Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Huntington Beach, San Juan Capistrano, etc.

In honor of the summery weather we've been having, today's images are a circa 1950s travel decal from Huntington Beach and an undated view from the H.B. pier. The large white building is the old saltwater plunge. Note that the oil derricks stop at about 8th St.
Teri Delcamp, Historical Preservation Manager for the City of San Juan Capistrano will speak on the subject of "Preserving the Past to Enhance the Future," at the May 8th meeting of the Orange County Historical Society. The meeting will be held at 7:30pm, at Trinity Espicopal Church, 2400 N. Canal St., Orange.
You may notice a few minor differences in the technical aspects of this blog. I updated to Blogger's new online-interface-editing-whatchamacallit, and it makes things look and feel a bit different. Once I get it figured out, I might even add a few new features.

Citrus in Orange County

Today's image is another classic Orange County citrus crate label: Red Peak Brand from the Frances Citrus Association in Tustin.
This month's Garden Grove Historical Society newsletter reprints part of Marge Swenson's 1972 article about Bruce Smith's days as a citrus picker in the 1950s. The whole thing is interesting, but I'm only going to excerpt it here:

"...[Bruce] began by learning NOT to pick the entire stem (button) from the orange or it will deteriorate, mold and rot before it gets to the eastern market. A very short stem was ideal! If you pick the stem too long it will bruise the other oranges as they were handled along the way in the field boxes, the trucks, the chutes, and in the packing house.

"...[Pickers learned to use] clippers whose curved surface fit snugly into the palm of your hand. This, plus quickly but gently dropping [the oranges] into the special picker's sack you had over your shoulder. No only did you have to learn how to wear it properly as you got up and down the ladder, but how to quick-release the bottom of [the bag] into your field boxes."

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Michelle Pfeiffer, archaeology and paleontology

On this day in 1958, future actress Michelle Pfeiffer was born in Santa Ana. The family later moved to Midway City and eventually Fountain Valley. Today's photo shows her swinging at a birthday pinata in the backyard of Felix and Vita Garcia, 8302 Peters St, Midway City, circa 1967. Thanks to Tim Castroreale for making this image available.
CSU Fullerton is working with the County of Orange to decide future plans for the County's archaeology and paleontology collection. I'm curious how this will fit in with the work the Pacific Coast Archaeological Society has been doing with the County and with the ongoing plans for an Orange County Natural History Museum in Santa Ana.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Disneyland stagecoach, Anaheim, Buena Park, etc

Given that the artist had to work with a boring name like "Index Brand," this crate label is a really clever design. Index is still in business, but are now mainly in the avocado business.
The Register has posted a slideshow of Anaheim's first 150 years, hosted by Jane Newell of the Anaheim Heritage Reading Room.
Yesterland recently added a feature on Disneyland's stagecoach ride, which operated from the park's opening in 1955 until 1959.
The Bowers Museum Blog recently featured Don Juan Forster's brandy still and a Jozef Chelmonski painting from Helena Modjeska's canyon home.
The Buena Park Historical Society now has "new museum displays including the Lynx Women's Softball Team from the 1940s, a pictorial history of Buena Park's entertainment venues [including the Japanese Village & Deer Park] and photos of the Dreger Clock." The exhibits are located at the Whitaker-Jaynes and Bacon Historic Homes, 6631 Beach Blvd.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

SAAAB, Dana Point lanterns & Aliso Viejo Ranch

These photos show the Santa Ana Army Air Base (SAAAB), a WWII pilot training facility in what is now part of Costa Mesa. Today, Orange Coast College, the O.C. Fairgrounds, and Vanguard University are located on the site of the old base. The first photo (top) shows the Service Club lounge in about 1944. The second photo shows some of the barracks as they appeared in May 1949 – shortly before they were torn down. This Saturday, the SAAAB Wing will hold its 32nd annual reunion at Orange Coast College’s Student Center.
The Dana Point Historical Society (DPHS) recently acquired two more of the colorful lanterns that adorned that community’s streets in its early years. These particular lanterns have a complicated provenance, including this story, related by DPHS President Carlos N. Olvera:
“Our newly acquired lamps were a gift to Winnie Everett of South Laguna... from Heinz Kaiser. Kaiser was an Orange County Supervisor for the 5th District. ...He had just been elected to a third term when he died in 1958. After his death, a second will, dated in 1956, was filed naming Miss Everett as executrix of his estate and leaving her half of his estate. [Ed. – Including the lanterns!] Originally, the first will, dated in 1952 and filed shortly after his death, had left all of his estate to his wife. Although a surprise to many, the second will was not contested.”
The City of Aliso Viejo is planning to do something (hopefully preservation or adaptive reuse?) with the Aliso Viejo Ranch site at 100 Park Ave. The City held a community workshop last week to brainstorm ideas. If you’d like to know more about this project, contact the City at (949) 425-2530.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

