Monday, June 30, 2008

Fountain Valley in the 1960s

Today I'm posting three photos of a very rural Fountain Valley in the 1960s. The first photo (top) is a view looking north up Brookhurst St from Garfield Ave in July 1965. Note the movie screen for the Fountain Valley Drive-In on the horizon. The second photo looks westward along Talbert Ave from the Santa Ana River bridge in 1962. The final image is an eastward view along Talbert Ave from an unspecified point in the Fountain Valley area.
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This is the 44th anniversary of the Fountain Valley Fire Department. Their first Fire Chief was H.C. Mickey Lawson.
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Although the name "Fountain Valley" was used to describe this area as early as the mid-1870s, the town was known for many decades as Talbert. However, "Fountain Valley" was selected as the city's name when it incorporated in 1957. (I'm sure I'll post more about Talbert/Fountain Valley at some point in the future.)

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Orange Coast College and El Toro events

The Orange County Library Association's current newsletter features a little history on the Orange Coast College Library. Their new library (opened in February) replaced the Norman E. Watson Library, which closed over five years ago. The article continues,...

"In 1948, OCC's first Library was a converted Santa Ana Army Air Base barracks building. The second library, which opened in 1951, was the graceful clock-tower building that still sits in the quad today. [See photo above.] Later it was the Admissions, Records and Counseling Building, and currently serves as a “surge” structure for campus construction projects.

In 1969, OCC opened its third library facility. The four-story Norman E. Watson Library, located north of the college’s Student Center, closed in 2000. It underwent an extended renovation process and reopened last fall as the Norman E. Watson Enrollment Center.

In 2000, OCC’s library was "temporarily” relocated to a 25,000 square foot facility, consisting of 32 interlocking portable structures, and situated on the northern perimeter of the campus and west of LeBard Stadium. OCC’s fifth and most current library is located on the opposite side of the campus, next to the Arts Center and Doyle Arts Pavilion."

For my money, the clock tower building shown in today's photo is still the most attractive of the library's many incarnations.
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Bonnie Bennett Hendrie will discuss the history of the Bennett family at Sunday's meeting of the Saddleback Area Historical Society. The meeting will be held at 2pm tomorrow, at the Heritage Hill Historical Park, 25151 Serrano Rd. in what the carpetbaggers call Lake Forest.
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The Amigos de la Colina, the docent group for the Heritage Hill Historical Park in El Toro, celebrated their 25th anniversary on June 21st.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Jane Newell, Anaheim High and flying elephants

Today's photo comes from the Library of Congress, and shows Anaheim High School circa 1915.
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Jane Newell and her wonderful Anaheim Heritage Reading Room are the subject of a full-page article in the O.C. edition of the new issue of Westways magazine. We already knew that Jane rocks, but now a few more people know it too.
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And speaking of Anaheim, Marshall Duell sent me this blurb from a recent "fact sheet" from the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History:
"When the Museum [of American History] reopens, the east and west wings of all three exhibition floors will be anchored by a landmark object—a large, compelling artifact that will highlight the theme of that wing. The landmark object for the third floor west wing will be a car from the Dumbo the Flying Elephant ride, which reflects the blend of imagination, technology and business acumen that makes up American entertainment.

"The Dumbo the Flying Elephant ride is an original Disneyland attraction from 1955 ...The Dumbo car was donated to the National Museum of American History on June 9, 2005, on the occasion of Disneyland’s 50th anniversary."

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Sheriff Sandra Hutchens

Usually one digs for history. But sometimes you get to witness it first-hand. On Tuesday, a crowd of over 1,000 people (including me,) saw Orange County's first woman Sheriff, Sandra Hutchens, sworn into office. The ceremony took place on the steps of the Old Orange County Courthouse in Santa Ana.
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Today's first photo (top) shows Hutchens being sworn-in on a bible held by her husband, Larry. The second photo shows a few of the innumerable dignitaries who attended -- On the right is former O.C. Supervisor (and current Assemblyman) Todd Spitzer, and on the left (with red hair and sunglasses) is Harriett M. Weider, who was O.C.'s first woman Supervisor.
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Sheriff Hutchens - our 12th Sheriff - began her speech by invoking local history,...

