Friday, February 29, 2008

Helme-Worthy House (ca 1880), Huntington Beach

I went for a walk in downtown Huntington Beach this evening and was struck by the "naked" state of the historic Helme-Worthy House at the corner of 6th and Walnut. It's needed stripping and repainting for decades, and I'm very, very pleased to see that it's finally happening. Also, it appears that the windows are also being restored. And did I mention that the redwood underneath still looks like new?
The house was built at 5th St. and Verano Ave. (now Euclid) in Santa Ana around 1880. Matthew Helme purchased the house from the Leatherman family and had it moved to its current location in 1903. Mules were used to pull the house along -- rolling it on logs.
Helme established the M.E. Helme Furniture Co. in 1904, and the store he built still stands behind the home, facing Walnut Ave. (see photo below). He was also involved in the incorporation of H.B. and served on the first City Council and as mayor. Both the house and the store are still owned by descendants of Matthew Helme.
According to Diane Marsh, Helme's "main interests as a City Councilmember were the modernization of the fire department, establishing municipal gas and water systems, paving the dirt roads, and installing street lights."
The house was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1987.
Luckily, the enormous "Strand" commercial complex now being built around the Helme complex has left most of the area's historically important buildings in place. This includes El Don Liquor on PCH, which once served as the offices of the Huntington Beach Co., and as the city's first movie theater.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Bolsa Chica, Midway City, Milford Zornes & cannons

Today's photo shows the Midway City Volunteer Fire Department in about 1936. Thanks to Tim Castroreale for the many Midway City images he's collected and shared.
You may remember my recent post about artist Milford Zornes' 100th birthday. Sadly, I have to report that Mr. Zornes died Feb. 24th. I was glad I got the chance to meet him and learn from him. He lived a long, full life, and he leaves an enormous legacy of art and inspired students.
Civil War historian Charles Beal asks a good question about this photo in today's Register. Namely, what's the story behind the cannon? In fact, there are two cannons at Savanna High School in Anaheim. Does anyone know their history?
Of course, the big history story in today's Register was actually a pre-history story. See "Unearthed Bones Reignite Dispute." In an email I received today, fellow Huntington Beach resident Marinka Horack expands on the story. She writes...

"Flossie Horgan, executive director of the BCLT [Bolsa Chica Land Trust] broke this story to the Register. She discovered this scandal while in Sacramento a couple of weeks ago when she had a meeting with Dave Singleton of the Native American Heritage Commission.

“Apparently, Hearthside Homes has dug up dozens of ancient human remains in this past year of construction on the Upper Bolsa Chica Mesa. They did not report them right away to the O.C. Coroner as they are required to do. Some 174 human remains have been found on the construction site which is directly over ORA 83, a Native American site that has been dated to go back as much as 8,500 years ago.

Dr. Daniel Rogers of the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History has stated that ‘ORA 83 is the kind of site that could significantly broaden our understanding of human cultural history with implications that extend far beyond California.’

“Despite this, Hearthside was allowed to build on top of ORA 83…

“The two Native American moderators quoted in the article are paid very well by the developer to observe the archaeological work and approve of the developer's procedures...”

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Captain Hook, Disneyland Hotel, Tustin & Orange

Today's image shows the Pirate Ship Restaurant at Disneyland in the 1960s. It seems this photo was taken after the Chicken of the Sea sponsorship was dropped and the "naming rights reverted" to Captain Hook. Click on the photo to see a much larger version with plenty of detail. Blog-readers from the Anaheim Colony will notice a young Mike Tucker seated next to his mom and sisters. The photo comes from his collection.
Speaking of Disneyland, Don Ballard has just launched a new blog about the history, development, and ephemera of the Disneyland Hotel. I hope his blog is as interesting as his book.
The Tustin Area Historical Society is looking for volunteers to help at their annual home and garden tour on May 17th. If you'd like to help, call the TAHS Museum at (714) 731-5701.
The Old Towne Preservation Association in Orange will hold its Preservation Awards Dinner on May 10, at the Woman's Club of Orange, 121 S. Center St. Nominations for awards will be accepted through April 10. For more information or tickets, visit

