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Saturday, December 28, 2013

For My Sister, Kathy

The oldest of my three sisters in Ohio living with cancer throughout her body in a hospice care facility. When I called her on Christmas Day she asked what the address of this blog was because she wanted to see it. Well, Kathy, here it is... and this posting is for you. I thought I would provide you with some nostalgia from when we were children. I have a dozen post cards from Knott's Berry Farm. I won't scan all of them because some of them are only different on the back.
In this set the top post card is a "real photo" card. Unfortunately, the back tells is nothing about the paper or process used. It just tells us that it is from the "Ghost Town Pitchur Gallery" i.e. their souvenir shop. The train in the picture was brought into Knott's Berry Farm by Walter Knott from Colorado. It used to be a real operating train on the Denver and Rio Grande narrow gauge railroad. They still run trains on the line in Colorado today - just not this particular one. It now operates in Southern California.

As a family, we would go to Knott's Berry Farm quite often. We were a family of 6 children and two adults who moved to California from Arizona in 1959 because our parents thought the education was better. Our dad (the only "bread winner") took a cut in pay and a demotion in "rank" for us. To entertain the children at a very reasonable rate, our parents chose to take us to Knott's Berry Farm rather than Disneyland. Each visit had to include a ride on this train. The picture at the bottom of this set (above) is probably from the 1960s, when we visited often. Sometimes, after the train made the loop it would be stopped by train robbers who would, in turn, be stopped by the sheriff. After the gun battle, one of the robbers would be laying on the ground. The Undertaker would come out with a wheel barrow to haul the dead man away. They asked for children to help the Undertaker and it became quite a comedy routine. This is summarized in the post card below. You can see two little cowpokes holding the robbers at bay.
The caption on the back of the post card says, "The Ghost Town Marshal at Knott's Berry Farm gets a big assist from two of his 'deputies'. They have just captured the bandits who robbed the narrow gauge passenger train, the Ghost Town & Calico Railroad."

This post card was printed for Knott's Berry Farm by Dexter Press, Inc. out of West Nyack, New York. Thomas A. Dexter began Dexter Press, a one-man shop in Pearl River, New York, in 1920. With the production of the very first natural color post card in 1932, Tom Dexter established a tradition of innovation and craftsmanship that would be associated with the Dexter name for years to come. While all the photochromes printed by Dexter boor the words Genuine Natural Color they went through a variety of phases. Their early photochromes went under the name Dextone and tended to be flat and somewhat dull in appearance. As years went by their optical blending techniques improved producing richer and more varied colors. I don't think that they are still in business today.

This final post card is a good example of the history of Knott's Berry Farm.
You can actually find the history on their website. The park actually did begin as a berry farm. Walter Knott helped to popularize the boysenberry and his wife made jams and pies out of it. Then, one day she fed some visitors a chicken dinner for 65 cents. Today, they still serve chicken dinners in a very, very large restaurant. Check out their website at

Kathy, I hope that you enjoyed this little trip down memory lane. I seem to have Knott's Berry Farm connected to you and Marcel, too. Enjoy your good memories. I love you.

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If you know anything about the history of the cards, the trains or the locations, please add them.