Thursday, December 24, 2020

Merry Christmas, 1961!

I will be away from home for the next few days (against my better judgement - again), and as always I will try to respond to comments at least once a day. Maybe twice!

I wasn't sure what to post on Christmas Eve, but I think today's photos will make you smile - here are some lovely images from December, 1961 featuring a Christmas parade on Main Street USA. These have great color and plenty of vintage charm - they remind me of some other photos (also from 1961) that I posted way back in 2007. See those HERE, HERE, and HERE. Relax for a few minutes and enjoy!

We all love dancing packs of Old Gold cigarettes, so how could we not love marching wooden blocks that spell out HAPPY HOLIDAY? Red leggings and white cowboy boots are a nice touch. I'll bet it's hard to march in unison when you can't really see your fellow marchers.
Some wooden cavalry soldiers ride by, followed by a giant porcelain doll carrying a lace handkerchief. Behind her is a small herd of garlanded Christmas trees. Notice the boy to our left wearing a Keppy Kap with a somewhat rare design variation.
J. Worthington Foulfellow looks right at us, with Pinocchio and Jiminy Cricket hidden behind him. The pipers in red tartan and black coats make a striking sight. And sound! Their dads wanted them to learn electric guitar, but they stuck to their guns and took bagpipe lessons instead. And it finally paid off.  

Notice the weird giant poodle to the extreme left.
Aw, Snow White looks adorable. She remembers when her movie was originally released, December 21, 1937 - only 24 years earlier (83 years in 2020!). I'm happy to see that she and the Seven Dwarfs are still good friends. These slides have such great color, and I love looking at the people in the crowd.
Wow, another beautiful photo, with the classic wooden soldiers (25 or 30 of them?) marching past. I haven't mentioned how much I also love the blue sky, with the snow-capped Matterhorn towering in the distance. Say, who's that following the soldiers?
It's Mickey Mouse himself, pounding "The Big Bass Drum". His float is pulled by Chip and Dale, and Pluto the Pup has hitched a ride at the front. The wonderful silly reindeer are right behind Mickey.


I hope you enjoyed this Christmas parade.


Nanook said...

How do those 'wooden blocks' see, let alone march in unison-? (Yes, I see the eye slots, but still...) This is definitely one happy-looking parade, and one just for this season.

Thanks, Major.

"Lou and Sue" said...

TokyoMagic! I see your predecessor pines! You weren't even a pinecone seed, at this time, were you? (Have you ever shared your story about the streetcar track and your tree costume, here? If not, you should.)

Major, thank you for these fun Christmas parade pictures - I sure am enjoying all your holidays posts, this month - thank you for making this season jollier!

JC Shannon said...

Fun parade photos. Believe it or not, I am an actual fan of the pipes. If you like em too, AC/DC incorporated them in one of their tunes. Whoever that is playing Snow White has got my vote for star of this parade. It looks like a great day of Christmas magic at Disneyland. Thanks Major. Now TM, hows about that story.

TokyoMagic! said...

Hooray, for the Christmas trees!

Is Jiminy Cricket a doll, sitting on top of Pinocchio's hat, or is he a person in a disproportionately tall costume? It's kind of hard to tell, due to the partial blockage.

I can see Santa through the front window of the train engine, following behind the "Silly Reindeer." And Raggedy Any can be seen just above the roof of the train, although there is partial blockage there, as well.

Sue, I haven't told that story here, or on my blog. It's just so horribly embarrassing! Actually, it's not embarrassing, so here goes.

There are parts of the Horse Drawn Streetcar tracks that merge together in several places in the street, creating large gaps. During our final dress rehearsal of the Christmas parade, my "tree" got stuck in one of those gaps. I pulled and tugged, but I couldn't get myself free. I looked behind me and Santa's reindeer, who followed the Christmas trees, were splitting off to go around me. I kept trying to free myself, but it just wasn't happening. I turned around again, and this time all I could see was Santa's float coming right at me. I don't know if the driver of that float saw me and would have eventually stopped or not. Fortunately two "parade captains" who normally walk along the parade route, saw that I was stuck and came running towards me. With the three of us tugging, I was freed from the track and then scurried along to catch up with my fellow trees.

Fortunately, since it was a dress rehearsal, the park was closed and there were no guests watching. Our first performance for the public was the following day and by then, they had long rubber strips that they would place into the grooves of the tracks, just where those larger gaps were. I don't know if they had used those rubber strips in the past, and just hadn't used them for our dress rehearsal, or if they came up with them because of what had happened to me. But I did see them continue to use those strips for years afterward, and they might even still use them today.

So I almost "got run over" by some reindeer.....AND Santa Claus!

