Saturday, October 31, 2015

San Francisco, 1943

I had some old color slides of San Francisco already scanned, so that's what is on the menu today. 1943... there was nothing historically significant going on then. Well, George Harrison was born that year, but other than that... zilch.

Almost every group of photos from Sam Frank's Disco includes a few from Chinatown; I like this colorful shot of a woman point in front of "Pacific Importers", adorned with paper lanterns. I'm sure it looked great at night. In the window, western-style mannequins (probably all that was available) wear the latest (?) fashions from Asia.

This photo appears to have been taken at a farmer's market, or something like that. Maybe this is Fisherman's Wharf? Anyway, I love the little "reading room" just for children, who presumably were supplied with copies of "Classics Illustrated" comics - famous tales such as "Robin Hood", "Huckleberry Finn", "Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde", "Robinson Crusoe", and more - in easy-to-read comic book format! I wish we could see what those girls were reading.

And lastly, we have a giraffe's-eye view of Market Street (near Powell), where one of the famous cable cars is being manually rotated in its turntable. In spite of the dark shadows, you can still see some awesome cars!

Friday, October 30, 2015

Tom Sawyer Island & Stockade, 1956

Here are two neat photos from Frontierland, circa 1956! 

Let's start with this view of an unfinished Tom Sawyer Island; the Island opened to the public on June 16, 1956, so I would imagine that this was at least two or three months before that. Notice the crude wooden bridge over the mill stream (though there is no stream yet). The mill itself already looks like it has been there for 100 years.  I wonder how they aged the wood so convincingly? Tachyons?

Zooming in on the western shore of the island, we can see plenty of lumber and construction going on. In the water there is what appears to be an unfinished raft, possibly being used to ferry supplies over from the mainland. In the distance, I believe that we can see Fort Wilderness underneath lots of scaffolding. Does anybody have an idea what that large ramp into the water was for?

Also, look at the shore in the distance, it's a mess!

You can see some workers, possibly preparing to work on the pipes for the water that would turn the mill's wheel. To the right are the unfinished steps that would lead up to Tom's Treehouse.

Meanwhile, over at the entrance to Frontierland, we see moms, dads, and kids heading into the 19th century. I love the clothes. The Mark Twain can just be discerned through the haze.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

More Classic GDB Pix!

Here's an oldie but a goodie, originally posted in 2007. What a wonderful (undated) shot of this corner of Tomorrowland! So clear and colorful, even on this hazy day. I'll never stop being amazed at the undeveloped state of the land that was adjacent to Disneyland. If you look closely, you can see a  raised, striped railroad crossing gate (near the Space Bar sign). 

Oh, those lucky ducks, riding the Skyway; the colors used on the buckets evolved over the years, and I love these then-fashionable hues.

I also wanted to zoom in on the load area for the Autopia; the girl with the red skirt is artfully framed by the Skyway tower.

There's a whole bunch of attraction posters, along with the queue for the Autopia and a bit of the Skyway ticket booth. I like the alternating orange and yellow colors of the food and drink dispensers (part of the Space Bar). Does anybody know if those were completely machine-operated? Or was it more like an Automat, with Oompa Loompas hidden behind the scenes?

Right near the Skyway stairs, you can see a wall with a bold black, yellow and white "hourglass" pattern...

... which, as you can see, was near the entrance to the rest rooms.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Vintage Magic Mountain Postcards

Here is the tenth installment on GDB featuring the vintage postcards of Ken Martinez. We are back at Magic Mountain in Valencia, California. Here's Ken:

The White-Knucklers of pre-Six Flags Magic Mountain

Today's post features the early roller coasters of the pre-Six Flags era of Magic Mountain.

Magic Mountain's first roller coaster (The Gold Rusher) opened with the park in 1971. The tubular tracked Arrow Development mine train coaster was built incorporating the terrain of Magic Mountain into its design. No matter how mild this coaster is in the thrills department, I hope it's never removed from the park. From a historical perspective, it's Magic Mountain's first roller coaster. It's also a great "family" ride. Note the Metro Monorail and Skytower in the background.

The Mountain Express, which opened in 1973, was a basic Schwarzkopf Wildcat portable coaster model found at one time in other amusement parks like Cedar Point, Worlds of Fun, and Valleyfair!. Not the Asian motif which was also carried through elsewhere in the park wit the Dragon Cars and the Shangri-la area. The Asian theme would be used again later at Six Flags Magic Mountain with the Samurai Summit area and the Ninja and Tatsu coasters.

