Friday, November 30, 2007

Salute to Santa, Sheriff's badges, and BOOKS!

It's time to decorate for Christmas, if you haven't already. In today's image, the Huntington Beach Chamber of Commerce decks out Main Street for the annual "Salute to Santa" event and parade. The photo was taken in early December 1950. The Hudson dealership seen in the background is now home to "The Electric Chair." To get an idea of what the "Salute to Santa" was like, read this H.B. Independent article by Jerry Person, describing the event in 1953. . 

The Orange County Historical Society will host the first of two planned "Authors' Nights" on Dec. 13, 7:30pm at Trinity Episcopal Church, 2400 S. Canal St, in Orange. Authors of recently published local histories will be on hand to sell and sign their books. Scheduled authors for the December event include Phil Brigandi (Orange County Place Names, A to Z), Jeff Delaney (Newport Beach's Balboa & Balboa Island), Steve Faessel (Anaheim: 1940-2007 and Historic Photos of Anaheim), Jeanette Gardner and Lawrence de Graaf (Early Placentia), George Jezek and John Westcott (Orange County Past & Present), and Doris Walker (Dana Point). What a great opportunity to do some Christmas shopping and rub elbows with historians! This will also serve as the OCHS's holiday meeting, with decorations, raffles, and refreshments. . 

As if that weren't enough, a the O.C. Historical Society will host a second author's night on April 10, 2008, which will include the authors of recently published histories of Santa Ana, Fountain Valley, Fullerton, San Juan Capistrano, Seal Beach, Yorba Linda, and the Missions of Southern California. . Speaking of books, the O. C. Sheriff's Department has just released a history book. The Golden Star is "an illustrated history of the badges, patches, and insignia of the Orange County Sheriff's Department," and was written by Deputy John M. Hollenbeck. Although the subject matter sounds like it might be kind of dry, it's really a great way to tell the story of law enforcement here in O.C. It's also an impressively illustrated book and even shows how badges are made. For more details, see the printer's website.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Balboa, Balboa Island, etc.

Jeff Delaney's new book, Newport Beach's Balboa & Balboa Island, will be available Dec. 3rd. It's one of the "Images of America" books from Arcadia Publishing. To find out more about the book and to see a bunch of vintage Balboa views, visit Jeff's website

Today's image (above) shows Marine Ave. on Balboa Island in the 1950s. What's the single most shocking change between Balboa Island in the 1950s and today? They had parking back then! Heck, you could park a whole bus in front of the post office! Today you'd have to wait for low tide, park out on the wet sand, and then rush to buy stamps before the tide came back in. 

The other day, an anonymous reader left a nostalgic comment on one of my early posts about Villa Sweden Restaurant in Huntington Beach. I thought I'd post a link to the comment here, since it's otherwise hard to find. 

Unrelated note: After a couple years of blogging, I finally got around to completing the About Me/Profile page here on the O.C. History Roundup. I doubt you really care what my favorite movies are, but at least you'll always have reliable links to my email address and my (non-blog) website.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Laguna, celery, Placentia, MODCOM & Christmas

Today's photo shows the 200 block of S. Coast Blvd, in Laguna Beach, in December 1946. You need to enlarge the photo (click on it) to see much of the detail.

Bowers' blog has a new entry about celery growing in early Orange County. It includes a couple great images.

The Los Angeles Conservancy's Modern Committee (MODCOM) will hold their annual holiday party on Monday, Dec. 17th. Keep an eye on their events bulletin board for details. (Yes, I know this isn't an O.C. event, but then O.C. doesn't have its own major architectural conservancy group -- and it certainly doesn't have a group to defend great Modern buildings.)

The Orange County Library Association's Fall Program will be held at the Placentia Public Library, Dec. 13, at 7 pm. The focus of the program is the local history collection at the library and historic sites in the area. For more information contact Margot McLaren.

Speaking of Placentia, the historic Bradford House is now decorated for a turn-of-the-Century Christmas. An open house and tours will be held 2-4pm, Dec. 9. For more information, call (714) 993-2470. The Bradford House is located at 136 Palm Circle, in Placentia. 

