Monday, April 20, 2015

Along the River, November 1958

Here are a few OK pictures… pretty enough I suppose, but nothing to write to Aunt Mabel about. But you should write to her anyway, she's lonely and would love to hear from you.

First up is this view of Tom Sawyer Island. There's Tom's Treehouse - for a very short time it was the highest point in Disneyland (and it was noted on the earliest souvenir maps of the island)!  I think the height of the Skyway in 1956 superseded the Treehouse. Near the lower left corner you can just see one of several rushing streams that ran into the river. 

I like the grandma and her grandson relaxing out on what I believe is the fishing dock (though no fishing is going on). I wonder if the man and children at the other end are part of the same family, or if they are afraid to confront that tough looking granny on "her" turf!

There's that Mark Twain again; and that duck - he is just waiting. Waiting for human flesh!

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Two Random Pix From the 1950's

Today's pictures aren't super awesome, but they're just going to have to do on a lazy Sunday. 

Fearsome wild animals! I hope they don't escape and remove someone's entrails with their pointy teeth. The one on the right has a cigarette, which as we all know, makes him extra cool. Like the Fonz (who didn't smoke)!

"Let's see, I'll try to get a nice picture of those crocodiles. I'm looking through the viewfinder, adjusting the focus, wondering what exposure to use, aaaaaand.... curses! They're gone". This is an unsuccessful photo, and yet I love it because it reminds me of most of my own pictures. I am no Henri Cartier-Bresson.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Special Guest Saturday - Daffodil Parade, 1967!

Today I am happy to share some great vintage photos, provided to us by GDB regular and sometimes-contributor Chuck Hansen. Today's photos feature the 1967 version of the Daffodil Parade as seen in Puyallup, WA (more on that below)! Poor Chuck tried to send these photos to me last week so that they could be posted on the very Saturday that the 2015 Daffodil Parade was happening, but internet gremlins (from the Kremlin) kept fouling things up. So it's a week later than we had hoped, but that doesn't mean that the photos are any less fun or charming.

Chuck has also done a fantastic job of researching and writing about each of the slides, allowing me more time to work on my "Welcome Back Kotter" musical. Let's take a look at these neat pictures from nearly 50 years ago, with Chuck's great descriptions:

The Puyallup Valley Daffodil Festival has its roots in the decimation of the area's hops industry after the implementation of Prohibition.  Searching for another crop to replace hops, local farmers followed the Department of Agriculture's recommendation, found the region ideally suited to the cultivation of daffodils, and an industry was born (although there is no truth to the widespread rumor that the talking daffodils in Alice in Wonderland were bred here).

In celebration of a cornerstone of the region's agricultural output, the first Daffodil Festival was held in 1933.  The first parade was held the following year and has been held every year since (with the exception of 1943, 1944, and 1945 due to WWII).  Currently, the parade consists of more than 180 floats, bands, and marching or mounted units and progresses through the cities of Tacoma, Puyallup, Sumner, and Orting.

My parents moved to Tacoma in late 1965 when my father was transferred to nearby McChord Air Force Base and spent slightly more than three years there.  This series of slides documents the 1967 Daffodil Parade from the SE corner of the intersection of Meridian St and Stewart Ave in Puyallup.  My parents couldn't remember much about this parade, but I was able to find a few photos with detailed captions online at the Tacoma Public Library's website.  Since the library's pictures don't cover every float my parents photographed, I'll do the best I can.  Feel free to fill in the details yourself!

"Fun 'n Fantasy" was the theme of the 34th Puyallup Valley Daffodil Festival, featuring 31 floats, 28 bands, 21 drill teams and 8 mounted units.  Compare and contrast that with the more than 180 units of today's parade.  Please keep your answer to less than 150 words and be sure to write in complete sentences.

The first slide shows a float with the theme of "Flight of Fancy," and let me tell you, it sure looks fancy to me!  Here's the Tacoma Library's description: "Swooping on butterfly wings were the four princesses of the Lakewood Summer Festival, Sally Fiss and Chris Hickson of Clover Park High School and Patsy Thompson and Ann Harris of Lakes High."  That float is covered in daffodil blooms.  Before the parades began back in 1934, the blooms were either thrown away or used as fertilizer since they weren't needed for bulb production.

The next image appears to be couples ballroom dancing.  Either that, or the fella at the front of the float is holding that woman hostage.  I can just hear Lawrence Welk's orchestra in my mind (of course, that would be there regardless of what was on this slide).  

The third photo shows the float sponsored by the Afifi Shrine Temple in Tacoma, Washington.  According to their website, the word afifi means "a characteristic of a woman who is virtuous and refrains from anything crude or vulgar," which is kind of unexpected for an organization composed entirely of men.  But these men also make parade floats out of pretty flowers, so I'm guessing they don't feel terribly bound by traditional stereotypes.  Wearing a fez is liberating like that.  Founded in 1888, the Afifi Shrine helps support the $460 million worth of charity care provided in 2014 at 22 Shriners Hospitals for Children across North America.

