Friday, November 17, 2023

More Motels 'n Stuff, September 1961

Here's another blog post featuring some rather amazing photos taken by our pal Lou Perry back in September of 1961; he explored the streets neighboring Disneyland (on foot?), armed with his trusty camera, taking photos of old motels and other landmarks that most guest would have ignored.

On Harbor Boulevard, right near the Disneyland sign, you would have found the Saga Motel (yes, Lou took another photo of the Saga, seen weeks ago). Based on the lack of cars, I assume that Lou woke up early to take these pictures. Or was it evening? The name "Saga" makes me think of Norse legends, but the sign appears to show a knight on horseback. Whatever! Those palm trees are not named after any member of the Dominguez family.

Vintage postcard time! I always love these cards that show architectural renderings of the entire site.

Another vintage postcard, showing the pool area. Ya gotta have a pool, right? Take a cool dip in the water to revive you, so that you will be ready to head back to the park!

Next is the Lamplighter Motel, "across from Disneyland" at 1759 So. West Street. Dial PRospect 4-2136! Again - where are all the cars? I'd think that even on a sleepy morning there would be one or two bopping along South West Street.

I know I shared this postcard in a previous post in which we saw the Lamplighter - but it's the only card I could find associated with that motel.

And finally (for today), I absolutely love this photo of Meri Go Round Liquors! It amazes me that Lou took this photo, but he clearly got a kick out of that playful sign. If you drink enough liquor, you'll feel like you are spinning and spinning. Just like a... well, you know. I'd hoped there might be a matchbook or postcard from Meri Go Round Liquors, but I couldn't find anything.

THANK YOU, Lou and Sue!


Nanook said...

I want to know more about the delicatessen inside the liquor store. (Do they serve the world's best pastrami sandwich, fer instance-?)

Thanks to Lou and Sue.

JB said...

Wow, the air sure is... dense. Is this some marine air that wandered inland? Perhaps it's raining. Or maybe just good ol' smog. The sign down the street says Charter House... or perhaps Charnel House, which would be a completely different thing. There's another sign, on the left, that helpfully tells us where we can park our coffee shops.

In the Lamplighter photo, more thick air. As for the lack of cars, maybe Lou set up barricades at both ends of the street to keep the cars from intruding on his photo. ;-)
I wonder if the TVs at the motel were color? I don't think many stations, or networks, broadcasted in color in 1961.

Is the Meri Go Round sign tilted slightly? If so, that would add to the humor. But it's probably just camera lens distortion. I bet Walt LOVED this sign near his Park; a big, gaudy, liquor store sign with animated arrows... you could probably see it from space!

Thanks to Lou Perry, Sue, and Major.

TokyoMagic! said...

I'm thinking that the dirt lot in the Lamplighter pic, is where one of the Stovall's Tomorrowland-ish motels eventually went. There were at least three of on Harbor Blvd., one at the corner of Katella and West St., and then one just a little further up on West St. The spot seems about right.

And in the distance, beyond that dirt lot, are we seeing the DL Hotel's garden villas? Not the building on the far right, near the street, but the ones off in the distance.

I bet the neon on that liquor store sign created the illusion of the horses moving. Or, like the Major implied, drink enough liquor and the horses will move without the use of neon.

Thank you Lou, Sue and Major, too!

Chuck said...

Not sure Lou was on foot. The angle of these images suggest he may have been riding a yak. A young one, brown in color.

I love that architectural rendering. It looks like a neo-photo-realistic painting of an architectural model. I think it's the cars that give it that effect.

I am strangely drawn to the font of the Meri Go Round sign. [loud thump as face hits monitor]

JB, of course the TVs at the motel were in color, just like everything else in the room. They just might not have been able to decode and display a color image.

Good eye on the coffee shop parking. I'm sure there was a hefty fine for parking one of those babies on the street.

Bu said...