Today I stumbled across another blog dedicated to a facet of Disneyland's history. The blog's name clearly states its laser-beam-like focus: "Vintage Disneyland Tickets." Some of you ephemera fans will definitely dig this.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Capistrano, Tustin, Knott's Berry Farm, etc.

The federal government has decided that the Juañenos don't rate recognition as a tribe. I wonder if they would have fared better had the three factions united before approaching the Feds. In any case, I'm sure appeals are already being prepared.

Meanwhile, back at Mission San Juan Capistrano, the Church wants more time to study whether they actually put the new rectory garden on top of an old cemetery. It sounds to me like a mystery that could be solved over a weekend with a jackhammer and a shovel. But I suppose that's why I'm not an archaeologist.

The City of Tustin's preservation efforts and the 1922 bungalow at 245 South A St. will be featured in the next issue of Cottages & Bungalows magazine. Check your local Barnes & Noble or Lowe's to find a copy.

Ken Stack has started a blog called Outside The Berm. It seems to focus on old images and collectable from local theme parks -- especially Knott's Berry Farm and Disneyland. It will be interesting to see how the blog develops. He certainly has some great photos to share.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Southeast Huntington Beach, 35 years ago

Today's photo shows the intersection of PCH and Newland Ave. in Huntington Beach in 1972. The photo comes from the California Coastal Records Project -- an amazing online resource created by Kenneth & Gabrielle Adelman. Not only have the documented the whole length of California's coast, but they also provide comparison photos from the 1970s. It's a fascinating way to compare the changes to our coast over the years, both natural and man-made.
In this particular image, we can see the Edison steam plant, some remaining oil tank farms, the green areas of Edison Park and Edison High School, the old Spanish-style buildings on Huntington State Beach, and a few open fields yet to be turned into tract housing.
Note the wide undeveloped strip on the inland side of the highway. That strip was carved out during the 1950s, when there was a plan to develop it into a coastal freeway. The plan was eventually aborted, and much of that land is still vacant through southeast Huntington Beach.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Early Santa Ana

This is Downtown Santa Ana in about 1895. We're looking west along 4th St, with Main St crossing directly in front of us. The tall building on the right is the Otis Building, which -- although seriously remodeled -- still stands. Also note the unpaved streets and the horse-drawn trolley just making the turn onto 4th.

I believe I grabbed this image off an eBay auction long ago, which means it probably originated with either First American Corp. or the Santa Ana Public Library.
I'm afraid the historical news has been a little thin lately, what with the holiday and all. I hope to have something more for you soon. In the meantime, I hope that these photos will help bridge the gap.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Dana Point in the 1950s

This is what Dana Point looked like before the marina was built. You may recognize the winding road and the gazebo in the upper right hand corner of the photo. Otherwise, the scene has changed drastically. Today, the Ocean Institute would be visible at the left side of this view. The headlands, of course, are now being covered with houses -- because Orange County clearly isn't developed enough yet.

Buffalo Ranch, Olinda, Chris Epting, and more.

You say you’re not looking forward to Thanksgiving leftovers? Why not join Chief Push-ma-ta-ha and his friends for buffalo burgers, baked beans and coffee at the Buffalo Ranch in Newport Beach? This photo by Bob Geivet is undated, but was probably taken in the mid-to-late 1950s. (Photo courtesy Old Courthouse Museum.)

At their last meeting, the O.C. Historical Commission named the Olinda Oil Museum and Trail an official historic location. They’ll put a plaque up on the site early next year.

Local author Chris Epting will sign his books (including Images of America: Huntington Beach) at Barnes & Noble at Bella Terra Shopping Center in Huntington Beach, Dec. 6, at 7pm.

Yesterland has added press releases from Disneyland’s first birthday, in 1956, along with photos of the park taken that same year.

Today’s Register includes an article about the Dreger Clock, which I wrote about last month.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving

A turkey farm somewhere in Orange County, Nov. 1951
The list of things I have to be thankful for is far too long to post here. However, I’d like to share at least some of the list as it pertains to local history: I’m thankful for all our great patrons who visit us at the County Archives. From the family that visits us while on vacation, to our regulars, to the folks we set our watches by -- You’ll never meet a more interesting and enjoyable group of individuals. They are the key reason that my job is SO much more than a job to me.