A quick lunchtime update: Hobie, Knott's & Stan

Today's image is a 1950s view of the entrance to the Pan-for-Gold attraction at Knott's Berry Farm in Buena Park. The guy in the headdress is Jim "Chief Red Feather" Brady, and I believe the prospector with the white hat and dark red shirt is Roy Bryant.
At tonight's meeting of the Dana Point Historical Society, speaker Hobie Alter Jr. will discuss "Growing Up With The Hobie Legend" on the 40th anniversary of his father's famous catamarans, launched in 1968. The meeting will be held at the Dana Point Tennis Center, 24911 Calle de Tenis, at 6:30pm.
Also, tomorrow is Stan Oftelie's birthday. Among his many other claims to fame, Stan is also the leading authority on O.C. political history. Happy birthday!

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Santa Ana, barrio history, and Tustin tours

I'm posting two photos I took today in downtown Santa Ana. The first (top) shows the historic Howe-Waffle House (at the corner of Civic Center and Sycamore), which is undergoing some exterior restoration work. The second photo shows the current state of the Basler-Twist House on the "One Broadway Plaza" property. Notice that it's (still) chopped up in multiple pieces, wrapped in plastic, and left to decompose. (Why does this remind me of the first episode of Twin Peaks?)
The O.C. Mexican American Historical Society will host the 2nd Annual Barrio History Symposium, May 17th, 8:30am-3:00pm, at the Golden West College Student Center in Huntington Beach. The event will include speakers, displays, lunch and entertainment.
On the same day (May 17), the Tustin Area Historical Society will present their annual Promenade Home & Garden Tour. For details about the tour visit

Monday, April 21, 2008

Theo Lacy, Overell trial, oral histories & colonias

Tomorrow (or today, depending on when you read this) will be the 158th birthday of Orange County’s second Sheriff, Theo Lacy. He was born in Lacy Springs, Alabama on April 22, 1850. The photo of him above was taken in the 1890s.
Thomas Rupp points out something I didn't know about the famous 1947 Overell murder trial in Santa Ana. It seems it inspired a 1950s Otto Preminger-directed movie, "Angel Face," starring Jean Simmons and Robert Mitchum. Little of the true story made it to the screen -- Both in terms of the facts of the case, and the fact that the real Beulah Overell looked more like Mitchum than Simmons.
CSUF’s Center for Oral & Public History (COPH) has already conducted over 100 interviews for the MCAS El Toro Oral History Project. Another sixty should be recorded by July.
Bob Johnson’s new book about Orange County’s African American community in the 1960s should be winging its way to the printer by July. The book is edited by Johnson, Charlene Riggins, and grad student Monty Starks, and will be published by COPH.
COPH also recently accepted two pre-existing projects into its collection. The first is a set of 52 oral histories from the Bowers Museum, which documents life in O.C.’s colonias and barrios, including Delhi, El Modena, Independencia, Logan, Placentia, and Santa Anita. The second set includes 29 interviews with Chicano leaders, conducted by Jerry Rosen in the 1960s and 1970s.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

San Juan Capistrano, city directories & Brigandi

Although it's the oldest community in Orange County, San Juan Capistrano did not officially become a city until 1961. In fact, today is the 47 anniversary of that event. Today's photo shows what the city looked like at about that point in time. The photographer was standing near the entrance of the Mission. (Sorry the colors are a bit skewed.)
The Fullerton Public Library is now working on a web site interface that will allow people to search old city directories online. This is going to be really cool and really useful, once it's completed. Great idea, guys!
Phil Brigandi will discuss his latest book, Orange County Place Names A to Z at Monday's meeting of the Tustin Area Historical Society. The meeting will begin at 7:30 at the Senior Center, 200 S. "C" Street, Tustin.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Victor Hugo Inn, Mission Viejo & Julius Schulman