Monday, February 25, 2008

Buffalo Ranch, OutsideTheBerm, Orange County Ice

"Texas Tiny" downs a buffalo burger at Newport Beach's old Buffalo Ranch in today's image. In this March 1955 photo, Buffalo Ranch head-honcho Gene Clark points and laughs at the enormous... sandwich.
Speaking of old Southern California tourist attractions, one of the better blogs dedicated to that subject is going into semi-retirement. OutsideTheBerm has provided us with some great images and interesting discussion-fodder since it went online. However, I understand that OTB's blogger-in-chief has some amazing real-world projects in the offing which we'll all enjoy. Stay tuned.
Warning: There's a little profanity and crudeness in the last segment of today's blog entry. If you're one of the rare squeemish readers who actually made it past the photo of Texas Tiny, this would be a good time to put on your peril-sensitive sunglasses.
Orange County Ice, at Claudina and Santa Ana St. in Anaheim, has been making ice since the 1920s when they packed it into citrus box cars for shipping. Unfortunately, the building is almost completely rotted out, making preservation impossible. Before we knew about the physical condition of the building, Keith Olson wrote an email that rode the line between rant and poetry. It illustrates how attached we become to buildings that remind us of an age before Walmart and mobile phones.
THIS SUCKS. I MEAN REALLY, REALLY SUCKS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

"There are very few things I cherish (and the number is dwindling)

"There are very few things that are reliable, dependable, and consistent (and the number is dwindling)

"There are very few things that near perfection. Things that do one thing and do it very very very well. (and, yes, the number is dwindling).

"One thing that fits in all the above categories (and other similarly wonderful categories) is the ice house (or company if you wish) on Claudina and Santa Ana Streets. Orange County Ice, but we've always called it The Ice House. They make ice. A plain, square, ivy covered non descript building where they make ice. They've been there forever doing one thing and doing it perfectly. They're always there. They always have ice. You walk up the steps, hand the guy $8 and he goes into the giant freezer and brings you a big assed 50 lb bag of ice. Perfect. I always go there for ice. I love that place. I went there today with Charlie. We got ice. We got our $2 change from a ten. And a notice. They're moving to SANTAGODDAMNANA and will be gone at the end of March. Shit.

"The city bought the building. Gee I wonder what will happen to it.

"I hate everything about this. May the fleas of a thousand camels infest the pubic regions of anyone even remotely involved in this despicable undertaking."

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Katie Wheeler Branch Library opening, Irvine

Here are a few photos from yesterday's grand opening of the Katie Wheeler Branch Library in Irvine. As I mentioned in an earlier post, the building is a detailed accurate replica of James Irvine's ranch house, and sits in the exact same spot. In the back row of the third photo (L to R) are Supervisor John Moorlach (the tall, bearded fellow), Joan Irvine Smith (in red), and Supervisor Bill Campbell (with a replica of the original staircase behind him). Clearly there are also some County Library and Harbors, Beaches & Parks (HBP) folks involved in the ribbon-cutting too, but unfortunately I don't know their names. In the first (top) photo, you'll see noted Orange County historian Esther Cramer and her husband Stan, front and center. Special thanks to Glenn Frank for the photos.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Cypress, Brea, Anaheim, and Capistrano adobes

Today's photo shows beautiful downtown Cypress in about 1925. Although the Cypress School District was formed in 1895, the city first incorporated in 1956 under the name "Dairy City." The city's name was officially changed to Cypress the following year.
Today marks the 91st anniversary of the incorporation of Brea. At the time, in 1917, the town only had 732 residents.
Tomorrow (Sunday) will be the 151st anniversary of the formation of the Los Angeles Vinyard Society in San Francisco. This group of German immigrants would soon found a new vinyard colony in Southern California, and would name it Anaheim.
Sam U'Ren will present a slide show about the preservation of the adobe buildings of Mission San Juan Capistrano at noon on Tuesday. The show will be included with the regular admission at the mission.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Brigandi, Geivet, Dana Point, the Fun Zone, etc.

