Saturday, December 31, 2011

Anything Goes Saturday - Last Frontier Casino

Welcome to Las Vegas, and the Last Frontier Casino! Built in 1942 around the former "Club Pair-O-Dice", the Last Frontier was only the second true casino on the Strip (the first being El Rancho). It was (obviously) themed to the Old West, complete with a Western village, and a corral and rodeo grounds. There were even "stagecoach parties" and horseback rides into the surrounding desert!

This first image is a great photo of the entrance to the Western village. It looks so clean and tidy, without the over-the-top excess of later Vegas casinos. Notice the red brick building in the background to the left....

It's the Saloon/Rooming House, but there wasn't much sleeping going on there judging by the lady displaying her charms out the upper-story window! Reminds me a bit of "Goldie's" at Knott's Berry Farm. Maybe her leg moved too!

In 1955, new owners decided to build the New Frontier (see a great photo of that on the Corner Cafe Images blog), while keeping the Last Frontier in use to the south. Sadly, both were demolished in 1967, and replaced by the Frontier! (Got it?! I'm not sure I do).

I have more photos from around the Last Frontier, which I'll share sometime in the near future.

Friday, December 30, 2011

Rainbow Ridge, July 7 1961

If you wanted to see Nature's Wonderland, whether by mule or by choo-choo, you had to visit Rainbow Ridge first. Founded by Sir Albert Rainbow Ridge (that joke never gets old), the little town originally catered to prospectors and homesteaders; but times change, and eventually fortunes revolved around tourism. Thousands of greenhorns in stiff new dungarees, checkered shirts, and red kerchiefs around their necks paid top dollar to see the sights. Look carefully and you'll see the pack mules among the pines.

The desert was blazingly hot, and full of sand that got into everything, and there were hairy spiders and kangaroo rats and scorpions and snakes and wild pigs and coyotes and mountain lions and chupacabras. But the fantastic rock formations - the product of millions of years of wind and sand and flash floods - made the trip worthwhile.

There are those sneaky mules again! There's nothing more dangerous than a sneaky mule.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Two From 1960

Check out this first photo, a beautiful view of the Monsanto House of the Future! It looks so great with the blue sky, lush plants, and even the warm reflections from the pond. I wonder how many people walked through that attraction and thought, "You know, I could see myself living in one of these!"? But it was not to be. (Frowny face)

From a different lot, but also from 1960, comes this view of a sleepy lagoon that just happens to be home to a fleet of nuclear submarines. Are they atomic? Yes, VERY atomic! I keep staring at this picture waiting for something to happen.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Stagecoach & More, Knott's - June 1960

Here are two very nice photos from Knott's Berry Farm!

We'll start with the great picture of the Stage Coach as it heads towards us, pulled by four spirited horses. It took two men to operate a stage coach... one to control the horses, the other to randomly swear and spit and shoot at pedestrians. That's the job for me, I do those things anyway! I love the view of the old parking lot (because I'm weird), looking suitably rustic.

Elsewhere, we see the Ghost Town Express ("Lightning Delivery"), pulled by two mules in ornate harnesses. A suitably crusty old-timer drives the thing; here he is visiting with the local dude, who looks like he just stepped out of a TV program. I wonder if guests could ride on the Ghost Town Express, or if it was strictly for show?

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Secret Entrance! November 1970

Whenever I go to Disneyland, I enter the park through the front gates just like any other shnook. But the folks in this first photo are getting in via a mysterious side entrance! What gives? Is this where people with hand-stamps could re-enter? Did you need a special pass (perhaps something from the Magic Kingdom Club)? Why hasn't the Los Angeles Time's torn this scandal wide open? You can see a sliver of plaid skirt to the left, so the tour guides were involved in this ignominy.

Hey! what's that on the postcard rack?

Among the fold-out postcards, and the souvenir guidebooks (still with Walt on the cover, four years after his passing), you can just make out the preview guidebook for Walt Disney World!

Here's a better look at the cover; today, we're all accustomed to Disney parks being located all over the globe. But in 1970, Disneyland was IT. The news that a gigantic new Disney World was being built in Florida (with Walt's brother Roy overseeing the project) must have been pretty incredible to fans. It wouldn't open for almost another full year at this point.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Horse Drawn Streetcar, June 1968

One of the many wonderful things about Main Street USA is the presence of a variety of old-fashioned vehicles. Fire engines, Horseless Carriages, the Omnibus, and Surreys (though they are no longer at the park). But the Horse Drawn Streetcars (or "HDC" because I am lazy) are arguably the most famous; internal combustion engines are present on this Main Street, but reliable horses are still around, clip-clopping on the pavement. Hayburners, I calls 'em.

