Monday, July 23, 2018

In Memory of Patrick Devlin

I have some sad news for GDB readers; the other day I received a message from Mike Devlin: I'm sorry to report that my brother Patrick succumbed to cancer this last Wednesday.  I'll miss his comments to your daily postings.

I will miss his comments too; I exchanged a few emails with Patrick over the years as well, and you could tell that he was a good person with a fun sense of humor. As many of you will recall, I was the happy recipient of a small box of vintage slides featuring the Devlin family at Disneyland; I'll repost some of my favorites today as a tribute to Patrick.

Let's start with this nice portrait (from September, 1961) with Pat, Mary, Pluto, and Judy. Merlin's Magic Shop is behind them, full of magician's paraphernalia, practical jokes, and  best of all, rubber monster masks.

Here's an impressive photo of Pat in front of the graceful Moonliner! He tucked in his shirt, or maybe his mother did it for him.

The remaining photos are from April 23, 1960; first up is this shot from the Tahitian Lanai, overlooking the Jungle Cruise loading dock. A handy shield protects the kids (Pat, Mary, and Mike) from poison darts. Mike is really taking it all in, which is why he wound up working for Imagineering himself.

Next we have Mary and Pat, who have boldly left the main trail to brave the wilds 4 feet away!

Pat liked being near the water (in the same location as the previous photo?), it seems. Here he is right by the Adventureland entrance; somehow piranhas now infest these waters, even though it has just come from piranha-free Fantasyland moments before.

Here's a beautiful shot taken in the shade of trees that had matured in the five years the park had been open. I prefer the planter full of flowers (behind the Devlin boys) without the "Partners" statue, and I think Walt himself would probably agree.

Growing boys need plenty of fuel to keep them going during a long day at Disneyland. Popcorn and ice cream bars have all of the sugar and nutrients they could ask for! Here we have brothers Pat, Joe, and Tom.

Pat's still munching on popcorn (who knows, maybe it's another full box), while sister Mary cozies up to Mary Jo (the patient mother) as they relax on a handy bench next to the Red Wagon Inn.

And finally, my favorite of the bunch, with Pat gazing intently at the brand-new Sub lagoon; there's the "Ethan Allen" cruising by, and the three-car red Monorail zooming along in the background. Has Pat already been on the Subs, and is recalling all of the wonders that he has seen (Atlantis! Sunken treasure! Underwater volcanos! Sea serpents!)? Or is he still awaiting his first experience journeying through liquid space?

Rest in Peace, Patrick Devlin. Thank you for your friendship.

Sunday, July 22, 2018

Not Repeats, I Swear - June 1963

Today's photos will probably evoke a powerful, disorienting sensation of déjà vu. But don't worry! You're not going koo-koo-bananas - it's just that these scans look exactly like scores of others. I believe that this first example was taken at one of the "Kodak Picture Spot" locations? 

There were no Picture Spots in the middle of the Rivers of America, however! It's not that the pictures are bad, they're just kind of there, like a low hum.

Saturday, July 21, 2018

Random Amusements

It's time to take some old scans off the shelf - dust them off, shine them up, and let them have their moment in the sun. All of these are old snapshots.

First up is this novelty photo from the Long Beach Pike (or so it seems based on a little online research). This couple has been placed in jail for crimes so heinous that I won't repeat them here! They seemed so nice - but that's how it always goes, isn't it?

Next up is this cute photo of a father and his young son as they enjoyed a ride on an antique auto. All old automobiles had two steering wheels in case one of the passengers passed out from overexcitement. That building in the background looks vaguely familiar, yet I can't place it. Perhaps one of you knows the location?

And lastly, here's a snapshot that was mixed in with some Disneyland scenes. We're in the parking lot of the old Busch Gardens that used to be in Van Nuys. There were beautiful gardens, colorful parrots, a log flume ride, and free beer (!), to name just a few of the attractions. This particular photo shows the monorail that took guests on a tour through the huge brewery (audio narration was recorded by Ed McMahon - no kidding!). Sadly, the park was removed in 1979, though the factory continues to scent the air with the aroma of brewing beer.

Friday, July 20, 2018

The Gonzalez Trio, 1957

I am always happy to find photos of the wonderful Gonzalez Trio as they performed in Frontierland. There's something very joyful about the sound of mariachi music. Notice the little bandstand! Not to mention the "Zocalo" marketplace in the background - if you need a rubber tomahawk or a pair of maracas, you will be in luck.