These photos bring lots of "happy place" memories for me. Most of this was intact during "my time", with possibly a bit of the seediness creeping in towards the end of the 80's. The Charter House Hotel is still there...with 50's era rooms that include "garden rooms" 'ala the Disneyland called the Anaheim Hotel. Still complete with Olympic size pool: which is probably a rarity these days. It's still a big facility, with modest accommodations. The patios are still very unique, and hope ultimately, they keep them intact. The Saga: now the Grand Legacy: believe it or not, still has the somewhat angular, yet serpentine pool in the back: with the motel rooms beyond that (in the photo) still holding the same architectural spirit. The street facing part of the Hotel with it's "charming" (sic) facade bears no resemblance to the past. It seems that the Saga '61 has many different amenities: TWA tickets, secretarial services, a portrait studio for formal pictures, Hertz rent a car, Coffee Shop, and really cool umbrellas! I can't say that many places I stay in even have one of these amenities. In fact: I'm happy just to have soap these days...The Lamplighter and it's West St. friends: I still think these guys get left out of the Harbor Hullabaloo Party happening a short distance away. Even now. With the Disneyland Hotel and Parking Lot dominating the street: there is still a small hotel community. And yes TM, I too think that there was a couple of SPACE hotels here as well. I think I've mentioned that a Stovall Space hotel still does exist in Gila Bend AZ. Not sure I'll make it there in my lifetime, and a bit different in design that the more whimsical and fanciful Stovall properties in Anaheim. The Stovalls are still very much alive and present in Anaheim (O'Connell Hotels: former partner of the Stovalls), although I wish they would bring back some retro-vibes to all of the stucco and generic landscape of the "Anaheim Resort Area". It was a mish-mosh then: it's a mish mosh now: but I'd prefer 1960's mish mosh. I have faint memories of the Meri Go Round Liquor store: trying to figure out where that was exactly...someone knows. Thanks Lou and Sue and Major for the trip "outside the berm".


Chuck …. It is very likely that the architectural rendering WAS done based on a photograph of a basic model …. That was a common technique even when I was studying architecture in the late 80’s . A give away is the overview abs look you describe. Another very common architectural rendering technique of the 50’s and 60’s was called “desktop method” this gives the rendering a very angular and dramatic look by placing the drawing’s vanishing points closer into the picture plane …. This allowed the rendering to be done quickly on a standard architectural drafting table. The BIG architectural firms didn’t do this but drafted out the perspective with a mathematical projection method using a floor plan and exterior elevations …. Resulting in a very pleasing and accurate drawing … it was very laborious and technical but I loved doing them them … back when there was so much ART involved in creating the presentation packages for projects.

Some of these views gives surrounding Anaheim a very dumpy look despite that it’s all fairly new. I think it’s because the electrical and telephone transmission lines were still above ground …. These were moved underground mostly by the mid to late 60’s ….

It’s amazing Lou documented so much even “outside the burm” thanks Lou - Sue - Major!

Andrew said...

I'm sure Walt hated these signs, but at least they give each business a recognizable identity. I try to remember the motels we've stayed at over the past few years, and they all just blend together. And neon! That Meri Go Round sign is awesome! :-) Off topic, but there's an old theater near me that had its neon marquee completely restored a few years ago (which I'm sure cost $$$), only to have all the real neon removed and replaced with LEDs last year. I am at a complete loss as to why they would do that.

We owe Lou a lot for documenting places that might never have been remembered otherwise. Thanks Lou and Major.

JG said...

THANK YOU, Lou and Sue! Major, you summed it up.

Agreeing with Mike on the renderings. I was trained on the desktop method, but was never good at it. The one firm I worked for produced a series of the second, more accurate perspectives for a project fund raiser. Didn’t raise enough funds, no project.

I love these motel renderings, to me, they have a generic feel like they were kept in a drawer and recycled by trace over from project to project with slight changes in entourage (palms to pines, to paraphrase the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway) or even reversal to opposite hand. Architecture has lost a great deal to computer rendering, and I’m not sure the gains were worth it.

Chuck, the Saga had a yak rental desk, in addition to the other amenities, but you had to ask.

“Meri Go Round”. I have so many questions. Obviously purposeful misspelling. Did Merry not fit? Who was Meri? Why did she go around? With whom?

