Friday, June 1, 2012

Walt's Windows - Kimball's Engines

People, its people that has always attracted me to history.  Honestly strong and unique personalities have always caught my interest.  So in baseball history, I have always been attracted to Ty Cobb not because I idolized him but because of his strikingly defined personality.   

Luckily as a Disney fan, there are plenty of unique personalities to study.  One of those men that I love to hear stories of and recount to others is Ward Kimball.  Kimball was a unique and intelligent man who seemed to have a number of diverse interests including trains and the society of tomorrow. 
Part of Ward Kimball’s personal backyard transportation collection were fire engines.  These items have been added to the collection of the Los Angeles County Fire Museum.  And their Spring 2012 Newsletter “Fire Warden” profiles Kimball and their place within their collection.  And best of all “Fire Warden” is available as a free downloable PDF that all can enjoy.  

There are two pieces in their collection that Disney fans should be excited about.  The first is Kimball’s 1888 Silsby Steam Pumper.  This piece shows the care that Kimball spent in preserving his collection.  This hand pulled 19th century piece was repainted by Kimball, but only have he used his drawing skill to document its decorations.
1888 Silsby Steam Pumper
1888 Silsby Steam Pumper: Originally Hand Drawn

The second is guaranteed to get any Disney fan excited.  They hold Kimball’s 1916 American LaFrance Fire Engine.  Kimball restored this piece for use by his jazz band, the Firehouse Five - Plus 2.  The Firehouse Five – Plus 2 would play from the hose bed.  The band made up of Disney staff members including another one of Walt’s Nine Old Men Frank Thomas and Harper Goff who created many of the early representations of the park.  The band was popular during the 1950s and had made many public appearances before the opening of Disneyland.  But Disneyland was a location where they preformed often playing on the back of the 1916 fire engine.  
1916 American LaFrance Fire Engine
I highly recommend that you download this issue of “Fire Warden” which takes us back to a day when Disney legends played jazz music for guests from the back of a privately owned fire engine.   

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