Sunday, December 25, 2016

Merry Christmas!

Here's a promotional card created for Jim Sleeper's 1st Orange County Almanac of Historical Oddities (OCUSA Press, 1971). The hole in the upper left corner mimics the hole drilled through each copy of the almanac itself. Why? "This is for the installation of the Almanac on a short nail within arm's reach of wherever the reader sits down to do most of his serious thinking," wrote Jim on page two. "Articles have been tailored to coincide with the usual time reserved for these moments of enlightenment."

Despite the inauspicious reading enviornment originally suggested for these volumes, Jim's almanacs really are an indispensable part of of any Orange Countian's personal library. I treasure my copies and have backup copies, just in case. They are full of fascinating historical facts, stories, and observations -- rendered with an brilliant (if curmudgeonly) wit and charm that delights even those readers who've never before expressed an interest in local history. Not just a remix of material from other sources, the Almanacs are primarily composed of accurate content you'll find nowhere else, which makes them essential reference material for local historians.

Curiously, "the usual time reserved for these moments of enlightenment" also happens to be about the same length of the average, modern, Facebook-addled attention span. So even the grand-kids will enjoy the Amanacs, assuming they've learned how to turn pages in actual books.

If you do not have all three editions of Jim's Almanac, give yourself a belated Christmas present. The third edition is available through the Orange County Historical Society and sometimes through the Santa Ana Historical Preservation Society. The first and second editions are harder to find, but often turn up on Amazon.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

The Church of Reflections, Knott's Berry Farm

The Church of Reflections and revolving Christmas tree at Knott's, late 1950s
Some of you will remember the little historic Church of Reflections (1876), which stood in the middle of Knott's Berry Farm, near Reflection Lake, the "Original" Berry Stand, and other charming but low-key attractions. It was moved across the street, near Independence Hall in 2003. Here's a brief timeline of the amazing history of this little church:
  • 1876 – The church was built as First Baptist Church of Downey and was located at Second and Church Streets in Downey. It was built of redwood.
  • 1891 – A baptistry was added to the church.
  • 1922 – The building was purchased by St. Marks’ Episcopal Church and moved to Fifth St. “across from the fields”
  • 1953 – The church was vacated and would remain unused for a couple years.
  • 1955 – Early in the year, the church was condemned to make way for the expansion of Downey Community Hospital.
  • 1955 Sept – Knott’s Berry Farm purchased the church building, along with its 1911 Estey organ and 1900 Belgian stained glass windows. Walter Knott just wanted to move the building to the Berry Farm, but building codes wouldn’t allow it. So the steeple, windows, fixtures, and perhaps a few other elements of the building were moved to Knott’s and the rest was rebuilt with new materials.
  • 1955 Oct 2 – The first service was held in relocated church. The church was initially used by a Lutheran congregation, with a Rev. Foster officiating. The new name, “Church of Reflections” was announced.
  • 1958 Nov – A neon cross was added to roof. Knott’s employees purchased a new stained glass window as an anniversary present for Walter and Cordelia Knott, which was placed behind the altar. The first wedding is held at the new location.
  • 1976 Jan – The building was plaqued by Native Daughters of the Golden West
  • 1979 Aug – Longtime pastor Rev. Claude Bunzel retired and the schedule of church services became more limited.
  • 2003 Oct – The church was removed to make way for a new roller coaster. The steeple, stained glass windows and pews are moved to a site across Beach Blvd. and became part of an otherwise new (but similar) church building. The final service beside the lake was held on Oct. 5th. Services later resumed at the new location, near Independence Hall.

Jim Sleeper on Red Hill

 
I was doing research in the files of the Orange County Archives last week for an article about Tustin’s Red Hill for the Jan. 2017 County Connection employee newsletter, when I came across the most informative piece on Red Hill I've ever seen. It was an April 21, 1975 letter from historian Jim Sleeper to Orange County Historical Commission Chairman Wayne Gibson, who must have asked Jim for an overview on the subject. By Jim's standards, this was just a rough collection of notes and thoughts, but by any other standard it's an invaluable look at an important historical landmark. (To say I quoted him extensively in my own article is an understatement.) Anyway, I thought I’d share the text of it here, along with some illustrations I've added, for the benefit of my readers:

Dear Mr. Gibson:

The press of business prevents me from supplying more than a cursory sketch of Red Hill. Suffice it to say that I consider it to be the most significant natural landmark, with the singular exception of Santiago Peak, left in the county. As for community identification, Red Hill is to Tustin what the Spurgeon “clock” is to Santa Ana, or the “plaza” is to Orange.

Physical significance

Standing 347 feet in elevation, the hill itself is roughly 1,000 feet long and perhaps half that distance in width. It is well defined, both by its obvious color as well as its geologic distinctness from the nearby hills. Volcanic in origin, Red Hill houses an impressive number of minerals. Among the most significant are baryta, aluminum, barite, black sulphide of mercury, mercury, cinnabarite and tiemannite. (State Mineral Survey Bulletin 91, 1922.) In addition, the hill was long a source of petrified wood.

Prehistory

Known to the Gabrielinos as Katuktu, the place figured in Indian mythology as a “place of refuge” stemming from its association with early tales of the Great Flood. Data regarding Red Hill’s Indian legends was gathered by John P. Harrington, of the Smithsonian, from survivors of the Juaneno tribe in Capistrano just prior to World War I. (If memory serves me, the name Katuktu was also adopted as the chapter name of the local D.A.R.)  Indian burials and numerous artifacts have been discovered on and around the hill, but to my knowledge, only one serious “dig” (ORA-300) has been made in that area. This was in 1971.
Red Hill circa the 1950s. Photo courtesy First American Corp.
Early designations

Following its Indian name, a variety of titles were applied to the hill. During Spanish times it appears on the Grijalva Diseno of 1801 simply as Las Ranas, a designation apparently supplied by the missionaries. Red hill stood at the head of the Cinega de las Ranas (“Frog Swamp”) which ran from that place to Newport Bay – hence the name “Frog Hill.” During the Mexican period, the site appears on the José Antonio [Yorba] map of 1839 as Serrito de las Ranas. And on the Jose Sepulveda 1841 diseno as Cerrito de las Ranas. Significantly, this is the name which Sepulveda used in his first (but unsuccessful) application for a rancho grant in 1836. When finally issued a year later, the same parcel was designated as the Rancho San Joaquin. In effect, then, Cerrito de las Ranas is the first name for the bulk of what is today called the Irvine Ranch. Other names were applied to the hill with no apparent confusion. Cerro de las Ranas and ultimately Serrito or Cerro Colorado were the most common.