Here's a nice shot of one HDC (the ol' #3) heading down the street. Disneyland's horses always seem so wise and calm! This fellow isn't bothered by the hubbub all around. Looks like that little girl is thinking about hopping on board while the streetcar is in motion.

It's later in the day, but HDC #3 is still out and about, with the same horse as earlier (is he a Clydesdale?)! I think I've read that the horses don't work more than something like 3 hours a day. This is an unusual angle, looking back from in front of the castle towards Tomorrowland. I like the kid with his Donald Duck hat (just like mine!), and his sister behind him with the large shopping bag. What could be in it?

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas!

Feliz Navidad, my homies!

I wasn't really sure what to post today, but finally decided to scan my 1955 Walt Disney Studios Christmas card. The studio has a long history of producing colorful, appealing Christmas cards to send to employees and other lucky recipients. Some of them are quite elaborate, with multiple pages and beautiful illustrations, usually featuring characters from the most recent significant Disney movies.

The studio moved into television in a big way in 1955, and in October, the Mickey Mouse Club debuted, becoming a smash hit - to the point that it was honored by being featured on the cover of the Christmas card. I absolutely love the graphic style of the illustration, with flat areas of color and minimal shading, much like you would see in the Golden Books of the day.

Naturally, the opening of Disneyland in July was a monumental event in the company's history. The card opens up to reveal this wonderful (and unique) map of the park, along with "Santa Mickey", Tinker Bell, and Donald Duck. Some fun details: the bandstand (shown just in front of the Castle), the Phantom Boats in Tomorrowland, little Frontierland Station, and the Flight Circle.

And we couldn't leave out a nod to Davy Crockett, Walt Disney's other television sensation! Jiminy Crickett doffs his coonskin cap while helping a boy fetch a Christmas tree. He was enjoying his renewed fame as the host of various animated segments on the Mickey Mouse Club.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Santa's Village, Lake Arrowhead - October 1961

I have just a few more Santa's Village images for you before the big day tomorrow!

There's one of the famous giant mushrooms. If you eat one you turn into a Matango (that's "mushroom person"), and then you have to buy a whole new wardrobe. A giant Jack-In-The-Box looms menacingly in the background; whoever built the props for Santa's Village did a better-than-average job. So many parks were crude by comparison.

Blurry! BLURRY? Come on! This is my only slide with a view of my favorite Santa's Village attraction, the lovable Bumblebee Monorail, and it's blurry. I can barely type because of the tears in my eyes.

Did you know that the hamburgers at Santa's Village were made from prime cuts of lean reindeer? Delicious and nutritious. And have you ever seen a live reindeer? You just want to eat them.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Knott's Wagons, May 1960

If you're gonna have a western-themed amusement park, there are going to be wagons. And Knott's Berry Farm had a bunch of them!

Here is the huge, strange-looking contraption that was apparently used to haul logs hither and yon. It counts as a wagon, doesn't it? Sure it does (*hands the judge a 20-dollar bill*). They didn't want you to climb on this thing, but provided sturdy ladders so that you could climb next to it, which is mighty neighborly. This wagon is still there, by the way.

This wagon is decaying in a pleasingly picturesque manner. It was abandoned here by frontier teenagers who stole it for a joy ride. They were hopped up on buttermilk and cornbread!

The Wagon Camp was where you would find a circle of authentic-looking conestoga wagons around the rim of a stony amphitheater. Lucky guests who arrived early could sit in one of them to watch the Wagonmasters perform, or to watch square-dancing and jello wrestling. Yeee-HAW!

I will be out of town for the next several days, but never fear, there will be new posts every day. I'll try to check in and respond to comments whenever I can.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Hand-picked Honey, June 1962

There's just one photo today, gang. But it's a fun pic!

Here's a charming and helpful Disneyland Tour Guide, as she recites some facts about Tomorrowland. Another guide is in the background, maybe she was heading to the administration building on the far side of the park (where there were employee lockers, from what I've read). It looks like it was a chilly "June gloom" morning; Tex needs his coffee, even though he is used to sleeping on the prairie during a blizzard. You can just see a bit of the Monsanto House of the Future, not to mention oodles of attraction posters.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

It's An Itty-Bitty World, June 1968

"It's a Small World" was only 2 years old in June of 1968. Most of us have seen it so many times that we forget how unique and amazing the façade of this classic attraction is. But the photographer of today's pictures was blown away, taking many MANY photos. I'll share four of them today, and save the rest for some other day.