I'm not entirely sure about the next photo, but I have found references online to an "Afifi Mounted Patrol," so I'm going to guess that these colorfully-dressed fellows aren't actually terribly lost Bedouins.  All sorts of neat details are visible along the street - a Western Auto advertising Homelite chainsaws and at least two gas stations.  And I hope Melissa's paying attention...

Picture number five features the float "Thailand Fantasy," which, as the text indicates, was a salute to the US Seabees, who were celebrating their 25th year in 1967  With a history going back to WWII, the Seabees are the US Navy's construction forces, taking their name from the abbreviation for "Construction Battalions," and were well-represented at nearby Bremerton Naval Station.  From the Tacoma Library: "the 60-foot moving scroll on the 55-foot float depicts the aid being given by the Seabees to the people of Thailand.  Winner of the President's Trophy, the Seabees float had previously won the Grand Marshal's Award in the Pasadena Tournament of Roses Parade."  I've never heard of a two-time winning float before.  I wonder... is there some sort of "Triple Crown" for flower floats?

Our next photo shows the "Royal Fantasy" float, sponsored by the Tacoma Vocational-Technical Institute, and featuring several characters that should be familiar to regular readers of this blog.  Snow White  was re-released in June of 1967, and that fact was what helped me find corroborating information at the library dating these unmarked slides to 1967.

I'm not entirely sure what this next entrant is supposed to be.  Fairy godmother?  Glinda, the Good Witch of the North (or South, if you're reading the book)?  A dream of a rarebit fiend?  I honestly don't know.  In the background, however, I do recognize a couple of familiar objects floating above the crowd.

The final slide I'll share today (I have a few more, but this is already far longer than it should be) features the 1967 Daffodil Festival Queen, Miss Carol Parcheta, then all of 17 years old and a student at Franklin Pierce High School in Tacoma.  According to the Tacoma Library, Miss Parcheta went on to continue her education at Puget Sound University in Tacoma, and seems to have subsequently disappeared from the Interwebs.  I'm going to theorize she went on to work for U.N.C.L.E. with Napoleon Solo and Ilya Kuryakin.  It seems to be the most logical next career step.

MANY THANKS to Chuck Hansen for taking the time to scan his parent's slides, and for the even more laborious research that he did in order to provide the descriptions for this slice of 1967 Americana. He makes me look lazy by comparison, but I guess I can forgive him!  

Friday, April 17, 2015

More Walt Disney World, December 1975

Hi ho, hi ho, it's back to Walt Disney World we go.

In my last WDW post, we saw the stern end of the Richard Irvine steamboat. Now we get to see it from the fronty bit (as sailors call it). Isn't it pretty? If you look carefully, you can see just a bit of the other WDW steamboat, the Admiral Joe Fowler, which was scrapped in 1980. Even as I type that sentence, the idea that it was scrapped shocks me.

Now we're in the middle of Fantasyland, and are amidst timber framed façades and tournament tents. There's Cinderella's Golden Carousel (beneath the white tent), and "It's a Small World" to our left, with the Skyway overhead. Is there anything else notable about this photo that I should know about?

I like flowers just fine, but never feel the need to take pictures of them! This patch of color is a little more informal and wild-looking than what I usually think of when it comes to Disney flowers.

Stay tuned for more Magic Kingdom images from 1975!

Thursday, April 16, 2015

More Snapshots, August 1968

I always love a good look at the wonderful Tomorrowland Stage, with its colorful plastic panels and whimsical mid-century "space age" graphic shapes. I think that this is the back of the stage - "Sunshine Balloon" would rock out on the opposite side. Coke still managed to squeeze in a logo, though (one of three visible)!

As is often the case these days, I get almost as much of a kick out of the guests (and their clothing) as I do from the attractions. Brighter colors and patterns are evident, especially on women's clothing. The "Summer of Love" had occurred just a year before, so hippies and psychedelia were on the rise, though things still look mostly pretty conservative here. Oh, and there's "It's a Small World" in the distance, as if you didn't know!

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Special Guest Photos! California State Railroad Museum

Today I am presenting a SUPER MEGA-POST, featuring photos from the wonderful California State Railroad Museum in Sacramento! We have previously "visited" this museum months ago, thanks to Ken Martinez. All of the photos and descriptions were provided by GDB reader Alex Blasingame, and wow, did he do an amazing job! I asked him for a "few notes" about the pictures, and he wrote an extensive commentary that is considerably better than anything I would have done. I admit it. Be sure to check out Alex's web page,!

