Saturday, April 29, 2017

Airports 'n Airplanes

I always seem to be drawn to old photos from airports, or photos featuring old aircraft. They're just cool!

Like this first one from 1956, taken from the parking lot of what I believe is SFO - San Francisco International Airport. Not that you see much of the actual airport - just a large, low building topped with a tower where all air traffic controllers were. But look at the cars! And thanks to Kodachrome, it is hard to believe that this vivid photo was taken over 60 years ago.


Here's a fun one from December of 1978, showing passengers disembarking from their groovy plane! Aloha Air was not afraid of color - tropical pinks, oranges, and yellows abound. Who else feels the sudden need for plaid pants? And it looks like that one guy is giving us the "hang loose" gesture!


Next is this neat shot of the famous Bell X-1A, presumably at some sort of public air show. Chuck Yeager broke the sound barrier in the Bell X-1 (the "Glamorous Glennis"); the X-1A was intended to exceed Mach 2. Yeager flew the X-1A as well, achieving Mach 2.44, or 1620 mph (a new record) in level flight. 

Notice that in this photo, the name "Maj. Arthur Murray" is painted on the side.


Here is Arthur Warren "Kit" Murray with the X-1A - in 1955 he achieved a new altitude record of 90,440 feet - over 17 miles up!


In 1955, the rocket-powered aircraft was going to attempt its 26th flight, when there was a problem. As the X-1A was suspended beneath a B-29, there was an explosion. The pilot at the time (Joseph Walker) felt a shudder, and saw a cloud of vaporized liquid oxygen, and the canopy cracked. The pilot safely exited the plane, but it was discovered that there was no way to safely land the B-29 because the X-1A's landing gear could not be retracted. So the decision was made to jettison the aircraft over Edwards Air Force Base's bombing range, where it crashed.


Friday, April 28, 2017

Dramatic Disneyland, May 1958

It seems as if my own personal memories of visits to Disneyland involved warm sunny days without a cloud in the sky (with one recent exception!). But today's photos show a dark, stormy sky that makes me want to head for the root cellar in case of a twister. 

I particularly like this shot of Tomorrowland - clouds courtesy of Douglas Trumbull - I expect glowing UFOs to emerge from them any moment. Notice that the Administration Building is under construction, and it looks as if the Space Bar (to our left) is also undergoing some major work. 


Meanwhile over in Fantasyland, a few brave souls are still enjoying their day in spite of the gloom. There are some empty elephants at the Dumbo ride, and there are plenty of teacups available in the background. 


Zooming in a little bit, we can see a workman to our right, painting an awning I suppose. To our left, early work on the "Alice in Wonderland" attraction has begun. Notice the Skyway heading over Snow Mountain!


Thursday, April 27, 2017

Main Street and Vehicles, June 1963

Here are two nice photos of Main Street U.S.A. on a beautiful June day - just for fun I also included some closeups. 

There's the old Fire Engine, it's heading right for us! A Horseless Carriage speeds in the other direction, while an Omnibus is in the distance.


As usual, I like to do a little vintage people-watching - there are more kids visible in this photo than I often see; presumably school was out. One girl is fascinated by the horse hitch, while the security officer is about to throw her in Disney Jail. 


Just to the right of the Fire Engine is a cast member (from Fantasyland?). At least I think he's a cast member! The Summer crowds are evident, but it still looks like a dream compared to any ordinary day in 2017.


Moments later a second photo was taken. The Omnibus is closer. Too close! And a Surrey has now entered the scene.


Yet another cast member enters from the left; with that straw boater he has to work on Main Street; maybe he's on his break? 


The little girl in red is staring right at us! Her brother is wearing pants from "Floods R Us". Meanwhile, the gentleman in the middle is carrying a movie camera - I hope he filmed things besides the Mark Twain and the Jungle Cruise.


Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Walt Disney Studios Fan Cards

Today's post is a fun one from Ken Martinez! He has a collection of something that I'd considered collecting at one time - fan cards from the Walt Disney Studio. But I always spent my money on other stuff (there's only so much moolah). Ken got some though!

