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The Amazing "Touring Rockets" of the 1950s!
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Bud Brewster
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PostPosted: Sun Mar 17, 2019 3:34 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

________________________________

Oops! Embarassed

I don't think I can even blame my typo on the fact that Eadie wrote "peddle", too! I just made exactly the same spelling error, with no help from anyone else! Rolling Eyes

It reminds me of the old joke about the call girl who rode a bicycle around to display the fine quality of what she was selling. Folks said she, "She peddled her tail all town!" Laughing

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Bud Brewster
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PostPosted: Sat May 25, 2019 8:01 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

________________________________

I'd like to revitalize this thread by spotlighting the "other" Touring Rockets of the 1950s — those gorgeous hood ornaments which tantalized young sci-fi fans by sitting right there on the front of our family cars and reminding us just how beautiful the spacecraft of the future would look! Cool

Here's a gallery of images from the 1953 Ford, a rocket that should have cruised the solar system instead of just being bolted to hood of our cars! Cool
















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Gord Green
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PostPosted: Sun Aug 04, 2019 9:22 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Consider this a bit of an update-recap on the subject.



"During the mid-1950s Standard Carriage Works built a number of promotional trailers that were outfitted to look like rocket ships, which were a common fixture in early children’s television programming.



In 1953 they built two Ralston Rocket promotional trailers, a deluxe one used in promotional tours to promote Ralston’s Space Patrol TV Show (aired on ABC 1950-1955), and a second smaller version that was awarded to Ricky Walker, the winner of the show’s “Name the Planet” contest. They are also credited with building the similarly-styled Luer Meat Packing Company rocket which first appeared in late 1955.

The Ralston Rocket was later sold to the Blakely Petroleum Co., who sent the re-christened Blakely Oil Rocket to promote its ‘Rocket Gas’ on promotional tours of the firm’s Arizona and California outlets during the late 1950s. The Luer Rocket featured a 24-seat, 16 mm movie theater and a vibrating floor and was used to promote the firm’s products at supermarket openings and other public events.
It had certainly known better days — days when rockets in a variety of designs toured the main streets and supermarkets of an optimistic U.S.A., when kids dreamed of donning fishbowl space helmets and defending the galaxy with their pointy-shouldered, jumpsuit-wearing television heroes.

/stories/the-luer-meat-rocket?




It was an era of robots and death rays, a time when men like Rocky Jones, Tom Corbett and Captain Video toured the cosmos to protect the innocent.



It was also an age when brand-name foods bankrolled heroism. Science-fiction serials were big business in the fifties and proved to be an effective vehicle for promoting marshmallows and sliced bread.

One of the most popular space operas of the time was Space Patrol, starring Commander Buzz Corry, and sponsors like Ralston Purina made the most of the show's popularity by finding inventive ways to tie the program in with its line of cereals.



The most creative promotion, involving what is possibly the most exciting giveaway in history, was Ralston's "Name the Planet" contest. Cadets were to submit, along with the correct number of coins found in Ralston cereals, a name for the new planet that had materialized on Space Patrol.
The viewer to submit the best name would win a clubhouse in the form of a life-size rocket ship. Billed as Commander Buzz Corry's very own Terra IV, the grand prize was a 35-foot, 10,000-pound, trailer-mounted spaceship, complete with bunk beds, cooking apparatus and equipment lockers. It even came with a truck to haul it.

The Ralston Rocket, as it was nicknamed, had been one of two ships that toured the country, visiting fairs and strip malls in promotion of Space Patrol and Ralston Purina. Think Weinermobile, but with a nose cone and fins.
When Ralston was finally done driving it from state to state, they stripped out all the space gadgetry, refitted it as an RV and offered it as their contest's coveted award.
/stories/the-luer-meat-rocket?

The prize ultimately went to 10-year-old Ricky Walker of Illinois. But as these things go, Ricky eventually tired of his big toy and the two parted ways. The dream prize desired by millions of cadets was sold to an amusement park in Kansas.





So, was Ricky's the rocket that eventually ended up in the hands of Steve LaVigne?
Unfortunately, no. Ricky's rocket was later tracked from Kansas to a wrecking yard in Illinois, then to a cable network in New York, and finally to a construction company that — terror of terrors — dismantled it and sold it for scrap in the 1980s.