"...On the website for the Orange County Sheriff’s Department, there is a section titled 'History.' Taken from the book A Century of Service: A History of the Orange County Sheriff’s Department, written by Pamela Hallan-Gibson, this section describes the lawlessness that existed through the 1870s in Southern California, well after California became a State in 1850. When Orange County was formed in 1889, the author noted that,... 'its citizens had a sheriff, directly responsible to them, and a new set of institutions right in their own backyard.'

"'Directly responsible to them.'

"Those words have tremendous meaning.

"For 119 years, the people of this County have relied upon the knowledge that their Sheriff, directly responsible to them, led an honorable force of men and women to undertake the task of maintaining law and order among us all. We have made tremendous strides over the history of Orange County to become one of the finest and safest places in the world to raise a family, start a business, and to stake a claim in the American Dream..."

The full text and video of the speech are available on the Sheriff's Dept blog. The Register also posted a video including a variety of interviews, as well as an article about the event.

The City of Cypress turns 52

On this day, in 1956, the community of Cypress voted to incorporate as a city. The measure passed by 217 to 73. Although it was initially named Dairy City, that name didn't last long.
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Today's first photo (top) shows Hall's Grocery on Walker St (near N. Vonnie Ln,) in Cypress in the 1950s. The second photo was taken at roughly the same time and shows N. Danny St in Cypress.
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Sorry I haven't been updating much this week. Things are a little busy here, but should get back to something resembling normal soon. I hope.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Garden Grove, Huntington Beach, Chris Epting, etc

Today's photo shows the First National Bank of Garden Grove one day after the big earthquake of March 10, 1933. Different areas of Orange County were effected by the quake to different degrees. Downtown Garden Grove sustained a lot of damage.
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Chris Epting's new "Huntington Beach: Then and Now" photo book from Arcadia Publishing made it's debut today. He'll be signing copies at Barnes & Noble at Huntington Center (a.k.a. "Bella Terra") on July 5, 1-3pm.
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I guess Sunday's 45th anniversary event for the Enchanted Tiki Room was completely crazy. I was sorry I missed it until I heard about 7-hour waits just to get into the Disneyana shop. (And they didn't even announce in advance that Bob Gurr was going to be there -- always a popular guy and a big draw.) Maybe Disney should take this as a hint and have regular tiki-related events. There are clearly more than a few fans of 1960s Polynesian Pop here in O.C.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

The Enchanted Tiki Room's 45th anniversary

Monday (June 23) will be the 45th anniversary of the Enchanted Tiki Room at Disneyland. This attraction is an important piece of theme park history: It proved that believable audio-animatronic characters were not only possible, but could keep audiences entertained again and again. (Click here for a short video about the Tiki Room.)
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Today's photos show Walt Disney's photo-op from the Enchanted Tiki Room's opening day. More photos from this series can be found on Daveland.
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Disneyland will mark the anniversary a day early with a special merchandise event tomorrow (Sunday), 8am-11am,on Main Street, U.S.A. As you might expect, artists Kevin Kidney and Jody Daily have created some uber-cool items for this event.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Knott's Bear-y Tales, Fr Junipero Serra & OC BK

Someone asked for a post on "Knott's Bear-y Tales," so here it is! This attraction opened at Knott's Berry Farm in Buena Park in 1975 and was designed by Imagineer Rolly Crump. It closed in 1986 and was replaced by the (now also defunct) "Kingdom of the Dinosaurs" ride. I remember that the jungle/dinosaur scene that replaced the "Bear-y Tales" jam factory scene (2nd photo, above) continued to smell like boysenberries for at least a year or two. (For the record, the bears in the first two photos are named Boysenbeary and Girlsenbeary. I'll let you guess which is which.)
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"A letter written by Father Junipero Serra in 1776 declaring the foundation of Mission San Juan Capistrano was sold to an anonymous Southern California bidder for $310,000," according to an article in the O.C. Register. The Mission's own foundation was outbid for the letter and is hoping the buyer will allow it to be displayed at the Mission.
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Those interested in our not-so-distant past may want to watch this collection of mid-1990s national news reports about Orange County's bankruptcy. It features a number of faces we haven't seen in a while, including Robert Citron, Sheriff Brad Gates, Supervisors Tom Riley and Roger Stanton, and the L.A. Rams (of Anaheim).

