Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Universal Studios - December 1969

I've had a few so-so scans of slides from Universal Studios (circa 1969) sitting in a folder on my computer for literally years. I decided to just use them up finally, even though it is not an "Anything Goes Saturday".

We'll start with this photo of what had been the Munster house (1313 Mockingbird Lane, but really "Colonial Street") just a few years earlier (the show ran from 1964 to 1966).  It had originally been built for a 1946 film, and had been used many times. By 1969 it was showing up in episodes of "Dragnet". Eventually the house was used in the show "Desperate Housewives". But in this photo, it still looks pretty "Munstery"!

Here's a photo from the backlot tour, obviously taken during the release of the 1966 movie "Munsters Go Home".

Over at the Prop Plaza, guests could channel their inner Hercules and lift massive boulders. They may have been foam rubber, but as I learned the hard way, getting hit in the face with one was no fun!  Did I cry? Possibly.

Here's a familiar view - everybody took a picture from this vantage point. Besides seeing some interesting things such as the beautiful 100% cement Los Angeles River, Lakeside golf course, and Warner Bros. Studios (in the center across the river), we have features like "Park Lake" in the lower left, where the "Parting of the Red Sea" effect would be added in 1973. There's also an "Old Mississippi" area by the lake.

I always like pointing out the water tower of the Walt Disney Studios (upper left). Sets from "The Tower of London" (a 1939 Boris Karloff movie) glow in the late afternoon sunlight. In the shadows (lower right) is the "Denver Street" western town. 

This next photo is looking toward the Lakeside golf course and Toluca Lake. Closest to us is the "Prop Plaza", where guests could goof around with oversized props, or ride a stagecoach in front moving scenery. Or throw a heavy rubber boulder at some unsuspecting little kid.

Parallel to the golf course is Colonial Street, where the Munsters house, the "Leave it to Beaver" house, and many other familiar homes could be seen. Slightly closer to us is New York Street.

Zooming in on Prop Plaza, you need to look carefully to see things such as a giant pair of scissors, a big chair, and the aforementioned stagecoach. Partly hidden by trees is a fighter jet of some kind.

I have a lot more slides from Universal Studios, and just scanned one batch that has some nice views. Stay tuned!

Monday, July 16, 2018

Trinity Site, New Mexico

For those who read this blog regularly, today's post is a departure from the usual theme park and World's Fair stuff. I found it to be super interesting, and decided that it was worth sharing. If it's not your thing, don't worry, we'll return to business as usual tomorrow.

GDB pal Warren Nielsen sent along some fascinating (and sobering) photos from a trip that he and his wife Kyle took 10 years ago. Besides providing an account of his visit to a historic landmark, Warren's story involves tremendous personal loss - I know I got a lump in my throat reading about it. I'm grateful that he provided an informative writeup to accompany the photos, so I'll let him tell the story:

About this time 10 years ago, Kyle and I were needing to take a break, get away, go somewhere, over her spring vacation time from school. We were desperate to go someplace, anyplace, where we had never visited as individuals, as a couple, or as a family. Someplace totally new and unfamiliar, with no memories attached to it. In reality, we were trying to escape. The previous 2 years had for the most part, sucked, and culminated in THIS (damn cancer) so somehow, we settled on New Mexico.

One of the places we visited was Trinity Site, where the first atomic explosive device was detonated in July of 1945. It is open 2 days a year for the public to visit, one day in the spring, and one day in the fall. It is located on the grounds of the White Sands Missile Range.

There are the usual radiation warning signs surrounding the area...

This is all that remains of the 100-foot-tall steel tower that suspended the bomb for detonation.

The obelisk and the plaque on the obelisk that stand directly below the where the bomb was suspended.

This is the remains of Jumbo, a large steel pressure vessel built by Babcock and Wilcox. The idea behind Jumbo was to place the nuclear bomb inside of it, and if the device did not work, Jumbo would contain the plutonium so it could be recovered and not contaminate acres of land with the core of the bomb. The scientists finally felt assured that the bomb would in fact detonate and Jumbo would not be needed. Jumbo was destroyed by conventional bombs after the war (8 bombs of 500 pounds each) Jumbo was about 25 feet long, had walls of up to 14 inches thick, and weighed about 250 tons. The wall thickness seen here is about 6 to 8 inches.

