Knott’s Preserved

By now it’s no secret I have fallen head over cowboy boots in love with Knott’s Berry Farm. The literal farm turned theme park has one of the most unique, interesting, and classic American dream stories that there is. The book that helps tell that story best is Knott’s Preserved: From Boysenberry to Theme Park, the History of Knott’s Berry Farm.

With extensive research, interviews, and massive collection of vintage photographs and ephemera, co-authors Christopher Merritt and J. Eric Lynxwiler, weave a tapestry of berries, chicken, and a sudden theme park that sprung up as a result.

Walter Knott, along with his wife Cordelia, began their small berry farm in Buena Park in the 1920s, and eventually Knott cultivated an unnamed berry he acquired from Rudolph Boysen, who had long given up on the hybrid of blackberry, red raspberry, and loganberry. Walter took the plant and nurtured it, and soon it was producing large berries that were rich in flavor. Knott chose to name the berry the boysenberry, after Rudolph Boysen. Walter sold berries and other fruit from a small roadside stand, and a tea room was added where Cordelia sold sandwiches, rolls, jam, and fresh berry pie. It was really a family operation, as the Knott children helped in making the pies. When the Great Depression arrived, the Knott family looked for a way to raise their income, and one night in June of 1934 Cordelia did something that would change their lives and the southern California landscape forever, she made fried chicken.

Word spread that this was the best fried chicken, and very soon Cordelia’s Tea Room had regular customers, and long lines. Soon one of the Knott daughters, Virginia, began selling small gifts from a card table in the lobby to aid both income and in entertaining people awaiting tables, and in 1938, just four years after serving the first dinner, the restaurant saw its first expansion, and Virginia got her very own gift shop, which still bears her name to this day.

But guests were having to wait a rather long time to be seated. And Walter wanted to entertain them. With volcanic rock he ordered from Death Valley, Walter built a waterfall for guests to enjoy while waiting. He quickly followed up that project with another, a millstone vignette, where guests waiting were encouraged to sing “Down by the Old Mill Stream”. Then inspired by a trip to Mount Vernon, Walter recreated George Washington’s fireplace. These were the first “attractions” Walter built to entertain customers waiting to be seated, and guess what, these three attractions are still at Knott’s Berry Farm, and free to the public. They are also something I have wanted to share for awhile, and this book offers a nice way to introduce them.

Today, tucked behind the Berry Market (which is part of the larger Marketplace shopping center just outside the main gates of Knott’s Berry Farm) you can still find these three original attractions. So if you stop in for a bite at Mrs. Knott’s Chicken Dinner Restaurant, be sure visit these hidden treasures.

But these small things couldn’t entertain the thousands that were flocking for a taste of Cordelia’s chicken, sometimes waiting over three hours, and soon Walter got the idea to pay homage to his grandmother, who came to California in a covered wagon. In 1940, construction began on what would become the Gold Trails Hotel, and would house a unique diorama depicting a wagon heading west. From this, Walter thought he needed more western buildings to give frame and context to the Gold Trails Hotel, and soon a real life Ghost Town sprung up! Here, guests could spent time as they waited for their tables at the Chicken Dinner Restaurant.

Soon Walter’s Ghost Town grew to have a life of its own, and buildings continued to be added, some of which were real buildings that he relocated to the property, others were built. Some of these buildings were called “peek-ins” as guests could literally peek in through the window and see a scene, like a barber giving a shave or card game being played at the sheriff’s office. These peek-ins were followed by panning for gold, a real antique train guests could ride, and before Walter Knott knew it, he had a full fledge them park. What is so wonderful is that Knott’s Preserved offers a perfect commentary on how each attraction was developed and added, and how the Farm had to change with the times, including stories I had never heard before. It also discusses the many hard working people who joined the Knott family with their project, including the self-taught wood-carver Andy Anderson who bought so many of the original peek-in characters to life, and artist Paul Von Klieben who designed buildings, painted gorgeous images for various locations, including the awe inspiring Transfiguration, which you can see and read about in my post about the Knott’s Berry Farm auction.

People came from all over southern California to visit. Patrick’s grandmother originally hailed from Nebraska before moving to California, and after marrying an Italian immigrant, she stuck to cooking Italian food for her family, but every once in awhile the family traveled to Buena Park from Burbank just for fried chicken and so she wouldn’t have to cook. My dad recalls visiting often (although from the much closer town of Downey), and I am lucky enough to have a handful of photographs from his visits (which I’m planning to share in a vintage Knott’s Berry Farm photograph post).  And stories like these aren’t at all uncommon as Knott’s Preserved shares.