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Newland House (1898), Huntington Beach

[This is my first entry for the National Trust for Historic Preservation's "This Place Matters" program. I started with the Newland House (19820 Beach Blvd) simply because it was close to home. Thanks again to Diann Marsh for making my life easier with her wonderful book, Huntington Beach: The Gem of the South Coast.]
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When William T. and Mary Juanita Newland built this house in 1898, there were no other homes in the area. Few thought this coastal region’s marshy peatlands would support agriculture. But the Newlands found ways to drain the excess water and uproot the willow trees that covered the rich soil. Soon, they had a successful 520-acre ranch. Celery and sugar beets were key crops for the Newlands, although they also grew chili peppers and lima beans. Their success opened the door to many other farmers who chose to settle in what would soon be known as the Huntington Beach area.
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This two-story, nine-room, redwood-framed Victorian house was built Dawes & Kuechel of Santa Ana. It stands on a bluff overlooking the Santa Ana River delta, and has views of both the Pacific Ocean and the Santa Ana Mountains. Because there were originally no roads in the area, Mr. Newland hauled the lumber along the beach all the way from McFadden’s Wharf in Newport Beach with a horse-drawn wagon. The cement foundation is made of gravel that he hauled up from the beach.
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Already a local pioneer, William Newland went on to play a critical role in the founding of the City of Huntington Beach. He was a stockholder in the West Coast Land & Water Co., which organized Pacific City (the original name of Huntington Beach) and sold the first lots. He also helped establish the town’s first newspaper, the First National Bank, the Methodist Church, and the Huntington Beach Canning Company. He also served on the South Coast Improvement District, the Board of Trade, and the School Board. Mary Newland also served on the School Board and founded the town’s first P.T.A.
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The Newlands also made a major contribution in lobbying railroad magnate Henry Huntington to bring his Pacific Electric Railroad “red cars” to the area – a move that launched the local tourism industry and put Huntington Beach on the map.
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William Newland died in 1933. Mary continued to live in their home until her death in 1952. Ten Newland children had been raised in the house, but none chose to live there after their mother’s death. For the following two decades, employees of the Signal Oil Co. lived in the house.
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In 1972, the Huntington Beach Historical Society was re-activated by the H.B. Junior Women’s Club for the purpose of restoring and preserving the badly-neglected Newland House. Over 200 city residents volunteered their time and talents to return the city’s oldest house from the brink. Today, the house is available to the public as a museum, depicting life in the earliest years of our community. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1985.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Old Orange County Courthouse, preservation, etc.

These "before and after" images (click to enlarge) show the east entrance to the Old Orange County Courthouse in Santa Ana. I took the photo on the right yesterday. The photo on the left was taken during the building's construction, in 1901. Note the mules passing through the threshold. Temporary earthen ramps were built to allow the mules to drag building materials to upper floors. The courthouse was completed in the fall of 1901. The Temecula granite and Arizona sandstone facade has held up very well considering all it's experienced over the past 107 years (including a major earthquake in 1933).
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Thanks to the preservation evangelism of Guy Ball, four Orange County historic structures have been inducted into the National Trust for Historic Places' "This Place Matters" program. All four are in Santa Ana. They are the Old Orange County Courthouse, the Spurgeon Building, the Kellogg House, and the Howe-Waffle House. Click here to see the entries. The National Trust's website explains how you can add historic buildings from your area to this national listing.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Johnnie Martin on early O.C. aviation

The Eddie Martin Airport - predecessor to Orange County/John Wayne Airport - is seen in the photo above in the 1930s. It was located just north of the current airport, off Main Street. The inset photo shows Johnnie Martin in 1924. While Eddie is the best remembered of the Martin brothers, both Johnnie and Floyd Martin also played important roles in the development of local aviation, Martin Aviation, and the airfield that eventually evolved into today’s John Wayne Airport.
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I recently stumbled across the transcripts of a 1971 interview with John Wesley “Johnnie” Martin, Jr. (1898-1977), and I’m posting a few interesting excerpts here.

