More from Kiddieland's grand opening:
Pat Dietlein has a most unique memory connected with Kiddieland, going back to that opening month of June 1948. The park, in cooperation with the Birmingham newspapers, held a weekly contest to name a young "King and Queen of Kiddieland." The criteria for this illustrious honor was that kids had to submit a reason why they would want to treat their favorite comic strip character to a day at Kiddieland.

Pat's choice of newsprint pal was Little Orphan Annie, whose rather rough-and-tumble life (Daddy Warbucks notwithstanding) made her a perfect candidate for a day's outing. The short poem composed by Pat was judged good enough to be the winner for either the second or third week of the contest, and Queen Pat was instructed to be at the Birmingham News office on an appointed day to have her photo taken with Orphan Annie for the paper.

Pat says that she was indescribably excited at the prospect of meeting her pupiless pal, although her mother vainly tried to head off disappointment by explaining that was impossible, since Annie was a mere comic strip creation. Between Pat and Mom, they decided that the paper would probably set them up with either a person dressed in an Annie costume or some sort of cutout figure of young Ms. Warbucks. Arriving at the office, Pat found that the reality was even worse than they imagined ... she was to have her photo taken sitting on a bench, totally alone and staring at an empty space. When the photo ran in the newspaper, the frizzle-topped moppet (Annie, not Pat) had been added to the bench via the artist's pen and ink. You will see the resulting composite photo below.

And incidentally, the boy who won the title of King of Kiddieland didn't show up to have his photo made with the character he had chosen to accompany him: prizefighter Joe Palooka. Just why Joe was considered a more appropriate Kiddieland attendee than his other newsprint companions remained unexplained.

(And, we should mention that Pat has authored a book about the Birmingham neighborhood in which she grew up, CENTRAL PARK & A BIT BEYOND. Only a few copies of it remain; you can get more ordering info by emailing Pat: Pdietlein [at] aol [dot] com.)