These 35MM slide images from the Summer of 1957 depict an Upstate, New York getaway that my Grandparents took with my Mom (age 5), my Uncle Kevin (age 4) and my Aunt Karen (7 months). I'm guessing that my Great Grandmother Mae was with them as well, but she was apparently somewhat camera shy on this trip.
The images show a lake community (which probably housed some cabins) as well as Santa's Workshop in the town of North Pole and The Land Of Make Believe in the town of Upper Jay. I know that I've been to Santa's Workshop a few times but I think I only went to The Land Of Make Believe once as a kid in the 1970s. I don't recall much about it besides being TERRIFIED by the fake Stage Coach Hold-Up gag. They would NEVER get away with that "Wild West actors with bandanas over the face, cap gun-pointing, fake robbery, let's scare the kids" bullshit today. That trick, of course, was played out upon park patrons way before everyone's child was medicated for ADHD and needed therapy because someone looked at them the wrong way (and didn't give them a trophy for showing up to school on time).
In any event, the Wild West portion of The Land Of Make Believe looked something like this...
ABOVE: My Grandmother and the kids on the swings.
BELOW: An cute (but un-named) couple with their child in the lake.
It always seemed bizzare to be surrounded by Christmas decor, costumes and follies in the middle of Summer. Putting your hands on the iced "North Pole" (seen above to the left of center) was always a refreshing tradition in the summertime heat.
My Grandfather, who did not love swimming, but was always a good sport when it came to taking kids (myself included) into the water, has some fun in the shallows with my Mom and Uncle Kevin.
My God... They must have been BOILING in those costumes. I hope they got payed well.
Old Time Fire Engine at The Land Of Make Believe.
ABOVE: Petting zoo fun at both Santa's Workshop and Land Of Make Believe.
BELOW: My Grandmother takes a dip with Kevin and my Mom.
I have a photo of my Grandmother perched upon this sleigh once again (with my Aunt Karen, Aunt Susan and myself) taken in this exact same spot some 20 years later.
You know this old guy is thinking, "Dammit... If only I'd saved up more funds twenty years ago, I'd be happily retired now and I wouldn't have to be here with these smelly animals and noisy brats!"
Leave it to my Grandparents to find a Baby Jesus photo op... Even on vacation!
Santa Claus (and some random milkmaids... or something) give the Nelsen kids some special attention.
My Uncle Kevin and Mother among some plastic lawn ornament choir boys in blackface.
Is it just me or does the one in the red robe (directly to my Mom's right) look like it has cornrows?
Making a splash in one of the Catskill Mountains' many lakes.
Model chalets (and blankets of fake snow) built into the hills around Santa's Workshop at North Pole, NY. Sadly, the amusement park (and its attendant chalets) shut down in the 1990s.
I'd love to know if anyone has been on the property to photograph it in its abandoned state. I'm not certain if the land has been redeveloped or not and if the buildings still remain there. As sad as it is, I bet it would look amazing in a state of decay.
My Mom taking a stroll toward an Enchanted Castle at The Land Of Make Believe.
Time to hit the rails, folks... See ya next Summer!