Pegleg Pete said...

TokyoMagic!, one can just make out Jimmy Cricket's head beyond the pine trees between J Worthington Foulfellow and Pinocchio in the previous photograph, so it would appear that he was indeed inhabited by a taller cast member. Thanks, by the way, for sharing that story! Meanwhile, in that first photo the Big Bad Wolf (and some pigs) are terrorising the crowd on the left. Hope everyone has a safe and happy Christmas!

Chuck said...

These are beautiful, Major!

My brother-in-law plays the bagpipes (quite well, I might add; he's in several award-winning pipe bands). My wife tells me he used to have to practice in the garage because they were too loud for the house and they didn't want to disturb the neighbors.

One year while he was in college, he drove up to see my wife and I as we were visiting my parents for Christmas in NW Ohio. He stepped outside on the morning of Christmas Eve to play a quick set out in the snow. All of the neighbors stepped outside to "check their Christmas lights" for a few minutes until he was done.

In the fourth photo, it looks like Sneezy is whispering something to Happy. "Dude, I think my shoe is stuck in the tracks. Can you give me a hand?" Behind him, a boy is pinching Sleepy's cheek to try to wake him up.

I'm imagining all of the backstage confusion before they finally labeled the Big Bass Drum.

TM!, that is an awesome story. I wonder if that was a case of "crap! We forgot the rubber doohickeys!" or if you identified a new safety hazard. I hope your experience is now a Disney Parade cast member urban legend.

"One year, there was this guy in a Christmas tree who got stuck on the track and was trampled by the reindeer and then smooshed flat by Santa's float. It took a crew of thirteen sweepers eight hours to scrape him off the street, and they never did manage to dig all of him out of the nooks and crannies beneath the rails. That's why they finally had to replace the tracks a couple of years ago. They say that if you walk along Main Street after midnight during a full moon in December, you can still faintly hear his ghostly voice moaning his last words: 'They ruin everything!!!!'"

Andrew said...

I like to see Dopey trailing behind the rest of the Seven Dwarfs. I do think they lost something when they made the masks less rubbery.

Great photos today, and thanks for sharing that story, TM. I'm just still confused on who the poodle (and giant Scottish terrier in the Tencennial special) is supposed to represent.

Stu29573 said...

Super fun pictures today! That is a BUNCH of toy soldiers! The drum reminds me of the parade in "Disneyland Through the Seasons" (or something like that) where they kept showing Mickey banging on it and hurting everyones' ears! Speaking of which, being of Scottish descent, I am required to love the pipes. It's in my contract. Thanks for the pics, Major!

Irene said...

I am also of Scottish descent and I love the bagpipes mainly because my Dad used to take me to Scottish Games and when the various bands came to town, like the Black Watch, and performed I would go along. I loved it but after my Dad passed in 1972 I could not go hear bagpipes live without crying, a lot! So it was years before I went back. Near where I live is a park and a man lived there who would stand on his porch facing the park dressed in his full kilt and practice his piping!!!
OK TM, that was a great story about getting stuck on the tracks!!! I'll bet if there was an audience by the time you were rescued, everyone would have cheered and applauded.
Love these photos and looking at the crowd. It blows my mind when you mentioned that Snow White the movie was only 24 years old in 1961!

JG said...

Major, you have struck the perfect Christmas photo set, thank you for this.

All of my wooden blocks came with white boots and red leggings. Can't imagine trying to stay in step in a rig like that.

Mom and Dad went to see the Snow White movie when they were dating, so I give Snow White credit for my existence. She is certainly pretty here. I'm glad to see the dark ride revamp is giving her more prominence.

It looks like it was a good snow year, the bobsled ride is probably 10 percent faster.

I also love bagpipe music. Best bagpipe memory is walking on Asilomar beach in Pacific Grove and hearing the piper who walks the course at Spanish Bay. Eerie and uplifting all at once. Nothing like a New York bagpipe parade though, when only two songs are played; Amazing Grace and Scotland the Brave. Heard a bagpipe described once as a "man with a cat under his arm, it's tail in his mouth, and biting it". Most unfair.

I do remember Mickey and that huge drum, it must have been used for many years.

Tokyo, you are a veritable gold mine of funny stories, thanks for this one. Glad you escaped the gruesome fate of being crushed by Juggernaut Santa.

Happy Christmas to all the Junior Gorillas!


Anonymous said...

How familiar this looks to me. Seems like the Christmas parade changed little through the 60s...just a gradual transformation.

Happy Holidays to all! KS

Major Pepperidge said...

Nanook, I guess they just have to follow the beat of the music; that plus lots of practice? This parade looks so great.

