Saturday, March 27, 2010

Some Really REALLY Big Roots

me and THE TREE

I hope I'm not the first one to tell you that there is much more to Anaheim than Disneyland. If you have never explored the hidden treasures "outside the berm" I encourage you to do it.  I adore Anaheim - heck, I was born here! - and I recently purchased a home in the Anaheim Colony historic district.  To say that this neighborhood is up-and-coming would be a gross understatement, since the Colony is already over 160 years old, but the area and its history are being rediscovered, restored and made to shine once again.

Since we're revisiting the Swiss Family Treehouse this week, let's take a short drive up West Street, just north of Disneyland to gawk at the gigantic Moreton Bay Fig Tree. During construction of Disneyland's treehouse in 1962, Imagineers came here to poke around and examine the twisty roots of this behemoth tree planted in the 1800s by Anaheim's first horticulturist Tim Carroll.

 The tree is completely impressive and a living piece of Anaheim's heritage - just one of the fabulous features you'll discover along this street.

Sculpting the roots of Disneyland's Treehouse in 1962

And while we're on the subject...

The original movie set for the Walt Disney picture "Swiss Family Robinson" was constructed in the 200-foot spread of a living Samaan tree on the island of Tobago near Trinidad.  Art director John Howell famously spotted it through a gap in a fence at the corner of a cricket field just outside the town of Goldsborough.

Although the Disney Studio was expected to remove all evidence of movie-making from the island at the end of shooting,  the native Tobagoans regarded the treehouse highly and left it in the Samaan tree as a tourist attraction. In 1960 the tree and the three remaining  thatched-roofed rooms (barren of any props or furnishings) was put up for sale for $9000. While I don't know if anyone actually bought it, it's well-known that the treehouse remained until a hurricane swept the structures away.  

HOWEVER!  From all reports, the Samaan tree itself still survives today, its branches now filled with orchids and bromeliads.  I've checked online for a picture of the tree as it currently looks but haven't been able to find one.  Is anybody out there reading this in Tobago who could snap a photo and give us a report?

Sunday, March 21, 2010

The Swiss Family Tree Sprouts

It's the early part of 1962 and six tons of steel are rapidly 
becoming the Family Robinson's island homestead.
Had construction stopped right here it still would have 
been a very impressive work of minimalist modern art.

By summer things are filling out fast.  
Wood planks across scaffolding provide access for the 
crew attaching branches and red vinyl leaves by hand.

Artful rock formations are sculpted of concrete over a steel 
frame for the jungle riverbed at the tree's base.

While way up high, a sloping roof is fashioned of fireproofed 
palm thatch for the "Crow's Nest", treetop quarters of the 
three Robinson boys, Fritz, Ernst, and Francis.  
(Notice the telephone in the foreground, for 
emergency calls back to civilization.)

Thursday, March 18, 2010

68 Steps Up, 69 Down

 Los Angeles Times, November 22, 1962

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Returning Very Soon, I Swear.

So, what happens when you get a blog going strong over three years and then all of a sudden you cease posting for four months?  Here's what:  Your readership dwindles from a rip-roaring freeway of 2000 a weedy frontage road of 32.  To those 32 people who drop by daily to see if anything new has popped up on this stale little blog, I salute your devotion.  Like trick-or-treaters pressing doorbells after the porch lights have been turned out, your attendance - fruitless as it is -  is truly something.

But as you may have noticed, my porch light has been left on, burning day and night, week in and week out since early December, brainlessly wishing the world a Merry Christmas all the while the calendar pages tear away, possibly causing some of those frazzled 32 to wonder if I might be keeping a dried-up Christmas tree browning in my living room on St. Patrick's Day.

No, no, it's simply a matter of life getting in the way of blogress.  In December I bought my very first home (after years and years of renting) and am preoccupied setting up house and studio, all the while keeping several spinning dinner plates balanced on the ends of broom handles. 
So let me express my appreciation for all your many card and letter inquiring politely if I have died.  I'm delighted to tell you I am completely alive and will start blogging again any day now.

As for those persistent 32, I am forever your ardent admirer and fervent friend.