Tuesday, November 29, 2022

Town Square, 1950s

Here is a pair of very nice photos of Town Square, taken late in the day. Mama mia, where are all the people?? There are a few, here and there, but my goodness, the park looks so empty.

First up is this nice look at the Bekins Storage building (I have always loved that interesting shape) and the Emporium. Everything seems so tranquil; I imagine that this was long before they played music over a PA system, so it was probably very quiet, except for the very pleasing sounds of the clip-clop of horse's hooves, the sound of the train whistle, and that sort of thing.

Next we have a Horseless Carriage coming toward us, while the Opera House and Bank of America are in the background. Notice the folding chairs set up beneath the Opera House's awning - just in case any guests thought there might be something for them to see inside the building. Not yet! There are some posters flanking the door to the Opera House, it always kills me to see that they've been drastically trimmed to fit in those frames.

For anyone still looking, I attempted a "tilt/shift" effect on the first photo. It would have worked better if I'd had more lower (foreground) area to help with the "short focal length" effect. Oh well, it is what it is.


Nanook said...

Vacant, indeed-! And with the exception of the gent slouching on the bench with his legs fully extended - everyone looks very prim, proper and formal. A different time to be sure.

Thanks, Major.

JB said...

The large display case on the Bekins wall contains a trio of attraction posters. The one on the left appears to be the Columbia Sailing Ship. I can't tell what the other two are.
This photo looks very much like an artist's scale model, with a few little plastic people to provide 'realism'.

I wonder what that is behind the folding chairs? Sort of a rack thingy, about 3 or 4 feet tall with a decorative top. Through the Horseless Carriage windshield it looks like there might be more than one of them. Racks for the folding chairs? And what are those chairs doing there? Something must have been going on there.

Thanks for the mysterious pictures, Major.

Melissa said...

JB, I was thinking the exact same thing about the little plastic people! I especially lke the lady in the red hat between the horsie and the Emporium window.

The mention of Dobbin's hooves going clip-clop made me think for the first time how similar horseshoes and tap shoes are. It's always been on my bucket list to play half of a pantomime horse; if I ever get the chance, I'll insist on doing it in tap shoes.

Nanook said...

@ JB-
Those AP's are: the Columbia Sailing Ship; the Jungle River Adventureland; and the Grand Canyon Diorama. That "rack thingy" could be a grouping of folding music stands...

Melissa said...

Sharp eye, Nanook! I concur about the music stands. I wonder if the whole shebang is a setup for a band performance.


I’ve seen many Disneyland photographs with drastically trimmed attraction poster ….. if only they knew back then what we know now!! But at the time they were made quickly and were intended for quick and temporary use in many cases …. . I’m sure you’ve heard about the guest bathroom Wally Boag and his son-in-law wall papered with dozens and dozens attraction posters!! Cut up and done in a collage format. I would have cried seeing that being done! Many years ago a friend bought a Tahitian Terrace-Tiki Room-Plaza Pavilion attraction poster ( very rare) it was in a frame and mounted to sone kind of fiberboard…. But the sad thing was if you looked close you could see the hundreds of pin holes in the face of the poster … especially heavy around the perimeter. Who would have done this ?? The seller had no info. Years later another friend of mine bought a Red Wagon Inn ; framed ; and with pin holes …. Not as bad as the Tahitian Terrace poster , but pin holes just the same. This poster came from retired A Disneyland restaurant manager . He said it had come from a backstage hallway in the Red Wagon / Plaza Inn and had been used as a pin board to post menu changes and cooking directives for the head chef!! We assume that was the same pin hole explanation for the Tahitian Terrace poster.

Chuck said...

I don’t usually do this, but it’s an easy job today; the posters in front of the Opera House are for the Grand Canyon diorama and Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. If you trim the edges of an attraction poster, do they grow back?

Note the dent in the grill of the horseless carriage, proof that, despite our mental picture of an always-pristine Disneyland, stuff there sees wear and tear just like everywhere else, only they seem to usually do a better job of quick repair than most places. I wonder what kinds of other accidents and mishaps have happened to the Main Street vehicles over the years?

Nice way to start the day, Major. Thank you!

TokyoMagic! said...

Chuck, the dent in the grill of the Horseless Carriage, is from when it struck the roof of the Castle.

Stu29573 said...

Wow these are almost "shift/tilt" sharp! Very cool!
TokyoMagic, that attempt at jumping the castle with the horseless carriage was one of the worst publicity stunts ever. Well, jumping it with the Columbia was worse, but we shant speak of that...

TokyoMagic! said...

Stu, no....we shant! ;-)

Chuck said...

So...no shanties about the Columbia's feat?

JG said...

I’m always impressed with the Main Street buildings. I know they were modeled on real ones, but there is a certain amount of time and effort to draw something that complex, even if you have a model to follow, and these where cranked out so fast and came together so right. Good job, gentlemen.

Tokyo, you have solved two mysteries today.


Kathy! said...

Another set of pics with nary a child in sight (though those are probably two kids at the front of the streetcar). I like the metal horse head at the top of Bekins Storage. Is that a display of shoes in the left window in Pic 2? Thanks for the peaceful photos, Major.