Lou and Sue, you know ALL the inside stories, even the ones that have never appeared in print before! Glad you liked these, Merry Christmas to you!

Jonathan, I think I like bagpipes in small doses. I once went to see a play in Pasadena, and for some reason a band of bagpipers came down the alley where we were waiting in line. That was neat! And unexpected.

TokyoMagic!, it does seem strange that they would cast a tall actor to portray Jiminy. Seems counter-intuitive. Sorry some of the photos seem to be screwed up, I can’t fix anything when I’m away from home, unfortunately. I’m sure your parade adventure wasn’t funny at the time, but it makes a great story all these years later! When you say that the tree got stuck, do you mean your feet? Or some other part of the tree? I was wondering if they had you wearing some sort of unusual footwear that would have made it more likely to get stuck in the tracks. Thank goodness it was just a dress rehearsal! Amazing that it took three grown men to get you unstuck… you were really wedged in there. Interesting detail about the rubber strips that they used afterwards!

Pegleg Pete, in early concept art, Jiminy was drawn as a much longer, thinner, more insect-like character, until Ward Kimball made him cuter. I wonder if the costume was sort of a callback to those earlier designs? The color on these 1961 Kodachrome slides is so good, it’s really amazing.

Chuck, I can’t help wondering… of all instruments to learn, why the bagpipes? I’d get it if your bro-in-law lived in bonny Scotland, but otherwise, it’s kind of an unusual choice! Not that there’s anything wrong with that (as they say). I love the mental image of the neighbors stepping out into the snow to listen to some piped Christmas songs. Sneezy was always the worst gossip, and whispered things to everybody. “Grumpy has gained weight!”. I wonder if those rubber doohickies have a specific name? Now THAT would be some obscure trivia. Now I want to make a stop-motion animated Christmas special about a parade Christmas tree that gets stuck in the tracks. Of course I would have to give it a happy ending, not the smushed one you have!

Andrew, those rubber faces were disturbing! And yet… they were great too. Maybe the poodle was supposed to be a character from “Lady and the Tramp”? Or maybe just a giant toy, that seems more likely.

Stu29573, I love the big band of toy soldiers! They look so great in a large group like that. Are you sure it wasn’t the bagpipes that were hurting the ears in “Disneyland Through the Seasons”? ;-)

Irene, Scottish Games? Like those things where they throw the giant log? I don’t know what other games they play. Parcheesi? Pictionary? I totally understand hearing music that your dad loved and getting sad; my dad had two beautiful Christmas albums of choral music, and my mom absolutely can’t hear them anymore. So they have been retired. Maybe someday we can reintroduce them to the playlist on Christmas morning. Isn’t it crazy that Snow White was only 24 years old in ’61? Many of those parents saw it as children when it was first released!

JG, thank you, I have been saving these scans all year! As soon as I found them I knew what day they had to appear. I’ve mentioned it before, but for my Dad’s whole life, “Snow White” was his favorite movie. I think he bought me the soundtrack album when I was a kid so that HE could listen to it. For some reason, “Amazing Grace” does sound extra good on bagpipes. Same with “Danny Boy”. I wonder how hard the bagpipes are to play? Merry Christmas to you!

KS, if there’s one thing people love about Christmas, it’s the traditions! Folks love to see things that remind them of past holidays, even today. Happy Holidays to you.

DrGoat said...

You had me at marching Old Gold packs but leggy toy blocks will do.
Nice set of pics. Getting Chip'n Dale to haul Mickey around must have cost a whole tree full of nuts.
Chuck, I'd love to hear your in-law play The Black Bear or Highland Laddie,
on a cold, snowy day in a regimental barracks up in Scotland, possibly near the Moors.
One of my favorite movies is Tunes of Glory, with Alec Guinness. Old movie but it really is outstanding. Watch it at least once a year. Do yourself a favor and check it out.
Love that story, Tokyo. Thanks. I can picture the scene.
Hope everyone has big happiness, or at least a modicum of, this Christmas season. Appreciate every Jr. Gorilla and the precious information and stories that are expressed on the Major's most excellent blog. My day wouldn't be at all complete without at least several doses.
Buon Natale!

DBenson said...

There were at least a couple of those big two-person dog costumes popping up in early episodes of the TV show. Maybe they were included with those Ice Capades costumes used for opening day.

In the second shot, those giant toy horsemen -- Modeled on "Babes in Toyland" props, or actually used in the movie?

DrGoat said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
DrGoat said...

Forgot to thank you Major, for hosting all the good times and memories.
Thank you!
PS Lou & Sue, looked through your Green Stamp catalog and there are a couple of little Mickey and Donald figures plus groovy pink, fuzzy bathroom shag rug numbers that are so, well, pink.

