Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Above Fantasyland, November 1958

SoCal had an invasion of a billion "painted lady" butterflies this year (it was a nice invasion!). Well, in 1958, they had an invasion of giant carnivorous "voodoo" moths. They were a nuisance, because they would sometimes swoop down, grab somebody, and carry them off to their mothy lair. You've probably read about it. President Eisenhower made a famous speech in which he proclaimed, "Moths are totally gross!". All of today's photos were taken by an unfortunate guest who was on his way to the larva lair.

Here's the first moth's-eye view (notice the metallic blue moth leg in the lower left!) from above Fantasyland; it's all pretty familiar stuff, including Monstro, and Casey Jr., the snow-peaked mountains of Storybook Land, and even the pony farm in the distance. In the lower right there are trees and shrubs... I think this is the edge of the area where the Matterhorn would be plopped in less than a year.


Those moth legs sure are strange. Say, now we're looking down on a little rest area right next to the "Fan 1" snack bar. The little ticket booth for the Skyway, often obscured by trees, is visible to our right. The addition of those cloth awnings that provided shade for diners was probably very welcome. 


The woman to the right has never seen such a large moth in her life. Thank goodness they aren't interested in babies - too small to make a good meal.


Monday, September 16, 2019

Cap'n Mike Returns! June 1977

Much like Frankenstein or Dracula, you can't keep Cap'n Mike away for long. He always comes back! And while he was aboard the Mark Twain the last time, he's moved on to another big boat - the Columbia.

Did U.S. sailors ever wear outfits like that?? Seems hard to believe. I mean, it looks good on Mike Nesmith, but then again, everything does. Cap'n Mike is regaling them with a story about the time he went to Tijuana.


"What kind of gas mileage does thing thing get, sailor?". Paul is trying to think of an answer. "Um, 35 mpg?". "SPLENDID, my boy! Did I ever tell you about the time I stole a mule with Frank Sinatra?".


Everybody loved Cap'n Mike and his outlandish stories. "He certainly has led a picaresque life", Paul muses to himself. "You'd never guess that he was a roadie for The Beatles and actually wrote most of their songs" (even Cap'n Mike disowns that dumb "Obla-Di, Obla-Da" tune though).


"This boat would be a lot tidier without all of these blasted ropes everywhere!", the Cap'n thinks to himself. And can you argue with him? His steamboat hardly used any ropes, and those were under protest. We love you, Cap'n Mike!


Thank you, Mysterious Benefactor.

Sunday, September 15, 2019

Murkety Murk, September 1966

I have a fairly large lot of photos from September, 1966, and most of them are very nice. But there is a small number that are weirdly dark. I don't know if it's a case of having the wrong aperture setting, or (in some cases) were they taken through a tinted window, or what. Whatever the reason, it's kind of a bummer, because a few of these would have been really interesting if they didn't look like The Shadowlands. 

Trust me, I lightened this one WAY up, and it still takes place in some weird "day for night" world. I think this might have been taken from the Monorail, which might fall into my tinted window theory. And as nice as it is to see the Disneyland Hotel in the distance, I am very curious about the little construction zone that we can see in the lower portion of the picture. Being 1966, I wonder if it had to do with New Orleans Square?


I can only assume that these photos were actually taken before September of '66, since the New Tomorrowland would have probably been under heavy construction. Do you think this could be another photo taken from the Monorail? 


Saturday, September 14, 2019

St. Joseph County Airport, Indiana - 1951

Sometimes it's fun to find really old slides, even if they don't initially seem that interesting. Images can be chock full of vintage goodness. 

Like this first one, showing two ladies in their best travel clothing, circa 1961! They've got their nice dresses, overcoats, gloves, and hats. Mid-century fashion at its finest. But where was this picture taken?


Well that's helpful; we're out in front of St. Joseph County Airport, located 3 miles south of South Bend, Indiana. Love that awesome Ford!


The airport started as "Bendix Municipal Airport" in 1933; At some point the name was changed to "St. Joseph County Airport", and after that, "Michiana Regional Airport". 

Here's an old postcard (1960's?) showing the front as it looked back then.


And here's another postcard from the runway side.


On January 1st, 2000, the name was changed yet again, to "South Bend Regional Airport", and again in 2014, to "South Bend International Airport". Whew!



Friday, September 13, 2019

Flying Saucers, 1960's

Boy oh boy, do I love today's clear, colorful photos of the old Flying Saucers attraction!

