Wednesday, November 25, 2020

Views from 1956

I will be out of town (against my better judgement) for the next few days. Most of you know the drill - I will try to respond to comments when I can, but will probably only be able to once or twice a day.

Here are two scans from a lot of slides from 1956; I always like early views like these.

This first one is interesting, you can see that one of the Disneyland Railroad employees (what would his job title be?) is using a common garden hose to replenish the water in the E.P. Ripley's tender. I wonder why the water tower in Frontierland wasn't being used? It seems like it would be a faster way to go. The yellow passenger car is the "combine" - I actually don't know if it was used to carry passengers! These days you can find the fully-restored combine at Griffith Park. 

Next is a swell view of Main Street - bustling with activity, and full of beautiful, tasteful colors. Mossy greens, brick reds, soft yellows, creams... it all works wonderfully and feels appropriately antique. The patriotic bunting is always so festive.

There must be a name for those vertical lighted signs that were outside the Eastman Kodak, Gibson, and Swift buildings - they look so great. Is any of the "woodwork" actually wood? Or is it all plaster or cement or fiberglass? If so, the illusion is completely effective. What a day it would have been to stroll along Main Street!


Nanook said...

You can see all the way to the Disneyland Hotel.

Thanks, Major.


MAJOR: those vertical signs - or any sign protruding away from the facade and double faced was called a BLADE SIGN , a FLARE SIGN or FLARE BOARD.

All of the original Disneyland Main Street BLADE SIGN cabinets were completely rebuilt for Disneyland’s 50th. The originals were in pretty very good shape despite decades of use and sandblasting and refurbishing. They were replaced to meet California safety requirements. This upgrade included the replacement of all flag poles in the park with a wider base and or diameter pole. I’ve never heard of a Disneyland flag pole ever snapping off a building or blowing away .....

Melissa said...

It was in those early days that Main Street looked the most like a real downtown. Lovely pictures today.

K. Martinez said...

The best color palette Main Street ever had. Thanks, Major.

TokyoMagic! said...

Can anyone read that sign in the second-story window of the Gibson Greeting Card Store?

stu29573 said...

I agree that these look a lot more like a real Main Street than anything recent. It's not only the colors, but how the guests are staying out of the street. Even the ones "jay walking" in the middle are doing so in a single file line! Good colors/Good manners/Good street!

Budblade said...

Just look at the “sea of cars” just over the shoulder of the EP Ripley. Shades of things to come.
I think that’s a bit heavier duty than a regular garden hose. But it way better to not run out of water on a steam train.

Love the Main Street view. Still funny to me that all but those 6 rogues are walking on the sidewalk. Such polite people. They must have been raised by some good parents.

I’m amazed that there is horse poop in the street long enough for the picture to be taken. Not a street sweep in sight! Shocking.

DrGoat said...

I guess you could say that was the best Main Street that ever existed. We didn't get to the park until '57 or '58. My sister and I are at odds about that. That is certainly one of the big things I'm thankful for. We got to grow up in that time period. I guess it's just luck. I'm not as familiar as I should be concerning the different color schemes, but this must be what Walt envisioned.
Probably the best choice of photos for today.
Our Thanksgiving has been paired down to just us two. I do get to drive to my sister's house Friday and pick up some of her to die for stuffing (from Mom's recipe). If we can't have it on Thanksgiving, the day after will do.
Hope everyone has a great big beautiful Thanksgiving. Duck and cover. Donald Duck that is.
Thanks Major and everyone.

Chuck said...

The combine was actually used to cut, thresh, and clean grain crops. They discontinued using it as the area around Disneyland lost its original agricultural focus.

Beautiful photos, Major. Thanks so much!

zach said...

I'm too lazy today to check my math but I think this is the 3rd or 4th day in a row that the word 'poop' has been used on this blog. Well done.

We'll be quarantining, missing family and friends but we'll still cook and enjoy and be thankful.

Happy Thanksgiving to all.


Major Pepperidge said...

Nanook, it’s true!

Mike Cozart, aha, “blade sign”, that sounds like a term I’ve heard before. And it’s cool! Interesting about how the original signs were rebuilt, I’d never heard about that. It must have cost a bundle, but then again, the park was minting money in those days. And yeah, the FLAGPOLES? That just seems silly.

Melissa, there are two more Main Street shots from that same set, both equally nice!

K. Martinez, you are so right!

TokyoMagic!, I think you will be able to see that sign more clearly in two other photos (the ones I mentioned to Melissa), and I do believe it will be legible. I’m not at home right now, or else I’d just look and tell you what it says!

stu29573, I’m telling ya, those original Imagineers knew what they were doing. No it’s true! ;-) It’s funny, the jaywalkers are moving as quickly as they can to not get run over by a passing Omnibus!

Budblade, I suppose you’re right, it does look like the hose is a little thicker than your standard garden hose. But still! Why not just go to the next station and fill ‘er up? I think that if all the guests stick to the sidewalks, then other guests do the same, consciously or not. When everyone just walks in the streets, then the mentality is, “This isn’t really a street”. If you know what I mean. That horse poo might have only been there for moments - horses are sneaky.