Following American intervention and settlement, the English equivalent of Cerro Colorado was applied in the 1870s. Just as often, it was referred to as “Rattlesnake Hill,” an appellation which persisted until after the turn of the century, and with considerable justification judging from contemporary accounts.

Survey Point

Unquestionably, Red Hill’s greatest significance during the Rancho Period was as this area’s initial survey point. It is the one point in common for the three ranchos making up the Irvine, marking as it does the eastern border of the [Rancho] Santiago de Santa Ana, and the north-south division point of the [Rancho] Lomas de Santiago and the [Rancho] San Joaquin. Apparently, the hill itself was monument enough, for nothing more than a small rock cairn at its top commemorated this all-important base point.
Survey equipment in use atop Red Hill, 2012. Photo courtesy O.C. Surveyor.
Mining

Despite its several minerals, cinnabar was the one most prized during the sixty-odd years that Red Hill was intermittently worked as a mine. The scarcity of “quicksilver” elsewhere in the state (non-existent elsewhere in the county) made it significant. Consequently, the promise of big profits stimulated numerous attempts. Mission records may disclose an awareness of the mineral (as mentioned in some papers), but this is unconfirmed. The earliest allusion to Red Hill’s potential occurs in Harvey Rice’s Letters from the Pacific Slope (1869). In describing the San Joaquin (Irvine) Ranch, he states that “mines of coal and quicksilver have recently been discovered.”

As to actual mining, the initial attempt seems to have been in 1884 when it was prospected for cinnabar. Until 1893 all attempts were direct operations of the ranch itself. The earliest name applied was the “Rattlesnake Hill Mercury Mine.” An analysis and description of improvement work is described in Bowers’ Tenth Annual Report of the State Mineralogist (1890). In the year or two following this report, the Irvine Co. sank a tunnel 400’ long, another 30’ and one 30’ shaft.

Fairbanks’ Eleventh Annual Report of the State Mineralogist (1893) mentions a tunnel several hundred feet which was run into the hill from the south as was another 100’ long on the north side.
Between 1896-98 the property was leased by Thomas “Shorty” Harris, who worked the mine with a crew from the Santa Clara Coal Mines. This effort resulted in several shafts about 70’ deep.

The first stock promotion of the mine occurred early in 1899 when a ten year lease was taken cut by two Santa Ana men, R. J. Kimball and J.A. Turner. In the course of the next six months they sank two shafts, one to a depth of 80’, another of 30’. Reports indicate that eight men were employed “around the clock,” and that some 50 tons of ore had been extracted. Literature boomed the mine’s assays as running “as high as 80%’ (of mercury-bearing ore), reputedly worth $250-600 per ton. The mine was heralded as exceeding even that of the Almaden in Spain, the richest in the world, which runs only 10%.” In its best veins, Red Hill’s cinnabarite ran possibly to 50%, but overall it was 5% sulphide of mercury – still high for this type of material. Appearantly production did not match the bombast of publicity, however, for correspondence indicates that the Irvine Co. had trouble collecting its $200 annual lease fee.

On Feburary 2, 1907, Red Hill passed [out of] ranch ownership after forty acres in “block 13, Irvine Subdivision” were sold to Felton P. “Frank” Browning.

During World War I, when mercury was at a premium, the mine was worked again, this time by A. W. Sheets under a lease from Browning. A “chalk mine” was also reported on the hill during this period.

In 1927 the mine was revived by a miner named McWaters who leased the property and recovered 120 flasks of mercury (then selling at $120 per flask). McWater’s method was to distill ore from previous tailings in a wood burning retort. His overall “take” was placed at $12,000. A year or two later, a prospector named Secrest took over the mines and built a larger gas retort, though is profits, if any, are unknown.

Reputedly Red Hill was reactivated for the last time during World War II, though I cannot confirm the developers or their output.
Detail of map from the miniature book, Katuktu, by Herschel C. Logan
Historical Associations

In addition to mining, Red Hill (under one name or another) figured as a landmark skirted by the Portola party (1769), the mission fathers on El Camino Real, the Stockton-Kearny expedition (1847), the Coastline Stage (1866), and the Seeley & Wright Stage Line (1869), which passed either in front or behind the hill depending on the swampy road conditions at the time. During the 1890s, Red Hill was the scene of frequent turkey shoots, and was the first rifle range of Co. L, the local militia, which also staged mock skirmishes here. In 1899 the first heliograph experiment in the county was conducted by Co. L between the top of Red Hill and Huttenlocher’s Opera House in Santa Ana. In 1909 the first flight of a manned aircraft in Orange County, a glider built by Dana Keech and piloted by Ray McTaggert, took off from the top of the hill.

Historical Recognition

On January 8, 1930, the preliminary application for Red Hill as a California landmark was filed by county historian Terry E. Stephenson. Granted, the site was registered as State Historical Landmark #203.

In 1968 the Historical Advisory Committee of the Advance Planning Division of the O.C. Planning Department designated Red Hill as a county landmark. It so appears on the historical site map of 1969 as #57.

Possibly more telling of the hill’s community identification is the fact that a dozen commercial houses in the Tustin area have incorporated “Red Hill” as part of their business name, not to mention its use as a street name, as well as that of a school, a church and even a volunteer fire station.
An illustration of the retort from Logan's 1979 miniature book, Katuktu.
Conclusion

In my estimation, Red Hill is an important site – geologically, geographically and historically – not only to its immediate community, but to the county as a whole.

Sincerely yours,

James D. Sleeper

Recent photo of Red Hill's peak. Photo by Chris Jepsen.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Bristol Avenue & H.R. Bristol

H.R. Bristol's first Santa Ana drug store, circa 1887.
Ever wonder how Orange County's Bristol Avenue got it's name? This major north/south thoroughfare extends from the Garden Grove Freeway in Santa Ana, past South Coast Plaza, down through Costa Mesa where it turns east, and into Newport Beach where it was once called Palisades Road. It dead-ends at Jamboree Road, just above Upper Newport Bay.

But who was Bristol named for?

Henry Richard Bristol was born on August 22, 1855 in Farmington, Illinois. He was the son of druggist Riley Bristol and his wife, Maria. Henry followed in his father’s footsteps and became a pharmacist. In 1877 he married Ella Frances Grouard. Their children would include Edna (1879), Henry Raymond (1885), and Marian (1891).  The family left Farmington and arrived in Santa Ana in 1882 and Henry initially made his living here as a farmer. But in the mid-1880s he returned to the pharmacy counter, establishing his business in a commercial space on the first floor of the Rossmore Hotel at Sycamore and Fourth Street.

