Thursday, October 31, 2013

Halloween Memories



Halloween has always been a favorite time of the year for me. I used to love putting on a costume and hauling my humongous Trick-or-Treat bag through the neighborhood. This was back when you actually knew the people whose house you were calling on and they knew you. You didn't get dumped off in a different neighborhood. Despite the fact that we stayed in our neighborhood, I remember having to go back to home base at least once or twice in the middle of Trick-or-Treating in order to empty out my bag. We are talking a big booty of candy! This first photo shows my brothers in 1961, dressed up for Halloween at our home in Lemon Grove, CA. My oldest brother was a pink rabbit and my middle brother was a Jolly Roger Pirate. AAAAAARGH!!!

Halloween 1962 shows the tradition of hand-me down; the older brother got the new costume, while the younger one inherited what had been worn the year before.



While middle brother became the dreaded pink bunny, older brother got to be Huckleberry Hound! Not sure who the little witch is; probably a cousin or a neighbor.



I am digging these pumpkins; so much so, that I am hoping that mom still has them stashed in the attic. Awaiting her reply...



One last shot before hitting the streets, under mom's watchful eye!



Besides my birth, 1964 must have been a good year for my family. New costumes for BOTH brothers!



A generic skeleton for one, and Casper the Friendly Ghost for the other. Must...get...those...pumpkin...buckets!



My first Halloween was 1966; I inherited the Jolly Roger. A lion costume for middle brother and a devil for the oldest.



I was a much less scary pirate without the mask!



For our first Halloween in Philadelphia, I assumed the dreaded pink bunny costume. Oh the shame.



Oldest brother was the devil again and middle brother was the lion again. The hobo and Droopy Dog costumes were probably worn by the neighbors' kids. I remember those Trick or Treat bags so well; I can still hear the sound they made as you emptied them out. Those were some high quality paper bags; they lasted for years.



Halloween 1968 shows my brothers as the Esso (now Exxon) Tiger ("Put a tiger in your tank!") and King Kong. Note the orange UNICEF collection box in my brother's hand.



It appears I went out separately; these are all my brother's friends. I was probably too young to hang with the cool older kids!



The party afterwards was always fun; comparing the candy everyone had gotten and eating the treats that mom had made for all the neighborhood kids to enjoy. It was a festive time of year!



The world has changed and Halloween is a somewhat different celebration for kids. I remember at some point during the 70s hearing that we had to be careful about people who put razor blades in apples. I couldn't believe that people would do stuff like that. Then, taking your kids to the mall and trick-or-treating at the shops became a new alternative. Now, with all the sickos that you hear about, the ability to enjoy a care-free celebration of harmless spookery is much more difficult. I feel bad for the youth of today who are unable to have the same type of fun that we did.

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Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Patriotic Sunset at Disneyland



This gorgeously saturated shot is from October 1962 and shows the daily Flag Lowering Ceremony that occurs in Town Square.

Zooming in, it appears that someone is standing in for Vesey Walker.



You can still view this touching display of patriotism at the park every day.



The Dapper Dans have made a lovely addition to the musical proceedings.



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Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Why Grumpy is grumpy.



Just look at this undated 1960's image; I would not last very long as a costumed character at Disneyland. I can only imagine the indignities these people suffer at the hands of little monsters like this one, who appears to be kicking Grumpy from the rear.



As you can see from these consecutive September 1961 shots, Grumpy was apparently a favorite for the little kids to pick on. Now his nose is getting the abuse.



Over twenty years later in 1984, this adult guest feels the need to do the same thing to poor old Grumpy. Note how the screen in the hat for the visibility of cast members is now gone.



Can you imagine the revenge fantasies that were plotted by these cast members in costume?

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Monday, October 28, 2013

Pack Mules at Disneyland



Although I'm not sure I'd get on one if I could, there's something about the Pack Mule attraction at Disneyland that makes me wish it was still there. Whenever I see vintage images become available of it, I am typically a sucker to buy them.



Maybe it's the unpredictability of having your fun rely on an animal; the fact that the experience isn't quite perfect and might actually go a little awry at any minute.



Because of the amount of visitors, liability, and a general expectation of perfection, the Pack Mules would be a hard sell for today's Disneyland.

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Sunday, October 27, 2013

Steve Reeves as Li'l Abner



I am fascinated by the process of casting a movie; especially finding out who some of the original possibilities were. At that point, I try to wrap my brain around what that movie might have turned out to be had one of those original possibilities turned into a reality. One of those most famous is Shirley Temple as Dorothy in "The Wizard of Oz" 1939); one of the lesser known ones would be the one I am illustrating today.

The 1959 film "Li'l Abner" is all but forgotten today, including its leading man, Peter Palmer. The photos in today's post show bodybuilder and former Mr. America, Steve Reeves, in a few photos from 1958 that show him wearing a Li'l Abner costume. I am guessing that these were shot near the beach.



Reeves was no Shakespeare when it came to acting, but physically, he was a good match for the title character of the movie which was based on a comic strip character. Abner was a 6' 3" hillbilly, who was naïve and simple-minded. He was known for his strength, not his brains.



