Saturday, March 25, 2023

Special Guest Scans

I recently received an email from a man named Jeff Zbornik, who'd come across GDB while researching some of his own family photos. Jeff also sent along a series of scans that he said I could share with all of you, which is pretty cool! Today is part one, there will be a second blog post with other photos coming up sometime soon.

First up is this fantastic image (probably from 1968) from Jungleland USA, in beautiful Thousand Oaks, California. I visited Jungleland as a very small child, and have shared some picture scans here. But Jeff's photo is POSTCARD WORTHY. Just a great shot of a group of kids riding an elephant. Not something one does every day. Among the kids is Jeff, his brother Russ, and his cousin Megan.

Next is a classic photo from Knott's Berry Farm (possibly from 1976), with Jeff's brother Dave aboard "Old Betsy", the picturesque little "Borax Mine Special" that has been at Knott's for many decades. As far as I am aware, it is still there!

And lastly, here's Russ, Megan, and Jeff eating cotton candy at Sea World (San Diego) in 1966, with the distinctive Chicken of the Sea Theater behind them. Did it have musical extravaganzas all about tuna? Did the concession stand inside sell tuna snacks?

Here's a vintage postcard for a better look at the Chicken of the Sea Theater.

MANY THANKS to Jeff Zbornik for sharing his personal family photos. Stay tuned for more!


JB said...

Wow, wonderful color, excellent lighting, crisp and clear! I hope the elephant wasn't struggling with the weight of 7 or 8 kids on its back. Elephants are big sturdy creatures, so probably not. Is that harpooner, Ned Land leading the elephant?

Mmmm, cotton candy. I like the amused expression on Megan's face. And I'm sure Melissa will have something to say about the brothers' red sweaters... so I'll let her say it.

Thank you for sharing, Jeff. Please comment here from time to time! I'm sure we'd all welcome you into this weird little family we have here. And thanks to you, Major.

TokyoMagic! said...

These are some wonderful vintage photos! Like JB, I was a little concerned about that elephant, but I know it was a different time.

Old Betsy actually disappeared from Knott's, just a couple months ago. I haven't heard a reason as to why. Maybe like the items that were sold in the Knott's 20117 auction, management decided they would rather have the money, than hold onto a piece of history? I hope that is not the case, and that the mine train is just being refurbished.

I bet that cotton candy was tuna flavored....or perhaps salmon flavored, since it was pink!

Thank you Jeff, for sharing your personal family photos. And thanks Major, for posting them.


The Sea World Chicken of Sea Theater was a water tank “stage” either 3 individual theaters each looking into the tank. The presentation I remember seeing for years was based on the story Ella And The Dolphins . A group of human mermaid performers were friends with real dolphins and one mermaid was caught in a trap when a sailor fell in love with her … ( you never saw anyone other than the mermaids and the dolphins ) a hook lowered into the tank with jewels on it and one of the mermaids was tempted and a cage lowered into the water and “caught” her … her dolphin friends save her and set her free. Unfortunately a Japanese fishing trawler comes along scooping up the mermaids and the dolphins and they are canned …and sold as food. … but Starkist reminds all the guests that THIER “chicken if the sea” tuna is always dolphin ( and mermaid) free!
Ok: so everything after the Japanese fishing trawler I made up….

So I remember the theater interiors sloped downward slightly and the seats were round backless stools bolted to the floor …on dividing walls of each of the three theaters were a grooved concrete with images of mermaids and dolphins molded in relief in s very mid century “rough” style …. Almost like Ancient Greek murals ….

The narration, music and sound FX were recorded ….

I also remember that in the garden area outside while you waited to enter one of the theaters, a costumed character of Charlie The Tuna would greet guests … I remember kids always pulling on Charlie’s tongue…

The theater was somewhat mid century modern with a contemporary Asian feel ( oriental was used back then) and also described as a “wave” in the sea . It was an iconic building at sea world.

The show must have been very popular as it seems to have been the same storyline anytime we visited … if there were alternate shows back then I was not aware of them. At some point when Starkist exited there was a dolphin demonstration of ability done with a live narrator. I think there were several species of dolphins used and their differences were discussed during the show.

Across the way in modern grid like nautical structure pavilion was GOOD TIME CHARLIE’S - a fish & chips restaurant with a london theme .. sculpted dimension depictions of Charlie the Tuna dressed in British costumes … a Bobby cop , a palace guard , a man in a bowler with monocle… etc.

A few years ago someone on EBAY was selling some of those Charlie The Tuna panels from sea world …

Bu said...

