Thursday, March 30, 2017

Steve Stuart's Pacific Ocean Park Pix

It's one thing to find photos from Pacific Ocean Park ("POP"), but it's even better when the photos include one of the GDB regulars - in this case, Steve Stuart. Today's photos are especially great! Here's Steve:

POP – JULY 1962

Here again is our group of six guys, with Bill being almost completely-obscured by Dick’s head.  There’s some interloper in front of us chomping down on his cotton candy.  Looming in the background is the base of the [originally-named] Mr. Dolphin – then changed to Mahi-Mahi.  It’s a “nautically-themed” Stantzel Strat-O-Liner, of which only six were manufactured.  We’re standing in-line for the [originally-named] Dancing Flowers – then renamed The Jungle Whip.  (What’s up with all the name changes-?)  It’s a stock Scrambler ride, manufactured by the Eli Bridge Company, beginning back in 1955.  I ran across an ad in the pages of Billboard Magazine, from the March 24th 1958 issue, where a “Scrambler Wanted” ad was placed “… for the Multi-Million Dollar PACIFIC OCEAN PARK - Ocean Park, California.  WILL BUY – AND PAY BONUS...”  Ahhh, the ‘salad days’ for POP.

In this shot we can see the “happy fish theming” of one of the Strat-O-Liner vehicles.  Why - it looks just like a Mahi-Mahi-!  Oh, sure.  And on the left, we can catch a glimpse of the structure announcing the entryway to the Mystic Isles, its Polynesian theming, and arguably POP’s greatest attraction:  The Mystery Island Banana Train.

And finally, an image almost worthy of publication in an official guidebook – Don and myself being perfectly-captured while our Scrambler (Jungle Whip) vehicle hits one of several ‘apexes’ of its travel, allowing for a crystal-clear moment contained within all the swirling background action.  I believe it’s expressions such as the ones displayed on our faces that sell tickets and drive attendance.  This image is a worthy tribute to the virtues of the Kodak 35 Rangefinder camera.

All of these are awesome, but I agree with Steve, that last one is especially fun. A few years ago I rode a "Scrambler"-type ride at the Santa Monica Pier, and learned the hard way that the heavier person should sit against the outside edge - the centrifugal force was so strong that I had to use all my strength to not crush my young niece!

The next Steve Stuart installment will be the last from his family archives - I'll let it be a surprise. But we will almost certainly be seeing more from Steve - the photos just might not be so "vintage"!


K. Martinez said...

I love this kind of theming. It isn't trying to be accurate or authentic, but it strikes the right balance to evoke certain moods and the flavor of exotic locales with color and simple objects like "happy fish", "jungle flowers" and tiki totems. Even the color palette in the first two pics gives the feeling of the ocean/sea. These are wonderful photos as I knew they would be. Again, thanks for sharing with us, Steve. I'm looking forward to the next installment from your family archives.

Major, On the Scrambler, the trick is, if you're sitting against the inside edge of the seat, you hold on until you head towards the outer reaches where the centrifugal force is greatest and let go. SLAM!! CRRUUNCH!!! Poor person sitting against the outside edge of the seat doesn't stand a chance. My friend did that to me on the Scrambler when I was a kid. He was having the time of his life. Me, not so much.

TokyoMagic! said...

Gosh Steve, your POP pics just get better and better! I love that fencing visible in the second pic. That is just like the fencing that used to be so prominent in Disneyland's Tomorrowland at one time. There is still a little remnant of it today over where the Submarine Lagoon fence ends and the Autopia fence begins (across from the Matterhorn).

I believe the Our Gang/Little Rascals kids rode in a Strat-O-Liner in the film short titled, "Fish Hooky." That's the one where Stymie, Wheezer, Uh-huh, and Dickie Moore get chased around the seaside amusement park by the truant officer. "I don't Dickie anymore.....I mean, I don't know any Dickie Moore!"

That crushing centrifugal force situation was also very strong on your standard "Trabant" rides. I remember going on them at traveling carnivals and also at Knott's Berry Farm (the Fiesta Wheel) with my best friend who was shorter than me. I found it easier to just sit on the outside and let him crush me rather than trying to hold on through the entire ride and keep from crushing him.

Thanks for continuing to be so generous with your family pics, Steve!

Scott Lane said...

Big thumbs up, Steve. As always, thanks for sharing.

Chuck said...

Love 'em all, Steve, but especially the third one - that exposure shows some real talent on the part of the photographer (presumably your dad). Ahh, for the days when you had to actually think to take a good photo.

Thanks again for sharing, and looking forward to whatever you share next!

K. Martinez said...

TokyoMagic!, I used to operate the Trabant in the 1970's and I'd ask riders two switch sides from time to time. It's the "tilt" that does it.

Anonymous said...

I bet you can get a lot of sashimi out of one of those Strat-O-Liner Happy Fish.

Thanks Steve for reliving your childhood with us, and the Major for facilitating your generosity.