This undated photo of the Victor Hugo Inn in Laguna Beach came from the collection of Alicia Wentworth - who got me hooked on this local history thing in the first place.
The Victor Hugo opened in 1938, was gutted by fire in 1954 (yesterday was the 54th anniversary of the fire), reopened, and finally closed to become Las Brisas Restaurant in 1979.
The City of Mission Viejo Heritage Committee buried a 100-year time capsule on March 28, as part of the city's 20th Anniversary celebrations. The capsule includes photos and objects from throughout the city's first two decades.
The Fullerton Museum has announced that it will host an exhibit of Julius Shulman’s photos of Fullerton, probably in Spring 2009. I'll post an update when more details are available.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Phantom boats, 1890, Tallmantz, Sears & Anaheim

Today's photo shows one of Disneyland's earliest and shortest-lived attractions: The Phantom Boats. I think I may have snagged this image from an eBay auction post, long ago.
Kathy Sedler's website now includes a brief description of O.C. as it was in 1890 - the year after we broke off from L.A. County.

Viewliner Ltd. has posted an article about noted local aviators Paul Mantz and Frank Tallman. They've also posted two illustrated entries on Sears' catalog houses: Part 1 & Part 2.
Exterior restoration on Anaheim's Woelke-Stoffel House (a.k.a. "The Red Cross House") began last week. Work on the interior will come later.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Mystery photos, Lost Valley, and another Duro clue

Today I'm posting two unrelated "mystery photos." The first (top) comes from "Gangster Story," a 1960 movie starring and directed by Walter Matthau. This week, Thomas Rupp has been trying to learn if the busy scene above was one of the many shot here in Orange County. Does anyone recognize the location? (You can watch the whole movie online, if you're into that kind of thing.)
The second mystery photo comes to me from the L.A. Conservancy. Someone wrote to them trying to identify it, and the Conservancy folks didn't know either. They theorize that it was taken in Southern California in the 1950s. In the background, there appears to be some sort of WPA-ish tribute to pioneers. Do you know more?
If you were a Boy Scout in Orange County, you'll probably enjoy Phil Brigandi's new blog, "Notes From A Lost Valley." Although located in the mountains of northeastern San Diego County, Lost Valley has been a Boy Scout camp for O.C. since 1959. Today, it's officially known as the "Schoepe Scout Reservation at Lost Valley" - in honor of early Anaheim industrialist (and Scouting benefactor) Adolf Schope.
Stan Oftelie provided more clues regarding Sunday's post about the 1905 Duro. It turns out that my theory about it being Tom Talbert's car may have something to it. According to Stan, in 1909, Tom Talbert and George W. Angle (Chairman of the O.C. Board of Supervisors) drove around the whole county together, calling on every member of the O.C. Republican Central Committee, to make sure they had their support. (That was a LOT of driving in 1909!) Their headquarters for this venture was Angle's gas station - the Try-Angle Service Station - located in Myford (now part of Irvine). Is that Angle sitting on the running board and Talbert fixing the tire?

Monday, April 14, 2008

Prospect Plaza, Sea Monkeys, Orange, SJC, etc.

Today's photos show Prospect Plaza, at Chapman & Prospect in Orange, around May of 1966. The top photo is particularly large, so "click to enlarge" with the knowledge that it may take a while. I wanted to squeeze in as much detail as possible, which is why I also added the inset larger version of the sign. (Is it just me, or is the top of the sign reminiscent of those old ads for "Sea Monkeys?")
The Orange Unified School District had decided to put the old Villa Park Elementary School buildings (the two oldest buildings in the city) up for sale. But the owner will be required to move the buildings -- which probably means they'll have to leave town. At least they're no longer planning to demolish them outright. Read more about it in today's Register.
Today's Register also covers the ongoing debate over proposed changes to San Juan Capistrano's historic downtown.
The LDS will host a Family History Fair at their Orange Family History Center on April 26, 8am-5pm. For details, visit their website. If you want go, you'll need to sign up by Wednesday.
On this day, in 1908, the Orange Daily News began publication.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Huntington Beach, Villa Park, Yorba Linda, etc.