There was, however, the second Ralston Rocket, the one that was not given away in the contest. Evidence places this twin craft in the hands of Blakely Oil, who used it to promote their "Rocket Gas" following Ralston's campaign.
According to a man named Rodney Welch, Blakely then sold it to the Luer meat-packing company. Welch had purchased it from Luer to use in a small amusement park he called Welch's Mountain Fantasy. When Welch closed down the operation, he donated the rocket to the City of Prescott, which subsequently unloaded it onto a local rehab center. And that's where LaVigne found it. He and a friend paid a hundred bucks for it.

The craft differs significantly in appearance from the Ralston Rocket, but there are those who have suggested that Luer remodeled the exterior before using it in their own promotions, which means LaVigne's craft is a reskinned Ralston. Yet, there are others who disagree, including LaVigne himself, as further evidence suggests that Rodney Welch had been mistaken about the connection between Luer and Blakely.



This would mean the Luer rocket is one of the copycat ships built to take advantage of the hype initiated by Ralston and that the second Ralston Rocket is wasting away on someone else's property somewhere.
So, in the end, it's very likely the Luer vessel is a totally separate ship, built from scratch with some bizarre correlation in mind between meat and spacecraft. Much like Ralston's, it toured grocery chains, but carried cape-adorned space hotties who waved to the crowds and promoted "Luer Quality Meat." That's why most people in Steve LaVigne's neighborhood referred to the ship corroding up on Sweetwater Drive as the Meat Rocket or the Meat Missile, names for which LaVigne admits he carries no fondness.



Regardless, LaVigne recognizes that the Luer rocket is a hunk of nostalgia in its own right. He considers it an artifact of better days. "Kids would really get a kick out of simple things back then," he says. "Now that we've got all the computer simulations and everything that we've got, simple just doesn't cut it anymore." He reminisces about the 16 mm projection screen locked inside, possibly used by Luer for some kind of anti-vegetable propaganda film. He also speaks with appreciation of the deteriorating sci-fi control panel and the little motor mounted to the frame that vibrates the floor and makes a rockety "hrrmmmm" sound. "That's why the rocket is a cool thing.""


http://www.roadsideresort.com/stories/the-luer-meat-rocket?page=0,0
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Last edited by Gord Green on Mon Aug 05, 2019 3:46 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Bud Brewster
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PostPosted: Mon Aug 05, 2019 11:32 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

________________________________________

Nice combination of the articles from the Standard Carriage Works site and the Roadside Resort site, two of the great websites we’ve used to trace down the history of these wonderful touring rockets from the 1950s.

I also applaud the way you interspersed some of our better jpegs with the text, along with several new ones I don't think I've seen before! Thanks for pumping new life into one of All Sci-Fi's most interesting discussions. Cool

You've put me in the mood to share a few more episodes of Space Patrol in the chat room.

"Roaring Rockets, Commander Gordon, when do we blast off!?"

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Bud Brewster
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PostPosted: Thu Oct 10, 2019 5:50 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

________________________________

Commander Green's post in Contact All Sci-Fi has challenged us by posing a list of threads he thinks would be prime candidates for new replies, just because they interesting subjects and popular threads.

FORBIDDEN PLANET
THIS ISLAND EARTH
SPACE PATROL
STAR WARS
BATTLESTAR GALACTICA
TOURING ROCKETS OF THE 50'S

By God, he's right! I had fun this afternoon finding new things to post on each of those subjets, and this thread is the last (and most challenging) on his list! Shocked

I knew it was highly unlikely that I'd find a new touring rocket from the 1950s, so I focused on finding something we missed during our discussions on this 8 page thread. Something small, something interesting, some little mysterious detail.

And I found one. I examined by photos of the Ralston Rocket . . . and noticed this.



____


What the heck is that gizmo on the bulkhead of Ricky Walker's rocket? We know it didn't have any control panel in the cockpit of the rocket — in fact, what it DID have was a nice little table for the kids to sit at while eating snacks or playing games.


_____________


So, what's that strange apparatus as the edge of this picture. Here's a cropped close up.





I think I know what it is, based on the clues in the photo above on the far right, and in this one as well.


____)__________


Mystery solved! Right? Cool
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Last edited by Bud Brewster on Thu Oct 10, 2019 7:16 pm; edited 4 times in total
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Gord Green
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PostPosted: Thu Oct 10, 2019 6:04 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

RIGHT!

It's the bracket for the arm attached to the front entry door!