Today's image again shows the old Orange County Hospital & Poor Farm. (Yes, that's actually what it was called.) Go see the 1914 hospital building (amid the towers of UCI Medical Center) while you still can.
The Old Courthouse Museum Society's next meeting will be March 19, noon, at the Old Orange County Courthouse. Historian Phil Brigandi will give talk on "Orange County in the 1940s and 1950s" featuring images "from the Bob Geivet Collection." Lunch will be $7. Please make reservations in advance by mailing your name and payment to John Sorenson, 14932 Gainford Cir., Irvine, 92604. (Checks payable to Old Courthouse Museum Society.)
The OutsideTheBerm blog recently posted rare interior photos of the Balboa Fun Zone's late "Scary Dark Ride." Also, enjoy a look back at the Buffalo Ranch in Newport Beach.

The Dana Point Historical Society will hold walking tours of historic Dana Point on March 1, 2, 8 and 9. The tours will begin at 2pm at Bella Bazaar at the corner of PCH and Blue Lantern. These tours coincide with the City’s annual Festival of Whales.
Finally, I wanted to share another website I found relating to Johnie's Broiler, which I should mention was originally known as Harvey's Broiler. (See yesterday's post.)

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Orange County Hospital, UCI, Johnie's Broiler, etc.

I hear that UCI Medical Center plans to tear down the old Orange County Hospital building (1914), which now sits in the middle of their complex in Orange. Has anyone heard details or whether there's a preservation effort afoot?

I seldom write about non-O.C. news, but this particluar saga near and dear to my heart... Some time ago, the current owner of Johnie's Broiler (1958) in Downey bulldozed most of this googie landmark without pulling demolition permits, doing environmental abatement, or alerting anyone in any way. In addition to angering the whole city (and Johnie's fans everywhere), I'm sure he also bought himself a peck of legal trouble. Anyway, the next chapter in the Johnie's story is about to be written, and you can help strike a blow for Mid-Century preservation...
Chris Nichols of the L.A. Conservancy's Modern Committee (MODCOM), writes: "MODCOM needs your help!... Bob’s Big Boy is very interested in restoring Johnie’s Broiler... It [would be] a FULL REBUILD per the original plans. WOW. This is not just a local issue, it’s a grand piece of California Car Culture that we all want back. We need YOU to show up 7pm, next Tues., Feb. 26th at Downey City Council. We need your in-person support, it’s VERY important that you come – TV News is coming - we're trying to pack the council chambers - welcome Bob’s - and impress on [the] owner... that there is total support for their effort to rebuild Johnie's. Big Boy banner, hats, pins---- [We] need to pull out all the stops in support. If you really can’t attend and still want to help, please send a letter of support to the City Council. PLEASE ATTEND AND SHOW YOUR SUPPORT FOR JOHNIE’S BROILER! This could make all the difference. THANK YOU. Fun times - Coffee after."
The Heritage Coalition of Southern California will hold its next meeting on the evening of Feb. 28 at the Heritage Square Museum, 3800 Homer St., Los Angeles. Tours will begin at 5:30pm, and a dinner meeting and roundtable will begin at 7pm. The cost should be about $18. Although the event is in Los Angeles, this site -- which includes eight historic structures -- would likely be worthwhile for anyone with an interest in architectural history. For reservations or more information, call Helen Brown at (562) 921-4218.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

San Clemente Casino photos needed

Today's image comes with a plea from San Clemente Historical Society president Mike Cotter:

"The Historical Society desperately needs to find historical photos of the Casino or Sebastian’s building, especially photos of the interior.

"As you may know, there is a proposal currently before the City to slide the historic Casino building to a corner of the property, demolish its original historic “Patio of the Stars” and other historic out-buildings, and build a large condo complex on the parcel. This project would demolish the historic importance of the Casino building.

"Thanks to the efforts of many Society volunteers, an Environmental Impact Report was ordered for the project.

"But there are virtually no pictures we have found that show how the building looked, especially the interior, in years past. Without such documentation, the community is at greater risk of losing the historic resource.

"If you have any historical pictures of the building, please contact me as soon as possible. We just need to make copies of your historical photos. Please help to save the Casino!"

