Sunday, October 20, 2019

Snoozers From 1970

Today's pictures are DULLSVILLE, daddy-o. Strictly for squares. Proceed at your own risk.

For instance, here's an unremarkable photo of the Matterhorn, and a buncha trees, a few Skyway gondolas, and lots of smog.


This one isn't so hot either, with bad color, uninteresting composition, and not even much smog. Please lodge your complaints at City Hall!


Saturday, October 19, 2019

Old Fresno Courthouse

Years ago I found this neat slide of the old courthouse in Fresno, California. It's undated, but I think it's from the early to mid-1960's. This neo-classical structure was completed in 1875, the building was declared to be "the grandest and noblest edifice that has ever been planned and contemplated in [the San Joaquin] valley," and "when completed, is expected to stand the storms of winter and the heat of summer, for the period of 1,000 years or more.”


Here's a fascinating vintage postcard view; look at all of that gingerbread Victorian architecture! It looks like a seaside resort or amusement park. 


This next postcard is probably from a few years before the first image. 


By the late 1950's, the local government wanted to tear the old courthouse down. It was said to be incapable of withstanding a strong earthquake, and renovation or retrofitting was deemed to be too expensive; and of course, old buildings by the score were destroyed in the 1960's in favor of something modern. Here's an incredible April 1966 photograph by Carl Crawford, showing the dome in mid-collapse. 

The 30-foot tall, 10,000 pound cupola was saved, and can be seen at the Fresno County Fairgrounds today.


Construction for the new 8-story courthouse was completed in 1966. I suppose it has a certain mid-century appeal, but the loss of the old courthouse was a contentious subject for Fresnonians (?!) for many years.


Friday, October 18, 2019

Walt Disney World, November 1971

It's time for two more wonderful photos from Walt Disney World, when the park was only two months old. A mere baby! These are courtesy of our friend Mr. X, who took these himself.

We'll begin with this particularly awesome exterior of the Grand Prix Raceway (sponsored by Goodyear). I personally don't ever recall seeing this attraction from this perspective; and although it still feels a bit spartan (the trees are still saplings), I love the "retro 70's" look.


Zooming in to the left, you can see the "grandstands" - I'm a little unclear as to whether guests could just sit there and watch if they didn't care to go for a drive, or if it was all part of the queue.


Let's pause for a little bit of vintage people-watching!


Next is one that is not as spectacular, but still interesting to me! It's a photo of the bed (a child's bed?) from one of the Contemporary Hotel rooms. It doesn't look very fancy, but the 70's orange and pink is kind of awesome. There are probably plenty of photos from the early WDW hotels, but I've never seen one like this before.


Thursday, October 17, 2019

Little Pigs in Fantasyland, July 1976

In general I was never into meeting the costumed characters at Disneyland; but it's fun to look at pictures of other people (especially children) meeting them!

We're over by It's a Small World, and the Big Bad Wolf and some of the Little Pigs are up to some mischief. The highlight was when the Fifer Pig (or is it the Fiddler Pig?) gave the BBW an atomic wedgie. I can practically hear the "Goofy holler" now.

Notice the sea of blue plastic seats in the distance for the "Small World Stage" (you can just see a chunk of the proscenium to the right). During (and after) the 2-year construction of Space Mountain, this was the primary stage on the east side of the park - it was presumably removed when Toontown was built.


A group of kids is huddled around the Practical Pig. He's telling them about his golden days in Hollywood, when he dated Myrna Loy, drove a Packard limousine, had a house in Bel Air, and always got the best table at the best nightspots, like the Earl Carrol Theatre. But he has no regrets! The kid with the folded arms has no idea who Myrna Loy is, but a good story is a good story.


The adults nearby seem as delighted to meet the PP as the kids. "I thought he'd be taller!", says the lady in the white dress (many celebrities are smaller than you'd expect). IASW makes for an impressive backdrop, and it looks like the rooftop trees are still there. 


Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Twain and Columbia 1970

Here are two Instamatics (but not Mr. X Instamatics), from 1970, showing those oft-photographed river craft that we know so well. Like this first one, featuring the Mark McGwire on the glassy Rivers of America. Ol' Mark was a steamboat captain on the Mississippi in his younger days, and then he went on to hit 583 home runs. What a crazy career!

This photo is from 1970, but from this angle Frontierland still looks surprisingly "frontiery".


And here's the "Columbo", named after the legendary Lieutenant. I swear I have at least as many photos of the Columbo resting in Fowler's Harbor as I do showing it under sail. It was almost certainly a maintenance issue, but I also think they just didn't run it as much when crowds were low.