For whatever reason, Peter Palmer won the role over Reeves and went on to a very modest career as an actor.



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Saturday, October 26, 2013

Memories of the Beach



The summer of '85 was a magical one for me; I was about to enter my senior year in college and I had just turned 21. It also marked the first time that I stayed at my father's vacation home on Mission Bay in San Diego. Although there were times during that two week stay that he (and his wife) drove me nuts, it was also one of the first times that we were able to start relating to each other as adults. Both of us were born in San Diego, but my father actually grew up there. I loved driving around town with him while he pointed out certain memorable spots that had been part of his childhood. I remember him talking about The Plunge (shown below), which was the largest salt-water pool in the world when it was built during the 1920's. This 1985 photo that I shot with a film camera (like all of the photos in this post) was taken two years before the Plunge and the rest of Belmont Park was (temporarily) shutdown for a major renovation.



I also remember my dad pointing out Saska's, which was a hangout for him back in the 1950's. He also seemed to recall that it was a place that he would run into my mother, before the two of them wed in 1956.



We also walked around the San Diego State University campus, where both he and my mother attended for two years before he went off to the Marines and she went off to finish her degree in Arizona.



A year later, I took one of my college friends, Rob, out to Mission Beach for Spring Break. Unsupervised, unchaperoned, and ready for fun! We never let the cast on his leg get in the way of our vacation.



The Lahaina Beach House at Pacific Beach was a great place to grab a burger and brew while people watching the interesting folk on the beach.



We found this broken surfboard on the beach; neither of us had any idea how to surf, but we sure had a blast posing for photos as if we did.



For nightlife, the two of us walked down Mission Boulevard to Club Diego's, THE hip dance spot of San Diego. I can still picture that rube on the dance floor with a cast on his leg, pivoting around it while flailing the rest of his body.



I shot this photo the morning we were leaving to go back to school in Indiana. What a farewell.



Rob and I returned to Mission Beach a few months later after I graduated; he was staying at UCLA for an internship and I was still floundering around, trying to find my way...and find a job. I eventually got frustrated and moved back to Indiana...for another 13 years!



I would still make occasional trips back to Mission Bay, and often brought friends to show them why I was so hooked on Southern California. There was boogie boarding, which I like to refer to as "Surfing for Idiots."



For those who like to build things with their hands, nothing like sand castles to stretch your creativity.



For thrills, nearby Belmont Park had The Giant Dipper, an old fashioned gut-wrenching roller coaster.



Hold on tight...this one is guaranteed to move your intestines around...



I am so glad I have this shot, taken in 1995. When I went on the coaster recently, they told me that cameras are not allowed.



Finally, after a few lukewarm attempts to job search while still living in the midwest, 1999 brought on my life changing epiphany; I could either stay in Indiana and flatline, or take a leap of faith by quitting the job, selling the house, and attempting to start fresh in San Diego. At that point, my dad was retired and living full time in his beach house. Being able to stay with him while I job searched made that leap a lot less scary. Living with a parent again in your 30s can be a bit nuts; at times it was like a bad sitcom.



It took me three months to get my first job. Although it wasn't ideal, the skills I learned there helped me secure my current position. My father passed away suddenly a year later, which makes me oh so grateful for that time that we spent together and even more aware that it is important to listen to the messages that the universe sends. Well, most of the messages at least. I am a firm believer that things happen in life for a reason, and having that three months of living with my father again was a gift that I will never forget.

My visits to the beach slowed down to a screeching halt once my dad was gone. Without his beach house to use as a mission control center, it became more of a production to go to the beach while dragging the boogie boards, towels, and attempting to find a place to park. Even to this day, it just feels weird to go there knowing that he isn't around.

Still, I look back fondly on the days that I spent there and think how much I owe my father for all that he shared with me. Thanks for the memories, Pops!

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Friday, October 25, 2013

Where To Find The Bacon at Disneyland



I was very excited to acquire a batch of February 1960 slides, as it now gives me two out of three vintage shots of the Storybook Three Little Pig homes.

The first shot taken was of the Practical Pig home, thus named because he built his home of brick. Here's a contemporary comparison shot. If you watch the original Silly Symphony Short, you'll see that the design of the home in the cartoon closely matches what was built.



Here is the vintage shot of Fiddler Pig's house; he wasn't so smart, as he built his home out of sticks and twigs. I guess all of his brains must have gone into his violin playing.



The original structure appeared to have been built out of actual sticks/twigs, whereas the contemporary version looks more like a molded material.



Unfortunately, I have yet to acquire a vintage shot of poor ol' Fifer's house; til then, my contemporary images will have to suffice.



I do have comparison shots for the Big Bad Wolf's abode, this one from June 1969:



I really love the little details like the mailboxes:



The Three Little Pigs had a much bigger presence in the park during the early years:









Today, they are at least honored by having a restaurant named after them on Buena Vista Street at DCA, The Fiddler, Fifer and Practical Cafe:



From what I can remember, I do not believe there is a single picture of the Pigs inside the restaurant. I wonder if bacon is on the menu there?

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