Alright, let's get started - again, all this detailed info is courtesy of Alex. He says:

These are some images from the California State Railroad Museum in Old Sacrament. Built from an old train roundhouse, the museum has an amazing assortment of locomotives, train cars, models, and other exhibits. If you love taking the Grand Circle Tour on the Disneyland Railroad (DLRR), this place will definitely be worth your time.

North Pacific Coast Railroad No. 12 Sonoma (the following two photos)

The Sonoma was built by the Baldwin Locomotive Works of Philadelphia in 1876. Here are some basic stats:

Stack Design: Diamond
Track Gauge: Narrow, 3ft. (36")
Wheel Arrangement: 4-4-0

This engine should look familiar to the average Disneyland Railroad fan. It's really the direct older sister to the CK Holliday, which was built by WED in 1954 and one of the first locomotives to ride around Disneyland. Both engines have the same 4-4-0 wheel arrangement with a characteristic diamond smokestack and filigreed square-shaped headlamp. 

For reference, 4-4-0 means the engine has 4 leading wheels, 4 drive wheels, and no trailing wheels. I've included a reference picture (below) of another 4-4-0 engine, the EP Ripley.

All of the locomotives on the Disneyland Railroad (other than the CK Holliday and the EP Ripley) were built by the Baldwin company after the Sonoma. Looking at this locomotive, you can see the design influences of this predecessor in these later engines.

Ward Kimball's Pacific Coast No 3 (36" gauge) N-C-O Shops 1910 Cupola:

This is a picture of a cupola caboose from Ward Kimball's Grizzly Flats Railroad, his personal backyard railroad complete with his own steam locomotives. He sold it to the California State Railroad Museum in 1979.

Atchinson, Topeka & Santa Fe No. 347C GM-EMD 1949 F-7A

This diesel-electric Santa Fe locomotive was probably still in service when Disneyland opened in 1955, the latest in engine technology at the time. It was donated to the museum in 1986, 12 years after Santa Fe discontinued their sponsorship of the Disneyland Railroad. Remember those Santa Fe signs that used to be on every DLRR, Viewliner, and Monorail station?

If you had a model railroad as a kid, you'll probably recognize the Super Chief war bonnet colors to which it was restored upon exhibition.

Image 9340 (below) has me (Alex Blasingame), my Dad (Kevin Blasingame), and my sleeping infant son (Jack Blasingame). It was a "guy's day out" kind of trip.

Lionel Train Exhibit

Speaking of models, upstairs at the California State Train Museum they have a gigantic Lionel train exhibit, complete with moutnains, tunnels, cities, and airplanes. And also model trains.

I knew about Walt Disney's personal love of trains, but what I didn't know what how a simple Mickey/Minnie handcar saved the Lionel Corporation from total collapse during the Great Depression. I also didn't know that Walt set up an entire Lionel train set in his office at Disney Studios before he built the Carolwood Pacific at home. There's a great article by the Walt Disney Family Museum about Disney's relationship with Lionel.

If you visit the museum in Sacramento, make sure to stop by the model train exhibit upstairs. You'll feel like a kid again.

Check out these two videos of the Lionel layout, courtesy of Alex!

Central Pacific Railroad No. 1 Gov. Stanford

The Gov. Stanford locomotive is named for Leland Stanford, former Governor of California and namesake of Stanford University. I didn't think this train had any connection to Disney, but after some digging, I found that I was wrong.

In fact, this is the engine taking on water at the same dingy depot where we meet the Tramp for the first time in "Lady and the Tramp". I'm not sure if Disney artists sketched the engine from a picture or made a trip to see the locomotive itself, but that's definitely it in the movie. One more piece of Disney ephemera in your pocket.


I included these pictures because they're pretty and seem to convey something Disney to me. I'll play a little "Kevin Bacon game" with each of them and relate each back to Disney.

Image 9344 (below) is a label for Sunkist Marvel brand oranges. The word Marvel immediately made me think about Marvel comics, which Disney now owns. Digging deeper, we can see an orange on the label. Disneyland was built from a bunch of orange groves. Deeper still, the Sunkist brand has long connections to Disneyland, wit the Sunkist Citrus House on Main Street, USA (now Gibson Girl's Ice Cream Parlor) and Sunkist, I Presume in Adventureland (now Bengal Barbecue).

Image 9356 (below) is a propaganda poster from 1885, convincing people to move to California and stake their claim. It immediately reminds me of the background story for Disney California Adventure's new-ish Buena Vista Street, where a young Walt Disney travels to CA in 1923 to make it big. The  colors, artwork, and message also remind me of the Carousel of Progress.

"There's a Great, Big, Beautiful Tomorrow out there, and it starts in California!"

(The next image) is a stained glass sign for the Southern Pacific Railroad. It's gigantic and beautiful in person. The sign reminds me of the dainty sophistication found in the very Victorian Plaza Inn. Nowadays, we'd have a gaudy, flashing billboard instead of t his gorgeous, handcrafted piece of art.

