The record company AQUA -- whose motto was "Waves of Fun" -- was active throughout the 1950s.
Jack Riley was born in Maytown Thurston County,(Washington). He grew up in Carnation (King County, Washington) where his father held jobs with the railroads and the county. Mr. Riley attended the University of Washington and worked as a boat builder. He also taught social-recreation activities, such as dancing, at Seattle Catholic schools. He served as an Army paratrooper in the Pacific theater during and after World War II.
Back in Seattle, he bought a barge, moored it on the west side of Lake Union and turned it into a floating dance hall with a western theme: the original Aqua Barn. He met his future wife while teaching square-dance lessons. In 1951, the couple moved the Aqua Barn business to her family's property on old Renton-Maple Valley Road (Renton King County, Washington) and began holding square dances.
They added rental horses, campgrounds, a pool and train tracks, pressing existing buildings into service. Mr. Riley was in his element, later saying he considered it more a playground than a business. 'We really prevailed,' he said, recalling the 1960s heyday when his Renton business had 240 horses on more than 100 acres and a barn full of people country dancing every night. During the 1950s, when children's shows were big on local television, Mr. Riley enjoyed a brief fling on the small screen. He was 'Happy Jack,' comedic sidekick of KING-TV's western-movie emcee, Sheriff Tex" [Jim Lewis]. The ranch in Renton, replete with a restaurant that remained open for decades, was finally sold to developers in 1998.