Today's "before and after" photos show the intersection of Main St and Pacific Coast Highway (Ocean Ave) in Huntington Beach, during the 1940s and in 2007. The only common features are the streets themselves (although PCH has been widened), and the Huntington Beach Co./El Don Liquor building.
I thought a 2007 photo would be recent enough, but I now realize that the scene has changed again since just last year. Today, the gargantuan "Strand" development is nearing completion (just beyond El Don Liquor), and the restaurant sign in the foreground has changed.
Speaking of Huntington Beach, Kai Weisser's new book, Huntington Beach Lifeguards will go on sale April 28th. The book is part of Arcadia Publishing's historical "Images of America" series. I can attest to the fact that Kai really did his homework on this one. For a list of book signing events with Kai, see his recent post on Greetings from Huntington Beach.
The Register reports that the Villa Park Elementary School Restoration Corp will meet Monday, 7pm, in the Villa Park City Council Chambers to discuss the fate of the historic Villa Park Elementary School buildings. For information, call Teri at (714) 997-4926.
The Yorba Linda Historical Society's next meeting will be held Monday (tomorrow), 7:00-8:30pm, at the Yorba Linda Community Center, 4501 Casa Loma Ave. Their speaker will be Myra Hilliard, the executive director of the Whittier Museum.

Myford, Irvine, a 1905 Duro, Tom Talbert & Flickr

I just stumbled across the top photo in Bob Swanson's photostream on Flickr. (Here's the link.) He writes,...
"This postcard is cancelled by the handstamp of Myford, California. Now, most people may not know that town name, but now it is called Irvine. Myford was the post office for the huge Irvine Ranch that took up a lot (110,000 acres) of Orange
early in the 20th Century. The date of 1910 is an estimate, because the cancellation is not clear. The post office was renamed in 1914 to Irvine, which gives us a last date."
The car on the right appears to be a 1905 Duro, which was manufactured in Los Angeles.
Thomas B. "Tom" Talbert had one of these, and I wonder if it could be his. (A long shot, perhaps?) Tom was, of course, one of the most promienent men in the region. He dealt in real estate, was a farmer, was mayor of Huntington Beach, and was on the Orange County Board of Supervisors. In 1952 he published some of his memories in the book My Sixty Years in California.
The second photo shows the Talbert family in their brand new Duro, in front of Tom's real estate office in Huntington Beach. (I'm sure I'll write more about the fascinating Mr. Talbert in a future post.)
Speaking of Flickr, I notice that Glenn "Dreger Clock Guy" Frank and Kevin "Miehana" Kidney have joined the "Orange County History" Flickr pool and added a bunch of great images. I hope this is the start of a trend.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Red cars, trains, Irvine Ranch, Old Courthouse, etc.

Map of the Pacific Electric Railway. (Click map to enlarge)
The Orange Empire Railway Museum's annual Spring Rail Festival will be held April 26-27. Visitors will get the chance to ride in and admire a wide variety of historic trains and trolleys.
The O.C. Historical Commission and OC Parks will present "A Day at the Ranch" -- a historical fair and exhibition at the new Irvine Ranch Historic Park and Katie Wheeler Library, on May 22, 9:30am-1pm. The event will include a tour of the library and park. For more information, see the PDF flyer for this event.
With Rob Selway now retired, Griselda Castillo has been put in charge of the Old Orange County Courthouse as well as some of Rob's other former duties. We wish her the best of luck and hope that those rowdy tenants in the basement don't give her too much trouble.

Cook's Corner, Yost Theatre, photos, and Stanton

Cook's Corner in Trabuco Canyon, as it appeared in 1966.
Long ago, Colleen Robledo (now Greene) set up a great Orange County History photo group on Flickr. So far, I'm the only other person who's joined and posted anything. If you're interested, please stop by and contribute an image or two. (Update 8/30/2023: I took over maintaining the group quite a few years ago. We now have 500 members and many contributors and are always happy to have more!)
The grand re-opening of the historic Yost Theatre, at 307 N. Spurgeon in Santa Ana, will be held tomorrow, April 12, at 6pm. The entertainment will include a documentary about the theater, live music, and a play. Vintage cars will be on display and everyone is encouraged to dress in the fashions of the 1940s and 1950s. Admission is $5 (and ages 10 and under are free).
Today is the 96th anniversary of the establishment of the original Stanton post office.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

America Sings, etc.