Knott’s Preserved beautifully describes the path of Knott’s Berry Farm from its first steps as a simple farm, through the development of Ghost Town, and the later themed “land” and ride additions were made, not all of which were successful. I learned so much about the Knott family, long forgotten attractions, unrealized attractions, and how the Farm grew into what it is today, including the origins of Knott’s Scary Farm in 1973, and the unique addition of the Peanuts Gang in 1982.

For some, Knott’s Preserved will be a walk down memory lane, for others, like myself, it offers a wonderful glimpse into what Knott’s Berry Farm was once like. It is something any person interested in Knott’s Berry Farm should read.

Knott’s Preserved is available for purchase at Knott’s Berry Farm, both at stores inside the park, as well as Virginia’s in the Marketplace. It is also available for purchase through the the publisher’s website.

Disclaimer: I was not approached by the authors, publishers, or any employee of Knott’s Berry Farm to do a review Knott’s Preserved. I wrote this review of my own accord.

Survivor Soiree

Once again, it’s been a spell. Well, when I mentioned feeling better last time, enough to go out, I basically expelled all my energy and ended up right back at square one with my spring cold. But now I’m feeling much better! And just in time to celebrate a very special event! Five years ago my dear friend, Star, had a life saving operation that was linked to endometriosis. She enjoyed celebrating the anniversary by going to Disneyland, and invited her friends to join her, asking only that they add a bit of yellow to their outfit, as yellow the color that represents endometriosis awareness. When one of our friends, Samantha of Match Accessories, was diagnosed with leukemia (more can be read about Match and Sam’s battle here), the focus shifted away from strictly endometriosis awareness to general chronic illness awareness, and those attending could wear a color that was linked to the illness they wished to represent.

Star is one of the first friends I made after moving to California, and I don’t wear yellow often, so this event is a nice opportunity to showcase any yellow I have, as well as show support for her, and raise awareness. Additionally, Samantha of Match has been a shining light in the Disney community, among being one of the sweetest and kindest persons I know, so when I saw this dress with both yellow and orange (which represents leukemia) I knew it was the dress for the occasion! I also adore the cut! The colors also worked well for a parasol I’ve been wanting to make for awhile, which is one featuring Lambert from the 1952 Disney short Lambert the Sheepish Lion.

As you can see many of us still stuck to yellow. Which I think aided in our mission of awareness because we had a lot of people ask why there were so many of us wearing yellow, and we could share our stories.

Outfit
Dress: Red Door Vintage, Redlands, California
Shoes: Olvera Street, Los Angeles, California
Brooch: Match Accessories
Lambert Parasol: Made by me

Western Party at Paper Moon

Well, it’s been awhile, hasn’t it? I got laid up with a really wretched cold right after Dapper Day, and only recently have I began to feel normal. And thank goodness, because Paper Moon was hosted their Full Moon party last night, and it was western themed!

Paper Moon is hands down one of the best vintage shops in LA. The wide range, age of many of the garments, and the way the shop is laid out makes you feel like you are shopping in the dressing room of an old Hollywood movie star. Every time you look around you find something that is simply stunning. Especially if you’re into 30s and older, Paper Moon is the place for you! Nicole, the owner, really knows how to throw a shop party, with tasty treats, libations, and even live music, where last night she featured Tiny & Mary, who sung classic western songs.

Outfit
Hat: Redlands Galleria, Redlands, California
Top: Buffalo Exchange…I think…
Tie: Joyride Vintage, Orange, California
Skirt: Dolly & Dotty
Tooled Leather Belt: Knott’s Berry Farm
Tooled Leather Heels: Re-Mix
Tooled Leather Clutch: Found by my dad
Rings: Various

Spring into Dapper Day

Last Sunday was spring Dapper Day at the Disneyland Resort. Recently I have scored some amazing vintage square dancing dresses, including several spectacular floral ones, so I decided to wear one of those for the day.

All day I felt one part cowgirl, and one part southern belle. Which works out just fine, as Frontierland and New Orleans Square merge with one another with in the park!

Dapper Day also brings the Dapper Day Expo, where vendors who sell vintage and vintage inspired goods come together and you can shop ’till you drop! Which I seriously did. I came home with three more pairs of Re-Mix shoes, a couple of vintage charm bracelets, and a few pieces of clothing, not to mention even more brooches from Match Accessories!

I hope your spring is going well!