Walt Disney Studio Cards

Today I wanted to share my small collection of Walt Disney Studio cards.  These cards were sent out to those who wrote the studio for whatever reason.  They were usually slightly larger than a continental sized postcard.  The 20,000 Leagues and 50th Anniversary studio cards shown here are close to legal size.  These were given to me by my sister in the early 1970’s as she lived in Los Angeles at the time and was able to get access to stuff like this for me.  They are originals.  Lots of these original cards go for high prices now, but there are reproductions out there that you can get for a mere $15.00.  I’m pretty sure when my sister got these for me in the early 1970’s they were much cheaper.  As you’ll see here, I’m a fan of the live-action films produced by Walt Disney back in the 1950’s and 60’s.

Here’s one of my favorite studio cards showing Peter Pan with Moonlit London and Neverland in the backdrop.  It’s interesting to note that the Moonlit London and Neverland scenes are the highlight of Disneyland’s “Peter Pan Flight” attraction itself.  It represents my favorite moments in the Disney animated classic.  Peter Pan along with Pinocchio, Dumbo and Lady and the Tramp are my favorite Disney animated features.  I do have two other studio cards for Pinocchio and Lady and the Tramp.


The live-action film “20,000 Leagues Under the Sea” was released a couple of days before Christmas in 1954.  It is my single favorite live-action film that Walt Disney produced.  It was directed by Richard Fleischer, son of early Disney competitor and animation pioneer Max Fleischer.  It also has one of the best casts ever assembled for a Disney film.  Even though James Mason’s Captain Nemo is the star of the show, it seems that Kirk Douglas as Ned Land received top billing.  Also featured are Paul Lukas as Professor Pierre Aronnax and Peter Lorre as Conseil.  Fleischer went on to direct two other sci-fi classics, “Fantastic Voyage” and “Soylent Green”.


The 1959 black-and-white live-action comedy, “The Shaggy Dog” was based on “The House of Florence” by Felix Salten, same author who wrote “Bambi”.  Disney regulars Tommy Kirk and Kevin Corcoran “Moochie” played brothers in this Disney comedy as they did in ‘Old Yeller” and again in “Swiss Family Robinson”.  Pictured are Fred MacMurray, Annette Funicello, Roberta Shore, Kevin Corcoran and a shaggy “Bratislavian” sheepdog.  Paul Frees puts in a brief appearance as Narrator and J.W. Galvin, Psychiatrist.   This was also Annette Funicello’s feature film debut.  “The Shaggy Dog” ended up being the most profitable picture for Disney at the time of its release.  


1961’s Disney comedy “The Absent-Minded Professor” also filmed in black-and-white and is another favorite of mine.  Who could forget Professor Brainard flying his Model T over Washington D.C.  At the center of the gang riding in the Model T is none other than Alonzo P. Hawk played by Keenan Wynn, son of Ed Wynn.  Keenan Wynn would go on play Alonzo P. Hawk again in the 1963 sequel “Son of Flubber” and 1974’s Love Bug sequel ‘Herbie Rides Again”.  Also of note is Wally Boag, who appears briefly as a TV newsman.  Mr. Boag also made brief appearances in “Son of Flubber” as George, the father in a Flubber commercial and the flabbergasted driver in “The Love Bug”.


This is my favorite studio card from my small collection.   It’s for the 50th Anniversary of Walt Disney Productions.  It starts with Oswald and Steamboat Willie and features a few characters from all the major Disney animated features from Snow White to The Aristocats.  The characters I can’t find are for Sleeping Beauty.  But also featured, are Disneyland’s Sleeping Beauty Castle, Walt Disney World’s Cinderella Castle and the Contemporary Resort.  From the live-action films are Davy Crockett, Mary Poppins and Herbie from The Love Bug. 


This was the generic response to a fan writing a letter to the Walt Disney Studios.  It seems to have appeared on lots of cards.


This response was specific to those who wrote in about the “The Shaggy Dog” inquiring about the film.


In 2023, the Walt Disney Company will be celebrating 100 Years.  That’s only six years away.  Hope you enjoyed this small collection of Walt Disney Studios studio cards.

THANK YOU, KEN MARTINEZ!

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Burning Settler's Cabin, 1990's

Here are three more scans of snapshots graciously given to me by Irene and her brother!