Bu, I think Disney is trying to revive some of the old look in the Downtown Disney revamp, but it seems flat to me so far.

Thanks Major!


Anonymous said...

Ah, the motels of the 60s! We were always Holiday Inn folks, but I can appreciate the independent ventures as well. These are playful and fun and remind me of an innocence that can only be found in the single digit years of my youth. For this I heartily thank Lou and Sue! Lou single handedly has preserved more history than an army of college professors, and for that the world will be forever in his debt. And Sue has shared it unselfishly! Thanks, guys!

Major Pepperidge said...

Nanook, I’ll bet you *could* get a great sandwich in the deli! There used to be a liquor store in Burbank that made amazing Cubano sandwiches. Yum.

JB, we’ve seen plenty of smog in Anaheim, but in this case it might actually be more of a morning marine layer. Hard to say. I’m sure there’s a little smog mixed in for flavor. I’ve stayed at a Motel 6 that should have been called The Charnel House. Yeah, I doubt the TVs were color in 1961, but at least you could still watch “Leave it to Beaver”. I think Lou was tilted slightly, which is unusual, but it happens. I wonder if there was ANY part of Walt’s brain that found the motel and store signs fun?

TokyoMagic!, oh interesting. I had no idea that these could be “pre-Stovalls”. Since I’m all turned around, I don’t know if those distant buildings are the garden villas of the Disneyland Hotel, but it would be cool if they are. I’m sure you’re right about the neon on the Meri Go Round sign!

Chuck, the thing about riding a yak is the gentle swaying motion that is relaxing, and good for one’s lower back. Kids these days have no idea! Those realistic motel renderings fascinate me, I have the feeling that they all used the same firm to have them done, because they all look very much the same. Or maybe it was just “the style”? Your comment about the TVs reminds me of when I was a kid. “Batman! In Color!”. What? Not on our TV it isn’t! What a ripoff!

Bu, I would imagine that 20 (or so) years would have added a lot of wear and tear and seediness to this area, sadly. Part of me would love to experience “50’s era rooms”, especially if the beds have “magic fingers”. An Olympic-size pool is nice, but I don’t plan to swim laps, so the idea of a more organic shape appeals to me. Maybe even a lazy river feature. If I can’t buy TWA tickets at my next hotel, I’m going to speak to the manager. “Don’t you know who I am?”. Is the Stovall hotel in Gila Bend still themed to some sort of space look? Because they got rid of all that fun stuff in Anaheim for some reason. Let’s make them boring! That’s what the people want. I’d really hoped to find more info about the Meri Go Round, but no such luck.

Mike Cozart, I’ve definitely seen architectural renderings like that in which you can clearly see that somebody painted on top of a photo. In a way, why not, as long as it looks good. I took some architecture classes, but at some point realized that everybody in the classes was more passionate about it than I was. It was all pre-computer, so we used drafting machines and Rapidograph pens.

Andrew, in a way I’m surprised that Walt did not anticipate the many hotels and motels. Also, they provided lodging for tons of guests who could not stay in the Disneyland Hotel, for whatever reason. He should have been more grateful! Wow, what the heck is up with that theater replacing its expensive neon with LEDs?? BOO!

JG, somewhere I have a brochure of the actual Disneyland Hotel that has a similar rendering, although the quality might be a touch better. I’ll have to dig it out of whatever box it lives in and give it a scan. I’m sure it appeared elsewhere, but I only have this version. Computer renderings lose much of the charm, but I have no doubt that they ultimately make things better - you can change angles, add or remove items, etc, in seconds rather than hours or days.

Stu29573, when I was a kid I always found it kind of fun to stay in a motel. We could play in the always-present kidney shaped pool (preferably with a slide), buy a soda from the soda machine and then fill up a plastic cup with ice from the ice machine. Such luxury!

Nanook said...

@ JB-
"I wonder if the TVs at the motel were color?"