Monday, February 18, 2008

San Clemente Pier, Mary Garcia, & Black history

Here's one of the many old O.C. postcards I aquired yesterday. This one shows the San Clemente pier in 1960. My grandfather was a great fan of the fishing excursions that left from the end of this pier.
The next meeting of the O.C. Mexican American Historical Society (OCMAHS) will be held Feb. 23, 10am-Noon at SolArt Gallery, 511 E. Santa Ana Blvd., Santa Ana. Author Mary Garcia will present “Researching the Barrio: The Role of the Mexican American Community Historian.” Mary recently published Santa Ana’s Logan Barrio: Its History, Stories, and Families.
The Register recently ran an article about the aforementioned Black History Month display at the Old Orange County Courthouse.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Stanton, Mendez v Westminster, etc.

Today's photo shows downtown Stanton in 1913. Stanton became a city twice. The first time was in 1911, when area residents banded together to keep out a proposed sewage facility for Anaheim. Stanton remained a city until 1924, when residents voted to disincorporate to allow the State to build much-needed roads. However, in the years following World War II, the population rose dramatically, leading the City of Stanton to re-incorporate in 1956.
Assembly Bill 531 (AB531) passed the Assembly last month and will now move to the State Senate. If approved, this legislation would require that all California schools teach their students about the Mendez v. Westminster desegregation case of 1947. Read more about the bill's history and current status online.
I had a great time at the Vintage Postcard & Paper Fair in Glendale today. I ended up buying a big bunch of postcards -- many of which will undoubtedly show up on this blog in the future.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Dana Point, Fountain Valley and Villa Park

Today's photo shows a couple at Dana Point in 1927. I initially thought this might be real estate agents R. F. & Anna Walters Walker, who built the gazebo (seen behind them) to complement their Blue Lantern Fountain Lunch & Service Station. But "these ain't them."

In any case, its a great photo from the early days of Dana Point's development. The gazebo still provides a beautiful view of the harbor and is now part of Ken Sampson Overlook Park. (Special thanks to Don Dobmeier for use of the photo.)
The Dana Point Historical Society will hold their next meeting Feb. 27, 7pm, at the Dana Point Tennis Center. The speaker will be San Clemente Historical Society president Mike Cotter, whose topic will be “How Current Citizens Can Influence the History of their Hometown.” The meeting will be preceded by refreshments and a social half-hour, beginning at 6:30 pm.
Lightpost banners left over from Fountain Valley's 50th anniversary celebration (last year) are being sold for $20 each at The Center at Founders Village Senior/Community Center, 17967 Bushard St.
Friday's Register included an article about local residents' efforts to save the historic Villa Park Elementary School (1919).

Friday, February 15, 2008

How Heil Avenue got its name

Vernon C. Heil in the 1940s.
Heil Avenue – which runs through Huntington Beach and Fountain Valley -- was named for local rancher, World War I veteran and civic leader Vernon Chester Heil.

Heil lived on what is now Beach Boulevard from the 1920s until his death in 1951. He was elected president of the Orange County Farm Bureau in 1942. Heil also served on the boards of the Orange County National Farm Loan Association, the Orange County Production Credit Association, and the Smeltzer Lima Bean Growers association and was a longtime board member for the Orange County Water District. He was active in Rotary, the Huntington Beach Chamber of Commerce, and the First Presbyterian Church, and he served as a county highway foreman. He was also a big supporter of 4-H. During WWII he was active in the civil defense program and was on the local rationing board.

Heil Avenue acquired its name sometime between 1924 and 1932. (Yes, that’s well before WWII taught us all another connotation for the word “heil.”) The avenue’s name had previously been Gerhart Street. People probably started calling the street Heil simply because Vernon was one of the more prominent citizens whose property fronted the road. This wouldn’t have been uncommon. Many of our streets’ names honor those who laid the groundwork for the development of our communities: from Yorba to Newland to Kraemer to Spurgeon.
Approaching Heil Ave. in 1966, possibly on Brookhurst St. or Beach Blvd. (Brookhurst Dairy in foreground)
Vernon was born in Talbert (now Fountain Valley) in 1895 to Louis and Elizabeth Heil, who were themselves both children of German immigrants. Louis had fought for the Union during the Civil War.

Vernon grew up working alongside his parents on a farm near Westminster. In those days, it was hard to tell whether to count some of the unincorporated farmlands in the area as Westminster, Talbert, or Smeltzer.