Major Pepperidge said...

Nanook, that man thinks that the bench is an A-ticket attraction!

JB, yes, one poster is for the Columbia, one is for the Magical Sewer ride, and one is for the Cussin’ Lincolns show. Three Abes! All cussing! You’re right, photo #1 really does look like a architect’s model. I think I see some music stands near the Opera House doors? I believe that the Disneyland Band sometimes did impromptu concerts right there. The good old days.

Melissa, Walt would have loved little plastic people. Especially with red hats! I never thought about how horseshoes and tap shoes are similar, my mind is blown. Now I can’t stop picturing a tap-dancing horse. I hope your dream of being half of a pantomime horse comes true! A very “doable” dream.

Nanook, are you SURE that one isn’t for the Magical Sewer ride?

Melissa, as a matter a fact, the band “Shebang” played right there in the 50s! They all had matching coats and greasy hair.

Mike Cozart, The E-Ticket magazine had an article that quoted somebody in one of the shops saying that they used to tear up posters into pieces to use as makeshift dustpans. AIEEE! I have heard about Wally Boag’s guest bathroom, but can’t recall if I have seen a photo of it, or if I just pictured it vividly in my mind. I don’t think I have actually seen a photo, though. Are there any out there? Hey, I have one of those Tahitian Terrace posters! One of my treasures. Just thinking about those rare posters full of pinholes makes me sad. A good restorer could probably make it look almost as good as new, but still! Amazing that they valued those things so little, and people love them so much now!

Chuck, for some reason I didn’t even think about it, but between the Columbia poster over by the Bekins building and the Alice poster next to the Opera House, these photos have to be from 1958 or later. In fact I’d say that 1958 is probably right, I don’t think the Matterhorn pops up in any of the other images. And it ALWAYS pops up when it’s around! Good observation on the dented grille, I’d love to know how that happened. By the way, notice the Jungle Cruise poster in the window to the right of the Alice poster.

TokyoMagic!, NOW WE KNOW!

St29573, if I have time today I may try to do a “tilt/shift” version of the first photo to see how it looks! The castle jump was attempted by Evel Knievel’s father Weevil.

Chuck, OOF.

JG, I agree, the sheer level of detail on all of those buildings is so impressive - I’m sure most people don’t really think about it, but through the magic of photography, we can really take a long look!

Kathy!, yes, this must have been a school day. Imagine being at Disneyland in 1958 when it was so quiet and beautiful. I’ve always loved that metal horse head too, wonder what happened to it? I hate to think that it just went into “the bin”. I can’t quite tell what is in that window… something sort of looks like shoes (high button shoes?) but then that thing on the back looks like an oversized record album.

Chuck said...

Major, totally missed the Jungle Cruise poster, but there it is, big as Dallas! If it were a snake, it would have bit me...assuming it could get past the window glass...and across the space/time continuum...through my computer. Now that I think about it, man, was that a close call!

Anonymous said...

No Bekins wagon out front which was a fixture of Main Street. Come to think of it, the Bekins world headquarters was adjacent to the Park, located between the north berm and the Santa Ana Freeway. It had a curved Tomorroland look to it too. All that free advertising for those taking the Harbor Blvd exit from LA. It was very impressive. KS

Anonymous said...

I’m struck by how bright and open it all looks. It must winter time with all those Chinese Elm trees having long since lost their leaves, yet nary a whiff of holiday leftovers nor spring to come, but for a few unprotected pansies.

Imagine being able to stretch your legs like that…your ankles would be bashed by a stroller within seconds these days.
I agree, the Bekins building was one of the architectural touches that made Main Street so charming…and the proper place for lockers, with that corner being rather bland now.


Anonymous said...

KS, the Bekins truck was a fun detail for me. Bekins had a big warehouse in Fresno near the freeway, we would see it every time we drove to town. It was not as charming as the Main Street location, but the sign was the same graphic.

Having a Bekins truck and warehouse at Disneyland made the Park feel more real, same way for the Santa Fe RR, which ran along in the countryside near our home, those Superchief trains were a familiar sight too, and the monorails seemed like a logical progression.


Nanook said...

@ KS-
Make that Global Van Lines by the 'ol Santa Ana Freeway.

Looking at the Lessee map... the shop with the 'possible' high-button shoes, or ├╝ber-large record should've been the Print Shop back then. If so, I'd say all bets are off.

On closer inspection - you may be right about that middle AP being for The Magical Sewer Ride - but the 2nd version of the poster-!

Melissa said...

"Nanook, that man thinks that the bench is an A-ticket attraction!"

I'm surprised the modern Disney company hasn't found a way to charge guests to sit on one of the remaining benches. Of course, you'd have to make your reservations pretty early in the day.

"I wonder what kinds of other accidents and mishaps have happened to the Main Street vehicles over the years?"

Chicks and ducks, they don't need to scurry
When I take you out in the surrey.
I can't take you out in the surrey,
Cause it's in the shop.
An' I can't take you out in my flivver
Because I drove her into the river.
Darn gear stick went straight through my liver
With a great big pop.
The wheels are broken, the upholstery's worn;
The dashboard's made of cracked leather,
With isinglass curtains that are ripped and torn,
And cushions a-leakin' their feathers.

