Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Main Street Station & Town Square, October 1961

Good old Main Street U.S.A.! Somehow Walt knew that it was the perfect way to start a visit to "The Happiest Place On Earth". One of the first things guests see is the train station; of course the railroad was a vital part of any city's economy, bringing goods and visitors from all over the country. 

There it is, built of red brick with granite details to let you know how solid and prosperous this little town is.  In my home town, the train station is built of gold and diamonds.

There's no train at the station. Boo.


Down at the bottom edge of the photo we can just see the tops of a number of attraction posters, including a super-rare "Flying Saucers" example. But... notice that one of the poster frames is ajar, and there is no poster! What gives?? Maybe I stole it? Mwaa-ha-ha!


This next picture is a lovely shot of Town Square. It's awfully crowded, but sometimes ya just gotta "man up" and deal with it. The pale yellow building near the center is where you could view (and buy?) Wurlitzer pianos and organs - though I've always wondered if you could have ordered one of those beautiful jukeboxes - you know, the ones with the bubble tubes. 

Just visible to the right is the Hills Bros. shop. 


The landscaper left his rake and a cardboard box beneath that tree. What a ninny-muggins. At first I thought the box said "Fritos", but now I think it might say "Coca Cola". Obviously it's hard to decipher. Meanwhile, Fritos go great with an ice cold Coke - it's what I had for breakfast.


Monday, February 27, 2017

Unexpected Gifts!

Many months ago (almost a year, actually) I was the recipient of a rather remarkable gift, thanks to the generosity of longtime GDB reader Irene (hi, Irene!). Irene's brother has been a huge Disneyland fan for years, and during his many trips to the park he took a lot of photos. I mean A LOT! When he moved, there wasn't room for all of his stuff, so Irene asked me if I would be interested in snapshots, mostly from the 1990's. Absolutely! 

So we arranged a meeting place and time - we were like two spies having a covert rendevous. It would probably not surprise you to learn that she is as friendly and nice as can be (as are all of the blog readers that I have met). As for the photos, I expected a shoebox, or perhaps a single binder. But there were FIVE large, heavy binders with many MANY hundreds of photo prints. It was amazing.

Since then I have scanned some 400 photos which will appear on this blog; Irene's brother had an eye for details, so there are pictures of neat signs, construction, short-lived live shows, parking lots, vehicles, and all sorts of unusual stuff. Frankly I was surprised at just how much has changed in the past two decades, and am very happy and grateful to be able to share those photos here.

Today I decided to pick a selection of rather random images, to give you an idea of what's in store for future posts. Like this very neat photo from inside the cab of the C.K. Holliday, looking at the backhead of the boiler, with all of its controls. Disneyland Railroad enthusiast and national treasure  Steve DeGaetano was kind enough to provide some great info, which I am going to share with you guys:

Yes, that is the C.K. Holliday, looking like the engine is waiting at Main Street Station--I can see the bridge railing out the window on the right.  The diagonal silver bar pointing to 2 o'clock is the throttle ("gas pedal")  and the vertical silver bar on the right is the "Johnson Bar" which controls forward/backward movement. The little gauge to the right of the big one is the brake pressure gauge (The needle showing at 10 o'clock is the pressure in the main tanks, the other needle pointing down shows the brakes have been taken off). 

The bright red circular valve to the left is the "steam" to the water glass, which is sort of like a glass tube on a coffee urn that shows the water level in the boiler. The glass itself is hidden behind the brass casing holding the light bulb. The curved pipe going to the glass is coated in gauze soaked in white plaster--an insulation to protect the crewmen from getting burned (the temperature of that pipe is about 350 degrees F). The fireman is adjusting the fuel rate with his left hand on the brass lever. Looks like he's increasing the size of the fire by admitting more fuel (which is what you want to do before leaving a station). 

The two other curved pipes you can see go to the water injectors, which inject water into the boiler even though its under pressure. The speedometer (called the "tach" by CMs) is visible just on the edge of the upper right of the image, measures speed in feet per second. If you could zoom in, you might be able to make out the "SF & D RR" markings on the face--testament to the detail Walt sought to include in DL.

