Thursday, March 20, 2014

Two More From Chuck! 1971 & 1976

Today I have two more Disneyland photos from GDB reader Chuck Hansen's personal collection! The pictures are great, but Chuck's recollections make them even better.

"I only have two slides from my first trip to DL, and this is the only one that's in focus. It's still pretty meh. It was taken in probably July of 1971, within a day or two of the Universal slides I sent you earlier. From left to right are my dad's cousin, Jimmy; my mother in another outfit she made herself, me in a gloriously color-coordinated outfit that included by favorite button-up sleeveless shirt, red socks, and brown shoes. my Hansen Grandparents, and two random people, one of whom seems to be practicing the proper posture for that Verizon flip phone she'll have in another 35 years".

"I was two-and-a-half, and I can honestly say this visit changed my life. I still remember specific events from this one-day visit from my low-angle vantage point; the horse-drawn streetcars; watching the DL Band march past a I enjoyed a carton of Carnation milk from the curb next to West Center Street; running all over the Mark Twain by myself and thinking we'd traveled to another part of the Park; lunch at the Magnolia Tree/River Belle Terrace (not sure when in '71 the name actually changed); "Let's All Sing Like the Birdies Sing" in the Tiki Room; watching "Winnie-the-Pooh and the Blustery Day" in the Fantasyland Theater; traveling past a distant castle on a train (which I later realized was Cinderella's Castle from Casey Jr.); standing up in a boat as we plowed through a terrifying gale (Pirates of the Caribbean); being enchanted by It's a Small World; being scared out of my wits by a blacklit, animatronic Captain Hook; and stumbling out of  the park clinging tightly to a Mickey Mouse-shaped balloon. I know the whole family had a marvelous time - so much fun that nobody remembered to take any more pictures".

"Afterwards, I was Disneyland crazy, alerting on every toy or book that was remotely connected to the place. I used to draw maps of how to get there - basically a wavy line of a piece of paper that crossed a bridge at some point, went past some mountains, and ended up at a train station. I can remember climbing to the top of the monkey bars at the base daycare center and straining my eyes over the fence to the south, swearing I could just make it out on the horizon - a highly unlikely occurrence since we lived north of San Francisco. It was a long, LONG four years before we were to return".

"The next picture is a scan of an Instamatic print taken in October of 1976 on the same trip as the other one I sent you of my sister and I in our DL t-shirts. I was almost 8 and in the 2nd grade; my sister was almost 5. We were moving out of California en route to Illinois and my parents treated us to not one but TWO days at Disneyland; it would be 17 years before I would return. This was taken just before my sister tagged me out and really put the smack-down on Goofy. The guy puts on a good show but has a glass jaw".

MANY THANKS to Chuck for sharing his photos and his wonderful memories of early visits to the park. This is the kind of thing that I really love, perhaps because I can identify with his experiences so much. We'll have more photos from Chuck in the future, I'm happy to say.


Melissa said...

Chuck, I enjoyed your description of your trip as much as your pictures! Although I was older than you on my first trip to a Disney park, it was the same sort of mind-altering experience for me, and I've rarely heard it expressed so well. And your Mom was pretty handy with a needle there!

Tom said...

This is great. I can totally identify with becoming Disneyland Crazy and trying to do whatever you could to recapture the magic at home: straining to see it from the monkey bars, drawing maps...

For me I was 6 on our first trip in 1969, and my fondest memory was of the Carousel of Progress. I had to get on that ride because it had a GE logo on top, and I was totally into anything having to do with electricity. Afterwards I bugged my mom all the time about when we could go back. Didn't make it back until 1983.

Thanks for sharing those rare and wonderful pics!

K. Martinez said...

I love this! Thanks for sharing your first Disneyland memories, Chuck. I also remember my first trip to Disneyland in Summer 1963 at the age of 3. It must've made a huge impression on me as I remember it very well. From that point I was "Disneyland Crazy" too. Like you and Tom, I loved reading anything and everything on "The Happiest Place on Earth". and would also draw maps of Disneyland. For me it's been 50+ years of "Disneyland Crazy".

I love the 2nd image with you and your sister visiting Goofy. Those b&w mouse ears you wore are awesome. I remember those from your campground pic. Thanks for sharing. What a great post today. Thanks to you too, Major.

Monkey Cage Kurt said...

Thank you Chuck! I loved reading your recollections of your first day at D-land. It was so reminiscent of my first time, and your writing SO brought me back to that day. THANKS!

Oh and: You’re an intriguing writer too.

Connie Moreno said...

Oh my gosh, that was great!!!! I loved that walk down memory lane!

Chuck said...

Once again, I'm indebted to the Good Major for allowing me to share my photos and memories to an appreciative crowd. It's a lot more fun than cornering dinner guests with my GAF slide viewer and poking them every 7 minutes or so to make sure they don't fall asleep and drool on my transparencies.

I think many of us who haunt this site had some sort of similar experience - bitten young by an Aedes disneyi and afflicted by the resultant fever well into adulthood. It's a testament to Walt and his team that they were able to craft such a thing as Disneyland, a magical place that captured our imaginations and managed to hold onto them long after we realized that much of what we were seeing was really a cleverly-crafted illusion.

And yet, how much of that illusion was backed up by what was real - real in the sense that it spoke to ideas and ideals embedded deep within the American psyche of the latter half of the 20th Century? Maybe that's what makes our experiences so enduring, why they're still so sharp and personally meaningful all these years later - and why we enjoy reliving the reminisces of others with similar experiences. I'm just glad to have found this community that validates my obsess- er, I mean casual interest.

And Melissa - yes - my mom was the bomb when it came to clothesmaking. Not so much with matching my socks and shoes, though...