Vernon Heil married Ruth Elizabeth Allen in Santa Ana in 1923 and they purchased property on Beach just south of Edinger Avenue in 1924. There, they raised beans and two sons: Robert (1924-2010) and William (1927-1975). Vernon Heil lived at this location, near today’s Heil Avenue, until his death in 1951. His son Robert later wrote a book about their family, entitled, One Heil of a Family.

WEIRD QUASI-RELATED SIDEBAR: Another local Heil was Vernon’s uncle, Frank J. Heil. Frank was a brick mason from Gospel Swamp who ran unsuccessfully for the office of County Assessor in 1894. In fact, he finished last in the race, behind candidates Jacob Ross Jr. and David F. Greenleaf, and far behind the winner, incumbent Frank Vegely. However, the three losers in that long-forgotten election each have a modern Orange County street bearing their name: Ross and Greenleaf Streets in Santa Ana, and Heil Ave in Huntington Beach and Fountain Valley.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Tomorrowland redux, anniversaries and oranges

At the suggestion of reader "WalterWorld," I've republished last week's circa 1969 photo of Tomorrowland at Disneyland (second photo) and posted an additional "after" photo (taken yesterday).
A comparison really points out how much Tomorrowland has suffered since its late-1960s makeover. A few of notable changes follow:
  • Today, much of the previously open area is now filled with trash cans, huge banks of strollers, and a sea of decidedly un-futuristic umbrella tables.
  • The Skyway is gone.
  • A tower was added near the Submarines and the Monorail track.
  • The foliage is much larger. (I particularly like the now-large stand of palm trees at the entrance to the Submarines.)
  • The ticket booths are gone.
  • The "speed ramps" to the Monorail are gone. (What kind of future doesn't have speed ramps?!?)
  • The top of the Tomorrowland Terrace stage mimics but does not truly replicate Rolly Crump's original design.
As always, feel free to add your own comments.
Today, the Register includes articles about the 125th anniversary of Santa Ana's Episcopal Church of the Messiah and the 100th anniversary of the Huntington Beach Woman's Club.
Yes, you know that tomorrow is Valentines Day, but did you know that it also marks 122 years since the first trainload of oranges from California was sent east via transcontinental railroad?

Monday, February 11, 2008

The New(er) Orange County Courthouse

Today's "before and after" photos show the current Orange County Courthouse in Santa Ana as it appeared during its construction in 1967, and as it appears today. (It was completed in 1968.)
This building was one of famed architect Richard Neutra's last big projects. Although it's hard to fully appreciate his work after decades of neglect and abuse, the building still has much to admire.
Personally, I'm also interested to know more about Donald Ramberg (1919-?) and Robert Lowrey (1926-1989), whose local architecture firm worked with Neutra on the Courthouse. According to Modern architecture guru Chris Nichols, "As a firm, [Ramberg & Lowrey] created the O.C. Communications Center (with Neutra), the Santa Ana Police Dept, and the North Broadway Law Building in Santa Ana. Ramberg previously worked with AC Martin & Assoc. (Still located in downtown L.A.) Ramberg also did the Santa Ana Elks Lodge."

E. 4th St., Santa Ana, circa 1930

It's late and I've had a busy weekend, so you're just getting a photo this time. But it's a nice one! This is East 4th St. in Santa Ana sometime around 1930. Note the "Red Car" in the foreground.

Saturday, February 09, 2008

Mandic Motors, Irvine, Costa Mesa & Capistrano

In answer to OutsideTheBerm's request, today I've posted several photos of the recently demolished Mandic Motors building in Huntington Beach. The exterior photo (top) was taken a few years ago. The photo of the office area was taken last year, after the Mandics had moved out. The third photo (at the end of this post) was also taken through the front window and shows an old campaign sign for Bob Mandic.
There was a fascinating and well-illustrated article in yesterday's Register detailing the new Katie Wheeler Branch of the O.C. Public Library. Although it's only a reproduction of a historic building, it's quite impressive. I'm looking forward to seeing it.
There is curently an opening on the City of Costa Mesa's Historical Preservation Committee. If you live in Costa Mesa, care about local history, and would like to apply, call (714) 754-5327.
The Mission San Juan Capistrano Woman's Guild, which raises money for mission preservation, will hold its annual membership luncheon at the Solidier's Barracks (at the mission) on Feb 17, 11:30am. $16 per person. For information, call (949) 493-3634.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Huntington Beach, Tent City, and Kevin Kidney

