The Neon Museum

If you only go to one museum in Las Vegas, it should be the Neon Museum. The Neon Museum is rich in what made Las Vegas famous – neon. That spectacular glow of gases swirling inside glass made the lure of Las Vegas so bright and people flocked. Sadly though, over the years, many motels, hotels, casinos, and businesses have either bit the dust or “updated” their signage. But thankfully some of that signage is laid to rest in the “Neon Boneyard”.

The Neon Museum doesn’t just let these old signs sit out, they are also actively restoring their signs, slowly, one at a time. The Neon Museum offers both daytime and nighttime tours, and Patrick and I did both during our stay in Vegas, so we got to see the restored signs lit up. You’ll see a combination of both visits throughout the post.

The Neon Museum is a photographer’s dream, and I took hundreds of photos! And even though I narrowed it down, it was still quite a lot!

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The Mob Museum

Patrick and I are finally home from our road trip to Idaho! Why Idaho? Well, my grandfather on my mom’s side passed away, so we went for his services, but I figured if we had to go, why not make the best of it, and do a road trip?

The first stop on our trip was Las Vegas (not counting the abandoned waterpark in my last post), and we crammed a lot into our two night stay, so I have lots to share with you! And we will start with the Mob Museum.

Very fittingly located in an old Las Vegas courthouse, the Mob Museum was on my list last time I was in Vegas, but didn’t get around to it. The museum offers a chronology of the history of the mob in the United States, as well as the history of law enforcement’s way of combatting the mob, but with a strong focus on Las Vegas, and a nice general history of Vegas.

At the very end of the museum was a small room showcasing vintage fashion from the late 1910s through the early 1930s, with some absolutely stunning pieces! So if you’re more in this for the fashion, just scroll to the end!

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Dressing Downton

Earlier in the week, myself, Patrick, and a friend went to Anaheim’s Muzeo as they were hosting the touring exhibit, Dressing Downton, which features the costumes of British show Downton Abbey. As a fan of the show and vintage fashion, I leaped at the opportunity to visit! If you’re unfamiliar with the show, it chronicles the life and times of the fictional Crowley family, and their estate, Downton Abbey in the Yorkshire countryside, along with those who they employ, from 1912 through I believe 1923, so a great deal changes both in lifestyle and fashion.

For the visit, I went with a simple adventurer chic look with Egyptian revival jewelry, as seriously I don’t do the Edwardian period or the 20s really. My 20s garments consist of more gowns, nothing for a casual afternoon at a museum. So, this is about as close as I get sometimes.

Continue reading for images from the exhibit.

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Palm Springs Air Museum

After having lunch with Patrick I made my way over to the Palm Springs Air Museum, which I can honestly say is one of the best air museums I’ve ever been to, and I’ve been to quite a few. My mom worked at one shortly after I was born, so I’ve always had a soft spot for air museums.

The Palm Springs Air Museum is home to many planes, with its main focus being on World War II, but also features planes from the Korean Conflict, Vietnam War, and the Cold War. These three will soon be getting their own portion of the museum, but now, the subject matter is a bit scattered. The planes are all very visible, and visitors can get up-close to the aircrafts. Many of the planes have amazing nose art as well!

While it is an air museum, they also feature other war related items, including two subjects I find fascinating; trench art from World War I and II, and POW and MIA bracelets from the Vietnam War.

For the POW/MIA bracelets, they had two binders that told the stories of the POW or MIA soldiers and, if the donor wished, their story of why they decided to get a bracelet. From what I read bracelet wearers were both people who supported the war, and those strongly opposed, which I found very interesting. The binders was fascinating, as it mentioned if the remains of the soldiers had yet to be recovered, and some remains were recovered as recently as 2013. These stories showcase that closure from wars can come decades later.

A really unique offering at the Palm Springs Air Museum is the ability to climb inside a real B-17 Bomber (or an additional $5.00 donation)! I leaped at the chance!

One of my personal favorite topics of World War II is the Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP for short), and the museum had a wonderful collection of WASP items, including a complete uniform.

