Saturday, June 13, 2009

A Trip Back In Time

I've always liked Knott's Berry Farm. I think the first time I went there was in 1969. I was fully involved in reading Western paperbacks at the time, Louis L'Amour in particular. I also like the few Donald Hamilton Westerns and read some of Zane Gray's. Going to Knott's was a way to immerse myself in the trappings of the Old West that didn't involve a long trip.

I won't go into the history of Knott's now, since it's very well covered in the news article linked below. What I used to do was simply wander about in the ghost town part of the Farm and look at the Old West exhibits in the museums and in the buildings of the ghost town.

This past Sunday's OC Register commemorated the 75th Anniversary of Cordelia Knott's Chicken Dinner Restaurant in a story to be found here. I've eaten there several times. The chicken is kind of similar to that of Col. Sanders, but much tastier and more consistent. It's a full, old-fashioned country-style dinner with fried chicken, mashed spuds, gravy, a veggie, biscuits and a dish of rhubarb sauce, followed by a dessert. I could eat at Mrs. Knott's restaurant a lot more than I actually did. I honestly don't know where one can get better fried chicken.

Perhaps the best part of Knott's is through the tunnel under Beach Blvd, where Knott built a faithful replica of Philadelphia's Independence Hall, complete with the Liberty Bell. Within, they run a tape loop of quotes from some of the founders, as might've occurred within the building during the adoption of the Declaration of Independence. It gives one pause for reflection.

Unfortunately, I was never fortunate enough to meet Walter or Cordelia Knott, but I did see Andy Devine there a couple of times. He used to tell tales of the wagon trains in a recreation of a circled wagon camp in the ghost town.

Living in The Valley now, it's a bit farther to drive to the Farm now, but I'll still go there from time to time. The Knotts were freedom-loving individuals who lived their lives during a freer time. They saw the way the country was going even then, and did what they could to fight it. Near the Independence Hall reproduction, there was a book store, selling freedom-oriented books and souvenirs. I'm not sure if it's still there.

Here and there, the spirit of liberty still lives!

Warm regards,

Col. Hogan
Stalag California


Chatelaine said...

I went with some friends to Knotts back in the mid 90s when I lived in California. I didn't have any fried chicken, though. I think I mostly ate candy and rode the rides. It was fun, though.

Col. Hogan said...


I'm starting to thinks it's time I visit the old place again.....