Charles Phoenix’s Slide of the Week: Don Knott’s Berry Farm, Buena Park, 1954
Don Knott’s Berry Farm, Buena Park, 1954
Two dapper gentlemen flirt with Cecelia and Marilyn, the most popular ladies in Buena Park. They never need to be fed or paid – just repainted. Over the years these fiberglass females inspired countless Kodak moments for millions visiting Don Knott’s Berry Farm. Claude Bell, the man that built the big dinosaur in Cabazon, California sculpted them in the late 40s. They’re so masculine. They look like men in drag!
I know it’s not called Don Knotts Berry Farm. But it could’ve been if Don Knotts would’ve bought it. Just think there could’ve been the Andy Griffith Show ride; the Mr. Limpet ride and the Three’s Company ride. And, oh yeah, the Apple Dumping Gang ride would’ve fit right in with the western theme of the ghost town.
Knott’s Berry Farm started exactly as that; a berry farm in 1920. In 1928 Mrs. Knott opened a little tearoom next to their roadside berry stand. Then during the depression she began serving fried chicken dinners. Soon people were waiting in line halfway around the berry farm on Sunday afternoons to enjoy the delicious down home dinner. Walter Knott thought he’d better do something to entertain the people while they were waiting. So in 1940 he began creating a western ghost town paying tribute to the gold rush pioneers who had blazed the trails just a couple of generations before.
By the late 1940s Walter Knott’s ghost town had blossomed into a well-researched, total emersion environment of western architecture, displays, demonstrations, entertainment, merchandise, memorabilia, music, food, transportation, and costumed employees. Mrs. Knott’s famous fried chicken dinner inspired America’s first permanent theme park.
Miraculously, some of the original Ghost Town is still exists. But what ever happened to Cecelia and Marilyn?
Here’s to Don Knotts, Knott’s Berry Farm and you,
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