Friday, May 29, 2009

H.B. Public Library, Mendez v. Westminster, etc.

Today's image is Huntington Beach's old Carnegie library, built in in 1913. Sadly, it was torn down long ago.
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The Huntington Beach Public Library (HBPL) will celebrate 100 years of service to the community at a Open House Gala on , June 12, 4-7pm, at the Central Library, 7111 Talbert Ave. "Festivities include ...music, giveaways, and historical library artifacts on display—also some surprise visitors from 1909! Cake and ice cream will be served, as well as authentic saltwater taffy from the era."
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On June 19 at the Huntington Beach Central Library, Rev. Mark Whitlock of Christ Our Redeemer Church in Irvine will lead a discussion "by African American leaders [about] their experiences in Orange County." One hopes that some of the speakers have been around O.C. long enough to provide historical perspective. Program begins at 7pm.
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On June 25, 7pm, the Huntington Beach Art Center, 538 Main St., will host documentary film maker Sandra Robbie, who will discuss "Desegregation of the Westminster School District" and show her film on the same topic. Education issues pertaining to H.B.'s current hispanic residents will also be discussed.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Catching up

I have nothing important to say about today's image. It's just a really nice circa 1920 crate label for "Cowboy Brand" citrus from the Tustin Hills Citrus Association. Enjoy.
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I finally got around to reading the last few weeks of the Register and found some items I probably should have passed along already. So here they are, in no particular order:
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Tustin News columnist Juanita Lovret received the Frances Logan Spirit of Old Town award from the Tustin Preservation Conservancy.
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There was a retrospective of the Tustin Area Historical Society’s last home tour.
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Juaneno elder Marguerite Julia Lobo of San Juan Capistrano was laid to rest.
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A mall blog waxed nostalgic about early South Coast Plaza.
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Someone named Deborah Perez claimed that her stepfather, Guy Ward Hendrickson (formerly of Orange County), was the notorious Zodiac Killer. But recently other folks have commented that Perez previously also claimed to be the illegitimate daughter of J.F.K. (I’m just glad the “Black Dahlia” case hasn’t been dragged into this,… yet.)
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This Saturday, the O.C. Mexican American Historical Society will hold a Barrio History Symposium at Golden West College in Huntington Beach.
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The Vintage Postcard & Paper Show will be back in Glendale all this weekend. I'm not sure yet if I'll be there on Sunday or not. There are lots of good local historical images to be found on those postcards.
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I will definitely be at the Santa Ana Historical Preservation Society's shindig this Saturday, so say hello if you see me there.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Huntington Beach, El Toro, Scout Jamboree, etc.

Summer's almost here, and it's time to head to the beach! The 1957 L.A. Examiner photo, above, reminds us why what's now Bolsa Chica State Beach was once called Tin Can Beach (or sometimes Beer Can Beach) by almost everyone. At that time, as much as 30 tons of cans, bottles, and other refuse were left on this stretch of sand each year. Today, it often ranks as one of Southern California's cleanest beaches.
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Longtime Newport Beach resident Mary Kramer Kryder has loaned a handful of 1953 Boy Scout Jamboree artifacts to the Old Courthouse Museum for their current exhibit: “Past Tents: The Way We Camped.” (Show ends June 5.) She describes her memories of the event:
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“The bridge onto Balboa Island just below PCH was where many Scouts came. At this time, I lived on Balboa Island and was intrigued with the Jamboree, having been a Brownie, Girl Scout and Mariner. I decided to visit the camp. I baked cookies and took them to the Scouts in exchange for their Boy Scout badges . . .”
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Heritage Hill Historical Park will hold their annual Rancho Days Fiesta, June 6, 11am-3pm. The park is located at 25151 Serrano Rd. in “Lake Forest.” Children’s activities include piñatas, rope tricks, making arrowheads, dipping candles, grinding corn, and churning and tasting homemade ice cream and butter.
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Demonstrations and performances will include “traditional Native American music, Ballet Folklorico de San Juan Capistrano and a Native American hoop dancer. Listen to lively mariachi music, and the songs of Old California and early Mexico.” Weavers and blacksmiths will demonstrate their trades. There will also be an Acjachemen invocation ceremony. Docents in period attire will offer tours of the park's historical buildings.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Dr. Sammy Lee