Kids today don't have these wonderful attractions. Perhaps they would find them too primitive and simplistic for the modern mind. Too bad...They don't know what they're missing.

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Bud Brewster
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PostPosted: Thu Oct 10, 2019 7:02 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

________________________________

Exactly! Very Happy

The Ralston Rocket was the ultimate clubhouse — designed and built to provide intelligent kids with a place to go when they wanted to use their imaginations to create wild sci-fi fantasies inspired by TV shows and movies like Space Patrol.

I remember doing that all by myself in 1955 when I was seven years old in the backyard on a sunny day while sitting inside the tall box our new hot water heater came in! My dad cut off one side and made it look like a rectangular canoe, and I climbed inside to cobble together a spaceship control planel on one end, with wooden knobs attached to the cardboard with sections of wire. Very Happy

Inside my cardboard spacecraft I journeyed to the planet Timbuktu (an African city I'd heard of on TV and thought would make a great name for a planet).

Timbuk 2 — right next to Timbuk 1! Laughing

The point here, of course, is that if a seven year old in 1955 could voyage to Timbuk 2 in cardboard box, just imagine what any of us could have done with a crew of our young friends in the Ralston Rocket! Cool






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Last edited by Bud Brewster on Sat Oct 12, 2019 9:57 am; edited 1 time in total
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Gord Green
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PostPosted: Fri Oct 11, 2019 10:32 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Now if that was built today that wouldn't just be a mechanical hatch...It would have been a silent motor attached to a hydralic arm to open with the click of a nob!
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Krel
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PostPosted: Fri Oct 11, 2019 11:24 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Bud Brewster wrote:
Timbuk 2 — right next to Timbuk 1! Laughing

Timbuk 1 & 2 are okay. But Timbuk 3 has better scenery, and Timbuk 4 has the best cuisine. And Timbuk 5...Well, don't ask, you'd be lucky to get out of their with your life!

David.
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Bud Brewster
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PostPosted: Sat Oct 12, 2019 11:03 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

________________________________

Yes, indeed, my brief visit to Timbuk 5 was a harrowing experience . . . but that beautiful green space babe I had to leave behind will always haunt my dreams . . . Sad

Here's a story idea I just came up with, inspired to some degree by Explorers and GalaxyQuest.

The people who built the Ralston Rocket were secretly aliens whose planet needed the help of a special group of boys. Ricky Walker and his friends did not win the rocket, they were selected by the aliens to get it.

One day shortly after receiving it, Ricky and his friends are playing Space Patrol, laying on their bunks, pretending they're about to lift off.

Suddenly the hatches close and the sound of a rocket engine rises in volume!

The trailer on which the rocket is built slowly tilts upward until the rocket is vertical. Inside the rocket, artificial gravity activates and keeps the boys firmly in their bunks, despite the fact that their actually vertical.

Ricky's parents rush to the door of the house, shocked by the amazing sight of their son's "clubhouse" in launch position!

Flame erupts from the thrust tubes. The Ralston Rocket rises up and streaks off into the blue sky. The ship's computer sets a course for the home planet of the aliens who built the rocket, and the boys live an incredible adventure in outer space, saving the aliens from . . . something or other.

What do you think? Cool

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Gord Green
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PostPosted: Sat Oct 12, 2019 3:18 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Bud, that's exactly what happened to me when I won that rocket in that NAME THE PLANET contest!

How did you know my secret?

It happened much like you described!



After we went to Terra, met with Buzz Corry and Happy and completely defeated the Suzerain of Ophiuchus and her cohorts and later we were returned to Earth through a time-slip hole a split second after we left!





To maintain our cover it was decided that a non-working copy of our ship be given to a little twerp named Ricky Walker and that he'd get all the attention so our JUNIOR SPACE PATROL could keep the Solar System free from fear!



How did YOU know???????????????

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"Fire and wind come from the sky, from the gods of the sky. But Crom is your god, Crom and he lives in the earth. Once, giants lived in the Earth, Conan. And in the darkness of chaos they took from him the enigma of steel. Crom was angered."
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Bud Brewster
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PostPosted: Sun Oct 13, 2019 10:22 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

________________________________

Magnificent! Very Happy

Having Ricky actually win a mere "clubhouse" ship as a distraction to the public, along with the combination of Space Patrol heroes and a Rocky Jones villain, are brilliant embellishments.

