Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Upcoming events and the wreck at Yorba Station


I figured I'd do one more post before my weeklong break. The photo above shows the aftermath of the great train wreck of Aug. 4, 1915, at Yorba Station on the Atchison Topeak & Santa Fe Railroad. (The illustration of the accident that follows the photo comes from the L.A. Times published the following day.) A runaway tank car, carrying 10,000 gallons of oil, came down a steep siding at 60 mph, running into a passenger train heading the opposite direction at 40 mph. The tank car exploded, spraying oil over the train which was immediately engulfed in an enourmous fire. Three crewmen died and 31 passengers were seriously injured. In modern terms, the site of the wreck would be along Orangethorpe Ave., between the Atwood area and Imperial Highway.
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The next Orange County Historical Society meeting will be held Thurs., Sept. 11, 6:30-9:00pm, at the Sherman Library & Gardens, 2647 E. PCH, in Corona del Mar. Iris Cummings Critchell will discuss her experiences as an aviatrix in Orange County from the 1930s to the 21st Century. The event will include a dessert and appetizer potluck, so bring a dessert for six, ready to serve.
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California State Parks' Senior State Archaeologist, Richard Fitzgerald, will speak at the Bolsa Chica Land Trust on Thurs., Oct 2, 7pm, at the Huntington Beach Public Library, 7111 Talbert Ave, Room C/D. He will discuss archaeological sites of Bolsa Chica, (in Huntington Beach,) including ORA-83. The event is free. For more information visit http://www.bolsachicalandtrust.org/.
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The Costa Mesa Historical Society will present a Pioneer Day on Sat., Sept. 20, 10am-3pm, in Estancia Park, 1900 Adams Ave. The day's programs will include a talk at noon by Anna Angell-Neustat, great-granddaughter of Gabriel Allen, who owned the "Estancia" adobe from 1870 to 1887. See the CMHS website for details.
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The Bowers' blog recently featured a photo of the Santa Ana Women's Marching Club, circa 1900. The entry explains that marching clubs were trained drill teams for political and social demonstrations. You'll see the modern equivalent (with less fancy uniforms) outside the political conventions over the next couple of weeks.
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See you in a week.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Huntington Beach and summer vacation

As the long, hot, holiday weekend approaches, I thought I'd post a 1950s photo of the strand at Huntington Beach. [Update: The second color photo I previously posted here was Oceanside. See what happens when you're getting ready for a trip and not paying attention?]
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While cruising YouTube, I discovered an old documentary by Bill Miller, entitled Hopeful Journeys. It covers the history of the Huntington Beach Public Library from the viewpoint of the Johnson/White family, and also includes some general history about the community. It is posted in five parts: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5.
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For the record, I'm taking a week's vacation from blogging. I should be back around Sept. 5th. In the interim, I refer you to the many excellent links on the right-hand side of this page.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Buena Park, Huntington Beach & Lost Valley

Today's photo shows Buena Park Center in 1976. The architectural style clearly harkens back at least a decade earlier.
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Chris Epting's latest "In The Pipeline" column discusses actress Jean Harlow's connection to Huntington Beach. Chris also has a new ongoing "Then & Now" feature in the Huntington Beach Independent, based on his recent book.
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Today on "Notes From A Lost Valley," Phil Brigandi shows us how the Orange County Council of the Boy Scouts came to own their Lost Valley camp in San Diego County.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Mariner's Medical Arts and Mission SJC updates

Architect John Linnert sends an update on the endangered Mariners Medical Arts building (1963, Richard Neutra). Here are some excerpts:
"The City of Newport Beach and its politicians... believe that tax dollars generated from a new building are more valuable to the community than saving an internationally significant historical and cultural icon. Therefore, even when the EIR (Environmental Impact Report) comes back and says to 'save' the... complex, [they] will find a way around it and let the present owner, John Bral, demo the building or at the very least approve some sort of catastrophic addition as a "compromise." ...[At the moment,] Bral is not interested in selling... A couple of parties have expressed an acute interest in purchasing and maintaining/restoring the property. John Bral needs to be persuaded/convinced to sell..."
The rectory garden magilla at Mission San Juan Capistrano reached another stage this week, with the City telling the Mission to leave the unpermitted patio garden as-is. The Council's argument was that removal of the patio would further damage the early Indian cemetery that lies beneath it. Appeals are already in the works. An article in today's Register provides more details.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Santa Ana, COPH & more Disneyland Hotel info

