Wednesday, January 27, 2021

Dave Metz Remembers

Thanks to former cast member David M. (Cavalry Trooper, Tom Sawyer Island, 1970-71) for sharing his memories:

I got out of the Army in 1970, but was not ready to start a career and decided to take a year off to do absolutely nothing gainful – and the best place for that was in Southern California. I called my fellow First Lieutenant roommate (Bob Romoser) with whom I had served in Germany, suggested that we go to Guaymas, Mexico and then drive PCH up California to the Bay Area, then return to Orange County where I “would get us jobs at Disneyland.” He was skeptical, but rising to the moment I called the personnel director at the Magic Kingdom (Chuck Shields) and told him that two ex-lieutenants wanted to work for him – and we’d do anything Disneyland wanted, to include “cleaning up after the Clydesdales on Main Street.” He sent us the applications and said to come see him when we arrived in Orange County. We got to the area, secured housing at the Huntington Capri Singles Apartments in Huntington Beach, drove up Harbor Blvd., met the personnel director and were hired. Bob ended up working in Tomorrowland in that funky uniform with white spats (see below), but I was assigned to Tom Sawyer Island in Frontierland – and I have to say that working on The Island was fabulous – with a main job of keeping people from trying to cross the Pontoon Bridge the wrong way and possibly falling off, and keeping kids from smoking grass in Injun Joe’s Cave. I also was asked to pose with guests for their Instamatic photos. My favorite duty was to occasionally make a tour of the area around The Burning Cabin to ensure that kids had not managed to get through the fence to the back lot.

While in the area, I also had some (quite unauthorized) fun. I would stand totally still in my cavalry officer’s costume as if I has just arrived on the scene of the massacre, and would await the passage of the Mark Twain or the Columbia which would always have kids hanging over the rails watching the Burning Cabin.

I would wait until only one kid was watching and I would – just like a Disney Audio-Animatronic figure – turn, look right at him, waive and grin. The kid would always tug at a friend or his parent and say “Look at the cavalry guy!” But when that happened I would freeze until the friend or parent looked away, whereupon I would again have some fun by again acting the role. Of course, I had to be careful doing kind of thing or I would have been chewed out by a supervisor. But someplace out there, there are people that remember the cavalry trooper who grinned and waived at just them – and no one else.

David was also kind enough to share a number of non-Burning Cabin photos below, such as the ones showing him doing Tomorrowland Duty (with the funky spats) to supervise the dance floor (The Sound Castle was the band):

David also let me know that the New Orleans Square One Of A Kind shop was a favorite of his. When he told me that, I knew he was legit! Below, you can see a treasured print that David bought there of the famed dancer Nijinksy by George Barbier in 1913. He found it in The One of a Kind Shop in 1970, paid about $15 for it (less the employee 10% discount, of course), and it’s followed him around for 50 years. How it looked in his 1971 apartment:

An image I found of the original Barbier print:

Many thanks to David M. for sharing all of his stories and images!

See more Disneyland Burning Cabin photos at my main website.


Fifthrider said...

I love personal stories like this. There should be a book full of these. Thanks for sharing. That bit about waving to just one kid is priceless.

Daveland said...

I do too; when people like David reach out to me it makes all the time and money spent on this stuff worth it.

Nanook said...

Thanks for sharing these stories. There definitely should be at least one book full of them.

Irene said...

I love hearing stories like this! I'm so glad he reached out to you for sharing and also the photos!

Anonymous said...

A great personal post which showcases the unique experiences those of us CMs had 'back in the day'. KS

Anonymous said...

What a great story, thanks for posting this, Dave, and thanks to David M. for sharing it.