Saturday, May 23, 2015

Vintage San Francisco

Hey, guess what, homies? My scanner died! It is now in heaven, scanning incredibly rare slides of Disneyland for angels. I can't even guess how many thousands of images that thing cranked out for me. I really had hoped that it would survive until I was done with my blog, but I guess I'll have to go out and buy another one. Should I get the $200 scanner, which will do the job (nicely, I'm sure), or go for broke and get the $700 scanner with all of the fancy bells and whistles? (I don't know why I need a whistle on a scanner, but I'll sleep better at night knowing that it's there). 

Anyway (sorry for the digression), for now I am stuck with the slides that I have already scanned. Luckily for me I was a good boy and have several hundred ready to go (patting myself on the head). Like today's vintage views of San Francisco; I have not spent a lot of time in that city, but it has its appeal. The photo below is from 1953, looking down a typical SF hill, toward the bay, with Alcatraz a little bit to our left. 

I didn't know where this was exactly, so I used Google Maps to see if I could figure it out. 

I found a street that seemed to point in the right direction (Taylor Street), pointing just toward the eastern edge of Alcatraz. Then I dropped the little Google man near the non-pointy end of the red arrow at the Green Street intersection).

And this is what the "street view" showed. Amazing! There is the same apartment building on the right, and everyone's favorite prison in the distance. The other buildings have changed somewhat, but it was super satisfying to have found just the right spot on the first try.

Next we have this neat view from November of 1948. That's almost 67 years ago! I love photos like this. That nice lady is standing in front of the Hotel Aldrich, near the 441 Club. This is Jones Street, right in the famed "Tenderloin" district. As always, I covet those vintage cars. It looks like there is some kind of hardware store to our left; imagine how neat it would be to roam the aisles if we could.

Here's the Google Maps view of how it is now; the Aldrich Hotel is still there, as is the 441 club (although I just looked it up, and it has recently closed - apparently it was quite a dive at the end). As is usually the case, Jones Street looks like it was a lot more fun decades ago!

Friday, May 22, 2015

Two Beautiful Instamatics!

I'm getting down to the last of the wonderful vintage Kodak Instamatics that were so generously given to me by "Mr. X"... most of the remaining examples are pretty darn nice! 

Like this one, showing the Matterhorn as seen from Tomorrowland (right near the Yacht Bar). The "snow"-capped peak gleams against a blue sky; colorful Skyway buckets travel to and fro, while a tomato-red Peoplemover train passes on the track above. The guard rails have been added to the Peoplemover cars, but there doesn't seem to be anybody on board for some reason. Notice the climber on the Matterhorn, as well as the single bobsled just below him.

I love this picture!

This next one is pretty neat too, and a very unusual angle (taken from somewhere on the ramp outside of the Carousel of Progress, I suppose?). It's cool the way the Disneyland Peoplemover really moved up and down some considerable grades - it wasn't all flatness. Below us is the Autopia - at first I thought some sort of construction was going on, but now I can see cast members and riders. In the lower right is Tomorrowland Station.

Another surprise is just how green and lush some parts of Disneyland's Tomorrowland are... the future doesn't have to be sterile shiny metal and white concrete.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

GDB "Greatest Hits" - Main Street

Hooray for more "Greatest Hits"! This time we're visiting Main Street - although one image might be considered an exception.

Night shots are all-too-rare; film stocks were generally just not fast enough 50 years ago. That's why  this lovely photo (originally posted in 2007) of West Center Street and the Flower Mart is so special. And the warm glow from the bulbs along the buildings adds a soft, nostalgic ambiance. Beautiful!

OK, I know this isn't "Main Street", but my archives folder for Main Street includes the "Entrance"  and parking lot. Now the whole world knows my shame. Still, I don't think most people will complain about this adorable picture of the little tram as it drops off a fresh load of guests at the front gate. It was first posted back in 2008. Are those tract homes in the distance? I don't ever recall noticing houses in the background before.

This neat picture (circa 1957) looks north on Main Street, later in the afternoon. The park was bustling, though it's hard to tell because most people didn't walk in the street.  I love the patriotic bunting, and the bright red Chemical Wagon, and pretty much everything else, too! Notice that the gas lamp is already lit, in spite of the fact that there will still be many hours of daylight left.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

A Random Pair

It's time to use up some "leftuggies"! 

