Saturday, September 22, 2018

The Midwest

Growing up in a Navy family meant moving a lot. I've spent most of my later life in Southern California - howver, I was born near Chicago, and still have family ties to the Midwestern portion of the U.S. I love the midwest! Today I have two random vintage slide scans to share.

I'll begin with this industrial view, dated "June 1959". The slide was hand-labeled, "Indiana cement factory, Lake Erie". Which is very helpful - except that Indiana has coastline along Lake Michigan, not Erie - the photo appears to be along a river. So I don't know what to make of that! Is this even a cement factory? I sure don't know. I thought cement came out of the ground like crude oil. 

Nevertheless, I still find the rust-belt image of a spidery steel structure looming above some train tracks, like a scene from a steampunk video game. When you drive through the midwest, you'll see stuff like this all the time, to the point where you might not even really notice it.

Next is this 1954 photo from the Detroit River, looking up Woodward Avenue (to the right), with the Vernor's ginger ale plant a block inland. Vernor's dates back to 1866, though this 230,000 square foot factory (encompassing an entire city block) was built in - - well, I can't find exactly when this factory was built. It might have been converted from a former power plant.

Here's an interesting aerial view. In the 1950's, Vernor's made a deal with the city of Detroit, selling the property so that Cobo Hall and other riverfront properties could be developed. Meanwhile, Vernor's had a new, streamlined facility a few miles north on Woodward.

Here's a look from the Detroit River. Notice the signs for "Bob-Lo Island", and amusement park on Bois Blanc Island in Ontario (Canada) that operated from 1898 until 1993. Two steamers ferried guests from Detroit to Boblo Island, the SS Ste Claire and the SS Columbia.

I hope you have enjoyed your visit to the midwest!

Friday, September 21, 2018

The Skyway and More

I have two beautiful photos of the good old Skyway for you today. Why did it ever go away?

First up is this nice example from May, 1961. We've just left the Tomorrowland terminal and are on our way toward Fantasyland - we're ready for a tunaburger. Parts of other attractions are visible, such as the Richfield Autopia, the Disneyland Alweg Monorail station, and the Astro Jets.

If you weren't paying close attention, this next photo might seem to be a zoomed-in look at the first image. But it's entirely different (dating from October, 1962). At the risk of holding up the line, I personally would insist on riding in an orange gondola because it's the best color. Mr. Yellow Monorail makes a special guest appearance in this week's episode.

I'm not sure if I've ever noticed those drinking fountains before...

Thursday, September 20, 2018

1968 Schwinn Bicycle Catalog - Part 3

Today I am presenting the third and final post featuring Steve Stuart's scans of a 1968 Schwinn bicycle catalog. This installment features a few of the most impressive photos of lucky kids who got to ride bikes through an empty Disneyland! Text is courtesy of Steve:

Just what do you suppose Goofy and that fine young man are discussing-?  Maybe there’s some sort of wheeler-dealing involving a Tuna Burger and a bike ride through Skull Rock…

There’s something ghoulishly-wonderful about seeing Monstro just ‘lying in wait’ as those darling little girls are pedaling-by him – all within “striking distance”.  Evidently Schwinn feels Monstro is merely a playful soul of sorts, and is merely a lovely spokeswhale for a “… a whale of a lot of fun”.  I’m also assuming the little girl in the red outfit holding on to that cluster of blue balloons, is not merely ‘hitching a ride’ on the rear fender of that Hollywood Coaster Bike but, is actually uncomfortably seated along Storybook Land’s rocky edge.

Do you suppose a wave of a magic wand inside Merlin’s Magic Shop was responsible for creating all these “juvenile bikes for boys and girls 5 to 7 years old”-?

It's me (your friendly neighborhood Major) again; Schwinn truly did make bikes for everyone. Check out those names. The "Bantam", the "Pixie", the "Candy", the "Buddy"! So awesome. And the Schwinn "Heavy Duty" or "Cycle Truck" - I would have been very jealous of whoever needed one of those.

I seem to rememeber going through similar catalogs (possibly a Sears "Wishbook") and dreaming that I had a reason to buy every accessory, even though I owned only one bicycle. Maybe I could change out my Sting Ray saddle every week to spice up my life! And look at those ka-razy handle bars. I need them. Not so sure about the vinyl windshield though, or the basket - definitely for girls!

Were Schwinn bicycles ever considered to be the kind that serious racers might ride? In any case, you could still look cool with your racing gloves and hat, training jersey, tights (everyone looks cool in tights, am I right?), and so on. I would definitely need a speedometer so that I could keep track of the records that I broke each day.

