Hanging Out at Knott’s

knotts016I don’t know why I never mailed this post card of Knott’s Berry Farm. “Dear Pandy” — the name of my Australian pen pal — is written on it in pencil. But nothing else.

Knott's CarouselKnott’s was my childhood hangout. I spent many a warm summer night there because the park charged no admission until the late 1960s. Visitors could wander freely through the Ghost Town streets, buying tickets only for individual attractions like the mine ride or the Bird Cage Theater.

From June through September, my dad would pile us into the car for the 15-minute drive to Buena Park. A little pocket change bought licorice at the General Store, which carried fab flavors like chocolate and grape in addition to the standard red and black.

Then we found seats in the covered wagon circle and listened to the Wagon Masters sing at a free show. “Green grow the lilacs all sparkling with dew…”

Knott's WalterWe rarely went on rides except on birthdays or other special occasions, nor did we eat in the famous chicken dinner restaurant. The whole point of making Knott’s Berry Farm our beat-the-heat spot was how affordable it was for my parents’ tight budget.

I met Walter Knott himself, the park’s founder, when I won third place in an essay contest. He presented our Savings Bond prizes at Independence Hall (or at least Knott’s Berry Farm’s exact replica of it), where I posed in front with Mr. Knott and the other winners.

Check out my “cool” outfit — navy dress with a white lace bib and matching fishnet tights.

I’ll leave you with one more photo of summertime at Knott’s: me with pigtails and little white purse strolling with my mom and sister Sherrie. Note the sign on the Pitchur Gallery behind us, offering film, camera supplies and camera rentals for 50¢. Definitely a ghost town of times long past!

Knott's Berry Farm

6 thoughts on “Hanging Out at Knott’s

  1. Phoebe Conn says:

    I also have fond memories of Knott’s Berry Farm. I recall being especially thirsty once and not being able to find a drinking fountain anywhere. I had to buy berry juice. My mother had planted berry vines in our yard, and I was so sick of berries it was a real chore to drink the juice.

  2. Jacquie Mendenhall says:

    I remember hanging out at Knott’s when I was younger. As you said, you could spend time there, have free entertainment and a good time, even if you couldn’t have the chicken dinner, or go on the rides. Remember the statue (?) of the gold miner sitting on the bench? Somewhere I have pictures of me sitting with ‘my date’.

    • Susan Lendroth says:

      Hmmmm, I remember painted statues of dance hall girls on a bench rather than the miner. Now I’ll have to look for pictures…

  3. Jeanne Lambson says:

    I LOVED to go to Knotts Berry Farm! We did have a chicken dinner there once or twice. My sister and I bought Christmas gifts for our family from the large gift shop. We, too, didn’t usually go on the rides but we loved to walk around. Whenever we had out-of-town guests visit, of course they went to Disneyland (usually we didn’t accompany them but we always got their left-over ticket books. Sometimes there were even a few E tickets leftover!) and we always took them to Knotts Berry Farm. And, how great that it was free?!

    • Susan Lendroth says:

      Disneyland was like the cool kid in school and Knott’s more like the next-door-neighbor, but I’d return in a heartbeat if it was still the Knott’s I remember from childhood.

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