Yes, I'd also rather see oranges than more housing. (Don't we have ENOUGH people in Orange County already?) And I like the folks I've met at the Grain Project too. But I still have to point out this picky detail: Aren't they usually called orange "groves?"
"I'm helping get the word out to help save one of the last orange orchards in all of Orange County.
"The Grain Project is the group trying to save it and they have some great creative ideas to turn this orchard into an urban community garden and save the orchard at the same time.
"The land is currently owned by Concordia University and they've turned it over to a developer who plans to bulldoze it and build 24 homes on this 5 acre orchard site. I'm trying to connect them with the foodie community, historic societies and media outlets and any like-minded bloggers. Here is their Facebook for more information: Save the Sexlinger Orange Orchard. They need more awareness and people to sign petitions to Save the Orchard.
"I'm a 7th generation Orange Countian and I would hate to see this piece of our County's history disappear forever. [The Grain Project has] ideas to create a community garden in this location and retain the orchard and are looking for solutions, as the clock is ticking and the city council will soon decide its fate."
Thursday, May 26, 2011
Wednesday, May 25, 2011
We sometimes hear people complain that nobody's written a book on a particular topic, or that a particular historic site wasn't preserved. Honestly folks,... If you want to see this stuff done, you probably have to do it yourself. YCPLHSOYA: You Can't Promote Local History Sitting On Your Ass.
I can't possibly thank everyone who contributes to the cause -- That kind of thing could easily take over my whole blog. But I do I want to thank some folks who went out of their way to help the Orange County Historical Society in the past few weeks. At the Anaheim Historical Society’s Home Tour, OCHS volunteers included Phil Brigandi, Don Dobmeier, Judy Moore, and Tom Pickett, (all seen in front of the Woelke-Stoffel House in the photo above,) as well as Kevin DeMera, Teri Vaughn, and John Bushman.
Thanks also to Adam England, Daralee Ota (both seen in the photo above) and Don Dobmeier (again), who staffed the OCHS table at Rancho Fiesta Day at Heritage Hill Historical Park in El Toro. (We tend to have at least two people at our booth, so volunteers can spell each other off and go exploring for a while.) Adam even brought rancho “artifacts” to decorate the booth.
Both the Anaheim Historical Society and Heritage Hill were excellent hosts. I thank them for inviting us and hope we’ll get the chance to be involved in their events again in the future.
Big thanks also to the Chris Epting and Maria Hall Brown and the team at KOCE who put together a great segment for Real Orange, letting people know about the exhibit, "On Location: Orange County In Silent Films." (On display at the Old Courthouse Museum through Aug. 5th.) You made me look better than I deserve!
Monday, May 23, 2011
As part of a recent settlement agreement with the City of Santa Ana concerning vintage properties in the Lacy neighborhood, the Santa Ana Historical Preservation Society is conducting emergency architectural salvage over the next week. Because of time and storage limitations they are offering cut-rate prices on salvage items to local individuals (no dealers please) who can come to the site and haul away items as they are pulled out. They want to keep these items in the hands of Orange County residents if at all possible.
Their salvage work must be completed by May 30th, so this is a great opportunity for those of you engaged in (or contemplating) remodeling or restoration. The structures being salvaged range from 1890s to 1930s and contain beautiful hardwood. Items are in various condition, some pristine, some with minor damage, and are sold "as-is". Here is only a partial list of vintage items available now:
- doors and surrounds (some gumwood)
- windows (casement and double hung)
- claw foot tubs (with and without feet)
- corner bathroom sinks and full country kitchen sinks
- built in dining room and kitchen cabinets
- Murphy beds (with complete hardware, some with doors)
- California coolers and shelves
- mirrored medicine cabinets
- built in window seats
- picture rail, baseboards, chair rail
- small gas stoves
- mail slots
- Victorian corner fireplace and mantle
- decorative pillars
- full hardwood staircase and banisters
- pocket doors
If you're interested, please call Lisa at (714) 788-9148 immediately to arrange to come and view the items and get a price quote. Remember, they must have all salvage completed by May 30, and proceeds will benefit the Santa Ana Historical Preservation Society.
Sunday, May 22, 2011
The sign above the infernal little fellow shown above reads, "This is the appratus that controls the volcano. It was made by Henry Legari, and is operated by the gentleman turning the crank. (Sound effect by Bob Hilliard.)" A wide view -- probably around 1950 -- is seen below.
Throughout the 1930s, Mrs. Knott's Chicken Dinner Restaurant had grown in popularity and size. At the end of the 1930s, the latest expansion gave diners an underwhelming view of an irrigation standpipe that was part of Walter Knott's farming operations. Ever the problem-solver, Walter figured out a solution: Turn the standpipe into a 20-foot-tall volcano! In addition to hiding the standpipe, the volcano would also add to the growing list of diversions available to guests waiting for their turn at a chicken dinner.