Today's "before and after" isn't an exact match, but it's very close. I should have stood a little further back, but that would have meant tearing down somebody's house. The point is that the Methodist Tabernacle (1906) in Huntington Beach stood at what is now the intersection of Pecan and 12th St. It was the centerpiece of a four-block campground or "Tent City," which was used for Methodist revivals, Grand Army of the Republic encampments, and vacationers who wanted affordable lodging near the beach. Located on what was then the northwestern outskirts of town, this impressive auditorium was one of H.B.'s early claims to fame.
Fans of early Disneyland will probably enjoy artist Kevin Kidney's new "Miehana" blog. (Hint: Try spelling it backwards.) I've admired his work for years, so I'm looking forward to reading what he has to say.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Disneyland, Huntington Beach & Garden Grove

Yes, I know I'm using way too many of these photos from Mike, but they're too cool to pass up. Anyway, I promise I'll run out eventually. Today's images again show Tomorrowland at Disneyland, circa 1968-1970. I'm leaving the first image (top) extra-large so you can peer deep into the photo and see all the details. (As always, click to embigulate.) The major thing that jumps out at me is the gray monorail. I wasn't aware of a "Monorail Gray," so this was sort of a surprise. Or maybe that's a faded "avocado green." It *was* the late '60s, after all.
Also notice the blue Richfield eagle over Autopia, the original Tomorrowland Terrace stage (lower left), and it's a small world in the distance.
The second photo shows the Rocket Jets, which were much more fun when they were several stories higher.
The old Mandic Motors complex on Main St in Huntington Beach was torn down yesterday. This circa 1925 Western falsefront had been the home of the Mandic family business since 1939. I'm sure it will be replaced by something colorful and exciting, like a beige stucco box with a frozen yogurt shop inside.
Speaking of Huntington Beach, the H.B. Women's Club is celebrating its 100th anniversary this week!
On the evening of March 4, the Garden Grove Historical Society's general meeting will feature architect and author Richard H. Dodd and his presentation on "Historic & Unique Orange County Buildings." For more information, call (714) 530-8871.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Tomorrowland, Anaheim, and Diann Marsh update

Today's photos were both taken in Tomorrowland at Disneyland by Mike Tucker's dad. The first (top) shows the Kids of the Kingdom, a singing group that Disney created in 1968. Various incarnations of the group continued to perform at Disneyland and Walt Disney World into the 1990s.
The second photo shows the audio-animatronic father and dog from the Carousel of Progress attraction. Disney developed the show for the 1964-65 New York World's Fair, but like it's a small world, it was given a second life at Disneyland. The show ran at Disneyland from 1967 to 1973. Today the same rotating building houses Innoventions. Possibly the best part of the Carousel of Progress was the song, "Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow," which I'm sure will now be stuck in my head for at least the next day or two.
Historian and author Diann Marsh has been confirmed as the speaker for the Anaheim Historical Society meeting on Feb 26, 7 pm, at the Ebell Clubhouse at Cypress and Helena St.

Monday, February 04, 2008

Howe-Waffle House, tikis, and La Palma

Today's "before and after" photos show the Howe-Waffle House (1889) at Sycamore St. and Civic Center Dr. in Santa Ana. The top photo was taken in 1975, when the house had just been moved to the site for preservation and was not yet restored. I took the second photo recently. This historic residence is maintained as a "house museum" by the Santa Ana Historical Preservation Society.
There's a nice slideshow on Flickr, depicting the 1996 exhibit, "Tiki: Native Drums Among The Orange Groves," at the late lamented Anaheim Museum. The show was the creation of artists and pop-culture gurus Kevin Kidney and Jody Daily. It examined the Mid-Century "Polynesian Pop" phenomenon in Orange County.
There's a curious blurb from La Palma in today's Register: "The City Council will consider whether to allow historical photos and documents to be released to Arcadia Publications for the publication, "Images of America: La Palma" at Tuesday's council meeting."
I'm confused. If the City of La Palma doesn't own the photos and documents in question, then the Council has no right to control their use, right? But if the City does own the photos and documents, then they really belong to the public and should be available for anyone's use, right? So which is it? Or perhaps the Register, (in their attempt to edit the story down to one sentence,) left out an important detail or two. Feel free to post a comment if you think you can shed light on this one.