These photos are from 1957, the year that Disney's "Zorro" television series began airing. It was a big success! I wonder if that show's portrayal of "old California" provided the inspiration to add a little more Mexican influence to Frontierland?

Ah, Carmelita... my "retro crush"! Sometimes she played the guitar, too, which made her even more awesome.

Notice the glossy version of the classic paper hat in the foreground - I don't ever recall seeing one of those before. Maybe it's plastic? Or adamantium? There's also a scarce yellow Keppy Kap to the right. 

Does anybody know how many years the Gonzalez Trio remained at Disneyland? It seems as if they were there until sometime in the latter part of the 1960's, though I could find no real info.

Thursday, July 19, 2018

Polynesian Resort, Walt Disney World, November 1971

Here are more fantastic photos from the earliest days of Walt Disney World, as captured by my friend Mr. X. Today we'll be hanging around the Polynesian Resort, so I don't care how early it is, please drink a Mai Tai or zombie while viewing this post. 

I guess I will need to rely on the smart (and good-looking) GDB readers who actually know something about the Polynesian, because I know bupkis. 

What I do know is that there are flaming tiki torches, and a lovely waterslide that plunges into a pool that is below our line of sight. I'm sure that pool was a welcome respite from the busy park, even in November.

Mr. X took some neat (and unusual) photos of various shops and... other stuff. Like this. What is it? Perhaps this is where guests could catch the Monorail to the Magic Kingdom? A "Century 21" agent (in his classic gold sport coat) is looking forward to checking out the Haunted Mansion!

Here's one more, at no additional cost to you. Does anybody know where this pretty little waterfall was located?

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Knott's Berry Farm

What? Three days in a row without Disneyland? It's true! And I've got new for you - tomorrow won't be photos of Disneyland either.

While going through a large lot of slides, I found a batch of about 20 from Knott's Berry Farm, probably from the early 1960's. "Whoo-hoo! Knott's!" I exclaimed, jumping into the air and clicking my heels together. But soon my happiness turned to sorrow when I saw that all of the slides had badly faded color, and some showed damage to the emulsion. Moisture damage? Deadly Maylasian fungus? Radiation burns from the atomic wars of the 1970's? Whatever the case, I very nearly chucked them into the "reject" pile. 

But after I enjoyed a healthy snack of "ants on a log" (peanut butter and raisins on a piece of celery) and a bottle of Yoohoo, I had a change of heart and decided that these imperfect images still deserved to be seen. To paraphrase Linus, "It's not such a bad slide, Charlie Brown; it just needs a little love".

Check out those strange orange "blossoms" of damage; and this isn't the worst of them! Some were so far gone that I couldn't do much to make them presentable. The photographer did not use Kodak film, sadly - if he had, I think these would have been some pretty stellar pictures.

Ah, the old Livery Stable. It's where all the liverwurst was stored in the heat of the summer, beneath layers of winter ice and sawdust. Kids from that era remember following the old liverwurst cart down the street, hoping a piece of sausage would fall into the road. What a treat!

Notice the sign for the Bird Cage Theatre.

Doc Skinem's Medicine Show should never be confused with "Doc Mal De Mer's Medicine Show", found elsewhere at Knott's. Folks never saw much of Doc Skinem - perhaps he was in his cart, sleeping it off. His horse was definitely ossified. 

If you've made it this far and your eyes aren't bleeding, then perhaps I will share more from this batch in the weeks to come.

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Universal Studios - December 1969

I've had a few so-so scans of slides from Universal Studios (circa 1969) sitting in a folder on my computer for literally years. I decided to just use them up finally, even though it is not an "Anything Goes Saturday".

We'll start with this photo of what had been the Munster house (1313 Mockingbird Lane, but really "Colonial Street") just a few years earlier (the show ran from 1964 to 1966).  It had originally been built for a 1946 film, and had been used many times. By 1969 it was showing up in episodes of "Dragnet". Eventually the house was used in the show "Desperate Housewives". But in this photo, it still looks pretty "Munstery"!

Here's a photo from the backlot tour, obviously taken during the release of the 1966 movie "Munsters Go Home".

Over at the Prop Plaza, guests could channel their inner Hercules and lift massive boulders. They may have been foam rubber, but as I learned the hard way, getting hit in the face with one was no fun!  Did I cry? Possibly.

Here's a familiar view - everybody took a picture from this vantage point. Besides seeing some interesting things such as the beautiful 100% cement Los Angeles River, Lakeside golf course, and Warner Bros. Studios (in the center across the river), we have features like "Park Lake" in the lower left, where the "Parting of the Red Sea" effect would be added in 1973. There's also an "Old Mississippi" area by the lake.

