According to the memories of the late Major L. Roy Smillie of the 2nd Ordinance Battalion at Camp Santa Ana, California during World War II, the building of Annadorf stated in summer of 1943 and was completed in fall of that same year. This site, along with another in the Angeles Forest, was selected for training purposes after the Battalion was sent out to find such an area. But, the site at Big John Flat offered a different type of possibility than the other camp; room to build a complete village to conduct hands-on warfare in an environment similar to the European theater across seas. Brigadier General Bethel W. Simpson appointed Major Smille to make it happen: make a small village into what is called today as a “Hogan’s Alley,” outfitted with booby traps, buildings used for forced entry exercises and on-the -run target shooting...on both stationary and moving targets. Oh, and a bomb planted here and there would be nice, too. Thank you very much. The Major started to work, and to run the unique creation the mock German village was Sgt. Arto Monaco of the Army Signal Corp.
-Cinderella’s (Disney’s) Castle at Disneyland, one of Arto Monaco’s designs-
Arto Monaco was born in Au Sable Forks, upper state New York, in 1913 and also seemed to dabble in art...something that caught many people’s attention. Despite his lack of formal training or even a high school diploma, Arto entered Pratt Art School in New York, under the encouragement of famous artist Rockwell Kent He was prepared to make the most of it.
Arto brought confidence and a thirst for new experiences, traits his father, Louis Monaco, cultivated in him. Through family connection, and Mr. Kent, Arto Monaco met film director Lewis Milestone and writer Donald Ogden Stewart...soon Arto Monaco was in California, applying his artful trade at MGM, Warner’s and Paramount (1941). He even worked for Walt Disney, where he designed and built Cinderella’s Castle at Disneyland (1953).
It was 1941 and war was coming. It was inevitable that the Untied States would become involved with World War II. Arto Monaco joined up and found himself at the Aberdeen Training Center , in Maryland ..“I feel embarrassed sometimes,” Monaco says, “when I think how most soldiers lived. I knew there were a lot of fellows overseas fighting. I was lucky.”
-Above photo- First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt visits the Aberdeen Training Center during World War 2. On the board behind the seated service men are 3D displays of artillery. This display was the first of its kind...and many others followed afterward. They effectively showed how each piece of weaponry and each piece of military equipment worked, how it can be used and how it can be repaired. To this day, this effective training tool is used in most trade schools and colleges. It was the brainchild of Arto Monaco and the rest of his unit during the 1940s-
Arto Monaco beginnings in his incredible role in the service started innocent enough. One morning an officer asked if anybody could paint signs. Monaco raised his hand. What was needed, it turned out, was a notice that said “Don’t throw cigarette butts in the urinal.” After carefully lettering that important message, Monaco made a name plate for the sergeant’s desk. The next thing he knew, he was on his way to see Lieutenant Churchill. “There’s a war coming,” the lieutenant explained, “and we’re sure as hell going to get into it. We’re going to need to train a lot of men. Isn’t there a way to make a chart of, say, a pistol, so we can train a hundred men at once rather than twenty-five?”
Monaco saw immediately that Churchill was right. He recruited a childhood friend, and soon he took charge of an interesting training division. Arto Monaco found some wrapping paper and black paint, and got to work. “There was no such thing as an art department,” he remembered, “no supplies, no place to work, no allocations.” In an empty barracks, on picnic tables, they began making charts of everything. Monaco’s officers were pleased, and soon their group grew to three, then four men. Having no budget, the crew scrounged wrapping paper and tape from Baltimore department stores, telling the clerks to charge the order to the Army. Their general was sympathetic, but he couldn’t single-handedly allocate money.