“Well, this all goes back a long, long time, to 1919. [T.C.] “Tinny” Peterson and Jack Colvin got together enough money to buy a J1 Standard. They bought it on time and flew it to Santa Ana. They were flying it out of a field on the end of West 4th St…

“Eddie, being the rich one in the family, gave Peterson $100 and he was going to teach Eddie to fly. He took five hours flight instruction from him. Tinny Peterson had been a WWI pilot and I considered him, at that time, to be one of the finest pilots we had known. Eddie was ready to solo in three hours, but they couldn’t solo anyone, as their plane was on a contract. However, it wasn’t long before their plane cracked up due to high wind. This happened up north somewhere and meant a temporary end to flying in Orange County…

“Two years later, in 1921, Eddie and I started a flight school… That was aviation’s second start in Orange County…

“When a student came out to take up flying, the first thing we did was sit them down and talk to him for a while, then try to sell him a helmet and goggles. If he had enough money to buy them, we would then tell him how great he looked in them, then send him on his way to tell his girlfriend he was flying. And that guy would rob a bank in order to keep on flying. We had to have a gimmick, but it worked out well. That’s the reason we have a Martin Aviation today.”

You can tell these guys sold cars when they weren't flying, can't you?
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Much of the rest of the interview is recounted in Vi Smith’s book, From Jennies to Jets: An Aviation History of Orange County.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Orange, Art Hansen, COPH, Knott's & Pink Floyd

On this day, 121 years ago (1887), the town of Orange had its first "Grand Auction Sale" of town lots. Seventy-five lots and five acre tracts were for sale. Today's image is a detail of a larger bird's-eye view of Orange as it appeared in 1886. For the entire illustration (in much higher resolution) click on the image above.
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I need to catch up on some old news from CSUF's Center for Oral & Public History (COPH). For starters, Art Hansen retired from teaching last month (after 42 years), and also stepped down as COPH's director. Natalie Fousekis will begin as the new director in August. Cora Granata will be associate director, and Ben Cawthra and Ray Rast will be associate directors.
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This week, my continuing search for vintage O.C. video on YouTube turned up footage of Knott's Berry Farm's now-defunct Kingdom of the Dinosaurs. This dark ride opened in 1987, replacing the Rolly-Crump-designed Knott's Bear-y Tales. It closed in 2004. This ride-through footage comes from 2001. (Am I the only one who thought the music - especially in the Ice Age areas - sounded like Pink Floyd's "Terminal Frost"?)

Sunday, June 15, 2008

The Irvine Park Boathouse

Today I'm posting "today and yesterday" photos of the old boathouse and pond at Irvine Park. The Irvines gave the park to the County in 1897, but the boathouse was not built until 1914. The black and white photo above shows the boathouse when it was fairly new. It is now the oldest structure in the park.
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The original redwood boats were retired in 1985. Historian Jim Sleeper refers to the aquacycles that replaced them as "plastic abominations." (For a great history of the park, find yourself a copy of Sleeper's Bears to Briquets: A centennial keepsake : Irvine Park, 1897-1997.
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Speaking of Irvine Park, today is the 108th anniversary of the opening of the park's old dance pavilion.
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Notice that the older of today's photos is marked "Orange County Park." It was renamed "Irvine Park" in 1928.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Anaheim, 1958, water, Japanese Village & Orange

I took these photos as last night's Anaheim Historical Society Annual Dinner at the Linbrook Bowl (which turns 50 this summer!) It was a great event with some wonderful people. And speaking of wonderful, check out Jane Newell's 1958 ensemble! (She was the featured speaker for the evening.)
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The O.C. Agricultural & Nikkei Heritage Museum and the Placentia Historical Committee will hold a special program together on June 22. The subject will be the history of water in Orange County. Carl Nelson of the American Society of Civil Engineers (and former director of Orange County Public Works will be the featured speaker. Contact the museum for more information.
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Viewliner Ltd has posted some great photos of Buena Park's Japanese Village & Deer Park from 1968. He's also posted a wonderful 1958 aerial photo of Disneyland.
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After a long rehab (and just in time for summer), the old Orange Plunge reopened in Hart Park today.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Jungle Cruise, Disneyland & Villa Park Elementary