On this day, in 1988, the audio-animatronic show America Sings closed at Disneyland in Anaheim. It opened in 1974, replacing the Carousel of Progress show in the rotating theater in Tomorrowland. Many of the singing animals in the show were eventually given new roles in Splash Mountain. The image of America Sings shown above comes from a postcard.
Well, color me stupid. When the new O.C. Sheriff announced he was going to discuss historical crimes in the Santa Ana Civic Center, I assumed he was referring to the recent wave of stolen historical plaques. Instead, folks from his office discussed crime data from the past six months or so. I guess "history" is a relative term. I should know that by now. I can't tell you how often people come into the Archives looking for "really old" documents from the 1980s.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Modjeska, airport mural, Brigandi, plaques, etc.

On this day, 99 years ago, famed stage actress Helena Modjeska died at her home on Bay Island in Newport Bay. These circa 1918 images of that home (above) come from Jeff Delaney's website.
While not an Orange County story, some of you might be interested in Phil Brigandi's article about the Ramona Pageant in yesterday's Riverside Press-Enterprise.
Speaking of Phil, today was my second-round interview for his old job as County Archivist. (I was his Assistant Archivist for almost 5 years, and have been running the place myself since he left in January.) The field has been narrowed to five applicants, and I'm one of only two who even lives in Orange County. The interview was done over the phone and the panel members were quite reserved in their comments - So I have very little sense of their reaction to me. From my perspective, the stakes are very high. Preserving and sharing our local history through the Archives is far more than just a job.
Hokey-smoke! Look at the new comment about the mural at the old Orange County Airport terminal! And before you ask,... Yes, I emailed "DB," and yes, I'm following up on this. Hopefully, DB's snapshots will finally allow for the mural's reinstallation.
Tomorrow, O.C. Sheriff Jack Anderson will present a "Q & A" about "Safety and Security in the [Santa Ana] Civic Center." The program will be from noon to 12:30pm on the 3rd floor of the Old Orange County Courthouse, 211 W. Santa Ana Blvd, Santa Ana. One of his topics will be "historical crime problems" - by which I assume he means the recent thefts of historical plaques throughout the area.

Monday, April 07, 2008

Anaheim shopping centers & street name changes

Today's photos show Anaheim shopping centers in the 1960s. The first (top) shows East Anaheim Center, at Lincoln at State College Blvd, in December 1966. East Anaheim Center incuded a Sav-on Drugs and a Grants department store.
The second image shows Anaheim Plaza near the freeway and Euclid Ave around 1960. Anaheim Plaza was altered dramatically in the 1990s. New features included a postmodern take on large-scale roadside signage, bright colors, and one of the first Walmarts in Orange County.
As long as we're talking about Anaheim, perhaps this is a good time to return to the subject of changing street names. Here are a few of the Anaheim street names that have changed over the years:
  • Anaheim St (in both Anaheim and Placentia) is now Miraloma Ave.
  • Anaheim-Olive Rd. and Center St. are both now (mostly) Lincoln Ave.
  • Dowling (in both Anaheim and Placentia), along with Carolina (in Placentia) is now Kraemer Blvd
  • Los Angeles St (the State Highway) is now Anaheim Blvd.
    Palm is now part of Harbor Blvd.
  • West St. (between the 5 Fwy and Katella) recently became S. Disneyland Dr.

Happy belated birthday, Orange

I was going to post these images yesterday, on the 120th anniversary of the incorporation of the City of Orange. Unfortunately, I was having some Internet access problems. The first image is an 1888 ad for Orange.
The second is a photo of the Plaza from 1887. Note the new Bank of Orange building. The fountain seen behind Alfred Chapan and his unidentified associate now stands next to the new Orange Public Library.