Fat chance. Even in 1961 it wouldn't be that uncommon for a motel guest room to not have a TV at all. [Admittedly, it was 1956] but when the Disneyland Hotel opened, it was a big deal that all the guest rooms had a [B&W] TV.

Outside of KNBC (actually, in 1961 the station was still referred to as KRCA in the Los Angeles area), it's doubtful there were many color broadcasts from any other LA-area stations. (TM! - where are those 1961, LA editions of TV Guide-??) Prior to the Fall of 1965 - when both ABC & CBS 'officially' became "All-Color", it was pretty much a vast wasteland for color TV broadcasts, save for NBC, who "persuaded" the FCC in 1953 to adopt their 'compatible color' system (the 2nd NTSC standard), and [essentially] single-handedly pushed and supported color TV until it became commonplace.

LTL said...

Hooray for Lou's photography sense to capture so many scenes like this. You are there!

Here is matchbook for "Woody Evans' Meri-Go-Round Liquors", just south of Candy Cane Inn.

It mentions the delicatessen, so one can assume the food people got at this liquor store was first-rate!

"Lou and Sue" said...

Am still chuckling about the yak! My father would get up before the crack of dawn (unbeknownst to the rest of us), walk around and take pictures, and silently return. So I'm sure that all these were taken very early in the day.

On my dad's very last trip to Disneyland, in 2007, unbeknownst to me and my husband, he was STILL getting up before everyone else and sneaking out. That time, he rented an electric scooter (from a local service) and ventured out all over the area "outside of the berm." I think we figured he put at least a couple miles on that scooter, that morning. I'll have to try to locate those pictures and eventually post them - even though they aren't that old, yet.

All your kind comments mean so much. As I've shared with a few of you, we're now dealing with dementia, though my dad still remembers Disneyland and WDW, and taking pictures. Your comments make him so very happy, and he always says he's glad you're all enjoying them. He recently told me, "That's why I took them." :o)

Thanks, Major.


….. if you’ve ever had a sign made you know it’s VERY EXPENSIVE …. And changing MERRY to MERI might have you meet your budget!!

Remember what happened to Jan : she thought the silver plated engraving was 65 cents a WORD …. But it was 65 cents a LETTER!!

…. Don’t worry Jan: you are still my favorite!!

Major Pepperidge said...

Nanook, I think I’ve read that each room at the Disneyland Hotel had its own puppet show.

LTL, nice! I looked, but I guess your Googling skills are better than mine.

Lou and Sue, I wonder if Lou’s early-bird habits were left over from his time in the Military? My dad was always an early riser, even after he retired from the Navy. Amazing that even in 2007, Lou was sneaking out on his own! I’m so sorry about Lou’s dementia, such a cruel disease. I’m glad that Lou can still remember happy things and that he knows he’s made so many people happy because of his many photos.

Mike Cozart, WHO IS JAN??


There was once large “architectural delineation “ firms that specialized in very elaborate and refined architectural illustrations and even models that architects and firms would use if they could afford them … even industries like United Steal used firms like that .

But old school or computer: just because you can do it FASTER doesn’t make the design BETTER …. We see lots of people coming out of design school are too reliant on the computer … or just lifting images … and they fail at blue sky sessions or concept meetings where a hundred quick drawings and sketches are done before lunch .. called “deliverables “ as a designer you have to have the ability to render and sketch by hand … you have to understand perspective and hierarchy of lines …. Because design teams can’t sit around waiting for someone to sit at a computer and quick sketch .. you’ll be left behind.

There’s a very good chance those vintage architecture renderings were being done by the very same people … and often repeated existing designs … like the firm Armet & Davis you designed most of all the California GOOGIE restaurants - all their designs have a similar family look … and often a success design was repeated for another chain …

But the illustration styles and techniques would have been similar everywhere during a given time … just like in automotive illustration and fashion ..

Technology also influenced the look of concept art … gouache paint was developed in design because its extreme flatness worked well with the technology of reprographics and early Xerox machines in advertising and design … the advent of “Magic markers “ in the late 50’s and earky sixties.., gave way to sketchy style presentation drawings - less tight than the watercolor - gouache- acrylic rendering … Magic markers ( design markers ) were actually invented by architects who would take ink bottled with clasp office clips and cotton gauze to use in rendering.

