Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Keelboat Trio

Just because and for no other reason I am presenting a trio of Keel Boat images today. First up…October 1958. Dang, I wasn't even born yet! The Bertha Mae is definitely my favorite Keel Boat; I love the green shutters. I can't quite figure out the sleeveless shirt that the cast member steering the boat is wearing. Must have been a hot day!

Going back two years to October 27, 1956. The 27th; not the 28th or the 26th…these were clearly marked "27th."

This cast member looks like he wandered off the set of Ma & Pa Kettle. What a difference from the sleeveless one of 1958.

Last one is from June 1967. This lads smile is enough to put Mary Tyler Moore out of business. Note the Indian guide behind him; it appears that the Gullywhumper is docked near the Indian Village.

Still got a Kraving for Keel Boats? Kruise on over to my main website.

Monday, March 30, 2015

1970s Skyway Journey

Soar with me over Disneyland via this series of 1970s images taken from the Skyway. Beginning in Tomorrowland, our square-shaped bucket sails towards the Matterhorn, which at one time had two holes to accommodate the Skyway.

We are now within the Matterhorn; oh if we could only get out and take photos!

Zooming in for a look at Skull Rock Cove, which appears to have the falls turned off.

Sunshine on the other side as we approach the Chicken of the Sea Pirate Ship Restaurant.

This closeup reveals that yes, there is construction work occurring in this area.

So glad this 1970s photographer took all of these consecutive shots.

Craving more Skyway shots? Ride on over to my main website and see more photos of the Monorail at Disneyland.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

A Mink in Watts

I can just picture; February 1964. Millicent and her husband Harold are out for a Sunday drive. They make a wrong turn and find themselves in Watts. Looking through the front window, Millicent sees the uniquely magnificent Towers in front of her. "Pull the car over, Harold!" Clutching her fur wrap, she poses in front of the entrance sign.

Zooming in for the signage:

I am loving the contrast of a Sunday-best clad Millicent roaming through the informal yet magnificent Watts Towers.

Something about the old vs. new, the establishment vs. the rebels. And yes, Simon Rodia was definitely a rebel for being able to conceive such a cool piece of art and then seeing its construction through, despite all of the hurdles thrown at him by the City of Los Angeles.

Millicent's visit occurred one year before Rodia passed away.

As a bonus, I am throwing in this November 1962 vintage image of the Towers from a totally unrelated visit.

For more Watts Towers photos head on over to my main website.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Fred's 57th Anniversary

Today's post honors the 57th anniversary of The Fred Gurley locomotive, whose namesake was President of the Santa Fe Railway from 1944–1957. Along with Walt, the two were responsible for the initial sponsorship of the Santa Fe & Disneyland Railroad in 1955. In this September 1958 photo, the 2-4-4T Forney locomotive built in 1895 at Baldwin Locomotive Works is shown pulling into the station.

Another early shot, this one is from August 1958:

How about a balloon to celebrate today?

Flash forward to 2015, although it has a somewhat different paint job, it's still taking guests around the Park on a Grand Circle Tour.

A few from 2013; probably my favorite shots of The Gurley.

Happy Birthday Fred—long may you live!

See more Daveland vintage & current Disneyland Disneyland Railroad photos at my main website.

Friday, March 27, 2015

Creepy Pack Mule Girls

These twin girls from 1959 dressed in matching fire engine red dresses look like something straight out of "The Omen." I wonder if the pack mules sense the danger lurking?

Talk about a more innocent time…can you imagine leaving a purse or wallet in the queue of an attraction today while you went for a spin?

Woe to the guest who would have tried to steal anything from these little girls; one look and they'd be reduced to ash.

Saddle up a pack mule and ride on over to my main website for more.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Hills Brothers in Town Square

If you wanted coffee at Disneyland in February 1964, Starbucks wasn't even on the radar. The caffeinated beverage of choice was Hills Brothers, named after the sons of Austin Hills in 1906.

The symbol of an Arab drinking coffee was called "the taster".

The Hills Brothers logo art has since been replaced by a representation more in line with the original founders.

Doesn't look like it's very busy; perhaps that's why they were replaced by Maxwell House in 1976!

One of my last shots before it converted is from 1972; things look a lot more lively in this one, thanks to the musicians playing in front:

Although if the cook has time to play the drums, that can't be a good sign!

More caffeinated photos at my main website.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

9 Months Til Christmas!

Are your Christmas shopping lists ready yet? You only have 9 more months left! In the meantime, enjoy this December 1955 image from Town Square. There's a crowd right outside the Fire Department/Walt's Apartment. Wonder what's going on? Could Walt be in the middle signing autographs?

Anyone able to read this billboard to the left of the Bekins Storage truck?

See more Disneyland Town Square photos at my main website.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Bali Hai

The Bali Hai Restaurant located on Shelter Island in San Diego has been a favorite local hangout since it opened in 1955 by San Diego restaurateur Tom Ham. The name came from the popular song in the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical "South Pacific." This 1950s image shows the landmark shortly after it opened.

How it looks today:

Zooming in on the vintage image you can see the Tiki icon on the roof called The Goof, which according to the Bali Hai website is "a playful and mysterious remnant that has stood guard over the restaurant for over five decades.

