Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Birthday at Travel Town!

GDB pal Steve Stuart sent along a few black and white snapshots that were very appealing to me. Not only did the photos feature photos of a great kid's birthday party circa June 1956, but they were taken at "Travel Town" in Griffith Park, Los Angeles! Travel Town is a transportation museum with lots of huge (non-operational) locomotives on display. I went there on a whim about a year ago, and was charmed by it all over again.

 Here's a really fun one, showing a whole gaggle of kids, including Steve, pointing at his cheek. He said, "...it appears I'm either showing off a new tooth, or gesticulating with my right index finger, while undoubtedly extolling the gathering with all of my five-year-old wisdom". 

Griffith Park is a beautiful place to visit, popular with joggers and cyclists, and is also home to the Los Angeles Zoo. It's also where Walt used to take his daughters, and where (so the story goes) he was inspired to build his own amusement park.

Just look at how huge that engine is in the background - that staircase must be at least six feet high.

There's the cake - frosted with an awesome train image! "Looking through my other birthday party pictures, where birthday cakes from Ralph’s were prominently featured (and back then – ALL Real Ingredients), I was thinking this cake also came from Ralph’s.  But based on the ‘generic’ look of the cake “Happy Birthday”, it more-resembles a cake provided by Travel Town as part of the party".

Seems like a pretty solid theory. Now I want a piece of cake.

I'm almost positive that I walked through this particular train car during my recent visit, though there were no tables - it was empty. I mostly remember how spongy the wood floor felt - most of the trains and rolling stock at Travel Town need a lot of TLC after many decades out in the elements. Steve says, "....beyond identifying my mom on the far left of the interior shot in the “dining” car, about to deliver a slice of birthday cake to an invited guest - whose identity is a mystery - I can’t ID anyone else in the photos.  (So much for keeping friends for a lifetime beginning at age 5-!).

Amazingly, Steve still has his ticket stub.

Continuing with the Travel Town theme, I thought I would add this scan of a slide from July, 1959, with a trio of gangstas posing next to two amazing old locomotives. If the color looks weird, it's because I did my best to restore it from its magenta state.

I wanted to find contemporary photos of the same locomotives, and had success at trainweb.org. "Sharp and Fellows #7 was built in 1902 by ALCO. It used to be a 2-6-0 when it was owned by its former owner, Minnesota Land & Construction Co. Sharp and Fellows bought the engine in 1909, and added the extra wheels (making it a 2-6-2). This engine helped create the Santa Fe line from Kansas to California before Sharp and Fellows donated the locomotive to Travel Town in 1954".

Also seen in the 1959 scan is the ATSF #664. "....donated in 1953, this 1899 Baldwin2-8-0 Consolidation started out as #891, an ATSF class 664. It had the small 57" drivers and was an oil burner that developed a boiler pressure of 180 psi and generated a tractive force of 33,145 lb. This lucky locomotive survived at Travel Town while most of the other class members were scrapped before WW II. Unknown photographer. The day in July, 1953 is approximate".

Thanks to Steve Stuart for sharing his fun birthday photos!


TokyoMagic! said...

Steve, so the train that you were having your party in was actually moving along on a track? I don't think any of the large trains move today. I remember when milk came in little cartons like that (second pic). In third grade we scraped the wax off of the exterior of the cartons, painted them and turned them into vases to give to our moms for Mother's Day. My mom still has the ones that my brother and I made for her!

Thanks for sharing more personal pics and memories with us, Steve!

DKoren said...

These are great! I love Travel Town, and it's really neat to see this look at it. I grew up visiting it in the 70's. The train with the little jail on it always made an impression on me. And the red velvet seats in one of them, that you're not allowed on anymore without a special tour, I think. I also loved that they had Messala's chariot from Ben-Hur on display for years in one of the buildings. I'd go in there and just admire the beauty of that thing and have to be dragged away. Sadly, it's not there any longer. :-(

Thanks for sharing, Steve and Major.

K. Martinez said...

Steve, I'm amazed that you still have your ticket stub. The black & white photos with white borders bring to mind my own childhood memories. Thank you again for sharing your personal memories and photos with us.

Thank you too, Major.

Steve DeGaetano said...

The locomotive in that first image is an interesting specimen, called a "Shay." You can see it doesn't have the big drive wheels and side rods we're used to seeing on old steam engines. Instead, its three cylinders (yes, three!) were mounted vertically on the right side of the engine, and they drove a crank shaft and gears to power the four-wheel trucks up front and at the rear of the engine. This geared design allowed the engines to have a lot of traction and maneuverability, if not speed. They were commonly used as logging engines.

Travel Town has quite a few Disney connections. Here's another one: Sharp and Fellows, who donated engine No. 7 above, was the company that rebuilt the Disneyland main line in 2005! I wonder if they are handling the track work made necessary by Star Wars Land today?

Chuck said...

Funny - I remember my childhood birthday parties being a lot more colorful than this.

Thanks for sharing more of your collection, Steve! That ticket is amazing. I'm happy to see there are more hoar-, er, collectors out there like myself.

And thanks, Major, for the additional info on the locomotives!

Anonymous said...

What Ken and Chuck said.

Also, came for Steve DeGaetano comments. Leaving satisfied.

Thanks Major and Steve, lots of fun today.


Nanook said...

Dear All-

Glad you're enjoying the images I provided. (A real thanks to The Major for 'filling-out' the post with his additional offerings). And Steve DeGaetano - it almost goes without saying - but I will anyway: Your comments always fill in the blanks we almost didn't know were there.


'Fraid the train cars were immobile; although it does sound like fun to journey 'round a portion of Griffith Park while celebrating one's birthday.

Ken & Chuck-

I'm afraid you'll have to "blame" my mother for saving the ticket stub, as it was included in the picture book where the images resided. Otherwise I'm certain it would have ended up where far too many collectibles often do...

Steve DeGaetano said...

That ticket stub is amazing, Steve. I've never even heard of them, let alone seen one. And I was a fairly frequent visitor to Travel Town when I lived in Burbank in the 1990s.

Sunday Night said...

Disney tie-in: Right down the street is the Los Angeles Live Steamers where Walt's Holmby Hills train barn lives.

Patrick Devlin said...

Ah, LALS and Travel Town: sheer train geek heaven.

Connie Moreno said...

I loved Travel Town! My dad took me often and then as a parent myself, I would take my son. We even had his 3rd birthday party there in 1979.