Jungleland and Thousand Oaks might have well been equatorial Africa when I was a kid...there was no way on Gods green earth we would ever get there...but other places like Trinidad and Lisbon were totally acceptable (?) Go figure- I still don't understand it to this day. I went down the rabbit hole and looked up Jungleland: what a history, and home to Leo the Lion and Mr. Ed. Mariska Hargitay's little brother was also mauled there by a lion. We would hear about these animal movie rental places as kids but would never be able to go. Once there was a traveling one that set up shop in a parking lot: it had Granny's ostrich there from The Beverly Hillbillies...and if I remember correctly, Granny actually made some kind of appearance. As an already jaded little boy my thoughts were "Publicity": "she got paid to do that...." I very much remember that pavilion at Sea World and was completely and totally memorized by the mermaid show. We only got to Sea World because of friends going, and we hitched along...the BEST show was the Sparkletts Water show...indoor fountains and it kind of felt like the Tiki Room with water. I remember Sea World was like the fancy Marineland which was basically in our backyard. Sea World had lovely buildings and landscaping, and interesting shows. I spent my .25 cent pocket money on one of the wax machine things that popped out a killer whale or something on a wave. I can still smell that wax. I loved those machines. I don't remember seeing cotton candy, however I love "candy floss"...and even as an adult if I see it, I will get it...something about eating big wads of meltable cotton balls...and there IS a very specific PINK flavor...on Catalina Island a place called Llyods (still there, kind of the same, but not really) would make these HUGE cotton candy billows. The very sweet girl making it would always take all the extra bits and pile it on top of the cone and it became monstrously large. Was awesome. Here is some Jungleland info: Thanks Major for the morning bunny hole.

Bu said...

will give credit where credit was due: thanks to Jeff and Family Zbornik for the photos :)

JG said...

Jeff and Major, thanks for these fun pictures!

That’s a very patient elephant, what a memory for a little kid!

Chuck, I see you’re not the only one confused about the Tuna Cartel. I conflated Starkist and CoS a while back and thought they were separate, now it sounds like they joined up to defend their turf against the Bumblebee gang. Fish with switchblades…

Jeff, I’m glad to see we both sat in the cab of the Old Betsy engine, but you have pictures to prove it. Nothing beats salmon flavored cotton candy!


JG said...

Googel has some news about alleged price-fixing in the Big Tuna market, but I can’t read the article.

I guess there’s always an oppor”tuna”ty for graft.


Melissa said...

Big thanks to Jeff, and to all the Junior Gorillas in the comments, for sharing these fascinating childhood memories. I can almost see that mermaid and dolphin show in my head.

I studied just enough German that I always read "Jungleland" as "Jungenland," which would translate as "country for young boys."

All the kids are adorable, and the matching red sweaters (and one pair of matching red sneakers) are awesome, but Dave gets the Style Icon Award for those blue plaid trousers.

Nanook said...

@ Melissa-
”… but Dave gets the Style Icon Award for those blue plaid trousers”. Let’s not forget those shoes-!

Thank you Jeff for sharing these images.

Major Pepperidge said...

JB, I have no idea how much weight an elephant can comfortably carry, but that does look like a lot of kids all at once. And that’s not Ned Land, it’s is brother Fred. I like cotton candy, but after a few bites I am usually “done”. However I had a friend who had a toy cotton candy machine that really worked, you could put any hard candy (such as cherry Jolly Ranchers) into it and you’d get cotton candy! That was great.

TokyoMagic!, OH NO. It figures that I confidently mention that Old Betsy is still there after all these years, only to find out that it was removed a few months ago. ARGH. Fish flavored candies are going to be the next big thing, mark my words. Bigger than crypto currency!

Mike Cozart, “Ella and the Dolphins”, I loved their early albums. But then they got too popular and lost their edge. You mention Starkist and Charlie the Tuna, even though my research said that it was the Chicken of the Sea Theater, so maybe they both sponsored that venue at different times? I hope the mermaids in the show were those scary Fiji Mermaids. Wow, you have surprisingly vivid memories of that place, which is very cool. I’m sure I never went in, in fact I know my family went to Sea World, but I remember trips to Marineland more vividly. I do love Charlie the Tuna, and made a point of acquiring several vintage vinyl figures for my small “advertising mascot” collection. I have to admit that I am not crazy about the idea of putting smart ocean mammals in those little tanks, even though I generally like those sea life themed parks as fun places to go.

