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.

Vintage Reno Signs

I literally took thousands of photos on our road trip, 3322 to be exact. Most were of abandoned buildings and killer vintage signs, which are my two favorite things to photograph, and our road trip was full of them! So much so my photos are coming to you in three, yes, three, separate posts! First up I’m sharing the sights of Reno! Now, if you follow me on Instagram and checked out any of my stories while we were on the road, you may have seen me fawning all over some of these signs, and I am so happy to finally share them with you in all of their glory in this post!

Most of the signs you’ll see are from motels, and I’ve even included some images of the actual buildings if the building was cool too!

If you liked this, there will be another signage post in the near future! So stay tuned!

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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Knott’s Auction

Late last week, Knott’s Berry Farm auctioned off a wide array of items that once dotted the famed amusement park. From paintings to coin-op amusements to animatronics to even a covered wagon, fans of Knott’s could view the items prior to the auction, then try their luck at bidding in the live auction.

We attended both the preview and the auction, because some of the items were incredible pieces of history, including items from attractions long since gone. But since I know most of you come here for my outfit posts, I’ll first share with y’all what I wore to the auction, followed by image of the items, and share with you what some of those amazing pieces went for!

I actually made this Knott’s Berry Farm themed parasol last summer, for those hot days during Ghost Town Alive, but it somehow manage to never get photographed!

Keep reading to see images from the auction!

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Bright Eyes

Before we left for Portland we went out for tiki drinks for a friend’s birthday at Tonga Hut in North Hollywood (they also have a location in Palm Springs, and both serve the Mojave Punch, which is my favorite off their menu). And for some reason I felt compelled to wear my Shag Planet of the Apes dress instead of a traditional tiki dress. Maybe it was because we were in North Hollywood…

While I am not the biggest fan of this cut of dress (I prefer a more fitted cut), I am madly in love with the print. Shag’s take on iconic moments in Planet of the Apes is so much fun. Are you a fan of Shag or Planet of the Apes?

As for Portland, I came home with a lot of great goodies, got to see some friends and family, which was absolutely wonderful.

Outfit
Dress: Shag, Palm Springs, California
Shoes: Buffalo Exchange
Purse: Thrifted
Bangles: Here and there…
Earrings: Antique Alley, Portland, Oregon
Parasol & Hair Flower: Made by me

Greetings from Portland

Patrick and I are in Portland for a couple of days for his work, and I tagged along to spend some time with friends, see my dad, and do a bit of shopping. I felt it was a perfect opportunity to share more of my vintage postcard collection! This time I bring you vintage Portland postcards!

I can’t help but say that I fee like these postcards totally lie about what the sky looks like in Portland! It’s not blue with little fluffy clouds. It’s more just grey…because the sky is just full of clouds! Seeing blue sky is a rarity in Portland, and when you do, you instantly think the city had a population boom! Even as I type, it’s grey out, with a chance of rain.

Anyway, I’m off to shop!

Other Vintage Postcard Posts
Los Angeles
Palm Springs

Pirates Turns 50!

Over the weekend Disneyland’s beloved attraction, Pirates of the Caribbean turned 50. Yes, believe it or not, the pirates have been pillaging and plundering for a whole half of a century and the attraction has been reimagined across the globe. To celebrate, I whipped up a Pirates parasol featuring the mural of Anne Bonny and Mary Read that is painted on the walls of the attraction shortly after entering. I have a soft spot for these ladies, as they were pretty bad ass, and I wrote a paper about them in high school. You can learn about these amazing women with this article written by one of my favorite historians, Karen Abbott. I also wore a pirate inspired ensemble for the occasion.

I feel like an anniversary such as this is a wonderful occasion to talk about the history of the attraction. Could you ever imagine Pirates of the Caribbean without riding in those little boats? It just seems perfect, doesn’t it? Well, it was almost a plain ol’ wax museum! But by 1963, the wax museum was put on the back burner as Walt Disney looked ahead to the 1964-1965 New York World’s Fair, where he committed to building four attractions, all of would find homes at Disneyland after the closing of the World’s Fair. They were Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln, “it’s a small world”, the Magic Skyway with Ford Motor Company, where guests rode in a new Mustang and witness the progression of history, and this included the Primeval World that would land along the Disneyland Railroad after, and the Carousel of Progress, which left Disneyland in 1973, but still exists in Walt Disney World. But it was “it’s a small world” and Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln that really changed the game for Pirates. The success of the boats in “it’s a small world” meant that an ocean voyage type ride was possible. And President Lincoln was the first successful human Audio-Animatronic, leading to giving these would be static pirates, a life all their own!

The Pirates of the Caribbean attraction has seen a series of changes over the years. In 1997 many of the “sexist” elements were changed. Originally pirates chased women, with the exception of a larger woman chasing a scrawny older pirate, this changed to the women chasing the pirates, and the pirates had armfuls of food, to make it seem they were stealing. There was another pirate, dubbed the “Pooped Pirate”, who held a piece of woman’s clothing, and a woman popping out of a barrel behind him. The pirate said some rather lewd things, and he too got a more PC makeover. He became the “Gluttonous Pirate” holding a chicken leg, and a cat replaced the woman. He then talked about how full he was. But after the massive success of the 2003 film, Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl, based on the attraction, film characters such as Captain Jack Sparrow and Captain Barbossa joined the attraction in 2006. And the “Gluttonous Pirate” receive yet another change, Jack replaced the cat, and the chicken leg was replaced with a map, and then the pirate shared how excited he was to have the treasure map, and how Jack will never get his hands on it. Captain Jack joined some other scenes, Captain Barbossa takes the helm of the large pirate ship that is firing its cannons, Davy Jones speaks to Guests through a waterfall, and other lines in the attraction have seen change to accommodate a Jack Sparrow plot.

To learn more about Pirates of the Caribbean, I highly recommend the book Pirates of the Caribbean: From the Magic Kingdom to the Movies by Jason Surrell.

Below you’ll find one of my favorite videos about Pirates, from the Wonderful World of Disney, it gives you a behind the scenes look at the creation of the attraction, its opening day festivities, and a float through, so you can see the original scenes that have since changed.


Outfit
Pirate Hat: Target (during Halloween)
Blouse: Buffalo Exchange
Skirt: Pinup Girl Clothing
Shoes: Re-Mix
Earrings: Aquanetta
Brooch: I honestly don’t remember…
Rings: Belonged to my grandmother
Parasol: Made by Me