The railroad boom of the late 1880s gave Orange County’s economy and population a big boost, and business was growing fast. In 1888, Bristol brought a partner into the business – druggist A. R. Rowley of Indiana, who’d moved to Santa Ana only the year before. The business became the highly successful Bristol & Rowley Drug Store. Soon, they needed a larger space, and they had a big two-story building constructed on the northeast corner of 4th St. and Main St., which would become known as the Bristol & Rowley Block. This is now the site of the First American Corp. parking lot.
Medicine bottles from Bristol & Rowley at Santa Ana Historical Preservation Soc.
Around 1908, Rowley retired from working in the store and handed over the day-to-day operations to younger managers and pharmacists. Rowley died in 1918.

For health reasons, Bristol sold his share of the business to Rowley in the early teens and moved to Los Angeles County – first to South L.A. and finally settling in the young community of Owensmouth, in the San Fernando Valley. There, he grew Valencia oranges. The Bristols regularly visited all their old friends in Santa Ana, and their Santa Ana friends reciprocated. In fact, for many years the Santa Ana Valley Ebell Club even held annual day trips to the Bristol’s ranch. 
Oranges and tract homes along Bristol Ave. near the I-5 Freeway, circa 1950s.
Ella died in June of 1924. Henry died Feb. 28, 1928, just a year after taking a trip to Hawaii aboard the S.S. Calawaii. Henry, Ella, and their son Laurence are buried together at Angelus Rosedale Cemetery in Los Angeles.

Long after the drugstore was gone, the building at 4th and Main was called the Bristol and Rowley Block, although it eventually became known as the French Building before being bulldozed to make way for Montgomery Wards.

What lasted longer was the name Bristol Street, named for pioneer druggist H.R. Bristol. The street was called Newport Road until at least 1891 and was called Bristol Street by 1894.
Traffic camera view of Bristol Ave. at Santa Ana Blvd., 2014.
What remains a mystery is why a significant thoroughfare was named for a local druggist who'd only arrived a dozen years earlier from Illinois. He doesn't appear to have owned land or a business along Bristol Ave. Did he do something special to warrant this honor? If you know something more about H. R. Bristol, please let me know.
Bristol headstone at Angelus Rosedale Cemetery. (Photo from Ancestry.com)

Monday, December 05, 2016

Come to "Show & Tell" at the O.C. Historical Society!

It’s time again to rack your brain and rummage through your garage and your scrapbooks in preparation for the Orange County Historical Society’s annual Show & Tell and holiday gathering! It's all happening this Thursday, Dec. 8, 2016, 7:30 p.m, at Trinity Episcopal Church, 2400 N. Canal St., in Orange. And you are invited! Plan to bring a choice artifact, photo, or a bit of memorabilia that connects to an interesting story or fact about Orange County’s past.

Maybe it’s an orange crate from the packing plant mom worked in. Or maybe it’s great-grandpa’s branding iron, an early redwood surfboard, a plate from an old local restaurant, or a one-of-a-kind photo of Walt Disney giving Water Knott a “noogie.” Everyone’s looking forward to seeing and hearing about the item you bring.

We’ll have a sign-up sheet when you enter and participants will be called up one at a time. The public is welcome and refreshments will be served.

Friday, December 02, 2016

Knott's California Mission models are back!

Bob Wier working on Mission San Luis Rey model, 2014.
I just received this press release from Knott's Berry Farm:

CALIFORNIA MISSIONS MAKE THEIR LONG AWAITED RETURN TO KNOTT’S BERRY FARM

BUENA PARK, Calif., November 2016 – Knott’s Berry farm announced today that the beloved scale models of California’s historic Missions have returned to the park on Wednesday, November 30. This project reflects Knott’s continued appreciation and preservation of California’s rich history.

Scaled models of the original California Missions boarder the same midway between Silver Bullet and the south entrance of Fiesta Village, as it did previously for many years. Twenty-year veteran of Knott’s Berry Farm’s woodshop and current Knott’s craftsman, Bob Weir, has been meticulously restoring the missions for over three years, for a new generation of guests to appreciate.

“Knott’s Berry Farm prides itself in celebrating California’s rich, living history, and the California Mission models hold as much educational value as they do sentimental value for many of our guests,” said Knott’s general manager, Jon Storbeck. “We know that grade school curriculums in California include lessons on the California Missions, so we’re pleased that Knott’s Adventures in Education programs will allow students a unique and authentic learning experience that can only be found at Knott’s.”

In addition to the return of the historic missions, Knott’s is hosting its Early California History Day on March 15, 2017, in which students will have the opportunity to visit and tour the displayed models within the park, as well as have the opportunity to display a mission of their own. One homemade mission model will be selected to represent an individual school and enter into the California Missions competition. The winning models will be awarded special Knott’s Berry Farm prizes.

History
In the 1950’s as Knott’s Berry Farm grew in popularity, Walter Knott needed a way to keep park guests off of the stagecoach trail between the train depot and the northern end of the park for safety reasons. In keeping with the spirit of Knott’s – attractions both entertain and educate – Walter commissioned Leon Bayard de Volo to create scale models of all 21 California Missions. The missions were displayed in lit cases along the midway running between the Calico Railroad and what is now the south entrance to Fiesta Village.

The area was named El Camino Real (“The King’s Highway”), in honor of the actual California highway that connects all 21 missions.  On the North and South ends of El Camino Real stood two full-size double-arch “ruins,” which were built and installed at Knott’s in 1955 and 1956, respectively.  Today, the double-arch ruin that originally marked the entrance to Mission row near the train station can be found near the Ghost Town General Store and the Indian Trails Stage.  The northern most double-arch is still standing in its original location, behind Wave Swinger in Fiesta Village. 

Observe replicas of the historic California Missions such as:

• Mission Santa Barbara
• Mission San Gabriel
• Mission Santa Cruz
• Mission San Diego
• Mission San Buenaventura
• Mission San Carlos Borromėo
• Mission San Luis Obispo
• Mission San Antonio
• Mission Santa Clara
• Mission La Purisima Concepción
• Mission San Miguel Arcángel
• Mission San Luis Rey 
• Mission Santa Ines
• And more

...The park will install all 21 mission models within the coming months. 

Ed -- For a history of Knott's mission models, see my four-part series on the subject from several years ago. I'm also briefly quoted in today's Orange County Register article on the return of the mission models.

The Mission models are one of the many classic Knott’s attractions that not only charmed and entertained but also fostered a desire to learn more about history. Naturally, you don’t get an in-depth history lesson from a theme park display, but your imagination is sparked and you want to learn the rest of the story. I’m hardly the only historian who was heavily influenced as a child by attractions like Ghost Town, the Western Trails Museum, Independence Hall, and the miniature Missions.  But the Mission models’ return isn’t just about inspiring future historians – It’s also an encouraging continuation of Knott’s tradition of being far more than just an amusement park.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Happy Thanksgiving!