Even from this angle, Frontierland appears to go on for miles and miles!



Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Keelboat & Twain, 1996

Mr. X took some wonderful photos of the Keelboats back in 1996, and I am glad to share them with you today, some 23 years later. There goes the Gullywhumper, full of happy guests - based on this image, the Keelboats were not wanting for customers. 


This is a neat one, with the 'whumper about to scoot past the Columbia (the photo was taken from Tom Sawyer Island). From this angle you can see the hanging antique-style lanterns inside the boat; I can't remember, did this attraction close at dusk, as some Frontierland attractions did? Or could you ride it at night? If so, what an experience that must have been! It seems shocking that this Keelboats would only be around for another year before being closed for good. It's always seemed to me that they could have just added more ballast if they wanted to make the boats less prone to tipping over.


Aaaaannnd... an almost-obligatory photo of the Mark Twain. But it's pretty. And look at that forest! Why, there ain't no settlements for hundreds of miles.


Monday, October 14, 2019

Polynesian Resort, Walt Disney World, 1972

It's time for a MEGA-EXTRAVAGANZA, courtesy of Lou and Sue! Today's photos come from 1972, and feature views of the wonderful Polynesian Resort. For years I always fantasized about being able to stay at the Contemporary Hotel - it seemed to get the lion's share of publicity. But from what I've read and learned over the years, the Polynesian was a wonderful place to stay.

Sadly I have little knowledge of this hotel (or WDW in general), so I'm going to rely on you folks to fill in any pieces of info that you think would be interesting!  


I believe that this is the Great Ceremonial House. For birthday parties and bar mitzvahs? 


I'm pretty sure that this is where they put guests who went crazy. They just couldn't handle all of the fun, and their brains melted.


You don't see a Chinese junk every day. Here's the "Eastern Winds". It didn't spin or go upside-down or nothin'. 


There's the Great Ceremonial House again!


Were water slides a fairly new thing in 1972? I'd love to know if this modest (but nice) swimming pool still exists.


I love this wonderful sign, and have seen variations of the graphics on things such as matchbooks.


Meanwhile, on the lower level, guests stroll through the atrium, with plenty of bamboo decor, tropical plants in the middle, and that cool tile floor in shades of greens and blues.


Another nice shot from the same area; wasn't there a famous fountain or waterfall nearby that was recently removed? I can see why people liked staying here.


Well, there you have it, nine awesome snapshots, from Lou and Sue. There's lots more to come from them!

Sunday, October 13, 2019

Sleepytime Snoozers, September 1966

I have a pair of pretty lame images for you today. It's Sunday, and you know how it goes.

First we have this view of an Indian Village (not sure if this is the "unfriendly Indian Village") on Tom Sawyer Island, with some tee-pees, and the body of a dead Indian who has been prepared in the manner common to the Lakota tribe. 


Here's a terrible photo of an elk, sort of.


Saturday, October 12, 2019

Airplanes in Alaska

There are some fans of vintage airplanes among the GDB regulars. I like old airplanes too, but (like old cars), my knowledge is minimal. You guys always come to the rescue, though!

First up is this neat photo of what I believe is a B-29 Superfortress, somewhere in Alaska; Wikipedia sez: The... B-29 is a four-engine propeller-driven heavy bomber designed by Boeing and flown primarily by the United States during World War II and the Korean War. Named in allusion to its predecessor, the B-17 Flying Fortress, the Superfortress was designed for high-altitude strategic bombing but also excelled in low-altitude night incendiary bombing. B-29s also dropped the atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki which led to the end of World War II.

It's a bit of a bummer that we can't see the numbers on the tail from this angle (I tried zooming in, and they're just a blurry mess). Still, it's neat to see this historic airplane. Only 2 B-29 Superfortresses still fly today.


Also in Alaska was this pair of airplanes on another mystery runway. I believe that the one on the left is a DC-4, though my record of guessing is not good! The one on the right is some sort of cargo or transport model that I have no doubt will be ID'd by somebody in short order.


Friday, October 11, 2019

Two Nice Leftuggies

I have two photos from July, 1960 - but they are from different batches and different photographers.

First up is a view of Harbor Boulevard looking toward the famous Disneyland marquee, with the turnoff into the massive parking lot up ahead - you can just see part of the famous "Harbor Gate" if you look closely. A row of oleanders partially hide the sea of automobiles.


Next is this nice image, taken from the Disneyland railroad, which was stopped at (or near) the little Tomorrowland Station. The magical smog gives the Matterhorn a slightly dreamy feeling. I'm a bit confused by the fact that we are seeing what I assume are Mark IV Autopia cars (the Mark I through III cars are essentially identical in appearance), even though I have read that the Mark V cars (with the "eyebrows") were introduce in 1959. It's a mystery!