The Revolution. which opened in 1976, was the first Intamin 360-loop coaster built in the United States. It was also one of the main set pieces in the film "Rollercoaster" with George Segal (1977). It opened as "The Great American Revolution" for the nation's bicentennial and then later was renamed "La Revolucion" to match the Baja Ridge theme before eventually settling into the simpler name "Revolution". Whatever it was called, it was a great ride.

Colossus was a big media event when it opened in 1978. I remember even up here in Northern California hearing about it and seeing it on television when it opened. In this postcard, I'm pretty sure this is the coaster's earliest incarnation with the hills intact and no flattening of the hills yet. Now it has become a completely new coaster, "Twisted Colossus".

Those were the original white-knucklers of Magic Mountain in their original form before Six Flags arrived with its many mega-thrills. I feel fortunate that I was able to experience both the Revolution and Colossus in their original glory before being modified and reprofiled.

Note: At the time of this writing news broke out that the park will be renovating and restoring the classic Revolution coaster for the 2016 season with all new trains and an improved ride experience. Part of this will include the removal of the highly criticized over-the-shoulder restraints and a return to the red-white-and-blue paint scheme with a giant silver eagle hood ornament on the front of the all-new trains.

Information Source Material:
The Great American Amusement Park copyright 1976 by Gary Kyriazi
Funland U.S.A. copyright 1978 by Tim Onosko
Roller Coaster Database

Major Pepperidge again... I remember these early days of Magic Mountain, a place that was so exciting to me. I recently rode the Gold Rusher and loved it just as much as I used to. I'm also happy that I was able to ride the Colossus just before its closure for its transformation into "Twisted Colossus". THANKS to Ken Martinez for his awesome post!

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

A Pair From August, 1970

Here are two nice images from 1970, starting with this shot of a Horse Drawn Streetcar (two actually... the other is passing in the opposite direction). Everything is casting long shadows at 9:41 in the morning. Kodak and Timex seem like old friends, thanks to their Main Street association. I find it interesting that the popcorn lights around the China Closet sign are lit in spite of the bright daylight. Are any fire hydrants still as visible as the example in this photo? For all I know I have walked right past them without noticing.

Our photographer was standing near the Plaza Inn, looking toward the Castle, with the entrance to Tomorrowland to our right. There are Rolly Crump's swirly flowerbeds, looking so bright and cheerful. This area is very spacious and open; it makes me want to stroll right into the future!

Monday, October 26, 2015

Outside Merlin's Magic Shop, August 1968

Walking through the arch of Sleeping Beauty Castle, you would find yourself in a courtyard with nicely-detailed buildings on either side of you. I loved the stylized, budget-conscious façades elsewhere in Fantasyland, but the fairy tale look of Tinker Bell's Toyshop (which would be behind us) and Merlin's Magic Shop (that's it, right in front of us!) are pretty great.

SO... Merlin's magic shop was quite a place. Not only could you buy magician's paraphernalia, you could also watch close-up magic tricks performed by the cast members in the store. As I have mentioned before, I coveted all of the Don Post rubber monster masks on display, and might have wished for some of the Adams products (joy buzzers, fake barf, ice cubes with flies, etc) too.

The park was busy on this sunny August day; notice the square Skyway buckets, and the cloth shades draped across parts of Fantasyland in an attempt to spare guests some of the direct sunlight. The orange sweater and yellow-green shirt are so late1960's!

After I initially wrote this post, I wondered if it would be possible to merge both of today's photos into a single image. Without much hope, I did the Photoshop "photo merge" thing, and in a matter of seconds, got a surprisingly great result! I could have cropped off the black shape in the upper right, but didn't want to lose all of the detail at the top of the photo. 

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Two Unrejected Slides, 1957

Sunday is a good day to share some photos that might not be the cream of the crop; so today I am sharing some previously-rejected slides that have now been UN-rejected. 

Let's start with this late-afternoon shot of Casey Jr. chugging his way through Storybook Land. This one was a bit blurry, but Photoshop's "Smart Sharpen" filter did a surprisingly good job. Much like photos of Knott's Berry Farm, I like the towering eucalyptus trees in the background; these certainly pre-date Disneyland by many years. Are there any left today? The kid in the lower right sports a souvenir pirate hat (possibly embroidered with his name), while the kid to the right wears a yellow Keppy Kap.

