Tuesday, June 06, 2017

Holy contributing to the deliquency of minors!

Thanks to my pal Jim Washburn for this 1960s photo of Batman (Adam West) and Robin (Burt Ward?) hanging around with Orange County high school kids. One girl is holding up a sign reading "Brea-Olinda" and a boy in the back is holding up a sign that reads "Rancho Alamitos High."

Anyone know what this was all about? Jim has no idea. So far, my only clue comes from a Feb. 13, 1966 Los Angeles Times article by Vi Ehinger, entitled, "Batman Transforms Image of Teen-agers." It reads,...

"Orange County teen-agers have gone 'batty.'

"And for once it has the approval of parents and school officials alike.

"Heretofore socially unacceptable words are being replaced by terse phrases such as 'gleeps' and friends are being brought home and introduced to mother as 'my Robin.'

"Responsible for the current teen-age trend is the Batman TV series -- an admittedly corny show that has captured the imagination of many a teen-ager and changed his way of life.

"The 'in' group at Brea-Olinda High School holds Batman parties.

"The first one, given by Krista Campbell, was attended by five persons. Last week's, hosted by Carl Sweet, boasted an attendance of 32.

"Refreshments at these social highlights include such goodies as 'bat saucers' (round cookies) and 'Holy Interruptions' (cokes or hot chocolate.)

"Students at McPherson Junior High School in Orange are circulating a petition to keep the teachers from assigning homework on the night Batman shows are on.

"The sports car set at the beach area now make 'bat-turns' and the school teacher is plagued with the raised hand and the request to go to the 'bat-room.'

"However, this teen-age nonsense is cheered by the parents and the school officials who claim Batman's and Robin's clean images are far more welcome than the long-haired rebel character."

Really? Gleeps? "My Robin?" "Bat saucers?" In this era of blockbuster Iron Man and Captain America movies, one almost forgets that superhero comic book stuff was once the domain of TOTAL NERDS.

Saturday, May 06, 2017

The O.C. Answer Man has left the building

"Holy Jim" Smith by Blair Thornley
I've been the "O.C. Answer Man," featured on the final page of each issue of Orange Coast Magazine for quite a while now. I started doing the monthly column in Dec. 2011 and have run the gamut of strange local historical facts and other curious O.C. topics (at least 195 in all). But the magazine's new owners have drastically cut the budget for freelancers, and I'm among the many caught in the RIF. This month's issue will probably be my last.

I have zero complaints. It's been a fun six years, I've enjoyed working with great folks like Marty Smith, Alan Gibbons and Jim Walters, and I've been lucky enough to have my work illustrated by talented artists Blair Thornley and Devon Bowman. My thanks to all of them.

Also, thanks to all my O.C. history friends like Phil Brigandi and Stephanie George, who sometimes fed me "Q"s for the "Q&A" and who helped point me to useful resources. Thanks to the late Jim Sleeper, whose inspiring almanacs showed me that even short historical blurbs could convey something worthwhile. And thanks to Mom, who was always happy to receive and comment on drafts when I thought an article wasn't quite working. (Everyone needs a retired teacher in their family.)

"Ask the O.C. Answer Man" was a great way to share O.C.'s stories with the world, but it's hardly the only way. As a local historian, I'm always at work on other projects (like my current exhibit at Chapman University, my monthly column in the County employees' newsletter, my article in the last O.C. Historical Society journal, etc, etc.), and undoubtedly still more opportunities will present themselves. Even though I'll miss Orange Coast, there will always be more useful historical work that needs doing.

In fact, you may see a bit more posting going on here at the O.C. History Roundup, now that I'm not saving so much material for paying customers.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Tiki In Orange County

I'm curating an exhibit at Chapman University called "Tiki In Orange County," which through August 25, 2017. The big kick-off event/reception/program is March 4th, and I hope to see you there! (Bring your friends and family, but please click through and RSVP so we know how many little paper umbrellas we're gonna need.)

Quoth the promotional blurb,...
Chris Jepsen, Guest Curator, presents Tiki in Orange County, on display in the Frank Mt. Pleasant Library of Special Collections and Archives. From architecture, décor and music to literature, theme parks and backyard luaus, the South Seas was a wildly popular theme throughout mid-twentieth century America. Artifacts, photographs, documents and music, offer a look at the origins of Tiki in the South Pacific, its interpretation in mid-century Orange County (and Southern California), and how both have inspired today’s Tiki revival.

Opening Reception: Saturday, March 4, 2017, 4:30 - 6:30 p.m.

Location: Special Collections and Archives, 4th Floor

Exhibit hours are Monday through Friday 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

Visitor parking is available with purchase of a temporary permit. For parking fees, maps & directions, visit: www.chapman.edu/map
Thanks not only to my gracious aforementioned hosts at Chapman, but also to the amazing folks who loaned, installed, or helped me create parts of this exhibit, including Stephanie George, Carlota Haider, Kevin Kidney, Jody Daily, Ben and Vicki Bassham, Bob Van Oosting and Leroy Schmaltz of Oceanic Arts, Scott Schell, Dylan Almendral, Sven Kirsten, Jason Schultz, Scott Eskridge, Gail Griswold, Eric Callero, Laurie Gates Cussalli, David Eppen, Patrick Jenkins, the Orange County Archives, the Santa Ana Historical Preservation Society, the American Heritage Musuem, and Jane Newell and Patricia Grimm of the Anaheim Heritage Center. It's an honor to know these people, I greatly appreciate their help, and I apologize in advance if I've forgotten anyone.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

It's Talk Like A Grizzled Prospector Day!

Illustration from Harper's Monthly, Vol. 21, 1860
Well sir, I reckon it's Talk Like A Grizzled Prospector Day again! A hunnert an' sixty nine years ago, some feller at Sutter’s Mill found GOLD, thereby settin’ off the whole dagnabbed Californee Gold Rush! All ye gotta do t’ celebrate this historical day appropriate-like is to talk like a consarned grizzled prospector, dadgummit!