Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Mystery Park! August, 1963

Today's images were found in a box, unlabeled. I have no idea where this amusement park is! I would hazard a guess and say "somewhere in Florida", but can't even be sure of that. It might be Busch Gardens, in Tampa. With so many smart readers, I'm betting that this mystery will be solved.

Meanwhile, check out this Jungle Cruise-y loading dock. I like the corrugated tin roof of the boat... that's a nice touch. Notice the cushion on the roof, temporarily moved so that folks can disembark.

We also have this very nice stagecoach, the "Butterfield Overland Stage". It must have been a fun, bumpy ride up on top!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Rivers of America, May 1964

I love Frontierland's "Big River"! Or should that be "Rivers"? Even if you are just standing on shore looking at it, the river adds so much to the atmosphere of the place. If only there was still Dixieland music at night on the Mark Twain!

May 1964 would have probably been an awesome time to visit the park. Look at all the people on the rafts to (and from) Tom Sawyer Island... they didn't need no stinking pirates to lure folks over. The Columbia is at rest at Fowler's Harbor, but presumably guests could still go "below deck".

Look at 'em all, packed in like sardines!

Another shot, taken from nearly the same spot (maybe a bit further back) includes the Old Mill and Tom's Treehouse, as well as the Mark Twain.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Santa's Village, New Hampshire

It's not too early to start posting Christmas stuff, is it? Target stores went into full Christmas mode on November 1st, after all. Today we're going to go back the 1950's, and to Santa's Village - this version is in Jefferson, New Hampshire.

As the story goes, in 1950, Norman and Cecile Dubois saw a deer crossing a road, and decided that the North County in New Hampshire would serve as an excellent home to Santa Claus. The park opened on Father's Day, 1953.

I love this photo! If I'm not mistaken, this friendly snowman is still there. In the early years, the park was limited to simple attractions such as pony rides, and performances by a mule. As time went by, more rides (such as a flume ride) and themeing were added.

I wonder if that is Santa's house, with its ice cream end gable and peppermint stick columns? Check out the giant bunny, too!

Here's a closer look. I think this fellow is also still around, though in one recent photo he was wearing a denim engineer's cap. Presumably he is the Easter Bunny himself, in keeping with the Christian holiday theme (apparently there is a duck pond that is somehow a shrine to Jesus). The park is still family-owned - the grandchildren of Normand and Cecile run the place. Which is awesome!

The smiles on the faces of those two girls says it all! They are mighty happy to see old Kris Kringle. I am very glad to know that a charming local park like this still exists in a world where so many others have gone out of business.

I hope you've enjoyed your trip to Santa's Village!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Souvenir Annex

Rather than visiting my souvenir dungeon, we're going to take a trip to my souvenir annex, housed in an abandoned missile silo somewhere in California. It's quite cozy really, and still has lots of machines with blinky lights.

In addition to my Disneyland collectibles, I have a number of side collections. I'm not proud of it, but there you go! Years ago I saw a documentary about the 1939 World's Fair on PBS, and just a few days later, found my first souvenir pin from that fair at the Pasadena City College swap meet. Since then I have acquired quite a variety of pins; they look pretty cool when seen in a group! The photo below shows some (but certainly not all) of my pinback buttons.

As you can see, most of the buttons use the fair's theme buildings, the Trylon and Perisphere, in their designs. But you also have some unusual examples featuring various products and personalities, such as Abbott and Costello at the Midway. "Lucky Teter" (upper right) was the star of the "Hell Drivers" stunt show; Guernsey cows were part of the World of Tomorrow; the little girl in the chef's toque was "Little Miss Junket"... Junket was a rennet product (look it up if you dare) that was apparently popular at the time. A young William Holden appears on the "Golden Boy Day" pinback. "Inbad the Ailer" says it is time for Saraka (a laxative).

