Friday, December 02, 2016

A Tale of Two Indian Villages

Here are two beautiful views taken on a lovely May day in 1958, featuring two contrasting Indian villages in Frontierland. 

Let's start with this shot of one Indian Village - one that guests could access and explore by walking through a tunnel that ran parallel to the train tracks. Teepees are clustered near the shore, where the canoes appear to be out of commission on this day. Just a smidgen of the Dance Circle can be seen to our left. A lone human being (a cast member?) is to the extreme right. Hard to believe that the park was so empty on this spectacular day.

As the Mark Twain continued on its journey, it encountered a second village; the "Friendly Indian Village". Was this a new feature in 1958? Clearly those teepees were made of raw canvas, and had not yet been painted and aged to resemble tanned buffalo hides like the ones in the previous photo. Most of the inhabitants are still there, though more were added over the years. 

Thursday, December 01, 2016

Fort Wilderness & The Mark Twain, 1959

Who knew that a pile of logs like Fort Wilderness could be so beloved? For many years the rustic structure was one of the main attractions on Tom Sawyer Island. Guests could explore it, climbing up to the upper level to peer over the battlements, "firing" guns from the sentry towers, clanging the big triangle, tossing a penny into the well, or checking in with Andy Jackson, Davy Crockett, and Georgie Russell. And when you were tuckered out, you could sneak out the secret escape to a remote trail. The fun was perhaps low key by today's standards, but if you used your imagination, it was just the thing.

Big wheel, keep on turnin'... when I build my private theme park (I'll call it "Neverland"!), I will definitely have a big river and a genuine sternwheeler. And it will be a thing of beauty, just like the Mark Twain. Sometimes I think I could ride that thing all day. I love the father and son on the middle level, with the kid so interested in what is going on!

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Steve in Palm Springs, December 1954

When Steve Stuart offered to share many of his personal scans on GDB, I made a counteroffer to rescan his slides, including the ones that were not theme park related. And he took me up on that offer! With his permission, I thought it would be fun to take a little detour from Disneyland and head back to 1954, to sunny Palm Springs. Here's Steve with his commentary!

Here I am, evidently catching-up on the latest comics from the “LATimes” funny pages.  If memory serves – back when this image was taken – my guess is the side of the paper facing me had Li’l Abner, Peanuts and/or Nancy appearing on it.  (I always loved her aunt’s name ”Fritzi Ritz”, or merely ‘Aunt Fritzi’.  And then there’s ‘Sluggo’).  On the backside we can make-out Ella Cinders, Brenda Starr Reporter & Smokey Stover.  And just for the record – my posture has never been so good-!  You can just see my ‘infamous’, purple, “bikini” bathing suit – which only a Mother could love.  I, on the other hand, had no opinion at the time – or I’d like to think so.

These shots were taken at the Howard Manor Hotel, in Palm Springs, California – and it’s very much still there – although now re-named the Colony Palms Hotel.

This next view has me once again speed-reading my way through the “LA Times” – this time it’s the ‘Home’ section.  (Again with the bathing suit…)  And sitting next to me, some other unidentified magazine [most-likely Life], featuring an ad for Maxwell House Coffee and an article about Thanksgiving.  I believe these images were most likely taken in November of 1954 – which would make me about 3-1/2 years old.

Paddling through the crystal blue waters of the pool at the Howard Manor, is my aunt (my mom’s sister) and me – this time I see wearing more ‘modest’ outdoor attire.

And the final image has my mom relaxing on those same crystal blue waters at the Howard Manor pool.

These look like some great memories! For those of you in colder parts of the U.S., you can dream of lounging by a turquoise pool in the bright and cheerful sunshine of California's desert resort town. MANY thanks to Steve Stuart!

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Night Watch, Knott's Berry Farm

This photo from Knott's Berry Farm (circa 1959) shows a group of statues representing a family of Native Americans; mother, father, and tiny tot. These sculptures were added in 1954, and were created by artist Ross Yost (thanks to Jay Jennings' excellent book "Knott's Berry Farm: The Early Years" for the helpful info!). 

Zooming in a bit, we can see the group a little bit better. This tableau was based on the the painting "Night Watch" by Charles Nahl, which used to hang in the Music Hall - I don't believe it's there any longer. In fact, I am not sure the sculptures are extant any more either. Anyone? Bueller?

This photo (from 1963) shows the aforementioned painting. It has the look of a classic painting of the American West. A postcard featuring the artwork has this written on the back: "This is a replica of one of the most beautiful paintings we have ever seen - the original was painted in the most glowing colors by Charles Nahl in 1870. It hangs in the old Adobe at Knott's Ghost Town - Don't miss it when you come visiting this fascinating place!". I love that they were so enthusiastic.

Thanks to the miracle of Photoshop, I could correct the perspective so that you can get a better look at the painting. Did the Knott family collect other examples of Western art? Perhaps a Frederic Remington or two?  N.C. Wyeth, or a Charles Russell, or George Caleb Bingham?  I wish I knew.

Monday, November 28, 2016

The Columbia & The Mark Twain, July 1958

Today's first scan is a wonderful look at Frontierland's riverfront - where most of the action was! I like the composition of this image, with Tom Sawyer Island (including a full raft) to the left, the Columbia at the dock loading up with passengers, and the busy paths that flank the river. The little bandstand to our right wouldn't last very long, but I like it a lot. In the lower foreground guests stroll toward the Plantation House, or perhaps they continued on to the Indian Village.