I’m thankful for all the great people who make local history tick here in O.C. – Historical society members, authors, historians, librarians, archivists, teachers, individual volunteers, journalists who write about local history, and owners of old buildings who catch the preservation bug. It’s a privilege to know these people, and I’m looking forward to meeting many more in the coming years.

I’m thankful that I get to work with Phil Brigandi. I’ve learned more from this guy in four years than I could have learned in any four master’s degree programs. He’s not just the County Archivist and probably our best practicing local historian – He’s also a friend, a mentor, a very amusing guy, and a fine example of how to be a good Christian without being obnoxious about it.

I’m thankful to County Clerk-Recorder Tom Daly, for recognizing the importance of Orange County’s historical resources and maintaining the County Archives.

I’m thankful for the growing number of people who read this blog regularly and for those who send me items to include. It’s especially gratifying when I receive emails that say things like, “I never really thought about Orange County’s history until I stumbled across your blog. Now I’m trying to learn more.” That’s music to my ears.

So, thanks! .

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Turkeys, a plastic house, and The Great Flydini

Today's photo shows a turkey farm across the street from the Orange County Courthouse in Santa Ana, circa 1906. From this angle, we see the back and west side of the Courthouse and the old jail. The upper part of this image was really bad, so I had to do a lot of Photoshopping just to make the tower and jail visible. (As always, click on the image to embigulate it.)
Daveland recently featured a great series of photo features about the Monsanto Plastics Home of the Future at Disneyland. This house was so well built that the wrecking ball had no effect when they wanted to tear it down. It simply bounced off the side of the unaffected house. Eventually, they had to cut the plastic panels apart with hacksaws.

Steve Martin's autobiography, Born Standing Up, was released yesterday. In tribute, my Phoenix correspondent forwarded a link to Martin's interpretation of "El Paso." Also, here are some other links to Martin clips, including The Great Flydini, some classic magic tricks, and a short-subject film: The Absent Minded Waiter. As I've mentioned before, Martin got his start here in Orange County.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Ebell Club of Anaheim, Dana Point, Santa Ana, etc

Today's photo shows the ladies of the Ebell Club in Anaheim in 1938. In honor of the 100th anniversary of this club, the Anaheim Historical Society will hold their next meeting at the historic Ebell Clubhouse, 226 N. Helena (at Cypress), across from Pearson Park, Nov. 27, 7pm. The speaker will be Tom Richard, founder of the Old California Lantern Company, who will discuss the history and development of lighting.

On Dec. 11th & 12th the Dana Point Theater Company will present, “The Way It Was,” a look back at early Dana Point. Oral histories gathered by the Dana Point Historical Society will be dramatized and accompanied by a mulitimedia presentation. The program will be held both nights at 7pm in the Samueli Center of the Ocean Insitute at Dana Point Harbor. Tickets are $15 for adults, $12 for children. 

First Presbyterian Church of Santa Ana is celebrating their 100th Anniversary. One of the highlights of working in Downtown Santa Ana is hearing their carillon. It's about the only place I still hear traditional hymns anymore. (These modern "praise chorus" things -- which feature about two notes each -- wouldn't sound too great translated into bells.)

While it's a little recent to count as history, I think Kevin Yee's new book, Mouse Trap, is the sort of thing future Disneyland/local historians will want to have on the shelf. It recounts Kevin's time working at Disneyland in the 1980s and 1990s. Sometimes collections of memories like this can paint a picture in a way more scholarly efforts cannot. A good example is Charolette Belisle's abundantly-titled Orange County and Life Before Disneyland: The Story of the World Famus Belisle's, 1955-1995. It probably won't be mistaken for a doctoral thesis, but I find there's often a lot more to be learned from reading stories "straight from the horse's mouth."

Friday, November 16, 2007

Villa Park, Dana Point, Capistrano, El Toro & Santa

In response to my last post, alert reader itsnotaplace wrote, "Great photo of Santa on the Log Ride! But, I want to see what he looked like coming down the flume..." Well, here you go. (Photo, again, courtesy the Orange County Archives.)
The Hidden Jewel, a new pictorial history of Villa Park, is now available for pre-sale ($50) at Villa Park City Hall. All proceeds go to the Community Services Foundation's historical, cultural and educational programs. There also seems to be a matching t-shirt available on

The Dana Point Historical Society will celebrate its 20th birthday with a special program on Dec. 5th at the Dana Hills Tennis Center, 24911 Calle De Tennis, 6:30-8:30pm. (For the record, "Calle De Tennis" is the funniest example of Real Estate Spanish I've heard since "Rancho Relaxo.")
The San Juan Capistrano Historical Society recently added three buildings to its original museum on Los Rios St. One of the houses has been rehabilitated and now features a special exhibit of old dolls. The other two buildings await rehabilitation until more funds become available.