Today's photo shows U.S. Olympic divers Sammy Lee and Vicki Manolo Draves at the London Olympic Games in August 1948. Dr. Lee won a gold medal that year, and again in 1952 at Helsinki. But much of Orange County knows him as the man who taught them how to swim. Lee's swim school was a fixture in Anaheim for many years, beginning in the 1950s. Today, he received the 11th star on the Anaheim/OC Walk of Stars, in front of Disneyland. Click here to read more about it in the Register.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Lieutenant Jacob Egbert McKean

"It is foolish and wrong to mourn the men who died. Rather we should thank God that such men lived."
- Gen. George S. Patton, Jr.

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Today's photo shows Jacob Egbert McKean, 1st Lieutenant R.M.A., Flight Instructor, Army Air Corps, during World War I. I ran across this glass negative several years ago and wanted to know more about the flier, who was only identified as "Egbert McKean." Here's what I found...
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Jacob Egbert McKean was born Oct. 7, 1888 in Crestline, Ohio. In 1892, he, his siblings, and his parents, Jacob M. & Marlie E. McKean, came to Santa Ana. He had three older siblings, John Ross, Marlie F. and Rae; and two younger siblings, Helen and Robert. Their father sold real estate and the McKeans soon became a well known family in the community.
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Egbert played baseball and football at Santa Ana High School, from which he graduated in 1908. The Aerial yearbook described him as “the hardest player on the team, when in shape.”
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Upon graduating, he briefly worked as a meter reader for the electric company before following his brother Ross into the U.S. Navy. Seaman Egbert McKean was a musician and eventually earned the rank of Bandmaster. When his four-year hitch was up, he became an insurance adjuster for Aetna Life Insurance in San Francisco.
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But when his country called, Egbert enlisted again – This time in the Army Air Corps. He enlisted in May 1917 and was called into service in late June. His service card shows that he had blue eyes and brown hair, was of average height, and had a stout build.
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He completed his preliminary course in aviation at Berkeley Ground School, at the University of California, in Aug. 1917. From there, he was sent to Rockwell Field Flying School in San Diego. He graduated with honors in November and was made flight instructor.
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Airplanes were still relatively new technology and were largely made of cloth and wire. Just going up in one was an act of courage. Going up with new pilots and teaching them the manuevers they'd need in combat was brave in the extreme.
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In January 1918, McKean was assigned to Gerstner Field, (seen in a 1918 photo below,) near Holmwood, Louisiana.
Less than a month later, on Feb. 11, 1918, (during Gerstner’s last days of operation), Lieut. McKean was flying with Lieut. Charles E. Cummings when their engine experienced a problem. They attempted to land in Jennings, Louisiana, but the plane suddenly dropped head first. Cummings, it seems, survived the crash, but McKean was killed.
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The L.A. Times said his death, “brought to Santa Ana a distinct shock, for his is the first violent death among Santa Ana’s many sons who are in the war service.”
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Although he never went to Europe or saw combat, McKean served his country bravely, trained military pilots in both California and Louisiana, and paid the ultimate price in the name of defending democracy.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Doris Walker, SAHPS, The Great Depression, etc.

Here's a cool MCAS Tustin item we found in an Orange antique store yesterday. Personally, I think the $85 price tag is ridiculously high, but if you're interested, pay a visit to Space 98 in the Orange Circle Antique Mall on S. Glassell. Also, another dealer in their basement has some good local history books at more reasonable prices.
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The Dana Point Historical Society (DPHS) will honor journalist and historian Doris I. Walker at this year's Founder's Day celebration, May 27, 6pm, at the Dana Point Community House, 24642 San Juan Ave. Doris has written many books about the history of south Orange County, including her best known, Home Port for Romance, and her most recent, Images of America: Dana Point. She has also written countless articles, and writes a monthly column, "Once Upon This Coast,"for the Dana Point Times. She helped found the DPHS and has been a Orange County Historical Commissioner for many years. Yes, there are other historians in South O.C., but very few put in the kind of consistant work and dedication that Doris has. This award is very well-deserved. DPHS members, guests and the public are invited to this event, and refreshments will be served.
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The Santa Ana Historical Preservation Society's (SAHPS) annual membership event will be held Sat., May 30, 2-5pm, at the Howe Waffle House Museum, 120 W. Civic Center Dr. Historian Phil Brigandi will give a talk on The Great Depression In Orange County, and Hally Soboleske of the City of Santa Ana Planning Division will be awarded the SAHPS Preservation Award. The theme for this year's event is "Brother Can You Spare A Dime?," and everyone is encouraged to "wear your best 1930s-style hat." A private photo collection of Hollywood stars of the 1920s and '30s will be on display. Tickets are $15 per person and includes refreshments at SAHPS's "soup kitchen."

