I joined Knott’s Berry Farm in 1981 so says my resume:
1981-1985 General Services Manager: Knott’s Berry Farm, Buena Park California.
Responsible for Safety, First Aid, Fire Station, Warehousing, Purchasing, Printing, and Telephone System. Supervised approximately 70 employees. President, Knott’s Management Association and Knott’s Toast Masters. Participated in committees in safety, emergency preparedness, Camp Snoopy development, and telephone system replacement.
I don’t remember the day or month but it was probably in June of that year as I remember working during the summer, taking off the last weeks in August to take our family to Europe—another story. I hired in as Safety Manager or some sort of title and my office was in First Aid. It was stuck back in the middle of the building with a door into security in one wall, a door into first aid in the opposite wall and no windows—an underwhelming hallway. Ginger, the head nurse was a wonderful lady, a bit paranoid and not healthy but she knew the ropes.
I had met Steve Knott at a safety conference and he, no doubt, vouched for me as I interviewed for the job. I left Magic Mountain with a 10-year pin snuck in by a friend in personnel because I was a few days short of working for the mountain a full ten years. I learned the ropes on the farm and eventually was “awarded” other departments as management changed from the Knott family to a more conventional CEO pyramid. Terry Van Gorder became the CEO, Larry Frack head of maintenance and Joe Meck head of amusements and entertainment. They, as I, had left the mountain when it was bought by Six Flags-another story.
I graduated to Walter Knott’s (he had recently died-which is another story) bedroom for an office and I remember when one of the painters came in and presented me with this silk-screened picture almost 4 feet in height. I was thrilled that they thought enough to do this. As the days went by copies of the picture were all over the “back stage” areas of the farm to promote safety to our employees. What a blast! Yes, my hair was sort of receding brown and my mustache was brown. The mustache made me look older until it made me look older as it started turning grey and my hair was too (I eliminated the mustache but kept the receding hair—it is white now as I am writing this 30 plus years later).
I could tell you many stories about safety at Knotts-a 24/7 job with Christmas day off since the park was closed. I worked regular hours with lots of call-ins. The first week I was called, “someone died in the Steak House and the steam train blew up;” a natural death and a hose broke, fortunately, when the train was behind ‘Knotts Berry Tales” so no one was exposed to the steam. Once the elevator on the parachute tower stuck half way up (or down) on a Sunday afternoon. The head gardener cut a finger off in a hedge trimmer when I was vacationing at McGrath beach-a park ranger came and found me. Once the Haunted Shack was “fogged” during Halloween Haunt at midnight. Another story.
Safety was a serious responsibility—Captain Safe T. Fritz to the rescue!