"CoxPilot" read my Mystery Photo post last Sunday and responded with the photo that heads today's entry. This is another image of the same auto dealership I posted on Sunday. It was even taken at the same time: Just after the 1933 earthquake. It turns out the place was Santa Ana's local Dodge dealer, L.D. Coffing Co., at 311 E. 5th St. Oddly, the Santa Ana Public Library (who owns the photo CoxPilot found) identifies it as "Haley's Dodge Garage." Today, the building is gone, replaced by the entrance to the parking garage at the Ronald Reagan Federal Building and Courthouse. (See today's second photo, above - which was taken yesterday at the same spot, from roughly the same angle.)
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Details are shaping up for the aforementioned Disneyland Hotel historical tour with Don Ballard. The free tour will begin Friday, Aug. 29, 6pm, under the giant Sorcerer's Hat (near Downtown Disney) at the Hotel. Click on over to the Anaheim Life blog to find out how to RSVP.
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The Center for Oral and Public History (COPH) at Cal State Fullerton will celebrate its 40th anniversary next month, and in honor of this milestone, they’re inviting the public – FOR FREE – to the inaugural Hansen Lecture Series. (Yes, it's named for Art Hansen, COPH's recently retired director.) The lectures will be held Sat., Sept. 6, 1pm-4:30pm at the Titan Student Union at CSUF. See COPH's website for details and a list of their expert panelists from all over the nation.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Presidents in O.C., the Disneyland Hotel, etc.

Does anyone know who posted the large series of "U.S. Presidents in O.C." photos along the east side of the Orange County Building at this year's O.C. Fair? I'm presenting a few of the images here as a sample. The first (top) image shows Ronald Reagan kicking off his 1980 presidential campaign at Mile Square Park in Fountain Valley (and yes, that's Pat Boone next to him). The second image shows Lyndon B. Johnson at (or just before) what was probably the 1964 groundbreaking for UCI. The last photo shows what I believe is Richard Nixon's return home to Orange County at MCAS El Toro after resigning from office. As I said, these are just a few excerpts from a much larger collection, and I'd love to know who's doing the collecting. I believe there were images of all the presidents from LBJ through Clinton.
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Want to attend a free tour of the Disneyland Hotel as a historic site, hosted by author Don Ballard? Click on over to the Anaheim Life blog for details.
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Donations of historical documents, photographs and whole collections to the Orange County Archives (my day job) have really been pouring in this year. I probably can't say anything officially on behalf of the Archives. But as an individual local historian, I want to thank the people and organizations who decided to put these valuable materials someplace where they'll be cared for and shared with the public. I try hard to be a sharer (as opposed to a hoarder), and I'm genuinely heartened when others do the same. Many, many thanks.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Edison Miller, C.S. Crookshank & Garden Grove

Monday's edition of Martin Wisckol's excellent Register column, "The Buzz," was particularly intresting. A long-lost face from O.C.'s semi-recent history, former County Supervisor Edison Miller, has popped back onto the radar screen. Marty provides all the background in his column, so I won't repeat it here. (The photo above shows him at a Board of Supervisors meeting in 1979 or 1980.)
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Although it was mainly about gardening, another recent Register article provided some background on early Santa Ana banker Clarence S. Crookshank and his 1921 home in Lemon Heights.
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The Garden Grove Historical Society will hold their next "Book and Barn Sale," October 9th to 11th, 8:30am-4:30pm, at the Stanley Ranch Museum, 12174 Euclid Ave. They also offer tours of the museum and surrounding historic structures at 1:30pm on Sept 7th and 21st, and Oct 5th and 19th. Contact them at gardengrovehistsoc@att.net or (714) 530-8871 for more information.
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Just for fun, I'm throwing in a bonus postcard (below) of the TrAtel Travel Trailer Park in Garden Grove (at 13190 Harbor Blvd), which probably was printed in the 1960s. More details about this card are posted on the Flickr page where I stumbled across it.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Another helping of Anaheim & a dash of Torrance