Turkey in an orange grove, Orange County, 1910s. (Courtesy Orange County Archives) 

Monday, November 14, 2016

Nixon Nukes Chicken in Anaheim

I've posted about Don Nixon's restaurants here before, but I thought this 1957 clipping from Popular Science Magazine was interesting enough to share. I'm particularly surprised to learn that the Vice President's brother could fry a chicken in a microwave oven in 30 seconds. They must have had very different microwaves back then.  

Friday, September 09, 2016

The Royal Order of Optimistic Donuts

Ad from 1930s Civic Repertory Theatre of Los Angeles program courtesy J. Eric Lynxwiler.
In naming their brand of toroid  treats “Optimistic Donuts,” the Davis Perfection Bakery, located near Los Angeles City Hall, referenced the old saying, “The optimist sees the doughnut; the pessimist sees the hole.” It was an odd enough name to draw attention.

To draw even more attention, they also sponsored "The Royal Order of Optimistic Donuts" radio show on KNX radio on Friday nights from 1925 to 1934. This vaudeville-like variety revue was hosted by ad man Bert Butterworth and featured a wide variety of guests, from Morey Amsterdam to Willie Best to Minnie Pearl. The show was unusual for its time in featuring a largely black cast, including talents like Hattie McDaniel, who went on to bigger and better things.

The house band was "The Optimistic Do-Nuts,” a creole jazz band led by piano player Sam McVea. In the early 1910s, McVea’s live performances had provided the soundtrack for seemingly every big party in town.

KNX’s strong broadcast signal and the limited interference of the 1920s airwaves meant that the show was often heard all across the western half of the United States. And beginning in 1928, the show was also broadcast by KYA in San Francisco.

That same year, the L.A. Times wrote, "Bert Butterworth at 8 p.m. will hold his weekly frolic over KNX. The studio-free-for-all affair has been going on as a Friday night feature almost since the station opened four years ago. It has its ups and downs, of course. Sometimes it is good and at other time it is mediocre. But on the whole, the various performances average up to an hour of wholesome entertainment."

In the late 1930s, Davis Perfection Bakery also fielded a good women's softball team, which also called the Optimistic Donuts. They were based in Hollywood and often faced off against such powerhouses as the Orange Lionettes.

Thursday, September 08, 2016

Los Alamitos, Dana Point and wine

Larry Strawther writes, "August 21 marked the 75th anniversary of the groundbreaking for the Los Alamitos Navy Air Station – the first major military base in O.C. (despite what the fans of the Santa Ana Army Air Base say.)  I haven’t seen anything marking such an august occasion, so I thought you might be interested in sharing the below linked article with your blog..."
http://localhistory.wpengine.com/2016/09/06/august-21-marks-75th-anniversary-for-los-al-base-groundbreaking/

Speaking of anniversaries, I'm still catching my breath from the big ceremony and time capsule opening/exhibit at Dana Point, marking the 50th anniversary of the groundbreaking of the harbor there. I've posted some of my photos from the event to a Flickr album, for those interested. Also, as of yesterday, I've installed an exhibit of many of the time capsule contents (and the capsule itself) at the Dana Point Historical Society. See their website for hours.

I hope to see some of you tonight at the Orange County Historical Society's season kick-off event at Sherman Gardens in Corona del Mar. (See the OCHS website for details.) Sue McIntire and Don Dobmeier will speak on the subject of "Wine in Orange County."

Friday, August 05, 2016

Santa Ana's wishlist, 1881

Fourth St., Santa Ana, circa 1887.
On Dec. 14, 1881, the Santa Ana correspondent to the new Los Angeles Times newspaper shared some of the pros and cons of her growing town and set forth a sort of community wishlist:

"Santa Ana is certainly coming to the front. We are bound to be and will be something yet. We have already enough and to spare of some  things. For instance, if you want a few preachers, or school teachers, we can supply you., and as for doctors we could supply the whole county. [Ed - Orange County was still part of Los Angeles County then.] We have all sorts: the old, the young, the half-breed Indian, the street corner loafer, the aristocrat, the little pill, the big pill, yes any kind of a pill. Every second man on the streets of Santa Ana is a doctor.

"...Mechanics of all kinds are very busy, [and] more could find employment if here, as there is much improvement going on and much more to be done both in town and country.



"...Wild geese are very plentiful just now. Come down, some of you city sportsmen, and take a few. We don't want them all.

"...Santa Ana wants:
A first-class hotel.
A first-class public hall.
A few less doctors, preachers and lawyers.
A stop to building more churches at present.
A much larger school house.
A few good servant girls.
A few more marriageable gentlemen.
A few less street corner loafers.
A good heavy rain."


So, 135 years later, how's Santa Ana coming along with its wish list? Let's take a look:
  • There seem to be plenty of mechanics now. (Check)
  • The doctors have mostly moved to places like Newport Beach. (Check)
  • The lawyers also mostly have their homes and offices elsewhere now, although the courts are still in Santa Ana. (Check)
  • Santa Ana still has plenty of "pills" -- But probably no more than most places. (No change)
  • The churches are mostly drying up and fading away. Only the Catholics seem to be thriving these days, and their cathedral is in Orange, not the county seat. (Check)
  • We've definitely thinned out the wild geese, although I still see a few hanging around Centennial Park. (Check)
  • Santa Ana has some pretty nice hotels, especially down by the airport (e.g. the Doubletree), although it lacks the kind of iconic hotel it had when the Saddleback Inn was at its peak. (Check)
  • The city may still not have a great "public hall," but for large public gatherings and performances there's the Santa Ana Bowl and the Yost Theatre. (Maybe half a check)
  • Schools continue to be a top priority for Santa Ana, and scads of teachers have been hired and schools have been built. But the district's academic rankings generally leave something to be desired. (Work in progress)
  • Santa Ana undoubtedly has an outsized number of "servant girls," although most commute out of Santa Ana to work. (Check?)
  • Does Santa Ana now have more "marriageable gentlemen?" I will live that for the ladies to decide. Single doesn't mean marriageable. (Unknown)
  • As for "street corner loafers:" At last check we had about 500 homeless people living among the landscaping at the Santa Ana Civic Center alone. And who knows how many folks in any given community are home watching TV (the modern street corner) during the work week. (Fail)
  • And all of Southern California is once again anxiously awaiting a "good heavy rain." (Status quo)

Friday, July 15, 2016

Fiesta de Luz, Sam Stein, and the Almazzadeluzoresquibo

From "High Lights In Civic Parade & Carnival", Popular Mechanics, Jan. 1917
Short, 353 pounds, bald, and wearing a pink cheesecloth gown, costume jewelry and a woman’s wig, businessman Simon Samuel “Sam” Stein hoisted himself into the gold carriage which traditionally carried Santa Ana’s petite parade queens. The carriage creaked and groaned, but held together – much to the relief of Stein’s retinue: A group of “Zulu” warriors and that rarest of animals, an Almazzadeluzoresquibo. 

