Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Blue Skies Smiling at Me!

A vintage view of Blue Skies Trailer Village - Rancho Mirage, CA

Are you sick of our desert posts yet?  Neither am I.   If you are a stinker (among a small minority to be sure) and you are a little tired of all the wacky tacky bounty that the Southern California desert has to offer, trust me, we're almost done.  

Rocky the Rock Jockey says,
"Welcome to Blue Skies."

Part of our recent trip was a reconnaissance mission to Blue Skies Trailer Village in Rancho Mirage.  Blue Skies Trailer Village is a private mobile home park founded by Bing Crosby in the mid-1950's.  Original investors included many Hollywood stars including Phil Harris & Alice Faye, Jack Benny, and Claudette Colbert.  I guess none of these stars really lived at Blue Skies, but the history is there and the park is worth the visit. 

Phil and Bing making hot cakes for the opening day festivities.

Since it's November 5, 1955 opening, Blue Skies has lived a pretty uneventful life as a regular, old mobile home park with relatively-low security.  But you know we wouldn't bring you just a boring, old mobile home park.  There just has to be something wacky tacky!


Several years ago while visiting the desert, I was bound and determined to get into the impenetrable fortress known as Blue Skies.  I parked outside and walked up to the pedestrian gate and found that it was as easy as reaching through the gate, running my key between the gate and the post, depressing the latch, and letting my self in.  High on my MacGyver-level skills, I walked into the park earnestly searching for the secrets of Bing's old stomping grounds.


This time, the management, somehow alerted to our arrival, had installed protective, metal plates on both sides of the gate thus preventing our stealthy entry to the park.  Thank goodness for the kindness of landscapers who saw us trying to trespass and entered the gate code.  There is no shame in easy access.




Blue Skies was built around Starlight Circle and a spacious, central, putting green complete with water feature.  One of the highlights of the park is the street signs; every street is named after one of the original investors.  I am not sure of the exact changes the park has lived through over the years but currently there are fewer streets resulting in fewer star tributes than the park initially offered.






One change is glaringly obvious.  Blue Skies is home to ONE parking meter.
Originally, the meter was given pride of place on Jack Benny Rd. as a tribute to his miserly ways.
Benny took a cue from Monopoly and charged a fee for stopping on his street. 

Betty Bacall and George Burns & Gracie Allen grudgingly feeding Jack Benny's meter.

Many of the original spaces were filled by travel trailers.  Over the years, more traditional-style mobile homes planted roots.  It may seem weird, but I love mobile homes.  I attribute it in part to the fact that my paternal grandparents lived in a mobile home park for a short time and they made a beautiful home no matter where they lived.  To me, however, there is something especially old-timey and neighborly about parks like Blue Skies.  Here are a few of the mobile homes for which we developed a fondness.






Clearly, great minds think alike and Jane Wyman
had a fondness for mobile homes as well.


And now for the really good stuff!  Part of Blue Skies' unique charm is found in the themed homes that dot its landscape.  It is my understanding that there is a waiting list to get into the these homes.  As morbid as it seems, the "waiting list" in a 55+ park means waiting for the previous owner to move on to that great mobile home park in the sky.

The Egyptian Temple

When in Egypt...

The most impressive of all is the Asian-themed home.

Pan-Asian details abound and the perimeter is enclosed by a decorative, block wall.

It seems the details including the red, torii gate are mostly Japanese in influence.


A newer addition to the party is the Polynesian Palace

Palms, a thatched roof, and bamboo screens add to the south seas allure.
Sadly, the themed homes seem to be dwindling in number as new residents mainstream their airstreams.  Since my last visit, at least two of the once-themed homes have disappeared or have been stripped of their wacky tacky details.  I was a little steamed by this so we went to cool off at the pool.


Phil & Alice preserving life.

Bill Holden and friends enjoying
 the sunny, poolside weather.


As I mentioned before, the landscapers let us in but we were on our own to get out!
Blue Skies is a particularly-sleepy, little park and we couldn't even find a car to follow out.
Eventually, we found a hidden gate that was unlocked and made our not-so-subtle get away.

Coincidentally, the only blue skies we saw that day were directly above
Bing's Blue Skies.  I think he was looking down on us - disappointedly.

Listen to Der Bingle croon
Blue Skies (1946)

It may seem like just another senior citizen trailer park, but to wacky tacky, it is a piece of Hollywood history and we were happy walking in Bing's footsteps (minus the bag of oranges)!

Where's my two dollars?



Cheers!

Mr. Tiny

7 comments:

  1. You always make it seem so interesting. Love your blog

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  2. Mark in Rancho MirageJune 7, 2012 at 2:31 PM

    We live near-by, and drive pass it all the time, but have never been in. We do live very near Groucho's old place, (still says Marx on the mailbox), Harpo's big estate, Red Skelton's, and the piece de resistance', the Sinatra compound. Easier to get into Fort Knox than his place.

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  3. Just found your website today. My grandmother purchased a home in this community back in the early 1970's and the family still has it. I love the way the community keeps the park up. If you ever wanna come back and take more pictures I will share the gate code with you. Haha. Shhhh. Nice portrayal of the park. Jerry

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  4. Wonderful effort! Gives all of us residents a sense of pride to live here! #145, Linda Athey, Realtor Lic# 01511859, Capitis Real Estate, Proud to be at your service in Blue Skies Senior Village. 760-799-6603

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  5. What great looking houses.

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  6. My grandmother,Lorayne Brox of the singing Brox Sisters, friend of Frank Sinatra, lived in Blue Skies in the mid-50s. I remember visiting her there.

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