I'm continuing the Anaheim theme today, beginning with another photo of Downtown Anaheim from June 1956. Again, click on the smaller inset image to zoom in on the details.
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Recently, Anaheim's historical folks were responsible for another preservation victory -- And this time it didn't even take place in Anaheim. Cynthia Ward writes,
"Another victory, sort of Anaheim related, comes from Torrance. Some preservationists who live in the Old Olmstead Districts of Torrance contacted [the Anaheim Historical Society] a few years back, asking how Anaheim had stopped the bulldozers and developed [historical] districts. While that was done before my time, I met with them, and plugged them in with some of the people who had been involved. These poor people were literally where Anaheim was 20 years ago. The properties not being scraped by their redevelopment agency were upzoned to encourage private development. A driving tour of Torrance showed condo construction everywhere, with signs on the jobs saying, 'We buy empty lots and old houses' ...makes the blood boil. Anyway, thanks to all those folks who have given [Save Historic Old Torrance] some advice, because they are beginning to win the fight for preservation. They recently won the life of a little Spanish casita kit house at the Planning Commission level, and last night their City Council voted to not rehear the case. This in an environment where preservation was a joke for years!"
Term limits force preservationists to constantly educate new city officials. And it's no small victory when you discover that one or more of the bigwigs finally "get it." Recently, on the Anaheim Colony listserv, local realtor Barbara Gonzalez praised Anaheim's mayor, Curt Pringle for having a clue:
"He elaborated (off the cuff)... on the success of the Mills Act and Historic Preservation Programs in Anaheim and even asked Lisa Stipkovich when we would be moving from 3rd to 2nd place in California with the number of Mills Act Agreements. He is becoming very conversant about preservation and restoration efforts in Anaheim. When the Lemon/Water Phase 3 Project came up for approval, he described in detail the significance of these kinds of projects to our neighborhoods."
Tim at Vintage Disneyland Tickets just posted the entire Summer 1966 issue of Vacationland magazine (including a nice cover image of it's a small world). Go and bask in its Mid-Century Anaheim-y goodness.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Anaheim, the Mills Act, Huell, and a fig tree

I've received a lot of Anaheim news lately, and just haven't been able to keep up. This week I'll try to catch up. To get things started, today's photo is of Downtown Anaheim in June 1956. Nearly everything in the photo - including the Pickwick Hotel - was bulldozed in the 1980s. Click on the small inset image for a super-zoomed-in view.
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Thanks to lot of hard work by people who care, Anaheim is more enlightened today than it was in the 1980s. Case in point: Last week, 28 homeowners in Anaheim received Mills Act plaques and certificates for their restored/preserved historic homes. That's pretty impressive for a single year.
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Huell Howser’s recent visit to historic Anaheim will air on “California's Gold” on Sept 12 at 10pm and Sept 14 at 7pm. His guide, Cynthia Ward writes,
“We hit the Mother Colony House, the Pressel orchard, Pearson Park, and the North Clementine neighborhood… We did the Farmer's Market,… popped in for a surprise visit to the Muzeo and Local History Room, where staff recovered admirably despite no advance warning. We finished up at Linbrook Bowl and Anaheim High School. ...He was scheduled to shoot half an episode here and ended up giving Anaheim a full hour's program since we had so much cool stuff."
In response to a question Huell asked during the tour, there has also been much discussion of nominating the Australian Banyan Fig tree on West St as a historic landmark. Andy Deneau writes,
"The trees are generally attributed to Tim Carroll who [came from Austraila] and established the first major landscape plant nursery in Southern California. His ranch on west Broadway and Mable St is now the Fairmont School and one of the trees is still standing in the front yard of his fine old home. The tree on West St was planted by the Horstmann/Dwyer family as well as the ones across the street to the west… These trees were planted between about 1900 and 1915. Tim Carroll was also an accomplished amateur inventor. He invented a machine/structure for the automatic unloading of sugar beets from field wagons to rail cars. [Ed - This was called a "beet dump."] The patent model was given to the [Anaheim] Historical Society many years ago. Mr. Carroll's brother followed him from Oz and settled further west at Lincoln and Gilbert. That Carroll ranch is now the Ralph's shopping center."

