Saturday, May 07, 2016

Santa Catalina Island, 1950's

Today I have kind of a lazy "quickie" post for you. Sorry! I have more vintage photos from Catalina Island, just off the coast of Los Angeles. I did another post about Catalina last year that had a lot more useful information, take a look HERE.

All of today's slides were in thick, heavy plastic mounts, I've never seen anything like them. And while they were undated, I believe that they are from the 1950's. 

A common sight was the old S.S. Catalina, the ferry that transported visitors to and from the island in style; the trip only took about 20 minutes. I love the old-fashioned look of this vessel, with that nearly-vertical bow. I wonder how those life rafts would have been deployed (had they ever been needed)... did they just slide sideways into the sea?

When arriving or departing, there was often a band to serenade guests. What are they playing? My guess is "Ta-Ra-Ra-Boom-De-Ay". It's the perfect song for all occasions. OK, smarties, what in the world is that strange structure that the musicians are standing beneath?

Of course, no group of Catalina photos is complete without a shot of the famous casino. It is a pretty striking building. I'd like to imagine myself visiting the island in the 1940's, where I'd rub elbows with the Hollywood elite!


Nanook said...


My vote for the song selection is Guadalajara. And it's never too late to "rub elbows with the Hollywood elite" - but don't be surprised if the definition of "elite" is a bit of a disappointment these times.

Thanks, Major.

K. Martinez said...

Love the middle image. If it was a decade later I would've been satisfied with piped in music on those speakers playing a selection from Herb Alpert & the Tijuana Brass. Perhaps "Going Places" or "Whipped Cream and Other Delights".

Thanks for a another fun visit outside the berm, Major.

Irene said...

We went over to Catalina on vacation many times in the 1950's on the "big white steamer", S.S. Catalina. I hope you were joking when you said the trip only took 20 minutes! Try 2 hours :). We were always met by divers as the ship approached the dock diving down for coins people would throw into the water. After disembarking, the band would be playing Mexican music and met us closer to the end of the pier as you entered the main street area. I have very fond memories (and of course those elusive home movies). I see I also commented on your previous post about Catalina.

Nanook said...

@ Irene-

I was only kidding about Guadalajara being played. My grandparents lived in Mexico City for about 15 years, and if we happened to be dining in a restaurant with mariachi players, the go-to song for my grandmother was always "Guadalajara". It became a running joke.

And thanks for correcting the cruise time to the more-actual, leisurely two hours. Perhaps a bit shorter than the infamous ... three-hour tour..., it was still long-enough in the more 'modern times' that allowed it to succumb to faster ships making the journey, and some labor troubles. To bad, too - "Along with a 26-mile ocean voyage, a $2.25 round-trip ticket offered 2,200 passengers big-band orchestra music for dancing, children's entertainment by clowns and magicians, and adult amenities such as a leather settees and drinks from a shipboard bar". Ahhh... clowns and magicians - almost like dying and having gone to heaven. (Or maybe just dying).

Major Pepperidge said...

Nanook, in the old days you didn’t have to do much to be around Hollywood royalty; my grandparents lived in Encino, and told me that they saw people like John Wayne, Clark Gable, and Spencer Tracy at City Council meetings!!

K. Martinez, the photo predates Herb and his Tijuana Brass, but I do love that music! BTW, have you seen the documentary about The Wrecking Crew? It’s amazing.

Irene, I said 20 minutes based on what a friend told me. My only trip to the island was so long ago I don’t remember if it took 20 minutes or 5 hours!

Nanook, your story reminds me of a series of events that I have attended with my mom; there is a piano player who performs as a warm-up act, and we always laugh when he gets to “Orange Colored Sky”… it happens every time.

Anonymous said...

Loved taking the Great White Steamship (we never called it a "steamer" but I gather that is actually the correct term) to and from Catalina during the '60s and '70s. When it was put out of service and moored inside the breakwater in Long Beach, we used to swim out and dive off of it until we got tired or got run off by security people. Everybody I knew went out to hang out on the SS Catalina during the week it floated just offshore and finally ran aground in the early '80s.

Here one can read about the sad end of a ship which provided so much joy to so many people:

K. Martinez said...

Major, That's why I said a decade later. Yes, I'm aware of "The Wrecking Crew" documentary and have seen bits and pieces but unfortunately not the whole documentary. I'll have so see if it's available somewhere online.

Anonymous said...

What Irene Said.

A great memory come to a sad end.