Thursday, January 31, 2019

Frontierland in the 70's

It's time for some 70's Frontierland goodness, from our friend the Mysterious Benefactor.

Here's something you don't see photos of very often (if ever)... The Wheelhouse (circa 1971), located in the building that held the original Casa de Fritos. I know very little about this eatery - was it strictly window service? The signs certainly make me hungry. How about a "frosted thick milk shake"? Sundaes and ice cream, hamburgers and hot dogs... come on, what else do you need in life? They also sold wheels, which only makes sense.

Next is this photo of the Pontoon Bridge on Tom Sawyer Island. This slide was very dark, and I could only pull up so much detail in Photoshop, so those shadows are inky black. I wonder if pontoon bridges were actually used very much in the old days? I wish all city sidewalks were actually pontoon  bridges.

This last one is my favorite, just because I get a kick out of the people. The guy with the yellow tank top is my hero. I'll bet he has a black belt in karate, speaks fluent Klingon, and can recite Pi to 25 digits.

There are lots more photos from the Mysterious Benefactor!


Our pal Mike Cozart emailed the following two photos to me, and said it was OK for me to share them with you. 

Here's a nice shot of the signage for The Wheelhouse. Why isn't this in my collection? 

I must confess that I am not sure I was aware of The Delta Banjo Sandwich Shop until Mike  mentioned it in his comment. He pointed out the words "Johnny St. Cyr Prop.", and said It turns out he was a real person and a well known banjo player who was in several jazz bands lead by Louis Armstrong . He was born in New Orleans and died in Los Angeles in 1966. I am not aware of a Disney connection to him.

THANKS for sharing these, Mike!


TokyoMagic! has generously shared his personal photo of the area where the Wheelhouse (etcetera) was located. It looks surprisingly similar to the way it did 40 years ago! Notice the ship's wheel on the railing. Thank you, TM.


TokyoMagic! said...

Those are some very unhappy looking people in that last pic. The children all look especially miserable.

And speaking of children, that unattended child wearing the Mouse Ears in the first pic, looks like he could easily slip off of that concrete post and land on top of a spike (or two) in the fencing. I wonder who's supposed to be watching him? During those last years that I was going to Disneyland regularly, I saw plenty of children running around wild without anyone appearing to be watching them. All that kid in the pic needs is a light saber to swing around and hit passersby with, and he'd fit perfectly into today's Disneyland.

TokyoMagic! said...

Oh a happier note, wasn't The Wheelhouse also Don DeFore's Silver Banjo Barbecue at one point?

Nanook said...

@ TM!-
I wouldn't worry too much about our young friend falling from his perch - he's merely in a deep meditative Yoga pose-!

'Tank top guy' is either as you say, or the next day, he'll blow-up a large office building...

Thanks, Major and good 'ol MB.

Nanook said...

@ TM!-

Don DeFore's Silver Banjo Barbecue moved-in when Casa de Fritos moved out in 1957. But I think that building is closer to Aunt Jemima Pancake House - as it [Silver Banjo BBQ] closed in 1961 to allow Aunt Jemima's to expand.

TokyoMagic! said...

Nanook, now I see it! He's practicing a Yoga pose called, "The Seated Fonzie."


You can see the round sign on the pink building for THE DELTA BANJO ( to the right of the kid sitting on WHEELHOUSE gate.

I’m not sure when the DELTA BANJO closed, but the WHEELHOUSE was operating as late as 1988. It seems to have always sold Milkshakes and Ice Cream but by 1985 it was no longer serving hamburgers and hot dogs.
Between 1985 and 1988 The Wheelhouse offered Milkshakes ( by 1988 VANILLA only) Soft Serve Sundaes & Cones, FRONTIER FREEZE (.85!!) Root Beer Floats , Coca-Cola, Sprite, Orange, Root Beer, Diet Coke.... 100% Colombian Coffee......and the newest and most expensive item on the menu : NACHOS ($2.25)........prices include sales tax.

Melissa said...

Baby Plaidshirt Mouseears looks like he's wailing his lungs blue. But he can't get Mama's attention because she's too busy posing for a Gee! Your Hair Smells Terrific ad with Mickey Dolenz's stunt double. Also, the frosting fell off his milk shake.

And there's today's Babushkateer on the Mark Twain, her sunglasses peering over Grandpa Bluepolo's shoulder.

Melissa said...

Now I'm really craving a banjo sandwich.