"Smart Sharpen" didn't do so much for this one, but I still love the sunny, tranquil view of the old riverfront bandstand, the Mark Twain, and Tom Sawyer Island. Even details like the fencing and the rose bushes make me smile.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Vintage Cars

I am not feeling super inspired today, so I thought I would share a couple of vintage photos of people posing with their automobiles. 

Here we are in sunny Palm Springs (named after Sir Albert Springs, yo) in February, 1953. I generally try to avoid places that are very hot, but this place looks pretty charming. In the background is a "Date and Gift Shop"; I wonder if they sold date shakes? I've never had one, but they sure sound good.

 The smiling lady is proud of her brand-new Chevrolet Bel-Air, and who can blame her? The color is a little weird in this photo, but I am assuming that the car is actually a nice soft baby blue, perhaps with a touch of aqua for that 50's flavor.

This slide was hand-dated "July 20, 1954", and labeled, "On the way to the Deckers, fishing". I hope they were biting! The fish, not the Deckers. I love the neat and tidy little houses and yards. Their cool red car might be a 1949 bullet-nosed Ford custom convertible. With white walls! What a beauty, and probably very modern-looking in 1949.

Friday, October 23, 2015

Rescan Theater

I'm still in the process of rescanning some old red/pink slides in the hopes that a new scanner and improved Photoshop skills will yield better results. Sometimes the improvement is not very noticeable (I'm not sure if I will even bother to post those), but I have also had some that turned out very nice!

Some of you may remember this photo of the Astro Jets from 1959 (originally posted in September, 2006). It's not terrible, but there is still a lot of magenta remaining, and everything looks generally kind of murky and dark.

Here is the rescan & restoration. I think it looks a lot better! The sky is actually blue, and the shadows haven't gone so black. I was very happy with the way this one looks.

Here's another one (from 1961 - originally posted August, 2007) that looks like it was taken on the smoggiest day ever. There's just a lot of yellow and brownish yuck all over.

And here's take two. It's still a little bit funky in places, but I think it's a big improvement. Once again we have the Astro Jets, along with the Flight Circle, the Rocket to the Moon, and in the distance, some yellow and white construction walls for the Flying Saucers, which would open in August of 1961.

Are you guys enjoying seeing these? Or are they a snooze? Let me know!

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Saguaros and Rock Formations, March 13 1958

I'm almost down to the last few images from a bunch from March 13, 1958. Many of them were beauties, and that includes today's examples.

Howsabout this striking view of the "Saguaro Cactus Forest" portion of the Rainbow Desert. You don't see too many photos of this feature, and the this one is very nice. We even get a stack of tumbling boulders thrown in for no additional cost. Were all of the cacti really artificial? 

Here's another nice one, with those strange rock formations - notice the Indian pueblos precariously perched (!) on top of that butte, and even atop one wobbling stone. The bright sunlight against that dramatic, stormy sky is really striking. John Ford should have filmed all of his movies here instead of that lame Monument Valley.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Last Photos from Huck

Well, GDB readers, it had to end sometime; today I am presenting the last of a fantastic bunch of Huck Caton's personal photos (circa 1979).

This first one was taken in the AT&T break room, and shows Huck's then-girlfriend Diane (second from the right) and other Bell employees, waiting (as Huck says) " ER / go home". He says that ER either stood for "Employee Request" (according the Disney), or "Early Release" (according to everyone who has ever worked at the park since day one). Two of the girls are holding their time cards.

Huck explains: "If the (attendance) estimate was 50K for the day but it turned out to only be 14K, you might have been asked if you wanted to ER at lunch. Or, if you wanted to go home because you had a hot date you could ask to ER as soon as possible".''

This break room doesn't look glamorous, but it has a certain homey feeling.

Next is another photo of Diane and two pals in the AT&T break room.

Huck says  this one shows, "One of the older gals making coffee in the Circle-Vision 360º break room. Groups came and went in yearly shifts but not everyone started (or finished) at the same time. Some Bell people were there when Diane started but their year ran out a month or two into Diane's stint. This woman wasn't part of Diane's gang... but she was pretty hilarious, as I recall!".

And finally, "Cheryl tries to get some paperwork done (while wearing a Mickey Mouse watch that AT&T gave all of the Bell people to wear [and keep] in the 'office' portion of the Circle-Vision break area". 

