Friday, February 15, 2008

Heil Avenue

The 1966 color photo above shows the approach to Heil Ave. Based on the "Brookhurst Farm Dairy" sign, I'd guess this is on Brookhurst St. in Fountain Valley. However, my information for this image (which came from the O. C. Archives) is still sketchy. As always, your insights would be appreciated.
This photo brings up a question I've been asked several times recently: How did Heil Ave get it's name?
It was named for local farmer Vernon C. Heil (see black and white photo above). The Register recently interviewed me for an article about Heil, which you can read online.
(Long pause.)... Now that you've had a chance to read the article, let me add a few details and clarify others...
  • Heil served in a variety of public capacities including as a longtime member of the Orange County Water District's Board of Directors, beginning in the late 1930s.
  • The most likely reason to name the street Heil? Simply because it ran past his property.
  • The birth dates given for Robert and William Heil were approximations.
  • I'm not a "history buff," I'm a local historian, thankyouverymuch.

This would also be a good opportunity to mention Frank J. Heil, who I think was Vernon's uncle. Frank was a brick mason from Gospel Swamp who ran unsuccessfully for the office of County Assessor in 1894. In fact, he finished last in the race, behind candidates Jacob Ross Jr. and David F. Greenleaf, and far behind the winner, incumbent Frank Vegely.
However, the three losers in that long-forgotten election each have a modern Orange County street bearing their name: Ross and Greenleaf Streets in Santa Ana, and Heil Ave in Huntington Beach and Fountain Valley.


Anonymous said...

Heil Ave seems to be a left turn only, and no street to the right. If that's Brookhurst, then the dairy could only be on the Miles Square property. ?????

Chris Jepsen said...

See why I'm sort of confused about this one? Prior to Mile Square being a park, it was a military air strip -- So either way, it doesn't make sense for the dairy to be there. I should dig out the aerial photos from 1964 and see if I can match things up.

itsnotaplace said...

unless the immediate edges of Brookhurst were not the edge of the military base. maybe they allowed a strip of commercial buildings?

or else this is not Brookhurst Street... What is the origin of the name Brookhurst? If it was a surname then the dairy might just be named after a family, not the street.

Chris Jepsen said...

No, Brookhurst was not named for a local family. If memory serves, the name came from a railroad stop which is significantly farther north than Heil. (Consult Brigandi's "Orange County Place Names From A to Z" for details.)

I'm thinking it's one of two things:

1) itsnotaplace is right that there was a commercial strip along Brookhurst at Mile Square, or

2) Brookhurst Farm Dairy was a chain, in which case this could be some other street entirely.

Like I said, hopefully we can sort this out with some aerial photos.

itsnotaplace said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
itsnotaplace said...

I found a website that has aerial photos of Mile Square park/air field... but nothing wide enough to see brookhurst.

Orange County Airfields

I emailed him to see if he has any wider shots that might show brookhurst and heil.

Chris Jepsen said...

I've got access to old aerial photos at the Archives, so I'll check sometime this week.

As a further hint, George emailed this to me: "If the dairy was a chain, I was thinking about Heil / Bolsa Chica. (Assuming Heil was actually up where the 76 station is and not the next turn out lane after the sign.)"


itsnotaplace said...

considering that this is maybe NOT Brookhurst... the HEIL AVE sign in the middle of the street actually reminds me of Beach Blvd. There are a few signs like this along beach in a few places. Could this also be Beach and Heil?

just another guess until a map matches something.

in the original photo is there any indication of a street name sign at that little street past the dairy?

Chris Jepsen said...

To answer itsnotaplace's question about the origins of the street name Brookhurst, let us consult Phil Brigandi's book, _Orange County Place Names A to Z_,...

Phil writes that "Brookhurst" was originally the name of a "freight station on the Southern Pacific's Santa Ana Branch at what became Brookhurst Avenue in Anaheim. Built in 1886, the station was removed in 1935."

I'm not sure that clarifies our mystery photo at all, but it's interesting.

J. Scoto said...

Chris, What a surprise this was our drive in dairy located on the corner of harbor and heil. We were in business for only a few years 1960-1963 at only one location. I have been looking for pictures of the drive-in. I saved this one. do you have any more?

itsnotaplace said...

Wow! that is great that it was your business, J. Scoto. I suppose then that you could tell us why it was called "Brookhurst Dairy"... was it in any way related to Brookhurst Street, or was the name from somewhere else?

J. Scoto said...

The name brookhurst farms came from our dairy that supplied the milk. The dairy was located on the corner of Brookhurst and Hazard in Santa Ana, We moved the dairy in 1963 to merced,CA