Monday, February 11, 2019

Tom Sawyer Island, July 1960

Here are two views of Tom Sawyer Island, as seen from the Plantation House. I admit it, they are kind of "meh"! Squinting for details, we can see the treehouse (and can fire a cannonball right through the window), and the brand-new Cascade Peak. Folks are fishing on the fishing dock, and exiting a raft on the island while others wait to head back to the mainland. 

I can only assume that our photographer snapped this shot because there was a blimp (of all things) overhead. What the! Goodyear still has an airship base in nearby Carson (about 12 miles from Anaheim), which could explain why ol' Blimpie is hovering overhead. Everyone knows that the sight of a blimp is good luck.

Seeing the airship juxtaposed with Tom Sawyer Island reminded me of a lesser-known Mark Twain story, "Tom Sawyer Abroad", which I read when I was a kid (thanks to my grandmother's set of Twain books). Wikipedia's description is as follows: In the story, Tom, Huck, and Jim travel to Africa in a futuristic hot air balloon, where they survive encounters with lions, robbers, and fleas to see some of the world's greatest wonders, including the Pyramids and the Sphinx.

If you are able to read e-books on your mobile device, you can download "Tom Sawyer Abroad" at the Project Gutenberg website. It's free!


Nanook said...


Shouldn't that be 'Tom Sawyer Aloft'-?

Thanks, Major.

Gnometrek said...

To quote Chief Wild Eagle ... "It is Baloon!"

Stuart Powley said...

I remember in my first journeys to Walt Disney World (80s and 90s) there used to be a lot of aircraft advertising junk over the parks. For example, the Seaworld Shamu blimp, and various banner towing planes. Even a sky writer! On my last few trips I didn't notice any, which makes me believe that they might have protected airspace now (post 9-11?).

Major Pepperidge said...

Nanook, no he lives in a treehouse, not a loft. ;-)

Gnometrek, I had to look up Chief Wild Eagle! Memories of “F-Troop” are fuzzy. Except for the theme song!

Stuart Powley, when I was a kid in Huntington Beach, it seemed like we had sky writers overhead a lot… maybe they were aimed at all the people at the nearby shore. I still see the planes towing banners when I go to some of the other local beaches. I’ll bet you’re right about the airspace being off-limits these days.

Chuck said...

Stu & Major, my understanding is that yes - the airspace over WDW has been restricted since 9/11.

Anonymous said...

I grew up in southern California and I remember the goodyear blimp flying around. It could fly at night and had a set of lights on both sides that could display messages and animations. Originally the lights were white only, but at some point they got colored lights and when that first happened, we saw it quite often flying at night displaying animations/messages.

JC Shannon said...

That blimp photo is cool. There are like 50 people in the world who can fly one. It must be the best seat in the house at sporting events. It would be so neat to just hover over Disneyland and soak it all in. When I was a kid, a blimp sighting was something everyone bragged about in school. I bet the Submarine Lagoon looked like a shimmering gem from up there. Thanks Major.

Anonymous said...

Wow, the blimp picture is unusual. All that you say regarding blimps is true and correct, Major.

The overgrown TSI is pretty amazing for being only 6 years old.

@Anonymous 1, I remember those animated ads, but not the colored ones.

I think skywriting and towed signs are a metropolitan thing, we rarely see them out here in the sticks.

I did get a good look at a plane-towed sign the other day while crossing the Golden Gate. I was a passenger so I could goggle without danger. Couldn't read the slogan, but it was still fun. Also recently in Santa Monica, another towed sign, another unreadable message. I hope someone could read those because they were wasted on me.


Anonymous said...

Major, thanks for the shout-out for Project Gutenberg. It's great resource for readers who don't care if they don't have the latest best-seller.

I have literally hundreds of e-books from that site. Don't forget to donate a bit, the book content is free and much of their labor and scholarship is volunteered, but the Project expenses for running the internet site come from donations.


Melissa said...

That's such a cool coincidence about the blimp and the Twain story! Nanook, once more GDB makes me want to find my old copy of The Borrowers Aloft. I guess I should just break down and get a new one.

Yeah, I have some vague memory of somebody trying to fly a banner plane over the Magic Kingdom to protest something or other a few years ago, but not being able to get permission.

Major Pepperidge said...

Chuck, I was pretty sure I had heard about the airspace being off limits; no more flyovers to get cool aerial photos, but I get why they felt they had to make it verboten.

Anon, I remember seeing a toy version of the Goodyear Blimp - I think it could actually fly, AND it had working lights on the side, which made it the coolest thing. Of course it was way too expensive, but I wanted one!

Jonathan, I’ve studied blimpology more than most people, and am quite sure that I could “take the wheel” in case of an emergency! Twice in the last month I’ve seen a blimp nearby, which is unusual. I’ve looked online to find out why they were around, but couldn’t find an explanation.

JG, somebody needs to take a hedge trimmer and a weed-whacker to Tom Sawyer Island and clean that place up. The neighbors are complaining. I’m sure that those airplane-based advertising methods are only deemed worth doing if they know that many thousands will see the results.

JG, I have donated to Project Gutenberg! I got tons of Dickens books recently. I still think my two favorite books by him are “Great Expectations” and “Nicholas Nickleby”.

Melissa, oh man, I have never read “The Borrowers” in any form. Not sure how I missed those, since I was an avid reader growing up.

Melissa said...

I used to proofread OCR for Project Gutenberg, but the old peepers just aren't up to it anymore.

TokyoMagic! said...

For my 12th or 13th birthday, my aunt and uncle gave me a model of the Goodyear Blimp. I think it was manufactured by Revell. It came with paper messages that you wrapped around a drum inside the model. The messages would light up and rotate so they could be viewed similar to the ones on the real blimp. It also came with blank paper, so you could make custom messages. I still have the model, but I don't think the rotating part of it works anymore.

Nancy said...

Tom's island looks small to me from this angle, it's very lush in this view as well. nice pictures today

always fun to see a blimp. so sci-fi!

Major Pepperidge said...

Melissa, wow, that’s an awesome thing to do!

TokyoMagic!, hmm, now I’m wondering if the blimp I am remembering just used the paper roll thing that you described. I kind of think it used real lights, but in those days before LEDs, I’m not sure if I am right.

Nancy, you are seeing the island head-on from one end, of course; it’s a long, “dog bone” shaped piece of land. I have no idea how it compares to the one in Florida.

TokyoMagic! said...

Major, the model had a window that the paper messages went past and a light bulb on the inside, so when the message went past the window, it didn't really look like paper. The messages were done in tiny colored "dots" on black paper, so it sort of looked like little light bulbs going by when it was turned on. It came with a base for displaying, but the model did not actually fly.

Dean Finder said...

TSI in Orlando is 2 islands connected by a suspension bridge.,-81.5837226,716a,35y,337.94h/data=!3m1!1e3!4m5!3m4!1s0x88dd7ee634caa5f7:0xa71e391fd01cf1a0!8m2!3d28.385233!4d-81.563874
There is floating bridge on the larger banana-shaped island, or was. It's been a few years since I've been on TSI. I haven't been there since the rafts broke down while I was on it and I missed a bunch of rides.

My wife and I visit the Wildwoods in NJ every summer. The banner-towing planes are pretty much continuous there all summer.