-1950s
Folder 7 Exterior Shots – Ocean View Amusement Park
Folder 8 Fireworks at Ocean View Amusement Park
Folder 9 High Wire Acts (I)  
Folder 10 High Wire Acts (II) – Lovely Miss Rachel of the Navarros                               
Folder 11 High Wire Acts (III)                                                                                                 
Folder 12 High Wire Acts (IV)
Folder 13 High Wire Acts (V) – Capt. Eddie Sky- Thriller
Folder 14 High Wire Acts (VI)
Folder 15 High Wire Acts (VII)
Folder 16 High Wire Acts (VIII)
Folder 17 High Wire Acts (IX) – The Fearless Bauers
Folder 18 High Wire Acts (X)
Folder 19 High Wire Acts (XI)
Folder 20 High Wire Acts (XII) – The Rodriques Brothers
Folder 21 High Wire Acts (XIII) – Miss Olga
Folder 22 High Wire Acts (XIV)
Folder 23 High Wire Acts (XV)
Folder 24 High Wire Acts (XVI) – Erik Golden Boy of the High Wire
Folder 25 High Wire Acts (XVII)

Box 12

Folder 1 High Wire Acts (XVIII)
Folder 2 High Wire Acts (XIX) - Trio Angelos
Folder 3 High Wire Acts (XX)
Folder 4 High Wire Acts (XXI)
Folder 5 High Wire Acts (XXII)
Folder 6 Indian Village
Folder 7 Juggling and Balancing Acts (I)
Folder 8 Juggling and Balancing Acts (II) - The Juggling Chef Vic Pago
Folder 9 Juggling and Balancing Acts (III)
Folder 10 Juggling and Balancing Acts (IV)
Folder 11 Magic Acts
Folder 12 Trampoline Acts
Folder 13 Miscellaneous Acts (I)
Folder 14 Miscellaneous Acts (II)

Box 13

Folder 1 Ocean View Amusement Park (I)
Folder 2 Ocean View Amusement Park (II)
Folder 3 Ocean View Amusement Park (III)
Folder 4 Ocean View Amusement Park (IV)
Folder 5 Ocean View Amusement Park (V)
Folder 6 Ocean View Amusement Park (VI)
Folder 7 Ocean View Amusement Park (VII)
Folder 8 Ocean View Fishing Pier (?)
Folder 9 Ocean View Amusement Park - Lady Buxom Contest Photo's (I)
Folder 10 Ocean View Amusement Park - Lady Buxom Contest Photo's (II)
Folder 11 Ocean View Amusement Park - Lady Buxom Contest Photo's (III)
Folder 12 Ocean View Amusement Park - Lady Buxom Contest Photo's (IV)
Folder 13 Displays
Folder 14 “Rabbit Chase” Game
Folder 15 “Rocket” Ride
Folder 16 Miscellaneous Photographs
Folder 17 Miscellaneous Photographs: Dudley Cooper

Series VI - Miscellaneous

Box 14

Folder 1 Architectural Drawings
Folder 2 Arnold Ramsey Lodge No. 1195 of B’nai B’rith 26th Annual Distinguished Service Award Presentation honoring Dudley Cooper, May 4, 1975
Folder 3 Articles re. Amusement Parks
Folder 4 Article re. Dudley Cooper
Folder 5 Article for Warner Twyford
Folder 6 Bath House Construction
Folder 7 Cost Estimates re. Fire, 8 Nov 1964
Folder 8 Electrical Damages Due to Fire, 8 Nov 1964
Folder 9 Golden Anniversary 1919-1969- Maury High School Class of 1919 Program, July 26, 1969
Folder 10 Maury Commodore Yearbook 1919
Folder 11 Motel Postcards – Lafayette Motor Hotel, Ocean Ranch Motel
Folder 12 Movie - "Roller Coaster," 1976
Folder 13 Ocean View Postcards
Folder 14 Prices - Rides, undated
Folder 15 Questionnaire - Ocean View Park, 1968
Folder 16 Schedule of Insurance
Folder 17 Sketches - Ocean View Amusement Park Sign
Folder 18 Tickets