The "Where's Elsie?" button refers to Elsie the Cow (supposedly Borden's exhibit opened without their star mascot, and visitors constantly asked where she was. It was a meme, 1939 style)! "American Jubilee" was a massive stage show with scores of dancers and other performers in elaborate costumes and sets, celebrating the history of the U.S. of A. And don't forget the "Anthracite Boosters", for you fans of clean-burning coal!

If you've enjoyed looking at these, I have lots more pins from 1939/40 to share with you!

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Anything Goes Saturday, LA County Fair

Today's "Anything Goes Saturday" takes us back to the L.A. County Fair, circa 1939!

The LACF got it's start in the city of Pomona back in 1922, and it was a big success from the very start. In just two years, attendance was nearly 100,000. Nowadays, it can exceed 1.5 million in less than a month.

In this first photo, we are looking down on a few of the large show buildings. The really long structure with the arched roof is (I believe) what was then "the largest exhibit building in the world", measuring over 800 feet long and 135 feet wide, with a capacity of 16,000. Notice the many acres of groves nearby.

I love this photo with the art deco façade of this exhibit building, looking so very 1930's.

You'd think that a building housing "Industrial Exhibits" would be modern, but somehow they went with this structure that would look at home in California in 1860. Any idea what that flag represents?

And here's another mission-style building; I like to imagine how this place looked when it was bustling with fair goers, eating taffy apples and giant dill pickles and cotton candy, while judging homemade preserves, cattle, or quilts, and enjoying typical carnival rides.

I hope you've enjoyed this trip back to 1939!

Friday, November 25, 2011

On Board! September 1961

Here are a couple of fun "you are there" photos, placing you on two classic Disneyland attractions in 1961!

Check out this wonderful and unusual photo taken aboard one of the Nature's Wonderland Mine Trains as it crosses the trestle bridge. Typically folks took photos looking off to the right, where you would see a group of bears scratchin' and fishin'.

Howsabout a slightly zoomed view? In just a few seconds, the train will pass beneath an "natural arch" bridge (one that pack mules crossed). Extra points earned for the magnificent purple ostrich feather that all hats should have (I propose a 28th amendment to the U.S. Constitution).

In this shot taken from a Matterhorn bobsled, I can practically feel the spray from the glacial waterfalls, and the extreme centrifugal forces as you careen around the edge of the mountain!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Knott's, January 1974

Happy Thanksgiving, homies! I hope that all of you will be enjoying a day full of food and family. I don't have anything Thanksgiving-themed for you today, but I am a jive turkey!

Here are three photos from the Berry Farm, from 1974.

This first picture is interesting to me... I think it was taken in the short-lived and ill-fated "Gypsy Camp" area of Knott's (the distinctive rock work in the background is one hint). And everybody knows that gypsies loved to put on shows involving animals, such as this bear (an escapee from Knott's Beary Tales?); and the elephant, which has those kids entranced! Have I mentioned that I love elephants? Amazing animals.

Now for a view from Fiesta Village, with a charming bridge and a sparkling fountain.

And finally, you know it, you love it, it's the Wackiest Fire Engine in Town! I'm going to make a movie about it - the fire crew will be chimpanzees, and Kurt Russell and his pals from Medfield College will be involved somehow.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Entrance, May 1964

It looks like May 1964 would have been a good time to go to Disneyland, judging from the lack of people at the ticket booths. Although Jason's Disneyland Almanac does tell me that May 28th had an attendance of over 28,000 guests, while May 24th only had a recorded attendance of 3,962 (and it was a warm, beautiful day on May 24). What a difference 4 days makes! See what you can learn from Jason's book? Notice the helpful tour guide chatting up the visitors out front.

How much would you have had to shell out for your day at the park? Well, parking was probably somewhere around 25 cents. And adults could get the "Deluxe 15 Ticket Book" for a $4.95 - which seems so cheap, but that would be around $36.00 today, adjusting for inflation. I guess that would seem rather pricey to a dad paying for his family of four!

I think this photo was taken on May 24th. Look at the lonely cast member to the right!

