Monday, October 29, 2007

Trick-or-treating, Steve Martin and the Dreger Clock

Today's image isn't actually from Orange County, but it might as well be. John Falter's cover art for the Oct. 1958 Saturday Evening Post looks like a snapshot from any of the Modern housing developments around O.C., like the Eichler tracts in Orange. (I particularly enjoy the gag with the square Modern jack-o-lantern.) 

Our current era of suburban isolation has eliminated most of the traditions that provided a sense of community. Trick-or-treating is one of the few remaining opportunities kids have to see their neighborhood and neighbors at close range. It's not a big thing by itself, but it's one important step toward understanding the place they call home. And without a sense of place or community, where will the next generation of leaders and local historians come from? So don't wuss out -- Take your kids trick-or-treating this year!

The Buena Park Historical Society and Mr. Glenn Frank have teamed up to save an amazing clock built in the 1930s by Glenn's great-grandfather, Andrew Dreger Sr. It is a functional work of art, telling the time in major cities throughout the world. Although the clock was initially displayed in front of the Dreger home in Long Beach, it was purchased in 1954 by Knott's Berry Farm. For decades, the clock stood in Knott's rose garden, in front of the Candy Parlor. In recent years, it welcomed guests as they approached Knott's ticket booth plaza.

But Knott's recently sold the clock and it has languished in a warehouse ever since. Now Glenn is working to bring the clock back to Buena Park and restore it to its former glory. You can read much more about the clock at his website,

Speaking of Knott's, the latest issue of New Yorker magazine includes an article by comedian Steve Martin, describing his start in showbiz at Knott's Berry Farm's Birdcage Theatre. If you have any interest in either Martin or Knott's, it's definitely worth reading. I believe this article is an excerpt from Martin's forthcoming autobiography, Born Standing Up, which is due next month. For the record, Martin also graduated from Garden Grove High School (1963), attended Santa Ana College, and even worked at Disneyland for a while. Orange County can proudly say it was the launch pad for the man who wrote "Picking Out A Thermos For You," and "Pointy Birds."

And just to run this Knott's thread into the ground, I'm also including a link to a site for and by alumni of the Birdcage Theatre.

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