Tuesday, January 16, 2018

In Memoriam, and Grateful Thanks

I have some very sad news to report today; long-time GDB friend and contributor Irene told me that her beloved brother passed away last week after a long illness. Almost exactly two years ago, I met Irene in person, and she gave me hundreds of snapshots that were taken by her brother, who loved Disneyland more than just about anything; I've been sharing them here, little by little.

Here's a photo of Ariel, looking adorable. What prince could possibly resist falling for her?? She took time out from her busy schedule to meet some of her many fans at the Carnation Plaza Gardens. 

She's in her "flipper form", so I wonder if a burly CM needed to carry her away once the meet 'n greet was over? Something tells me there were plenty of volunteers.


While Irene's brother was ailing, she was reluctant to release his name, for personal reasons; but now she says it is OK to let everyone know that his name was Bruce, and that at one time he was very well-known in the online Disney community. 

Here's a tableau that is long gone from Frontierland, with Cascade Peak mostly out of frame, along with the little Nature's Wonderland Mine Train rusting away after getting hit by a rock slide. Many of you probably remember the little marmots that popped up from the cars! This is a very unusual view.

As far as I know, this is the only surviving NWRR locomotive - it is now in the possession of the Carolwood Society, where it will be restored thanks to the hard work of volunteers.


Irene said that Bruce "...had been in a skilled nursing facility since Oct. of 2015.  He was a HUGE fan of Disneyland.  Our family went to Disneyland for the very first time on July 18, 1955, the day it opened to the public.  He was very proud of that fact :)  He loved all things Disney and his life reflected that".

Here is a nice shot of the Swiss Family Treehouse. Pre-Tarzan! I love the sign for the Disney Gallery in the foreground - there was something fun about climbing those stairs up to the location that was originally supposed to be a new apartment for Walt and his family that made it feel special. "The Art of Disneyland" happened to be the inaugural exhibit for the Disney Gallery, which opened in 1987.


For those of you who go way back on various Disney-related message boards, Irene says, "...Bruce went by the moniker of Lost Boy.  He was on the MiceChat message board for years, one of the early people, and that was his name there.  He had a big thing for Peter Pan, obviously.  Way back when I decided to get on MiceChat too I wanted to come up with something to do with Bruce and therefore Peter Pan.  Most people who knew me on MiceChat/MiceAge knew me as Bruce's sister.  That's how I would introduce myself because everyone knew Bruce!  So that is how I came up with the name WendyGirl!  And as you can see, I still use some form of the name to this day, ie my email address.  It has gotten confusing at times because people used to call me Wendy and thought I used WendyGirl because my name was Wendy!!! LOL  I got used to answering to both Irene and Wendy :)  ". 

Here is an interesting view of the old Peoplemover tracks, presumably from between the time that the Peoplemover had closed, and the construction for the Rocket Rods had begun. We all know how that turned out!


The last photo for the day is this lovely shot of a Horse Drawn Streetcar coming from the backstage area next to the Firehouse on a sleepy morning. I wonder if Bruce was standing in a virtually-empty Town Square (something that we may never see again), or if there was a version of "rope drop" that started much closer to the Train Station?


Bruce was very lucky to have Irene there for love and support, she clearly cared so much for him even under the most difficult of circumstances. I am very grateful that she entrusted her brother's photos to me, so that all of us can continue to enjoy them for weeks and months to come.

23 comments:

Nanook said...

Irene-

So sorry to hear the news about Bruce. GDB has created a little family of "the usual suspects" who provide commentary on a regular basis, so hearing the news feels a bit like a death in the family. It goes without saying how enjoyable his photos have been to see and am certainly grateful that both of you have chosen to share them with "us".

I will certainly feel just a little bit differently when future photos from Bruce appear here. Good wishes to you and your family. (Needless to say, today's images are loaded with goodies).

Scott Lane said...

My most sincere condolences to Irene and the rest of her family. Thank you for sharing Bruce's legacy with us. His photos have always had a special quality to them and now even more so.

TokyoMagic! said...

Oh Irene, I am so sorry to hear about your brother's passing. My deepest sympathy goes out to you and your family. Thank you once again, for sharing his photos with us. It's nice to know that we will be enjoying more of his wonderful photography in the future.

Major, I happened to film some brief footage of Arial on the Carnation Gardens stage back in December of 1997. And it looks to be the exact same Arial. Notice how her "reef" retracts and they end up just pulling the curtain across in front of her when it's break time. I bet she just unzipped herself (or maybe had assistance) and walked off on her own. And I'm guessing this was before she had her own permanent "grotto" for meet and greets over in the former "Alpine Gardens" area. I don't remember for sure when they built that area with the rotating seat for her, but I know it was there by 1998. Here is the link to the video I shot of her on the Carnation Gardens stage in 1997:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HGAX3TcI_gA

Chuck said...

Irene,

I am so sorry to hear of Bruce's passing. Although I don't spend a lot of time on message boards, they can be an invaluable research tool, and I remember seeing your brother's online handle of "Last Boy" (as well as your "WendyGirl") on many occasions. The online Disney community has lost a dear friend, and the Second Star to the Right will have additional meaning for me the next time I see it.

I know there is nothing that we can say or do to take away the pain that you feel right now, but I want you to know that you and your family are in our thoughts and prayers.

Thank you again for sharing Bruce's photo collection with all of us here. I'm so glad that he had the foresight to document the Park as it was in the '90s, when so much of Walt's personal touch was still present in the Park. Those pictures will endure as a testimony to his love for the Happiest Place on Earth and a reminder to the rest of us of why we love the place so much ourselves.

With sincerest sympathy,

Chuck

K. Martinez said...

Irene,

My condolences to you and your family for the loss of your beloved brother. I am so grateful for all that Bruce has generously shared with us and I do indeed remember "Lost Boy".

