Wednesday, May 25, 2011


I remember a day when a place in Buena Park, California called "Knott's Berry Farm" was a nothing but a ghost town. That's right, adjacent to the rows of dark-purply, lusciously sweet boysenberries was a place that, once you stepped across the street from the parking lot, you also stepped back in time.

Those of you who recognize the name Knott's Berry Farm, may also know that the Buena Park boysenberry farmers/entertainment entrepeneurs Walter and Cordelia Knott turned part of their berry patch into America's first theme park!

Now a Gorgo-sized theme park and resort that remains one of the top SoCal tourist destinations, it was originally nothing more than a recreated wild west ghost town that charged -- are you sitting down? -- free admission!

That's right. Going to Knott's Berry Farm on a lazy weekend day was a cheap trip for the family. Once you entered the "ghost town", there was plenty to spend your money on, but they didn't get you coming through the turnstyles like they do now. There was a passenger train ride (complete with armed robbery where the bandits got it big time with a sawed-off shotgun from the Marshall after they tried escaping off train at the depot), a stagecoach ride (complete with armed bandits who got shagged off by the guy riding shotgun, who fired off his shotgun at them), and the Bird Cage Theatre, complete with Can-Can dancers "imported" from Paris. For this little gunslinger, Knott's was a total blast.

The trip wasn't complete, however, without lunch at either Mrs. Knott's Chicken Dinner Restaurant (I'll never forget the delicious rhubarb compote side dish), or the Ghost Town Grill, where they served up a great bowl of "Miner's Stew" with the best biscuits and boysenberry jam in the universe.

It wasn't until quite a few years later when I finally got to go to a place down the street from Knott's that I'd had my eye on for a long time -- the Movieland Wax Museum. It was a lot of fun walking along and seeing all the great stars, life-like and life-sized. And, what was that just up ahead . . . Bela Lugosi as Dracula! And then here's Vincent Price in a scene from HOUSE OF WAX. Ironic, isn't it? A figure of Vincent Price made from wax from the movie HOUSE OF WAX.

I managed to dig this postcard up from deep within the bowels of the MYSTERIOUS MANSION a while back and have been saving it for just the right time. Vincentennial Week seemed like there wouldn't be a better one, so here it is -- one souvenier from my trip to the Buena Park Movieland Wax Museum!

So, you may be wondering: Just what is this thing called a boysenberry, anyway? Well, it's a cross between a raspberry, a blackberry, and a loganberry. And boy, are they good!

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