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MMD > Archives > April 2007 > 2007.04.09 > 03Prev  Next

Ross R. Davis & Disneyland Carousel
By Matthew Caulfield

Hello Dave,  Your note about Walt Disney and Griffith Park [070405 MMD]
brings this to mind.  Do you know that Walt and Ross R. Davis were
close friends?  I didn't know that the Disneys were Davis carousel
riders, but your note probably explains how the connection developed.

When Walt began to build Disneyland, he engaged Ross as a consultant
to locate and install the carousel at that park.  Surprisingly little
has been written about the Davis family.  Ross's granddaughter, Jeanne
C. Davis, has been planning to write a family history, but she was
sidetracked making a feature film, "The Uniform Motion of Folly."

Jeanne sent me some family pictures, along with this information:

  "Someone once showed me an article on RR (Ross Ruben Davis -- though
the family Bible lists him as Reuben Ross Davis, April 15, 1886) that
was in the Disney company magazine, an in-house publication.  That
seemed to be the most comprehensive one I've seen, but I have no idea
how to get it.

  "This is from an interview with my dad, J[ohn] O[liver] Davis, Sr.:
'Disney used to bring his children up to Griffith Park, so he wanted
a machine like ours.  Found a Dentzel in Toronto, then had to search
all over for more horses, also had to make it 4-abreast -- all jumpers
(was 3[-abreast] with outside standers). ...

  " 'Arrow Development did the engineering.  New crankshafts, platforms
were the same as 4-abreast ...  Not all [horses] were Dentzels.  Disney
had bought a batch of figures.  Dad took figures for the work we did
repairing and repainting.  Some of those were in horrible shape but we
used fiberglass, etc. to repair.  They criticized us for using
fiberglass to fix, but we were operators, not collectors. ...   We
worked on the figures.  Arrow worked on some of the figures, too.  Dad
had a good rapport with Walt; they were great friends.  He worked with
Walt.  [Walt] relied on Dad's judgment.' "

Matthew Caulfield
Irondequoit, New York

(Message sent Fri 6 Apr 2007, 15:11:33 GMT, from time zone GMT-0500.)

Key Words in Subject:  Carousel, Davis, Disneyland, R, Ross

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