Sunday, May 22, 2011

"I want to work for Walt Disney"

I think I always wanted to work for Walt Disney ever since I was a kid watching Disney's wonderful world of color. I remember telling my mom,  "I'm going to work for Walt Disney someday."

     I worked at a restaurant called SIMM'S LANDING west of Denver as a busboy in 1977.  Simm's Landing was newly opened when I got my first job there.   I had survived 9 months as a busboy when I felt the itch to try something else.   I was aware that CSC was owned by Disney and with my sights set on working for "The Mouse" someday, I thought I would take a shot at getting a job there. 
     I interviewed with Susan Humphries.  Susan had what I call that "Disney Look".  She could have been Annette Funicello's Sister.  She called me the next day and offered me the job of "Bowling Host."  What the Heck is a Bowling Host?  Well I didn't care if that meant cleaning out ashtrays and toilets....I accepted the job.  It turned out that I would be cleaning ashtrays and on occasion, a toilet or two.
     I was a teenage "Laneman".  I was to work the evening shift 6 to closing.  My job consisted of cleaning up after the beer swigging rowdy League bowlers.  Throwing away empty beer cups, dumping and wiping out dirty ashtrays,  mopping up spilled beer.  You can imagine what I smelled like at the end of the evening.  But, I was sure proud to wear the uniform.  Navy blue pants and tie, white short-sleeve shirt and best of all a red white and blue striped polyester vest with my official Disney issue name tag with Mickey on it.  Man was I cool!  
     The guy in charge of my training was Doug Horton.  Doug was a piece of art.  He was a cigar chomping, sloppy dressed woman chaser.  He had a spray gun bottle of window cleaner hooked on his belt like a gunslinger.  He always had a filthy ashtray rag hanging over his shoulder ready for action.  He could whip out that rag and spray bottle faster than Wyatt Earp. Doug had no trouble wiping down a score table, lighting a cigar and flirting with a lady bowler at the same time.
     The bowling Supervisor was Fred.  Fred was a cool boss.  I was so nervous about my new job and he always made me feel at ease.  After 3 months or so, Fred promoted me to the glorious job of "Lane Supervisor".  That meant that I could work the cash register an tell the Lanemen what to do including Doug Horton who was not too pleased to have this teenage punk bossing him about.


Thursday, May 19, 2011

Celebrity Dreams.....

      Like so many other "Denverites", I will always have my sweet childhood memories of Walt Disney's Celebrity Sports Center.   I remember eternal summers  with my friends,  dropped off by our parents on a summer morning in Glendale.  After watching a movie at the Cooper Theater,  it was just a short walk over to Celebrity Sports Center a mere block away.  There we would spend the rest of the day Bowling, Swimming, Skee Ball, Slot Car Racing and shooting pirates and skeletons at the mechanical shooting gallery downstairs.  A kid from Golden, Colorado, spending a day at Celebrity was one of the best things you can possibly do as a kid.

     In the 60's and 70's,  Walt Disney Productions owned Celebrity.  I distinctly remember the walls full of giant Disneyland attraction posters. The look, and feel of the operation was a real Disney experience.  For alot of us Colorado kids, this was as close as you can get to going to Disneyland.  Everything at celebrity was on a humongous scale.  The building itself was basically a big L-shape. On one side of the "L" there was 44 polyurethane lanes the other side there was 36 all wood lanes. The concourse between the two seemed like it stretched out forever. Walking down the main concourse, I remember the aroma of beer, cigarettes, bowling balls, and that smelly disinfectant spray for bowling shoes.  Also on the upper level, there were two game arcades, a billiard room, a bowling pro shop, a nursery, a coffee shop, a "Hofbrau" and a bar for the lanes.

     Two large staircases lead down to "Fun Center" and of course the Olympic size Indoor Pool.  The swimming pool was the largest man-made indoor pool that I ever saw in my life. I've seen lakes smaller than this pool!  It was so big that on occasion, they would even race fan powered sail boats there!   At the pool entrance, you would pay and get your ticket, go through the turnstile into a big locker room. Open your locker and get naked in front of a bunch of strangers.  A little creepy for a kid, (or anyone.)   After locking up your belongings, you'd walk through a cold and mysterious "sterilizing" pool of water, and finally into the cavernous pool area where you were hit hard by a cloud of choking chlorine gas, and the echoing sound of screaming kids and angry Life Guards with megaphones.  In the early days there was no Shark or Barracuda slides, just alot of water, a slide and two diving boards.  We would dare each other to jump off the high dive which to a 10 year old seemed as tall as the Empire State Building.  It took an eternity to climb the ladder to the top of the diving board.  My Knees would wobble as I peered over the edge of the board,  I never found the courage to dive head first off the top but I did a lot of "pencil dives."  It was important to take a big deep breath before you jumped because once  impacting the surface of the water you still had to swim back up from the eternal depths of the "deep end."  After swimming for a while, it was time to dry off and head out to the next Celebrity adventure.... The Fun Center
      Beneath the 36 bowling lanes was the Fun Center.  In the earliest days I remember they had huge slot car race tracks, two or three different courses to choose from.  I don't know how many lanes they had but it seem like 12 grooves of racing action.  I remember they supplied you with a "throttle controller" and if you didn't have your own car you could rent one.   For a while they had "Pojo", a hybrid of golf and billiards. And of course they had plenty of Skee-Ball,  Arcade Games, and there was the Shooting Gallery which was designed and themed in the unique Disney style.  It felt like Pirates of the Caribbean with pirate skeletons, treasure chest and all.  Finally it was time to dig down deep in my empty pockets and hope that I had a dime left to call my Mom to come pick us up.  At the end of of a day at Celebrity Sports Center, I was utterly and pleasantly exausted. 

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Celebrity Sports Center Employee Manual

I kept a few items from my days at CSC.  Fortunately I kept this employee manual.  It really gives you an idea how Walt Disney Productions wanted their "cast members" to behave.  The brochure also included a brief history of the complex.

Self Portrait with proper haircut. (note; no facial hair)

The Giant Pool

This is what the pool looked like in my day.  Massive, no giant slides,  a towering high dive, indoor sailing events...."I love the smell of chlorine in the morning!"

The Slides 1980's

architectural concept for water slide addition