Chuck, THANKS for that update on Old Betsy! What a relief to know that she wasn’t scrapped for some dumb reason. And as you can see, I was also a little confused by the mention of Chicken of the Sea AND Charlie the Tuna.

Bu, I’m sure that the Thousand Oaks location did not help Jungleland, it seemed remote when I was a kid. “Are we there yet?”. That being said, I did love it there, I guess kids love going anywhere that has “wild animals” and drinking fountains that looked like lions with their mouths open. Funny that you were mad at the idea of Granny being paid for publicity. “She should be here because she loves us!”. ;-) Oh, the Sparkletts Water Show sounds like my kind of thing. Did anybody else love those Sparkletts trucks with the shimmering signs? I did! Candy Floss, isn’t that what they call cotton candy in England? And yes, what IS that particular cotton candy flavor anyway? It’s not just sugar. I am familiar with that website you linked to, in fact they “borrowed” a few of my blog images. Did they ask for permission? Let’s change the subject.

Bu, I’ll have to remind Jeff to take a look at today’s post!

JG, I wonder if there are still U.S. parks that allow such close encounters with elephants? I think I got to ride one when I was a kid, but I can’t remember where. Maybe Jungleland! Oh man, just thinking about the Bumblebee Gang sends chills down my spine. They will cut you with the sharp edge of a tuna can lid!

JG, another tuna-related scandal!

Melissa, “Jungenland”, there’s a park I’m not sure I need to visit. It just sounds wrong, thanks to certain connotations. I have to admit that the blue plaid pants look pretty great!

Nanook, for some reason my attention is drawn to those giant wrought-iron hinges behind the kid’s head. Massive!!

Kathy! said...

Thanks for, Jeff! The Jungleland picture is fun, but yes, you have to feel for the poor hefflelump. I must have missed Jungleland posts from the past, so I searched GDB and learned more. Nice Knotts pic too. The kids are enjoying that cotton candy! I do like the taste but hardly ever buy it; you can get little plastic tubs from the Dollar Tree sometimes. My family took yearly summer trips to Sea World for a while. I don’t remember the Chicken of the Sea show but do remember the Sparklett’s one. As a child I found it boring (Where are the frolicking dolphins?) but it had a distinctive smell like Pirates and was a nice cool spot on a hot day, so I still would go in. I associate the Sparklett’s trucks with the late, great Rolly Crump now after his story how he put those dangly sequins on the Tiki Room drummers’ eyes for extra life. Thanks again, Jeff and Major.

Melissa said...

And that's the srory of the first caramel cod.

I actually didn't like cotyon candy (or candy in general, really) as a kid. Mom talked me into trying some at the local carnival once, but I took one bite and couldn't make myself finish it. It kind of tasted like abomination.


Yeah growing up in San Diego we went to Sea World all the time ….several times a year … well more than several . : Family trips … company pic-nics with General Dynsmics …. My grandfather’s company Tele-Dyne Ryan ( aeronautics) had their family Christmas party each year at the ATLANTIS RESTAURANT….the opposite terminal of their Con Roll SkyCab system … before and after diner guests had acess to the park and complimentary use of the SkyCab …. We went with school , And cub scouts.

Yeah I should hade been clear that the theater was sponsored by StarKist in the 70’s at sone time … SeaWorld opened in 1964 and that theater followed shortly .. and that postcard is probably from its opening sponsorship of chicken of the sea. I’m out of town this weekend … so I do not hade acesss to it all … but inadvertently I have a MASSIVE San Diego SeaWorld collection …. I can try and find out when specifically the sponsorship changed … it’s a long story but I probably have samples of probably every map , show schedule , Flyer , souvenir brochure , investor books, shareholder announcements and park development updates for Sea World ( San Diego) up until about 1980. And if it’s from Sparklets Water Fantasy … I probably have it … including : 3 of the original molded fiberglass “eames like” theater seats from the 1968 period … removed when more space for wheelchairs were added in the 1980’s. There used to be three locations but we used to have SAN DIEGO CITY STORES where the city and some other facilities sold actually used “props” … like lampposts … old street signs , benches stadium seats … even banners …. Almost anything … lol!!



As Bu mentions Sea World was very beautiful and was designed by highly trained architects and landscapers so if you were not a fan of animal - fish shows you could help be enjoy the park grounds …and views of mission bay.