Meanwhile, for those of you interested in the Disneyland Railroad, I strongly recommend Steve's book, "Welcome Aboard The Disneyland Railroad" (with a new improved edition - better info, better photos, better everything!).


This next one is something of a mystery to me; it was clearly taken from outside the park looking in. Plus, the photograph was taken from perhaps 40 or 50 feet up. There is a guard gate in the lower left. It appears that Storybook Land's "Cinderella Castle" is closer to us than the spires from the Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, which (I think) would place us at the northeast edge of the park looking southwest - so, nowhere near the "Mickey and Friends" structure. Maybe. Those palm trees might be in Tomorrowland. I can't make sense of it.

I am sure you readers will solve this mystery. It's cool that I have no other photos from this very unusual perspective!


This is a familiar view, but I love the fact that the Skyway was still in operation when Irene's brother snapped the photo. Almost all of the photos in this collection are undated, but at least we can tell that this is from before November of 1994, when the Skyway was removed. Bonus points for visible bobsleds!


The fourth and final picture for today features this view from the old pre-DCA parking lot looking toward the ticket booths, with Main Street Station and the horn that matters peeking up. Imagine being able to park just a short walk from the front gate!


MANY THANKS to Irene and her brother!

(Ol' Major Pepperidge might need to lighten up on the use of exclamation points, but they seemed apt for this particular post).

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Jungle Cruise Natives, October 1963

You never know what you're going to see when you take a boat down the jungle rivers of the world. We can hope to see rare animals, but there are people here too! Greenhorns like us wouldn't last two days, but they are used to this world. However, they are not necessarily happy to see outsiders. I can't really blame them.

Hey, what's that sound? Drums and chanting. I'm sure it's just our imaginations. No wait, look straight ahead! Fierce warriors in costumes festooned with bright feathers and war paint are letting us know that it might be best to stop at the next village.


Don't worry, fellas, I'm going to make like a tree and get outta here!


Saturday, February 25, 2017

Snow in Los Angeles, 1949

Los Angeles hasn't been blanketed with snow very often, but it has happened. In 1949, snow fell on the City of Angels for four consecutive nights - January 9th through the 12th. Below is one of the headlines from the L.A. Times. 

A 1999 "Times" article stated that the Civic Center (downtown) received more than an inch of snow, while "...The San Fernando Valley was pelted with the unfamiliar white stuff for three days, accumulating almost a foot".


My grandparents and my mom lived in Encino (which is part of the San Fernando Valley) at the time. When they moved there, it was "the sticks"; my grandpa liked it because they could have a large yard, and my mom even had a horse. If you went north of Ventura Boulevard - half a block away - it was all groves and farmland.

Here's a photo of their home on one snowy morning! Notice the grapefruit trees along the fence. I loved that ranch-style house, and spent many wonderful days there. The upper level (painted brown) was the attic - you had to climb a ladder that was in a closet to get up there, but it was worth it. I loved to explore all of the wondrous things; my mom's old toys, as well as her collection of rocks and minerals, fossils and seashells, and stacks and stacks of "National Geographic" magazines going back to the 1920's.


Here's my grandmother, and my then 13-year-old mom, bundled up on her way to Van Nuys Junior High School, which was brand-new at the time. My mom said that they chose the school colors (gray and green), as well as the mascot - the mustang.  I love this picture!


The Encino house had a big front yard, and an even bigger back yard. Just next to the back patio was this bronze fountain (called "Joy Fountain") by artist Edith Barretto Parsons. It shot water straight up into the air, tons of fun on a hot day when I was a little kid! 

After a bit of research, I found another copy of this same fountain on public display in Lincoln, Nebraska. It's like seeing an old friend.


This is the view up the driveway; to the right was the orchard, which had roughly 30 citrus trees, mostly navel and Valencia oranges. Throughout the property there were also lemons and grapefruit, as well as persimmons, peaches, apricots, kumquats, figs, and tangelos. There really was nothing like a big glass of orange juice from fruit picked right off the tree - the stuff that you buy at the grocery store is some kinda bug juice.

