It was the next summer that I went to Disneyland,
taking my whole family with me, my brother who was fifteen and my parents, the "older people".
This wasn't a planed vacation, in fact it was voted out three to one! We went somewhere every summer, usually small trips, camping at the coast or the nearby mountains, mostly the ocean though because of the mosquitoes in the mountains. Once in a while, maybe every third summer we would really go somewhere, a real vacation! Not often though because I don't think my parents really liked each other and the thought of being two weeks in a tent together was just too much. That's another story and
I will probably tell you more about it because it is all a part of this educational experience and the reason I never had a Senior Year at High School. A part of "my story", so to speak. So, back to being eleven years old. One night in early summer we were sitting around the dining room table with a great discussion going on where to go for a summer vacation. My vote was Disneyland! This was 1958 and Disneyland, that imaginative fairy tale place where anything could be
had just opened! I was so excited and did my very best to sell my family on this idea. I lost out to Canada, British Columbia and some old town that so wanted to be British called Victoria! God,
how dull could that be especially compared to Disneyland and California! I was disappointed
but offered a consolation prize in the form of a "Brownie Starflash" camera! It cost $8.95 and had a built-in flash attachment with blue flashbulbs! The deal included three rolls of film, 24 pictures each and I wasn't allowed to go crazy and take pictures of everything like we can do today with the digital cameras. Three rolls plus developing, that was what I was allowed.
Now I will tell you about the contest! In those days, in our town, you bought film and had it developed at the local pharmacy. They sold fancy cameras there, made by Kodak in USA and
Cannon and other upscale cameras made in Japan. These could cost as much as $600. in 1958!
They also sold my little "Brownie Starflash" for $8.95. One day in very early summer before we were even talking about a vacation, they put posters up all over the store, announcing a giant photo contest! This was a pretty big deal for our town, sponsored by Kodak, and Grayhound Bus
and Disneyland, the top prize was an all expense trip for four to that Magical Kingdom, and boy, did I have my eye on that! They had weekly prizes of inexpensive cameras and developing services and you had to win one of these to be entered into the "Grand Prize." Dreams of youth, I wanted that so bad!
But off we went to Canada and, really, it was a fun vacation and we stopped at a hundred places along the way. One such stop was in Vancouver Canada to "Stanley Park", a beautiful, walkable botanical gardens. I am not remembering all the details here but I wanted to go about "taking pictures" and my parents and brother wanted to do something else. At eleven years old I was allowed to go on my own, walking a park in a strange land. It was thrilling and I pretended that I was a famous photographer, stopping here and there to catch this and that. One photo, THE PHOTO, actually, I have posted here. This was truely a "Kodak Moment", you just had to be there at the right place and at the right time. I was standing on a stone bridge, looking below me at a creek that went into a little pond when these swans just came drifting by, under the bridge towards the pond. I waited quietly and just took this one photo but knew in my heart it had to be pretty good.
When we got back home I rushed to the pharmacy to get my film developed. No "one hour" stuff in those days, it was a three day wait. I had two "almost perfect" pictures, these swans and another one just of the stone bridge. I entered them both and waited!
Shortening this story a bit because it is getting very long, the swans won the show, best photo of the week and by August, the best photo period!!! Second best was a portrait taken with one of those six hundred cameras and the stone bridge, my other photo, won third prize!
Tomorrow I will tell you about Disneyland in 1958!