Work that hole punch, Cheryl! I have a binder waiting to be filled.

Once again, I would like to THANK Huck for sharing these wonderful glimpses into a part of the Disneyland employee experience that most of us never had a chance to enjoy. If only I had lived close enough to the park when I was at an age to take a post-high school job; but - no such luck. But all of Huck's photos, from the canoe races to the group photos, really give us a taste of what it was like in that more golden time.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Main Street, 1970

Here are two more slides that, as far as I can tell, were never posted before, even though their brethren were scanned and shared long ago. 

The park must have just opened its gates; look at those long shadows coming from the east. And look at all that red, white and blue, all the way up the street! Empty chairs surround the flagpole, waiting for the Disneyland Band to come by and perform, while a gardener gets in some last-minute watering. I don't see a thing for the sweeper to sweep, but he's going to sweep it anyway. Otherwise his life would have no meaning.

We've moved up the street a bit, just past Town Square, with the Main Street Cinema on our right. The Tobacco Store Indian can just be seen, as well as the "GAF" logo (goodbye, Kodak).  It's too bad that GAF film was prone to fading (the initials stood for Generally Awful Film). 

Don't you think it's funny that they have to print the word "PUSH" on the trash cans, in case somebody doesn't know how they work? "I know trash goes in here somehow, but by golly, I can't figure this thing out".

Monday, October 19, 2015

Color Snapshots, September 1971

I've scanned another batch of vintage color snapshots; these date from September, 1971. Disneyland had just welcomed its 100 millionth guest two month earlier. I was the 100,000,001st guest, and I would have been the 100 millionth, but I stopped to tie my shoe. Which is why I never wear shoes anymore. I may share the story of why I don't wear pants, but that will have to wait for another day.

I like this neat shot of the Carnation ice cream parlor on the corner of West Center Street; the milk truck is sitting nearby. Tiny children were working the delivery route that day. Ah, the good old days, when you could use child labor. Thanks for nothin', do-gooders! 

Next door is the Sunkist Citrus House, where you could get a glass of OJ or a lemonade popsicle. I suggested that they should serve cups of lukewarm gravy, but they wouldn't listen.

You hardly ever see cops playing saxophones in real life. Maybe if we gave policemen saxophones, ukeleles, kazoos, and banjos, there would be less strife in the world. Lookit that itty-bitty sax (probably a "sopranino"). It's adorable, and is probably made of candy. Well, I guess I'm going to go into the Emporium and see what's for sale. Laters!

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Skyway Views, 1957

Among my previously-rejected slides were these two views taken from the Skyway in 1957. They had turned a wretched shade of pink, and (at the time) I had deemed them to be boring. But now that they don't look so unpleasant, I find them pretty interesting!

SO... we are just leaving Tomorrowland behind, and are entering Fantasyland (with Snow Hill to our right, looking very bulldozed for some reason). In the lower left we see trees crated up, and a dirt clearing where construction for the Monsanto Home of the Future has begun. 

Now we're a bit closer to the buildings that housed some of Fantasyland's dark rides, with more evidence of earth-moving in the lower left corner of the picture. Why not inhale and get a lungful of that extra-chunky SoCal smog? Optimists like to call it a "marine layer".

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Greenfield Village, 1954

Today I have three photos from Greenfield Village, in Dearborn, Michigan. Greenfield Village is part of a large indoor/outdoor museum complex known as "The Henry Ford", dedicated to preserving important relics from American History. The museum started when Henry Ford himself had amassed an impressive collection of artifacts, including such oddities as a glass tube that purportedly contains Thomas Edison's last breath, a 1950's Oscar Mayer "Weinermobile", Buckminster Fuller's prototype "Dymaxion House", The Lincoln Continental that John F. Kennedy was riding in when he was assassinated, and SO MUCH MORE. I need to go there someday!

Greenfield Village itself is the "outdoor" part of the complex, looking very much like a bucolic small town from the early part of the 20th century; it includes structures like the Wright Brother's bicycle shop (moved to Michigan brick by brick), Henry Ford's birthplace, Noah Webster's home, and more.

This first photo shows a family point in an old flivver of some sort (a Ford, mayhaps?) There's something about the flat landscape and the green trees that remind me of my grandparent's home in southern Minnesota. The girl in yellow is having the time of her life.

