Sunday, May 2, 2021

Postcard: Billy Goat Gruff at Children's Fairyland

This undated, unused photo postcard features Billy Goat Gruff and a Caligari-esque building at Children's Fairyland in Oakland, California. As long as that house is bigger on the inside, like a TARDIS, and can contain my books, I'd absolutely move there and hang out with the goats.

And Fairyland, it turns out, is still around and thriving! So perhaps they would just let me move in. If I say, "pretty please."

According to the website, the dream of Children's Fairyland began in 1948 with Oakland businessman Arthur Navlet: "The well-respected nursery owner took his proposal for a storybook theme park, featuring fairy-tale sets, farm animals, and live entertainment, to the Lake Merritt Breakfast Club. ... They loved the idea. With the support of Oakland’s parks superintendent William Penn Mott, Jr., the Breakfast Club and the citizens of Oakland raised $50,000 to build Children’s Fairyland on the shores of Lake Merritt."

When Fairyland opened in 1950, admission was between 9 and 14 cents (14¢ in 1950 is about $1.50 today, so those past prices were an incredible bargain). The storybook structures were designed by architect William Russell Everitt, whose work endures today.

The brightly colored attractions (for which a black-and-white postcard doesn't do justice) include the Old Lady in the Shoe, Jack & Jill Hill, the Jolly Roger Pirate Ship, a Dragon Slide and a Fairy Music Tunnel. 

Live animals are still part of the experience in 2021, with more than a dozen residing on the park grounds. That includes, according to the website, miniature horses Pepper and Pixie; goats Brownie and Cookie; donkeys Gideon and Chiquita Bonita; sheep Oatmeal and Raisin; various chickens and ducks; and Puff, the "magic" bearded dragon. Sound like it would be a dandy neighborhood in which to reside!

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