Saturday, December 24, 2016

Random Christmas Scenes

I admit that I have been scrounging for Christmas-related photos this year. I'm sure there are others in my various boxes of slides, but I'm too lazy to dig for them. SO... this is it.

Let's start with this fun (undated) view of Santa Claus in a sleigh pulled by six reindeer, and attended by two unusually tall elves. Some lucky kid got to ride with St. Nick! There's not much of a crowd, so I am not sure if this was a full-fledge parade, or just a quick appearance before Santa appeared at the local Woolworth's (or wherever). 

Wondering where this was, I looked up the "Hotel Aragon"...

... and found this vintage postcard view of the same hotel, in Madera, California. Madera is about five miles northwest of Fresno. The hotel was located on Yosemite Avenue at "D" street.

I tried to capture the same angle as photo #1, or close to it, on Google's "street view". As you can see, the Hotel Aragon has been replaced with an odd looking structure. One might think it's a bank, but in fact seems to be home to some bail bondsmen.

Next is this fun (albeit a bit dark) shot of Hollywood Boulevard, looking east from the corner of La Palma. Thanks to the marquee at the Vogue Theater, showing George Pal's "War of the Worlds", we know that this was taken in 1953. All the Christmas decorations were up, perhaps in preparations for the Santa Claus Lane Parade.

I look forward to seeing this on Facebook with my watermark cropped off.

Here's a contemporary Google view. The poor Vogue Theater is closed, and things look considerably less joyous without the decorations (and cool old cars). Notice Musso and Frank's in the distance, to the left.


Nanook said...


Gotta love Christmas parades, even if some of the "elves" are burdened-down with gigantism-! And speaking of giants, it would appear at the extreme far left edge of the image is part of the left arm of a real giant.

Clearly Hollywood Blvd. really benefits from all that tinsel and fake snow. And Lookie: early Mass Transit-!

Thanks, Major.

Scott Lane said...

Yes the Blvd has certainly seen better days.

Merry Christmas, Major, Ken, Nanook, TM and everyone else. Thank you all for sharing your photos, your photos, and your wit, and brightening my day.

TokyoMagic! said...

Merry Christmas to you too, Scott! And everyone!!!

That first photo is fun, but what happen to the other reindeer? I only count twenty hooves (yes, I actually counted them) so that means there are only five out of nine reindeer present. And I'm not buying that that's the real Rudolph. They obviously stuck a clown nose on another reindeer and are trying to pass him off as ol' Rudy. I don't think that little girl in the sleigh is buying it either.

And in the current shot of the town of Madera, is that a duck or a magpie hanging out on the sidewalk? And is that bird hawking tacos or auto insurance? Or could it be just some random person in a bird costume that was walking down the street and decided to stop and wave when they saw the Google "street view" camera driving by?

I have so many questions this morning, but what I really want to know is what happened to those cool Christmas trees that used to line Hollywood Blvd.? I want one so I can stick it in the corner of my living room.

TokyoMagic! said...

Oh, and Major....move that watermark up just a couple inches and that will keep 'em from cropping it off! ;-)

K. Martinez said...

Merry Christmas to you too, Scott! And to everyone have a wonderful and Merry Christmas weekend!

TM!, Thanks for pointing out that bird in the current Madera shot. I'm so sleepy this morning, I wouldn't have noticed it unless you pointed it out. That bird's probably hawking Fiesta Auto Insurance which includes a bag of free tacos with every new policy, limited time only.

Thanks for sharing these, Major. Christmas in small town America and the big metropolis. Nothing like vintage Christmas to get one in the mood.

Chuck said...

Major, after carefully looking at the photos and consulting Google Street View, I think that the Madera Hotel was actually located on the east side of the intersection of Yosemite and C Street rather than D Street, right where the Chase Bank stands today.

I don't normally "fact-check" your posts, but comparing the vintage and modern photos, the spatial relationships and window shapes weren't looking right to me. While the first two buildings on the left have the same general shape - a multi-story brick building with an extended line of bricks on the corner next to a single-story building - the windows on the multi-story building are a different shape. I initially wrote that off to a remodeling, but then I noticed the bail bondsman building (which I'm assuming is a former bank) is significantly narrower than the Aragon Hotel was but still up against the street. For that to happen, D Street would have had to have been rerouted to the northeast, and since an aerial view doesn't show any kinks in D Street, that didn't make any sense. The former bank building and perhaps the brick building across D Street also look like they predate the vintage photo, which also didn't make sense.

I did a virtual drive-by of the block, and the Maya Grill & Cafe, located on the opposite side of the street at what Google Maps calls "222 CA-145," appears to be the same building as Brammer Shoes in the vintage photo. The brickwork, color, and shape are the same, and the location on the block makes more sense in relationship to the Aragon Hotel. The rest of the buildings in the vintage photo seem to have been sacrificed to progress and parking.

Nanook, good eye on that GM old-look bus on Hollywood Boulevard. The overhead catenary shows that this photo was taken before the ultimate demise of Pacific Electric's "Red Car" trolleys on Hollywood Boulevard on 26 Sep 1954. I stumbled on a 1953 photo this morning showing a GM Old-Look bus...tailgating a PE "Hollywood Car" front of Grauman's Chinese Theater...during the initial run of The Christmas.

Major, thanks for the awesome Christmas present - another opportunity to do "the Chuck Thing" on a lazy Saturday morning! ;-) Merry Christmas to you and to all of the good people who bother to read the comments, and in particular the merry band who, like me, just can't seem to stop contributing to the conversation. In the words of Tiny Tim (Dickens' creation, not Herbert B. Khaury), "God bless us, every one!"

Nanook said...

@ Chuck-

'Old-look' - 'new-look' - where else but in GM bus lore-dom-? Although The Bank Dick comes to mind.. "Ah - the New Old Lompoc House..." I always love those shots of Grauman's when that gigantic neon sign was present "plugging" CinemaScope. And the large, central box office may not be "original" from 1927, but is the way most folks remember the forecourt area - for better or worse.

Unknown said...

Nice, nostalgic, Noel-ish nattering today, Najor! I have to agree with Chuck, if only for the fact that the shadows are impossible for wintertime in Madera. They do make sense, though, if the street runs to the northeast and it's December. Yes, I'm an astronomy geek.

Irene said...

Jumping in to wish all a Merry Christmas - there's only one more sleep till Christmas (Muppet Christmas Carol reference!).
Wow Chuck, I'm impressed with your detective work. Now I'm going to have to go and check that out. I was thinking that something didn't seem right between the old and the new so thanks.
I just had to laugh at your comment about seeing your photo chopped on Facebook. I will keep my eyes open as I follow several vintage sites.

Nanook said...


I think Chuck has discovered the real truth about the "Mixup in Madera".

And then there's this... BRAMMER SAUNDERS — Dolores “Dodie” Brammer Saunders, 95, of Madera died Jan. 12, 2015. She was the retired owner of Brammer Shoes in Madera.