Saturday, July 29, 2006

Lomita Railroad Museum

No, it's not Christmas in July again. Today's focus is on the Lomita Railroad Museum. Built in 1966, this museum houses several train cars, locomotive and Tender, and a water tower. The main building is a reproduction of the Boston and Maine's Greenwood station in Wakefield Massachusetts (Moved to, then burned at Pleasure Island, one of my favorite "lost" amusement parks).

Another view of the museum. I took this photo a few years ago (Pre digital camera), and the wall to the right is no longer there. Now the Irene Lewis park sits where there was once a vacant lot. This museum is an example of the simple treasures many communities have which makes them so unique and special.

Visit the Lomita Railroad Museum's website here.


Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Movieland- She Done Him Wrong

Here is a picture of Mae West from the movie She Done Him Wrong. It was actually a pretty nice set, but my poor old camera was not doing too well with the dim light. My other pictures of the set were even more blurry. Like Charlie Chaplin, Mae West is one of those icons that people know even if they have never seen one of her movies.

Because of the poor quality of my other pictures, here is a scan of a Movieland postcard. The set had changed little from when this picture was taken until Movieland closed (Maybe a new boa now and again).

Instead of auctioning off the original Mae West figure, they sold a replica. Notice the different pose and dress. The quality of the figure is still really good (Though I think she looks like Bette Midler). This figure still sold for $3000. The set was split up into pieces when it was sold. $600 for the Chandelier, $600 for the ottoman and table/lamp combo, and $300 for the bare set.

Some more Wax Facts on Mae West. Movieland really was a significant place for movie memorabilia and history.

Many of the figures moved to a sister wax museum at fisherman's wharf in San Francisco. Find out which figures moved by visiting the Wax Museum's website here.

View Mae West's filmography here.


Monday, July 24, 2006

Riviera Plaza

245 Palos Verdes Blvd, Redondo Beach, Ca 90277

Today's focus is on the Riviera Plaza in Redondo Beach. This little shopping center recently went under a modest remodel where the cool sixties style of the Vons Supermarket was replaced by a very typical and over-used contemporary design. The sign here looks like it could be old, but is actually not. The original sign was white and came out from the left of where the star is. If you look up the address on Windows Live Local, and check out the Birds eye function you can still see the old sign as well as how the Plaza looked before (at least until they update the satellite photos). The star on top is just great, however.

Here is a closer view of the star. Very cool.

This is how the Vons looks now. Unfortunately, I do not have any before pictures to show. Just try to picture the new rockwork gone and let your imagination do the rest.


Thursday, July 20, 2006

Lake Almanor Phone Booths

A trip I took to lake Almanor a few years ago gave me an opportunity to take some great pictures of many interesting locations. This photo booth isn't very old but has a terrific look. At first glance I thought that it was older, but its condition is too good to be anything other than a new piece (Though I could be wrong).

Another view shows the symmetry of the booths. This is a very modern design that I think is missing in much of todays new construction. The big round "bubbles" remind me of the "egg" chairs of the sixties, quite juxtaposed to the pine trees and mountains which surround the lake.

Learn more about Lake Almanor here.
And here.


Monday, July 17, 2006

Movieland- Charlie Chaplin

After two of the more modern sets, here comes one of the most popular wax museum figures. Charlie Chaplin stands here as a link to the silent movie past. This very detailed set shows just how well done a museum set can be.

Here's a close up of Charlie. This was one of the eeriest figures because it was so lifelike. The lighting also helped. This set was the first in a series of small, but detailed movies scenes that focused on some of the all time classic movie characters.

Here's a sign showing the scene number and some "wax facts". I would not mind that salary. To think that ninety years ago he was making that much money.

Some more information on Charlie. Notice how he helped start United Artists Corporation with Mary Pickford and Douglas Fairbanks. Charlie was not sold at Auction, and it appears that the San Francisco wax museum already had a Chaplin figure, so perhaps Charlie went to Korea with the others. The Goldrush set sold for a mere $250, a pretty good deal if you ask me.

Many of the figures moved to a sister wax museum at fisherman's wharf in San Francisco. Find out which figures moved by visiting the Wax Museum's website here.

View Charlie Chaplin's Filmography here.


Friday, July 14, 2006

Christmas in July- Santa Claus California

By the Sea on 101 where all cars stop.
High above the picturesque wishing well and water wheel, a smiling Santa waves to all who visit his California Center.