And this picture of you at the helm during the return trip is just perfect.

https://i.imgur.com/uQJq4Mo.jpg

Now THAT kind of fun thinking is a big part of why I created All Sci-Fi in the first place. What a great 1950s series this would have made. Cool

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Gord Green
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PostPosted: Fri Nov 15, 2019 6:26 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

In a previous post I related the story of the DISNEYLAND MOONLINER, BUT...Did you know that there were actually FOUR incarnations of that iconic rocket? (Not counting models and paperweights!)





The original Moonliner Rocket left a legacy that is felt in three locales, more than 1,600 miles away from Tomorrowland.

Prepare for lift-off as we now explore the history of the four Moonliner Rockets!



“THE TWA and DOUGLAS MOONLINER I”



It may be hard to notice that the Moonliner towered 8 feet over Sleeping Beauty Castle, making it the tallest landmark inside Disneyland at one point! From 1955 to 1967, the 76-foot tall Moonliner rocket remained an easily recognizable and prominent feature of Tomorrowland’s skyline, just as representational as Space Mountain’s structure is today.



During it’s lifetime, the Moonliner rocket saw two sponsorships emblazoned across its fuselage - TWA (1955 - 1962) and DOUGLAS (1962 - 1967), and three different paint schemes.



Then, the iconic rocket ship was finally removed during 1967, for Disneyland’s new Tomorrowland expansion.



Still, even today most long-time Disneyland guests will remember the rocket’s first incarnation, as the TWA Moonliner.





"MOONLINER II"

During 1956, the TWA Headquarters in Kansas City received a familiar feature - a 22-foot tall duplicate of Tomorrowland’s Moonliner rocket. This served as publicity for TWA for a number of years.
But when the Disneyland sponsorship contract ended, the rocket disappeared from TWA Headquarter’s roof.

"MOONLINER III"

It was then sold to a recreational vehical manufacturing company called SpaceCraft, where it served as an icon for the Missouri business for 25 years.



The climate change and other factors soon caused the Moonliner to deteriorate at an alarming rate. A benefactor stepped in, purchasing the rocket and restoring it to it’s former glory complete with TWA logo and bold red stripes.

Currently, Tomorrowland fans can find this faithful reproduction of the iconic Moonliner on loan to the National Airline History Museum amidst other TWA relics.





If you’re into aircraft, we highly recommend you pay for the full tour and peruse their entire collection (including a Lockheed Super “G” Constellation - the craft that inspired elements of the Moonliner). Additionally, the museum’s particular Super “G” was used in filming many television shows and films.

“MOONLINER IV”

Our last portion of our tour takes us back to Kansas City’s Crossroads Arts District, at the intersection of 18th Street and Baltimore. During 2005, long-time Kansas City residents may have been surprised when a familiar TWA rocket “landed” atop the former Kansas City TWA Headquarters building.



Thanks to the Nicholson Group and el dorado inc., the building was restored, with the replica Moonliner constructed by The Bratton Corporation.



If you travel to this inner-city intersection, be sure to visit during a Sunday as you will incur less traffic and an easier time gaining a good look at our subject.



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"Fire and wind come from the sky, from the gods of the sky. But Crom is your god, Crom and he lives in the earth. Once, giants lived in the Earth, Conan. And in the darkness of chaos they took from him the enigma of steel. Crom was angered."


Last edited by Gord Green on Sat Nov 16, 2019 3:39 am; edited 2 times in total
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Gord Green
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PostPosted: Fri Nov 15, 2019 8:25 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Just as a special treat...Here's some of the original blueprints for the MOONLINER...







The original concept drawing :



As you can see, in the original concept the "theatre" was enclosed inside the actual rocket. As finaly realized it was placed inside the building with the illusion that it was inside the displayed rocket.

In any respect.....That Moonliner was freaking AWESOME!

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"Fire and wind come from the sky, from the gods of the sky. But Crom is your god, Crom and he lives in the earth. Once, giants lived in the Earth, Conan. And in the darkness of chaos they took from him the enigma of steel. Crom was angered."
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Bud Brewster
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PostPosted: Sat Nov 16, 2019 12:59 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

________________________________

All I can say, Gord, is that these last two posts of yours are mag-damn-nificent! Shocked

The pictures and the text together are like a trip to Disneyland, with a wonderful walk down Memory Lane thrown in as a bonus.

Can't thank you enough. You, sir, are a steely-eyed missile man!
Cool
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