I think that's my grandfather with the hat (to the left), but I have no idea who the other fellow could be. Perhaps they are wondering if this season's crop of oranges had been ruined. 


This shot is amazing - we're facing south (Ventura Boulevard would be about a block behind us) - the whole area is so built up now that it's hard to believe that there were once large undeveloped lots. 

My grandmother used to talk about going to city council meetings, and big stars like Clark Gable, Spencer Tracy, and John Wayne would actually attend.


I hope you have enjoyed your snowy visit to Encino!

Friday, February 24, 2017

Old Friends

Way back in May of 2006, I posted my very first photo here on GDB, and it happened to feature the mother and boy in both of today's images (sorry sis, you didn't make the cut 11 years ago). Going back through those photos, I saw that there were a bunch that I hadn't bothered to scan, in part because they had all turned magenta. My color-correcting skills have evolved a lot, and I was able to get these looking pretty good.

Junior has assumed the pose that I generally use in photos - the "eyes in mid-blink" that has made me famous 'round the world. Mom is wearing a pretty yellow dress, and she's holding one of those classic popcorn boxes - clean examples can fetch $80 to $100 these days. Or more! I wish I could tell what sis is holding in her right hand.


Thanks to the sign for the "Alice" ride, we can safely date this to 1958. The sun appeared to be setting, giving everything a warm glow, though it looks like winter to me. Hard to say, since I had to do so much fiddling with the color.

Notice mom's lenticular Mickey Mouse button!


Here's a better look at one of those signs:



Thursday, February 23, 2017

Steve Stuart at P.O.P., 1962

We're back at the beach with Steve Stuart (and company) for more Pacific Ocean Park images! As always, Steve has provided some nice commentary to accompany the photos:

MORE PACIFIC OCEAN PARK, June (or July) 1962

One of the signature features of POP was seen just beyond the entrance, past the ticket booths – Neptune’s Courtyard – containing an incredible bronze sculpture of King Neptune, his scepter pointing the way towards Neptune’s Kingdom.  He is surrounded by fountains, waterfalls and a specialized water show: Aquatechniques.  But magically (or tragically), my dad managed to “stage” the shot so our group completely obliterated the beauty and majesty of King Neptune, himself.  Although, he (my dad, that is) ‘happily’ caught a glimpse of the aging St. Regis Apts-Hotel and the Hotel Edmund – finer accommodations would undoubtedly be hard to find.  And for the record:  My mom; yours truly; Dick; Jeff; Don; Marc; Bill; and my aunt.  Here’s a LINK to a shot of the King Neptune’s Fountain, from “Stuff from the Park” where you can actually see its beauty.  (Thank you, Patrick)


In this second image we can see the “back side” of the sea-themed entrance and its ticket booths – again, to quote from the magnificent:  Pacific Ocean Park: The Rise and Fall of Los Angeles’ Space-Age Nautical Pleasure Pier…  “The entrance, known as Neptune’s Courtyard, was distinctly different from the nearby aging shops and hotels.  A soaring, stylized 60-foot-high “starfish” arch hovered over the modern designs of the ticket booths, and rising above that were 12-foot-high rotating seahorses, riding water bubbles into the sky”.  Again, the framing dismisses the beauty from those gold seahorses and ‘POP’ bubbles.  Here too, we can see the sign directing guests to Neptune’s Kingdom.


I can't get enough of P.O.P.! And there's more to come, courtesy of Steve Stuart. Stay tuned!

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Liselotte Pulver at Disneyland

Years ago my pal "Mr. X" gave me a copy of a vintage publicity still of a young woman who happened to be at Disneyland. I thought it would be fun to share it with you today!

