Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Special Guest Post - Walt Disney World, 1972

Today I have the honor to present the second (and final) post from GDB regular Mark S. Besotted, featuring photos of Walt Disney World as taken by his mother in 1972. Like its older cousin on the west coast, I wish I could have seen WDW in its earliest days! Here's Mark's commentary, which seems to start abruptly because I rudely divided his mega-post into two separate posts. That way I can spend more time watching "The View" and eating pizza rolls! Smart, no?

There weren't even a lot of tall trees in Frontierland yet. This is, of course, the World-famous Back Side Of Liberty Belle. 

The tall tree was nearby, though. Here's the star of Adventureland, in all its stair-climbing glory.

This sleepy hippo was the star of a million tourist photos. 

Landscapers have a concept called "Desire-lines," the paths people carve into grassy areas where they need sidewalks. These hippos were a "Desire-Photospot."

This jungle hut still looks almost identical today. Except at Christmastime, which we all know is a big holiday in the jungle, apparently. 

Like its cousin in Anaheim, this cabin stopped burning a while ago. Unlike the Anaheim cabin, you can see no settler in his new Arrow shirt. 

And on the other side of the boat, we see a village of Friendly Indians. They're pretty understanding, considering how close the railroad right-of-way is to their home.

And here's the thing I remember most from early WDW. They had topiaries EVERYWHERE. These days, you have to visit Epcot during Flower and Garden to see any specially-trained shrubbery.

Many thanks to Mark S. Besotted for sharing his family photos! Who knows, maybe we'll see more from other locations someday.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

On The Columbia, June 1958

Until around five years ago, every one of my trips around the Rivers of America was aboard the Mark Twain. I just love that boat! But I finally enjoyed a ride on the venerable Columbia; to be honest I can't recall if I just made an executive decision, or if the Mark Twain was being refurbished. Either way, it was fun to see the sights under slightly different circumstances, and with different narration.

Both of  today's photos are from June, 1958. I especially like this first one, looking through the shrouds and rigging toward the Chicken Plantation. Let's all take a moment to appreciate those people from nearly 60 years ago, with their comfortable summer clothing and occasional souvenir hats!

Zooming in, we can see the seldom-photographed bridge that went over a small tributary that directly connected to the Jungle Cruise's "Rivers of the World". At this time it was where guests could catch a raft over to Tom Sawyer Island and back. I'm pretty sure that if you stood on the bridge and looked upriver, three crocodiles glared back with beady eyes (and a song in their hearts).

This one is a bit less interesting, unless you are a fan of magnificently combed and oiled hair! Vitalis? Wildroot Cream-oil? Crisco?  Please DO NOT lend me your comb.

Monday, October 16, 2017

1964 New York World's Fair

Oh yeeeaaaahhhh! It's time for more photos from the New York World's Fair - 1964 & '65, that is (not 1939/40).  

Here's a nice giraffe's-eye view looking down upon the Chrysler pavilion, as it appeared in its eye-popping 1965 color scheme; the buildings went from mostly white to a groovy pink and orange combination. In the right foreground is the roof of the SKF Industries "parasol". SKF manufactured ball bearings and roller bearings, so you know that the exhibit was amazing! In the distance to the right is the Ford Rotunda, home of "Walt Disney's Magic Skyway". And the dark building with the undulating curves is the "Hall of Science", which still stands today as the New York Museum of Science and Technology.

Meanwhile, not too far from the first location, was the General Motors pavilion. Along with "Futurama", one of the Fair's most popular attractions, visitors could see displays of some wonderful concept cars, such as this one - the GMX Stiletto. I've written about this vehicle before, but what the hell, it bears repeating:

The GM-X Stiletto concept car was an advanced, high-performance car with styling strongly influenced by aerospace design. It featured aircraft-type steering, a maintenance monitoring system with toggle switch controls, and a three-way speaker system for inside and outside communications.

Here's another angle. I noticed that in the first photo, the Stiletto is at a dramatic angle, while in this second photo it is pretty much level, so it moved on those two supports. Anyway, if you look just past the nose of my car (!), you can see the a few people exiting from the "Futurama" ride. The lucky ducks!

The "U.S. Space Park" area of the Fair would have been one of my favorites, since I was kind of a space-crazy kid. I believe that this is a reproduction of a Mercury space capsule (with the emergency escape rockets mounted on top). Look at how tiny that darn capsule is! A mere 6 feet wide at the base, and 10 feet tall (not counting the escape apparatus). I love this photo.

I hope you have enjoyed your visit to the New York World's Fair.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Mermaids and More, July 1966

It's time for another exciting Sunday post, full of torpor and ennui! 

