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!

Diamonds are Forever Filming Locations

When Patrick and I decided to stop in Vegas on our way to Idaho, I suggested we stay at Circus Circus, as I am a fan of the James Bond film Diamonds are Forever, as the hotel is featured somewhat prominently in the film. Also we were able to visit two more filming locations that I thought would be fun to share as well!

I think it’s fair to note that when discussing filming locations, there will be some spoilers involved! So you have been warned!

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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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Golly, What a Day!

The Disneyland Resort likes to make their annual passholders (also known as APs) feel special, and last year they started doing a month long event called AP Days. AP Days usually means exclusive merch, special screenings, and exclusive meet-and-greets with characters who rarely make appearances at the parks. You might recall a post around this time year, when Roger Rabbit was one of those exclusive characters and I made a parasol featuring the Toon Patrol. This time, the Disneyland Resort is celebrating the return of the Main Street Electrical Parade, which debuted in the 70s, and in keeping with that theme, the brought back characters from their 1973 version of Robin Hood. I was overjoyed when I heard this, as this version of Robin Hood is one of my favorite Disney films, and quickly put together my Allan-a-Dale Disneybound and grabbed my matching parasol to visit with the characters.

Now that I feel like I’ve finally gotten the hang of this whole Disneybounding thing, and doing it with my own personal style, I’ve been thinking of doing a blog post about it to just have in my back pocket as a reference in the future, or to help out those who like the idea of Disneybounding, but not sure how to integrate their personal vintage esthetic into it.

Outfit
Peasant Top: Pinup Girl Clothing
Clam Diggers, Scarf, & Bangle: I don’t remember…
Shoes: Re-Mix
D Brooch: Match Accessories
Robin Hood Brooch: D23 Expo

Fun Factory

Recently I found out that another SoCal institution will only be a memory, the Fun Factory at the Redondo Beach Pier, which has been an oceanside attraction since 1972. Much like Gill’s in my last post, I can claim no fond memories of birthday parties spent running around playing the dozens of arcade games or countless rides on its indoor tilt-a-whirl, but some of my friends do.

If there was ever a place that made me feel like I was in an episode of The Twilight Zone, this place is it. Inside Fun Factory you will find a games ranging from an original Pong console to slightly newer things like Dance Dance Revolution, with everything in between. The place is decorated with a massive collection of old signage, from gorgeous old hand painted menus to political signs and other random things, like bicycles and dusty old piñatas. And what can you win with all of the tickets you get? Everything from a little doll to kitchen gadgets to art prints and even mystery boxes filled with the most random assortment of items. It’s just plain bizarre.

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It’s unclear just when Fun Factory will shut its doors for good, as it recently negotiated with the City Council, and simply came to the agreement that it must vacate within the next three years. What will take its place? A new shopping center. I am eager to know if there will be an auction, as I would love to own some of the signs that cover the walls and ceiling.

Outfit
Jacket: Country Roads Antiques, Orange, California
Top: Ross
Jeans: Thrifted
Boots: Antique Alley, Portland, Oregon
Scarf: Belonged to my mother
Purse: Patricia Nash