K. Martinez said...

How cool to see a photo of "The Wheelhouse" I remember getting milkshakes from that place regularly. Thanks for bringing up the FRONTIER FREEZE, Mike Cozart. I thought I was the only one who remembered that food item. I had it a few times.

Extra nice post today because of the Wheelhouse photo. Thanks, Major.

Alonzo P Hawk said...

@Melissa isn't the Banjo Sandwich called the "Steve Martin" at the Disney Deli?

One vote for Transendental Meditation for the little post squatter.

I like the stripey dress on the lady holding the post. It reminds me of one of those multi-color domino shaped crayons from the era.

JC Shannon said...

I agree with Major, a cheeseburger and a shake is my favorite food group. My desert island one meal or the Poppins Effect, practically perfect in every way. Babushka sighting behind the girl with the Lennon glasses. My favorite photo 'cause look at the mix of ages, and all having a splendid day at the park. Also grandma on the left has a very nice Instamatic like the one I had as a lad. Pontoon bridges were mostly used as temporary crossings as they quickly rotted away and sank, but oodles of fun while they last. Thanks Major.

JC Shannon said...

Mike, thanks for the photos. Disneyland signage is one of my favorite art forms in the park.

Anonymous said...

Wow, pieces of Disneyland that I never knew existed.

I have never heard of either of these cafe's. Wonder what the connection would be between Mr. St. Cyr and Disneyland that his name would be on a cafe? Seems odd to do that with a real person without a definite connection, especially one recently deceased and whose estate might take issue with what might look like a corporate endorsement. There's a story there somewhere.

The photos look like part of the Aunt Jemima/River Belle Terrace building, the rosy pink shade is familiar.

I thought that Don DeFore's Silver Banjo was further on around toward Frontierland, closer to the Golden Horsehoe, and eventually became the Stage Door Canteen?

The kid on the fence worries me, he is inches away from a painful end.

I can imagine a pontoon bridge being made up out of necessity when casks were available and bigger timbers were not, but it's hard to believe that a bridge like that would be a long-term choice for a crossing.

According to Google, there are a number of pontoon bridges in Louisiana, but they all appear to be more or less modern structures and not made of barrels.

My mom hated the pontoon bridge and would never cross it. She wasn't much more keen on the suspension bridge and would only cross that if dad held her hand.

Great stuff today, Major.


TokyoMagic! said...

Melissa, I saw Mickey Dolenz at Disneyland circa 1980/81. He was dining at the Carnation restaurant on Main St.

By the way, the last time I was in the park, that Wheelhouse building and fencing looked almost exactly the same. The windows and doors are closed, of course, and all of the signage has been removed. I'll have to see if I can find my "current" pics of that facade.

Nanook said...

@ JG-

Mike Cozart is correct, in that the Delta Banjo Sandwich Shop at one time was home to Don DeFore's Silver Banjo Barbecue (seen here as the Delta Banjo Sandwich Shop. LOOKIE HERE to see the Silver Banjo in all its pink glory. To its left is what eventually became The Wheelhouse - you can see its setback in relation to the Silver Banjo. The Stage Door Café is off to the left, out of frame. [Thank you Daveland].

Clyde Hughes said...

Thanks for the great photos!
That couple in front of the Wheelhouse looks like straight from a Coca-Cola commercial of the 70s. The girl does seem to resemble Judy Norton Taylor (Mary Ellen of the Waltons). It looks like they have reserved their table and are protecting it from the upcoming crowd rush.

The Mickey Mouse ear boy has found his table! Just one table left! I wonder how many in this photo will have opted for the Wheel Platter?

Major Pepperidge said...

TokyoMagic!, ha ha, I did notice that there weren’t many smiles on those folks. But then again, I figure I am not smiling all the time. I’d look like a lunatic! That “little boy” is not human at all. In fact, he is an Audio-Animatronic - much like the Barker Bird. “Hey mister! Buy your girlfriend some ice cream, ya cheapskate!”. Voice by Wally Boag.

TokyoMagic!, I did not think of that, but I believe that you are right.

Nanook, the kid can’t? fall, there are wires that go up through his - um - abdomen. Like most robots, he has the strength of an enraged chimpanzee. Tank Top Guy did start a manifesto, but then it just turned into a story about Captain Kirk and a green alien woman.

Mike Cozart, as I told you via email, I was totally unaware of The Delta Banjo Sandwich Shop. So strange to see a place that I know I should have heard of. It’s right in the middle of Frontierland, for crying out loud. Do you have a menu from there? Amazing that you actually know what they served and how it changed over the years.