The Saddleback Area Historical Society has a number of holiday events on tap early next month at Heritage Hill Historical Park. First they'll host a Victorian Christmas , Dec. 1, 11am-3pm, which will include live entertainment, children’s crafts, living history demonstrations, historical exhibits, Santa Claus, and tours through decorated historic buildings. This will be followed by Candlelight Tours, on Dec 8 & 9, 5:30-8:30pm. These evening events will include luminaria lit paths, historic buildings aglow with holiday lights and decorated with period décor. Also expect Victorian carolers, storytellers, and visits with Santa.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Christmas events, etc.

In today's image, Santa Claus rides the Knott's Berry Farm Log Ride, circa 1969. Why a Santa photo so early? Although we haven't even started defrosting the turkey for Thanksgiving, it's already time to start penciling in those special Christmas events on the calendar...
The historic French Park neighborhood in Santa Ana will host a Holiday Home Tour on Dec. 8th and 9th, 10am-4pm. Tour seven homes (and one church) built between 1885 and 1930 -- all decorated for the holidays. A National Register historic neighborhood, French Park’s architecture showcases Eastlake Victorian, Craftsman bungalow, and Colonial, NeoClassical and Spanish Revival styles. Tickets are $20 in advance, $25 at the door. For more information, visit the French Park website or email
That same weekend, on Saturday, Dec. 8, the Santa Ana Historical Preservation Society will host a Holiday Open House at the Dr. Howe-Waffle House at Civic Center Dr. and Sycamore. Admission will be free the whole day.

The Old Courthouse Museum will hold its own Holiday Open House on the following Tuesday -- Dec. 11, 11:30am-3:30pm. There will be refreshements, live entertainment, and even a craft project that I'm told will borrow elements from my own Googie website. (I'm curious to see what that's all about.) This event is co-sponsored by the O.C. Historical Commission.
Nostalgia-tainment professional Charles Phoenix will bring his "Retro Holiday Slide Show" to Orange County this weekend. Specifically, he'll present his show Friday, Saturday and Sunday at the Curtis Theatre in Brea. See hand-picked holiday selections from Charles' amazing slide collection (1940s-1970s) and enjoy his colorful and amusing narration. Tickets are $28, with discounts for kids and seniors.

Earlier this week, the Dana Point Planning Commission discussed the possible addition of the house at 33905 El Encanto to the City's Historic Resource Register. Please drop me a line if you've heard how this came out.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Bruce Gordon, Tustin, Old Maizeland School, etc.

Walt Disney poses with hippos destined for Disneyland's Jungle Cruise, circa 1955.
Historian, author, and longtime Disney Imagineer Bruce Gordon has died. In addition to helping create rides like Splash Mountain, Gordon wrote and lectured about the history of Disneyland. His book with David Mumford, Disneyland: The Nickel Tour, is the first book I recommend to anyone interested in the park's development. Gordon also played a big role in writing, ghost-writing, and providing information for other histories of the park. And perhaps just as importantly, he championed worthy publications like E-Ticket magazine. Since leaving Imagineering, he'd been helping create and design the new Walt Disney Family Museum. Gordon was only 56 at the time of his death. (Link to obituary.)

The Tustin Area Historical Society's next meeting will be held at 7:30pm, Nov. 19, at the Tustin Senior Center Lounge, 200 S. C St. Margaret Pottenger of "The Jabberwocky" and Erma Zwirner of "Erma's Gift Box" will present a program entitled, "Two Women Merchants of Old Town Tustin.