Friday, May 22, 2009

Laguna Woods, Balboa, Capistrano, etc.

Today's photo hails from 1974 and shows the Leisure World Community Gardens in what is now Laguna Woods. Notice that the hills beyond the golf course are still unblemished by construction.
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I'm sharing this photo because of its source rather than its scintillating subject matter. I found it -- along with a stack of similar 8x10s and a bunch of news clippings about early Leisure World activities -- in a cardboard box at a particularly ratty stall at the Goldenwest College Swap Meet. I bought the whole bunch for $1 and donated it to the Orange County Archives. Just goes to show that you can find worthwhile local historical documents almost anywhere.
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The City of Newport Beach is in talks with a developer to sell the Balboa Market building (on E. Balboa Blvd and Washington St), which will likely become a parking lot. The art deco building originally opened as a Safeway in 1938. Call it one more nail in the coffin for Balboa's charm and historical fabric.
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The Seal Beach Historical Society finished spiffing up their Red Car Museum and will have a grand reopening shin-dig on June 13, noon to 3pm. The museum is also open the second and 4th Sat. and Sun. of every month, during the same hours.
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Ever think about joining (or learning more about) the San Juan Capistrano Historical Society? Then you might want to attend their "June Mixer," on June 11, from 5pm until dark, at the O'Neil Museum, 31831 Los Rios St. You must, however, RSVP for this event, or they won't have enough food and drinks for everyone. RSVP to (949) 493-8444. The historic, newly-restored, Arley Forster Leck House will be open for tours during this event.
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Now that GeoCities is defunct, Daralee Ota is moving her Olive Through The Ages website to a new address: http://livingbranch.tripod.com/olive/.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Memorial Day

Today's photo shows a 1918 parade in Santa Ana, celebrating the end of World War I.
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I'm sure there will be plenty of Memorial Day ceremonies throughout Orange County this weekend. But I'm putting the spotlight on one that deals with some of O.C.’s earliest veterans...
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The Tri-city (Orange, Santa Ana, Tustin) Memorial Day Observance at Santa Ana Cemetery will include the dedication of monuments on the previously unmarked graves of seven Civil War veterans and one Indian Wars veteran. The Sons & Daughters of Union Veterans, and the Sons of Confederate Veterans will be on hand, and there will be a “Civil War reenactment firing of a Civil War cannon.” The program will begin Mon., May 25, at 10am at 1919 E. Santa Clara Ave., in Santa Ana.
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The organizers sent me the following information about the men in the eight recently identified graves…

During 2008, Charles Beal, SUVCW Graves Registration Officer, working as part of the Tri-City Memorial Day Committee, researched and ordered 8 Veterans Administration grave markers for 7 Civil War veterans (5 Union, 2 confederate) and 1 Indian Wars veteran that were found to be in unmarked graves since their original burial dates. The earliest burial took place in 1903... Descendants of two of the veterans have been located who may be planning to attend the Memorial Day Ceremony. These families are related to Halsey Harthorn and James McGowen. The following is a list of the formerly unmarked veteran graves with some biographical notes for each veteran:

Civil War:

1. Jesse D. Bowley: Served as a Private in Company I, 46th Massachusetts Infantry. Born 1820 and died September 26, 1887. Los Angeles Times... (March 19, 1896) reported his partial remains were uncovered while digging a grave for Civil War Veteran, Oliver Oberr. Jesse Bowley had previously occupied this gravesite and was later re-interred in the San Francisco area. The undertaker in 1896 failed to remove all of Bowley’s remains. His found remains were reburied at the foot of the same grave with Oliver Oberr... The marker has been installed to identify the burial of these partial remains.