Melissa, Plaidshirt Boy can’t cry, because he has no emotions. His positronic brain has been fried by negatively-charged tachyons! And we all know how painful that can be. “Gee Your Hair Smell Terriffic”, how could that have actually been a real product?

K. Martinez, root beer floats were a favorite of real frontier heroes such as Sam Houston and Dan’l Boone. They also liked Slurpees.

Alonzo, if it wasn’t called the “Steve Martin”, it should be! Maybe that kid is making the noise that Tibetan monks make, “throat singing”. That always sounds so cool and weird.

Jonathan, it is pretty hard to beat a cheeseburger and a milkshake. I agree with you about looking at the people, they are definitely more than half the fun. I know John Lennon was famous for glasses, but did he ever do anything else? That Instamatic looks much like the one I had too.

Jonathan II, yes, thanks to Mike!

JG, I was aware of The Wheelhouse, but as I said, not the Delta Banjo Sandwich Shop. So cool to see something new! I wonder if Johnny St. Cyr was related to Lilly St. Cyr? Va va voom times three! Perhaps Mr. St. Cyr actually gave a banjo to Walt. WHO KNOWS. Far be it from me to correct anyone on the location of anything. We need the GDB experts for that kind of thing. My favorite thing about the Pontoon Bridge is the “no jumping” sign, which is apparently only visible to me, because everybody jumps on it!

TokyoMagic!, I saw Mickey Dolenz and Davey Jones performing at Magic Mountain (they were “The Monkees” even though the other two weren’t there).

Nanook, Thanks for doing the research! I’ve been busy today (plus internet has been misbehaving), or I might have attempted it myself.

Clyde Hughes, yes, that girl would like to buy the world a Coke! She’s pretty, whoever she is. I liked Mary Ellen from the Waltons, but I liked Susan Dey from Partridge Family more. So Mickey Ear Boy is sitting on a… table??

TokyoMagic! said...

Major, you just reminded me that I saw The Monkees in concert (minus Michael Nesmith) at the Anaheim Celebrity Theater in the late eighties.


Yes- those two sign shots were taken in 1972. I think there are two untold stories related to these food service locations:
1) why Jonny St. Cyr is listed as proprietor ( probably a fictional title) but I think there is a Disney connection with him. Maybe he was a Royal Street Bachelore??
2) Why did Don DeFoe’s Silver Banjo really close?? It obviously wasn’t to expand Aunt Jemimah or RIVERBELLE Terrace ... as we see it has become the Delta Banjo Sandwich Shop.... did Walt and Defoe have a snarl?? Did Disneyland decide they didn’t want a personal sponsorship in the park? Was the BBQ really bad? too expensive?? Why did it leave?? Maybe the sponsorship fees were too expensive ....
It’s ibteresting that at least since the early 60’s these building facades wheel house / Delta Banjo /RIVERBELLE Terrace remains very little chAnged and STILL have the same color schemes today!!

TokyoMagic! said...

Oh, and your "smiling/lunatic" comment reminds me of something Mrs. Roper said to Mr. Roper, just last night on "Three's Company." She said, "Stop smiling, Stanley. It makes you look simple-minded!"

Warren Nielsen said...

Mouse Ears Boy is looking at Mickey Dolenz Double and thinking to himself "EEwww! You're standing next to a GIRL! And girls have COOTIES! Run Away, run way!"

He will learn.

And thank you to Mike for the added value pictures. It's a 2 for 1 day.

TokyoMagic! said...

Major, I found my pic of the old Wheel House facade from 2009, and it's taken from the exact same angle! The old signpost with the lanterns is still there, just without the wheel on top. And there is a ship's wheel tied to the railing on the balcony above. I wonder if it could have been part of the old sign. I'm sending this pic to you!

Nanook said...

@ Mike Cozart-

Well, there's at least "one place" on the internet that intimated when aunt Jemima's Pancake House closed and reopened as Aunt Jemima's Kitchen, on July 17, 1962, the former Silver Banjo Barbecue was a part of it. But, as with Wikipedia - who knows how accurate that 'factoid'.

However... once again - Daveland to the rescue - check out THIS LETTER which might help explain its early demise, prior to the conclusion of its original five year lease. (So, there may be some credence to the Aunt Jemima expansion. Perhaps that's why Casa de Fritos moved...)

Melissa said...