The Old Maizeland/Rivera Schoolhouse (California Historical Landmark 729) at Knott's Berry Farm will no longer be used as a "Ranger Station." The many critters now housed in the one-room schoolhouse will soon have new homes, and the building will instead be filled with exhibits depicting the history of the Pony Express. This will match the theme of a new ride now being built at Knott's.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

O.C. Judo Club, Golden Horseshoe & Costa Mesa

Today's image shows the Orange County Judo Club, in 1932, posed in front of chili dryers in Garden Grove. This photo is mentioned in this Register article from last February. (Photo courtesy CSUF's Center for Oral & Public History.)

Were you a fan of [Slue Foot Sue's] Golden Horseshoe Revue, which was performed at Disneyland from 1955 to 1986? Then save the date for a Golden Horseshoe reunion, dinner show and shin-dig at the Anaheim Sheraton Hotel on March 29, 2008. Tickets will undoubtedly go fast, so purchase them now through a website set up especially for this event. The program will include some of the show's biggest stars, including Wally Boag and Betty Taylor.

Useless fact: The Guinness Book of World Records lists the Revue as the longest running musical in history. (Starlight Express just seemed like the longest if you had to sit through it.)

The City of Costa Mesa's Historic Preservation Committee's next meeting will be held Thursday (tomorrow), 5:30pm at City Hall, 77 Fair Dr. Topics will include the restoration of the Estancia Adobe, and a historical mural project.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Nikkei Heritage, Wintersburg & Thurl Ravenscroft

Sowing Dreams, Cultivating Lives,” the current exhibition at the O.C. Agricultural & Nikkei Heritage Museum at the Fullerton Arboretum (at CSUF) is closing on Sunday, Dec. 2nd. This was planned as a temporary exhibit so after it closes, there won’t be another opportunity to see it. It’s free, too. Hours: Saturdays & Sundays, Noon-4pm. The photo above shows an interior view of the museum. The photo below comes from the exhibit, and depicts the congregation of the Wintersburg Japanese Presbyterian Church in 1920. Rev. Junzo Nakamura is on the upper right. (Both photos courtesy Stephanie George of CSUF.)
Speaking of the church at Wintersburg,... I haven't heard any news about the historic buildings there lately. But if any preservation (or demolition) info comes my way, I'll post it here.

My Phoenix correspondant, Greg Ottinger, discovered a big collection of songs by the late grrrrrreat Thurl Ravenscroft of Fullerton -- All available for download. Although Ravenscroft had a long and wide-ranging career in music, you're more likely to remember his voice booming out of Tony the Tiger, from many of Disneyland's audio-animatronic characters, and from the announcer's booth at Laguna's famous Pagent of the Masters.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Newport redux, Anaheim History Room, etc.

Here's a 1950s photo of the same block of Newport Beach shown in yesterday's photo. You'll notice that the parking wasn't nearly as condensed then as it is today. (I usually end up parking here when I eat at the Crab Cooker.)

Please drop me a line if you have any news about events or projects related to local history. I'll be happy to promote books, lectures, home tours, museum exhibits, whatever... so long as there's a good local history hook. And if you can condense the information down to a couple sentences, that's even better. . 

Researchers, rejoice! The Anaheim History Room is open again! Now called the "Anaheim History Reading Room at the Muzeo," it is located in the big building behind the old Carnegie Library at 241 S. Anaheim Blvd. I have to carve out some time to visit Jane and see her new digs!

You can now have new articles from emailed automatically to you via Feedburner. I may have to look into setting up something like this for O.C. History Roundup too.

Friday, November 02, 2007

Newport Beach, Saddleback Valley & Yesterland

Today's image comes from a postcard mailed in 1942, although I'm sure the photo is earlier. It was taken from the Newport Pier and shows the spot where the Dory Fishing Fleet still sell their fish today.

The Saddleback Area Historical Society's next meeting will be held Nov. 18, 2pm, at Heritage Hill Historical Park in El Toro.

Werner Weiss' latest addition to is a look back at the relationship between Richfield Oil and Disneyland when the park opened in 1955. Much of the article is based on a newspaper ad that came from the Orange County Archives. So visit Yesterland and learn more about Richfield-sponsored attractions like Autopia and The World Beneath Us

Werner will also be in O.C. next week doing research -- both "in the field" and at various research libraries. It sounds like our paths will cross at least three times. I've enjoyed his website since 1995, (when computers were still coal-fired), and he still continues to add great new content.