Approaching the attraction, one can't help but be impressed, especially back in the days when there weren't additional structures (like the gift shop that is there now, or the parade lights and speakers) to partially block the view. By the way, it's 1968; where are the long-haired hippies? Everyone looks like they stepped out of a Sears catalog.

Closer! Besides the variety of fanciful shapes and twirling gizmos, I love the use of textured areas and relief elements to cast shadows for additional interest. It's funny, the building really feels like a foam-core model that has been enlarged to a massive scale. Everything that you see that appears to be gold is covered in real gold leaf, which will remain gleaming and nice for years.

This shot is very similar to the last, only the mechanical clock with its many dolls is right in the middle of the "show". Every 15 minutes, folks! If there's any kind of line, you will get to see this feature.

As an added bonus, the C.K. Holliday makes an appearance. I like the trash can as well, and how often does anybody say that?

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

New York World's Fair, 1964

Off to the Fair, jiggety-jig...

Here's a lovely panorama, taken from the roof of the Better Living Center. To our left is Pepsi Cola & Unicef's "It's a Small World" (with the Tower of the Four Winds); Beyond that is the Eastman Kodak pavilion. In the middle, with a wavy roof (a bit hard to discern) is the "Sermons From Science" building, and above that is the T-shaped Port Authority building, complete with a helicopter on the roof. On the horizone, the Empire State Building's silhouette is clearly visible!

We've seen it before, but can you ever get tired of the incredible façade of GM's "Futurama"?

Inside the Futurama ride is this scene depicting a series of undersea resort. It looks like (had structures like this been realized) visitors would get to them via some sort of elevator... imagine that experience, descending deeper and deeper into the icy water until you are surrounded by absolute darkness (except, perhaps, for some bioluminescent organisms flitting around). Maybe they could attract the many strange deep-water critters with bright lights; imagine if a giant squid went scooting by, staring at you with eyes the size of dinner plates!

Monday, December 19, 2011

Shack of the Future

I have something new for you... and a repeat!

The new thing is this photo of the Monsanto Plastic Home of the Future, circa 1958. I wonder how well this design would scale up? Would it be structurally sound at twice the size? I love the design, even though it's a bit small. I'm also thinking that there doesn't appear to be much space for storage, unless they worked in some of those clever lockers in the floors and ceilings. Seriously, if I won the lottery (any day now!), I would want to build one of these just because.

And now for the rerun (newly scanned); this nice photo of Vesey Walker and the Disneyland Band gathered 'round the flagpole in Town Square to play a concert. It evokes all kinds of nostalgia. I'm guessing that Vesey was unable to stand for long (he had some health problems), which is why he is seated - and probably why the band is seated too.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Special Souvenir Sunday

Today I have more extra-special souvenir items from Disneyland, courtesy of reader Steve Stuart. If you missed his signed Walt Disney Studios commissary menu, check it out HERE!

This time I'd like to feature two rare items of Steve's from "Holidayland", Disneyland's 9-acre picnic area located in a field to the west of the park. Folks could play baseball, pitch horseshoes, and eat or watch shows inside a huge red and white striped tent. They could even buy beer!

Check out this neat brochure, customized for a Farmer's Insurance Group company picnic on June 14, 1958! Holidayland had opened just under a year earlier.

This is the really fun part - that list of activities! Wow... a gunfight between the Marshall and a villain, Roy Williams (aka "The Big Mooseketeer"), the Gonzalez Trio... how cool is that! Plus a good old fashioned tug-of-war (Home Office men vs. the South West Regional Office men). I love the graphics on this item as well.

Maybe I'm weird, but I think I love this humble name tag even more than the flier! Man, I wish I had one of these. Holidayland closed in 1961 to make room for the show buildings for Pirates of the Caribbean" and the Haunted Mansion.

And as an extra bonus, Steve included this scan of a Casa de Fritos matchbook cover, starring the Frito Kid. "Hey, Klondike! Quit eating those Fritos and send up another bag!".

MANY THANKS to Steve Stuart for sharing these amazing collectibles with us!

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Anything Goes Saturday - Vintage Christmas 2

It's time for some more vintage Christmas fun!