Steve again: As you can see on Page 31, be warned no matter how tempting biking-around the Happiest Place on Earth might be, it simply won’t be happening.  For punishment, you’ll be forced into “Year-Around Cycling In Your Own Home!” on a Schwinn Exerciser.  My – how home exercise equipment has changed in the ensuing years.

MANY thanks to Steve Stuart ("Nanook") for sharing this great Schwinn catalog with us!

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Walt Disney World Vacationland - Part 4

Here is Part 2 in a series from Ken Martinez, with more memories of Walt Disney World the way it was some 43 years ago. Here's Ken:

Walt Disney World Vacationland Magazine Spring 1975 – The Vacation Kingdom 

Here’s the fourth and final installment of the Spring 1975 issue of the Walt Disney World Vacationland Magazine.  Today’s article is titled “Sailing with the Fleet of the Kingdom”.   One of the early features played up in the Vacation Kingdom’s early years were the recreational water activities, whether it was boating, water skiing, tanning on the beach or swimming.  Much has changed between then and now. 

I like the image of the Bob-A-Round boat.  I had no idea they were equipped with stereo music.   I’d be curious as to how many of the various watercraft exist still today.  Do the paddlewheel steamers “Southern Seas” and “Ports O’ call” still exist or were they retired over the years?

Here’s a fun map of the Vacation Kingdom and what it had to offer early visitors.  There’s still only one theme park at this time.  I like the oversized people and Disney characters on the map.  Some of them are almost as tall as Space Mountain.

Here’s an ad for Walt Disney World’s host community Lake Buena Vista.  The early hotels at Hotel Plaza were Dutch Inn, Howard Johnsons, Royal Inn and TravelLodge.  I  wonder if most of those hotels have different owners now. 

The “Vacation Kingdom” also included a horse ranch called the “Tri-Circle D Ranch” for Disney’s various horses both in the Magic Kingdom and for recreational use at the Fort Wilderness Campground.

What I find interesting about this article is how Disney had to prepare and plan this ranch and train all the horses and hire all the right people all before the opening of Walt Disney World.  So not only were they working on opening a theme park, but the campground, the horse ranch, the various activities on Bay Lake and Seven Seas Lagoon and the two hotel properties, Contemporary Resort and Polynesian Village.  It certainly seemed like a more complex operation than Disneyland.

I hope you’ve enjoyed today’s article.  This is the final for the Spring 1975 issue of Vacationland Magazine, but there are more Vacationland magazine articles to come.  Stay tuned.

Thank you, as always, Ken! There are more articles from him coming up.

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

More Rescans

Here are two more attempts at rescanning old slides that originally appeared on GDB in ye olden days, before your old pal Major Pepperidge knew what he was doing. As usual, the results were mixed.

Let's start with this example, originally posted way back in November, 2006. It shows Main Street Station as seen from the last few yards of the old parking lot. As we can see by the shadows, this is a morning view (sun coming up in the East, of course), and yet the colors are so warm that it looks more like a late afternoon shot.

The rescan and readjustments cooled things off nicely - I was pleased with the way this one turned out! The parking lot is wet - did it rain during the night? Did the maintenance crew scrub the streets with a sweeper of some kind? I love seeing the original yellow passenger cars. 

Zooming in a bit, some tasteful Christmas ornaments can be seen on the station. I wondered if this could be from the park's first holiday season, but then I spied the Skyway poster. So... perhaps it is from 1956. It also looks like people are walking away from the exit turnstiles, but they are probably just walking toward the ticket booths, which were centrally located.

Here's a Tri-Level poster - sadly I do not have one of these.

The next rescan was less successful; here's an odd (but interesting) shot taken from a Nature's Wonderland Mine Train (circa 1963) that originally published in 2007. I love that we get a look at guests riding the Pack Mules as they crossed the natural arch bridge. 

So... the rescan. Looking at it now, I wonder why I didn't lighten it up more. I brought out some details in the sky, but who cares about the sky? I honestly don't think I can put this in the "improved" category. And yet... I will still sleep like a baby tonight. Because Major Pepperidge only cares about one person, and that's Major Pepperidge!

Monday, September 17, 2018

Castle Rock, 1959

Here are two 1959 photos of Castle Rock on Tom Sawyer Island. It was a place to climb and explore and bump your head and skin your knee. And have tons of fun. Grownups could enjoy it on their own level, while kids could run along pathways, jump on the pontoon bridge, go spelunking in the mysterious caves, listen to their echoes in the bottomless pit, find the escape tunnel out of Fort Wilderness... so much to do!

People are drawn to the peak of Castle Rock by the same curious instinct that guided King Kong to the top of the Empire State Building.  Hi, kids!