Outfit
Dress: Ozzie Dots, Los Angeles, California
D Brooch: Match Accessories
Belt: I don’t remember…probably from my dad
Shoes: Re-Mix
Disneyland Fan: Redlands Galleria, Redlands, California

Ticket to Ride

For my actual birthday, myself, Patrick, and a few friends spent the afternoon at Disneyland. I also decided it was time to do a Disneybound I’ve been working on for awhile – a Disneyland ticket book!

I got inspiration for this bound from Match Accessories limited edition D brooch that was based on the D design on Disneyland’s ticket books. Then KW Creations made this super cute pair of ticket book ears! And then Harveys made this D23 exclusive ticket book inspired purse! And the rest came to finding the scarves that matched the tickets! And at the last minute I decided to make a parasol based on the ticket book backs.

My birthday happened to fall the Friday before Dapper Day weekend, so next up will be what I wore to spring Dapper Day!

Outfit
Ticket Book Ears: KW Creations
Dress: Red Light, Portland, Oregon
Belt: Nordstorm
Scarves: Here and there…
D Brooch: Match Accessories
Disneyland Charm Bracelet and Earrings: I don’t remember…
Shoes: Re-Mix
Parasol: Made by me
Purse: D23 Expo Exclusive by Harveys

Mad for Boysenberry!

For Easter Sunday, Patrick and I returned to Knott’s Berry Farm to enjoy the sights, sounds, and treats of Boysenberry Festival again. I also finally finished my boysenberry parasol!

During Boysenberry Festival I had the absolute pleasure of meeting J. Eric Lynxwiler, one of the authors of Knott’s Preserved, an amazing book about the history of Knott’s Berry Farm, and which I keep meaning to write a review of! Lynxwilder is a wealth of information when it comes to Knott’s, and he taught me so many wonderful new things about the park, giving me an even greater appreciation. His passion for not only Knott’s, but history in general shines through when he talks, and his is a joy to chat with. Plus, both times I bumped into him, he had the most spectacular boysenberry themed ensembles. I mean, just look at this custom-made boysenberry western wear shirt he had on!

Since Knott’s brought back the melodrama at the Bird Cage, Krazy Kirk and the Hillbillies were kicked over to the Wagon Camp during the Festival, which I thought was really neat, as the Wagon Camp was original created for music acts and square dancing.  The Wagonmasters were among the most notable and regular of the performers at the Wagon Camp, and it’s wonderful that the Hillbillies can follow in their footsteps. Over the years though the desire for thrills encroached on the Wagon Camp, and today part of the rollercoaster Silver Bullet winds through part of the Wagon Camp. Although at times it makes for amusing stage antics, as sometimes Kirk would scream back at the riders.

Sadly, Boysenberry Festival has come to a close, and while I’m bummed to see all of the wonderful and unique treats leave, it means it’s just a few more weeks until Ghost Town Alive returns!

Outfit
Boysenberry Pie Fascinator: Miss Doolittle’s
Peasant Top: Pin-up Girl Clothing
Skirt: Stray Cat Vintage, Fullerton, California
Boots: Buffalo Exchange
Tooled Leather Purse: I don’t remember…
Earrings: Belonged to my grandmother
Boysenberry Festival Pin and Bracelet: Knott’s Berry Farm
Calico Pin and Parasol: Made by me

Birthday Cowgirl

It’s my birthday! And what a proper day to share what I did to celebrate my birthday! So even though my birthday is today, Dapper Day is this weekend, and I knew most of my friends would be attending that, I also wanted to do a get-together at Knott’s Berry Farm, which is exactly what we did last weekend.

We really lucked out, as it was still Boysenberry Festival, so many of my friends were excited to try all of the unique boysenberry offerings, including the boysenberry cream soda, that is made by hand. We gave the gal working quite the work out when ten of us came in and each ordered one.

We also attended the various fun shows that are offered during Boysenberry Festival, like the new melodrama at the Bird Cage Theatre, Snoopy’s Boysenberry Jamboree, and of course my favorite, Krazy Kirk and the Hillbillies.

One thing I had yet to do at Knott’s was their Pitcher Gallery (yes, “pitcher”) where guests can dress up like cowboys, cowgirls, proper ladies and gentlemen, and my favorite, saloon girls. So I convinced my gal pals to do a group saloon girl photo.

Patrick and I returned to Knott’s to spend Easter, and continued eating all of the wonderful Boysenberry Festival treats! So stay tuned for that post!

Outfit
Dress: Decades, Salt Lake City, Utah
Shoes: Re-Mix
Western Charm Bracelet: Built by me over the years
Rhinestone Horseshoe Ring: Disneyland
“Howdy!” Purse: Birthday gift