DrGoat, many of the other “lands” improved over the years, but I really do feel like Main Street was perfect from the beginning. There was nothing in the Opera House yet, but otherwise, the street was full of interesting stores and amazing merchandise to buy. How I wish I’d seen it for myself! It sounds like I didn’t go to the park about 9 or 10 years after you. I hope you and your wife have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Chuck, so THAT’S why they call it a “combine”!

zach, I figured it was high time to class this joint up. What word will I use next? If I tell you it will spoil all the fun. As I implied, I WISH I was quarantining. Long story. Ken Martinez can tell you!

Melissa said...

That’s probably a decorative horse dropping made of fiberglass, to lend an air of verisimilitude.

Happy Thanksgiving Eve to all!

Steve DeGaetano said...

That "employee" in the shot of the Ripley is the Engineer. The Fireman can be seen seated on his left-hand cushion. Not sure why he's taking water here. But as Budblade noted, bad things happen when steam locomotives run low on water.

The combine definitely carried passengers, but not in the baggage compartment. Speaking of which, you can see an Adlake lantern inside the combine.

JC Shannon said...

Love a good Main Street photo. The only clue to the year, is the fashions park goers are wearing. Thanks major.

Chuck said...

Steve, just consulted my copy of the second edition of your book about the Disneyland Railroad (p223), and you mention that you'd never seen a photo of the original 1955 water tower with a spout and that it may not have ever been used. While these slides may be dated 1956, we all know that exposure dates and processing dates often don't match up. Could this have been how the tender tanks were filled in the earliest days?

Also - another thought - in the early days, the C.K. Holliday and the freight train stopped at Frontierland Depot while the E.P. Ripley stopped at Main Street Station. The water tower has always been located on the main line, and Frontierland Depot was also on the main. At that time, did the Ripley normally tank up at Frontierland, or was it sometimes forced to do another lap if the Holliday was loading at Frontierland? Whatever the reason, it was just good, safe practice to have water available at both depots.

JG said...

Major, the Main Street photos do look like a real town, unlike the bizarre mishmash we have today.

Seconding the term "blade sign", we see this used occasionally on drawings.

Re: Flagpoles, for some types of buildings in California, now, structural calculations are required to confirm the pole size and tubing wall thickness is correlated with the proposed flag size and expected wind speeds at the flag pole location. Because no detail is too small to over-regulate.

At the time of these photos, the woodwork and trim was undoubtedly wood. I was fortunate to discover a number of construction videos on YouTube and the construction of Main Street is featured. The building that later became the Opera House was first a millwork shop where the trim, windows, moldings, Tuna Clipper and parts of the Mark Twain were fabricated. Everyone but me probably knows that already, but it was new to me yesterday.

The fiberglass technology was just getting started and molded plastic tech that is so prevalent today was not even a dream in 1956. The video showed some parts of SBC were rendered in fiberglass, but much of the rockwork is plain old plaster, artistically rendered.

Thanks to Steve DeGaetano for info on the trains, always interesting. I still can't get over the chutzpah of hand-building your own railroad, complete with three (!) engines.

Still waiting for George Lucas to do something worthwhile with his film-derived riches to benefit society the way Disney did. Yes, the Park was meant to make money, and it did, but look at the joy it produced as well, even decades later. Your move, George.

Thank you, Major. Much appreciated, a fine post today. Happy Thanksgiving everyone, however we have to spend it.


Steve DeGaetano said...

You make good points, Chuck! I forgot about the photos of the earliest tank with no spout. If anyone has Michael Broggie's book, this can be seen quite clearly on pages 236 and 238--the Holliday standing next to a spoutless water tower on July 4, 1955.

I'm guessing the tanks were topped off backstage the evening before, so using the hose to replenish what was used probably didn't take too long.

Kathy! said...

Looks like a lady (better seen in the last picture) bought a blue souvenir pennant, and is the man near her wearing a Disneyland cap? The kid behind them had to push the trash can like it commanded him to. I never noticed that there were actual street signs on Main Street at the "cross streets" (N. Main ?? St.), probably everyone else knew that already. Neat photos, Major.

Steve DeGaetano said...

Kathy, early Disneyland was riddled with small details. You are indeed looking at the intersection of Main Street and East and West Center Streets. Every building on Main Street even has its own street number address.

Omnispace said...

I agree, that is a very pleasing view of Main Street and the colors are perfect. I love how everyone is going about their business as they would in an actual town. It also looks like a beautiful summer day with just a bit of haze.

I'm wondering if those dynamite barrels in the baggage car are filled with Disneyland flyers? I think I see some poking out the top of one.

The expanse of the Parking Lot is almost shocking compared to the confines of the park itself. When they built the additional park and redeveloped the area between them, I felt it really should have been more a rural or park-like setting from the late 1800's to compliment Main Street.

Thanks for the train talk!

Anonymous said...

I think we are all missing something about the trains...yes, they need water but they also need fuel to fire up the boilers! They didn't use coal or wood for that. That is a fueling hose. Happy Thanksgiving to all!. KS

Sunday Night said...

I was just thinking…GDB has been open for business longer than Disneyland this summer!