The young woman is Liselotte ("Lilo") Pulver, a Swiss actress who went on to have a long, successful career, mostly in Europe. She was featured in many German movies, especially in the 1950's and 1960's. Wikipedia says, "One of her most recognizable roles in American cinema is that of James Cagney's sexy secretary in Billy Wilder's One, Two, Three. For her role as a Russian woman in A Global Affair she was in 1963 nominated for the Golden Globe Award as best supporting actress". It also said that she was often cast as a tomboy, and was known for her "hearty and joyful laughter".  Just like me! The laughter part, I mean.
She is still with us at the age of 87, living in in an exclusive part of Switzerland on Lake Geneva.


As I may have mentioned, I've been a fairly rabid collector of vintage Disneyland postcards for many years, so the cards that Lilo is looking at have a lot of interest for me. Hopefully for you too, since I went ahead and ID'd all of the cards and provided color scans for you to match up. 

There are some nice ones here, I've always particularly loved that one of the Moonliner at night. The Tinkerbell card (from the Art Corner) also comes with a blue background.


The postcard with Walt's portrait is unusual; and that one of the Clock of the World might be the first photo I had ever seen of that now-familiar Disneyland landmark.


We've got two more nice Art Corner character cards, as well as the very rare card showing the interior of the Art Corner itself. This one can easily fetch over $100! 


When I first composed this post, I could not identify postcard #15 (above); but I finally cropped way in, adjusted the angle in Photoshop, and was able to recognize the little barn that was part of the old Midget Autopia. Eureka! Postcard "D-12", for those who care.



Tuesday, February 21, 2017

The Magic Kingdom, December 1971

I have three very early photos from Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom for you.

This first image shows Main Street during the park's first Christmas - 45 years ago, by gum. I think this is a particularly nice shot, bright and clear; and I love the modest (but great!) wreaths and garlands, with a few ribbons and bells here and there - it feels very much like the kind of holiday decor that one would see on a real main street in Somewheresville, USA.


Next is the obligatory shot of Cinderella Castle, gleaming against a deep blue sky. Just visible is the roof of a streetcar, as well as part of an Omnibus. 


My unfamiliarity with the details of the Magic Kingdom makes me unsure as to whether this is West Center Street (do they even call it "West Center Street" in Florida?), but there is a sort of larval version of the Flower Market, though it keeps strictly to the sidewalks, as all law abiding plants do.


Stay tuned for more from this lot!

Monday, February 20, 2017

The Plaza, 1997

1997. A time before we had telephones or airplanes or Pringles. A time when early humans communicated through a series of grunts and crude gestures. A time when... oh, 1997! Jeez, that was only 20 years ago. For some reason I was thinking 2,001,997 BC. Happens all the time.

Anyhoo, good ol' "Mr. X" has allowed me to scan more of his personal Disneyland photos. These aren't very "vintage", but they sure are pretty. And it is surprising just how much a lot of the park has changed in those two decades.

Look at this nice shot as the old Firetruck chugs past the old Plaza Gardens. Did I mention they were old? The landscaping sure is nice. Of course the Plaza Gardens became the "Fantasy Faire" in 2013.


Mr. X might have just pivoted to his right to take this photo of Horse Drawn Streetcar as it waits for more passengers in front of Sleeping Beauty Castle. The "Partners" statue would have been right behind him.


I hope you don't mind these not-so-old Disneyland photos once in a while!

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Bad Snapshots, January 1963

Hoo-boy. Homies, you might want to go ahead and skip this one. These photos are just plain ugly. I am probably in violation of the Geneva Convention by sharing three of them in a single post. But laws don't apply to me!

Taken from the Mine Train Thru Nature's Wonderland as it crossed the trestle bridge, let's enjoy this blue gray smudge of a photo featuring the fishin' and scratchin' bears. Ordinarily this is one of my favorite scenes, but not this time.


Another favorite Disneyland feature is the much-missed Cascade Peak. If the goal was to take a terrible picture of it - mission accomplished!


All three of these snapshots look like they were taken at twilight, but I don't think that was actually the case. Here's a protective mama elephant and her bambino. He can take care of himself, squirting the crocodile with a stream of water. There's nothing crocodiles hate more than water!


Sorry these were so terrible.