2. Halsey H. Harthorn: Served as an Ordinary Seaman in the United States Navy on the U.S.S. Sabine. Born June 6, 1843 in Maine and died August 31, 1924. He was a resident of the City of Orange. He was a sea captain and did some mining in the Santa Ana Mountains and other parts of California. Halsey is a descendant of Associate Magistrate John Hathorn of the Salem, Massachusetts witch trials and a cousin of noted American author Nathaniel Hawthorne.

3. James M. Henderson: Served as a Private in the 9th Battery, Indiana Light Artillery. Born August 1845 and died Nov. 19, 1922.

4. Alfred Walter Hill: Served as a Private in Company K, 179th Ohio Infantry. Born 1842 in Butler County, Ohio and died April 30, 1937. He was resident in the City of Orange for a year prior to his death.

5. Joseph R. Hodges: Served in the Confederate States Army as a Private in Company D, 1st Arkansas Cavalry. Born 1835 and died December 8, 1912. His obituary said he came to California after the war, and lived at Bolsa (now in the City of Garden Grove) for the past 40 years.

6. Charles Horner: Served as a Private in Company B, 7th Ohio Infantry. Born 1835 and died January 26, 1903.

7. James Elbert McGowen: Served in the Confederate States Army as a 2nd Lieutenant in Company D, 25th Louisiana Infantry. Born July 1, 1836 at Mississippi and died July 3, 1918.

Indian Wars:

8. John Edward Hajek: Served as a Private in 9th United States Army Infantry during the Indian Wars for five years. Born July 18, 1852 at Burgess, Bohemia, immigrated to the United States in 1867. He joined the Army in 1876 for 5 years and died Dec. 5, 1917. Additional information was found on his citizenship papers located at the Orange County Archives, Santa Ana, CA as follows. John Edward Hajek... emigrated to the U.S. from Bremen, Germany, arriving in New York in Sept. 1867. He served in the U.S. Army from Sept. 18, 1876 to Sept. 17, 1881, and was honorably discharged. He moved to California in the summer of 1895. He applied for citizenship on May 17, 1910, and received it on Nov. 14 of that same year. Albert Haycox (an engineer) and George Gardner (a gardener) vouched for him on his application for citizenship and served as witnesses. Hajek lived on 5th Street in Huntington Beach at the time of his naturalization. ...He served in the Ute and Cheyenne campaigns during the Indian Wars.

Of course, Monday's program also includes everything you expect on Memorial Day: Elected officials saying patriotic things, a Boy Scout reading the Gettysburg Address, an American Legion color guard, a VFW honor guard, the Orange High School's band and choir, and involvement by most of the area’s service organizations. It sounds like a great program.
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Decoration Day or Memorial Day ceremonies have been observed at the Santa Ana Cemetery since at least 1881, when Grand Army of the Republic veterans from the General John Sedgwick Post No. 17 held services there and decorated the graves of the five Union and one Confederate Civil War veterans who were interred there at the time.
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From Lexington to Afghanistan, American soldiers have died to preserve our freedom. It's fitting that we take a day to remember them. But it's more important that we make their sacrifices worthwhile by protecting the freedom they fought for. That means being an informed voter. That means preserving our Constitution. And it means keeping our nation from devolving into one of the fascist, socialist, or other "ist" regimes they died to defeat.
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They paid dearly for our freedom. What we do with it is up to us.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

MCAS El Toro

A new(ish) sign on this hangar at MCAS El Toro reads, "WHY IS THIS OLD HANGAR STILL HERE? This hangar was built in 1944 for the original air batallion stationed here during World War II. Finding new purposes for old buildings at the Great Park helps commemorate the history of the Marine Corps Air Station El Toro."
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What a strange question to ask! I guess they figured Southern Californians would be utterly flummoxed by the concept of historical preservation because examples are so few and far between. It's nice that at least some of the oldest structures on the base are being saved.
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Below is a photo of remnants of El Toro buildings that weren't quite so lucky.

Sorry I've been a long time between posts lately. I lay the blame squarely on "circumstances beyond my control." I'll be back to a more normal posting routine as soon as I can -- Hopefully in the next few days or so.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Eichler, Alan Hess, Orange, hanging tree, etc.