"In 1935, the movie “The Bounty” was filmed on Catalina Island starring none other than Clark Gable himself. An entire Tahitian village was built on Catalina for the film, and in order to support the cast and crew, a bar was located just below Gable’s sleeping quarters and became known as Christian’s Hut, named after the character Gable played, Fletcher Christian. When the shooting finished the bar was moved to Newport Beach, and was a major power spot for locals and celebrities alike. It spawned other franchises, but none of them survived, including Newport Beach (burned down in 1963), except for San Diego, which was renamed some years later. Early matchbook covers revealed that the “Goof” head, was prominent on the earlier franchises in Balboa and Corona del Mar, and was subsequently transposed to the San Diego restaurant. However, the actual meaning of the head, i.e. “the Goof”, still remains a mystery. On two of the early matchbook covers from the Balboa and Corona del Mar franchises, the cover reads next to the big fat guy, “Watch out for the Big Opu at….” In Hawaiian, Opu means stomach. Perhaps, the original character idea was that he was fat from eating such good food at the restaurant and his goofy face just evolved, or devolved, whichever you like, over the years into what’s on top of the Bali Hai restaurant today."

Here's how "The Goof" looks today:

At the front entrance is Mr. Bali Hai, a large Tiki wood sculpture, modeled after early Headhunters of the South Pacific.

More background from the website:

About the Bone through his Nose! The original Mr. Bali Hai Tiki had a bone through his nose, but due to wood rot and weathering and time the bone fell off (or was removed). There is talk of replacing the bone and bringing Mr. Bali Hai to his full original look! We will keep you posted!!

Mr. Bali Hai today:

Ham’s daughter Susie Baumann and her husband Larry, and sons Grant, Andy and Tommy run the restaurant today, carrying on the family tradition.

Find more San Diego vintage & current photos at my main website.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Merlin and Martin: What A Reunion!

Back when Disneyland was more diverse in its retail offerings, there was a magical little store tucked away in Fantasyland. Walt Disney himself approached magician Merv Taylor in 1955 and asked him to be part of Disneyland; teaming up with James Hume, the two created Merlin's Magic Shop. Merv sold his magic store in Los Angeles and the rights to some of his apparatus to focus solely on Disneyland. Here are a few low quality but rare interior shots of Merlin's, featuring the skinny manager, Dave Steward, sporting a harlequin shirt; a young Steve Martin can be seen in the lower left-hand photo behind the counter wearing the same patterned shirt.

This May 1962 image shows one of Merlin's windows:

A closer look at the merchandise:

Merlin's Magic Shop also had the King Arthur sword in the stone. A secret button behind the counter would release the sword for the right person.

Merv and James Hume had two magic shops in Disneyland, as well as a drugstore and camera shop in the Disneyland Hotel.

Here is a rare interior shot of the Hotel shop. Merv's daughter-in-law, Helen, is on the left, pregnant with her daughter Lorie.

The leases at Disneyland ran out in 1967 but Merv & James retained the other stores til after Merv's passing in 1974. Here's Merv's Disneyland ID:

Merv helped put on many a summer magic show inviting many of his friends to perform. The man holding the "E" is Leo Behnke, who mentored a young Steve Martin when he worked at Merlin's.

Not sure what the event going on here is or its location, but Merv's grandson, Eric, identified this magician as Merv's wife, Della (aka Eric's grandmother!).

Here's Merv himself performing a trick with actress Debbie Reynolds:

and budding magician Steve Martin, performing the very same trick:

Finally, we come to the reason this post came to fruition: the handcrafted sign outside of Merlin's, seen in this previously posted August 1965 image:

This sign was designed and made by Merv and his son Richard.

In these very low quality but rare shots, you can see Steve Martin standing outside the shop where the sign hung, as well as posing with some friends and fellow magician/manager of Merlin's Dave Steward (2nd from right):

Dave Steward is shown touching the sign by the side exit, not the one in my 1965 photo.

One day last year, slightly bored, I decided to search on ebay for vintage Disneyland items just to see what the most expensive items were. Lo and behold, a few listings down, I stumbled upon this:

It was listed as "59 years old, weathered and slightly faded on the red paint. It measures 36" x 23" and is 2" thick. It is wrapped in iron holding the sign and is suspended on iron links. It has sustained termite damage but has been treated." I knew from comparing my photos that it was the real deal. So, I did what any person would do. I sent word through the cosmos to Steve Martin that it was up for grabs and that he should probably act quickly. Minutes later, he owned it. But, there was a problem (that's just how life works…throwing in those hurdles). The sign was in Hemet...

and Steve was temporarily in New York. I offered to make a road trip and deliver it to his assistant in LA. I had the pleasure of meeting the owners, Helen Taylor and her daughter Lorie. They couldn't have been any nicer. This photo of a mummified sign is what I picked up that day. I sweated the entire ride to LA, hoping I wouldn't drop it or damage it along the way.

Last one for today shows the proud owner:

And that's how Martin was reunited with Merlin.

Many thanks to the Taylor family and Steve Martin for all the assistance on making this post happen!

Want more Merlin's? Click the link and magically transport yourself to my main website. For more Steve Martin photos, my website has 'em in spades, too!