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.

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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In the South Land there’s a city

Mardi Gras was this past Tuesday and I totally use it as an excuse to Disneybound as Charlotte (one of my favorite, and slightly relatable characters) from The Princess and the Frog and eat loads of beignets and drink mint juleps at Disneyland. I also did another Charlotte parasol, this time featuring her party gown, which is also the inspiration behind my bound (here is a shot from the film for reference). I was also super excited when the Mardi Gras pin for this year feature Louis and Ray from the film!

I apologize for all of the Disneybounding lately! I swear the blog is not turning into a Disney fashion blog! It’s just there has been a lot of fun things going on at the park, and Disney related events that offer up the perfect opportunity to bound! And now with so many decent bound posts under my belt, I really want to do a post about the subject to round it out.

You may also spy a different watermark/signature going on in my photos. Over the years I have had a few photos taken, cropped to the point where my site has been removed, and re-uploaded. As a historian, and user of the internet, knowing source material is extremely important to me, which is a key reason why I watermark. I tried to be nice and not too distracting by placing it in a lower corner, but I see now that even that isn’t good enough. I’m trying this style out now. If you have your own thoughts or experiences on the matter, please feel free to share in the comments.

Outfit
Peasant Top & Skirt: Pinup Girl Clothing
Shoes: Re-Mix
Tiara: The Vintage Darling
Earrings: Some wedding show…I bought them for my wedding earrings actually!
D Brooch: Match Accessories
Mardi Gras Pin: Disneyland
Parasol: Made by me

Mid-November

It’s still hard for me to believe it’s mid-November, and that Thanksgiving next week. And with that comes thoughts of Christmas, so over the weekend Patrick and I went out to do a bit of shopping at the antique malls near us. I can honestly tell you I’m clinging to fall color palettes like crazy. I have so many ensembles that aren’t getting worn, let alone photographed for the blog! But, luckily we snagged the camera before stepping out the door so I can share this one with you!

Also over the weekend Patrick and I went to Universal Studios, so don’t be surprised if you spy a post about that soon!

Outfit
Blouse: Thrifted
Gauchos: West of Texas, Redlands, California
Shoes: Miss L Fire
Earrings: Antique Alley, Portland, Oregon
Anubis kartush pendent, and bracelet: From by dad
Scarab pendent: Expo, I think… I’ve seriously had it since I was like 12 or so.
Scarab ring: Antique Mall of Treasures, Orange, California
Scarf: The Clothes Horse, Eugene, Oregon
Purse: The Original Tiki Marketplace

Sabado en la Plazita

Over the weekend a few friends and I got together for a Saturday afternoon at Olvera Street, dining on delicious Mexican food, peeking into the museums, and shopping the unique stalls and shops along the oldest stretch of Los Angeles.

We dined at Casa La Golondrina Mexican Cafe, which opened in 1928, and is located within Los Angeles’ first brick building. Afterward we went into Avila Adobe, which is the oldest structure remaining the LA, built in 1818, and is now a museum reflecting the the lifestyle of the early days of California. I also bought myself another pair of the shoes I’m wearing in these photos, except in green. Seriously, these faux tooled (also known as pressed) leather wedges have quickly become a favorite and go-to shoe for me. They are comfy once broken in, and work with so much of my closet.

Also, can I just gush about my dad’s awesome shopping skills for a moment? He spied this beauty of a skirt at an antique mall and sent me a picture of it and followed by calling me to make sure I got the picture text, and asked me if I wanted it. I was in line to me Kylo Ren at Disneyland at the time, and thankful for his call, because this skirt is beyond amazing. Not only is it a spectacular print, it’s in amazing condition and fits perfectly, oh and has pockets! Thanks, Dad!

Outfit
Peasant Top: Pin-Up Girl Clothing
Painted Mexican Skirt: Found by my dad!
Tooled Leather Purse, Earrings, & Bracelet: I don’t remember!
Necklace: Made by a friend
Pressed Leather Shoes: Olvera Street, Los Angeles, California

Countess Vibes

Last night one of my dear friends celebrated her birthday, and as a fan of the 40s and big band music, she selected one of the big band nights at Cicada to celebrate. As Cicada is house in the oldest art deco building in Los Angeles, the Oviatt Building, many people dress 20s for their visit, and I originally planned to wear a beaded 20s style number I purchased ages ago for an event in April, which was cancelled. But as I thought more about it…the fact the music was going to be more 40s, all the other people in our group were going for a 40s look, and the fact I’m on the tail of a cold, I decided at the last minute to go in a more comfy, yet still glamorous and kind of 40s-ish (but actually 70s) number that I recently acquired. Besides, it also gave me Countess vibes, which was fitting, seeing as Cicada’s exterior was used in American Horror Story: Hotel, and the interior was the inspiration behind the set for the hotel, and when the show was completed, the club acquired the chandeliers used in the show.

So, yes, this gown is 70s, I mean I think it looks it, but also still offer a bit of an old Hollywood vibe, and everyone kept telling me it had a Ginger Rogers feel. It’s also incredibly comfy, and has a cape. So…it’s a win-win. It’s one of the few pieces I kept from my grandmother’s vintage clothing collection (many pieces were too large) when I helped my sister with downsizing our grandmother’s place before her move to an assisted living situation.

Unlike our last visit, where we dined, this time we opted to just sit upstairs and enjoy the music and the bar. I can honestly say that the night ranks among one of my favorites since moving, and in life. I had a complete ball chatting with all of my other glamorous friends, and we even got down on the dance floor joined the conga line there was going for a period of time.

Hope your weekend is going well so far!

Outfit
Gown: Belonged to my grandmother
Shoes: Re-Mix
Purse & Bangles: Buffalo Exchange
Earrings: I don’t remember…