It was June 15, 1916, and the City of Santa Ana was celebrating its fancy new street lights with a “Fiesta de Luz.” This nighttime event included a band concert at Birch Park, vaudeville performances, a fundraiser dance (or “Jitney Ball”), streets lined with sundry amusements and community group booths, and a parade with dozens of units.

At the start of the parade, on a reviewing stand at City Hall, Mayor Augustus J. Visel welcomed Stein eloquently and, with great ceremony, presented him with a crown and scepter, naming him the queen of the Fiesta. “Subjects, behold your queen" he called to the crowd as Stein powdered his nose dramatically and assessed himself in a hand mirror. Then Visel pressed a button, turning on the city’s new electric street lights to the accompaniment of cheers and applause.
Stein's dress was displayed in the window of Rankin's Dry Goods prior to parade. (L.A. Times, 6-16-1916)
The Queen’s parade unit was led by the “Queen’s Band.” The “Zulu” warriors – walking alongside the carriage – were actually Santa Ana High School boys wearing black tights, raffia skirts, and burnt cork on their faces. A unique imaginary animal known as the Almazzadeluzoresquibo was somehow brought to life and brought up the rear of the Queen’s entourage.

As the carriage rolled through the streets, Stein got big laughs as he primped and preened before some 25,000 onlookers. In fact, he was so popular that he and his "Zulus" were invited to take part Long Beach’s “Carnival of States” parade the following month.

(One wonders, in today's climate, which would generate more outrage: White kids in blackface, or a whole crowd laughing at a man in women's clothes.)

Stein had been part of the planning committee for the Fiesta de Luz and had volunteered to be a figure of fun. But despite the gales of laughter directed at him along the parade route, he was a beloved local personality.
Pin-back badge promoting attendance at the Fiesta de Luz.
Sam Stein was born in Russia on Sept. 5, 1884, the second of five children born to Samuel H. and Lena Stein. The family immigrated to New York when he was very young. In 1902, while still in his teens, Sam came to California and went to work for the Lazarus Stationary Co. in Los Angeles. He worked for this company for twelve years, including as a traveling salesman. One day, while going door to door in Santa Ana, he recognized the town’s need for a local stationary store.

He moved to Santa Ana with his wife Celia; children, Arthur and Helen; and his younger brother, Ivie. And in 1914, he opened Sam Stein Stationery in the Spurgeon Building. The shop, which was also a book store, began with one employee, but the business grew rapidly.

The Santa Ana Register called Stein “a thorough businessman of congenial and happy disposition… keenly interested in civic affairs,” and described him as “one of the best known and most popular men in Santa Ana."

He was the founding secretary of Congregation B'nai B’rith of Santa Ana and was involved in the Masons, Shrine, Elks and other local fraternal organizations. He was also active in the Los Angeles Young Zion's association.

Rev. F.T. Porter, pastor of Santa Ana’s First Christian Church, later remembered, “Mr. Stein was a man of activity, a man who massed his forces, his thought, his energies on a point and made the point, which accounts for his success in business life in Santa Ana... As a citizen he had the welfare of the city at heart and was active in civic affairs, throwing his great personality and force to those things that were for the best interests of the city. He was an honest man, honest with his business associates, his friends and his family. His interest in school athletics and other of the various activities of the school evidenced that he was delighted to do such thing and that they were done because of his interest in delight in helping in the schools and not purely from a business and selfish motive."
Unfortunately, the portly Stein had diabetes and in early 1922 developed a carbuncle (usually caused by a bacterial infection) on his neck. He had just finished moving his business into a larger space at 307 W. Fourth St. (now with about fifteen employees) when he had to check into Santa Ana Community Hospital. His condition worsened and he was sent to St. Vincent's Hospital in Los Angeles for further treatment. He died there in March 1922.

Jewish tradition dictates that a person’s body be buried as soon as possible after death. There was no time to distribute notices or print announcements in the newspapers for Stein’s funeral. But word of his death got out and spread like wildfire through town. Ultimately, a very large crowd attended the memorial at Santa Ana’s Smith & Tuthill Mortuary, including many public officials, local business leaders, students and faculty from the local schools, B'nai B’rith members and many other friends and family. Masses of floral arrangements were on display.

Sam Stein was buried at Beth Israel Cemetery in Los Angeles.

However, the final disposition of Stein’s faithful Almazzadeluzoresquibo remains unknown. I will pay a dollar to the first person to find me a photo of the creature. I will double that if you bring in the creature itself -- dead or alive.

Friday, June 17, 2016

A Red Car anniversary

On June 17, 1904, the Pacific Electric Railway opened a "Red Car" line from Long Beach to Huntington Beach. It was an important moment that really breathed life into the new little beach town.

Henry Huntington owned the Pacific Electric. He also owned Huntington Beach. These things were not coincidental. Anyway, today is the 112th anniversary of the Red Car's arrival in Huntington Beach.

I have no time for a full-fledged post today, but I thought I'd share these two photos. The photo above shows the current "Red Car Museum" which sits on a remaining section of track along the Long Beach to Huntington Beach line in Seal Beach. The image below shows an early Pacific Electric excursion car at the foot of the pier in Huntington Beach. The large brick building stood roughly where Huntington Surf & Sport stands today.

Monday, June 06, 2016

O.C. in the British Library

Here are a couple images of old Orange County from the Flickr feed of the British Library. It just goes to show you haven't done all your research until you've looked EVERYWHERE.

Both images are taken in 1893 and used in an early issue of Land of Sunshine magazine. The image one above is a scene from Tustin, and the one below depicts what was probably Atherton's Ostrich Farm in Fullerton.


Friday, May 20, 2016

The Counterculture in Orange County

Handbill promoting Yippie Day at Disneyland, Aug. 6, 1970.
While the monolithic notion of Orange County as an ultra-conservative bedroom community has long been laid to rest, little has yet been said about the small but active counterculture that flourished here for generations. O.C. has seen quasi-utopian colonies, Timothy Leary’s Laguna adventures, bohemian artists' colonies, Aldous Huxley’s visit to Trabuco Canyon’s Ramakrishna Monastery, the Yippies’ “liberation” of Disney’s Tom Sawyer’s Island, "Happenings," the Brotherhood of Eternal Love, subversive bookstores, and many more examples of local free-thinkers, beatniks, non-conformists, cultists, Communists, iconoclasts, and unclassifiable wingnuts. 