Sunday, February 03, 2008

El Toro, Carl's old fries and Irvine Ranch

Today's photo shows the 5 Freeway near the El Toro Rd. exit, sometime around the 1960s. I remember when most of South Orange County looked like this - Grassy hills and valleys, punctuated with cows and the occasional plowed field. Oh, for the good old days.
JunkFoodBlog -- building on a post at OCThen -- is unraveling the mystery of Carl's Jr's old crinkle-shaped french fries. Now that we know what they were and how they were made, where can we still buy some? Those were great!
The Katie Wheeler Branch of the Orange County Public Library will be dedicated Feb. 23, 10:30 am, at 13109 Old Myford Road in Irvine. The library is built on the same spot where the Irvine ranch home stood until it burned in 1965. The new building is designed to look just like the old house. The whole area surrounding the old Irvine Ranch Headquarters (PDF link) is being turned into a County historic park, including barns, ranch operations buildings, farm equipment, various residential buildings, etc.

Saturday, February 02, 2008

Anaheim Union Water Co, Black history, etc.

Today's circa 1960s photo shows the "burning settler's cabin" at Disneyland. This scene appeared for decades along the banks of the Rivers of America, but was later changed when political correctness came into vogue. The arrows were removed, the (gas fed) flames were turned off, and the (arguably un-Disney-like) corpse disappeared. Today, we're more enlightened and we all know that pioneer life was easy, that Indi... er... Native Americans were always friendly, and that nobody ever dies.
The Orange County Historical Society will hold their next meeting Feb. 7, 7:30pm, at Trinity Episcopal Church, 2400 N. Canal St., in Orange. Speaker Carl Nelson (former Director of Public Works for the County of Orange) has prepared a PowerPoint presentation on the history of the Anaheim Union Water Co.
Starting today through Feb. 28, a portion of the proceeds of your purchases at Barnes & Noble can be donated to the Santa Ana Black Historical Society (SABHS). Just bring a special voucher from their website in when you make your purchase.
In honor of Black History Month, the SABHS will also present an exhibit, "African American Women Trailblazers in Orange County, 1875 to Present," at the Old Orange County Courthouse. The exhibit will be on display throughout February.
A reader asked if there's anything new to report about the "sign situation" at the Orange Lock & Key building (ca 1914). In a word, no. However, in cleaning out the place before the move, several large and mysterious boxes were discovered in the rafters. Katie Schroeder and Phil Brigandi were on it in a flash and discovered that the large boxes were full of old cigar boxes, which were, in turn, full of documents. Unfortunately, the papers weren't as exciting as we'd hoped. They were mainly receipts from various local businesses in the 1950s. They're definitely worth keeping, (if only for the letterhead) but not exactly buried treasure. Still, it's important to check these things out. "Mysterious boxes in attics" have been the source of some of my best finds.

Friday, February 01, 2008

Phil Brigandi changes hats

After a 5-year stint, Thursday was Phil Brigandi's last day as Archivist at the Orange County Archives. He'll still work with us as a consultant, and you can schedule appointments with him if you'd like his help. But Phil will mainly return to being a full-time local historian: researching, writing books, lecturing, etc.
Phil is understandably enthusiastic about what lies ahead. I, however (for selfish reasons) am very sorry to see him go. These past four and a half years of working side-by-side with him have been an invaluable education, an honor, and a great deal of fun. More than just the best boss I ever had, Phil has been a great mentor and friend. We'll still see each other around, but I'll miss our day-to-day interaction.
So good luck, Phil. I can't thank you enough. And we'll all be looking for your new books on Orange, Scouting, and who-knows-what-else in the coming months and years.
Today's photos show Phil and County Historical Commissioner Don Dobmeier, looking over some old postcards (top); and Phil with "Connie the Courthouse Cow" (inset) at the Old Orange County Courthouse.