My big brush with fame was being passed by the Monkees' tour busses on the New York State Thruway. (I guess they missed that last train to Clarksville and needed to make up the time.)

Anonymous said...

@Nanook, thanks for the addendum. The Silver Banjo was before my time, I never heard of it before reading Daveland. This whole little corner of the Park is terra incognita to me.


Major Pepperidge said...

TokyoMagic!, so you were in the presence of Peter Tork at least!

Mike Cozart, oh interesting, Mr. St. Cyr being a Royal Street Bachelor makes a lot of sense. Don DeFore’s son Ron has talked a lot about his father’s restaurant and their experiences with Disneyland, but of course he was a kid at the time, and might not have been aware of any underlying animosity (if there was any). I always did think it was a little bit weird to have DeFore’s name in Walt’s park, and wouldn’t be surprised if that was what ultimately led to its demise. And I agree, it is pretty amazing that the changes to these facades has been relatively minor, thank goodness!

TokyoMagic!, so funny, somebody gave me a Mr. Roper bubble gum sticker last year as a joke - I have no idea why!

Warren, yes, that was probably from those strange years in which boys are supposed to think girls are yucky. And yet… I definitely remember my school crushes even then. Where are they now!

TokyoMagic!, thank you for the photo, I will add it as soon as I have finished answering these comments. And yeah, there’s the ship’s wheel, amazing!

Nanook, hmmm interesting. “Aunt Jemima’s Kitchen”… I wouldn’t be surprised if it was true, but I have definitely seen some errors on Wikipedia. Overall it’s a great source for so much stuff though. Thanks to the link to that letter. Sanitation issues! Ew.

Melissa, I’ve seen many celebrities around SoCal, but the only stars I ever went up to talk to were Lux Interior and Poison Ivy of “The Cramps”, one of my most favorite bands! Ivy didn’t say anything, but Lux was friendly. I’ve seen Diane Keaton, Madonna, Prince, David Hasselhoff, Nicholas Cage, Dolly Parton… the list goes on and on.

JG, I have a cancelled check from the Silver Banjo Barbecue, I think I need to scan it and share it here.


So researching what happened to The Silver Banjo BBQ I see it was several reasons. 1. The restaurant wasn’t very popular with guests- Don Defoe insisted on placing his OWN signage and advertisements around Frontierland and Walt would have them taken down - explaining that they didn’t fit in with the theming if the park and made things look too commercial. Don Defoe argued with Walt that the row of buildings were blocked by trees and awnings and that guests could not see the BBQ restaurant. At one point Defoe put flood lights in to illuminate the restatuart exterior at night - this REALLY PISSED Walt off!!
2. The city of Anaheim was constantly harping in Disneyland that the kitchens throughout Frontierland were too small - so Disneyland had the kitchens consolidated- River Belle Terrace had its kitchen expanded and so went the BBQ restaurnt.
The Golden Horseshoe lost its own kitchen and the kitchen of THE OAKS TAVERN ( The Stage Door Cafe) was expanded serving both The Horseshoe and the Tavern. The small kitchen of the WHEELHOUSE was given a larger prep area ( probsbly just big enough for cold sandwiches at the DELTA BANJO!!
So it seems The Silver Banjo was a casualty of clashing egos and State food service law .....

Nanook said...

@ Mike Cozart-

THAT sounds very plausible. Thanks for the research.

JG said...

@Tokyo, thanks for sharing that photo. Very cool.

@Major, you must scan and post that check.

@Mike, this sounds very plausible indeed. I don't know anything about the backstage kitchen design, but consolidation makes sense. I've often wondered at the coordination and organization required to make all this happen without goofing up the orders.

The clash of egos seems like an unavoidable hazard. I've wondered how much more of this kind of friction there might be that is swept under the rug of "Walt was a great guy". I'm not saying he wasn't, but it's hard to believe that disagreements wouldn't happen, and that everyone, especially successful actors who made their careers outside of Disney, would just roll along with his ideas.


Chuck said...

A day late, but there was a Disneyland connection with Johnny St Cyr - he played with the "Young Men of New Orleans" aboard the Mark Twain from 1959-66. He also appeared with Louis Armstrong, with whom he had a long association, in the Wonderful World of Color episode "Disneyland After Dark." I just watched it a few weeks ago, so it (and his name) was fresh in my memory.

Mr St Cyr's biography can be read here. And if you haven't seen that segment of "Disneyland After Dark<" you can find it here.