This first picture is pretty terrible, but HEY! There are beautiful mermaids in the lagoon, so that bumps this up by 46.5% on the Flarp scale (named after Antoine Robespierre Flarp, 1888-1952). The merm on the rock is either very lazy or she is stranded. Maybe you should dive in an rescue her! The other merm doesn't give a hoot either way, which is just how they are. 

If they ever brought mermaids back (don't hold your breath - no pun intended), they would probably have to have mermen as well.

This next one rates much lower on the Flarp scale, lacking mermaids, rockets, steam trains, Swiss mountains, and such. It does have a little circus train, but we can only see about half of it. Professor Flarp would be crying right now.

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Family Fotos

I recently scanned more slides from boxes found in a closet at my grandmother's house years ago - until then, I'd never known that my grandfather was quite the shutterbug for a period of time. It seemed like it might be fun to share some of the scans here!

This first one is from 1954, when my mom and her parents went to Hawaii (there's Diamond Head in the distance). Grandma labeled the slide, "Killer Sub, Pearl Harbor", which is pretty dramatic - but there's a submarine, right there! It is the USS Bonita (the K-3, later renamed the SSK-3), a Barracuda-class submarine launched in 1951. There were two other similar vessels (the Barracuda SSK-1, and the Bass SSK-2);  each was equipped with a large bow-mounted sonar array, " part of Project Kayo, which experimented with the use of passive acoustics with low-frequency, bow-mounted sonar arrays", according to Mr. Wikipedia. The Bonita was decommissioned in November, 1958, and was sold for scrap in November, 1966.

From 1948 comes this photo of my mom (13 years old), my Great-Grandma, and my Grandma, standing in front of the bell tower at San Antonio de Pala Asistencia (in San Diego county) - technically part (a "sub-Mission", believe it or not) of Mission San Luis Rey de Francia, about 20 miles away. As far as I can glean, this bell tower was rebuilt in 1916 after the original was damaged by age, neglect and the 1899 San Jacinto Earthquake (which had an approximate magnitude of 6.6 on the Richter Scale - that's a pretty good shake!).

Next we'll head up into the Eastern Sierras to "Devil's Postpile National Monument", near Mammoth. This formation is a dark cliff of columnar basalt, formed when a great mass of lava cooled slowly and evenly, resulting in long, mostly hexagonal columns as large as 2 or 3 feet in diameter. My Mother and Grandma are shown here in 1949, and my Mom said that at the time it was very remote and arduous to reach, and that there were no other people around. I visited the Devil's Postpile back in 2010, and it was considerably more crowded - but still very cool.

Friday, October 13, 2017

Moonliner, May 1958

I have two swell photos of Tomorrowland for you today! Admittedly, they would be even "sweller" if it hadn't been a gray, overcast day, but don't worry... I've filed a lawsuit against the Earth's atmosphere for "pain and suffering". I expect a settlement in the neighborhood of $100,000,000. 

When I was a kid I was "Apollo crazy", constantly drawing floating astronauts, space capsules, and Saturn V rockets on my notebook paper. As cool as that Saturn V was (as of today it is still the tallest, heaviest, and most powerful rocket ever brought to operational status), I might have to give the edge to the TWA Moonliner. Come on, just look at it! Those retractable legs, the red graphics, the little cockpit high up near the nose... Chesley Bonestell would be proud. And don't forget that the Disneyland incarnation of this rocket was built at a mere 1/3 of what its true size was supposed to be.

Notice Tinker Bell's hand holding her magic wand in the lower right corner!

Here's a very pretty photo of the Monsanto House of the Future. I just realized that a large part of its appeal (for me) is the fact that it is raised up on that pedestal, so that the house itself is a good 8 or 10 feet above the ground. How I hate the ground! I've always wondered if the pond and small waterfalls were inspired by Frank Lloyd Wright's "Fallingwater". Notice the chimney on top - not a feature that one might expect to see on such a modern house. Don't worry, they Family of the Future would put uranium fuel rods in their fireplace, not dirty old logs. 

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Antique Automobiles

Today's photos are undated, but I wouldn't feel too bad about guestimating them as being from September, 1956. Er... give or take a year?? 

This first late-afternoon image shows guests leaving the park, and discovering that the fun didn't end at the gates! There was a group of wonderful antique autos on display, and man, they are beauties! The bodies of some of them might have been built by companies that had previously built luxury carriages - many adapted to the age of the automobile. The example to the far right reminded me a bit of the Munster Koach...

... until I really looked at the Munster Koach again. Well, they're both black, anyway. Remember when I posted the photo below, way back in 2010? Remember when there was a song about the Munster Koach?? Do you remember where I left my wallet?