Series VII - Scrapbooks


Box 15 Scrapbooks, 1948-49 (Seaview Beach), 1949-52 (Ocean View Park)
Box 16 Scrapbooks, 1949-54 (Seaside Park), 1953-55 (Ocean View Park), 1954 (All Parks)
Box 17 Scrapbooks, 1955-56 (All Parks),  1960 (All Parks)
Box 18 Scrapbooks, 1963 (Ocean View and Seaside Parks Ads plus Miscellaneous News Items),  1964 (All Parks Newspaper Ads and Publicity)
Box 19 Scrapbooks, 1965 (All Parks),  1966-67 (All Parks)

Series VIII – Framed Certificates and Photos

Box 20

Item 1 Norfolk Jewish Community Council Community Service Award, Dr. Dudley Cooper 1946
Item 2 Anti-Defamation League Lifetime Achievement Award, Mary and Dudley Cooper, September 5, 1991
Item 3 Certificate of Membership, Ambassador’s Society of Trustee’s, Dudley Cooper
Item 4 Honorary Citizen and Goodwill Ambassador, City of Houston, Texas, Dudley Cooper

Box 21

Item 1 Ambassador’s Society of Trustees Certificate of Membership, Dudley Cooper 1988
Item 2 Ambassador’s Society of Trustees Award of Honor, Dudley Cooper, 1987
Item 3 Arnold Gamsey Lodge No. 1195 of B’Nai B’Rith, Distinguished Service Award, Dudley Cooper, May 4, 1975

Box 22

Item 1 Framed photos – U.S.O.-J.W.B. at 222 Plume Street
Item 2 Framed photo – Supreme Court Judge Douglas

Box 23

Item 1 Framed drawing Presented to Dudley Cooper One of the Original Founders by the Virginia Chapter of Young Audiences, October 20, 1979

Series IX – Maps & Architectural Drawings

Map Case Drawer C3

Item 1: Drawing: Chesapeake Bay- Mean High Water as of Dec. 1, 1923 (March 22, 1924)
Item 2: Composite Map showing Nansemond Hotel Property and Adjoining Parcels (July 21, 1942)
Item 3:  Drawing: Proposed Street Layout at Ocean View- Norfolk, Virginia (June 1927; Revised October 18, 1927)
Item 4: Engineering Drawing: Ocean View Amusement Park- Norfolk, Virginia (Entire park)
Item 5: Architectural Drawings: Plot Plan- New Buildings at Ocean View Amusement Park (12/14/64)
Item 6:Architectural Drawing: Plot Plan- New Buildings at Ocean View Amusement Park (Post Fire, 12-14-64)
Item 7: Six drawings, 12/14/65
Architectural Drawing: Vicinity Plan/Site Plan- Chesapeake Bay House
Architectural Blueprint: First Floor Plan- Chesapeake Bay House
Architectural Blueprint: Roof Plan/Typical Floor Plan- Chesapeake Bay House
Architectural Blueprint: Apartment Layouts S, 1, 1D, 2 ,2B & 3- Chesapeake Bay House Architectural Drawing: Left & Front Elevation- Chesapeake Bay House
Architectural Drawing: Wall Section & Section thru Building- Chesapeake Bay House

Map Case Drawer A2

Item 1: Drawing: Ocean House Motel, Virginia Beach, Virginia, Joel B. Cooper and Charles N. Cooper, Owners, n. d.

Poster Tube 1

Item 1: Map showing Contiguous Properties of Wells Ocean View Investment Inc. and The City of Norfolk, at Ocean View- Norfolk, Virginia (70A and 70B)
Item 2:Architectural Drawing: Ocean View Amusement Park- Norfolk, Virginia (December 1960)



Revised: 10/16/2012