Andrew said...

JG, I hope the Snow White refurbishment turns out well. I mean, the Evil Queen is a big part of the story, so she'll still be in there somewhere, right? I couldn't help but smile and think of GDB when I saw this video, though.

There's a Scottish Highland Games at a wooded amusement park near here, and I've been a few times with my fiddling group. The best part is that no one pays attention to you around the ride buildings...

SunnieDaze21 said...

Snow White was the very first film my grandmother saw in theatres as a little girl and remained her favorite all her life. Seeing Snow White and the gang in this parade brings back fond Christmas memories with her.

What an incredible story, TokyoMagic! I'll never look at the streetcar tracks the same way again.

Thanks for the fantastic photos and quick trip in the time machine, Major. Happy holidays to all!

Anonymous said...

What, no glockenspiel girls?!? (Such cute gals actually playing those doggone things… but the wigs Entertainment made them wear! Yikes!)

Rubber railseal inserts for the streetcar tracks were utilized throughout the ‘70s when I worked at the park (I also recall watching them get placed before Christmas parades in the later ‘60s) but as more and more money was being expended on upcoming projects like EPCOT, there was less dough around to pay Laborers to stick around for parade rehearsals.

Laborers were the only people allowed to place the railseals much as they had to bring out rain mats and the like. It was a, ahem, “complicated” system as Attractions would call our office to let us know that they needed rain mats at the turnstiles of, oh, say the Matterhorn. Then someone in Janitorial would call Maintenance (who were the only people allowed to physically move the turnstiles aside) who would call the Laborers (who were the only folks allowed to bring rain mats to the location) and a sweeper would meet an RO at the Matterhorn, watch the Maintenance guy pull the turnstile, watch the Laborer lay out the rain mat, watch Maintenance move the turnstile back so the RO could start taking tickets again. We were there in case there was garbage behind the turnstile (as there often was owing to folks trashing their popcorn, etc. at the very last moment) creating a tripping hazard. Whew!

For the Mansion and Bear Band (and some of the dark rides), we worked with Attractions to keep mats handy (no one ever called the Laborers to pick them up after night crew hosed off the entrances) so we could skip all that compartmentalizing and just try to keep customers from falling down. Weird idea, huh?

As the 25th Anniversary Parade had *so* many horses, sweepers and Janitorial busboys were heavily involved, which meant that many of us were paid to work rehearsals after the park had closed. I recall there being several problems owing to the railseals not being in place for the early rehearsals because Nunis wouldn’t approve overtime for the Laborers. Entertainment finally laid down the law and pointed out that it was very dangerous (all the rehearsals were at night with minimal park lighting) and the railseals needed to be utilized. And so… they were! ;)

There, more than anybody ever wanted to know about Disneyland’s rain mats or streetcar track inserts!

Merry Christmas!


Chuck said...

Major, my mother-in-law is British and was involved in a Scottish dancing group at the time. My brother-in-law became fascinated with the instrument and the rest is his personal history.

DrGoat, check your e-mail. Best I can do at short notice.

Andrew, what a cruel thing to do to your elders on Christmas Eve! ;-)

Huck, actually, that's exactly what this group wants to know. ;-) "Railseals." You have embiggened my vocabulary.

DrGoat said...

Chuck, can't get to that email until Monday, but I can access my other at:

TokyoMagic! said...

Pegleg Pete, Chuck, Andrew, Irene, JG, Sunnie Daze, and DrGoat.....I'm glad that you enjoyed my story! Thanks! And thanks Sue, for suggesting that I tell it!

Huck, thank you for that detailed info about the "Railseals." It is greatly appreciated! So it was just Disney's cheapness, which almost led to my being squashed by Santa. It figures!!!!

Chuck, if I ever do haunt Disneyland, that would be EXACTLY what I would say!

Pegleg Pete, thanks for pointing out that the Pinocchio characters were in that previous shot as well. But in that pic, it almost looks like Jiminy is attached to Pinocchio's hat. One of the links that the Major provided at the beginning of the post, leads to this photo, in which Jiminy does appear to be small-sized, but we still can't tell for sure, because Pinocchio is out of frame. We might not ever know for sure!

Major, in the later years, the Christmas tree costumes changed to a metal framework with wheels on the bottom. It was one of my wheels that wedged just perfectly into the gap. I guess I really should have "minded the gap!" Whaa-waaa! And now I am hearing that vintage jingle (in a real deep voice) "FALL INTO THE GAP!"

JG said...

Huck, thank you as always for the back story!