If I understand correctly (and I probably don't), the large blue oval structure on which the saucers flew was divided in half, so that there were two separate sections - basically like two Saucer rides next to each other. A boom would sweep around on each half (sort of like a hand on a clock), trapping  the Saucers that had completed their rides, and freeing the ones that were ready to go. Does this make any sense at all? I think that the boom is that raised walkway with the rounded end that we can see to the right.

I know that you will correct me if I'm wrong - and I'm counting on it!


It sure looks like this attraction appealed to younger guests - there are kids and teens almost exclusively. I don't think I've ever noticed the CMs before, in their black and blue costumes. They are wearing hats (or visors?) with what appears to be a logo for the attraction - why don't I have one of those in my collection??


Notice that the Saucers in the background are now empty and new guests are walking toward them. It's kind of fun to see the people aboard their vehicles, torquing their bodies this way and that in an effort to make their giant air-hockey pucks move in the desired direction - all in the hopes of colliding  with somebody else!


Thursday, September 12, 2019

Around the Plaza, September 1966

Neither of today's photos are that exciting, but they convey and nice sense of the relaxed, parklike atmosphere that Disneyland could have if you were there at the right time of the year. Look at all the trees! So green and lovely. The Monsanto House of the Future is to the left, and I even enjoy seeing the trash can and little mail box. Wouldn't grandma love a card from you, sent from the Happiest Place on Earth?


This family looks like they are straight out of an advertisement, especially with the little boy wearing Mouse Ears. They're walking toward the circular planter where the "Partners" statue would eventually be placed. The "Avenue of Flags" can be partially seen; notice the pink and orange construction wall to our right, where wondrous things were about to happen in Tomorrowland.


Here's another angle on the same area (more or less) - it looks like it was a perfect day at Disneyland!


Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Disneyland's 30th from Lou and Sue

Here is a series of photos from Lou Perry and his daughter Sue B, from Disneyland's 30th anniversary - 1985. It seems so long ago now! 

This first one is from near the ticket booths, looking back toward the parking lot. No DCA yet! It's so strange to see that walkway through the lot - somebody once mentioned when it was added, but I've forgotten, as usual.


I am curious about those red/orange things on either side of the walkway, as if there was shaded parking for some lucky people? Notice the car in the distance - if the stars aligned, and you had your rabbit's foot and four-leaf clover, it could be yours.


The logo isn't the most beautiful thing I've ever seen, but I'll give it a pass. Hey, it was the 80's.


The organ (or caliope?) pipes remind me of the instrument that Captain Nemo played in "20,000 Leagues Under the Sea With Squiddy and Friends".


More organ pipes! They were part of the "Countdown Clock", which was also part of the "Gift Giver Extraordinaire". I'll bet a lot of readers have at least a few of the pins that were give out by the thousands - I did, until I sold them on eBay for 20 million dollars.


In just three minutes, 38 more guests entered the park. Math - it's your friend. There sure are a lot of men loitering near the clock, what's that about? Maybe they just like stuff with gears.


Another six (ish) minutes have elapsed, and almost 100 more people have walked through the gates. Why, this place is minting money! It's funny, I went to the park in 1985, but I have no memory of seeing this stuff at all - though I do remember me and my friends looking at our pins. Even then I was all about the merch.


There are more photos from Disneyland's 30th! Thanks as always to Lou and Sue.

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Random Knott's! August 2, 1959

I picked out a few less-than-amazing Knott's scans to use up; even if they are not spectacular, they still convey how charming (and sometimes odd) old Knott's was.

When you happen to live in a place where supplies are scarce, you might want to build a house out of spare barrels. If you filled the barrels with dirt, perhaps they would provide a nice insulating effect: cool in the summer, and at least not freezing in the winter. The roof was also made of random pieces of tin, including what appears to be the lids of casks. Santa tried to go down that chimney, but there were no presents for the children that year.

I tried zooming in on those signs in the lower left, and while a few lines were legible, it was mostly a blur.


Those sure are some funny looking chickens. Soon they'll be ready to serve at Cordelia's restaurant. Any idea where that pond was located?


The bank has seen better days - the entire top floor seems to have burned and collapsed. It does not inspire confidence. "Will my savings be FDIC insured?". I wish I could read the notices on the Ghost Town Bulletin Board, I'll bet they were droll has heck. Droll, I say! I think that's the "Red Cliff" locomotive in Chuck's favorite shades of red, yellow-ochre, and milk-chocolate brown.