Sunday, September 16, 2018

In the Queue

I have some strips of black and white negatives that I believe are from the late 50's - or possibly the early 60's, though it's hard to tell for sure. The B&W makes everything look antique! 

Both of these are kind of snooze-worthy, but they can't all be winners, can they? For some reason our photographer seemed to be interested in the squirmy boy hanging on to the fence. The boy and his mom only show up in these two photos, so I don't think the photographer was related.

"When are we getting on the ride? Where's Mickey? What's going on over there? Are we going to eat soon?". Etcetera. Dennis Hopper's brother Fred is giving us the stink eye.

Saturday, September 15, 2018


I have some photos of cool vintage cars for you today - thanks to my brother for helping with the IDs, especially the second example!

We'll start with this photo from June, 1975, featuring a woman happily posing with her new Porsche 914 (along with a glass of wine in her hand). I like her style. It seems like I used to see a lot of those Porsches around, they must have been fairly popular. At first I thought that this must be Southern California, but based on the license plate on the El Dorado in the background, I think that it must be Arizona (they had yellow plates with green lettering at the time). 

Since the rear bumper guards appear to be rubber (rather than chromed or painted) I think that this must have been a 1975 model. Correct me if I'm wrong!

This photo was undated and unlabeled, but it is very appealing - this family is living the life! Looking at the scenery in the background, it could be any one of 1000 places, so I can't even hazard a guess. The man at the wheel is clearly very proud of his Austin-Healey 3000 (thanks to my brother Tom for helping with the ID). According to Wikipedia, in 1963, 91.5% of the all Austin-Healey 3000 cars were exported to the United States!

Since the vintage slide is slightly obscured in the front, I thought I would include this contemporary photo (scrounged from the web, as usual). What a beauty!

Friday, September 14, 2018

Autopia & More

It's Friday, and that means (in theory) that I will be posting some photos that are at least slightly above average, or more interesting than usual. 

This first scan is an uncommon angle of the Tomorrowland Autopia, with a line of cool miniature cars loading and unloading. Teenagers especially loved this ride, clearly! You can see that the CM in the foreground is holding a version of a seat belt for the incoming passengers - I wasn't sure if the Autopia had seat belts in those early days (they were just starting to be accepted for full-sized autos in the U.S. at around this time, I believe). 

Skyway riders are exiting the load platform down that flight of steps, and there is a helicopter in the sky - presumably one of the L.A. Airways aircraft that ferried guests to and from LAX.

Any idea what that crude wooden structure might have been for? At first I thought it could be early construction for Tomorrowland Station, but that didn't open until some time in 1958 - it was such a simple structure that it certainly did not take two years to build. If you go back to the first view, it appears that there is another framed-in structure in the shadow of the Autopia building. Perhaps it had something to do with maintaining cars that were out of service, since there is a wall, and one car can be seen with its hood up.

Here's a nice view of Tomorrowland Station (previously posted) from July, 1958.

Changing gears (see what I did there?), I have this photo from April, 1958; It's a bit dark, but still nice!  Guests are handing over their "A" tickets to see the Sleeping Beauty Castle walk-thru dioramas, which had debuted almost exactly one year earlier. 

Thursday, September 13, 2018

Four Beauties From Frontierland!

Here are four more excellent slide scans, courtesy of a Mysterious Benefactor!

Ever wonder what it would be like if you were a fish and took a trip to Disneyland? Of course you have, what a dumb question, I'm sorry I even asked. Everyone knows that fish have bugged out eyes, and therefore everything looks kind of stretched and bendy. Nowadays they have corrective lenses, but in the 1960's NASA had not developed the technology to help fish everywhere (they were still stymied by "The Tang Conundrum").

Well, we've all learned a lot about fish and NASA and other things, so why don't we move on to this wonked-out view of the Columbia. Interestingly, this is how Ken Kesey saw everything.

And there she goes!

Now here's a very neat view; the file name tells us that this photo was taken from the roof of the Haunted Mansion! Pretty cool, I don't think I've ever seen another picture quite like it. And that's saying something.

From 1969 comes this early evening view of the old Casa de Fritos. While the Frito Kid was no longer seen in the park, some say that he still lived in the catacombs beneath the restaurant (Walt insisted on catacombs, much to Roy's displeasure).  On nights when there was no moon, park employees reported seeing a shadowy shape emerge from beneath the adobe building, and shamble along the river's edge. Ducks were reported missing the next day. If you listened closely, you could hear the jingle of his spurs and the distinct sound of crunching as he scattered crispy golden Fritos behind him.

Sorry to be so scary!

There are plenty more scans from the Mysterious Benefactor.