While these are undated, I can only assume that these are from roughly the same time period as most of the other photos in this large lot - the mid to late 1990's, generally. As most of you know, the Burning Settler's Cabin on Tom Sawyer Island underwent a number of changes over the years; the dead guy with an arrow through his chest was replaced with a careless moonshiner. After deciding that even the suggestion of moonshine was too intense for some sensitive hearts, we got this scene:


In this iteration, there's no dead body to be seen at all. Instead, the settler went out hunting, completely forgetting that he had a pan of Jiffy Pop in the fireplace. And this was the result! "Hard facts", indeed. To add drama, the flames are threatening an eagle's nest. Look out!


This third photo shows the same scene, taken on another day. Only small changes near the cabin's fence are evident. 

In 2007, the cabin was changed once again - this time to a tidy little homestead, without flames of any kind. The story I've heard is that during some renovations, it was discovered that the gas pipes were too corroded, and the decision was made to remove them entirely. Because there's nothing more expensive to replace than gas pipes. Come on guys, if you're going to make up a story, at least make it believable. Such as, "We didn't want to keep paying for all of that natural gas". That's believable. 


Sorry for the snark! Thanks as always to Irene and her brother.

Monday, April 24, 2017

The Magic Kingdom, December 1971

Here are four more photos from Walt Disney World's first few months!

Presumably this group of musicians was in Adventureland, since steel drum music evokes a sun-drenched tropical vibe. Doing a little research (emphasis on "little"), I have found references to "J.P. and the Silver Stars", a pretty awesome name for a band! They continued to perform at the Magic Kingdom all the way into the mid-1990's - perhaps longer.


Listening to various podcasts, I get the impression that live music is not quite as easily found at Walt Disney World compared to Disneyland. Having never been there, I can't say, personally. You can find a few videos of J.P. and the Silver Stars on YouTube.


Meanwhile, over at the Swiss Family Treehouse... just look at the line! Those Swiss really know how to throw a party, and everyone knows it. My guess is that the surrounding jungle has become quite a bit more luxurious over the past 40+ years.


And here's a pretty shot of Cinderella Castle, taken on this awful, cold December day. This photo is 89% "postcard worthy", but it juuuust misses the mark!


Sunday, April 23, 2017

Too Dark Park

Uh oh! I just noticed that there seemed to be NO NEW POST today. I screwed up and forgot to tell the little man in the computer to publish this post at 12:01 AM; instead it was going to publish at 4:30 in the afternoon. D'OH. Anyway, here is today's anticlimactic post.

It's always a bummer when a slide that would be a very cool view turns out to be way too dark. This first one, from October 1963, shows (or is supposed to show) Tiki's Tropical Imports in Adventureland. I don't have many photos of this souvenir stand, so I wish that this one hadn't turned the shadows to inky blacks. So much for seeing what goodies could be had.


This next one comes from 1957; while it is dark, it's not a total loss. I always like views of the Chicken of the Sea Pirate Ship from the less-photographed side. And all the sails are unfurled. Presumably this photo was shot from a Casey Jr. Circus Train.


Saturday, April 22, 2017

Vintage New York City

I listen to a LOT of podcasts. Disney related, pop culture stuff (movies and TV), skepticism, and tech are some subjects that I enjoy. And I recently started listening to a podcast called "The Bowery Boys", devoted to the history of New York City. Nobody can deny that NYC has an incredible history full of amazing places and fascinating characters. Nobody, do you hear??

Anyway, listening to these shows made me want to dig out my very small box of vintage New York slides in order to scan some and see if there was anything interesting. In my opinion, there is! Like this 1958 photo taken at a train platform. It's full of vintage goodness! Unfortunately I have no specifics as to the exact location of this train station - if anybody recognizes it, please chime in!


Next is this undated (but 1950's?) shot taken from 5th Avenue looking west on 42nd Street. That's the wonderful New York Public Library to our left. The odd gothic structure in the distance is the 16-story Wurlitzer building, finished in 1919. I can find remarkably little info about this building (are you there, Chuck?), such as when exactly it was demolished, though I believe it was within the last few years. At some point the Cinematheque Theater opened in the building, and it showed some of Andy Warhol's movies back in the 60's. The Velvet Underground performed there as well.