When the bomb was detonated, the heat and blast formed a wide shallow crater and also melted the surface into a layer a greenish-turquoise glass-like material. This layer was later bulldozed up, placed in barrels, and shipped off. However, if you start to dig around in the ground a little, small fragments of the material, called Trinitite, can still be found. It took about 5 minutes to find these pieces. I asked Kai to hold them while I took this picture. People nearby were curious about what we had found, came over and took their own pictures, so there are 4 or 5 more pictures out there somewhere of Kai’s hand and these fragments of history.

This is the McDonald ranch house. It is located about 2 miles from the blast site. It was used by scientists setting up the blast site and was where the actual guts of the bomb were assembled prior to being inserted into the body of the bomb, which was done at ground zero. The first room to the right as you step into the building is where this assembly took place. The building has been restored to how it appeared the day of the blast.

Trinity Site is awe-inspiring in the sense of contemplating what took place there, and how that event shaped the history of the Second World War, this country and the world. The nuclear age and the nuclear arms race were, in a sense, born here.

I hope all of you found this to be as thought-provoking as I did. I realize that it is quite a departure from the usual fun of amusement parks, but I love history too. Warren reminded me that today marks the 73rd anniversary of the detonation of the Trinity bomb.

Sunday, July 15, 2018

River Scenes

When it's time to choose photos to post for a Sunday, I generally pick out the scans that are either a little boring, or perhaps they exhibit flaws. Like bad focus! That would be the case for today's offerings.

We're gazing across the river toward the fishing dock, which appears to be populated by young boys, and one disinterested girl. Who wants to touch a slimy fish, for gosh sakes? Still, there is something about the thrill of feeling a fish tug on the end of your line. Further back is a full raft that has just arrived at Tom Sawyer Island (you can tell which direction it is heading by which way everyone is facing). And even further away is a remarkably empty shoreline.

Two War Canoes pass by, side by side; it makes me happy when I see how full the canoes were back in those days. How often did the average suburbanite get to paddle around a river? I've never been clear about whether the CMs pointed out interesting features along the way, or if they didn't want to distract the guests from safely propelling the canoe?

Saturday, July 14, 2018

Ella Goes to Hollywood, Part 4

Well homies, it's time for the fourth and final post featuring Ella's adventures in Hollywood. She must have become weary of posing for photos, because we don't see much of her in this batch!

Let's start with this photo of NBC Studio (as seen from Olive Blvd) in beautiful downtown Burbank. We saw NBC's old studio on Sunset Boulevard in a previous post, but the Burbank studio was designed for TV production. COLOR TV production! It opened in 1955, and many of your favorite shows were made here. Such as: The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson; Sanford and Son; Night Court; Rowan and Martin's Laugh-In; The Facts of Life; Hollywood Squares; Elvis Presley's '68 Comeback Special; The Fresh Prince of Bel Air; Welcome Back Kotter; and MANY more!

Here's a scarce color photo, scrounged from the internet.

And here's a postcard, heralding the glories of color television. Why, it's almost like there are tiny people living inside the box in our rumpus room.

NBC moved out of the Burbank studio and set up shop at nearby Universal City in 2014. 

Here's another nice color view, with an updated sign. I used to drive past the studio all the time, but only visited it as part of a school field trip. 

The rest of today's photo were taken at various locations along Sunset Boulevard. For instance, let's check out the Sunset Strip for a look at Dino's Lodge. Yes, that's Dean Martin's visage smiling at us; I could tell you more about it, but for an amazing and thorough history, please read Kliph Nesteroff's article at WFMU's "Beware of the Blog". It's great.

Here's a color photo that I posted some years ago!

We're still on Sunset, but several miles east. The building in the photo is Frank Sennes' "Moulin Rouge" - a theater, nightclub, and home of the ghastly "Queen for a Day" television show.

The building was originally the Earl Carroll Theatre, a fancy supper club with elaborate shows featuring beautiful, scantily-clad showgirls. "Through these portals pass the most beautiful girls in the world", proclaimed the sign outside. The large neon face was a portrait of Earl's devoted girlfriend, Beryl Wallace.

More scrounging turned up this rare color photos of the Moulin Rouge. This building later became the Kaleidoscope Theatre (where you might see acts such as The Doors), the Aquarius Theatre (where the hit musical "Hair" was performed), the Chevy Chase Theatre (where his disastrous talk show was taped), and in the 1990's it became "Nickelodeon on Sunset". There are rumors that part of the building will be returned to the Earl Carroll theme, with added luxury high-rise condos.