Perhaps one of the coolest roadside attractions in southern California, Santa Claus housed a dozen shops and restaurants. But to be honest, the last time I was at this place was when I was 10 years old. I believe that there is nothing there now that resembles its former self. I really did not enjoy the place when I was younger because it did not have rides like Santa's Village did (When I get the time to scan my old photos of the village's final weeks, I will share them). The train was gone by the time I visited, and I was not told of its departure beforehand by my grandparents who took me. There was a giant Santa statue who waved at everyone as they drove past the 101, I remember seeing it when I was older during trips to Santa Barbara, but now that is gone too, although preserved twenty or so miles south in Oxnard.

Santa Claus Lane, Santa Claus California on Hwy 101, 10 miles south of Santa Barbara, is a fantasyland with a dozen shops, restaurants, and attractions with a joyful "Forever Christmas" theme. Enjoy breakfast lunch or dinner in Santa's Kitchen or a gourmet live Maine Lobster or Cherrystone clam "Shore" dinner or charcoal broiled steaks in the candlelit, elegant Reindeer Room overlooking the ocean with generous cocktails and nightly entertainment.

The famous homemade pastries and breads, fresh daily, come from the Sugar Plum Bakery right next door. Santa's Date Shop offers taste tempting brittles, candies and fresh date shakes. And children of all ages can ride the miniature train while mother can enjoy shopping in the Whistle Stop boutique.

Your hosts - The Happy group at Santa Claus Lane

This second postcard shows a more contemporary feel to the lane. I really need to do some research to see what is left of this place. The road is still called Santa Claus Lane, but I have no idea how it looks today. Can you say road trip? Maybe I can get pictures of the restored giant Santa as well.


Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Santa Fe Springs Drive-in Theatre

So we are in the middle of summer and what better way to enjoy it than to spend some time outside. The Santa Fe Springs Drive-in doesn't play movies anymore, but like many old drive-ins, they have converted to a swap meet. As with the Roadium, Anyone seeking to find inexpensive merchandise can spend a dollar to browse the unique booths here. What a beautiful sign this marquee is, much more elaborate (although the Roadium's is my favorite) than your usual signage.

The actual screen is not very special, no three dimensional lettering like the Roadium, but it does make locating the swap meet fairly easy.

Visit the Santa Fe Springs swap meet's website here.


Saturday, July 08, 2006

LA County Fair- Flowers and Gardens pavilion

As one of my favorite buildings at the Fairplex in Pomona, The Flowers and Gardens Pavilion houses such beautiful exhibits. The 2005 Fair's display focused on "Treasures of Polynesia", which blew me away. A lot of time and energy went into this exhibit and it shows. The 60's architecture of the building meshed so well with the Tiki theme of the gardens, creating a tropical paradise for anyone who experienced this magical place.

I don't know who is supposed to sit on that stool, but maybe I should have moved it to get a better picture. These statues guarded the back of the pavilion.

Another cool set of statues here at the pavilion. It must have been 90 degrees outside that day, but the air conditioned pavilion featured an oasis for the mind as well as the body. The 2006 theme for the pavilion is "The Road to Morocco". If I make it up to the fair this year, I will be sure to check it out, but I do not know how it could be any better than this.

Visit can the LA County Fair's website here.

View more photos of the pavilion here.


Monday, July 03, 2006


So Titanic was not my favorite movie. In fact I haven't actually seen it. But it was the highest grossing movie of all time, and that warrants a display at Movieland. As you walk through the entry, you will hear the song "My Heart Will Go On". You can hear it playing even after you make your way into the other sets of the Museum. This is perhaps the most extensive of the "new" sets, which is not saying much.

A slightly closer view of the figures. They did a good job with Di Caprio, but Kate Winslet looks unrealistic. But due to the music played, this is probably one of the most memorable displays for me.

This is the sign in the "water" which shows the scene number. I have no idea if these are supposed to be accurate. From what I can tell, the Wax Museum at Fisherman's Wharf already had a Titanic set. So the figures did not move there, and the did not go up for auction either. They must have moved to Korea, or were kept. The set, however, sold for $500.

Many of the figures moved to a sister wax museum at Fisherman's Wharf in San Francisco. Find out which figures moved by visiting the Wax Museum's website here.