 Curious to learn more about this part of our past? Register for the annual dinner of the Orange County Historical Society, June 10th, 2016. There, journalist/author/commentator Jim Washburn will “discuss the leftish side of the county, in a manner that shows just how entertaining history can be when the speaker has no regard for facts.” (Ed: Don't tell Jim I said this, but he's really quite good about getting his facts straight.)
Gerald Heard, Christopher Isherwood, Julian Huxley, Aldous Huxley and Linus Pauling at the Ramakrishna Monastery, Trabuco Canyon, 1960.
Washburn has written about music, popular culture and politics for the L.A. Times, O.C. Register, O.C. Weekly and publications from Rolling Stone to Reader’s Digest. He co-authored the book Martin Guitars, an Illustrated Celebration and the John Crean autobiography, The Wheel and I. He has curated four exhibits at the Fullerton Museum Center, on such topics as O.C.’s rock music history and O.C. in the disco era. (If you attended his earlier OCHS talk on the history of rock music in Orange County, you know why you need to hear him speak again!)
Timothy Leary: "Rec'd from Orange County 3-18-70."
This year's OCHS annual dinner will be held in the Historic Friends Church (1888), which is now part of Moreno’s Restaurant in El Modena. For more information or to sign up, see the OCHS website. As of this writing, there's about a week left in which to register. There will be no walk-ins allowed.(Yes, I know,... all these rules are a real drag, man. Just another example of "the man" trying to keep you down.)
Tim Morgon performs at Balboa beatnik hangout The Prison of Socrates.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

A couple events this weekend...

...and if you can't make it to this event in Costa Mesa on Sunday (or even if you can), also consider the big Vintage Postcard and Paper Show and the Glendale Civic Auditorium, which runs BOTH days this weekend!

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Pioneer Andres R. Arevalos

Andres Arevalos turns first shovelful of dirt at Arevalos School groundbreaking, 1964.
In the 1950s and 1960s, during Orange County’s unprecedented population boom, schools were being built at a shocking rate. Each school district had its own naming conventions. The policy of the Fountain Valley School District (which also overlaps the City of Huntington Beach) was to name schools for local pioneers like William T. Newland, Hisamatsu Tamura, Robert B. Wardlow and William D. Lamb. Today, many of those schools have closed and in some cases only the adjoining parks – also bearing the pioneers’ names – remain. Now that there’s talk of changing the names of some of those parks, I thought it worthwhile to share a little bit about each of their original namesakes.

Researching Lamb’s biography for my March 22, 2016 post proved pretty straightforward. But it was much more difficult finding information about the namesake of Arevalos Elementary School, built at 19692 Lexington Lane in Huntington Beach.

Andres Reynoso “Andrew” Arevalos (sometimes spelled “Arebalos”) was born Nov. 30, 1880 in Mexico. He left Jalisco for the United States in 1905. He married Guadalupe (“Lupe”) Garcia, also a Mexican national, in Indio before they moved to the Fountain Valley (a.k.a. Talbert) area in 1908.
Superintendent Baubier and Andres Arevalos at Arevalos School opening, Feb. 1965.
The Long Beach Press-Telegram would later describe Arevalos as “little man with courteous ways." Despite his size, he was strong and hard-working. He worked for twenty years as a section hand for the Engineering Department of the Pacific Electric Railroad. This meant he was part of a crew of laborers who maintained a particular section of track. Perhaps it’s no coincidence that Arevalos worked for the Pacific Electric for twenty years – roughly the same length of time that the P.E.’s Santa Ana-Huntington Beach line was operational (from 1909 to 1930). 

But most of Arevalos’ attention went to farming and family. He raised sugar beets, corn and peppers in the fields around Talbert, including the land across the street from what would eventually become Arevalos Elementary School. Meanwhile, in the Arevalos home, he and Lupe would raise nine children.

In the early 1920s, the Arevalos were among the first residents of the Colonia Juarez tract in Fountain Valley – a neighborhood specifically created in 1923 as affordable and accessible housing for Mexican-American laborers. After apparently renting for some years, Andres Arevalos bought Lot 42 (10332 Calle Madero) of Colonia Juarez on October 1926. He would live there the rest of his life.
Arevalos Park today.
Andres Arevalos never became a U.S. citizen, and he never learned to speak, read, or write in English. He seldom appeared in the local directories – probably because he could not communicate easily with the directory companies’ canvassers. Likewise, he seldom appeared in the newspapers.
Guadalupe Arevalos died in 1957 – the same year Fountain Valley incorporated as a city.

The Fountain Valley School District broke ground for Andres R. Arevalos Elementary School in January 1964. Andres and his 7-year-old grandson Rodney Arevalos joined School District Superintendent Dr. Edward W. Baubier for the ceremony.

The school was officially dedicated at another ceremony on Feb. 9, 1965. “It doesn't bother us that we named a school after a man who is neither rich nor famous,” Baubier said. “We are honoring the man because he was a pioneer in our community and has been a credit to it all these years. You can't measure what a man is by money but by his success. Arevalos' success is that he provied a good education for his family and knitted his family together with strong ties that are lacking in many families today.”

Among the speakers at the dedication was Dr. Susan J. Freudenthal, who the Register called an "internationally known teacher from the Netherlands," and the school’s first principal, Bruce Sinclair.
Shyly speaking through an interpreter, Arevalos said he never imagined there would be a school named after him. "I was very surprised when they told me they wanted to honor me," he said.
Andres Arevlaos died of emphysema on Feb. 28, 1966 at Orange County General Hospital, where UCI Medical Center stands today. He is buried at Westminster Memorial Park. His obituary in the Register called him the "Beloved father of Fred, Gilbert, Andrew, Michael, Joe and Rudy Arevalos, Mrs. Nettie Aguiliera, Mrs. Esther Garcia and Mrs. Jovie Lara."

Was Arevalos really a Fountain Valley pioneer?  After all, farmers were already settling in Fountain Valley at least thirty-three years before Arevalos arrived. And the Talbert family, who eventually laid out the town site at Bushard St. and Talbert Ave., arrived eleven years before Arevelos did. 
Modern view of the well-marked Arevalos Park.
But Andres Arevalos was clearly one of the first to put down permanent roots in the Colonia Juarez area, south of what’s now Mile Square Park. Today we think of Juarez simply as part of Fountain Valley. But until the city incorporated in 1957, Talbert and Juarez were distinct communities with their own personalities, histories, and pioneers. As such, Arevalos was a Juarez pioneer who later became a Fountain Valley pioneer by dint of annexation.