Monday, September 09, 2019

Cap'n Mike, 1977

You don't have to tell me, I already know - you have been hankerin' for more photos from the Mysterious Benefactor! Ol' Major Pepperidge is nothing if not generous, brilliant, and humble, so I will make your MB dreams come true. 

(Note: about a month ago, TokyoMagic and Mike Cozart informed me that the genial gentleman in today's photos was Mike O'Brien, a beloved cast member for many years).

Among the hundreds of scans are quite a few featuring a gentleman ("Mike") who looks like he came directly from Central Casting. "Thelma Lou, we are looking for a man to portray a riverboat captain. He should be between 50 and 65, with a cheerful disposition, but he should exude a quiet authority".

Mike knew every inch of the Rivers of America, even if it jumped its banks and change course overnight! Treacherous snags and sand bars didn't bother him. Boiler explosions? Don't make him laugh. Why, he could navigate the entire route using only his sense of smell.


These slides were pretty dark, so it might be hard for you to see how much Mike resembles Alan Hale Jr., aka the Skipper from "Gilligan's Isle". Suddenly I wish I wore a red string tie every day.


I would love to know Cap'n Mike's story... how long did he work at the park? There are photos of him aboard the Columbia as well, so he could pilot any vessel, probably. He'd ring the bell, and blow the whistle, and spit tobakky juice with deadly aim. 


Cap'n Mike loved to meet the guests, and regale them with stories of his years on the river. The guests smile and nod, and wonder if he realizes that he works at a theme park. 


Don't be sad, you'll be seeing more of Cap'n Mike real soon.

Sunday, September 08, 2019

Matterhorn at Dusk, June 1969

Here are two unusual (but not great) photos of the Mighty Matterhorn, taken after the sun has almost entirely set - a few rays still hit the taller objects. These were almost too dark to scan without them turning into a grainy mess, but they look OK.

From the ground we get a nice perspective of the mountain - nearly everything is in shades of blue and violet, which is very pretty. The sky sort of resembles the famous alpenglow ("...an optical phenomenon that appears as a horizontal reddish glow near the horizon opposite of the Sun when the solar disk is just below the horizon"). I said sort of! Hello, li'l Skyway gondolas. The Tomorrowland Terrace looks so quiet and deserted. 


What do you think, is this a Peoplemover view? Judging from the angle of the sun, it was taken at nearly the same time as the previous photo, so I can't really explain why it looks so different. It's kind of neat so see some of the lights on in the distance, I'll bet the Submarine Voyage was extra cool at this time.



Saturday, September 07, 2019

Freedomland USA, September 1960

Today I have a nice pair of images from Freedomland, USA - in The Bronx, New York. It was supposed to be the east coast's answer to Disneyland (and was conceived by none other than C.V. Wood, who was instrumental in the development of Walt's park, whether the Disney company cares to admit it or not). Freedomland only lasted four years before shutting its gates forever (the 1964 World's Fair - also in Queens - might have been partly responsible for Freedomland's demise).

First I have this nice shot of the Stagecoach ride, sponsored by American Express. All those children perched precariously on top make me nervous. I suppose it must have been difficult to make a believable western town in New York, but those boulder-strewn hills aren't doing much for me. A few bison (presumably alive) are sheltered beneath that crude covering. In the distance, the support towers for the Tucson Mining Company sky ride can be seen - but no gondolas are on the cables.


I have a soft spot for the "Danny the Dragon" ride, described as a 74-foot (23 m) long fire breathing dragon, suitable for children. Children of all ages, surely! It was located in the New Orleans-Mardi Gras area of the park. 

There is a Danny the Dragon ride at "Happy Hollow" in San Jose, and I have fond memories of riding this fanciful train with my niece when she was a toddler. It was guided by a wire embedded in the track... the train would follow the electromagnetic "trail". The ride was designed by Arrow Development, and there is an article all about it HERE, check it out!


Friday, September 06, 2019

More Imagineers At the Fair! June 1964

It's time for another great photo from the 1964 New York World's Fair, with a surprise or two!

Among the slides was this group shot, and at first I recognized some of the same faces that appeared in another photo. Which was very cool. But there were some additional people added to the mix! Here's the photo all by itself.


Check it out! It took me a minute to put a name to the mustachioed gentleman, until I realized that it is legendary animator Bill Tytla! And that blonde lady in the lavender dress is legendary and beloved artist Mary Blair?!! Wowee. I am not 100% certain of the identities of the women whose names are in orange, but... more on that in a bit.

