Wednesday, August 26, 2020

Black and White, January 1956

For some mysterious reason, I decided to scan all of the vintage photo prints of Disneyland that hadn't been seen on GDB yet. Around 70 of them! The quality varies a lot of course, but there are some good ones in the mix, I hope you'll agree.

Today's examples are dated "January 1956", so the park was only six months old. Just a baby! This first photo shows the turnstiles and Main Street Station - there are Christmas garlands and wreaths, so we know it's the holiday season (naturally the photos could have easily been taken in December). There is a sign for the ill-fated "Mickey Mouse Club Circus" to our left; it only lasted about a month and a half, closing on January 8th of 1956. There is also a hand-lettered sign (it almost looks like a child made it!) that is a little hard to read, but I think it says, "Your Guide Book - The Story of Disneyland - 25¢!"

I can never get too many photos of the wonderful old Stagecoaches. They sure were beauties; I wonder if their construction was completely authentic? It looks like the tough-as-buffalo-hide driver is wearing his oval brass employee badge. I'll have to look in David Koenig book, "The 55ers: The Pioneers Who Settled Disneyland" and see if I can figure out who this could be.

And finally... a photo of the Mark Twain! Nobody expected that! 


Nanook said...

"There is also a hand-lettered sign (it almost looks like a child made it!)" Ah, shucks-! Just plain folk, here. Yes, that stagecoach is a beauty - even in a hazy B&W image. (Extra points for the telephone poles in the distance-!)

And I had to clutch at my pearls to keep from fainting when my eyes beheld the rare Mark Twain sighting-! I'm still recovering...

Thanks, Major.

TokyoMagic! said...

That brass badge, sure is catching the sunlight! You are right about those coaches being beauties. We can even see what looks like tufted upholstery, inside the "Arizona" coach.

Where is that M.M. Club Circus sign, today? More importantly, where is that handwritten DL Guide Book sign, today? ;-)


It’s January 1956 ...... the same year the famous attraction posters will first be displayed!!! No sign of them yet.

Andrew said...

I want to say that "homemade" sign was one of Marty Sklar's first projects as a marketing guy. Either that or Rolly Crump was still honing his style.

Anonymous said...

Great pictures today, from a time before color messed everything up! Bah! Dang hippies! Ok, here we go...I prefer picture...number... ONE!!! It gives you a great "just got to the brand new park" feeling (although, I guess we could be leaving, but let's not think about that).
And number three? Well there ain't been a Mississippi sternwheeler built in nigh on 50 years! Wow!

DrGoat said...

That first pic gave me a case of the Willoughbys'. No crowds, no crazy people Nothing but a zen, quaint, easy feeling.
And the Mark Twain in it's natural habitat, with it's backdrop of immature, but soon to be actual trees. Maybe only the first one thousandth time it was photographed. Gems.
Mike, not one poster attached to that fence. Nice observation. Wondered why it looked bare.
Thanks Major

zach said...

I sure would like that bench in front of the stagecoach. I would tie up my llama to it.

I like the b&w because it reminds me of what most of our early DL photos looked like.

I wonder when they first started putting the Population on the train depot?

Fun fotos today,


Major Pepperidge said...

Nanook, Walt was so detail-oriented, especially in those early days, you’d think he would want a more professional, tidy sign at the entrance to his new park. I have to wonder if some enterprising young guidebook seller took it upon himself to make the sign, without asking anybody?

TokyoMagic!, sometimes we’ll see photos of stagecoaches from other parks, and they look kind of cheap and chintzy, but not the ones at Disneyland! And yes, we can see the tufted upholstery, just like in the Munster Coach. I’ll bet that Mickey Mouse Club Circus sign was either painted over or trashed. The pain!

Mike Cozart, good point!

Andrew, yes, that’s about the quality I would expect from somebody fresh out of UCLA. (I kid, Bruins, I kid because I love! My grandpa went to UCLA!).

Stu29573, I have a hard time choosing between photo #1 and photo #2, but in this case I think I would have to go for #1 as well. I love the signs out front, especially the mention of the Mickey Mouse Club Circus. However, the stagecoach is the equivalent of a gleaming Cadillac, 1860s-style!

