Tuesday, May 31, 2016

P.O.P. Ephemera

It's time once again to delve into my boxes full of stuff. In this installment I'm concentrating on Pacific Ocean Park (that's "P.O.P." to its friends), the Santa Monica amusement park that was only around from 1958 to 1967.

First up is this neat park pass; it's sort of gold-colored, maybe it was a "gold pass", who knows. Anyway, with that aqua and gold seahorse graphic it looks classy as heck! With my monocle and long cigarette holder I'm going to be treated with some respect

Sometimes I like to pretend that I worked at P.O.P... I wear a straw hat (don't ask) and make up a title like "Cotton Candy Technician" or "Electro Polisher", and then I send myself a blank paycheck. 

Help me.

With the possible exception of postcards, there are not many easy-to-find items from P.O.P... this brochure is definitely scarce. It's from 1960, which is why that seahorse is wearing harlequin boots.

Inside is this fabulous map of the place. Wow! Somehow my family never made it there, though I would have been very young even when it closed, but I sure wish I had been able to enjoy the wonders of such attractions as the "Deepest Deep", the U.S. Rubber "Banana Train" ride, the "Safari Ride", the "Flight to Mars", and "Neptune's Kingdom", to name but a few.

It is astonishing to go to Santa Monica's beach only to find that there is not a trace of P.O.P. left. It's all gone... there's not even a plaque to commemorate it. 

If these items have piqued your interest, I'd recommend reading Chris Merritt and Dominic Priore's great book, "Pacific Ocean Park: The Rise and Fall of Los Angeles' Space Age Nautical Pleasure Pier"!

I have more P.O.P. stuff to come.


Nanook said...


What a place it was-! I still have fond memories of The Magic Carpet ride, suspended from above, ala Disneyland's Peer Pan's Flight. Not to mention the infamous Flight to Mars - clearly not allowing Disneyland to get the upper hand by taking its guests merely to 'the moon'-!

But long-lasting success was not to be, as POP had to fight the losing battle of diminishing attendance, civic leaders who had 'other plans' for the area, and the damaging affects of the salt air and "deferred" maintenance, which literally ate areas of the park alive as many parts of it disintegrated from within.

Thanks, Major.

TokyoMagic! said...

I wish POP had hung on just a little longer so that I might have had a chance to visit. My mom remembers going there, but doesn't remember much about it.

"POP is proud of it's rest rooms, which are considered the most beautiful public facilities in the world." Those must have been SOME restrooms!

Major, I think that seahorse is wearing hostess pants. (You wear them when you give smart dinner parties.)

Unknown said...

Oh man, did the Diving Bell scare the snot out of me! I insisted that me and my Dad go on it. I think tears may have been involved after that rush back to the surface. And I thought it suspicious that the Sky Ride gondolas looked like they might have been made waterproof.

K. Martinez said...

I see that Lawrence Welk and his Champagne Orchestra were featured every Friday and Saturday night at the Aragon Ballroom. That must've been tough competition for Date Nite at Disneyland with the Elliott Brothers in a park which was open until the clock struck 1 a.m. every Friday and Saturday night!

I love Merritt's and Priore's POP book. For me, POP's the park that got away. Also love the blank paycheck. Thanks, Major!

Nanook/Patrick Devlin, Wow!! You guys actually got to go there and remembered it too. If only my parents took a little detour and brought us there. I do remember seeing the remains though.

Matterhorn1959 said...

The pass is fantastic!

Major Pepperidge said...

Nanook, if only you had photographic proof that you'd been to P.O.P. Oh wait, you DO! I look forward to sharing your slides here SOON!!

TokyoMagic!, I know, it kills me that I missed out on this amazing place. I love that POP was so proud of their rest rooms; mothers cared about that kind of stuff. Hostess pants, eh? I've never seen a hostess wear pants like that! ;-)

Patrick Devlin, those Diving Bell rides seem to have been an "off the shelf" offering, I've seen them at the Nu-Pike in Long Beach, and there was one on Catalina Island too; presumably there were many more around the country. I'd never considered that it would be frightening for a kid, but it sounds like it was intense to those with strong imaginations.

K. Martinez, I can't hear Lawrence Welk's name without imagining being in my grandparent's home in Minnesota. They watched ol' Larry faithfully, and even as a kid I thought it was the most boring show ever! But they liked "Bonanza" too, which I enjoyed. Yes, that POP book is a real gem. Stay tuned to see Nanook's personal family photos of POP!

Matterhorn1959, I was very happy to find that one!

Anonymous said...

Lucky that I was there a couple of times with my folks, though my memory of it is a bit foggy. I recall the entrance with the waterfalls, the diving bell and the gondola ride really giving me a scare...I thought my gondola could fall into the ocean at any time. The Banana Train Ride was really cool! It is amazing that not a trace of POP remains. KS

Nanook said...


I presume TokyoMagic! is referring to the I Love Lucy episode ("Ethel's Birthday") where Fred asks Lucy to help him pick out a birthday present for Ethel, as she never likes the gifts he gets for her. Unfortunately for all, Lucy chooses a pair of harlequin-patterned pants which are first revealed to Ethel when she stumbles upon the gift-wrapped package in the Ricardo's closet. When Ethel opens it, she responds with "He's done it again", generating Lucy's famous remark - ... they are chic hostess pants, the kind you wear "when you give smart dinner parties".. Which then prompts Ethel's retort -"Oh, I've been wondering what to wear to all those 'smart dinner parties-!' "

It really is a shame what happened to POP. A friend of mine was hired in their waning years to help maintain their sound systems throughout the park, and remembers the signage, by that time seemingly posted everywhere, declaring: We're fixing it for fun. Pity

Jed B. said...

As you know, I love POP. Never went and never will but there's something about the place that just haunts me. If forced to choose whether to travel back to visit Disneyland or POP in 1959, I'm not sure which I would choose.

Unknown said...

I have never before heard of this place, but am already falling in love. POP looks like the sort of place I'd love to visit. I've already got that book in my cart!! Thanks for another amazing post, Major!


Anonymous said...

Lawrence Welk, +1.

Sorry I missed this place, but made it to the Nu-Pike in LB.

Cool stuff, Major.


outsidetheberm said...

Your Gold Pass is great! So is the check for that matter. POP was gone just too soon.

Anonymous said...

Nanook, very good! Major is not a Lucy fan, but I slipped that in there anyway. I just couldn't resist.

- TokyoMagic!

Major Pepperidge said...

Nanook, I guess TokyoMagic! is pulling my leg, because he knows that I DON'T love Lucy! We've talked about it at length. So his joke went over my head completely. But at least somebody got it. It is intriguing to imagine what the POP would have been like had it been run by more responsible people.

Jed B., (Hi, Jed! Where ya been?), that would definitely be a conundrum; I might choose POP for the weirdness factor. With a good camera and about 30 rolls of Kodachrome slide film.

Medley, I think a lot of people have not heard of POP… it's almost a footnote in SoCal amusement park history. But it deserves to be known, and the book is an awesome tribute. Thanks for the nice comment!

JG, I suddenly feel the need to have a bubble machine going near me all the time.

outsidetheberm, I'll bet you have some amazing photos of POP!

TokyoMagic!, we are polar opposites when it comes to Lucy! I can appreciate her regarding her place in television history, but never did enjoy the original TV show.

Mark H. Besotted said...

Jed, if you have the ability to travel in time, you shouldn't have to choose between the two! If anyone tries to make you choose, just ensure they were never born. Problem solved.