Anyway, what was the deal with the old jalopies? Wulp, look at this post from 2008, when I shared some other photos featuring antique cars in Town Square; Disneyland used to have regular displays by the "Horseless Carriage Club". It must have been fun to watch a parade of these classics, which would have been perhaps 30 or 40 years old at the time! 

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Cinderella Castle, The Magic Kingdom, November 1971

Long ago, my friend "Mr. X" (who really exists, I swear!) had given me a nice group of negatives from his first trip to Walt Disney World, back when it had been open for a matter of weeks - he was there for the Thanksgiving holiday. I posted all of them, the last appearing in August of 2016. But X discovered two more envelopes with more negatives from that same trip! Some 66 images. There's a ton of shots of the Contemporary Hotel, for better or worse; but there are a lot of other nice photos too, including some unusual pictures of some shops around the Polynesian Resort, and a number of lovely photos taken at night.

Look at this beautiful shot of Cinderella Castle at dusk! After years of seeing Disneyland's beloved Sleeping Beauty Castle, the Florida version must have been a stunning sight for Mr. X. 

There's something comforting about seeing the "twinkle lights" in the trees in the plaza - as if all is right in the world. Cinderella's Golden Carrousel can be seen through the castle arch.

I'll tell ya, scanning color negatives is a challenge; the computer (or "pooter" as I like to call it) doesn't quite know what to do with the colors, and getting them to match or even look decent can occasionally be a real trial.

Isn't it pretty? From what I understand, there is now a large and rather ugly stage in front of the castle. I'm agin' it. I'm sure they wanted my opinion, but the letter got lost in the mail. Is there a spiral staircase or ladder that goes to the top of the highest tower? I need to go up there and eat a sammich!

Stay tuned for more November 1971 photos of the Magic Kingdom.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Disneyland's "Summer '67" Guidebook, Part Six

Today is the last of Ken Martinez's posts featuring scans of the awesome "Summer '67" guidebook. But weep not! Rather, rejoice that for a few moments, we were able to escape the real world and revel in the amazing photos found in this classic guidebook.

Summer ’67 Disneyland U.S.A. – Part 6 Disneyland Future, Hotel and Finale

Today is the sixth and final post in a six part series featuring the “Summer ’67 Disneyland, U.S.A” booklet.  Featured today are the free shows and exhibits at Disneyland as well as the live entertainment.  As usual, I’ll let the booklet pages tell the story.

Space Mountain certainly didn’t turn out the way it appears in this artist rendering of Tomorrowland.  From dream to reality, something always changes and/or is modified in the various stages from concept to actual build.

Travel and lodging Disney style.  Also featured here is an ad for Walt’s last live-action motion picture, “The Happiest Millionaire”.  In the older Disneyland guide booklets it was common for Disney to advertise current theatrical releases and re-releases in the back portion of the guide.  This Summer ’67 booklet is no exception.  

Well, we’ve come to the end of this series.  Hope you have enjoyed what really as a wonderful era at Disneyland.

There’s more Disney paper and ephemera to come.

Thank you Ken! As he just said, he has more stuff to share with you, coming up.

Monday, October 09, 2017

"Silver Banjo Barbecue" Items

I would bet that there are plenty of Disneyland fans who have never heard of Frontierland's "Silver Banjo Barbecue" restaurant - not surprising, when you consider its brief existence. But it's a fun piece of the park's history.

In 1957, "Casa de Fritos" moved from its location next to the Aunt Jemima Pancake House to a new building near the Rainbow Caverns Mine Train. The now-empty space would soon be occupied by the Silver Banjo Barbecue, owned and operated by actor Don DeFore (famous for his many movie and television appearances, including "Thorny" on The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet and "Mr. Baxter" on Hazel) and Don's brother Verne, as well as other family members. 

There may be some menus or napkins or other ephemera from the SBB floating around out there, but if so, I've never seen any. The only true Disneyland souvenirs that I am aware of are the very rare postcards. I happen to have one! 

Notice that the first letter of each line spells out "D-O-N    D-E-F-O-R-E"! New Orleans Square wouldn't be built until after the restaurant was kaput, so "New Orleans Street" refers to part of Frontierland.

Here's an unusual item; a cancelled check from the Silver Banjo Barbecue! Apparently the kitchen for the restaurant was incredibly cramped, causing all kinds of drama for the people who had to slave away in there. By 1961 (after only four years) the Silver Banjo Barbecue closed and the Aunt Jemima Pancake House expanded into that space. The area is now part of the River Belle Terrace.

Presumably that is Don DeFore's actual signature on the back of the check!