I’ll admit : rapidograph and technical pens were often a pain … always needing to be cleaned because Mylar and vellum particles clogging the tips …. We had ultrasonic cleaners to clean the pen tips … the high pitch sonic noise sonetimes made fillings in my teeth HURT!! We treated our drafting supplies like they were surgical equipment : they were often just as expensive !

…. Gone are the days . But at home I still do freelance projects with hand drafting - it’s relaxing and I love “ the art” of it. I’m sometimes sought out by sone architects just to do old school renderings for some of their clients who demand it.

Bu said... if Meri Go Round is South of Candy Cane, then the stop light is Katella? Might make sense.... (?) The architects I've worked with in a previous life did everything by hand first, and my CEO demanded it. EVERYTHING was sketched in graphite, then polished with pens/markers/etc. HUNDREDS of renditions. All iterations were saved to show progression and evolution of designs. "Make it like this!" "we tried that: it didn't work!" over and over and over. We used both artists and architects, but everything was all hand done, and in most cases free hand (I admire those that can draw a crooked straight line)...and it makes a HUGE difference in the spontaneity of the work. Computers only came into the scene when all decisions were made, and things went into production. Vinyl vs Digital. Similar.

Nanook said...

"Nanook, I think I’ve read that each room at the Disneyland Hotel had its own puppet show".

It's like a dream come true... only the mime is missing-!

Dean Finder said...

Sue, sorry to hear about your dad. It's a terrible thief of a disease.


MAJOR: JAN BRADY!! Jan was entrusted by her siblings to make the necessary arrangements to purchase a silver plater as a gift for Mr. And Mrs Brady’s wedding anniversary. While at the silver shop at the department store she miss understood the clerk regarding the cost of engraving … she thought the additional fee was 65 cents a WORD …. But it was 65 cents a LETTER… making the already engraved silver platter with all the Brady’s kids names way too expensive for the Brady kids budget. The kids participated in a tv talent show as the singing group THE SILVER PLATERS … in hopes of winning the prize money to pay the bill down at the department store silver departing. This episode is ranked as the 2nd MOST POPULAR episode of the BRADY BUNCH tv show …. And The songs they sang in rehearsal and the contest were put in 45’s and albums and show reissue CDs . It was also performed when the Brady kids did a musical tour and was performed at KNOTT’S BERRY FARM and MAGIC MOUNTAIN.

"Lou and Sue" said...

Thanks, Dean Finder and Major. My dad's still enjoying every day, and we're 'making the most of it.' I treasure my time with him.

I've been meaning to ask if JC Shannon is still reading GDB. We haven't seen any comments from him in a loooooong time (unless I missed his comments). How all is well, JC!

DBenson said...

A fun albeit pricy ($45) coffee table book: "Motel California" by Heather M. David.

It covers the glory days of motels all over the state, grouped by theme (old west, tropical, space, etc) with chapters on swimming pools, rooms, and so on. It's primarily a showcase of vintage postcard and brochure art with interesting text.

Trivia: Before Magic Fingers there were Pulse-A-Rythm Massaging Mattresses. That company was shut down by the FDA for making extravagant medical claims. Magic Fingers carefully promised nothing more than tingling relaxation.

TokyoMagic! said...

LTL, thanks for that info about the Meri Go Round Liquors. So that means the signal we are seeing in the background, is the intersection of Harbor Blvd. and Katella Ave. That Union 76 gas station on the corner, is where the 7-Eleven sits, today. And in the spot where the Meri Go Round Liquors was, is the ABC Mart (exact same address). I wonder if it uses the same building, and it has just been uglified....I mean modernized.

Here's a link to the same view, but from 2014:,-117.9154991,3a,89.2y,214.67h,78.16t/data=!3m7!1e1!3m5!1ssOxQrIpZ3QAPy-VhIMYG3g!2e0!5s20140501T000000!7i13312!8i6656?entry=ttu