Revisiting Our 1975 SoCal Trip

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I have been scanning the photos from our many albums lately to preserve them for the future. (Alarmingly a few are fading away). In that process I have not only come across more photos from our 1975 trip, but also other mementos – tickets, brochures, schedules, etc. from that adventure.

With this has come a better knowledge of what happened when.

Our flight down (via United flight 453, seats 13a and b) was a red eye, departing Seattle at 10 pm on October 19, and arriving at LAX at 1:34 the following morning. So I can now give an exact time for my ordeal with the splitting headache.

Our first day there was very busy.

Through the info in the album, I now know that the order of our doings were exactly opposite of what I had earlier recorded. We did Hollywood first (Oct 20 through 22) – our chance spotting of the Selznick studio – and tours of MGM – Paramount- Universal; and then Disneyland was second (10/23-24).

And my memory was jolted by these:

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I had forgotten we had toured the NBC studio in Burbank and took in the Tonight Show while there. But when I commented to my wife that I didn’t remember ever seeing Johnny Carson, she replied, “Of course not, Silly, Robert Goulet was his guest host that day.” Another jolt to the memory.

That particular detail came back to me. But who else was on the show for that evening?

I did a Google search and found a Wikipedia list, giving a day by day description of the Tonight Show episodes.  It contained a confirmation that Goulet was indeed the guest host for that episode. And it also listed Phyllis Diller as his guest on the show.

I can hear her laugh even now.

On Monday I will put up a page by page copy of the Disneyland booklet for that year under my research category. I hope that it may be of help to someone researching Disneyland in the 1970s.

[How much was the E-ticket going for? Or what exactly was an E Ticket? – certainly not what it is in our day.]

So stay tuned, and Watch This Space.

The SoCal Trip 1975

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Have you ever flown on an airplane with a head cold? With your sinuses full up and all you can do is sit there with your eyes clamped shut and teeth gritted? The take-off had been no problem, so there had been no “theatrical trailer” heralding the excruciating experience waiting in the wings.

The landing was the horse of a different color. It felt like an invisible fiend was exploring the inside of my head with the point of an icepick. I chalk it up to the change of air pressure that occurred as we descended. It was with great relief that we finally touched down, and the experience was soon relegated to a distant memory, (with a note to self – never to fly with a head cold again). Our vacation could finally begin in earnest.

This was our first ever vacation to Southern California, and to some of its choice attractions – Disneyland and “Hollywood” to be precise. I do not remember the exact details as to arrangments but we had passes (open sesames) to each stop. It was through favor of the branch managers that my Dad knew (and I would later know myself when working at Saffle’s).

Our first day in SoCal was spent in the Magic Kingdom – Disneyland, courtesy of the BV branch manager in Seattle, Homer Schmidt. It was my second visit, and I think it was perhaps the second time for my wife. The park was prepping for the big bicentennial for the United States the following year, and had already added pertinent events – like America on Parade –  a bicentennial version of the Main Street Electrical Parade.

From here on out, “Gone with the Wind” seemed to be the theme for the rest of the vacation. For, the next day we had an appointment to take a tour of the MGM studio in Culver City, courtesy of the MGM branch manager Connie Carpou. We were driving up Washington Blvd in that fair city, when my wife’s eye caught a curious sight. It appeared to be the mansion from her all-time favorite film – “Gone with the Wind.” Or to be more precise the mansion on the beginning clip that announced it was a David O. Selznick production. There it was in all its glory. And what did we do? We turned the car around and drove back to get a closer look.

We found a side street and parked the car. Nearby we found the studio gate and its guard. As I remember it now, it was a bit of a tunnel, overhung like a garden arbor. So we questioned him about the lot and the mansion out front, and he confirmed our guess that it was indeed what we had seen in the movies. They did not allow visitors at this studio, and since we had our appointment at MGM to get to, we left.

MGM was only a short distance away. We checked in at the Thalberg building to begin our tour of the lot. We were taken through the east gate and down the main street (I think there was advertising for the upcoming release of The Sunshine Boys). First stop was the MGM Scoring Stage. Here we learned that the music soundtracks for the “Wizard of Oz,” “Ben Hur,” and, of course, “Gone with the Wind” were scored. (And to my amazement, one of my all-time favorites “Lawrence of Arabia”).

Our guide pointed out to us the water tank beside the main street, and informed us that it had been built for and used by the swimming film star, Esther Williams. We next got a peek inside an empty sound stage. It was just that, empty, and big.

The rest of the tour at MGM is hazy in my memory. I thought we went briefly into the back lot, where the exterior sets stand – like the New York set; the Carvel town set (Andy Hardy’s hometown), etc. But since “That’s Entertainment” had come out just the year before, I more than likely conflate my memories of its sequences that were shot on this same backlot with those of our tour. I recall mention of certain restrictions that were in place due to insurance concerns.

The last stop on our vacation was a tour of Universal Studios, courtesy of Russell Brown the Seattle branch manager for Universal. It was not at all like the amusement park venue that it is now. We actually got to get out and walk around in certain areas. I remember walking through covered areas where props and greens were set out in the open. We attended a demonstration of movie make up in which members of the audience were “made up” as the Frankenstein monster. (I did not volunteer). But the most memorable item (especially for my wife) was an exhibit that contained a Techincolor camera – one of the cameras that had been used when shooting “Gone with the Wind.”

Our trip back was via an Amtrak train on an over night schedule to Seattle. It had been planned that way from the beginning, not because of my recent experience on the plane. In the main it was memorable because we were sidetracked some time in the night due to heavy snow. We awoke to find that the tracks had just been cleared.

We enjoyed ourselves very much. So much so, that we have been back a number of times, the next one being the very next year.

A future post or posts on that experience to come.

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The Dark Side of Imagination

Dracula green

But imagination has a dark side too.
In our room we assembled model kits.  My brother liked to do cars.  I did ships and other things that I’ll get to in a minute.
My ships were small and historical.  And I believe they snapped together rather than using glue. The first was the Santa Maria, the flagship of Christopher Columbus.  The other was the US frigate Constitution, a  thorough going man’o’war.  Both had sails which you had to cut out before completing the assembly and each came with a little stand and plaque upon which they were mounted before they joined my microscope and telescope on my desk by the window.  The boxes they came in proved handy as the treasure boxes for my prized bubblegum card collection.
Then the Aurora model company came out with a series based on movie characters – monster movie characters. My brother got Frankenstein, based on the Boris Karloff version.  I selected Count Dracula, modeled after Bela Lugosi.
Their Universal films were now on television. I found them interesting, but a little bit tame, though to be fair, they were probably cut up for that venue. I confess that I did find the Hammer films, brand new at this time, in which Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee battled it out, more than a little frightening.
But I could leave them behind.  This ashen faced Count in his red-lined black cape set off by an eerie green glow was now resident on my desk. And had the power to keep my imagination churning at night. There were times when I turned him around or moved him to the floor. Not that I would tell anyone about it.
I remember having a bout of déjà vu years later upon reading Salem’s Lot. The mention of similar models and the use of the name Ralphie for one of the characters made it resonate at a deeper level with me.  Who was this Stephen King? And how did he know what went on in my room at night?
And had he met Albert?
Dracula back to