Warren Asa was one of the first Jungle Cruise skippers when Disneyland opened in 1955. In an interview with CSUF graduate student Mark Wenger (for the Center for Oral & Public History's 10th Mountain Division Oral History Project,) Asa made some brief but interesting comments about his time at the park:
"...Disneyland was fun the first year, because they weren’t really very well organized and we did a lot of things that were a little bit off the record. For example, we had an employee card that said we were a justified employee, and we could stay and ride the rides after hours, although they weren’t real keen on that. So, you would meet a girl during the day that worked in Disneyland, and you’d say, 'Hey, you want to dance a little bit this evening?' 'Sure,' she would say. So, you’d meet her after work and you’d go dancing, and we’d get a snack, maybe take in something we haven’t seen before, or some new ride, or some new exhibit, and so forth. And it was fun. On the jungle boats, we picked our own costumes and made up our own spiel. We all had really crazy spiels. One thing I did that was totally ridiculous, we’d be coming towards the waterfall and I would say, 'Oh my gosh the steering wheel’s come lose. We better get out of here.' And I’d start to jump on one of the islands. Well, half the boat was ready to jump with me. So, I put the steering wheel back on. We didn’t steer anyway. They [the boats] are on rails."
Today's photo shows the Jungle Cruise in 1955 - the year Disneyland opened. It comes from the Disney & More blog. (Special thanks to Stephanie George for alerting me to Asa's quote.)
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Jason Schultz (of the ever-informative Disneyland Nomenclature) has weighed in with the first review I've seen of Chris Strodder's new Disneyland Encyclopedia. Jason freely admits his biases and points out that he's working on a similarly themed book. But it's interesting to get a sneak preview of a book that might be worth having on the shelf.
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The Orange Unified School District voted last week to delay a decision on whether to demolish the only historic structures in the City of Villa Park: The two buildings that make up the old Villa Park Elementary School. The vote came in the wake of the County's offer of $100,000 in matching funds to help either salvage or mothball the buildings. You can read the rest of the story in the Register.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

There's a new sheriff in town

The photo above shows Sheriff Theo Lacy's family and a few others standing outside the old Orange County Jail. The "footprint" of the jail can be found today in the parking lot behind the Old Orange County Courthouse in Santa Ana. I'm guessing this photo was probably taken around 1899. (The inset photo is a close-up detail from the same image. Click to embigulate.)
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Today, the Orange County Board of Supervisors appointed Sandra Hutchens as Orange County's 12th sheriff. This is the first time our sheriff has been appointed (rather than elected), as well as the first time we've had a woman as sheriff.
The Board's voting procedure was unusual too. The Register's Peggy Lowe wrote:
"In an odd move, [Supervisor Janet] Nguyen asked for a vote on paper, perhaps as a way to pose a secret ballot. But county lawyers stepped in and said secret ballots are forbidden. So the supervisors wrote their choices on a slip of paper, the clerk placed those in a coffee cup, and they were then read aloud. "
.I also received this background information from a local historian friend:
"Until 1975, when Jim Musick retired undefeated, every Orange County Sheriff... was defeated at the polls. In 1974, Sheriff Musick's endorsed choice for Sheriff, Brad Gates, was elected and served until he voluntarily stepped aside in 1998, when Mike Carona bested Paul Walters to become Sheriff. When Carona resigned, he became the first Orange County Sheriff not to serve out his term."
.For a list of past O.C. Sheriffs, follow this link to the Orange County Archives website.

Monday, June 09, 2008

Katie Wheeler Library, St. Andrew's, etc.

I already posted some exterior photos of the new Katie Wheeler Branch Library (OCPL) thanks to Glenn Frank. But I finally got out to Irvine to take a look for myself, and thought I'd also post a couple of my own photos. The place is quite impressive.
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In addition to the library's exterior, which is an exact replica of the original Irvine Ranch House, a few interior details also mimic the old place - including the stairwell and several fireplaces. The painting over the main mantel (see inset image) is the only original artifact from the house to be transferred to the library. The painting depicts Harvey M. Rice (1800-1891), an Ohio State Senator, and the father of Nettie Rice Irvine.
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The library also features a small display courtesy The Irvine Company, depicting the original ranch house before, during and after the 1965 fire that destroyed it. There's even a monitor showing old film footage of firemen fighting the blaze. Considering the library's space limitations, it's nicely executed.
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As you may have noticed, I've been looking for Orange County historical items on YouTube lately. Among the videos I've stumbled across is this brief history of the first 40 years of St. Andrew's By-the-Sea United Methodist Church in San Clemente.
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Don't forget: Thursday evening is the Orange County Historical Society's June (election) meeting, and Friday is the Anaheim Historical Society's annual dinner.