Here's a screen grab from Google's "street view" as the scene looks today.



Friday, April 21, 2017

Fabulous Autopia, 1957

I love today's slide scans from 1957 - that old Kodachrome was hard to beat. You probably recognize these two brothers, aboard a sleek blue Autopia vehicle. Big brother gets to drive of course, it's just the way things go. Just on the other side of that fence is a white hard had, though I don't see any "Keppy Kap" markings on it. That "Richfield" billboard is always fun to see, with its futuristic space station.


Well what do you know! Look there, beneath the underpass; it's a rare view of a Phantom Boat, cruising the calm waters of Tomorrowland Lake. Pretty sweet.


Here's another look at the area, just because. For you fans of telephone poles... you're welcome.


Thursday, April 20, 2017

The Final Voyage of the Queen Mary

Here's something a little bit different - a real piece of SoCal history! Many of you have visited the grand old ocean liner, the Queen Mary - it's a tourist attraction, for those of you who don't know; today's photos, courtesy of Steve Stuart, were taken as the QM arrived in Long Beach on December 9th, 1967. I think these are really great. Steve has done an awesome job writing up a nice account for us - here it is:

On Saturday, December 9, 1967, the Queen Mary arrived in Long Beach, California to begin another chapter in her storied life – now as a tourist attraction, hotel, etc., and I was there to welcome her to [what has so far been] her final resting place.  Here are some quotes from the L.A. Times marking the event:  


The Queen Mary arrives in Long Beach following a 39-day voyage from England.  The city of Long Beach purchased the 31-year old vessel, which was slated for the scrap heap, for $3.45 million to serve as its waterfront centerpiece.”  The copy went on to describe the event as:  the arrival “… at her permanent residence in exile amid a tumultuous welcome that was bigger than any celebration in Southern California since the day World War II ended 22 years ago.”  Who knew-? 


"Tens of thousands – perhaps a million or more – on land, sea and in the air greeted the Queen as she glided along the coast and past the Long Beach Harbor breakwater at 10 a.m. on the last mile or so of the 39-day voyage from England, the home she will never see again”.  Oh, how sad.


About 1,200 passengers…  (let’s hope the ship’s manifest contained numbers more accurately representing the actual count, rather than “about”; otherwise I’m thinking someone could have attempted the ‘perfect murder-at-sea’-!) “…paying $8,000.00 each, [$58,428 in today’s dollars-!] took the final voyage.  Being too wide for the Panama Canal, the Queen Mary sailed around the tip of South America to reach Long Beach”.


Major Pepperidge here... I just love the masses of boats that came out to greet the Queen Mary as she arrived in Long Beach harbor, ranging from small sailboats to fancy pleasure boats, to what might be a Coast Guard escort!


Wow! What a great shot. It is definitely bittersweet to think that that magnificent ship with the distinctive 3 funnel profile was mere minutes from its final resting place.

Steve continues: You would have thought with all this hoopla and record-breaking numbers I would have stronger memories of the event.


Nope – nothing, nada, zip, bubkas-!  I have no doubt I was in attendance, in spite of the fact the only identifiable person seen in these images is that of my mom in the final photo – wearing, appropriately-enough:  A babushka-!  We did own a sailboat, but we certainly did not sail it down from Marina del Rey for the event.  Evidently whoever invited use along on his boat to witness the festivities up close and personal, was also lost to the ages along with other memories from that day.  Undoubtedly my mind was elsewhere – such as The Happiest Place On Earth – where any true Disneyland fan would rather be, wanting to take-in the still [almost new] New Tomorrowland, and even Pirates of the Caribbean.  (How did the commentary move that direction-?  I couldn’t possibly fathom a guess).


If anyone can ID any vessels or other mechanical contrivances seen in these images, please sing-out.  Thanks to The Major’s ‘eagle eye’, careful perusal of photo #5 reveals the Goodyear Blimp floating around overhead, capturing many images documenting the glorious day.

MANY THANKS to Steve for sharing these awesome photos. I thought that this was going to be the final post of his images, but he has since sent me a few more, so stay tuned!