Thursday, February 18, 2021

Swift Souvenirs

The Swift Market House was a fixture on Main Street from opening day until sometime in 1968. Go in and play a game of checkers! Get a giant dill pickle from a barrel! Listen to the party line on the olde-timey phones! There were also souvenir items for sale, though there aren't a lot of souvenirs that are specific to the Market House. But today I am sharing two!

First up is this unusual (and somewhat scarce) multi-page brochure, a reproduction of a vintage Swift item. Inside are lists of meat products (and byproducts) that one could order, with prices as they were 40 or 50 years (or more?) earlier. You can't have too much lard, you know. 

I am unsure as to when this was handed out, but it was probably in the early days, and not for very long either. Man, I wish I had a nice cured ham to gnaw on right about now.

Next is this swell souvenir tea towel (or kitchen towel), in amazing condition. This thing is crisp and clean, and no caffeine! I keep it rolled up around a foam pool noodle so there won't be any fold lines.

One half shows the exterior of the Market House, looking rather colorful. Hey, why not.  The red wagon from the Red Wagon Inn (also sponsored by Swift) makes a cameo appearance. Above, a rack displays hams, smoked sausages (?), and a saw for going through those bones. Crunch. 

One of the best parts of this towel is the spot illustrations on the border. A monkey and a giraffe, the Mark Twain, a keystone cop, and so on. Even a man looking at a Mutoscope at the Penny Arcade.

Here's the interior, looking very homey; relax by the cast-iron stove, maybe. In the background, a helpful employee sells a nickel's worth of penny candy to a lady. She'll bring her buckboard around back to haul the 50 pounds of sugary treats away.

There's more great spot illustrations, including the fearsome giant squid, one of Peter Pan's flying galleons,  a Teacup, a Skyway gondola, and the Clock of the World.

Here's a scan of a vintage postcard, with Sheriff Lucky and Black Bart up to their usual shenanigans. Why they are on Main Street, I'll never know. The keystone cop tries to calm things down, while Trinidad (the "white wing") looks on.

I'm also aware of some boxed fancy soaps and a metal lithographed tray from the Market House (I have both), as well as some candy weiners (!), but that's about all I can think of as for souvenirs from this little store. It's now a Starbucks, as you probably know.


Chuck said...

I hope you got a good deal on the tea towel; half of the thing was printed upside-down!

So cool to see Trinidad on a postcard.

I may have told this story before, but a couple of years ago a friend sent me a picture from his phone of his kid wearing a Wilderness Explorer ball cap (the Scout-like organization Russel, the kid trapped on the porch, belongs to in Up). The message with it was "Recognize the hat?"

I didn't, but I did recognize the phone on the wall behind him. I asked if he was at the Market House to get a Starbuck's coffee. His response: "Yes. How do you know this stuff??!!" It's because I hang out there with you all virtually every day.

K. Martinez said...

Fun story there, Chuck!

My favorite today is the Swift Disneyland Souvenir brochure. I have never see one of those before. What a gem! Your Disneyland ephemera and souvenir collection seems endless and I love it. One of my favorite types of posts you do. Thanks for sharing these, Major.

I wouldn't mind gnawing on a cured ham either, but I'd also hanker for a hunk of cheese to go with it. Cheddar, if you please.


Even though the Market House had been remodeled many times , and had gone through many sponsors ( Swift, Del Monte, Sun Giant , Spice Island Foods and Smuckers .... are a few) it was one of the last Main Street buildings with an interior that still felt very “Walt Era” . I think now the Main Street Cinema and Magic Shop are the very last left that feels that way to me.

It’s amazing there are any Swift Market House souvenirs at all let alone 4!! Fun stuff Major!

Nanook said...

What gems-! And as for lard, although butter provides quite the flavor, ask any [olde timey] pie crust baker, and they'll tell you it's lard (buy it by the pail) for the flakiest of crusts - with leaf lard being tops.

As for Swift's Premium hams, I'm afraid my favorite has to be Wham. Remember... "If you ain't eatin' Wham, you ain't eatin' ham-!"

Thanks, Major.