More than a few ingĂ©nues of the 1940's and 1950's spent plenty of time loitering in Schwab's Pharmacy on Sunset Blvd. in the hopes of being discovered, just like Lana Turner was (only she wasn't actually discovered at Schwab's). I kind of love that our girl Ella wanted to see this Hollywood  landmark.

I'm going to say something controversial: Lana Turner was very pretty. Fight me!

Here's a neat color photo showing the neon sign at night.

I'm guessing that this photo must have been taken toward the end of Schwab's existence; it closed forever in 1983.

And finally, here's the star herself, wonderful Ella standing in front of the entrance to Warner Bros. Studios on Sunset. Perhaps they were filming "The Music Man" on the lot at that very moment!

The only color photo I could find showing the entrance is this fuzzy shot from 1976.

Who loves old postcards? I do.

I also love this wonderful color aerial photo, probably from the 1970's - imagine how much fun it would have been to be able to wander through that back lot.

And that's the end of Ella's adventure's in Hollywood. I'll bet she had lots of great stories to share with the gals in her bridge club when she got back home. She met Phil Harris! She went to the Brown Derby, and the legendary Pantages Theatre! She saw the handprints and footprints of her favorite stars in front of Grauman's Chinese Theater! So many memories. I can't help looking at her without smiling.

Friday, July 13, 2018

Entering Town Square, Plus More - June 1970

I had fun with today's photo - not only is it a great image, but we get some quality souvenir action too. 

We'll start with the main scan featuring this June 1970 view from just inside Town Square, looking back toward the west tunnel beneath the train tracks. As usual, I enjoy observing all of the people - the hairstyles, the hats, the fashions. And oh yes, let's not forget the wonderful E.P. Ripley on the tracks above! 

There's some cool Disneyland ephemera to be found in the photo, too. Notice the flier in the hand of the lady with the pink scarf.

I have two different examples of this flier (with different dates) - "Disneyland's SUPER SUMMER", featuring "Show Me America". The use of a color photo on the front of this flier might be a first for one of these kinds of gate handouts - usually they had fairly simple graphics.

Looking inside, we learn that "Show Me America" was "A sparkling, fast-paced musical tour of the world's greatest tourist attraction". Graceland?? Why not go see Buck Owens and the Buckeroos on the Tomorrowland Stage? Not to mention "Sound Castle, Ltd." at the Tomorrowland Terrace, the Kids of the Kingdom, and catch the fireworks with "Fantasy In the Sky" at 9 P.M. 

Zooming in on another part of the photo, I spy a rack of souvenir paper items; they are like old friends! I'll go through them starting from the top and working my way down.

There's a 1968 souvenir guidebook, with the famous photo of Walt Disney signing autographs from the Firetruck - this image appeared in the August, 1963 issue of National Geographic. The 1968 guide was not replaced until 1971.

Just because, I thought I would add this photo - National Geographic posted a nice, more complete version of the image that was on that cover.

Extra, extra! TokyoMagic! pointed out an item that I did not even notice! Below the guidebooks you can just see a corner of one of these awesome "dial guides". This green version went through five or six variations as rides were added or removed. My scan shows version #2, which I believe is the one most commonly found (though I do have them all!). Anyway, you just turned the dial, and a pink dot would appear next to an attraction (in this case, "Adventure Thru Inner Space"). Look at the back of the item and you could get a little info. Simple and brilliant.

"Disneyland Dial Map"? I thought it was a "Dial Guide"! So.... so dizzy. For all of you postcard collectors out there, notice that this was also technically a postcard! Mail one to your friends - and one to your enemies, who will then become your friends.

To the right of the dial guide are several postcard folders. There are multiple variations of this folder (over the years, certain photos were removed or replaced with more up-to-date examples), but they all have the pink cover, and I believe that they all have the same photo of the train station on the reverse. 

Below that is another postcard folder, this one featuring the Haunted Mansion, which had been open for less than a year at this point. I'll bet they sold a ton of these! Bonus points for the use of the word "funtastic". 

The next several racks have these little flip books; I used one of these when my young niece wanted to understand how animation worked. I've seen versions that are from the Art Corner, and others that omit the mention of that store.

And finally, the bottom rack has copies of this popular collectible - "Magic from the Haunted Mansion in Disneyland". I bought one of these when I was a kid - it is filled with simple magic tricks, along with some nice illustrations that are Mansion-related. There are two variations of this one, be sure you have them both!

I hope you have enjoyed the photo, and all of the cool paper ephemera!