I'm not sure when this happened, but I used to find pictures like this kind of dull, and might have passed on scanning them. But I've developed a new-found appreciation for this man-made frontier and its river!

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Walt Disney World, August 1972

I found a few slides from Walt Disney World, taken less than a year after it had opened; nothing amazing, but still fun. 

This first one was shot from the Skyway as it passed above the massive show buildings that contained  Fantasyland attractions. From up here it looks fairly utilitarian, and yet interesting to a kid who liked getting a glimpse behind (and above) the scenes. Notice how the "tile" roof of the structure in the lower left continues over the wall a bit - presumably to channel rain, just like a roof is supposed to do.

In the distance, the very pointy Cinderella Castle looms, while the Contemporary Hotel looks super cool.

Moving right along, we now see the Walt Disney World Railroad passing below. I have a friend who is kind of critical of the Florida trains, but I'd still love to ride them. Is that a canal to the left? Just beyond it is a road that appears to have been used by park (or hotel) visitors.

Uh oh, are rain clouds moving in? Gramps doesn't look too concerned, and neither does his Pepsi-lovin' grandson. I've seen many MANY photos of Cinderella Castle, but I don't think I've ever seen one taken from this vantage point. Any idea where these two were standing?

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Vintage People

People... people who need people... are the luckiest people, blah blah blah. (Sorry, Babs!). It's time for some more vintage people.

Here's a bunch of kids (high school age?) circa 1959 hanging out in somebody's living room. Were they watching TV ("Walt Disney Presents"?) or home movies? Listening to "Dream Lover" by Bobby Darin? Actually, this slide is date-stamped "January 1959", so this might be a crazy, out of control New Year's Eve party. Settle down, you hooligans!    

Plaids were in for girl's pants. Two wisenheimers to the left make the classic bunny ears behind those ernest young people, while the girl in red (extreme left) is getting her own set of bunny ears. Hoisted on her own petard! Or something.

Now there's a family that really loves beer. And Iggy Pop, to the right, really REALLY loves it. By my count there are approximately 50 cans (not counting the paint can). Pabst Blue Ribbon and Lucky Lager were the favorites of the day. It's interesting to observe the lads and their strong resemblance to the Old Man. Notice that the one lady on the steps is holding her beer can upside down, indicating that this is from that dark era when a church key was required. 

Friday, November 25, 2016

Monorail Stuff, June 1963

I've always thought it was neat the way Walt Disney's lifelong fascination with trains - old fashioned steam locomotives, particularly - evolved into an interest in other forms of transportation. Like trains of the future - streamlined, quiet, smooth-riding monorails!

Here's a neat photo of the Mark II Monorail Yellow (Gold?) rounding the curve on its way to the station at the Disneyland Hotel (just above it you can see the back side of the hotel's sign). This attraction seemed to capture people's imaginations at the time - there was really nothing else like it. And it really felt like the future! 

Notice the Richfield gas station in the distance (behind some trees). I'm guessing there will be some challenges for you car nuts out there.

Next is this photo taken from aboard a Monorail as it passes above the vast parking lot. Is that a Chevy Impala I see? I've always liked those. 

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Disneyland Ephemera Time & Happy Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

It's time for some vintage Disneyland ephemera. Some of the most numerous souvenirs from ye olden days are the souvenir maps given to the visitors to Tom Sawyer Island. They were given out for free - passers-by could grab one (or two or five) from a handy bin (I have a photo in which you can see one of these bins, but I'll be damned if I can recall when it was posted). There are probably at least a dozen on eBay right now, so they're not rare. However, I still thought it would be fun to look at the different versions.

Here's the front of the very first map, circa 1956. It's a bit harder to find compared to the later versions, but you can still pick one up for a low price.

As with all of these brochures, it opens to reveal a wonderful map of the island. I'm guessing that this map was drawn before many features of the island were completed - or maybe it's just plain inaccurate. But it's still great! Notice that there is no "Tom's Treehouse", no pontoon bridge, and none of the playful rock features, such as "Teeter-totter Rock" or "Merry-go-round Rock". I am assuming that Sam McKim drew Tom and Huck, if not the map itself (he was responsible for those early "fun maps", so he probably did this one too). Please correct me if I'm wrong!

And here's the whole other side, for those who are interested!

In 1957, they released this familiar design with green and brown ink. It is much like its predecessor, with a bit of added copy to entice guests.

Inside is a whole new map - it reminds me of the kind one might find on the end papers of a vintage illustrated book. The higher angle gives you a better sense of the place. There's Tom's Treehouse - we are informed that it was the "highest point in Disneyland" - and the Pontoon Bridge, along with the rock features can now be seen; next to the fort, you can see the escape tunnel. The map also indicates two paths for rafts, one at the southern end of the island, and another at Huck's Landing, near the fort.

Reading! If I wanted to read I would go to the liberry.

A later version of the map is still dated 1957, but is clearly post-1959 because the Matterhorn became the highest point in Disneyland, and Tom's Treehouse lost its lofty status. Notice that the foliage was changed to a dark green to make the various trails easier to see. And the raft that headed to Huck's Landing is no longer indicated. This is the most common version of TSI maps.

And finally, just because I happened to have it, here's a scan of the map from Tom Sawyer Island at Tokyo Disneyland. It seems to be a bit condensed, and is definitely rearranged, though it does have most of the important features that were in Anaheim, pre-Pirate's Lair.

I hope you have enjoyed this look at some vintage Disneyland stuff! Have a safe and wonderful Thanksgiving.