Another note on Sea World Water Fantasy ; sparklets was its main sponsor … and the show building would have fit in perfectly with Tomorrowland 1967….. it had the look of a kinda “space turtle shell” and the interior smelled of the 60’s …. Like a carousel theater or a circle vision theater …. With a tad bit of it’s a small world ( because of the water) all sea world parks showed the same Water Fantasy Shows .. originally …. But in the mid 70’s sea world San Diego featured its exclusive version featuring the Four Seasons … this was the most popular of all the shows done … musician Greg Gault wrote abs had orchestrated and recorded Locally this shows soundtrack … only version NOT sold entirely on a souvenir record soundtrack album!! Until the late 80’s the same 1968 entry and exit music was used and the popular theme song “Seas of the World” ( ….” The seas of the world are rich in treasure , treasure for all to share , the seas of the world rich with treasure to make Everyman a millionaire …”)

Chris Merritt and I spent a day interviewing some of sea worlds early employees who were still in management in the late 80’s early 90’s


There’s was also a simply audio animatronic like display over at the Hawaiian Punch Village …. The tiki A frame restaurant that also housed one of the cable wheels of the SeaCab skyway system. Incidentally San Diego still is home to two original Von Roll Skyway systems of the 1960’s … it’s relaxing and therapeutic to be able to hear the smooth sounds of the nylon cable wheels of the Skyway cabins gently turning around and rolling down onto the carrying cable … you can park on the “Atlantis Restaurant” side ( now a oceanography company) and watch the SeaCabs turn around and head back across the bay to SeaWorld … ( guests can only go round trip now)

Nanook said...

"... my attention is drawn to those giant wrought-iron hinges behind the kid’s head. Massive!!" Ain't that the truth-! (They must've been "on-loan" from 'Prop Plaza' - Land of the Giants over at Universal).

TokyoMagic! said...

Chuck, thanks for that info about Old Betsy being in the Carpenter Shop, backstage at Knott's. I do wonder if they are working on it, or if it will just sit there until the next auction. Someone pointed out that they took the train tracks out of the ground, too. If it was going to return, you'd think they would just leave the tracks there.

I remember the cotton candy at Knott's was always pink and was always the same flavor, which was labeled on the can of flavoring as "cherry." I'm not sure that I would have been able to tell that the flavor was cherry otherwise. It tasted like all the other cotton candy I had had, but it was always nicer if you got it fresh out of the machine while it was still slightly warm. I remember the can of dye/flavoring had other flavors and colors listed on it, but we were always supposed to order the same one. I also remember that it took just the tiniest little spoonful of coloring/flavoring added to a much larger amount of sugar. I guess it was "concentrated."

Major, your posts are always interesting to read through, keep it up and coming.....

I hate those "spam" comments. I know you will eventually delete that one, and then mine won't make any sense, but that's okay. Those people need to be severely dealt with!

Dean Finder said...

The last time I saw an elephant ride like this was at least 20 years ago at a county fair,
That elephant weighed over a ton. The kids were like carrying a briefcase for him. I still feel bad for these animals, since they were taken away from their herds and treated poorly, very damaging psychologically to an animal that never forgets. I contribute to an elephant sanctuary that provides homes to former circus and working elephants.

Nanook said...

@ TM!-
"I hate those "spam" comments. I know you will eventually delete that one, and then mine won't make any sense, but that's okay".

Your comments 'make sense-?' Ouuhhh... Now I need to go back and re-read them-!

Jefferz said...

I am glad people are enjoying my childhood photos. I am in the middle on the elephant's back and wearing the red sneakers to match my sweater in the Sea World pic. (I still accessorize well.)

Dad took tons of slide photos and I have only scanned and saved the best. When I come across more I will be sure to share them here. Cheers!

"Lou and Sue" said...

Thank you, Jeff, for sharing your photos! You are now officially a Jr. Gorilla, as you obviously already know that to become one - you must post a childhood picture. Welcome aboard! ;o) I'm looking forward to seeing more!

Dean, it's good to hear that you care and contribute to help the elephants. I admire you, and people like KS - who personally rescues horses. BTW, I read something recently about Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus no longer using animals in their shows. We all grew up enjoying the animals in shows and circuses, but it's much better that they are now left in the wild.

Thanks, Major, for introducing us to a new friend in the neighborhood.

JG said...

Jeff, thanks for the follow up comments, and for sharing.

Drop a comment in future, would love to hear from you.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for the shout out Sue and good on you Dean. It's still tough road to take because you can't help them all. But satisfying nonetheless. I found a use for my required IRA distributions that is very satisfying as a result. KS

Anonymous said...

I need my stop repeating myself this morning. Yikes! I hit that send button accidentally. But it's Sunday and I'm not required to think too much. LOL KS