DrGoat, I’ll bet that many weekdays were pretty sleepy during the holidays in 1955/56. “Jason’s Disneyland Almanac” shows that some days had attendance in the low thousands. I can’t help wondering if employees looked around on days like that and thought, “This place isn’t gonna make it”?!

zach, my Great Aunt had a farm, and for some reason she had a llama (mostly she raised sheep for wool). The llama would sometimes spit, we learned to keep away. I think they put the population sign on the train station very early, if not on day 1, and they started with an optimistic number like 100,000.

Nanook said...

Thanks to a photo shot by 'Lou', and accurately-dated from Sue's comments as being from the period of June 13-15, 1956) - AND previously seen here on these pages (9/19/19) - the image clearly shows the glass/metal cases for those famous attraction posters, as "coming attractions", themselves. So, we must assume in the not-to-distant-future from those dates, was when the first AP's made their appearance. (Thanks to Lou & Sue)

Nanook said...

HERE"s a nice color shot of the Arizona. And HERE's another one.

(Thank you Daveland).

"Lou and Sue" said...

Nanook, thank-you to you and Daveland for those color shots of the Arizona. Nice!!

I personally can't decide which photo I like best. It's either the first one - with that handwritten sign and "awkwardly placed" Christmas greens on the roof above the clock (I'm sure there's a name for that "pointed roof," but I'm not that smart), or the third photo of the very young Mark Twain - still wearing its floaties.

Thanks, Major!

Chuck said...

Nanook, your comment had me primed to see a picture like this.

Nanook said...

@ Chuck-
That would require a double string of pearls, and a fainting couch [at-the-ready], just in case...

Matthew said...

Photo #1 - I count three people waiting for the train (right side of photo). Gotta love those slow winter months when no one has disposable income right before or right after Christmas to visit the Park. My birthday is December 19, and visiting the Park that week before Christmas made it awe-mazing!

Photo #2 - I wonder why the bench was tied to the post? Were benches prone to wander off? Was it the start of the line? Just wonder'n.

Finally, Photo #3 - The ol' Mark Twain doesn't appear to have a Captain in the Wheelhouse. Maybe they should have tied a rope to him. I know first hand how we would wander off. ;-)

Always your pal,
Amazon Belle

Major Pepperidge said...

Nanook, I’d forgotten about that amazing photo from Lou and Sue. Presumably colorful silkscreened posters would fill those glass cases in a matter of days!

Nanook, ah yes, I remember being outbid on those slides! ;-)

Lou and Sue, Maybe a young Steve Martin made that sign?! I guess the poor old stagecoach doesn’t even make it onto the list. It’s hard to be a stagecoach.

Chuck, I thought for sure your link was going to show the poor USS Arizona on December 7, 1941, oily smoke billowing from it as it sank. But I guess that’s kind of dark for GDB…

Nanook, the price of pearl necklaces just skyrocketed due to demand.

Major Pepperidge said...

Matthew, I can’t decide if my time machine trip to Disneyland 1956 should be to a day like this, with few guests, or to a bright summer day teeming with people. Both have their appeal! Good eye on the rope around that bench - very weird. And where IS the Mark Twain’s pilot (or skipper or Captain or whatever the proper term is)??

zach said...

I'll bet there's a llama at the end of that rope.

That's a swell looking stagecoach AND battleship. If I owned a stagecoach or battleship I'd want it to look like that. I used 'swell' because I've been reading some old Tom Swift.

Don't be concerned. Tatoo was the Captain that day.

Thanks, all


JG said...

My goodness, these are very early shots indeed.

I wish they were clearer, but I am happy to have what we have.

That's a very fancy stagecoach, I sure do not remember that. I do recall a stagecoach ride as a kid, but feel sure it was at Knotts, or maybe Calico. Did Knotts have rides like this at the time Disneyland opened? I'm wondering who copied who?

I knew a guy who owned a cafe' with a stagecoach much like this one, sitting out in front. I think the coach was real (this was in far Northern CA, where stages used to run for real). He was going to sell the cafe and the coach and retire rich. Unfortunately, the market for antique coaches was not strong and he moved to Reno afterward.