I always like pointing out the water tower of the Walt Disney Studios (upper left). Sets from "The Tower of London" (a 1939 Boris Karloff movie) glow in the late afternoon sunlight. In the shadows (lower right) is the "Denver Street" western town. 

This next photo is looking toward the Lakeside golf course and Toluca Lake. Closest to us is the "Prop Plaza", where guests could goof around with oversized props, or ride a stagecoach in front moving scenery. Or throw a heavy rubber boulder at some unsuspecting little kid.

Parallel to the golf course is Colonial Street, where the Munsters house, the "Leave it to Beaver" house, and many other familiar homes could be seen. Slightly closer to us is New York Street.

Zooming in on Prop Plaza, you need to look carefully to see things such as a giant pair of scissors, a big chair, and the aforementioned stagecoach. Partly hidden by trees is a fighter jet of some kind.

I have a lot more slides from Universal Studios, and just scanned one batch that has some nice views. Stay tuned!

Monday, July 16, 2018

Trinity Site, New Mexico

For those who read this blog regularly, today's post is a departure from the usual theme park and World's Fair stuff. I found it to be super interesting, and decided that it was worth sharing. If it's not your thing, don't worry, we'll return to business as usual tomorrow.

GDB pal Warren Nielsen sent along some fascinating (and sobering) photos from a trip that he and his wife Kyle took 10 years ago. Besides providing an account of his visit to a historic landmark, Warren's story involves tremendous personal loss - I know I got a lump in my throat reading about it. I'm grateful that he provided an informative writeup to accompany the photos, so I'll let him tell the story:

About this time 10 years ago, Kyle and I were needing to take a break, get away, go somewhere, over her spring vacation time from school. We were desperate to go someplace, anyplace, where we had never visited as individuals, as a couple, or as a family. Someplace totally new and unfamiliar, with no memories attached to it. In reality, we were trying to escape. The previous 2 years had for the most part, sucked, and culminated in THIS (damn cancer) so somehow, we settled on New Mexico.

One of the places we visited was Trinity Site, where the first atomic explosive device was detonated in July of 1945. It is open 2 days a year for the public to visit, one day in the spring, and one day in the fall. It is located on the grounds of the White Sands Missile Range.

There are the usual radiation warning signs surrounding the area...

This is all that remains of the 100-foot-tall steel tower that suspended the bomb for detonation.

The obelisk and the plaque on the obelisk that stand directly below the where the bomb was suspended.

This is the remains of Jumbo, a large steel pressure vessel built by Babcock and Wilcox. The idea behind Jumbo was to place the nuclear bomb inside of it, and if the device did not work, Jumbo would contain the plutonium so it could be recovered and not contaminate acres of land with the core of the bomb. The scientists finally felt assured that the bomb would in fact detonate and Jumbo would not be needed. Jumbo was destroyed by conventional bombs after the war (8 bombs of 500 pounds each) Jumbo was about 25 feet long, had walls of up to 14 inches thick, and weighed about 250 tons. The wall thickness seen here is about 6 to 8 inches.

When the bomb was detonated, the heat and blast formed a wide shallow crater and also melted the surface into a layer a greenish-turquoise glass-like material. This layer was later bulldozed up, placed in barrels, and shipped off. However, if you start to dig around in the ground a little, small fragments of the material, called Trinitite, can still be found. It took about 5 minutes to find these pieces. I asked Kai to hold them while I took this picture. People nearby were curious about what we had found, came over and took their own pictures, so there are 4 or 5 more pictures out there somewhere of Kai’s hand and these fragments of history.

This is the McDonald ranch house. It is located about 2 miles from the blast site. It was used by scientists setting up the blast site and was where the actual guts of the bomb were assembled prior to being inserted into the body of the bomb, which was done at ground zero. The first room to the right as you step into the building is where this assembly took place. The building has been restored to how it appeared the day of the blast.

Trinity Site is awe-inspiring in the sense of contemplating what took place there, and how that event shaped the history of the Second World War, this country and the world. The nuclear age and the nuclear arms race were, in a sense, born here.

I hope all of you found this to be as thought-provoking as I did. I realize that it is quite a departure from the usual fun of amusement parks, but I love history too. Warren reminded me that today marks the 73rd anniversary of the detonation of the Trinity bomb.