Still groaning over shan't/shanties.

I hear the smellitizer on the magical sewer ride breaks down regularly under the strain.

JB said...

Melissa, it's like a Twilight Zone episode where, at the end, we find out that the characters are actually tiny mannequins occupying a table-top model.

Nanook, ah. They do look like music stands, now that you mention it.

Major, "Magical Sewer ride", I'm ashamed I didn't spot that one. Such an iconic Disney attraction, too! And we shan't mention the "Cussin' Lincolns".

Melissa, my what... delightful lyrics. ;-)

Major Pepperidge said...

Chuck, I think Boston Dynamics is working on a computer snake that will bite you if you get too close.

KS, I wonder if the Bekins wagon was already put away (assuming it had been on display at all)? The curved headquarters nearby was for Global Van Lines.

MS, yes, it was probably 3 o’clock in the afternoon on a November day, with those long shadows, and almost everyone is wearing an overcoat. I have noticed a distinct lack of benches, particularly in the Plaza area, though probably in the Town Square area too. Lots of people looking to rest, but no place to sit except a nearby curb.

JG, there is a building near me that has a large Bekins neon sign on it, it is historic. Of course Bekins has not been the tenant for many years. But I always like seeing the sign! Rumor has it that Santa Fe wanted Disney to modernize the park’s trains to better reflect their sleek new service. I wonder if that’s true? If so, it almost sounds like they just wanted a reason to sever their ties to the park.

Nanook, yes, Global Van Lines! Hmmm, the Print Shop, I was not very sure about the “shoes”, but thought that there could be a store that sold Disneyland records and books. Hard to say. And you’re right, the second version of the Magical Sewer Ride eliminated the clothespins from the noses of the guests. It sent the “wrong message”.

Melissa, see my comment to MS! With the park as busy as it usually is, there really is a bench shortage. Maybe add a $35 fee to your Genie+. And “Oklahoma!” makes another appearance on GDB! It must be a record! Only your lyrics are way better than the ones by that piker Oscar Hammerstein. The Magical Sewer ride was one of the few that had smells that people did NOT miss.

JB, gosh, I don’t remember that episode of The Twilight Zone. I feel like I’ve seen them all 100 times, and then somebody mentions one that I can’t recall. I’d probably recognize it if I saw it though. The sewer ride was going to have the first Omnimovers, only they were going to be in a shape that Walt decided would be unappealing.

Bu said...

This has been quite the work day for me, so chiming in a bit late and a bit brief. What wonderfully simple and perfect these photos are. So calm in my sea-of-stress day. So uncrowded and so crisp and clean without clutter or crazy-quilt. And not even a cloud in the sky. Namaste! Regarding pin holes: there were always bulletin boards of things with pin holes in them backstage...back then, nothing was really looked at as "valuable"...and even the things I kept that I recently gifted to others would have wound up in the trash as I do my "purge of the past". Attraction posters of course were a different beast, but there were also other things of greater value (now) strewn about in backstage areas. It wasn't until things became "THINGS" and now are a zillion dollars on eBay. I have a rather large collection of movie posters from the 40's and 50's which I haven't even looked at in at least 2 decades...but I know they had pin holes in them from theaters. Stacks of B & W stills and lobby cards, etc. Do they even MAKE lobby cards any more? Perhaps that is a "snow day" project. Did I get a Swiss Family Robinson poster? I would probably keep that one.... I digress. Thanks for the break from work Major!

JB said...

Major, it's a fictitious TZ episode that I just thunked up in my head. But I'm sure there must be at least two episodes similar to that concept though.

Nanook said...

"The sewer ride was going to have the first Omnimovers, only they were going to be in a shape that Walt decided would be unappealing". I believe they were slated to be 'suppository-shaped'. I guess that didn't pass muster...

Melissa said...

I just assumed you’d be shrunk down by a Mighty Microscope and ride in the Ty-D-Bol Man’s boat.

Anonymous said...

Love the pictures, comments and tilt/shift photo!


Dean Finder said...

JB and Major, that sounds like the Twilight Zone episode Stopover in a Quiet Town

JG said...

Major, the tilt-shift pic is pretty cool. Feels even more like Dean Finder’s story. Also, thank you Dean for that research!


Anonymous said...

Folks....I am humbled by my error. I had recalled a building prior to Global which apparently didn't exist. I most certainly remember the Global building which announced "you have arrived at Disneyland to me". As for the wagon in question...here are a few pictures, so my memory hasn't fully left me...yet!



jonas rivera said...

I just love these photos so much - and of course all the amazing comments. Just a treasure trove of Disneyland love and knowledge! I never knew about the hose head at the top of the bekins storage building. Such a great detail. I'd give anything to spend a day in Disneyland when it looked like this. Also, love the thought of Main St. before the music coming in over the PA system. Nice to imagine it with just the ambient sounds of the horses, vehicles and people. Thanks for sharing!