In 1943, WASP director, Jacqueline Cochran convinced General Hap Arnold that her women should have their own uniforms. Cochran, with fashion designers at Bergdorf Gorman in New York designed the uniforms, and fashion coordinators from Neman Marcos personally fitted each woman for her uniform. The color blue was very specific, and inspired by Cochran’s time in Santiago, and the specific dye formula was named “Santiago Blue”. A docent told me Cochran kept the formula under lock and key, and destroyed it when the WASP disbanded, so no one else could have the color and it would remain only for the women of the WASP.

Fifinella, as seen above, was the WASP mascot. She was conceived by author Roald Dahl for his story The Gremlins. Disney Animation created hundreds of mascots for the military, including this Fifinella, as they were planning on doing a cartoon adaptation of The Gremlins, but it never happened. If you’re interested in Disney Studio’s involvement in World War II, I highly recommend the book Disney During World War II: How the Walt Disney Studio Contributed to the Victory of the War by John Baxter (I keep meaning to do a review of this book, by the way). It is available on Amazon, and I have seen it in the Disney parks.

If you’re in Palm Springs, I highly recommend visiting the Palm Springs Air Museum. Active Military and their immediate families can get in for free, and retired Military with ID can enter at a discount. Additionally, if you purchase your ticket at Palm Springs’ Visitor Center you can buy it at a discount. To learn more about exhibits, hours, and admission, please visit Palm Springs Air Museum’s website.

That wraps up my Palm Springs posts! I hope you enjoyed!

Palm Springs Village Green Museums

Patrick and I just returned home from a week in Palm Springs, like we do every March, as Patrick has an annual work conference there. During this year’s visit I spent a lot time at museums, and finally visited several small museums that are all clustered together.

Located in the heart of Palm Springs is the Village Green, a small park that is home to not one, not two, not even three, but four small museums; the Cornelia White House, the McCallum Adobe, Ruddy’s General Store, and the Agua Caliente Cultural Museum.

I’ll start with my favorite, the Cornelia White House. The building itself was originally built by Dr. and Mrs. Welwood Murray in 1893, and was built using railroad ties from a failed narrow-gauge line connecting the Southern Pacific depot with Palmdale. And was part of the couple’s Palm Springs Hotel. It was later purchased by Cornelia Butler White, and this woman was quite the character!

Cornelia White was born in 1874 in upstate New York, and one of eleven children. She loved to travel, and even traveled the Nile River in Egypt. She was also a professor, and from 1905 to 1912 taught domestic science at the University of North Dakota. Following her teaching stint, she moved to Mexico. One of Cornelia’s sisters, Florilla White, a doctor by trade, joined her, along with Carl Lykken, a mining engineer. However as revolutionary war broke out in Mexico, the trio had to flee. They escaped by operating a railroad handcar and traveled over 80 miles to the coast. Before joining her sister in Mexico, Florilla had spent time in Palm Springs at the hotel operated by Dr. Murray, and after escaping Mexico, Florilla suggested a move to Palm Springs. After arriving in Palm Springs in 1913, they bought the hotel Murray owned, and by 1915, another White sister, Isabel White, joined them. Isabel eventually married an author by the name of J. Smeaton Chase, while neither of the sisters, nor their friend Lykken, ever married.

Cornelia enjoyed riding, hiking, and even participating in cattle driving! And she always wore a leather jacket, riding breeches and boots. She is quoted as saying “But I do have dresses and petticoats, I want you to know. I keep them to wear to funerals. I’m afraid it just wouldn’t do to go in riding breeches and my fringed leather jacket – would it?”

By 1944, after Florilla’s death, Cornelia’s home was at risk of being demolished. It was saved though, and moved to another location. Cornelia lived there until 1959, and passed away in 1961. In 1979 the house was moved by flatbed truck to its current location at the Village Green. It is the second oldest standing building Palm Springs, and resides, fittingly, next to the McCallum Adobe, which is the oldest standing building in Palm Springs.

Needless to say it sounds like Cornelia is a woman after my own heart! Her home is a very unique treasure within Palm Springs. Some of the items inside the home belonged to Cornelia, while other pieces of the period were donated.

The Cornelia White House is open Wednesday through Saturday 10:00 am to 4:00 pm, and Sundays noon to 3:00 pm. It is free to the public, but a $1.00 donation is suggested.