We'll start with this nice photo of the "Fred Gurley" above the left tunnel into Town Square (circa 1966). Although it looks like it was not a hot day, the green ventilation door on the cab of the Gurley is open (and the hatch on the roof is as well) - I'm sure it got toasty inside on most days. 

The old new stand is to our left. You can see a tiny blue mouse-ear balloon floating away - how many times a day did that happen? The view of Town Square is tantalizing, I really want to walk in! 

Zooming way WAY in, I spied the top of a postcard rack, containing a bunch of scarce "squeaker" cards!

I put together this jpeg so that you can match the cards below to the very blurry picture above.

This next picture is from 1962, and we're looking down on the Casey Jr. (that's Casey JONES Jr. to you!) RR sign. The rock work to the left is interesting, and I guess I never realized just how "wooded" the back area was. It's dark and scary; Hansel and Gretel are probably lost in there.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Knott's Berry Farm in the 80's!

I love looking at photos of Knott's Berry Farm from the 1950's and 1960's, but I really like today's images from the 1980's too! 

This first one is from June 25, 1983. The slide is labeled "Rosemary and Snoopy, KTLA picnic". KTLA is a local station (Channel 5) in Los Angeles. Rosemary looks like a fun gal! Charles Schulz's "Peanuts" characters started roaming the streets of Knott's Berry Farm in the Fall of 1982, while a whole new land ("Camp Snoopy") would open just a month after this picture was taken. Just behind Snoopy is Woodstock.

In the background is the beloved and much-missed "Knott's Bear-y Tales" attraction, designed by former Imagineer Rolly Crump and his staff. I never experienced that ride, much to my dismay.

This next photo is from July 10, 1982; I assume that the man next to the Gold Rush Camp sign is Rosemary's husband, though we don't get his name. Obviously this was another annual KTLA (and radio station KMPC) picnic. I don't know anything about the Gold Rush Camp, is this where Camp Snoopy was built?

Monday, May 18, 2015

Two From July 1967

Some of you may recall a post from a while ago, showing two photos taken from the hub. This first photo is from the same lot - our photographer turned to his / her right toward the entrance to Frontierland.

Man, it is pretty busy on this summer day; it reminds me of the way things are around a "Fantasmic!" performance today. If this was truly taken in July of '67, then perhaps the crowds were in force for the debut of the New Tomorrowland. However, it is more likely that many of those people are heading to the "Pirates of the Caribbean", which had opened only months before. Still, it looks very pretty with flowers, and plenty of trees for beauty and shade. I like the baskets of flowers hanging from the light post. The sails of the Columbia look neat, way in the distance. 

As always, I like to do some vintage people-watching! The little girl in the blue shorts is having an awesome day, while her sister (behind her) has run out of gas already.

A second image from that same bunch shows this view looking toward the Monsanto House of the Future. If you look closely, there are a LOT of people waiting to get in. Enjoy it while it lasts, folks, it will close in a matter of months. To our left is the tent-roofed souvenir stand. 

I originally assumed that this picture was taken from the Skyway, but it looks too low now that I think about it. Any ideas?

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Matterhorn.... OF DEATH! - January 1965

I have used almost all of the strangely dark, soft-focus pictures from January 1965; almost all of them. There are still two more, in addition to today's weirdos. And another two that are as bright and sharp as you could possibly wish for. 

Have you ever seen the Matterhorn look more ominous and haunted as it does here? It has been corrupted by an evil curse - as if it sucked in all light and happiness, leaving only fear and misery behind. Yetis with glowing eyes emerged from dark caves at night and carried off guests who were never seen again. (I know, the yetis didn't officially move in until 1978). 

This one's not quite as bad, possibly because of the Christmas star visible on top, and the candy cane-striped pole (part of Fantasyland Station, I assume) in the foreground. But it's still pretty creepy.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

More Views from the MGM Studios

Today I am sharing yet another selection of amazing photos of the legendary MGM Studios in Culver City, California. These are scanned from some "Personal Viewmaster" reels, with photos by my friend Rol Summit (circa 1970). You are all smart people, so I'm sure you can find the other four MGM posts on GDB without my help (although the first installment provides a bit of history for those who are interested)!

Isn't this one neat? This section of the backlot looks like a 200 year-old New England port, complete with a beautiful (and convincing) sailing ship in the harbor. It kills me to think that those buildings were bulldozed not long after this photo was taken. 