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Mystery photos, 1933 earthquake and tract homes

Here are two unrelated "mystery photos" from the Orange County Archives. Maybe you can help identify their locations.
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The first image (top) was taken right after the 1933 earthquake, and is probably either in Santa Ana or Long Beach. The car dealership on the corner is advertising Willys vehicles. And yes, Santa Ana did have some similar (if not identical) lampposts downtown in the 1930s. Does anyone recognize this spot?
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The second photo was taken in 1957. If I had to guess, I'd say it's somewhere in central Orange County. Notice how the cul-de-sac nearly (but not quite) adjoins the larger street. Your observations, knowledge and wild guesses are appreciated.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Everything from soup to nuts

Today’s post is a collection of items from recent weeks that I’m finally getting around to.
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Today's first photo shows the Helena Modjeska brand on display in the Old O.C. Courthouse Museum’s new exhibit. The second shot (inset) shows the new Santa Ana Historical Preservation Society (SAHPS) gift shop at the Howe-Waffle House. This gift shop was formerly the library of the Orange County Historical Society. SAHPS president Alison Young stands at left.
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On Tuesday night, the San Juan Capistrano City Council will vote on whether the Mission must remove their new party patio, which was built without permits atop an early cemetery.
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Well known Santa Ana attorney Clarence Arthur Nisson died Aug. 13th. He was a charter member of both the Tustin Area Historical Society and the Orange County Pioneer Council. I remember speaking with him several times at O.C. Bar Association events and meetings of the Old Courthouse Museum Society. His obituary is posted online.
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Here are some links to recent Register articles of historical interest:

And finally, I’ve had a surprising number of responses lately to two-year-old blog post. Click through if you’d like to read more about the old Villa Sweden Restaurant.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Marshal Max Lee Barlow, Knott's Berry Farm

