Wednesday, August 08, 2018

Views of Tom Sawyer Island, 1957

Here are three views taken from the deck of the Mark Twain as it circled Tom Sawyer Island.

Chugging up the western side of the island, we get a fun look at part of Castle Rock (mostly out of frame to the right), with children enjoying Teeter-Totter Rock and Merry-Go-Round Rock just to the left. A pair of canoes glide ahead of us. The wooden structure right on the edge of the water is "Huck's Landing", where rafts would ferry guests to and from the mainland. "Tom's Landing" is the one closer to the Old Mill, FYI.

I've been so nervous on this trip through the untamed frontier, so old Fort Wilderness looks very inviting. I hope they have soft serve ice cream there, just like they did in the 19th century.

There's something so appealing about having a treehouse - perhaps it's a boy thing, but I'll bet plenty of girls would have wanted one too. A group of my friends tried to build one with no adult supervision; it turned out to be hard to scrounge scraps of wood, or even the necessary nails. It didn't get much beyond hammering some chunks of wood into the trunk of a tree to make the "ladder".   Clearly Tom Sawyer had a lot more drive, because his treehouse was pretty swell.


Nanook said...

Oh, Major-

Don't be silly. Everyone knows there wasn't any soft serve ice cream in the 19th century-! ('Mix-ins' was all the rage back then).

Once again, when you think all of this "wilderness" was smack-dab in the middle of Anaheim in 1957, it still makes one sit up and pay attention to what Walt and his Imagineers created.

Thanks, Major. (I DO happen to have some homemade chocolate chip ice cream, but I just may have to go after a bit of soft serve ice cream, instead).

Melissa said...

I'm fascinated by the hat in the first image! It's the same design as the souvenir paper hats, but it looks like it's made of stiffened fabric. I wish they'd turn around and give us the front view!

TokyoMagic! said...

These are great "early" shots of the island. Unfortunately, the horizon in that first photo is now dominated by the view of the parking structure. :-(

Stuart Powley said...

When I was a kid, my grandfather and I built a tree house in his back yard. It was a platform with the tree trunk in the middle. The ladder pulled up and the "front door" was a trap door in the floor. There wasn't a top (the top of the large tree took care of that) and it had a wall (about four feet tall) around all four sides. All in all, it was wonderful! Unfortunately although the tree is still there, the house had to be pulled down years ago when it got too rotted to be safe.

K. Martinez said...

Love how Huck's Treehouse is the highest point on the island. Thanks, Major.

Stefano said...

The hat in the first photo looks like a massive waffle fortune cookie. With all of the disheartening changes to this area, at least those two pine trees on the right of the last picture are still there, now grown gigantic.

Thanks for the look back, Major, when kids ran freely through slightly dangerous adventures, just as Walt intended.

Anonymous said...

Looking at Castle Rock in the first photo - The rockwork was just so finely detailed. Walt must have had every propmaker in Hollywood working on the park prior to opening day.

JC Shannon said...

I am loving these photos alot. Great memories of the Island as a kid. Crossing the river on the rafts, exploring and running off all that energy. I wonder if they sold that hat in photo #1 at the Mad Hatter. I can't imagine anyone wearing it anywhere else. Thanks Major.

Major Pepperidge said...

Nanook, they had soft serve ice cream, but it was made with tallow and coal oil. Smooth and creamy? You bet! You have home made ice cream? I am impressed, especially if you made it yourself.

Melissa, I thought that the hat looked like it was woven, sort of like the cane seat of a chair. But it’s blurry, so it’s hard to tell. I think they’ve shown up in other photos!

TokyoMagic!, Mr. X often complains about the removal of some large trees that previously blocked the view of the parking garage. I can’t imagine why they did it, but I’m sure it was so brilliant that my tiny brain can’t understand the reason.

Stuart Powley, your grandpa sounds like he was pretty great! For some reason my friends didn’t want adult help, which is why it went nowhere. Near my sister’s house there is a forest, and somebody built a treehouse way up in one of the twisted eucalyptus trees. My niece and nephew used to climb up there, and I would have a series of heart attacks worrying that they would fall out.

K. Martinez, are you sure the treehouse wasn’t the highest point in the world? I think I read that somewhere!

Stefano, yes, a waffle (never seen a waffle fortune cookie, however)! Now I want waffles. I’m not sure which two pine trees you are referring to, but I am glad they are still there.

Anonymous, Walt certainly had an army of craftsmen and women working on the park - back in those days it seems that Hollywood was full of extremely talented people who had knowledge of every style of architecture throughout history. Pretty amazing.

Jonathan, if only Disney could have harnessed all of that “kid energy” somehow! Instead it was all lost to the atmosphere as heat. Tom Sawyer Island was brilliant in its simplicity - even now I wish I had a place like that to explore.

Anonymous said...

Major, the treehouse is the highest point in the world, at least metaphorically. The three streams of water arising from it's base are the detail that fascinates me, straight out of Norse mythology.

I keep hoping that the new trees planted behind the river will grow as fast as these old ones and grow up to hide the Galaxy's Edge beyond. It would be hard to believe that such a detail oriented place would forget the perspective of the world outside. Hopefully time will tell.

@Stuart, I had a treehouse in the yard, much like the one you describe. My Dad built part of it, and I did the rest. Loads of fun. If you stood up just right, your head stuck up through the branches and you could see out to the garage roof, much like the Swiss Family Tree.

Also, near my friends house in town, there was a huge vacant lot with a big swale and pond with lots of trees and willows, frogs, tadpoles, snakes, lizards. We would ride bikes, shoot BB guns at lizards and generally raise heck, without doing any harm. It was a riot of fun and hurt nothing and no one. The City bought the land and turned it into a park, and now it's no fun at all. I guess the 50 years intervening didn't help either. :-(