 Now we seem to be in a town that might have been seen along the Mississippi back in the 1860's. Maybe. Or is it just a part of the set seen above, only from a different angle? At the right edge of the photo we can see just a part of a sternwheeler...

... Which can also be seen here.

Among the items available in the upcoming auction was this incredible chariot in the form of a stylized bull's head. Does anybody recognize what movie this was from?

Just as an aside, it is clear that the chariot's bull was based on a massive limestone sculpture from Persepolis (now Iran). It is now in Chicago's "Oriental Institute Museum".

I'm not sure exactly what we're looking at here; it appears to be a large bas-relief sculpture of Poseidon (?) astride a fierce stallion. But the "flashing" around it makes it look like it is part of a mold. Maybe it is just a section of a larger relief.

An eclectic assortment of props were on display inside a soundstage. I love that fanciful fish-shaped model submarine. There's also a miniature tank suitable for crushing by your favorite Kaiju, as well as small ships and dories, along with what I assume is production art.

I did a bit of research and found that the vessel was from a 1961 movie called, "Atlantis, The Lost Continent", from director George Pal (of "War of the Worlds" and "The Time Machine" fame). I am not 100% sure, but I think I saw the model on the back patio of Forry Ackerman's "Ackermansion". George Pal and Forry were friends, so it makes sense. Incidentally, half of the prop was missing because of evil thieves.

And finally, here's a repeat from a previous reel, though the flash worked this time, so we can actually see the large collection of Roman armor, plate mail, and other sword-and-sandal accoutrements. Why is that model airplane there? Who knows!

There are still two more reels to go! Many thanks to Rol Summit for giving me permission to share these images.

Friday, May 15, 2015

The Souvenir Dungeon - Hallmark Party Favors

Welcome to my souvenir dungeon! I have installed new shag carpeting (harvest gold, naturally), so I wanted to show it off. Help yourself to a Fresca.

Since the slide collection is ever-dwindling, it seemed like a good idea to scan some paper items - paper items are my favorites! Most of what I have is not unique... you will have seen similar things on other blogs and websites (like Matterhorn1959's "Stuff From the Park" blog - he has everything). But it is what it is.

However, today I thought I'd share something fun and unusual:  a complete packet of "Hallmark Party Favors", presumably dating from the early 1960's. As you might know, Hallmark had a store on Main Street from July 1960 through to January of 1985. There are a number of wonderful items from that store that collectors treasure these days, including a beautiful set of oversized postcards (maybe I'll post scans of those someday). But this set of party favors seems to be pretty scarce. I've never seen another, though of course they must be out there.

Here's the front of the envelope; as you can see, it is in very rough shape. In fact, it literally fell apart during the process of photographing it... the front and back are now two separate pieces. Bummer. But at least I have it! As you can see, the party favors allow kids to punch out pre-printed, pre-scored paper pieces in order to construct simple, toylike replicas of eight familiar features at Disneyland. It's nice to be able to see what the finished product should look like; I am a big fan of this kind of artsy-crafty thing!

It's hard to tell, but this page would let you build a tiny Mark Twain.

I love that they included an ice cream cart! That umbrella is trying to pop out, but I am glaring at it, so it will stay put.

This fort is pretty cool, I like the four block houses that can be placed on each corner.

There's no Disneyland and Santa Fe Railroad, but you do get Casey Jr.

How about a "Jungle Boat", complete with striped awning?

Coolest of all (in my opinion) is the "House of Tomorrow"!

This rocket isn't as elegant as the real one in Tomorrowland, but it is still pretty swell.

And finally, a groovy submarine that looks more like one of the old Civil War iron-clads rather than a state of the art nuclear sub.

Here's the back side of the envelope... you could mail this to your best pal. I don't know about you, but 75 cents seems like a pretty great value to me.

I hope you have enjoyed your visit to the Souvenir Dungeon!

Thursday, May 14, 2015

More Instamatics

I like this bright and colorful photo taken from the queue of "It's a Small World"! It makes me feel like I am there - almost. "The Happiest Cruise That Ever Sailed Round the World" has even attracted a few sailors; they are homesick for the sea. The "paper cutout" look of the stylized buildings is very appealing (along with the white and gold color scheme); the boats are great too, somehow the aqua hue is just right.

Next up is this picturesque view of Town Square, with a Horse Drawn Streetcar, an Omnibus, a popcorn wagon, and even a drinking fountain. City Hall looks suitably grand, but doesn't overwhelm.