Next to the Cornelia White House is the McCallum Adobe, which as I mentioned above, is the oldest standing building in Palm Springs, and was built in 1885 by John and Emily McCallum, the area’s first white settlers, with the help of local Native Americans. It was originally built on the corner of Palm Canyon Drive and Tahquitz Way, where it was later part of the Oasis Hotel. It was moved to its current site in 1950.

Today the McCallum Adobe is a museum dedicated to the history of Palm Springs, from Native Americans to it becoming the sun-soaked playground of the stars. The McCallum Adobe Museum does not allow for photography, so sadly I cannot share any of its amazing artifacts with you. The McCallum Adobe keeps the same hours as the Cornelia White House. It is also free to visit, but a $1.00 donation is also suggested.

To the right of the McCallum Adobe is Ruddy’s General Store, which is really something, in that it is a complete fictional general store. It is made up entirely of one man’s collection of new-old stock merchandise from shops, and has items from the turn-of-the-century through the 1960s, but with its main focus on the 1930s and 40s.

Ruddy’s General Store costs 95 cents to take a turn about. It’s open during the months of September through May, Thursday through Sunday, 10:00 am to 4:00 pm.

To the right of Ruddy’s General Store is the Agua Caliente Cultural Museum.

Like the McCullum Adobe, the Agua Caliente Cultural Museum does not allow for photography. The museum offers insight into the Native Americans who first called the Palm Springs and Coachella Valley area home, and during my visit housed an incredible display on basketry.

The Agua Caliente Cultural Museum is free to visit, although you can make a donation if you wish. They also have a wonderful selection books about Native Americans, as well turquoise jewelry for purchase.

That wraps up the first of three Palm Springs posts! I hope you are all having a wonderful weekend!

Valley Relics

After visiting Corriganville, Patrick and I headed to Valley Relics Museum. Valley Relics is a museum dedicated to preserving the history of the San Fernando Valley, with a wide array of wonderful and impressive artifacts from businesses from the San Fernando Valley, including a fantastic collection of vintage ashtrays, ephemera, neon signs, and more. And when Patrick told me they had some items belonging to western wear legend, Nudie Cohn, I was even more excited to visit!

The Palomino sign was quite impressive and one of my favorite pieces, as it was where many country-western legends performed, including Johnny Cash, Buck Owens, Patsy Cline, and personal favorite, The Flying Burrito Brothers.

Valley Relics is located in Chatsworth, about 33 miles northwest of downtown Los Angeles. It is only open on Saturdays, from 10:00 am to 3:00 pm, and is free to visit, but donations are always happily accepted.

Corriganville

Over the weekend Patrick and I visited Corriganville Park, the former location of Corriganville, a western backlot and amusement park of sorts from 1949 to 1965.

Corriganville was built by movie and TV actor Ray Bernard, but better known as Crash Corrigan. After going on a hunting trip in Simi Valley with fellow actor, Clark Gable, in 1935, Corrigan fell in love with the area. In 1937, Corrigan purchased over 1,000 acres of land, and built his home there. He eventually went on to build an entire western backlot, dubbed Silvertown, and many films and TV showers were filmed there, including Fort Apache, The Bandit of Sherwood Forest, How the West was Won, Lassie, The Lone Ranger, Gunsmoke, and more. In 1949 Corrigan decided to open his backlot to the public, and the area turned into an amusement park on weekends, while still being a fully functioning backlot during the week. Think of it like a blend of Knott’s Berry Farm and Universal Studios.

He also allowed film crews to build their own sets, as long as they left them standing after filming, which is how the area got a “Corsican Village” after Howard Hughes’ 1950 film Vendetta.

After selling Corriganville in 1965 to Bob Hope, the area suffered two fires, one in 1971 and another in 1979, leaving almost nothing standing. Today, Corriganville is a park, and visitors can walk among the concrete foundations and visit what remains of a man-made lake that was originally used for the Jungle Jim series, but was used in for a variety of films, including Creature from the Black Lagoon and The African Queen, as it featured a camera house built under a bridge with thick glass windows, allowing for underwater filming.

Continue reading for images of the remains of Corriganville, postcards of what it looked like, and more!

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