Saturday, April 30, 2016

San Diego, California

When I was a tiny child, my dad was stationed in San Diego; I only have a smattering of memories from those days, but my mom recalls it as a wonderful place to live.  

This first photo shows a fellow posing on Mission Boulevard, right where Nantasket Court crosses (thanks, handy street sign!). Presumably he and his wife lived right around there? If they stayed for a while, they would be within walking distance of Sea World. This neighborhood feels almost small-towny; no building is over two stories, and there is a definite post-war California vibe. 

Here's a screen grab from Google's street view; there are more structures, including one three-story place. But the house near the center with the red tile roof and the arched window (visible in the first image) is still there!

This photo was taken at Casa de Estudillo, a historic adobe home constructed in 1827; it is a National and California Historic Landmark. Why? It became associated Helen Hunt Jackson's famous (and extremely popular 1884 novel, "Ramona" - the story of a mixed race Indian girl who is met with discrimination in Old California. While the novel does not specify Casa de Estudillo as Ramona's marriage place, a local newpaper declared it so, and it stuck. 

The house was donated to the State in 1968; it was restored, and this painted sign was removed sometime in the early 1970's. But I kind of like seeing it this way!

Friday, April 29, 2016

Two Beauties From Tomorrowland, September 1963

Remember when moon travel was glamorous? Now it's an every-day thing, and passengers don't even dress up. Jorts and flip-flops, for cryin' out loud! But in 1963 everyone still wore silver lamé jumpsuits, which is how it should be. 

This lovely photo of the elegant Rocket to the Moon is really somethin'; the thing looks like it is ready to leap into the heavens with the push of a button (a red glowing button, of course). 

Ach du lieber! Nothing says "The World of Tomorrow" like an oom-pah-pah band. Perhaps this is a  tribute to Dr. Werner Von Braun and the other German scientists who contributed to the U.S. space program (yeah, that's it). This octet is performing right next to the rocket; their vests are color-coordinated to match the entrance to the show building. 

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Vintage Postcards - Coney Island, Part 1

Ken Martinez has more vintage amusement park postcards for you today... I especially love old photos of venerable Coney Island, so this post is an extra good one!

Coney Island Part 1

Coney Island has a rich and colorful history. It isn't so much an amusement park as it is more an amusement district with such famous parks from the past like Luna Park, Dreamland, and Steeplechase Park, to later parks like Astroland, Deno's Wonder Wheel Amusement Park, and various indempendent operators and vendors. Back in its gloden age it was the largest assembly of amusements in one area. Coney Island has gone through its ups and downs through its long history, but still remains an amusement center to this day and has recently had a revival of sorts with references to its past.

Steeplechase Park was the creation of George Tilyou and operated from 1908 - 1964. After closing, the Tilyou familyh sold the land to Fred C. Trump (father of Donald Trump). Today the Parachute Jump tower is all that remains of Steeplechase Park. The Parachute Jump was purchased by George Tilyou's son Frank from the 1939 New York World's Fair, then disassembled and reassembled in Steeplechase Park. The Park and the Parachute Jump closed permanently in 1964. The tower structure has remained dormant since then. The newly restored Tower structure was revealed in 2013 at the new Luna Park, part of the amusement district's recent revival efforts.

Trump wanted to build high-rise apartments on the land but plans fell through, so he leased the land to a group who ran it as a parking lot. Later rides were added to turn it into a small amusement park. This all happened from 1967 to 1981. Eventually Trump sold the land. Pictured here is the colorful Silver Streak ride.

The Tornado operated from 1926 to 1977 at Henderson and Bowery Street. The lengthy block it was built on was narrow with a maximum of 70 feet wide in one area and a minimum of fifty feet wide in another area. In one area the coaster structure overhung the street by five feet. The coaster reached a height of 71 feet and the coaster trains incorporated the Prior and Church design (articulated).

Coney Island's Cyclone, probably the most famous roller coaster, was located in Astroland. The structure is actually steel while the track is wood based, thus classifying it as a wooden coaster. It was made a National Historical Landmark in 1991. Operating from 1927 to 1969, it was closed from 1970 to 1975 and was in danger of being demolished to make way for an expansion of the Aquarium just east of the coaster. With a "Save the Cyclone" campaign, Astroland leased the land and reopened the classic coaster which has been operating since.

Here is the Mickey Wheel. Oops! I mean the Wonder Wheel at Deno's Wonder Wheel Amusement Park. I always wondered why Disney built the gargantuan Ferris Wheel in California Adventure when it really was a New York icon.

Hope you enjoyed your visit to some of the amusement parks at Coney Island. In a future post I will feature postcards from the golden age of Coney Island.

Information source material:
The Great American Amusement Park copyright 1976 by Gary Kyrazi
Funland U.S.A. copyright 1978 by Tim Onosko
Roller Coaster Database

Oh man, do I wish I could have seen these places back in their heyday. That includes the older parks such as Luna Park and Dreamland too. Fantastic! Thanks so much to Ken Martinez for yet another great post.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

More Devlin Family Photos - Part 12

Today I present the dozenth (that's a word, right?) post from the Devlin family. Hooray!

We're right by City Hall (in friendly Town Square). There's "Mama" (as the slide is labeled), mailing a postcard (?) to some lucky recipient. Maybe it was a rare Art Corner card! A squeaker, or a "flasher". Or a "jumbo" card, I especially like those.

This one is neat, I've never seen another photo of somebody actually having their silhouette cut! I think Grandfather is waiting patiently to the right (partially hidden). If you look at the reflections in the glass, you can see the Penny Arcade and the Sunkist Citrus House (more on that in a future post). 