I will be out of town for a few days, so it might take me a while to be able to respond to any comments. But there will be new posts, and I look forward to hearing from you!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

World's Fair Fun

Here's another group of photos from the New York World's Fair!

The Belgian Village was one of the more frequently-photographed landmarks at the Fair, and it's easy to see why. It was big, and had lots of wonderfully detailed architecture that was probably unlike anything else most visitors had seen in person. Plus there were those waffles with the whipped cream and strawberries! I love this unusual view showing the meandering, uneven, cobblestone streets. Is that a light dusting of a snow I see? There are a lot of overcoats, so it was obviously cold on this October day.

The Century Grill was not exactly pleasing to the eye; but I am happy to have this photo, mostly because it is something different. There had been a Century Grill at the 1939 World's Fair as well. The menu included burgers, as well as side dishes from around the world.

Avis sponsored the Antique Auto ride; guests could putter around at 6 mph in miniature flivvers, as though on a picturesque drive through the country (try to ignore the soaring Ford and GM buildings nearby!). I admit that this photo is pretty "meh"!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Dumbo & Toad, April 29 1956

Fantasyland is the most "Disney" of all the lands (as many folks have pointed out), and it's hard not to feel warm fuzzies when looking at some old photos of the place.

The picture below is unusual. Not great, but unusual. King Arthur's Carrousel is to our left, Dumbo's Flying Elephants and the Pirate Ship are in the background, and a couple of families are gathered at the table - time for lunch! - with a tiny orange tree nearby. If Charlie Brown had an orange tree, it would look like that. Notice the lady, seated to our right in the pale yellow dress, with the Mamie Eisenhower hairdo! Mamie's husband Dwight was our President at the time, y'know.

This slightly-askew view shows the façade of Mr. Toad's Wild Ride (I am so glad that we still have our Toad!), while a small crowd of spiffy guests watch the teacups go 'round and 'round to the right.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Streetcar & Castle, June 1963

I've got two snoriffic pictures for you today!

Southern California's "June gloom" is in evidence, with the sun casting a diffused light through the thick marine layer. Even the horse pulling the streetcar looks glum! The dude in the foreground has his souvenir guidebook in hand - don't get it all fingerprinty!

It's as if it was an official "No Kids Day"! The baby in the stroller (previous pic) is the only young child to be seen. A bunch of old-timers enjoy a moment in front of the castle; I like being able to see the carrousel through the arch... it's not quite so visible these days, having been pushed back in 1983.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Anything Goes Saturday - Florida Parade 1955

Welcome to another "Anything Goes" Saturday! Today I am featuring 3 images from the "Festival of States" parade in St. Petersburg, Florida (circa 1955). Some of you might live in chilly climates, and these bright, sunshiny photos will warm you up.

The parade debuted in 1896, and was originally called the George Washington Birthday Parade. In 1921 the name was changed to the Festival of States; St. Petersburg wanted to capitalize on its purported average of 360 days of sunshine each year, and lure frozen tourists from up north.

I love this first float, sponsored by Borden's, in the shape of a red and blue toy train. There's Elmer (you know, "Elmer's glue"?) sitting on the tender of the locomotive. Various costumed cuties lounge on giant Borden's products, including ice cream and milk. "Elsie the Cow" was (and still is) Borden's famous mascot, and I can only assume that she was back in the caboose, possibly accompanied by her calves Beulah and Beauregard!

Old Jack Frost can blow as hard as he wants, but he can't overcome the awesome warming power of natural gas! Pretty girls in bathing suits are the perfect touch for any parade float, if you ask me.

Is that an anthropomorphic orange driving that speedboat, or is it Mr. Sun himself? Either way, I like his style - I definitely need to start wearing a skipper's cap wherever I go. And I'll demand that people salute me (and call me "Cap'n")! The back part of the float features a bridge, with the words, "Spans Across The Bay"; I can't find a bridge in the St. Pete/Tampa area that looks like that one... if anyone has any info, chime in!