My thoughts and prayers for you and your family.

Pegleg Pete said...

So sorry to hear of your loss, Irene. I do hope that the enjoyment the GDB community gets from your brother's photographs offers some comfort to you. It's nice to be able to attach a personality to the pictures. Thanks again for sharing them with us all.

DrGoat said...

Heart hurts for your loss, and our loss too. Will be watching for your brother's photos. I'd like to think we passed each other in the park way back when.

Irene said...

Thank you everyone for your kind comments and to you especially Major on a lovely post in memory of Bruce. When I first brought home the album of photos and saw they were all from Disneyland I thought, "what am I going to do with these?" I began going through them and thought they were nice and all but just OK. Then I remembered the Major saying some time back he was beginning to run out of photos to post and thought "I wonder if he would like these?" so I contacted him. I can not tell you how thankful I am that I made that decision because he and all of you with your comments made (and will make) those photos come alive. There were things in the photos that I never even noticed! I had removed any photos that contained Bruce in them before I passed them all on, but when I locate them (!), I will scan one or two and send them to the Major so he can put them up with some of the other photos. I wasn't sure how Bruce would react to my "giving all" his photos away so I never told him I had done this. But back in the day before all his health issues arose I am sure we would have been thrilled to know how much everyone is enjoying them and he would have been able to tell you all about the photos and tell you lots of stories. Yes - he loved all things Disney and you only had to look at him, especially at the MiceChat Anniversary meets, to know that. He would sometimes dress head to toe Disney :) Again, thank you all. As Major said and as I said in my Facebook post about his passing - He loved Peter Pan, hence the name Lost Boy, so second star to the right, Bruce, and straight on 'till morning.

Warren Nielsen said...

Irene,

Please accept my condolences for your loss of your brother Bruce. I think every reader of GDB realizes how painful losing a loved one is, at times it is beyond words. Also, please accept my gratitude for sharing his photos with us. My guess is that he would be tickled silly to know that we are thoroughly enjoying his enjoyment of all things Disney and Disneyland through his photos.

Warren

Melissa said...

I'm so sorry to hear of Bruce's passing, Irene. I also fondly remember Lost Boy from micechat. It's been a privilege to share your family's memories of the happiest place on Earth.

Steve DeGaetano said...

I've very sorry to hear this, Irene. I, too, fondly remember you and Bruce's posts on MiceChat.

That last picture is so calming--aside from the color, it looks like it could have been taken 100 years ago.

Tom said...

Very sad news. So sorry for your loss, Irene.

Those pictures are amazing: the rusting NWRR engine juxtaposed with an operational Cascade Peak is something that I don't think I've seen before. The Peoplemover track picture shows something I was never clear on, and that is how the old track was truly rendered unusable after the Peoplemover was shuttered.

Thank you so much for sharing your brother's awesome photos, and the story of his love for all things Disney.

Melissa said...

The cast member in the first picture is as adorable as Ariel. Hellooo, sailor!

David Zacher said...

I, too, remember you and your brother back when I was corndogbarbie on the forums(long story). Thank you so much for sharing such a personal story with us. I almost said 'with strangers' but we aren't, really. I look forward to more history and photos from your brother.

dz

Alonzo P Hawk said...

Irene,

So sorry to hear about your brother Bruce passing away. All of of us who have a love for all things (vintage) Disney are blessed in a way that it seems younger fans might not understand. Thanks to you and your brother for your great gift of family treasures for all of us to enjoy here. It really is a special place(s) to those of us who love the parks more than the casual visitor who may look at it as another entertainment venue. True lifelong fans are truely special people.
God Bless and heartfelt thanks.

June said...

Bruce would have been pleased with your decision, Irene. If Major would like to scan and have all the pictures saved to a cloud storage that is safe (no data mining, YOU own it, YOU share to selected people or make "public" and can be left to a selected beneficiary), please contact me. Love you, friend! ❤

Sunday Night said...

Irene, so sorry to hear the news of your brother's passing. Sending up a prayer for you and your family. Thank you for sharing Bruce's photo collection with all of us. That gift will go a long way to make a lot of people happy. And thank you for your posts here.

Dean Finder said...

Irene, sincerest condolences to you and your family.
Thank you so much for sharing with us.

Melissa said...

”That last picture is so calming--aside from the color, it looks like it could have been taken 100 years ago.”

I couldn't resist trying an old-time filter.

http://rs931.pbsrc.com/albums/ad158/misskitty286/photomania-8146bc317bcb4d9f09101f618a8c46a6.jpg?w=480&h=480&fit=clip

Major Pepperidge said...

Thank you for all of your comments, everybody... I know it means a lot to Irene!

(Melissa, I started to do the same thing, only I was going to try it in Photoshop. But I got lazy and didn't finish it).

Irene said...

Thank you once again everyone. I linked to this blog on Bruce's FB page and on mine and everyone had nice things to say there also. Melissa, that old-time filter is great! Looks real nice :)

I didn't realize there were so many of us old time MiceChat people on here or people that knew Bruce. That is nice. We are connected more than we know :)

And thank you once again Major for doing this. It was a lovely tribute and I really appreciate it!!!

JG said...

Dear Irene, very saddened to hear this news.

The GDB family shares your loss with sadness mixed with gratitude for the good things that Bruce shared with us through you.

May his memory be a blessing to you, as it will be for us.

Thank you, Major, for bringing us all together in the virtual Disneyland, where, much like heaven, there is no lasting sorrow or pain.

With deepest sympathy,

JG

StoryBookLand said...

What a wonderful post! Thank you Bruce for documenting your Disney adventures so lovingly. It sounds like you were loved a lot, will be greatly missed and will always be warmly remembered... just like a perfect day at Disneyland.