Alex included these next two photos with no notes, so I did a little bit of research so I could include them. If there are errors, it's my fault and not Alex's!

Southern Pacific 2467

This massive engine is one of 15 heavy 4-6-2 Pacific-type steam locomotives built by Baldwin Locomotive Works in 1921. 2467 was retired from service in 1958. It belongs to the Pacific Locomotive Association, and is on loan to the California State Railroad Museum in Sacramento. Out of these Pacific-type locomotives, two others survive - all are in California.

Virginia and Truckee Railroad No. 13 Empire

The Empire entered service in 1873 and hauled freight for many years. At some point its number was changed to 15 because engine crews thought that 13 was unlucky! It was retired in 1918, and after years of neglect and changing ownership, it was moved to the California State Railroad Museum in 1976, where it has been beautifully restored. In this photo we get a good look at the tender, which carries fuel and water for the locomotive.

Alex sums things up by saying: I guess that's part of what attracts me to most things at both the California Railroad Museum and Disneyland; they're both handcrafted pieces of art. Each locomotive, at either location, was built intentionally and by hand; each piece thought out, forged, and implemented. Where function allows, the trains are adorned with paint applied with an almost loving hand. It reminds me of Mary Blair or Mac Davis bringing inanimate objects to life with finely shaped curves and colors.

I couldn't have said it better myself! MANY THANKS to Alex Blasingame for sharing these wonderful photos and so much awesome information from the California State Railroad Museum in Sacramento. And once again, please check out his site,!

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Fantasyland, 1950's

Here are two photos from the 1950's, featuring Fantasyland. We'll start with this one; there's a lovin' couple posed on the middle of the bridge, looking right at us, so it is safe to assume that this was a portrait of them (barely).

Zooming in to the left, we see some attractive young people (school chums?) taking a break. This was in the days when there wasn't a railing along that bridge (added last year) - they are lucky to be alive. Notice the kid in the background with his mouse ears!

This one can only have been taken from the steps up to the Skyway chalet; it provided a slightly elevated view of Fantasyland. To our right is tent where food was dispensed (is this one "Fant 2"?). The colors are interesting, brownish-olive and orange-red. But it works! Thank goodness it's not purple and pink, anyway. 

Monday, April 13, 2015

Frontierland Instamatics

It's time for "Major Pepperidge's Instamatic Corner"!

Any view of Cascade Peak, particularly with the Mine Train passing by, is welcome here on GDB. This one is a bit unusual in that it was taken from a Keel Boat! 

Here's a busy popcorn vendor, located right along the Rivers of America. I hope he likes the sound of steam whistles and Dixieland music! If I ever went to "Dapper Day", I think I would like a getup like this one. 

In the background we can see the still-unopened Haunted Mansion, as well as a raft full of people just arriving at Tom Sawyer Island (I assume they are arriving because they're all facing away from us). And you can see the Columbia making its way back toward its dock.

It's not often that you get a closeup of a popcorn machine! But that's the way we do things here at GDB.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Rhino and Hippo, 1956

Many people love Moose and Squirrel. But I love Rhino and Hippo!

Here's a pretty good shot of  the rhinoceros that used to charge guests from along the banks of the Jungle Cruise river. We've all seen lots of pictures of rhinos, but what a strange beast this fellow his! I wonder what that lady is pointing at to our left? Maybe she is admiring all of the oranges on that tree - a survivor from when the park was an orange grove. I always love seeing those.

Hippos! Why did it have to be hippos? The water is full of them! One is right next to our boat, ears a-wiggling, looking for a hand to chomp on. The early crocodiles (or are they alligators?) in the Jungle Cruise were just a little bit "off" somehow, but I've always found the hippos to be pretty realistic, even in 1956. 

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Old Cars in San Diego, 1950's

I didn't know what to post for today's "Anything Goes Saturday", so I went through my scans, and found a few nice vintage photos that people had taken of their automobiles years ago. They must have been mighty proud of their vehicles! All three of these pictures were taken in lovely San Diego, California.

This first slide was labeled, "Hal and Tom"; the guys are posed in front of their lemon-cream something-or-other. A Chrysler New Yorker? Maybe 1954? I'm sure I'm wrong, but you guys will tell me what it is! I love the color, and the neat and tidy yard looks like it is part of a typical post-war tract home. 

The next two are a pair from another San Diego family. Three adorable little girls are in their bathing suits, maybe they are ready for some playtime in an inflatable pool, or just running through the sprinklers. Behind them is what I think is a 1949 Cadillac Club Coupe. Again, only my best guess. The car seat on the ground probably came out of another car...

… this one! The maroon color matches, anyway. It is a "work in progress". The hood is off so that gramps (or somebody) can get that thing running again. I have no idea what it could be, but it looks like it might be from the 1930's. Who knows!