Saturday, June 07, 2008

Dana Point, Sam's Seafood & Buena Park

Today's image shows Dana Point in about 1927. Although development began in the 1920s, Dana Point did not incorporate as a city until 20 years ago. Residents voted to become a city on June 7, 1988, with a vote of 6,948 to 1,818.
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There's good news about Sam's Seafood (recently renamed Kona) in Sunset Beach. Co-owner Chuck Purrington writes, "The landlord... has shelved his plans to develop the site! We are moving onward and upward! I will be introducing Tiki Sundays at KONA beginning Fathers Day the 15th with The Smoking Menehunes playing live... The Tikiyaki Orchestra is also booked for Friday, July 11 and Friday, July 25th." Although it's been tweaked a bit since it re-opened, Sam's/Kona can still claim the title as the last surviving Polynesian-style restaurant (and/or bar) in Orange County. In other words, outside the Enchanted Tiki Room, this is the last authentic place in O.C. to get your Mid-Century tiki fix. Show your support by stopping in and asking to have your mai tai served in a tiki mug.
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Someone posted footage to YouTube of the historic Whitaker-Jaynes Estate and the Bacon House. Both homes are located at the Buena Park Historical Society's "historical petting zoo," just off Beach Blvd.

Friday, June 06, 2008

Disneyland, Fox Fullerton, Costa Mesa, etc.

Here are two more early 1970s Disneyland photos from the collection of my old pal Mike Tucker. The first is from the Swiss Family Robinson Treehouse, and the second is from Main Street U.S.A.
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The Fox Fullerton Theatre restoration/preservation folks are holding a "work party" on June 21 and also a big gala fundraiser called "Hollywood in Fullerton" on June 21 at 7pm. So whether you're a jeans person or a formal person, they've got an event for you.
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The Costa Mesa Historical Society's speaker on June 29 will be Phil Brigandi, talking about his most recent book, Orange County Place Names, A to Z.
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The mark their 30th anniversary, the Diocese of Orange has issued a book about their history entitled, Learning, Loving Living Our Faith. From what I've heard, it's a bit like Disney's Disneyland: Then, Now & Forever, in that it's definitely the company line, but still includes some good stuff. Copies are available for $25 through local parishes.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

The hanging tree, continued...

Today, I'm continuing yesterday's topic of the old hanging tree. The top photo comes from the Santa Ana Daily Evening Register in 1920. The caption read, "Here is a picture of the sycamore limb on which Gen. Andreas Pico hanged two desperadoes, member of Juan Flores' gang, in 1857. The tree stands in Precito Canyon, a side-canyon of Limestone [Canyon]. In the picture beneath the limb is J.E. Pleasants, pioneer, who in 1860 helped bury the bones of the bandits."
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The second photo comes from The Westerners' Brand Book #10, and was taken in July 1930. The caption read, "Terry E. Stephenson and Wm. McPherson under the branch from which the bandits Ardillero and Catabo were hung in January 1857."
Pleasants described the scene this way:
"The bodies of the two bandits were left strung up to the sycamore for six months when some vaqueros who lived over in the Santa Ana canyon cut them down and buried what was left of them in a shallow grave at the clump of sycamores. It was two years after that that I became foreman of the Wolfskill Ranch.... Two men, named Armento and Canyero, who were working for me, told me that they had helped cut down the bandits' bodies and bury them. The coyotes had dug into the shallow grave, and the bones of the two men were scattered around on the surface of the ground. I went to the place with Armento and Canyero, and we dug a new grave about four feet deep, gathered up the bones and put them in it. My remembrance is that one of the skulls was missing."

Upon visiting the site in 1920, Pleasants noted that "The limb is several feet lower than it was sixty years ago when it was first pointed out to me by Armento and Canyero." He continued, "We put some stones around the grave, but they are all gone now."
Stephenson described it as "a spot on the north bank about fifteen or eighteen feet from the limb on which the men were hanged."