Sunday, July 15, 2018

River Scenes

When it's time to choose photos to post for a Sunday, I generally pick out the scans that are either a little boring, or perhaps they exhibit flaws. Like bad focus! That would be the case for today's offerings.

We're gazing across the river toward the fishing dock, which appears to be populated by young boys, and one disinterested girl. Who wants to touch a slimy fish, for gosh sakes? Still, there is something about the thrill of feeling a fish tug on the end of your line. Further back is a full raft that has just arrived at Tom Sawyer Island (you can tell which direction it is heading by which way everyone is facing). And even further away is a remarkably empty shoreline.

Two War Canoes pass by, side by side; it makes me happy when I see how full the canoes were back in those days. How often did the average suburbanite get to paddle around a river? I've never been clear about whether the CMs pointed out interesting features along the way, or if they didn't want to distract the guests from safely propelling the canoe?

Saturday, July 14, 2018

Ella Goes to Hollywood, Part 4

Well homies, it's time for the fourth and final post featuring Ella's adventures in Hollywood. She must have become weary of posing for photos, because we don't see much of her in this batch!

Let's start with this photo of NBC Studio (as seen from Olive Blvd) in beautiful downtown Burbank. We saw NBC's old studio on Sunset Boulevard in a previous post, but the Burbank studio was designed for TV production. COLOR TV production! It opened in 1955, and many of your favorite shows were made here. Such as: The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson; Sanford and Son; Night Court; Rowan and Martin's Laugh-In; The Facts of Life; Hollywood Squares; Elvis Presley's '68 Comeback Special; The Fresh Prince of Bel Air; Welcome Back Kotter; and MANY more!

Here's a scarce color photo, scrounged from the internet.

And here's a postcard, heralding the glories of color television. Why, it's almost like there are tiny people living inside the box in our rumpus room.

NBC moved out of the Burbank studio and set up shop at nearby Universal City in 2014. 

Here's another nice color view, with an updated sign. I used to drive past the studio all the time, but only visited it as part of a school field trip. 

The rest of today's photo were taken at various locations along Sunset Boulevard. For instance, let's check out the Sunset Strip for a look at Dino's Lodge. Yes, that's Dean Martin's visage smiling at us; I could tell you more about it, but for an amazing and thorough history, please read Kliph Nesteroff's article at WFMU's "Beware of the Blog". It's great.

Here's a color photo that I posted some years ago!

We're still on Sunset, but several miles east. The building in the photo is Frank Sennes' "Moulin Rouge" - a theater, nightclub, and home of the ghastly "Queen for a Day" television show.

The building was originally the Earl Carroll Theatre, a fancy supper club with elaborate shows featuring beautiful, scantily-clad showgirls. "Through these portals pass the most beautiful girls in the world", proclaimed the sign outside. The large neon face was a portrait of Earl's devoted girlfriend, Beryl Wallace.

More scrounging turned up this rare color photos of the Moulin Rouge. This building later became the Kaleidoscope Theatre (where you might see acts such as The Doors), the Aquarius Theatre (where the hit musical "Hair" was performed), the Chevy Chase Theatre (where his disastrous talk show was taped), and in the 1990's it became "Nickelodeon on Sunset". There are rumors that part of the building will be returned to the Earl Carroll theme, with added luxury high-rise condos.

More than a few ingénues of the 1940's and 1950's spent plenty of time loitering in Schwab's Pharmacy on Sunset Blvd. in the hopes of being discovered, just like Lana Turner was (only she wasn't actually discovered at Schwab's). I kind of love that our girl Ella wanted to see this Hollywood  landmark.

I'm going to say something controversial: Lana Turner was very pretty. Fight me!

Here's a neat color photo showing the neon sign at night.

I'm guessing that this photo must have been taken toward the end of Schwab's existence; it closed forever in 1983.

And finally, here's the star herself, wonderful Ella standing in front of the entrance to Warner Bros. Studios on Sunset. Perhaps they were filming "The Music Man" on the lot at that very moment!

The only color photo I could find showing the entrance is this fuzzy shot from 1976.

Who loves old postcards? I do.

I also love this wonderful color aerial photo, probably from the 1970's - imagine how much fun it would have been to be able to wander through that back lot.

And that's the end of Ella's adventure's in Hollywood. I'll bet she had lots of great stories to share with the gals in her bridge club when she got back home. She met Phil Harris! She went to the Brown Derby, and the legendary Pantages Theatre! She saw the handprints and footprints of her favorite stars in front of Grauman's Chinese Theater! So many memories. I can't help looking at her without smiling.