Saturday, April 05, 2008

Corona del Mar, Rancho Potrero los Pinos & books

A beautiful weekend like this naturally made me think of the blue waters of Corona del Mar, seen here in about 1962. Not a lot has changed over the years. However, you may notice that those concession buildings are gone and some alterations have been made to the southern jetty at the mouth of Newport Harbor.
One hundred and sixty two years ago today, the last Mexican governor of California, Pio Pico, granted the Rancho Potrero los Pinos to Juan Forster, along with two other small ranchos in Riverside County. "Potrero los Pinos" means "pasture in the pines." It's now part of the Cleveland National Forest, in the northeast corner of the Orange County.
Alison Young’s new full-color 42-page book, Orange Crate Labels of Orange County, California, is now available through the Santa Ana Historical Preservation Society for $12, plust $3 for shipping. It includes 50 different labels, including some from my personal collection.
Also, a July publication date has been announced for Roberta Reed’s new book, Images of America: Santa Ana, 1940-2007. I’ll have more details on this later.

Friday, April 04, 2008

Santa Ana preservation, Fullerton and Gene Autry

Today's image is an 1870s view of Santa Ana. It comes from the Bancroft Library.
The City of Santa Ana is allocating additional Community Development Block Grant funds to complete exterior repairs to the historic Howe-Waffle House (1889) and its assorted outbuildings. Further support for the project has come from members of the Santa Ana Historic Preservation Society and from Behr Paint. My personal thanks to all involved -- since I get to enjoy seeing the old place at least 5 days a week.
When we last saw Santa Ana’s Twist-Basler House (1914), it had been torn into several large chunks by developer Mike Harrah and was left with its innards hanging out. That hasn't changed. However, a new foundation is finally being poured for it at another Santa Ana site, and Harrah is promising to repair (restore?) the building. But it ain’t over ‘til it’s over.
St. Philip Benizi Catholic Church in Fullerton will celebrate it's 50th anniversary Saturday with a special Mass at 5pm. (Fun Fact: The church's first services were held in a roller rink.)
Meanwhile, out in front of Disneyland, Gene Autry will join the "Anaheim/Orange County Walk of Stars."

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Events, El Toro, Anaheim, authors and Orange

This week is the 65th anniversary of the dedication of Marine Corps Air Station El Toro. As best I can tell, today's photo was taken during that dedication, on April 1, 1943. In any case, it's definitely an early photo of the base.
The Anaheim Historical Society’s Spring Tea will be held Sat., April 12, 1pm, at the historic Griffith House (1919), at 515 N. State College Blvd. This event will commemorate the 50th anniversary of the First Congregational Church of Anaheim, and will feature information about the Griffith House and authentic old fashioned teas by Locke & Nobel Tea Co. The event is $25 for members and $30 for non-members. RSVP to Joyce Morris at (714) 772-1420.
The Orange County Historical Society presents Authors Night, April 10, 7:30pm, at Trinity Episcopal Church, 2400 N. Canal, in Orange. Authors on hand to discuss, sell and sign their books will include Daniel Gibb (Images of America: Fountain Valley), Mary Garcia (Santa Ana’s Logan Barrio), John Robinson (Gateways to Southern California), Guy Ball and Marge Bitetti (Early Santa Ana), James Osborne (Missions of Southern California), and Don Sloper (Los Angeles’ Chester Place). I hear rumors that another author or two may also attend.
The City of Orange will celebrate it's 120th birthday on Saturday. A small celebration will be held at the Main Library, 407 E. Chapman, at 11am, with the dedication of a new El Camino Real bell. Details on the Register's website.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Brea street name changes and April Fools Day

By now, you should have figured out that my last post was a photoshopped April Fools Day gag, and that we still can't find a real photo of Walter Knott and Walt Disney together. If you - by some miracle - know where to find one, drop me a line.
Meanwhile, the photo above depicts Pomona Ave in Brea, around 1914. Today, Pomona Ave is called Brea Blvd. A few more Brea Street name changes follow:
  • Deodora (in Brea) and Ocean (in Fullerton & La Habra) are now part of Lambert Rd.
  • Brea-Olinda is now Birch St.
  • Cedar is now part of Imperial Highway
Feel free to post a comment if you know others.

Walt and Walt!

I just knew there had to be a photo like this out there somewhere!