Sunday, October 09, 2011

A-haunting we will go!

Here's a 1954 photo of some of the workmen who built the Haunted Shack at Knott's Berry Farm. Concessionaires Les and Pauline Wilson opened this attraction on June 19, 1954. The Knott's "company line" was that the shack had been brought from Esmerelda, Nevada. In fact, it was built from scratch and was based on the "Mystery Spot" roadside attraction in Santa Cruz. A corny-on-purpose attraction, it featured a lot more humor than paranormal activity. It became a signature Knott's attraction and was enjoyed by all ages. Sadly, the Haunted Shack was closed in September 2000 and was demolished two months later. A barrel of "baby rattlers" from the shack can still be found just down School House Road, near the entrance to Boot Hill. To experience a smaller but very similar "Haunted Shack," visit the town of Calico, California.

The Santa Ana Historical Society's annual Historical Cemetery Tour will be held Oct. 22, 10am-3pm at Fairhaven Memorial Park/Santa Ana Cemetery. This year's guided historical tour is entitled, "Ain't We Got Fun? Amusements in Early Orange County." (What?... Don't you always think of fun and cemeteries being inexorably linked?) Costumed actors will portray historic figures, sharing stories from Orange County’s past. For more details, see their website.

The San Juan Capistrano Historical Society holds a Ghost Tour of their town (considered the most haunted city in California!) on the Saturday before Halloween each year. "Be prepared for creepy tales of big black dogs, strange monks who have lost their heads, ghostly tales about a lady in white and other goings on." I haven't seen an official announcement yet this year, but you might want to contact them now if you're interested. Call 949-493-8444 to make reservations.
As long as we're talking Halloween, I'm going to drift off topic and ask for your help. I'm looking for someplace in Orange County that carries old-fashioned paper Halloween decorations made by the Beistle Company. They look like this:
The Beistle Company was founded in 1900 in Pittsburgh, at a time when most paper decorations (and most good color print jobs in general) came from Germany. The company is still owned by the same family today. The designs have been refined a little over the years, but they still definitely have a strong early-20th Century look that's perfect for October historical society meetings, and of course, for my own home. (I'm also pretty sick of all the blood and gore in modern Halloween decor.) So, if you've seen these for sale around O.C., please let me know. I've already looked at Party City and my local drugstore with no luck. (And please don't tell me I can buy them somewhere online. I hate buying things online.)


Connie Moreno said...

I always enjoyed that shack at Knott's and was soooo disappointed when it was removed.

Cemetaries! FUN! Yup, that's me. Thanks for the info on that; I'm gonna try really hard to attend!!!

Oh and I agree with you about those Halloween decorations. They are GREAT.

Sharon Brown said...

Ghosts of Old Orange County, a new after-dark living history haunted tour, will be held at 7:00 p.m. on Oct. 28 & 29 at Heritage Museum of Orange County in Santa Ana. It will feature the spirits of key figures in OC and California history telling their stories, along with some spooky fun. Reservations are required - call 714-540-0404.

Mike H said...

I love those vintage Halloween decorations. I especially like the color palette. I've never been a fan of purple as a Halloween color and I'm not sure when that started. The combination of black, orange, and yellow...with just a little bit of green is perfect.

Tris Mast said...

I'm not sure if they have actual Beistle, but Roger's Gardens in Newport Beach has some nice early 20th Century Halloween paper reproductions similar to your example. It's worth the trip: their haunted theater theme this year is killer.

Chris Jepsen said...

Agreed, Tris! I posted some photos of that display on my Flickr site recently:

Sharon Brown said...

I think purple is a dumb Halloween color, too. I suspect, though, that it began as a way to have strings of lights that were as close to black as possible without being invisible.

Chris Jepsen said...

Personally, I blame Count Von Count from Sesame Street for the inclusion of purple into the Halloween pantheon of colors. And yes, perhaps blacklights play a role in that too.