The volcano was built in 1939 at a cost of $600. The lava rock was hauled in from Pisgah Mountain, near the Knott's old homestead in Newberry Springs. Desert landscaping was added. So were signs, reading, "Danger, keep out!" and "Only active volcano in Southern California. Moved in from the Mojave Desert complete—and has been erupting faithfully ever since." Appropriate noises and steam eminated from the volcano. (The photo below shows the volcano in the 1940s.)
One of the volcano's most peculiar attributes was a strange mechinism of cranks, belts and motors that seemed to be operated by a little articulated devil figure (seen above). Some say the devil was added in the 1950s or 1960s, but historian Phil Brigandi points out an article in the Santa Ana Register from late 1939 that mentions him: "One must stop and read the description of how Mephistopheles does his 'devilish work.' By a little study you can follow the work of the many wheels that 'run' the eruptions. The latest radio amplifying set is used with real sound effects such as one hears in many radio programs... Through all these many turns and twists of the 'devil' the much talked of Inferno turns itself loose on the watching public...."
During World War II, a rumor began to circulate that microphones were hidden under some of the tables at the restaurant, and that an antenna inside the volcano was broadcasting the conversations of visiting servicemen to enemy listening posts. The FBI came out to investigate and peer down into the volcano. They found nothing, of course, but it made for a great newspaper story. (I've often wondered if having his patriotism called into question during the war had any effect on Walter Knott's ultra-patriotic stance in later years.)
In 1952, as the restaurant and surrounding shops continued to expand, the volcano had to be moved. It wound up near Marion and Toni Knott's Sport Shop, not far from the Gold Mine. The new location allowed the volcano to be connected to the Farm's steam plant, which provided an impressive blast of steam with each "eruption."
The color postcard image above shows the relocated volcano as it looked around 1960. Note the added cowboy statue.
The volcano and its diabolical control box were demolished in 1998. I've heard the rumor from numerous people that the devil ended up "going home" with someone who used to work for Knott's. I haven't been able to substantiate this rumor, but the FBI hasn't debunked it yet, either.
Saturday, May 21, 2011
The first restaurant at the end of the H.B. Pier, the Sun Parlor (a.k.a. The Sunshine Cafe),was built in 1933, after 500 feet of wooden pier were added to the existing 1,330-foot-long concrete pier. In 1939, it was destroyed when a chubasco (a violent tropical storm) raised 23-foot waves, which tore almost 300 feet off the end of the pier. (See photo below)
The business was popular, and so was John. He became an unofficial goodwill ambassador for Huntington Beach. Meanwhile, his wife Alice Gustafson owned and operated Alice's Breakfast in the Park Cafe over at Central Park.
Then in January 1988, it happened again. A violent storm rose up. Powerful swells hitting the bottom of the pier dislodged the two-story cafe and slid it into the ocean. A Register article quoted witnesses who saw The End Cafe floating out to sea, "like a houseboat."
With the pier closed indefinitely, he continued to run Maxie's Pizza. Meanwhile several of the cafe's former employees started a citizens group to raise money to build a new pier. They had moved on to other jobs, but wanted to make sure their friend got his business back.
Sadly, eternal optimist John Gustafson died of lung cancer in 1989 at age 59. From his deathbed, he dictated his thoughts to Alice on how the pier could be rebuilt, better than ever. And indeed, in 1992 it was rebuilt, taller and stronger,... But with a Ruby's Diner at the end.
Saturday, May 14, 2011
Afterward, Lorrie took Phil Brigandi and I over to the Trabuco Adobe (1810), which was an outpost for the cattle operations of Mission San Juan Capistrano. Not much is left, and even the few remaining walls took another hit in last winter's storms. In the photo below, you can see the wood shelter that protects the remaining portion of the building.
Tuesday, May 10, 2011
This is the most important extant Asian American historical site in Orange County, and still features the Wintersburg Japanese Presbyterian Church -- including the 1910 mission and manse, and the 1934 church -- as well as the pioneer Furuta family's charming California bungalow (shown above). All of this property now belongs to the Rainbow Disposal Company, which has proposed a plan to use at least some of the land for other purpose. Still other buildings are threatened by the planned road-widening project on Warner Ave.
Is there still a way to preserve this important piece of Orange County's heritage?
Monday, May 09, 2011
This is always a great event and the perfect way to spend a nice spring day.
The photo above shows a 1952 view of the parlor of the Mother Colony House -- one of the homes included on the tour. This house was built in 1857 by George Hansen, who originally surveyed the townsite of Anaheim for the Germans who founded the town. The Mother Colony House was dedicated as a museum on March 14, 1929, making it the oldest museum in Orange County.