Phil Brigandi (who supplied me with most of these references) writes,
"I believe we found the tree when we were there in 1989, but that was based on old photos and a general sense of what looked right. My recollection is that the branch was quite thick -- probably 18-inches or more across -- and ran out rather straight, but as the Judge says, closer to the ground in old age. I don't think it was even tall enough to stand under when I was there.
"The best single source is probably still Don Meadows' 1963 article "Juan Flores and the Manillas" which appeared in The Westerners Brand Book #10 from the Los Angeles Corral of The Westerners."
.Phil also says he's not sure the tree is still there. But now I'm really curious to find out. However, it's in a difficult-to-access spot on private land, so who knows if I'll ever get to check it out for myself.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Hangman's tree, Anaheim Angels, old photos, etc


Thanks to Charles Beal, (friend, historian, and Senior Land Surveyor for the County of Orange,) we now know a little more about the fate (and the exact location) of the hangman's tree in Precitos Canyon, as well as the historical marker/plaque that accompanies it.
"Using some of my previous research material, burn area aerial photos for the Santiago Canyon fire, and an old 1987 photo of the plaque that was found on the Internet lead us to the area. Just west of the Eastern Transportation Corridor (30-40 feet below the road elevation) near a ravine of trees, the foliage has grown high again since last year’s Santiago Canyon fire but the plaque remains... Coordinates for the plaque location are: N33° 45' 47" W117° 44' 00".
The plaque can be seen in the photo above. It reads, "Under this tree, General Andres Pico hung two banditos of the Flores gang in 1857. Dedicated [by] El Viaje de Portola Ride, April 1967." At first, I was afraid the old tree was gone, because there isn't one immediately adjacent to the marker. But Phil Brigandi's comment gives me room for hope:
"I believe the actual tree is one of the larger ones on the left. It has (had?) a long, thick branch, parallel to the ground."

Viewliner Ltd. has posted a bunch of interesting photos from Orange County, dating from the 1960s, '70s, and early '80s. Go take a look.
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Former Angels outfielder and author Jay Johnstone will speak at the June 12 meeting of the Orange County Historical Society. He will discuss "the wacky past of Angels baseball," including the 1960s, when Gene Autry brought the team from Los Angeles to Anaheim. The meeting begins at 7:30, at Trinity Episcopal Church, 2400 N. Canal St., Orange.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Ramberg & Lowrey, O.C. Courthouse, Santa Ana

I’ve wanted to know more about the architecture firm of Ramberg & Lowrey for years, and now it seems John Elliott of the Santa Ana History Room is researching them also. Let me share what I know, and perhaps one (or more) of my brilliant readers can fill in some gaps for us.
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Ramberg & Lowrey was based in Santa Ana and worked on a number of projects throughout Orange County in the 1960s, including the Santa Ana Police Department headquarters, a nursing home in Dana Point, and the North Broadway Law Building in Santa Ana.
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Most notably, however, they teamed up with Richard Neutra to design buildings for the County of Orange, including the County Communications Center and the Central Justice Center [a.k.a. the Orange County Courthouse (1968) in Santa Ana].
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Donald Albert Ramberg was born 8-21-1919 in Fargo, North Dakota. Prior to partnering with Lowrey, he worked with A.C. Martin & Associates. Ramberg also designed the Santa Ana Elks Lodge. It appears he was still living in Southern California as recently as the 1980s.
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Robert Sidney Lowrey was born 6-18-1925 in Arkansas. He died 9-25-1989 in Los Angeles County.
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If you have any other useful information about these architects, their work, or their firm, please contact me via email or post a comment here on this blog. (Thanks to Chris Nichols for his earlier input and advice.)
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Sorry about the grainy newspaper photo above, but it's the best I have to illustrate this post. I believe it shows Ramberg and Lowrey flanking Richard Neutra (center) as they inspect plans for the Courthouse.

Monday, June 02, 2008

Landsdowne and Knott's preserves

Today's photo shows Del's Service Station and Del Georgio Store in Lansdowne, circa 1925. You can add Lansdowne to your list of Orange County communities that disappeared. It was established in the early 1920s, near the corner of Commonwealth and Magnolia St in what is now part of Fullerton. In the late 1920s the area was renamed Fuller Park. (Thanks to Phil's place names book for the details.)
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ConAgra Foods just sold the Knott's Berry Farm line of preserves to Smucker's. The plant in Placentia will close and all 90 employees will be laid off. Knott's preserves have been produced and sold in Orange County for at least 73 years, beginning with the first jars in Cordelia Knott's kitchen in Buena Park.