K. Martinez said...

Nanook, I remember that quote from "Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House". I love that movie!

DrGoat said...

Both my parents used to stop in there and they would make us wait while they had they're fun listening to the party line conversations. Of course, we were itching to get into the rest of the park, but I have very clear memories of my Mom getting a kick out of those phones.
A giant kudo to you Major for taking such good care of your collection. My Mom had a couple of those kitchen towels. They believed in using things they bought so they are long gone. They just weren't collectors like your family evidently was and is. Ah well.
K. Make mine Jarlsberg. Goes with ham very well.
Thanks M.

JC Shannon said...

All this talk about ham is making me crave it, with a big ol pile of scalloped potatoes. Mmm, Mmm. I never appreciated Main Street until I was a teen. At night, it takes on a whole different vibe. So nostalgic cool. I have to go now , my Zuzz Zuzz water softener is acting up. Thanks Major, and all, great comments.

Anonymous said...

This is quite a treat Major. I remember pulling the best dill pickles out of one of those barrels...probably closest to the counter and wrapping it in paper ready to eat. And on one cold evening, enjoying the working potbelly stove for some warmth. It was a different vibe. I so agree with Mike Cozart. KS

Major Pepperidge said...

Chuck, I thought the other half was upside down! It is pretty cool that Trinidad wound up on a postcard, it’s about the best look we ever get of him. Your story is awesome, and familiar… I would have recognized the Market House wall too, probably. That kind of thing is in my DNA by now!

K. Martinez, that souvenir brochure is interesting partly because it’s odd. I mean, mostly it’s a list of meat and other products. They didn’t “Disneyfy” it at all. “…hanker for a hunk of cheese”, it’s amazing how those old classic songs from our childhood stick in our brains!

Mike Cozart, yeah, somehow the conversion to a Starbucks was the last gasp for the Market House, in spite of all the other sponsors over the years. I wasn’t even sure if the Main Street Cinema was still basically untouched (wasn’t it turned into a store a few years ago?). I have a couple of other Swift Market House souvenirs, I’ll take photos of them eventually.

Nanook, I wonder if I have EVER had a pie crust made with lard? No idea. And what the heck is “leaf lard”, anyway? I wonder if “Wham” was a riff on “Spam”?

K. Martinez, yet another classic movie that I have only seen in bits and pieces. I sure wish I got Turner Classic Movies.

DrGoat, aw, I think it’s cute that your mom and dad liked listening to the party line! But I understand as a kid, you would wonder what the heck they were doing. “There’s rides just waiting for us!”. I generally try to buy things in good condition, though this was particularly minty. I’ve seen them go for kind of a lot, so I need to take care of this one!

Jonathan, I will probably have a nice ham and cheese sandwich for lunch, at any rate. My mom never cared for ham, even though my dad loved it, so we only had it occasionally growing up. I love split pea soup with lots of smoked ham! Darn, now I’m hungry too. Zuzz Zuzz, great name!

Major Pepperidge said...

KS, I’ve heard about the dill pickles in the barrel. I also remember a Jean Shepard story where he describes a pickle that he got a the county fair as being “the size of a baby”, ha ha.

Anonymous said...

Major, this is great stuff! I had no idea there were brochures like this!

Very much liking the postcard view of the interior. I remember this well. My Dad liked this place a lot, I'm sure it reminded him of places in his past. He worked in a grocery store in Los Angeles in the 1930's and picked up deliveries at the Farmer's Market at 3rd & Fairfax. I wonder if his store resembled this interior.

Dr. Goat, I remember those phone conversations too, there were some notebooks or directories by the phones, I would write messages to myself in them and then hunt them up on my next trip the following year. Sometimes I could find them, but other times, the books were replaced, or pages removed.

It was sad to see Market House become Starbucks, which should have gone into the old Hill Brothers spot up near the Opera House. I suppose they didn't want a huge queue right at the Park entrance.