Sadly, the Fountain Valley School District trustees voted to close Arevalos Elementary School in 1988. In the decades since, the school buildings have been leased to the private Pegasus School. The adjacent park has continually been included on the City of Huntington Beach’s inventory of parks as Arevalos Park. The park features a playground, benches, a swing set, and a greenbelt. If the park is to be renamed, it is unclear what the new name would be.

My thanks to Stephanie George, Crystal Bracey and the Arevalos family (many of whom still live in Fountain Valley) for their help with this article over the past couple months. Click here to see the first part in this series.

Friday, May 13, 2016

Before and After: The Old Courthouse

The image above shows the Old Orange County Courthouse in Santa Ana around the 1910s. We're looking across the intersection of Sycamore St. and Santa Ana Blvd. (then called 6th St.). The image below shows a modern version of the same scene, from the same angle.
Okay,... Let's take a look at the details!

First, you'll notice that the cupola is now missing from the Courthouse. The popular story is that it was damaged during the 1933 earthquake and had to be removed. Indeed, it was removed while other repairs were being made to the building, post-quake. But that just provided a good excuse to remove the part of the building that was the most difficult to paint, clean, and otherwise maintain.

That said, those will keen eyes will notice that the stone work around the attic windows is different too -- And that WAS a direct result of 1933 quake damage. Those with impossibly good eyesight might also notice that parts of the curbs surrounding the courthouse block are still made of cobblestones, as they were in the early 1900s.

Next, notice that there's a lot more foliage in the modern view. The good news is that most of those trees are the same in both photos. I admire them every day, as I walk to and from my office. (And these days, they're often full of noisy green parrots.)

Most of the other buildings seen on the periphery and in the background of the early photo are long gone, but First Presbyterian Church remains. One of it's dome-topped steeples appears on the right of the older photo. The post-quake remodeled version can be seen in the modern photo as a white building with a gray roof.

The block across the street from the front of the Courthouse has changed completely since the first photo was taken. Today, a shiny glass office building and its white concrete parking garage fill the entire block. Prior to that, the block at various times held Santa Ana's old Carnegie Library, the Elks' Lodge, a garage, and more.

In the older shot, many of the surrounding buildings are churches. In fact, part of today's Civic Center Drive, behind the Old Courthouse, was originally called Church St. because of all the churches lined up there. In the 1950s, the car culture took over and people moved into the suburbs. Many of the churches followed, building big new sanctuaries on large parcels of land (with their own parking lots) further out amid the tract houses and orange groves.

That's it for today. Happy Friday!

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Dr. Coy and historical Orange County trivia

Owen Coy rolls out a great idea.
In 1928, Dr. Owen C. Coy, professor of history at USC and director of the California State Historical Association, began a crusade to start "an active, incorporated historical society" in Orange County. He outlined his plans in a lecture before the State Board of Education, which seemed enamored of his noble goal. Coy, not being a local, was unaware that the Orange County Historical Society had been incorporated and holding well-publicized meetings since 1919. But thanks anyway, Owen!

And speaking of the Orange County Historical Society,... You're welcome to attend their next meeting, which will be held in the VERY near future: Thurs., April 14, at 7:30pm at Trinity Episcopal Church, 2400 N. Canal St. This will be an ORANGE COUNTY HISTORY TRIVIA CONTEST, so bring ALL your brain cells along to this event. Quoth the OCHS website,...
"Back by popular demand, you’re invited to an evening at the Orange County History Trivia Contest! 
   
"Members and non-members alike, round up your friends and come as a team (matching t-shirts, hats, or team names always encouraged) or as individuals (and we’ll match you up once you arrive)!  
   
"Test your familiarity with Orange County history and challenge others in areas such as geography, literature, food, art, music, politics, sports, personalities, and general knowledge, in varying formats.  Meanwhile, enjoy the banter by our entertaining trivia game hosts! 
    
"It’s free to play!  Prizes given to the winning team.   If you’re new to the area or you’ve lived here forever, you’ll have fun, so come on down!  It’s a perfect opportunity to meet people who are interested in Orange County history."

Friday, April 08, 2016

Andrew Deneau (1949-2016)

Andy Deneau,1977. Photo courtesy Anaheim Heritage Center.
Andrew Leo "Andy" Deneau, who co-founded and served as the first president of the Anaheim Historical Society in 1976, passed away on Easter Sunday (March 27, 2016). This native son of Anaheim will be especially missed by the city's local history and historic preservation communities.

Andy was born on April 5, 1949 to Harold Leo Deneau and Rose (nee Hargrove) Deneau.  He attended George Washington Elementary School, John C. Fremont Junior High School and Anaheim Union High School (Class of 1967).  He worked his way through college as a dispatcher for the Anaheim Fire Department, and used his California State Teaching Credential to teach arts programs in the public schools.  Most recently Andy, a trained musician and performing arts professional, served as Director of Marketing and Community Relations for the Long Beach Opera and was the founding director of Dance In Schools, a supplementary arts education program in the Los Angeles Unified School District.

Andy’s life was defined by his substantive community service, including (in part): chairman, Heritage Committee of the original Cultural Arts Commission, City of Anaheim; chairman, Ad Hoc Museum Committee, City of Anaheim; member, Heritage Committee, Anaheim Bicentennial Committee; member, Citizens’ Capitol Improvement Committee, City of Anaheim; co-founder and first president, Anaheim Historical Society; founding board member, Anaheim Foundation for Culture and the Arts [aka Anaheim Cultural Arts Center]; founding member and treasurer, Anaheim Museum Inc.; founding member, Central City Neighborhood Council, City of Anaheim.  Most recently, he served two terms on the Anaheim Cultural & Heritage Commission (2007-2013).  Andy also co-authored, with Diann Marsh, most of the National Register applications for Anaheim landmarks [including the Carnegie Library and the Kraemer Building] submitted through the 1980s.

(Ed - My thanks to Jane Newell of the Anaheim Heritage Center for putting this obituary together.)

Saturday, April 02, 2016

Opal Kissinger (1924-2016)

Opal Kissinger portrays Helena Modjeska at OCHS history conference, 1988.
I wish this were some terrible April Fools Day joke, but it apparently is not. I just received word that Opal Kissinger has died. The obituary being forwarded around the Anaheim Library staff  follows below:
Opal Kissinger, 91, passed away on March 29, 2016 at St. Joseph’s Hospital after struggling for several months with numerous health issues.  She was born on July 27, 1924 in Iowa, where she was raised on a farm.  After graduating from Central Michigan University, Opal taught school in Iowa and Michigan for twenty years, following in the footsteps of her family.  She received her Masters’ Degree in education, with a minor in library science, from the State University of Iowa in the early 1960s. 