The "Festival of States" parade has fallen on hard times in recent years, with declining attendance. It was cancelled completely in 2010 due to the high cost and bad economy. But I believe it was back this year! Hopefully this slice of Americana can find a way to continue for a long, long time.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Flight Circle, June 1960

I have a cool photo for you today - from the Tomorrowland "Flight Circle", where crowds could watch young men demonstrate the wonders of tiny aircraft, automobiles, and boats, all brought to you by the Cox Manufacturing Company (Cox was a sponsor of the Flight Circle from 1958 to 1965 when it was removed to make way for the "New Tomorrowland").

I showed this image to reader and former Flight Circle cast member CoxPilot, and here's what he had to say:

...that is me down preparing to start the Prop Rod, a very good seller for the Cox company... We had eight cars going at the same time (4 prop rods and 4 Mercedes).

The guy standing is Clarence Keith Palmer (went by Keith). He was my best friend in High School and got me the job at the Circle. We had others (Don Hatcher: supervisor, then Keith was supervisor, then me. Bart Klapinski and George Molitor, and a host of part-timers that came and went. I really don't remember the names.)

Keith went on to the sales department at Cox (Santa Ana) early summer of '65 and left me to supervise with Bart. George Molitor worked with me at the Pomona Fair, but left the company, Don Hatcher ran the service and repair department at Cox. And when the Circle closed in Sept of '65, I went into the Graphics Department at Cox as an illustrator. Bart stayed at Disneyland in Hobbyland, and then worked his way up in Marketing to supervisor at the Main Street Emporium. He later left after 15 years to work for Bell Telephone.

So... very cool to have a pretty decent photo of CoxPilot and his pal Keith!

Here's a second image... blurry and chain-linky.

A while back I bought a small group of Disneyland paper items on ebay, and this fold-out brochure for "Thimble Drome" products was among them. The address ("Disneyland, Inc - Department H...") was pre-printed, so it must have been picked up at the park; possibly at the old "Hobbyland" in Tomorrowland? Just look at all those teeny-tiny engines!

To the right you can see a "Prop Rod", just like the one that CoxPilot is demonstrating in the first photo. I know I would have coveted all of these items when I was a kid!

Thanks to CoxPilot for his help with today's post.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

A Pair From the 50's

Here are a couple of orphaned 35mm slides, both from the 1950's. They were found in boxes of random slides, and were the only Disneyland images in each box! Whuffo? Perhaps the boxes had already been picked over, and these had been overlooked.

So... Main Street Station (complete with "Santa Fe" sign), a train, the Kalamazoo handcar, and the Mickey Mouse floral portrait; not bad for a lonely li'l photo!

This one was really dark, and I've lightened up quite a bit. Families congregate on the bridge over the moat into Sleeping Beauty Castle... when you look at old photos of Disneyland, so many of them are surprisingly light on children. Not this one! The street sweeper in white (can those rolled up sleeves be part of the "Disney look"?) tries to hide behind the flagpole because he's shy.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Knott's Ghost Town, May 1960

Here are three nice photos from Knott's Berry Farm's fabulous Ghost Town. It really feels like a ghost town, there is nobody there!

The long shadows and bright blue sky indicate that these were taken in the morning, which explains the lack of crowds. A derelict wagon sits mouldering in front of some sort of mining relic (that handily doubles as a streetlight). The building with the peaked roof is the Grist Mill. If you looked through those windows near that grindstone, would you see one of the Ghost Town's famous "peek ins"?

Looking toward the Blacksmith's shop, you can see the bench where Whisky Bill and Handsome Brady spent their days (and nights!). I remember watching a real blacksmith hammering red-hot metal inside the blacksmith's when I was a kid - presumably for the various mules and horses used throughout the park. Hey look, a living human being is just ducking around the corner! Or is it.... A GHOST!