This young lady is showing off her elegant Snow White doll, along with a complete set of rubber dwarfs (presumably by a different manufacturer). Dopey is usually a favorite with kids, and the little boy is definitely a fan. "Footie" pajamas, I wish I had some. Can you believe the size of that TV screen? It must be almost 20 inches!

Here's a bunch of happy kids who have not even started to open presents yet. And they have their work cut out for them! One can only imagine what wonderful toys are in those wrapped packages. I love the cowboy shirts on the girl and boy, with the embroidered pistols and stars, and a tasteful accent of fringe.

This is a common scene on Christmas morning; grandpa is helping a kid put his toys together ("Some assembly required"). In this case it looks like that cement mixer gramps is working on is part of the "Road Building Set" (notice the box under the table). And oh man, there's a pogo stick, and a fire engine (with a hose that probably really squirts water), and a clockwork monkey, checkers, and all sorts of other goodies!

Friday, December 16, 2011

Disneyland Hotel, September 1961

I love today's first photo, featuring the mid-century wonder that was the Disneyland Hotel! It must have been a hot day... three guests take shelter in the shade of what appears to be an orange tree, while gazing towards the hotel. The yellow Monorail is stopped at the hotel's station, and will soon zoom quietly back to Tomorrowland. As always, I dig the old cars! Who can name them all? Not me.

Now we'll beam over to the Skyway, gliding above a beautiful Fantasyland. If we time it just right, our Skyway bucket will reach Tomorrowland at the same time as the Monorail from the previous photo, resulting in a time warp that will destroy the universe.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Calico Mine Train Postcards, Part Five

Here is the final group of postcards celebrating Knott's Berry Farm's legendary Calico Mine Train ride! (Click on these links to see part one, part two, part three, and part four).

All three cards feature what many consider the highlight of the ride, in which the sturdy little mine trains are lifted to the highest level inside the building and into the cavern (or "stalactite room"), where guests hear heavenly organ music while viewing hundreds of colorful stalactites and stalagmites (glowing under ultraviolet light). The trains actually come to a stop so that you can really take it all in!

Disneyland's Rainbow Caverns is long gone, but we still have the Knott's version!

Things looked a bit run-down the last time I saw this; the large fluorescent black light tubes were plainly visible (with no real attempt to hide or disguise them). You could see them leaning vertically against some stalagmites! I can't believe that it was always that way, but can't say for certain. Even so, it managed to still be wonderful.

I hope you have enjoyed this look at the Calico Mine Train - in postcards!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Santa's Village, Lake Arrowhead - October 1961

Ho ho ho, back to Santa's Village we go. I just made that up, and it's fabulous!

Lake Arrowhead, California - we have a confirmed Santa sighting. Here he is, resplendent in his fur-lined red velvet outfit. I need to wear more velvet, dammit. The adorable little girl is wearing glasses with those inserts that were supposed to straighten out slightly crossed eyes ("Amblyopia", like Linus used to have?). Santa doesn't care though, he loves her just the way she is.

That building does not appear to meet local building codes, but at least it has a slide for quick escapes when the thing starts to collapse.

There's that "Dumbo"-style Christmas tree ride again. The ride vehicles were made of razor-thin, hand-blown glass, just like real ornaments. The tree itself looks like it escaped from Rankin-Bass' "Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer".

Beyond the Christmas tree ride, we look towards a cabin with gears on it; Santa's workshop? If so, it is probably full of sweaty elves. Elf sweat is magical and smells like candy canes. They sing in those high, squeaky voices, sort of like Alvin and the Chipmunks, only with a Spanish accent for some reason.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

New York World's Fair

Several buildings at the New York World's Fair provided wonderful elevated views of the excitement that was all around - the Better Living Center, the Eastman Kodak "Moon Roof", and most of all, the observation towers of the New York State pavilion!

Here's a great look at the enormous "Futurama" building (brought to you by General Motors). Some folks have remarked on how the building resembles some sort of futuristic vehicle with the world's biggest tailfin, but I have always assumed that that is merely a coincidence. Notice the long line wrapping around the structure, with some added blue and white shaded areas. For those of you who care, that's Grand Central Parkway cutting through the scene.

Here's a rare interior shot from the "Tower of Light" pavilion (see it at night here). The show involved Reddy Kilowatt and Ben Franklin singing about the wonders of electricity. This particular photo was from a segment that lamented the high cost of living, with these "kilowatt birds" extolling the low cost of electricity.

Looking another direction, we see a group of international pavilions in the foreground.

Here is a handy-dandy guide in case you want to know what you are looking at!