Following her marriage to Richard Kissinger, the couple moved to Orange County in 1963.  After teaching one year at Sycamore Junior High School, she became the librarian at Fremont Junior High School.  The 1967 Fremont yearbook was dedicated to her.  In 1970 she joined the Anaheim Public Library as an Adult Services librarian, becoming Local History Curator in 1974, a position she held until her retirement in 1987.

In the Anaheim History Room, Opal was responsible for collecting, cataloging, preserving and making available to the public materials related to Anaheim’s history.  Opal also administered the Mother Colony House, Anaheim’s oldest structure and museum.  During her 14 years, Opal introduced nearly 25,000 students to the Mother Colony House and Anaheim history.  She also contributed weekly articles and historic photographs to the Anaheim Bulletin, for which she was recognized as “Citizen of the Day” in 1984.  Opal was active in many clubs and organizations, including the Anaheim Historical Society, Mother Colony Household, Ebell Club and the Women’s Division of the Anaheim Chamber of Commerce.  In 2006 Opal was presented with the Anaheim Historical Society’s “Margaret Atkins Award” for her work in preserving Anaheim’s history.

Opal’s most unique contribution in the preservation and dissemination of Anaheim’s history were her first-person portrayals of women from Anaheim’s past, including Madame Helena Modjeska and Vicenta Sepulveda Yorba Carrillo.

After nine years of retirement, filled with a stint on the Orange County Grand Jury (1988-1989) and conducting tours of the Anaheim Stadium, Opal returned to the History Room in 1996 as a part-time librarian to assist with the organization of the huge collection of materials accumulated by Elizabeth Schultz.  She compiled the definitive chronology for the Anaheim Public Library, which was essential to the library’s Centennial Celebration in 2002. 

In 2008 Opal made a significant donation to Heritage Services, funding exhibit space at Founders’ Park for the many Anaheim artifacts [including a mail delivery carriage and wine press] collected by her during her tenure as Local History Curator.  Her legacy endures every time a student on a field trip, a resident or a visitor is introduced to Anaheim’s rich heritage by following the “OK Trail” at Founders’ Park.
Opal, Jane Newell and I at the Anaheim Historical Society 2007 Annual Dinner.
Local historian and former OCTA chief Stan Oftelie further points out that "Opal was a very big deal in local history and before her illnesses was the guiding light/chief organizer/lifelong officer of the Association of Retired Orange County Grand Jurors."

Opal was not just a great asset to the community, she was also extremely kind and a delight to be around. Happily, much of what she helped build and grow -- including the Anaheim Heritage Center -- will remain and will continue to benefit future generations. But Opal will be missed.

Update: The following obituary for Opal appeared in the Orange County Register on April 24, 2016:

Opal Leone "Lea" Kissinger, born on July 27, 1924 in Dayton Township, Iowa, to Carl Dewitt Wilson and Emma C. (Voelgel) Wilson, passed away peacefully March 29, 2016 at St. Joseph's Hospital after struggling for several months with numerous health issues. She was raised on a farm and attended public schools in Millersburg, Iowa. She received her teaching credential from Coe College, Iowa, attended several universities in Iowa and Michigan, earning her Bachelor's and Master's Degrees in education. She received her Master's in library science from San Jose State University, California.

Opal taught school in Iowa and Michigan for many years, as well as in California after she and her husband Dick moved to Orange County in 1963. In 1970 she joined the Anaheim Public Library as an Adult Services librarian, becoming Local History Curator in 1974 in the Anaheim History Room, a position she held until her retirement in 1987.

Opal was preceded in death by her beloved husband, Richard "Dick" Kissinger; and siblings, Ward Rossel Wilson, Eva Irene Marie (Wilson) Underwood, Jessie "Judy" Mable (Wilson) Ross and Anita Anne (Wilson) Wilson. She is survived by nieces, Joan Wilson, Susan Wilson Kirchner, Anne Wilson Dowling, Victoria Beck, Mary Underwood, Christine M. Miller; nephews, Robert Ross, John Wilson, David Wilson, Steven Wilson, David Casper, Steven Casper, Robert Feller; cousins Charles Johnson, Jolene Johnson, and Craig Johnson.

Special condolences go to Opal's caregiver Yenni Maruanaya who cherished her until the end. Interment is private at Fairhaven Memorial Park, Santa Ana. At her request there will not be a memorial service. The family suggests that any contributions in Opal's memory be made to the charity or organization of your choice.

Friday, April 01, 2016

Polynesians were first to settle Orange County

It’s just like Thor Heyerdahl told us. Except in reverse. Sort of.

No one has known the identity of the so-called “Oak Grove people” (or “Milling Stone Horizon peoples”) who inhabited Southern California 6,000 years ago. They disappeared long before the arrival of the Shoshonean people who were here to meet the Portola Expedition and the Spanish Missionaries.
Orange County historian Chris Jepsen holds a cogged stone or cogstone.
It was previously believed that the Oak Grove people had left few archaeological clues about their identities and their lives. Among those clues were the mysterious cogged stones which have been dug up by local farmers, gardeners, pot hunters and archaeologists for generations.

But new facts have come to light, and it appears that those earliest residents were Polynesians. How do we know? Check out these artifacts, uncovered within the last 15 years:
The ancient, ruined Tiki idol above was excavated in Sunset Beach, in front of Sam's Seafood restaurant in 2006. In the image below, a similar pagan idol is exposed after a heavy rain in the backyard of a home in Floral Park, Santa Ana.
Indeed, carved effigies typical of the South Seas seem to be widely distributed throughout the Orange County area.
Shown above is another Tiki found in the yard of a private residence -- This time on a hill overlooking San Juan Capistrano. Below are two earthen drinking vessels uncovered in Laguna Beach. It's believed they were used for religious ceremonies.

The "Garden Grove Place of Refuge" (shown above) was excavated in front of a suburban apartment complex. Caches of tiny fetish carvings may sometimes be found at such sites, like the Tikis seen below, which were found on the site of the Garden Grove Elk's Lodge in 2015.
Perhaps most spectacularly, an entire Polynesian temple has been uncovered in south Anaheim. (See photo below.) Structurally, it is in remarkably good condition. Unfortunately, it's infested with birds.
To prove the theory of Polynesian colonization, amateur anthropologists built a replica of an ancient Polynesian raft (shown below) and used the prevailing currents to float from Papeete, Tahiti all the way to the docks in front of Pizza Pete’s in Newport Beach.
On their journey across the Pacific, the anthropologists experienced thrilling adventures and terrifying scenarios, including spotty mobile phone coverage, rationing of hair conditioner, and an uneven ratio of hot dogs to buns. The story of their voyage is expected to be turned into a documentary, a lengthy book, an action movie, a children’s picture book, a Broadway musical, a chain of restaurants and a new flavor of chewing gum.