This photo shows a store with the name "Elias A. Brown" painted over the doorway; apparently this was the first structure to actually be built (originally from Waterford, MI, circa 1854) in Greenfield Village. Who was Elias Brown? I had no idea, but there is an interesting story about how his name found its way onto this building, and how it was eventually removed. Read all about it HERE.

Meanwhile, the horse-drawn wagon has a very "Disneyland" vibe to it; apparently Walt and his boys visited the Village during their tour of many museums, amusement parks, and other attractions, while researching ways to design the park in Anaheim.

Instead of Disneyland, maybe this is more "early Mayberry". While I'm sure the Village is still a wonderful place to go, I sure wish I could go back and see it the way it was 60 years ago.

I hope you have enjoyed your visit to Greenfield Village! I have more slides, if I can find them (they have been misplaced in my recent move).

Friday, October 16, 2015

Wonderful Main Street U.S.A., 1957

Today I have two really nice photos of Main Street, plus a few details - I think you're going to like them!

We'll start with this great picture of the Horse Drawn Streetcar, clippety-clopping toward us as it passes the Kodak Camera Center, the Timex Clock Shop, and the China Closet. Which is very handy, because it just so happens that I need a roll of film, a Mickey Mouse watch, and 2 porcelain thingamabobs.

It's 2:32 in the afternoon, and Main Street looks awesomely uncrowded on this beautiful sunny day. I love those streetcars, and hope that someday they will be Star Wars-themed.Tauntaun-Drawn Streetcars, perhaps. 

I love to look at the people. Parson Magurk is thinking about going into the Silhouette Studio, while lots of folks relax on the front porch of the China Closet.

Here's another neat photo - a very unusual angle taken near the Red Wagon Inn looking past the INA Carefree Corner (to our left) and toward the Coca Cola Refreshment Corner. That Coke building is so awesome!

The sandwich board points guests in the direction of the First Aid and "Lost Children" locations, and to the Main Street Art Colony. Artists at work! Please do not feed them. Please tell them all about your aunt, the painter. In the background you can just see part of the "Cole of California" storefront. Go buy a bathing suit, why don'tcha?

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Special Guest Post - Kings Island Postcards!

Today I am proud to present part NINE of Ken Martinez's scans of his vintage postcard collection! This time Kings Island in Ohio is the star of the show.

Here's Ken:

After Coney Island There Was Kings Island

Kings Island was opened in 1972 by Coney Island's last owners, Taft Broadcasting. Many of the attractions from the closed Coney Island were moved to the new theme park. The park featured six theme areas: International Street, Oktoberfest, Animal Safari, Coney Island, Rivertown, and Happyland of Hanna-Barbera. Kings Island was also featured in the Season 5 episode of The Brady Bunch, titled "The Cincinnati Kids".

The first theme area upon entering Kings Island is International Street, which features the Royal Fountain and the 300 foot-tall Sherwin-Williams Eiffel Tower built by Intamin (International Amusement Installations).

Here's a nice aerial of the park featuring the antique car ride, part of the Racer coaster, and Haley's Comet (Round Up).

The Racer coaster, which opened with the park in 1972, is significant in that it's often been credited with starting the coaster renaissance of the 1970's. The twin racing wooden roller coaster was built by PTC and designed by John C. Allen who would create three other theme park wood coaster classics in the following years; The Great American Scream Machine (1973) in Six Flags Over Georgia, Rebel Yell (1975) in Kings Dominion, and the Screamin' Eagle (1976) in Six Flags Over Mid-America (St. Louis).

The Happyland of Hanna-Barbera area was the children's section of the park. I love the character overlay here, but still haven't figured out which Hanna-Barbera character the wolf's supposed to be.

(Note from Major Pepperidge: I think it is Hokey Wolf, though it isn't a good likeness)

Another coaster renaissance classic, The Beast would remain the park headliner for years to come (this is a teaser in back of a pictorial souvenir booklet).

Here's a classic photo view of The Beast with riders heading into the first drop and the second lift leading into the covered helix finale.

Kings Island has had various owners throughout its history, including Taft, KECO, Paramount and now Cedar Fair. The park always has and continues to be a place known for its innovative coasters. I hope you enjoyed today's post.

Information Source Material: 
The Great American Amusement Park, copyright 1976 by Gary Kyriazi
Funland U.S.A. copyright 1978 by Tim Onosko