Thursday, October 10, 2019

Mad Tea Party, July 1970

The Mad Tea Party is a fairly modest attraction, but it has become one of the more iconic Fantasyland experiences. Again with the spinning and the laughing?! Oy! Not to mention the color; no wonder it was a popular photo subject. Look at those kids, they have gone completely mad due to mercury poisoning (which, admittedly, is the funniest form of poisoning there is). 


Meanwhile, ya gotta love that Mr. Toad fa├žade. YA GOTTA! 


Wednesday, October 09, 2019

Random Frontierland, July 1960

Here's a trio of Frontierland photos from 1960 - the last few from their batch. Which means that there's nothing super exciting, just good old classic Disneyland.

Yes, yes, I know, it's another photo of the Columbia. Aren't you glad it's not the Mark Twain? Trust me, I have plenty of those to come (if I decide to share them). Fun details: poisonous oleander. People on the Pack Mules. A shy Keelboat, and a bashful Canoe. The Fishing Dock. And even a raft full of guests, ready to head back to the relatively-civilized "mainland".


Elvis sang about a hunka hunka burnin' settler's cabin, which proves that he visited Disneyland. He wore a disguise (in other words, he left the rhinestone-encrusted cape at home), and nobody had a clue except the girl who sold him a hamburger (with peanut butter) at the Yacht Bar.


This photo is almost a really good one, but it has its flaws. Like all of us, am I right? Being July, it's not much of a surprise to see Frontierland so busy, and the afternoon glow is very pretty.


Tuesday, October 08, 2019

Pretty Nice Castle, 1950's

It's hard to believe that both of today's photos are from the same lot, but they are. This first image must be the first one on the roll of film, which would explain why there is something funky going on with the color at the left edge. Maybe I should have cropped that part off.


Yes, I think that's better! In spite of the ten zillion photos that I've seen of Sleeping Beauty Castle, I really love this one, with all of the people, and the Horseless Carriage, and the vintage feel to the colors.


For some reason the hues on this one are much more saturated and pleasing, especially the deep blue sky, and the castle looking so great. No need for me to point out all of this image's many charms, you can see them for yourselves!


Monday, October 07, 2019

Four From Lou and Sue

I have five wonderful photos from Lou and Sue - Sue has been slaving over a red-hot scanner!

The first two are from 1987; I believe that '87 was the year that this bridge walkway was added - and it looks like "Pirates of the Caribbean" was still closed at this point. Remember when they added "The Fonz" to Pirates? Controversial! In the distance you can see a fellow heading down the stairs from the new Disney Gallery, which was a place I always enjoyed exploring.


Here's an interesting pre-Fantasmic photo of the south end of Tom Sawyer Island, with some mysterious work being done. Perhaps that was a temporary stage for some musical performance? What's up with the targets? The Columbia is swaddled in black tarpaulins, something I've never seen before.


On to 1988, and this picture of two balloon vendors. Do you want a classic Mickey ear balloon? Or a space-age mirror-finish mylar version? I've made my decision... classic all the way.


Also from 1988 comes this lovely picture of the entryway into the Land o' Tomorrow.  The Peoplemover would still be with us for years at this point, though they'd been repainted white (with colored stripes) in '87. Such a great scene.


Thanks so much to Lou and Sue!

Sunday, October 06, 2019

A Visit To Disneyland, 1963

I thought it would be fun to scan an old children's book from 1963, "A Visit to Disneyland", by Mabel Watts. I've always wondered if this was available through the Scholastic Book Club or some similar service? I used to love to order books from those! 

This book is very easy to find, and I've seen a soft cover version as well. Mickey Mouse and Vesey Walker invite kids to open the cover and learn more about Disneyland.


The simple line art reminds me of the kind you might see on ticket brochures at the park. Whitman Publishing produced tons of Disney books of all kinds - coloring/activity books, story books, picture books, going all the way back to the 1930's. 


Hooray, a Disneyland map! Even this ultra-simple example makes me happy. 


The wooden toy soldiers, normally seen in Christmas parades, are participating in the flag-raising ceremony in Town Square! I wonder if that was done just for this photo, or if it was a regular thing back then? The other picture to the upper right is an unusual angle, possibly taken from the second floor of City Hall.


Here are typical (but nice) shots of the Main Street area.


Onward to Adventureland! We're so used to this attraction after 60+ years, but to new guests (especially kids), it must have seemed pretty incredible back in 1963.


Here endeth part one. There will be two more installments!