Max Lee Barlow, the "Marshal" of Knott's Berry Farm's Ghost Town for three decades, died last week. A native of South Dakota, Max served in China during WWII, and was a fireman in Los Angeles before coming to Knott's in 1978.
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As the manager of Ghost Town, I'm told he wasn't always the easiest guy to work for. At the very least, he was crusty like an old trail boss and delightfully politically incorrect. But he was always very helpful and kind to me and was more than willing to share his memories and his collection of old Knott's materials.
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Today's photos came from Marshal Max. The top photo shows "Aunt" Hattie Bilbray's 85th birthday party at the Calico Saloon. From left to right are Earl Balley, Chief Red Feather (a.k.a Jim Brady), Max, Fred Ridgeway, and Aunt Hattie. I believe Aunt Hattie was employed to demonstrate the spinning wheel at Knott's.
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The second photo shows Calico Square in about 1952. Note the light poles for the Horse Arena in the background. Also note the sign advertising Tex Williams' TV show, to be broadcast live from the arena. (The site of the arena is now occupied by the Calico Mine Ride.)
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The final inset photo shows Max in front of the Ghost Town Sheriff's Office a few years ago. When Jack Falfas was Knott's general manager, he had part of the Sheriff's Office turned into a small second office for Max. I interviewed him there and at his backstage office on several occasions.
When I asked why Knott's John Wayne Museum was so short-lived, he gave a typically informative and salty response: “The Waynes used to live near [some of the] Knotts in Newport Beach, and the families were friends. John Wayne was really involved for a while there and even helped open up the Log Ride, and they named the theatre after him. But then there was a falling out between the two families and the name of the Theatre was changed and he was told to get his crap the hell out of there.”
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In discussing Sad Eye Joe (the talking prisoner in his jail cell), business-minded Max got out a calculator and figured the pay for all the employees who'd worked the microphone since the attraction opened in 1941. "I imagine we’ve spent a lot of money on Joe over the years. Almost half a million dollars." He also shared one of his brainstorms: “Sad Eye Joe has another head, which I have over in the Museum now. I want to bring it over to the Sheriff’s Office and make a little display... I'll get an old baby buggy, put the head on a doll in the buggy, and put up a sign saying he's Sad Eye Joe’s son, who’s already studying to be a horse thief.”
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When I brought up the "Original Berry Stand" that was bulldozed recently, Max said, "The berry stand by the lake wasn’t original. I saw the [previous one] destroyed with my own eyes, back in ’79 or ’80. They built a new one when they moved it.”
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Even at age 80, Max could be found roaming Ghost Town, on Saturday afternoons and evenings, and all day on Sundays. “I’m here until the park closes at 10:00,” he said. “Weekends are our busiest days, so I figure I should be here when our guests are.”

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Basler-Twist House update, Santa Ana

The photo above shows Santa Ana's historic Basler-Twist House after its very recent move to Cabrillo Park. You may remember that the house was cut into numerous large chunks by developer Mike Harrah at the start of 2007, and has been largely exposed to the elements ever since. (He was supposed to preserve the building if he wanted to use the land.)
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The photo above comes from Guy Ball, who writes, "They moved the final two pieces [of the house, which are now] laying next to the bottom floor. ...They had to do a lot of reframing and other work due to rot and damage to the original house... and there's still a few more things to do before they can lift the last two [pieces] on top."
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The photo below shows the original site of the Basler house (the proposed site of Harrah's 37-story tower) as it appeared this afternoon. It's mostly empty, but rings of detritus mark the spots where large pieces of the house once sat.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Irvine Park / Orange County Park

I'm a little pressed for time today, but here are a few images of Irvine Park as you would have seen it circa the 1930s. Irvine Park was originally called Orange County Park. It was our first (and for many decades, our only) County park. The auditorium in the last photo was a popular place to hold dances.

Monday, August 11, 2008

La Habra, Wagner House, Anaheim & Tustin

For no particular reason, today's image is a view of La Habra's oil fields circa the 1920s.
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Cynthia Ward writes that Anaheim's historic Wagner House, which is "now used as the Anaheim Tennis Center," is going to be restored. If you ever visited the Wagners when they lived there, your memories may help the restoration effort. See Cynthia's Anaheim Life blog for more information.
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I already mentioned Huell Howser's recent visit to Anaheim, but it turns out he also paid a recent visit to old downtown Tustin. Guy Ball writes, "Linda Jennings from the [Tustin Preservation] Conservancy walked him through the Tustin Area Historical Society Museum, the blacksmith shop, a couple other places, and the Beach Pit restaurant."

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Modjeska at the Old Orange County Courthouse


Today I'm posting a couple photos from Thursday's opening of the new "Madame Helena Modjeska: All The World's A Stage" exhibit at the Old Orange County Courthouse Museum. The first is an 1879 painting (probably) of Modjeska by Phoebe A. Jenks (1847-1907). The second image shows a stack of Modjeska candies - an old-fashioned confection (named for the famous actress) which was ordered especially for this event. If you click on the candy image, you'll be able to read the cards, which provide a history of the candies as well as a recipe for making your own.

