Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Old Postcard Wednesday--Ghost Town, Knott's Berry Farm, Buena Park, Calif.

It will require confirmation from my cousins to prove my assumption, but I am pretty sure that the sender of this postcard to my grandmother in 1955 was my cousin Will (who has not gone by "Bill" for decades). I thought the note was charming, as was the date/time stamp coming from Ghost Town Rural Station.
{Note: After publication of this post, I received word that proved my assumption to be incorrect. :(
See addendum at end of post....}

You know how I like to share sections of information I find from different sources on the various postcards I post on OPW, while linking to the sites so that you can read more at the original publications?  Well, with 61 "Reference" notations, plus external links, I do believe that there is more material about Knott's Berry Farm than for any other entity I have read about at Wikipedia! Therefore, in this case I simply must take a pass on my regular practice. You must trust me on this: clicking on the link will inform and enlighten you beyond what you might expect. There is so much background and history on this place that it boggles the mind. Well... okay.....I will share the very beginning of the Wikipedia write-up and link at the end of the section for you to continue reading:
Begun in 1920 as a berry farm with a popular roadside stand Knott's Berry Farm has become the brand name of two separate entities:
    Theme park in Buena Park, California now owned by Cedar Fair Entertainment Company (focus of this article.)
    Jams, jellies and preserves manufacturer of food specialty products now part of The J. M. Smucker Company based in Placentia, California.

A restaurant, shops and stores were augmented with minor attractions and curiosities until Walter Knott gradually created Ghost Town transforming them from a way-point to a Western themed destination in 1940. World class rides were then built and free entertainment drew crowds. Nearby Disneyland complemented the theme park making Orange County a tourist destination to Los Angeles visitors. More elaborate rides were included in new 'lands', big name acts were featured in the immense John Wayne Theater, a fence was built and admission charged. As rides became the focus of the park, pay-one-price admission replaced coupon books and per-ride tickets. Knott's Berry Farm continues to be competitive with special events such as "Halloween Haunt" and with new thrill rides.  . . [Source: Wikipedia - click HERE to continue.]

Now, as for the official Knott's Berry Farm website, the index page features tabs for everything the park offers, in addition to ticket purchasing and hotel reservations. With October 'round the bend, they are currently focusing heavily on the upcoming Knott's Scary Farm HALLOWEEN HAUNT on the main page but a click on the tab titled "Inside the Park" offers a Virtual Tour in the drop-down menu. I clicked on the
Ghost Town area in the virtual tour, as it pertains to the scene in today's old postcard. The following is from that link:
The heart and soul of Knott's, Ghost Town is an 1880's California Boom Town with cowboys, gunfights, stage-coaches, a steam train, the world's first log flume ride and panning for real gold. Authentic in (almost) every detail, Ghost Town is a REAL town with a REAL Sheriff and REAL buildings transported from mining towns throughout the West!

Once upon a time... it really was a California Ghost Town, circa 1880.

Now it's come alive again, filled with crafts folk, a gang of rip-snortin', pistol-packin' hombres and offering a passel of rousing, Western style adventures. Knott's Ghost Town is a picturesque, living tribute to the Old West. Its many historic buildings and artifacts help transport you back over 100 years when the West was a wild and woolly place indeed.

In the old postcard you can see the Calico Saloon on the right-hand side of the street (first light-colored building). It is still there and is described at the website:

Calico Saloon

Belly up to the bar and have a cold sarsaparilla while Dakota Dan and the beautiful Miss Cameo Kate entertain you with music, mayhem and comedy. Don't forget to stop by during the summer to catch Dixie and Trixie in their famous French Can-Can number.

I cannot believe how much there is to do at Ghost Town  (not to mention the rest of the park's features). No wonder they have a hotel on site, as it would definitely take more than a day to experience everything at Knott's Berry Farm. Here is the list of what goes on at Ghost Town:

Bigfoot Rapids
Butterfield Stagecoach
Calico Mine Ride
Calico Railroad
Pony Express
Screamin' Swing
Silver Bullet
Timber Mountain Log Ride

Spurs Chop House
Fireman's Brigade Barbeque
Sutter's Fine Family Fare
Funnel Cake Kitchen
Ghost Town Bakery
Ghost Town Grub
Chow House
Calico Saloon

One last question: did you notice that the mule in the old postcard image looks like it is wearing Western boots?! I actually enlarged the shot to make sure that it wasn't a gimmick of the theme park to put the animal in boots, but it appears that the natural markings actually were that unique. That's purdy gall-derned cute, if you ask me.

