Friday, May 01, 2015

Pacific Ocean Park

While Tim was watching the Clippers playoff game at home, earlier this week, Karen and I attended a Venice Historical Society lecture/slide show about the old POP amusement park in Santa Monica. Opened in 1958, the Pacific Ocean Park Space Age Nautical Pleasure Pier—POP, for short—was an extremely popular teen destination in the early '60s, before it closed and eventually burned down. 

I remember going to POP only once, but my sister and I weren't allowed to ride any of the attractions because, according my mother, several people had died there. As it turns out, this was just urban legend. Nonetheless, POP was cheesy—especially when compared to, say, Disneyland, the gold standard of SoCal amusement parks—and was nothing more than another kitschy pier attraction, so prevalent on the beach side of L.A. county in the early-to-mid-20th century. Still, this didn't seem to matter to the folks at the lecture. The small room was packed with people our age and older. 

The lecture was great. Domenic Priore, co-author of a new book on POP, narrated the slides, while well-known local historian Marc Wanamaker, who had actually worked at the park, provided "color" commentary. Clips of numerous movies and TV shows filmed at POP were also sprinkled throughout—perhaps the most famous being the final episode of The Fugitive, where the one-armed-man is (spoiler alert!) shot atop one of the rides. (I guess Mom was right: people did die at POP!) Our favorite clip, though, was this one (below) of Nancy Sinatra singing "Who Will Buy This Wonderful Feeling?" Not only does it reek of late-1960s TV musical specials (gotta love the Broadway-style choreography), it also provides one last fabulous peak inside POP before it was completely destroyed. Enjoy!


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