Over 150 people attended the show's opening. I was especially glad to see some friends from the historical community who I haven't seen in a while, including J. J. and Harriet Friis, Opal Kissinger, and the whole Coté family (minus their son, who just graduated from the Air Force Academy). I also noted many previously unfamiliar faces in the crowd, including more than a few with Polish accents.

The exhibit itself features some great artifacts and costumes that once belonged to the actress, as well as materials relating to her home and career. A large scale model of her canyon home will be added to the exhibit in about a month.

Saturday, August 09, 2008

Silverado, Leo Fender, Priscilla Hoel, and updates

Today's images are photos of beautiful downtown Silverado from 1962. The Silverado Branch Library is roughly in the center of both shots.
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Sunday, Aug. 10, 2008 would have been inventor Leo Fender's 99th birthday. A native of Santa Ana, Fender's electric guitar, bass, and amplifier designs would change popular music forever. Fender's factory was located in Fullerton.
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I should have noted earlier the death of Priscilla Hoel, founding member and docent of Los Amigos de las Colinas in El Toro. A recent article in the Register tells more about how she and her Amigos helped preserve the heritage of Saddleback Valley.
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Frequently, people add interesting comments to older Roundup posts. Recent examples include Marty Martindale who posted about his dad and Ted Mangels, who assembled the first Autopia cars. In a separate email to me, Marty also wrote, "You might enjoy the following story that includes a funny incident when dad was testing the Autopia car with Bob Gurr around the streets of Newport and crashed it by the old police station."
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Also, "El Bocho" posted some questions about "Indian Mystic Rock" amid the replies to my June 5 post about the Hanging Tree. Perhaps you can help him find his missing rock.
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And finally, I've heard from Thomas B. Talbert's kin in recent days. If this connection leads somewhere interesting, I'll certainly post about it here.

Friday, August 08, 2008

Wing Lee, Ghost Town, Knott's Berry Farm

With China on everyone’s mind, today is a good time to visit Hop Wing Lee’s Chinese Laundry on Main Street in Knott’s Berry Farm’s Ghost Town. The building and its interior diorama were completed in 1941. Like most of the wooden figures along Main Street, Wing Lee was carved by folk artist H. S. "Andy" Anderson. The photo at the bottom of today's post shows (left to right) Walter Knott, early Knott's artist Paul Swartz, Wing Lee and Andy Anderson. (This is not the same Anderson who married Marion Knott and ran Knott's Steak House.) I’ve also posted a short video clip of Wing Lee on my Flickr account, so you can hear him singing while he works.

The “Ghost Town History & Reference,” a circa 1960s guide for employees, (nominally written by Walter Knott,) says the following about the Chinese Laundry:

"In the early days of California mining, thousands of Chinese came to California seeking gold just as people came from all other countries. However, the Chinese were industrious and willing to work the old placer workings over after the whites had gone through them first. Then the Mexicans gleaned out some more, and then the Chinese really gave them a going-over.

"As the gold mining played out, these Chinese settled in all of our California towns and ran restaurants, laundries, and started vegetable gardens. Even when I was a boy down on the other side of the tracks, in every Western town there was a row of Chinese shacks very much like our Chinese laundry. I have often watched Chinamen ironing shirts and fine clothes take a drink with a bucket and dipper close by, fill his mouth with water, and spurt it on the clothes to sprinkle them. This may seem highly unsanitary today, but 50 or 60 years ago it was common practice…"
Some early Orange County communities, including Anaheim, Santa Ana, and Orange, had "China Towns" of their own. I’ll write about them another time.
Disclaimer: You’ll be hungry for another blog entry an hour after reading this one.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Crystal Cove, Pageant of the Masters, etc.