Kitchen towels like that are some of my favorite souvenirs. They are inexpensive, easy to pack, and remind me of my travels when I use them. The downside is, they do wear out over time. I really like this example, reminds me of some my Mom had from that era. She used to hang the decorative ones on the front rail in the rack, and have plain ones behind that were for use. I don't recall any Disney ones from home though.

Thanks for this fun post.


"Lou and Sue" said...

Am really enjoying all the comments and info, today, from everyone. I do remember the Swift Market House, walking through it as a kid and browsing, but everyone's memories today have made it come back to life and I've learned more about it.

It must be Cary Grant week. I LOVE 'Mr. Blandings Builds His Dreamhouse'...thanks for the laughs!

One last thought about Starbuck's: I love them and their fancy, tasty coffee concoctions, but I think Disney should've placed them in Downtown Disney, only.

Thanks for sharing, Major! You'll have to open up your museum right next door to Mike Cozart's, someday.

DrGoat said...

Major, We used to listen to Jean Shepard on the radio many years back. He had a show on PBS and told a story every week. Loved to listen to his voice telling a hilarious story. Thanks for reminding me. The list of things I miss are growing longer.

JC Shannon said...

Major, Zuzz Zuzz water softner is a line from Mr. Blandings. Just another expense for the money pit house he was building.

Kathy! said...

Leaf lard? Cotosuet? Have I been missing out not buying these fabulous products? Love the tea towel and the fun little spot illustrations. Thanks for sharing, Major.

Melissa said...

Ken, is your ten-gallon hat feeling five-gallon flat? ;)

These are both wonderful souvenirs. Right up my alley. My grandmother used to collect those illustrated tea towels, especially the ones with a calendar on them.

Major Pepperidge said...

JG, I used to think I had a pretty good idea of what was out there as far as Disneyland brochures and paper collectibles. But I have met a “gold star” collector who owns items that blow my mind! Dozens of things that I never even knew of. It’s pretty incredible. Funny that you mentioned the Farmer’s Market, I just scanned some nice slides of that place. I understand that Disneyland wants sponsorships for their stores, but, I don’t know, there’s just something about Starbucks. I don’t even hate them, but they feel out of place. I used to have more souvenir tea towels, but they were not all in such good shape and I sold them off. I feel a pang of regret, admittedly!

Lou and Sue, one of the coolest things is that years ago, somebody on eBay had these sets of “toilet soap” from the Market House, I haven’t seen them before or since. I bought three sets! And then Daveland posted an interior, and you could see the soaps on display in the background, which was pretty neat. I’m not a coffee drinker, but I could go for a frappuccino on a hot day. Haven’t had one in years though. It’s like a 2,000 calorie milkshake!

DrGoat, I have downloaded some old Jean Shepard episodes, including the one where he walks around the 1964 World’s Fair (he’s pretty critical, but in a humorous way). I should look for more!

Jonathan, AH. Again, a movie that I’ve never seen from beginning to end.

Kathy!, leaf lard is a perfect wedding gift, and also good for baby showers. In fact, it’s good for any occasion!

Melissa, ;-) Those commercials worked, I always wanted cheese right afterwards. My grandma had a tea towel from LAX of all places. WHY?

JG said...

Mr. Blandings reference reminds me, there was a copy of the movie house in Fresno, I used to drive by it back and forth to work. I understand there were several built around the country, but can’t recall why. Might have been movie promotions.

It was still there and in good shape when I visited a couple years ago.

Major, I hope you will post those Farmers Market slides, Dad used to stop there on the ride home from Disneyland. I loved it, I think he liked to visit his old territory.

Leaf lard is a thing, but caul fat is really esoteric.


Chuck said...

For those of you scratching your heads over "hankering for a hunk of cheese," click here.

And now I'm off to dinner, which just happens to be grilled cheese sandwiches!

Melissa said...

I’ve been to the LA Farmers’ Market! On the same trip where I went to Disneyland.

Anonymous said...

I THINK the Ghost Town General Store in Knott's had a cracker barrel that had real crackers in it. Can someone confirm my hazy memory?

Dean Finder said...

Michael Eisner was responsible for those Schoolhouse Rock interstitials on ABC back in the 1970s, so they're technically part of Disney now.