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SISTER IN THE FLOWERS, LOMPOC, CALIFORNIA, 1955

Nun stands in a field of flowers

I wasn’t raised in a religious household. But I do enjoy a good nun sighting. Always have and always will. My parents taught me to live by the golden rule: do unto others as you would have them do unto you. And so I do.

This week with all the pomp and circumstance surrounding the passing of one Pope and the selection of another I thought it was time to experience some religion. So I headed over to The NOHO Ceramics Gallery at 5140 N. Lankershim Blvd., in North Hollywood to see a spectacular exhibit of vintage amusement park artwork brought to us by the fine folks at the Los Angeles Toy, Doll & Amusements Museum. Featured are very stylized 1959 vintage illustrations of a religious theme park, called Bible Storyland, which was designed but never built. It was going to open in 1961, in of all places, Cucamonga, California. Judging by the spellbinding renderings on display, this place would’ve been heavenly to say the least.

The main investors, two of which were Jack Haley, the Tin Man in the Wizard of Oz, and Donald Duncan, inventor of the Duncan Yo-Yo, clearly had high hopes. The Disneyland-scale park was to be laid out in the shape of a heart. Israel, Babylon, Egypt, Rome and the Garden of Eden were to be the “lands”. Imagine that! Proposed attractions included a dark ride called Adventures in Tut’s Tomb, where we would’ve ridden on little cars shaped like pharaohs. The Camel Caravan – think Disneyland’s mule train – would’ve had us riding camels, yes camels, past pyramids. The Chariot Races could’ve been a great thrill ride. And the Carousel of Mythical Beasts looks like it would’ve been more than bizarre.

But, as fate would have it, Bible Storyland wasn’t to be. However, just seeing these spectacular and colorful renderings of what might’ve been was a religious experience of the highest order. Amen.

Here’s to you and to Bible Storyland!!