Today's photos show Crystal Cove (between Newport Beach and Laguna Beach,) circa the early 1950s. The black and white photo is specifically from Sept. 1953. The area is now part of a state park with a historic district featuring 46 rustic cottages dating back as far as the 1920s. The Register's website has a great interactive map of Crystal Cove, along with more historic images. (You can now also make reservations to rent one of the cottages.)
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This post is in honor of the Weiss Family, who are enjoying the Crytal Cove area this week (and who were very gracious hosts yesterday evening.) You may already know Werner Weiss from his excellent Yesterland website. His daughter, Laura, inherited the history gene and is now learning about all the history-related career paths that are open to her. My thanks to Carey Baughman of the Old Courthouse Museum and to architectural historian Cynthia Ward for taking time from their busy schedules to come down to the County Archives and let Laura pick their brains.
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The Pageant of the Masters in Laguna Beach will celebrate it's 75th anniversary with a recreation of the 1933 "Spirit of the Masters" parade at 11am Saturday. All the various people involved in this year's pageant will parade (in costume) down the sidewalks of downtown Laguna Beach. Read more about it in this article in the Register.

Monday, August 04, 2008

Orange County PR pioneer Tom Wilck

Sad news in my email inbox tonight. Tom Wilck has died. I was lucky enough to work with this public relations genius for a short time. If people of Tom's quality and personality were the norm (rather than the exception) in that field, I might still be working for an agency somewhere today. In my experience, Tom was a kind and reasonable man who was astonishingly good at what he did. A room full of people could sit around for hours searching for the right words for a slogan, press release or article - And Tom would pop his head in for a moment and drop the perfect words at our feet.

The photo above shows a young Tom Wilck with his boss, Walt Disney, and his soon-to-be first wife, (Walt's secretary) Tommie. Here's the obituary I received from the O.C. Chapter of the Public Relations Society of America:
C. Thomas Wilck, [APR] longtime communications and public affairs executive who served Walt Disney as his personal public relations consultant, has died of kidney cancer. He was 75 and passed away July 24 at home in Irvine with his wife of 19 years, Nadine, at his side. He was diagnosed earlier this year.

Throughout the '60s, Wilck worked directly with Walt Disney and his senior staff on many of his most important projects, including the planning and announcement of Walt Disney World in Florida, and the formation of the California Institute of the Arts. From 1973 to 1985, Wilck served as Vice President of Corporate Public Affairs for the Irvine Company, leaving to form Thomas Wilck Associates representing an impressive roster of corporate clients including the Walt Disney Company, Allergan, the Irvine Company, Alaska Airlines, the Lusk Company, Taylor Woodrow Homes, Ford Motor Land Development and others. He sold his company to Nelson Communications Group in 1995 and remained an equity partner for five years.

President Nixon called him to Washington shortly after his election to serve as Assistant Administrator of Congressional and Public Affairs for the Small Business Administration. In 1972 and 1973, Wilck was Deputy Chairman of the Republican National Committee with major campaign and media responsibilities, including press relations for the 1972 Republican Convention.

He was a graduate of Santa Monica City College and UCLA, and spent two years on active duty with the U.S. Marine Corps in 1950 and 1951.

Wilck is survived by Nadine, a fundraising and public relations consultant, step-daughter Jacqueline Leigh James Parker, son in law Jeff Parker, and granddaughter Bailey Leigh James, 12, all of Rancho Santa Margarita, California.

Memorial services will be held in the East Room at the Richard Nixon Presidential Library and Museum at 4:00 pm on Thursday, August 21, followed by a reception in the East Room. In lieu of flowers, the family suggests contributions be made to the CORO Foundation at 1000 North Alameda St., Suite 240, Los Angeles, CA 90012, or THINK Together at 2100 E. Fourth St., Suite 200, Santa Ana, CA 92705.

