Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Newport Harbor, H.B., Tony Forster, Fullerton, etc.

Local Civil War historian Charles Beal recently won this cool postcard on eBay. It shows the Methodist Auditorium and tent city in Huntington Beach, circa 1910. The Civil War veterans of the G.A.R. (Grand Army of the Republic) held annual conventions here for many years.

Tony Forster, great-great-grandson of Don Juan Forster, died on June 12th at age 71. Among his many accomplishments, Tony was President of the San Juan Capistrano Historical Society for 17 years, Mayor of San Juan Capistrano in 1970 and 1971, and was on the Board of Directors for the Mission Preservation Foundation. A guestbook is available online for those who knew him to leave comments.

The last couple years have not been good to Newport Harbor. First the Fun Zone was nixed. Then, last June, the glass-bottom Phoenix sank. Last fall, Rupert the black swan was killed. Then the Balboa Island Ferry substantially increased its fares. And this week, the Reuben E. Lee is being dismantled. I’m not sure what to make of this trend, but it’s certainly a sad one.

And speaking of sad trends… It looks like Knott’s is building yet another thrill ride on the edge of Ghost Town, leaving us to wonder what will be demolished to make room for it. Construction walls have been erected between the historic Jeffries Barn, the old Miniature Train Shop and the original Downey Post Office building.

The Register recently ran an article about a Cypress Barrio reunion in Orange. And today's issue includes an article about the new "history walk" display in Anaheim.

Author Don Ballard is still looking for blueprints of the Disneyland Hotel. Seems he may even have a second book about the Hotel in the works.

The plans for the expanded Fullerton transportation center include space for a museum dedicated to Southern California railroad history.

Sharon Avey (formerly of the Old Courthouse Museum) stopped by to visit today. Never one to sit still for long, she's now getting involved in the Eastern California Museum at Independence, California. It sounds like her three acres of land is also keeping her busy. She described her new Victorian garden as “four feet wide and 48 feet long.”

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Airport, Fountain Valley, Anaheim, Yorba Linda, etc.

Help! I need photos of the mosaic mural that graced the walls of the old Orange County Airport (a.k.a. John Wayne Airport) from 1967 until the new terminal took its place in the 1990s. (Postcard image at right.) The four-panel mural was executed by reknown California artists Rex Brandt and Phil Dike, and was located near the baggage claim area. It’s currently disassembled and in storage, but there seems to be a movement to bring it back to life. If you have a photo (of part or all) of the mural, please let me know.

Dann Gibb’s new Fountain Valley book for Arcadia Publishing is everything I’d hoped. He did yeoman’s work in gathering these photos from pioneer families as well as from public collections. If you live or work in (or near) Fountain Valley, you need to go to Barnes & Noble and buy a copy now. Really. Now. This blog will still be here when you get back.

Earlier, I mentioned tomorrow’s lunchtime lecture by Stan Oftelie at the Old Courthouse Museum Society meeting. Well, despite the announced topic (news photographer Bob Geivet) it sounds like Stan may also be straying into some discussion of the history of O.C. Government. Whatever his topic, it should be fascinating and amusing. Stan’s stories always are.

Dave of Davelandblog just posted some great photos of the Disneyland Hotel and the old Disneyland parking lot. My favorite is the first parking lot photo from Sept 1963: Quite a contrast to the dull hues we see on cars today.

A new “History Walk” in Anaheim was dedicated today at Broadway and Anaheim Blvd, consisting of five markers representing the eras of Anaheim’s history.

The Yorba Linda Historical Society will hold a rummage sale on June 30, from noon to 3pm at 18141 Bastanchury Rd. Cash only, please. (They didn’t say anything about small, unmarked bills, however.) Proceeds go to the Susanna Bixby Bryant Ranch Museum.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Cars, submarines, Los Alamitos, Nixon, etc.

Today's photo of is from the old Santa Ana Drag Strip at the Orange County Airport in either 1953 or 1955. (Photo courtesy First American Corp.)

A bunch of Juanita Lovret's articles about Tustin history are now available on the Tustin Area Historical Society's website. They originally appeared in the Tustin News.

With the revamped submarines opening at Disneyland, Werner Weiss has taken the opportunity to post some construction photos of the original attraction, which opened in 1959.

The Dana Point Historical Society has a new page about Doris Walker, including a few selections from some of her books.