(If anybody can ID the man in the white shirt, to the left, I would appreciate it very much!)


Here's a photo of Bill Tytla (standing), along with Art Babbit, circa 1967. Bill left the Disney Studio in 1943 after the divisive animator's strike, feeling that there was too much tension and unpleasantness. He moved to Connecticut, where he worked for a variety of animation studios, including Terrytoons, Famous Studios (Popeye, Casper, etc), and Tempo Productions (which made industrial films and advertisements).

I think it's interesting that he stayed in touch with his friends at Disney, and one can surmise that they invited him to meet them at the Fair.


Historian John Canemaker called Tytla "animation's Michelangelo". Here are just a few of the animated characters that he brought to life:


I don't think I need to tell you about Mary Blair and her accomplishments - her work has achieved a level of love and appreciation that she probably could have never imagined. Here's Mary, with her husband Lee.


In this photo we can see some of the usual suspects as they head toward the entrance to the Travelers Insurance pavilion... there's Mary Blair in her lilac outfit.


I found this photo online, and it was partly the reason why I think that the lady in the blue coat might be Harriet Burns.

Meanwhile, the woman to the left is Joyce Carlson, who (obviously) worked on "The Enchanted Tiki Room, and "It's a Small World" (for the Fair). Most photos of Joyce are from when she was a much older woman, and I am even less confident when it comes to identifying her. 


Here's a side-by-side comparison of the photos, Harriet on the left, and what I think might be her on the right. I'm just not certain though! The hair looks about right, but that might have been a common style from the time. What do you think?


Here's another photo of Harriet! She was one of the very first Imagineers, and certainly the first woman among that group. She worked in the model shop along with Fred Joerger and Wathel Rogers, and built scale models for Sleeping Beauty Castle and the Matterhorn (among her many other accomplishments). She is a Disney Legend and has a window on Main Street.


Here's the pavilion of the Mormon Church. If you are wondering what relevance this has...


... we can see Bill Tytla standing with Ken Anderson (animator, Imagineer), and shaking hands with Les Clark (one of the Nine Old Men). Perhaps this was where they decided to meet up that day.


I hope you have enjoyed today's World's Fair pix; there are still a few more fun surprises to come.

Thursday, September 05, 2019

Les Brown at the Carnation Gardens, September 1972

Here's another great series of photos featuring a world-famous Big Band - Les Brown and His Band of Renown! Due to my complete lack of knowledge when it comes to these bands, I asked Mr. X (the photographer) if he could pass on any relevant information. So he asked a musician friend, who spoke to somebody who is in these photos! A trombonist named Jack Redmond ("3 Finger Jack").


Here's what Mr. Redmond had to say (all of his contributions are in yellow): 

I don’t know what year this was. Maybe around 1970 or so (Major here... these are from 1972). I think I recognize my mutton chops. Anyway, here’s the personnel:

Trmpts:    Don Rader, Hal Espinosa (lead),Bobby Clark,Fred Koyen.
Bones:     Bill Moffett, Stumpy Brown, me.
Reeds:     Butch Stone, Lou Ciotti, Matt Utal (lead alto), Ralph LaPolla, Fred Cooper.
Piano:      Bob Alberti.
Bass:       Ernie McDaniel.
Drums:    Norm Jeffries.
Vocalist:  Jo Ann Greer.


Jack Sperling was the drummer most of the time in the 25 years or so that I was on the band. Others for lengths of time were Lloyd Morales and Jerry McKenzie. Norm was just with us for that Disneyland week, I think. Lou Ciotti was the fine jazz tenor player. Don Rader (Rades-my room mate all over the world) was be-bop trumpet, of course. Hal Espinosa became president of Local 47 years later.


Bob Alberti later became Bob Hope’s TV musical director. Butch Stone played bari sax, but was a great comedic singer. Beautiful cat. Jo Ann was married to ex Les Brown trumpet player Mickey McMann, who later became a charter member of the Lawerence Welk TV orchestra.


I hated those freaking red coats. We finally got rid of them, but then got some REALLY FONKY plaid ones. Almost made me glad when we had to wear tux’s.

You can see Jack in this view - second row, and second from the right (again, on trombone).


It is SO COOL to actually hear from one of the band members! This is all thanks to Mr. X, his friend Mark, and the generous help of Jack Redmond.