Just a quick reminder that Alan Hess will give a talk about Orange's Eichler tracts at tonight's meeting of the Orange County Historical Society. See my April 18 post for more information about the event. (For more information about Alan and his books, see his website.) I'm looking forward to this! Hope to see you there.
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You may remember all the traffic on this blog last year about the hanging tree in Precitas Canyon. Well, the L.A. Times finally got around to putting their own spin on the story. Wish they'd spent more time explaining the background on Juan Flores and his gang, but you can't have everything.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

NARA move, MCAS Tustin, Huntington Beach, etc

Today's photo comes from the Orange County Archives and shows the blimp hangars at MCAS Tustin in 1965. The neighborhood may look a little different today.
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The word is out: The Pacific Region branch of the National Archives (NARA) will soon move from Laguna Niguel (which is relatively convenient to major population centers) to Perris, California (which is convenient to bloody nothing). Dates have not been announced, but rumor has it that the move will be made by summer 2010. Yes, it seems NARA has nixed its plan to build a snazzy new facility at the “Great Park.
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Chris Epting and Marvin Carlberg have a new Arcadia book out, featuring old postcards of Huntington Beach. They'll be signing books June 6, at 2pm, at the Barnes & Noble at Huntington Center (that's Bella Terra to the newbies).

Howe-Waffle: How Awful

The Dr. Willella Howe-Waffle House & Medical Museum in Santa Ana was broken into late Saturday night. The perpetrator was caught before anything could be stolen, but a lot of damage was done.
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Guy Ball, of the Santa Ana Historical Preservation Society writes, "...A drug addict broke in and was searching for stuff. Our security alarm went off and the police responded. ...They caught the guy in the house and he evidentially cut himself up pretty badly [on broken glass]... The house was ransacked before he was caught... and the glass in many cases was broken without cause. For instance, the front and top heavy glass panels to two of our big display cases were smashed in (leaving blood spatters on the display items), several dining room and medical office display units had their front glass broken, and a couple lawyer's cases had glass broken as well.
"In addition he pulled the old medical instruments in some of the cases and spread them around the house (figure that one out). Upstairs, he ransacked closets and built-in drawers.
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"...We're looking at quite a bit of repair and cleanup costs (probably in the $2,000 to $4,000 range).
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"We do consider ourselves lucky. None of our computers or other electronic devices were damaged or taken, and there wasn't a lot of hard damage to our furniture and cases that can't be repaired with new glass and/or some wood glue. But we do feel pretty violated, as any victim of a home burglary can attest to."
You can see more photos of the destruction on the Howe-Waffle photostream on Flickr. It's all bad, but the historic documents spattered with blood bother me the most.
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What a truly crappy thing to do to anyone, let alone a non-profit group that benefits the whole community. This was just destruction for the sake of destruction. I recommend drawing and quartering for this guy.
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Anyway,... If you've ever considered donating money to the Santa Ana Historical Preservation Society, they could probably really use it now.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Robinson Ranch

Today's photos of the Walter K. Robinson House were taken by Doug McIntosh in 1988. Doug writes, "The house was originally a one room cabin that was constructed circa 1883, by Jim Brown. Over the years there were several additions. The photos were taken the day that the developer had the structure demolished...
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"Robinson Ranch was located along the east side of the Plano Trabuco. Walter K. Robinson was born in Santa Clara in 1853. In 1883 Robinson purchase a section of railroad property and the claims of Jim Brown and Lew English. He named it 'The Mountain View Ranch.'
"Robinson married Margaret Waite of Los Angeles in 1883. They had nine children. Several of the children died before adulthood...
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"For many years, Robinson held the office of Trabuco Forest Reserve, now the Cleveland National Forest, and also filled the office of Deputy Fish and Game Commissioner of California, with headquarters in Trabuco Canyon.
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"...Walter K. Robinson died Nov. 11, 1920. He was remembered as 'one of the men who came in the Santa Ana Valley in the days when mustard, sycamores, salt grass, tule deer, elders, and cactus covered its level areas. He was honored as one who remained through days of adversity and who never desired to live elsewhere' (Register, Nov. 12, 1920:4). He was buried with his parents at the old Santa Ana Cemetery.
"The [Robinson Home's] cobble fire place and a few other architectural features were salvaged and incorporated into the home-owners association community center/swimming pool area. The color photo [above] is from the Rancho Cielo Home-owners Association web page. It shows the salvaged fireplace and the community swimming pool."
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For more information, see Cultural Resource Investigation of the Walter K. Robinson "Mountain View Ranch" Orange County, California, 1996, by Wayne Bonner, Diane Bonner, David Hocking, Douglas McIntosh and Jaqueline Des'autels.
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There's also an entry on OCThen.com about the Escape Country private recreation park that once occupied part of the Robinson property.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

