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Ruminations - More "Mouse-cellaneous" Updates

Ruminations - More "Mouse-cellaneous" Updates

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Well, here we are. Eleven days away from the 50th anniversary of Disneyland's Opening Day. Now wait, I hear all of you out there saying that Disneyland had its opening day on Sunday, July 17, 1955. You have those great DVD's from the Vaults with all of the festivities as televised on ABC in the "Dateline: Disneyland" program.

True enough, it was a day to remember for many reasons. But it was on the following Monday morning - the 18th - that Disneyland actually opened the gates to the public for the first time. The festivities on Sunday were for the invited (and not so) guests. Things pretty much wound down after the television broadcast ended. Next time you watch the DVD, note the time of day (especially on the clock tower of the Main Street Railroad Station) during the program. Earlier in the day, there had been several interesting rehearsals to prepare for the live broadcast.

And also check out just how relieved Walt looks in the closing moments! That day was over and the real fun started the following morning. Many of the "special challenges" of that Sunday were still waiting to be tackled. Yet, the Cast Members did just that and well, you know the rest of the story...

Since I last mentioned the Disneyland Railroad and the new steam locomotive, #5, the "Ward Kimball", things have been steaming along nicely. There was a quiet ceremony before the Park opened on Thursday, June 23rd with all of the people from TDA and Boschan Boiler who participated in the project.

Matt Ouimet poses with the proud TDA crew and the "Ward Kimball" at the Main Street Station.

During the brief ceremony, Matt thanked everyone who made it happen. He also commented on potential projects for the railroad, including the restoration of the railroad's private car, the "Lilly Belle". Paul Boschan replied, "We do coaches, too!" So who knows what the next few months may see along the Disneyland Railroad

 The "Ward Kimball" did enter service the following Saturday; as the second train out of the roundhouse. From what the crews have been telling passengers, they are very happy to have this new locomotive as part of the Disneyland Railroad fleet.

 Now for today's trivia question: What do the Disneyland Railroad and the Submarine Voyage have in common? Check for the answer further down the page...

If you are interested in Disney railroad collectibles, check out the offerings from Silver Trail Graphics -- fine cloisonné pins for both Disneyland and Walt Disney World Rail. Some nice items for your favorite locomotive there...

 Thanks also to everyone who shared their enjoyment of the Firehouse Five Plus Two. It is a pleasure to see that their music continues to entertain so many of us today. Among the comments, I learned that another compact disc of their music is being produced in England. No details yet, but as soon as I hear some, I promise to share them.

 A wonderful find related to the FH5+2 was learning about the "Firehouse Stompers". These Southern California musicians (including a few who have played at Disneyland over the years) perform Dixieland jazz in the style of the FH5+2, among others.

The leader of the band, Robert Butler, shared a few tidbits about the Stompers and some of the members of the FH5+2:

 "I was a friend of Ward Kimball (he called me his little buddy in Cypress) and visited him several times at his GFRR and I had many, many humorous and informative conversations with him. He gave me his permission to use the Firehouse name. When I asked him, he said "Well, that's ok, go ahead."  He gave me the complete GFRR tour and I got to try on the FH5 +2 helmet #2, which was Probert's. I could always call up Ward anytime I wanted to ask more FH5+2 questions and I'll always cherish those conversations and visits.

 I talk with George Probert (FH5+2 alumni 1954-1971 on soprano sax) pretty much every day and he has guest starred with us several times.

I became friends with Frank Thomas (FH5+2 alumni pianist) and called him every month for more FH5+2 stories. He had hundreds of them and he was very nice and had a sharp memory of everything.

 K.O. Eckland (who took over for Frank on piano in the early 1960's) sat in with us twice.

 I got to visit with Eddie Forest (FH5+2 drummer) just months before he passed away.

 Clarke Mallory's nephew came to one of our FH5+2 tributes and gave me a copy of the last known photo of Clarke.

 I got to visit with John Lucas (FH5+2's original trumpet player). Such a sweet man. His family gave me one of his horns, his two (rare) metal derby mutes and some wonderful early FH5 photos.

This November, at the Ocean Shores, Washington Jazz Festival, Don Kinch (FH5+2 alumni on trumpet and tuba) just might come and guest star with us. He's 86 and in great health.

 I played at Ward's memorial, with George Probert, John Kimball and other FH5+2 enthusiasts at the L.A. Sweet & Hot Jazz Festival. The entire Kimball Family came. They brought the FH5+2 red & gold banner and several of the FH5 helmets. They gave George his #2 helmet and I got to wear Ward's #1 helmet.

 I have spent nearly twenty years collecting everything Firehouse Five Plus Two (all of their recorded material, pirated material, T.V. shows and movie footage, movie prop, etc) and I'll always be sad that I didn't have a spare $3,000 plus to buy the FH5+2 helmet on eBay.

 I could just go on and on and on but I'll spare you too much more. I was just thrilled to come across your article, that you took the time (and the interest) to do such a nice piece on the FH5+2. I'm also glad that Disneyland took the time and energy to acknowledge the FH5+2 for their 50th anniversary. I wish that that could have been us, however playing the music of the FH5. Yes, we do "those special tunes" that the FH5+2 did: Firehouse Stomp,Brass Bell (Frank Thomas wrote it and gave us permission to record it), Lassus Trombone, Anvil Stomp, Fireman's Lament along with Muskrat Ramble, so many others and that ol' Tiger Rag."

If you want to catch them in the act, so to speak, you can do just that at the El Patio Restaurant in Anaheim on the 1st and 3rd Monday of every month. Check out their web page for more details (and other performance dates and locations) - including their compact disc, "Leaving Our Mark".

Now about those first Disneyland visit memories I have been asking you all to share...

Well, it turns out that someone noticed that column. And that someone was the staff of "The Noon Edition", a radio interview and audience call-in program of CBC Radio One in Saskatchewan. From the Canadian Broadcasting Company studios in the capital city of Regina, the program covers a wide range of topics.

And one of those topics, in upcoming weeks? You guessed it. First visits to Disneyland. On Friday, July 15th, from Noon to 1 pm Pacific Daylight time, I will be a guest on the program - live from Disneyland. You can listen in live while as I share memories of my 1966 visit and some of yours too. Check the links on their web pages for a week of archived programs as well as the live broadcasts.

So, it is not too late for you to drop me that e-mail and tell the tale of your first Disneyland visit. Thanks to everyone who has responded so far with a great cross section of experiences. It is not going to be an easy task to pick the winners!

Now for the answer to that trivia question: What do the Disneyland Railroad and the Submarine Voyage have in common?

Would you believe... The new Disneyland Railroad steam locomotive, the "Ward Kimball", has two of the fold-down seats from one of the Disneyland submarines. Check out the photo below. Note the fireman sitting in the doorway. His seat is one of the two mounted in the cab. Now that is something Ward would have gotten a good laugh out of!


Thanks to J.C. Allan for the Disneyland Railroad views.

 Be sure to check in next Friday for your "First Disneyland Visit" memories and all of the details of Roger's guest appearance on CBC Radio One's "Noon Edition" that same day.

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