Bruce Herschensohn's latest missive on the Nixon Library's website recalls advice Nixon gave him during a discussion in San Clemente. It's good advice for historians too, and worth excerpting here:
"When you’re handed research, you might remember what you read for a short while, but not for long. Don’t get the information too easy. If you go through the trouble of doing your own research, you’ll remember it – not just for a short while. You might even remember it throughout the rest of your life. The more difficult and time-consuming it is to find out information, the more solid it will become in your mind. Don’t accept a researcher. Go to the library. Look it all up."
The recently re-launched Knott's Berry Farm fan site,, just posted a photo essay on the old Haunted Shack. They also posted a short audio clip from the long-defunct Bear-y Tales dark ride.

Speaking of Knott's, Kim Riddlebarger left an interesting post at OCThen about her family's former business at the Farm. You may remember the religious gift shop near the Little Chapel By The Lake. Kim writes:
"The name of the exhibit was Art-Glow Studio. It was originally opened by my aunt, Lou Morris, and then taken over by the Olson family about 1952. My family (the Riddlebargers) opened the Inspiration House next door in 1955.
"My family closed the Inspiration House in January of 1994. My dad died in 1969 and my mom in 1992, and I had been running the store, but entered a new career.
"The Inspiration House was relocated to Grand Ave in 1984."

Fountain Valley is (even as we speak) celebrating their 50th Anniversary. Ongoing coverage continues on the Register's website.

The Garden Grove's Chamber of Commerce is celebrating their centennial.

The Los Alamitos Museum recently honored the staff of the City's Public Works Dept for their volunteer efforts. The museum depicts the history of the Los Alamitos area. It is located at 11062 Los Alamitos Blvd and is open 2-4pm, Tues and Sun.

The Fox Fullerton Theatre will hold a "work party" on June 16 (and also July 21, Aug 18, Sept 15, Oct 20) to help prepare the historic theatre for reconstruction.

Friday, June 01, 2007

Wonders of O.C., Paper Fair, Cynthia Ward & Stan Oftelie

The Register's travel editor, Gary Warner, ran a contest to name "The Seven Wonders of Orange County." (It seems he specifically meant man-made wonders.) See the winners here.

I'm pleasantly surprised to see the Lovell Beach House made the list, even if it didn't get many votes. Designed by architect R. M. Schindler in 1926, this is the building that introduced European Modern architecture to the United States. Architecturally, it's probably the most important building in O.C., but hardly anybody here knows about it. It stands on the seaward side of the Balboa Peninsula. (Photo of the Lovell Beach House by Julius Schulman.)

But back to the "Seven Wonders" list... There are some strange omissions. For instance, if Disney's Matterhorn is on the list, why isn't the Calico Mine Ride at Knott's? It's 8-stories tall and has a lot more going on inside it. For that matter, why aren't the other Disney E-ticket attractions on the list? If a multi-story, underground, half-flooded building, full of audio-animatronic pirates isn't a wonder, then what is?

Attention postcard and ephemera collectors: Hal Lutsky's Vintage Paper Fair has returned to the Elks Hall (400 W Colorado Blvd) in Pasadena this weekend! “More than 90 booths on 2 floors. Features a wide variety of vintage paper collectibles as well as more than a million postcards.” Sat: 10am-6pm. Sun: 10am-4pm. The entry fee is $6.00, good for all 3 days. A $2 coupon is available online. Buying old postcards is a great way to get early images of your community.

Architectural historian Cynthia Ward has a good article about residential preservation in the Summer issue of Atomic Ranch magazine. Atomic Ranch, by the way, is a great magazine for anyone who digs Mid-Century Modern architecture and design. You can get copies or subscriptions through their website, or buy single issues at Otto or Out Of Vogue, both of which are on the 100 block of E. Commonweath Ave in Fullerton.

For those who know Cynthia, you might also be interested in this old O.C. Freakly article.

"Googiemel" has added an entry to her "O.C. Googie Architecture" blog. This particular entry -- the Islander Apartments in Santa Ana -- is notable as actually being Googie and actually being in O.C. Like me, her focus seems to drift as she spots other cool things along the roadside.

The Brea Museum & Heritage Center is working on a new and improved website. You might want to bookmark it and check back later.

Stan Oftelie will be the speaker at the June 20th meeting of the Old Courthouse Museum Society. He'll be discussing news photographer Bob Geivet, who is also the subject of the Old Courthouse Museum's current exhibit. Stan is probably best known as the head of the O.C. Business Council, the former head of the OCTA, the leader of the O.C. Bankruptcy Forum, and (earlier in life) as a Register reporter and Supervisorial staffer. Not many people know that he's also one of the best local historians in Orange County. The meeting will be held at lunchtime, June 20th, on the third floor of the Old O.C. Courthouse Museum.