Friday, January 28, 2011

Ronald Reagan and Knott's

In honor of what would’ve been former President Ronald Reagan’s 100th birthday, February 6. Here’s a photo of then California Governor Ronald Reagan presiding over Mr. & Mrs. Knott’s 60th wedding anniversary and the grand opening of the John Wayne Theatre at Knott's Berry Farm on June 11, 1971. Also, present in the photo is John Wayne who had presented Mrs. Knott with the bouquet of pink roses. This was also the premiere of John Wayne's movie "Big Jake" but more on that in the next post.

Here are a couple of quotes from Reagan about the Knott’s:

In 1968, as Governor of California, Reagan presented Walter Knott with the Free Enterprise Man of the Year Award and said this of him: 

“Walter Knott is one of America’s great patriots; one who has successfully climbed to the very top rung of the ladder of success, as few Americans have; yet one who has always been careful to see that he left each rung of that ladder in good repair so those who followed after would have less trouble in climbing life’s ladder than he, Walter Knott, California’s and America’s Great Pioneer/Patriot.”

Ronald Reagan often sat with the Knott’s during locally held political dinners and commented on these meeting thusly:

“Let me just say Nancy and I have never failed to come away from one of our not too frequent meetings without a good feeling of warmth and renewed faith. The bond between the Knott’s and the strength Walter gets from that bond is so apparent to see, it is an inspiration.”

Monday, January 24, 2011

Prospector's Day

The propose of my post today is to help bring back an old Knott's tradition of celebrating Prospector's Day or as it is now known "Talk Like A Grizzled Prospector Day", TLAGPD, ( ).

The first images is of the "Journal" newspaper that was handed out to guests on December 29, 1970. This "Special Edition Journal" was not so much about Prospector's Day, other than the article on page 2 announcing that Prospector's Day will be celebrated on January 23, 1971. This edition is to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Knott family coming to Buena Park. The celebration included a cake cutting ceremony with all the Knott family in attendance, pie-eating contests throughout the day and a beauty contest were all contestants had to be over 50 years old. Also, there is an article announcing the $3.5 million expansion project the " 'Fantastic' New Gypsy Camp".

The next issue is from January 1971 and has articles about the Prospector's Day parade and other events going on that day. Other articles in this issue are about the new John Wayne and the john Wayne statue being created by Claude Bell. Note the "Happy Birthday Mrs. Knott" above the header on page 1.

The next issue is from January 1972,  this issue has some hand written notes on it. Down the left hand side it says "When Janet & Lenny visited us in Nov. 1970 Jan had her picture taken with this old timer-Blackie Dillon." Along the top it says "Note of possible interest about the count on dinners served for entire year of 1971 - Can you imagine - it was 628,732 - that's just the Chicken Dinners." Written between the lines of the header is "There were 2,252 dinners served on Jan. 22-1972 and also on this date Bud said there'd been 11,872 people paid admission to enter the gates at Knott's." And at the bottom is written "They both recently celebrated their 83rd birthdays." Again note the "Happy Birthday" wish to Mrs. Knott on page 2.

The last issue I have is from January 27, 1973. The special items of note in this issue are on page 2, the long list of "Prospector's Day Parade Line-Up" and the entertainment. Billy Mize and Tennesseans in the Wagon Camp and Barbara Mandrell in the John Wayne Theatre (love the hair in her publicity photo).

The last item for this post is a cardboard badge for Prospector's Day. I'm not sure how or when this was used. I have a couple of them and they had straight pins in the top holding them together.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Boysenberry Juice is in My Veins

I thought I start my posting off by telling about my life long association and family history with Knott's Berry Farm. I am a third generation Knott's employee. There has been someone from my family working at Knott's for also 60 years. First was my grandfather who started in 1951 driving the stagecoach (see the picture below, taken in 1954).

My father started working at Knott's in 1956, the same year that my parents moved to California from Oklahoma. My father retired from Knott's in 1984 after working his full 28 years on the night janitor crew, working the midnight to 9 a.m. shift. I was born in 1957, lived and grew up in Buena Park all the way up until I got married.

The above picture on the left is me and my older brother in the Old MacDonald's Farm. The picture on the right is of my mother holding me also taken at the Old MacDonald's Farm at Knott's in 1959. The next picture is of me and my youngest sister again at Old MacDonald's Farm taken in 1969.

I started my career at Knott's in 1974 as a Sweeper (now known as Park Services). I interviewed with Steve Knott, the Sweepers were one of the departments that reported to him. In 1975, I moved to the stroller rental department that reported to the Sweeper manager also. The stroller rental building was located in the parking lot about were the Grand Entrance is now. In 1976, they built the new Grand Entrance and with it the new souvenir and stroller rental shop. Merchandise took over the stroller rental operation at this time. I worked in the stroller shop and Merchandise area until 1981. This is when I transfered to the printing department as a Graphic Artist and have worked there ever since.

All my brothers and sisters have worked at Knott's at sometime or other. I meet my wife at Knott's while working in Merchandise. My son and two nieces have also worked at Knott's for a while.

Pictured above is my family at Knott's for the second annual Employee Night "Funtastic II". That is me sitting on the bar on the left, then my brother's wife (who also worked at Knott's), my brother, my two sisters, my mom and then my dad.

I would to like to end this post with remembering Mrs. Knott on this her birthday, born January 23, 1890. One of my childhood memories of Knott's is of going to work with my dad. My mom never worked, except as a wife and mother (and that was enough back then), so she would get up at 4 or 5 o'clock every morning and cook my dad breakfast for his lunch hour, we lived close enough to Knott's for him to do this. Sometimes I would get up at this time of the morning and go back out to work with him and tag along for the rest of the morning. We would walk though the Chicken Dinner Restaurant kitchen a Mrs. Knott would be in there preparing for the day and she would give me biscuits to eat.