Richfield sign, Dana Point, & Newport Pop Festival

Boxcar Mike writes, "Recently you posted an early picture of Dana Point... If you look at the right side... you can just barely make out the old Richfield Oil Company tower that stood on P.C.H. for many years... On the sides facing north and south, the company printed the word RICHFIELD in about five foot high block letters. Just below the Richfield sign was the word SERVICE, printed horizontally. The tower was quite a landmark, but at night that thing was spectacular. Blue neon outlined each letter and the supports of the tower. It was so bright you could see it long before you got to the gas station. Even boats and ships could see it out at sea. When Richfield merged with Atlantic Oil to form ARCO, the tower remained for several years, although the original station had been enlarged and was now an ARCO station... I was wondering if you might know where I might get a picture of it."
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This 125-foot tower appears in a number of photos in Doris Walker's recent book, Images of America: Dana Point. I've posted details from two of the photos above. The image on the left is from about 1930, and the one on the right is from the 1960s. This landmark was one of 36 such towers which Richfield constructed 50 miles apart along the California coast. It was removed in the early 1970s. See Doris' book for more great Dana Point landmarks.
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Do you remember the 1968 Newport Pop Festival? Don't feel too bad. Most of the people who attended can't remember it either. Even if a few attendees weren't stoned, I suppose they worked hard to forget the sweltering heat, mud, lack of fresh water, thousands of sweaty/smelly hippies, and performances by Tiny Tim and Sonny & Cher. Sunday's Register featured an article about this mostly-forgotten event, which took place at the Orange County Fairgrounds in Costa Mesa, and also featured the Grateful Dead, the Byrds, Canned Heat, Jefferson Airplane, and Country Joe and the Fish.
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The same section of the paper also featured an article about past Olympians from Orange County.

Sunday, August 03, 2008

Santa Ana, MainPlace, Huell Howser & Anaheim

Today's photos come from Roberta Reed's new book, Santa Ana, 1940-2007, which I featured in my post of July 25th. Both came from the collection of Rob Richardson. The first image (top) shows the Fashion Square mall, which was built in 1958. It was replaced, on the same location, by MainPlace mall in the 1980s. Fashion Square was anchored by Bullocks and Desmond's department stores.
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The second photo shows the old First American Title headquarters at 241 N. Main St, in 1966. They still use this building, but have a new main office, just off the 55 Freeway in South Santa Ana. In addition to being an old-line Orange County business, First American also has possibly the best collections of local historical photos of the region.
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Huell Howser was in Anaheim last week, and historian Cynthia Ward got to be his tour guide. Among their stops was the enormous Moreton Bay fig tree on West St., which was mentioned on this blog a couple days ago. Huell asked if the tree was on a historic register of some kind. Although the anwer was "no," it was an interesting idea, and the folks in the Anaheim Colony Historic District are starting to discuss what might be done to make that happen. For a glimpse into the Huell-y happenings, see Cynthia's blog, Anaheim Life.

Friday, August 01, 2008

Dana Point and its lanterns

Today's photo shows Dana Point in 1934. The newspaper clipping at right is a 1930 ad from the L.A. Times, extolling the virtues of such gems of the South Coast as San Clemente, Capistrano Beach, and Dana Point.
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I received an email from "D.F." today, asking for more background on the lanterns of Dana Point. Here's a slightly edited version of what I told her...
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In the late 1920s, real estate wheeler-dealer Sidney Woodruff set out to develop Dana Point into a beach town. Woodruff was a master of marketing gimmicks, and the street names and lanterns were a good example. Each north/south street was named for a different color lantern (e.g. "The Street of the Blue Lantern.") Then, lanterns of corresponding colors were hung along each street. I suppose the idea was that lanterns were nautical.
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Another example of a Woodruff gimmick was the enormous hillside sign he had built to advertise his "Hollywoodland" development in Los Angeles. Eventually, the "-land" part of the sign went away, but on clear days the now-famous "Hollywood" sign can still be seen from as far away as Anaheim.
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The onset of the Great Depression meant that Woodruff's plans for Dana Point were stalled in their infancy. Streets, lighting, and other infrastructure were in place, but few were buying lots. It would be decades before Dana Point would resume its growth in earnest.
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For a clearer and much more detailed telling of the story of Woodruff, the lanterns, and history of Dana Point, I recommend Doris I. Walker's book, Home Port for Romance (alternately titled, Dana Point Harbor/Capistrano Bay: Home Port for Romance.)