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Fantasyland & Frontierland, August 1970

Avast, ye landlubbers! You'd think that after looking at countless jillions of photos of the old Chicken of the Sea Pirate Ship, I might be sick of it. Nope! Sure, this feature was a restaurant, but what a restaurant! Walt and his Imagineers made it spectacular to look at, even if you were just passing by. If you wanted, you could climb aboard and explore, talk to a pirate with a real wooden leg, and even get  a nice elevated view of Fantasyland in the bargain. After 1960, you could relax behind the ship in a cool, shaded area away from the riff raff. We miss you, Pirate Ship.

By now these rock formations are a familiar site on vintage Disneyland blogs. The antelope in the foreground don't even notice them anymore. Some of these rocks survived the change to the Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, and from what I've heard, they will continue to be preserved with the addition of Star Wars Land. It's enough to make a Wookie smile.

Monday, April 25, 2016

A Pair From 1956

Today's photos are both full of sweet, juicy 1950's goodness. They have also been fortified with iron and nine essential vitamins and minerals.

This first one is kind of neat, taken from the Skyway as we (presumably) head toward Fantasyland. I like seeing the castle from this unusual angle. In the lower right is Holiday Hill; below us is a mysterious dirt path, and a wall to prevent guests from wandering back there. I believe that the path once led to the short-lived Mickey Mouse Club Circus.

Next is this nice shot of the Mark Twain heading out through a very raw and rather barren landscape. The warm tones of the colors really amps up that vintage, nostalgic feel. I wonder if the boulders that are scattered about were man-made, or if they were found on property during excavation? Or maybe they were purchased at "Just Boulders", right up the street.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Town Square and Plaza, May 1966

Today I have two square-format slides from 1966, taken on a gray day. I get so used to seeing sunny days at the park that it is a bit odd to see it so wintry, with guests wearing coats and sweaters. 

We'll start with this shot taken from the steps of the train station, looking north on Main Street. A handsome horse waits patiently as passengers unload from their Streetcar. A banner welcomes members of the U.S. Air Force.

After heading up Main Street, we've reached the Plaza. Say, it looks like there are three fly-boys in front of us. Thanks for your service, fellas! Babushka alert (not on the airmen). Am I seeing things, or are there climbers on the Matterhorn? I think I spy two red dots toward the top. Notice the yellow, peaked roof of the little souvenir stand, and an Omnibus hiding to our left.

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Long Beach, California, August 1959

As a kid I spent quite a bit of time in Long Beach (California), because my dad was stationed at the Navy base there. But I sure don't remember ever seeing anything as pretty as today's first photo, probably taken from the end of a pier (the Rainbow Pier?). The word of the day is BLUE.  Cobalt blue skies, ultramarine water. 

The taller building is the historic Villa Riveira Hotel, built in 1929. The 16-story structure is "French Gothic". I know you were curious. It went condo in 1991, and still stands today. The building just to the right is the Pacific Coast Club, completed in 1926. You can't tell here, but the once-luxurious building had already fallen into decline. It was finally torn down in 1988, but I prefer to look at this photo and think of the way things were in happier days.

It looks like it was a beautiful day to be at the beach. Folks are working on their tans, or seek refuge beneath colorful umbrellas.

Friday, April 22, 2016

Indian Village, 1959

Let's start today's photos with this beautiful shot of the old Indian Village in Frontierland (from 1959, probably early in the year). Our photographer would have just emerged from the tunnel entrance. Doesn't it look fantastic? To our left is the "wigwasigamig", a birch bark lodge house that looks very authentic. Except for the dun-colored tarp on top. I love all of the details, from the ladies in their 1950's outfits, to the colorful teepees, to the skull on a pole.  Do you think that that is a torch next to the tree stump trash can? I see a few others in the distance; this area must have looked very moody and romantic at night.

Say hello to two fun gals. The one on the left has a movie camera. I wish I could see what she captured! Hopefully she didn't use too much film on the Indian dancers nearby. Those teepees are pretty big - much bigger than the vinyl toy teepee that I had in my backyard as a kid. Who knew.  I suppose I should mention the babushka!

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Vintage Postcards - Six Flags Over Texas, Part 3 - France

Here's more from Ken Martinez's collection of vintage amusement park postcards!

Six Flags Over Texas, Part 3

Continuing with the Six Flags Over Texas series in which Mexico and Spain were already covered, today's article features the French section of the park. Previous articles are located at:

The French section of Six Flags Over Texas featured only one attraction back in the early days of the park. La Salle's River Adventure was an original opening day attraction which entertained park visitors for 21 years before closing in 1982 to make way for Roaring Rapids raft ride. Also featured on this postcard is Fort St. Louis. The people on the bridge crossing over the river are waiting in line for a ride on the River Adventure while guests glide above on the park's AstroLift.

La Salle's River Adventure was similar to Disneyland's Jungle Cruise. It featured a captain-narrated boat trip down the Lavaca River in search of an alternate route to the Mississippi River. Along the way the boat passed by several animated scenes including a recreation of a Spanish fort pictured here. The finale of the ride featured a dead end of the river into a waterfall covering a rock wall. The boat would stop, the waterfall would park, and a cave door would open up. The boat would then proceed into the Indian treasure cave and exit into the loading dock area.

Besides the LaSalle River Adventure, the only thing in the French section was a small gift shop called Pierre's Treasures. I wonder if these wonderfully themed buildings are still standing today.

I hope you enjoyed your visit to the French section of Six Flags Over Texas.

Information source material: 
Funland U.S.A. copyright 1978 by Tim Onosko
Park Times -

As always, many thanks to Ken for sharing his collection!