J.A. Prescott Ranch citrus

It's already late, so I'm keeping tonight's post brief. I was over at Jim Sleeper's place today, and I thought this citrus box end in his garage was interesting. This is obviously a stock label, and the artwork is better known for its use on "Juiciful" labels from Redlands. Anyway, Jim says the Prescott Ranch had sort of a one-person packing operation, so this is a somewhat uncommon label.

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Days of swine and roses

Here's a 1942 photo of local pioneer Tom Talbert with a bunch of pigs, in or near Huntington Beach. (Insert your own joke about government here.) Talbert was, at various intervals County Supervisor, Chairman of the Board of Supervisors, a Huntington Beach City Councilmember and Mayor. He was also involved in all manner of enterprises, including real estate, oil, farming, manufacturing, and partnership in many other local businesses.
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While never rising to the prominence of cattle or chicken ranches, hog farming was part of Orange County from very early on. In his second Orange County Almanac, Jim Sleeper reports that the Santa Ana Valley Pork Packing Plant was already in operation near Westminster by 1876. The L.A. Times described it as a thriving operation where "No. 1 corn-fed hogs are transformed into sweet, juicy breakfast morsels..." Yum!
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Jim goes on to say that "Gospel Swamp, once known as the land of 'Hogs and Hominy,' was famous for its porkers, most of which ran 250-300 lbs. Oddly neglected in its promotion literature, South Coast Plaza was once the prosperous pig farm of H.H. Wakeham... As for the largest hog [in Orange County], no one seems to have topped a sow raised in 1880 by J.J. Guinn of Anaheim. Butchered at six hundred pounds, the animal rendered out 200 lbs. of lard."
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Around 1900-1910, wild hogs could still be found living in various canyons and swamps around Orange County, including the river plain along the coast near Huntington Beach. The following comes from another Times article, (8-16-1959) looking back on those days:
"A farmer named Marcus Kujawsky at Adams and Brookhurst St., near the Santa Ana River, complained that ferocious animals (actually domesticated hogs gone wild) had a hideout nearby and were partaking too freely of his beans, corn, sweet potatoes and other crops.
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"[Tom] Talbert and Dennis Hallicy, a butcher, were invited to come and get them. The hogs were wary and difficult to get near -- but Hallicy, an excellent shot with a rifle, hid out in a fox hole and eventually annihilated the porkers.
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"When the hogs were slaughtered, the meat was found to be of excellent flavor and quality. The meat was sold at a market operated by the two men."

There is currently a Ralph's supermarket near the site of the Great South Huntington Hog Massacre, where one may aquire a wide variety of pork products without firing a shot.
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For the record, there were also "blind pigs" in Huntington Beach in those days. But that's a tale for another time.

Sunday, May 03, 2009

Adolph Schoepe and Kiwkset Locks

Today's photo was taken in 1950 by Bob Geivet for the Anaheim Chamber of Commerce. The attached note reads, "Mr. & Mrs. Adolph Schoepe standing at the biggest lock in the world as displayed at the Fair in La Palma Park [in Anaheim. The] Fair closes with a gigantic 8 division pageant parade featuring the huge Mardi-Gras baloons on Tuesday, October 31st at 7:00 P.M."
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Adolf Schoepe (1904-2001) was arguably Orange County's first industrialist. He was the founder of both Kwikset Locks in Anaheim, and Fluidmaster, Inc. in San Juan Capistrano. As Phil Brigandi likes to point out, "Nearly every American has at least one of his products in their home."
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Schoepe's papers are held by the Orange County Archives. The Schoepe Collection consists "primarily of his personal papers from his many civic and political activities from 1947-1972." The Archives' website includes a summary of organizations and politicians represented in the collection.
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Sorry I haven't posted much lately. I've been busy and tired. The past few days have also been a bit slow in terms of O.C. historical news. If you have news to share, please send it my way.