Sue, I don't think there is a specific name for a hip roof like that, at least I can't think of it. Your terms are just fine. Those garlands look very weird and such a contrast to the overwrought decorations used today.

I searched through some old boxes and found some of my pics of Disneyland. Not as many as I hoped, but some. Of course, one would have to be of the Mark Twain.

Thanks Major.


"Lou and Sue" said...

JG, yea!! Get them to the Major! I hope you’re in some of them! If not, just include your 3rd grade school photo, too. ;)

Chuck said...

Major, Nanook specified a color shot, which was like finding hen's teeth. Besides, this one really shows how I think everyone would prefer to remember her - "haze gray and underway."

Melissa said...

I had forgotten about the scalloped edges on those old black and white prints. Grandma had a ton of them like that.


The three Disneyland “Concord” Stagecoaches were “Arizona”, “California” and “Colorado”. I’m a big fan of horse drawn vehicles and am a member of the American Carriage Association: Stagecoaches and Omnibuses are a specialty of mine - I’ve never seen a period example of the stagecoach being given a name like a Railroad locomotive would have received. I have seen a stagecoach made in America for private use in Colombia that was elaborately painted beyond even the most detailed American Coach named “Renselor” meaning “Nightengale” which carriage historians speculate was the family name of the coach’s purchaser.

A 1868 Abott Downing catalog shows the base price for the “heavy Mail coach “ - what we call a concord coach today was $1,200.00 ( and seats 12 inside) everything else was extra ... luggage rails , top passenger seats , coach lamps, upholstery options, window shades, rear luggage ( boot) straps and leather trunk covers . Ornamental painting was 20.00 extra! The coach price total didn’t include freight!!!

Calculating the the 1868 concord mail coach price total the Disneyland concord coaches would have been the TOP OF THE COMPANY LINE and would cost about $1810.00 EACH in 1868!! That’s a hell of a lot of money!!
I speculate the Disney 1955 replicas were many more times than that to build.

Chuck said...

And the irony is that the Disney coaches weren't even full size...

Thanks for that extra info, Mike!

Major Pepperidge said...

zach, it’s Schrödinger’s llama. It is both there and not there. I feel like watching endless hours of WWII footage growing means that the Arizona is what a battleship should look like.

JG, yes, photo prints are fun, but they never look as crisp and clear as the best slides, sadly. I believe Knott’s had their stagecoach ride by 1955, but I don’t know for sure. We need a Knott’s expert to chime in! So many western-themed parks had stagecoaches and conestoga wagons, and they were both such a large part of western movies and TV shows that it is no surprise that both Knott’s and Disneyland had them. I wonder what ever happened to your friend’s stagecoach? Maybe it’s still around somewhere! Very cool that you found some Disneyland pix!

Lou and Sue, I can always pixellate a face if somebody is feeling self-conscious!

Chuck, ah, I gotcha. I’m surprised there are ANY color photos of the Arizona.

Melissa, I wonder why somebody hit on the concept of scalloped-edge photos? Did they just like the look, or did it serve some other purpose?

Mike Cozart, you are definitely the only person I know who specializes in Stagecoaches and Omnibuses! Interesting that, historically, Stagecoaches weren’t given names. It seems surprising actually. “Smitty, today you’ll be driving Tuscaloosa”. I found an online inflation calculator that said that $1,200 1868 dollars would be worth about around $22,000 today. Like a Honda Civic!

Chuck, actually, were the Stagecoaches 5/8 scale?

Melissa said...

When I was a kid, some friend of Dad’s stored an old peddler’s wagon and a sleigh in our barn. We kids spent a lot of time pretending we were trekking across the prairie on them.

TokyoMagic! said...

Major and JG, the Knott's Stagecoach rides began in 1949. There Disney goes, copying Knott's again! ;-)

Chuck said...

Major, I thought I read somewhere that they were something like 7/8 scale and really, really cramped inside, but maybe I'm remembering wrong. I can't find the reference with what I have handy. I seem to remember something about Walt not liking the cramped space and limited view, but that could be true about a full-scale Concord coach, too.