There's a restaurant, and then print shop, and (my favorite), Goldie's! If you don't know what Goldie's was, don't ask. Nearby is the Town Jail, where Sad Eye Joe could be found, forever mournful in his cell. Oh man, if only I could go back and visit the Knott's from this era!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Rejects - Unrejected!

Hello, space cadets! Yesterday, I shared some leftover images from Disneyland. Today I have some different leftuggies that have nothing to do with Disneyland. Regular readers know that for the past few months, saturdays have become "Anything Goes Saturdays", where you never can tell what you're going to see on Gorillas Don't Blog. Back in June I shared a great photo from Reno, Nevada; and both of today's pictures were scanned at the same time. They just didn't really measure up to my high standards ("high standards", har-dee-har-har!).But in the name of laziness, you're going to see them today.

Here's a shot looking toward the famous Nevada Club - one of the first casinos built in Nevada (1946!). It was also one of the first casinos to come up with the bright idea of adding a restaurant. Feed those gamblers, keep 'em happy! The club was famous for paying off slot machine jackpots in coins (in a special paper bag); chances are, most of those coins went right back into the slots. After a number of lean years, the Nevada Club closed suddenly in December 1997, and was torn down (along with Harold's Club next door) in 1999. Nowadays the space is an open plaza, part of Harrah's.

This very dark photo was taken inside a casino - which one?! - and I included it because of those awesome showgirl-shaped slot machines! If anybody knows where this was, please comment.

I hope you've enjoyed these photos from The Biggest Little City in the World!

Monday, November 14, 2011


Today's photos may be "leftuggies" (leftovers to you earthlings), but they are choice leftuggies.

How about this 1961 image of the blue 4-car Monorail as it returns from a stop at the Disneyland Hotel? It looks awesome, in my opinion. Flanking the track is the berm, through which a large tunnel has been dug (and lined with corrugated metal). I believe that various service vehicles could enter the park through that tunnel, but please correct me if I'm wrong. Notice the row of rose bushes, planted to take some of the "Folsom Prison" quality away from that chain link fence.

And hey, even this second picture is a doozie! It was awfully dark, and I may have over-lightened it, but oh well. I'm hoping that Matterhorn1959 finds that license plate for his collection. I love most of the Autopia vehicle designs, but there is just something classic about these original cars that can't be beat.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Two From Frontierland, September 1961

Well, whadaya know, a picture of the Mark Twain! I'll bet you didn't expect one of those. I can't decide if I'd rather be up on the top deck, or on the lower deck way out in front. Can you see the big horned sheep on Cascade Peak? He's hard to spot, but he's there. Waiting. Always waiting.

Here's an unusual angle; presumably the seating area to our right is in front of the Swift Plantation House (bock bock bock!). I can only assume that the photo was taken from atop a Keelboat, but perhaps not. Any ideas? Oh, and there's that camera-hog the Mark Twain again.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Anything Goes Saturday - Times Square part 2

Today's "Anything Goes Saturday" takes us back to New York City, along 7th avenue at 44th street. This is sort of a followup to a post from July...

Anyway, there's lots of fun details here. The Paramount Theater is showing "The Sound and the Fury", starring Yul Brynner and Joanne Woodward. To our right you can see the famous billboard for Camel cigarettes; a puff of smoke wafts from the mouth of the guy with the goggles. This billboard was there for years, and the image of the smoker changed occasionally - he's been a soldier, a pilot, a radio announcer, and so on.

Beyond that is a building that sold Bond clothing for years (at least since the 30's). On top is an enormous advertisement for Pepsi Cola (love that old-fashioned logo). There's a Woolworth's, and the little theater out front is showing Walt Disney's "Sleeping Beauty". I also get a kick out of the swarm of people, and the taxis, all showing the hustle and bustle of NYC.

Using Google Maps, I tried to capture the same view. This is as close as I could get! Plenty of construction is going on, which is almost always the case in the city. It's still and exciting place to visit, but lacks so much of the charm that was evident in 1959.