We headed to Buena Park, California, where we would spend a few days at Knott's Berry Farm. We rented a motel room within walking distance of Knott's and my brother Lee and I immediately walked over to Knott's. At that time Knott's was still free. The only charge was for food.
In 1958 there were no roller coasters or other rides at Knott's. They did have the train ride and the stage coach ride. There was Ghost Town, many shops and of course the famous Chicken Restaurant. There was an American Indian who would walk around the park in full Indian attire. He would pose for a photo with guests. There were several animal acts, including a horse that counted by lifting his hoof and the tapping the ground. It was a clever act, with a cowboy posing a question, such as "What is 2 + 2?". The horse would then tap his hoof four times to the ground. The questions became more difficult and the horse slowly appeared more intelligent than the audience.
Other acts included an Organ Grinder with a little monkey. One day as our family walked near the Organ Grinder and his monkey, the monkey jumped onto me and held on tightly around my neck. The Organ Grinder scolded the monkey, ordering him to let go of me. The monkey just held on tighter. The monkey was on a leash, and the Organ Grinder tried to pull him away from me. The monkey grabbed on tighter still. The monkey held on for several minutes, with the Organ Grinder at his wits end attempting to get the monkey to let go of me. The monkey finally relented, and went with the Organ Grinder. The Organ Grinder scolded him as they walked away. My reaction at the time was amusement. My Mother had told me that as a small child a Gorilla had reached through his cage and grabbed me, and I have always been an animal lover, so I just thought that the monkey liked me. Now I wonder if perhaps the animal had been neglected or abused.
One day at Knott's I spent an entire day filming the Train Robbery. Usually about once an hour they would have a performance of several cowboys robbing the train. One of the robbers would be "shot" by the Sheriff and then there would be a scene with the Mortician coming and pronouncing the robber dead, and hauling him off to be buried. It was a great show, very humorous, and large crowds would turn out to watch it. I spent one day filming the robbery from several different angles. It was my attempt a film direction, and I did fairly well, if I do say so myself.
After several great days at Knott's, our home was finally available and we were ready to go home. My only disappointment was that Rick Nelson was scheduled to play at Knott's just a few days after we left.