Addendum: Well, Will wrote to me:

This is an intriguing posting. The handwriting certainly could have been mine at that age. I believe that we did go to Knotts’s Berry Farm. However, I know that I never went to either LA or Phoenix until I was an adult. Also, I believe I would have addressed Nellie in a different way, probably “Grandma.” So, this must have been someone else’s postcard. Too bad. I would have enjoyed seeing a time capsule of this type from my past.
Love, Will (Bill)

I am sad. It would have been so much fun to surprise him with this piece from his own past. If it was a piece from his own past. Which it is not. And now I wonder who in the heck the kid was who wrote to our grandmother. She notoriously made friends from all generations, and this postcard seems to show that.

Animated GIFS via: Pleasure Gait Farms



mythopolis said...

You have such a great collection of cards along with family history embedded in them. I collect cards, but they aren't connected to my family. Cards like this that always make me wonder who the people were that wrote them, or who they sent them to.

I've never been to Knott's Berry Farm, but it seems I have known of it since childhood, for some reason.

Kay McKenzie Cooke said...

I am loving the cards and the stories behind them. Thank you Lydia.

Don't Feed The Pixies said...

All togther now,"ooooooooh, the deadwood stage is comin' on over the hills..."

I think it was Sacramento we visited when we came to USA - and you went on an old carriage and got fake "held up" by a man in a mask and...that's about all i remember.

Inevitably your title put me in mind of a famous 1980s song by The Specials (named after the Special Constabulary - part-time police), called "Ghost Town"

Worth a look if you can find it. I once met singer Terry Hall, but that's another story...

izzy said...

I noticed his stockings right away!!
yup he is 'a keeper' as we say- and I did love my wayward trip to a Ghost town the summer of '67- (We used to go on trips from camp that year) 'Washoe Pines was a cool place-
out thar in Nevada! Thanks.

Chrissy Brand said...

Fascinating postcards and the tales within!


Rob-bear said...

Well, dag nabbit anyhow! The cowboy with the donkey (wearing western boots) kinda looks like me. But it isn't — he's too thin.
The big berry farm — a place Knott to be missed.
Yep; that'll do.

Fireblossom said...

I love Knott's. I first visited when I was five, and got to help the undertaker! The last time I was there was with my then-fiance, just four months before we got married. We were there at Halloween time, which was a blast.

naomi dagen bloom said...

Much as I enjoy your picture postcards that you always show the reverse side adds so much. Don't you love the postmark, "Ghost Town"!

We almost visited a ghost town here in Oregon this weekend--Shaniko--for a fiber festival. Once had a short, intense life as a wool capital. But we could not find out much about what would be going on and, as you know, it is very hot around here lately.

Lydia said...

mythopolis~ Alas, as you can see in my addendum the only family history in this particular old postcard was that it was mailed to my grandmother. So in this case, my friend, we can wonder together who the person was who mailed it to her.
Re: your observation about Knott's FB, the same is true for me.

Kay~ Thank you, Kay. I love your visits.

Pixies~ ...another story, indeed. Do tell in a post perhaps? Never heard of the song, but of course I will try to find it. You have such esoteric information running around in your head that I am constantly amazed!
What a weird kind of memory for you to have of your visit here. Sounds like your folks went out of their way to do "kid things" on the trip. :)

izzy~ So you actually visited Knott's BF; I never did. I am truly intrigued about your camp Washoe Pines in Nevada. I wonder where it was. I was raised in Reno, but guess where I went to camp? Camp Sugarpine in Yosemite National Forest.

Chrissy Brand~ Why, thanks so much for the comment and follow! Love your profile avatar. :)

Rob-bear~ " . . .Knott to be missed." Did you really say that? I loved it, you so very clever, not too-thin Bear.

Fireblossom~ Good heavens, you just crack me up! Even as a five-year-old you had a strange experience at Knott's BF! The undertaker's little helper. How choice! Fun to hear from someone who was at the Halloween time gala. It looks amazing at the website.

naomi~ I am even getting over my disappointment in learning that the Bill who sent the card was not my cousin Will/Bill because the postmark is just great!

Shaniko...I have heard the name and have absolutely no idea where it is here in Oregon. Nor did I know anything about its past as a wool capital, or the current home of a fiber festival. I needed you to move here from New York so I could learn such things! :)

susan said...

I don't visit as often as I should but I do love reading the gentle histories you report. More than anyone else I read your stories and pictures have the effect of making me want to relive the middle of the last century as an aware adult. I would savor every moment.

Jingle Poetry said...


We are celebrating one year anniversary, wish to say thank you for the support in the past year, it would be a delight to have you share a piece of poetry with us today , any poems or Haiku, old or new are welcome…Please feel free to join us and get some feedback!

You Deserve The Best!

Bless your Monday!
Jingle Poetry Community


Lydia said...

susan~ What a beautiful comment! Thank you for your unique way of looking at the world, and in expressing what you find.

Jingle~ You deserve the best too. Congratulations on your one-year anniversary, and for the ways you have enhanced the blogging experience!



Related Posts with Thumbnails