Wednesday, April 02, 2014

"Peek-Ins", Knott's Berry Farm, 1960

When I was a kid, one of my favorite features of the old Ghost Town was the "peek-ins". Just as the name implies, guests could peek into a window and see a humorous tableau. Many of these were carved by artist Andy Anderson, and some date back as far as the 1940's - Sad-eye Joe is one of the earliest. One of my favorites is over at the undertaker's shop… a dead body in an upright casket transforms into a skeleton before our eyes (thanks to the "Pepper's ghost" effect)!

Below you can see the peek-in that (I think) is located next to the Sheriff's office; a mean game of poker is under way, and everyone has an ace up their sleeve (or in their hat, or in their boot or  pocket…)! Something tells me that bullets will be flying pretty soon.

Meanwhile, over at the barber shop, the proprietor of this establishment is getting the heebie-jeebies. There's something about the ugly cuss (and MAN, is he ugly!) in his chair that is familiar. One Eyed Ike looks like he is related to Sad-Eye Joe. I love the crude folk-arty quality of these figures; if they were super-realistic, they would lose half of their charm.

I know that many of these peek-ins have been redone fairly recently; perhaps the old wood carvings were termite-ridden. They are such a classic part of "old Knott's" that I am happy that they are still there after all these years.


Nanook said...


One Eyed Ike reminds me of characters as seen on The Cave Train at the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk.

Thanks, Major.

K. Martinez said...

There is definitely a crude quality about these. If they made these scenes too polished, it would ruin it. It's stuff like this that gives Knott's it's unique brand of magic. Thanks for posting.

Nanook - When I worked on the Cave Train at the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk back in the late 1970s, the characters were very cartoony and I do remember a nightclub scene with four cave men playing poker inside that attraction. It was and still is considered a classic by the locals.

Melissa said...

"...guests could peek into a window... ...(thanks to the "Pepper's ghost" effect)!"

So, it was a... *giggle* was... *titter titter* was a PEEPER'S GHOST? *snort*

My favorite part of the poker scene is the layer of dust on the table. They must have been holding onto those hands for an awfully long time. Somebody make a move already!

"...the old wood carvings were termite-ridden. They are such a classic part of 'old Knott's'..."

I'll bet the old wood carvings... *chuckle chuckle* ...I bet they were... *chortle* ...the wood carvings were probably... *snigger snigger* ...I'll bet the wood carvings were FULL OF OLD KNOTS!

*runs off cackling like madwoman, dives under blankets with whole box of Girl Scout cookies*

Raimundo said...

Those peek-ins have the charm which a ton of money and high-technology can't buy.I recall that in the early 70s, the Pepper's Ghost effect was in one of the Gypsy Camp arcades, with the dead body in Gypsy garb. In the Undertaker's office was a scene of the Invisible Man and Woman having tea in front of a startled maid, their elegant clothes, cane, etc. floating on air.
Major, the poker game is in the Sheriff's office; he's dealing with those rascals.

Nanook said...

@ K. Martinez-

Not just the locals-!

Major Pepperidge said...

Nanook, is the Cave Train still at the Santa Cruz boardwalk? I went there years ago when my 3 siblings all lived in the San Jose area, but we didn't ride the train. I didn't even know it existed.

K. Martinez, well, I gather from your comment that the Cave Train is still there!

Melissa, I am very very worried about you! ;-)

Raimundo, thanks for the correction. I never saw the Gypsy Camp, having moved to the east coast for a few years. I kind of wish I'd experienced it though.

K. Martinez said...

@Major - I worked as a ride operator at the Boardwalk from 1978-1981. The Cave Train opened in 1961 and is still running to this day. It's my favorite black light dark ride outside of a Disney park probably due to the fact that I actually operated it from time to time during those years of working at the Boardwalk.

Here's the entire ride.

Nanook said...

@ K. Martinez-

Our paths musta crossed then, as I visited The Boardwalk many times

Nanook said...

@ K. Martinez-

Our paths musta crossed back then as I visited The Boardwalk many times back then.

Thanks for the fun.

Anonymous said...

Wow, I had forgotten these, and seeing the barber shop scene brought it all back in a rush.

One of the best reasons to frequent GDB. Thank you Major.


Anonymous said...

JG makes a mental note to ride the Cave Train on his forthcoming trip to Santa Cruz in June.

Thanks @K Martinez and Nanook.