Tuesday, March 31, 2009

San Juan by-the-Sea

San Juan by-the-Sea was a railroad boom town created in 1887. It was subdivided and marketed, but it never really took off. The busy scene in the lithograph above is glorified "concept art" of what the resort town would theoretically look like one day. After the boom went bust, the (already small) community soon dwindled to about 10 families.

The photo above shows a gathering at the seaside pavilion at San Juan by-the-Sea in its first year. In her most recent book on Dana Point, historian Doris Walker writes that the railroad station at San Juan by-the-Sea "was completed in 1887, when the tracks from Los Angeles ended there. Santa Fe's subsidiary, Pacific Land Improvement Company, added a spur track to the beach, then laid out the town. Lot buyers stood in line all night before the tract opened,..."
In addition to the train station and the pavilion, the town also featured the Pioneer Hotel (which Modjeska and her entourage once used as a summer retreat,) and a smattering of homes.
Below is a photo of the tract's map. (As always, click to enlarge.) Note the bluff-top parks and the community vegetable garden.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Sambo's, Coco's, etc.

I just received an email from Chris Nichols with a link to a new website, followed with the words, "WOW! The Jack Laxer of Sambo’s... Tim Putz! Must...pick...up...jaw"
I couldn't agree more.
The photos of the old Buena Park Sambo's posted above are just a sample of the scores of amazing images you'll find on photographer Tim Putz's Sambo's Photos website. According to the site, "From 1964 to 1986 [Putz] operated one of Santa Barbara’s most successful photographic studios, specializing in commercial and portrait photography... Tim was a personal friend of the Battistone family (the original owners of the Sambo's Restaurant enterprise) and therefore in 1964, was commissioned to photograph the first 25 Sambo’s restaurants in this growing chain..."
The photo below is from the Sambo's at 1100 W. Katella Ave. in Anaheim, just across from Disneyland. (It's now a Coco's.) I always loved those back-lit panels on the dropped soffit, which told the story of Sambo and the tigers. How can you look at an interior like this and not wax nostalgic the golden age of Googie?

Speaking of Coco's, I noticed an obituary for Coco's co-founder Audrey McIntosh (1923-2009) in yesterday's Register. She and her husband, John Reuben McIntosh, bought the Snack Shop in Corona del Mar in 1948, a business which "subsequently grew into Far West Services, the parent company of Snack Shops, Coco's, Reuben's, Reuben E. Lee among others." She was a 65-year resident of Newport Beach, and served in the USMC at El Toro during WWII.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Anaheim & Disneyland's Wonderful World of Color

Here's a great image of Walt Disney reading stories at Disneyland in 1966. (Click photo to enlarge.) It came from a magazine ad for RCA television sets, which also served to promote Walt Disney's Wonderful World of Color TV program. The image was posted in two parts (which I cobbled together) in a recent post on the Vintage Disneyland Tickets blog.
Currently, an enormous "Wonderful World of Color" water/pyrotechnics show (ala Fantasmic) is being built in the Disney's California Adventure theme park. We can only hope the show will mark the big Ludwig von Drake comeback we've been waiting for all these years.
The Anaheim Historical Society's next meeting will feature Jeff Smith of Natural by Design Landscape. Jeff will discuss how California's landscape developed over time, with emphasis on the availability of water in the choice plantings. The meeting will be held March 31, 7pm, at the Ebell Clubhouse at Helena and Cypress Streets, across from the tennis courts at Pearson Park.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Balboa, Rancho Santa Margarita, El Toro, etc.

Today's image shows the Balboa Pavilion in about 1906.
I'd like to welcome the brand-spankin'-new Rancho Santa Margarita Historical Society to the O.C. historical community. They had their first meeting last week! In addition to collecting the history of their young city, they also have a great opportunity to work with neighboring communities to document their shared rancho heritage. It's interesting that the Society was organized by the City itself. I wonder how common that is, and what the pros and cons are.
The Orange County History group on Flickr just reached the 100-member mark. If you haven't visted, joined, or contributed photos yet, please do.
It's definitely worth going back and reading the comments on my old blog posts. I learn a lot from the memories and knowledge you folks contribute. (Thank you all!) A good example are the comments that still come in reguarding my post on the 1965 C-135 crash at Point Lomas. Sobering stuff.
I'll be out speaking tomorrow and Thursday night, so I probably won't post again until the weekend. I hope to see some of you in Dana Point or Orange.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Knott's Berry Farm's Whittles

By 1960, Disneyland had five years of success under its belt, and Knott's Berry Farm - long successful in its own right - began to borrow a few pages from the other Walter's playbook. For instance, Knott's added highly themed rides, like the Calico Mine Train.
But Russell Knott -- son of Walter Knott -- wondered how they could they create popular characters that appealed to the public in the same way as Disneyland's mascot, Mickey Mouse? Knott's first attempt at a friendly cartoon host came in the form of Whittles, a happy, scruffy, stubby old miner.
Whittles was designed by young Laguna Beach artist Pete Winter, a former Air Force jet pilot who had also drawn for Dell comics and for a syndicated comic strip called The Toodles. Whittles made his first appearance (along with his trusty burro) in the pages of Howdy Partner, a handbook for Knott's employees.
Soon, Whittles migrated to other park ephemera, including ticket books, maps, and brochures given out to guests. It seems he was met with a pretty positive reaction. For over a decade he appeared only in two-dimensional form, pointing at important bits of text and making various welcoming gestures.
But in the early 1970s, someone at Knott's decided it would be a good idea to turn Whittles in to a three-dimensional walk-around character. Again, the parallels to Disneyland were hard to ignore.

The first to portray the cartoon miner was Knott's employee Diana Kirchen (now Kelly), who first donned Whittles' enormous head and little boots in April 1973. (The photo above shows Diana on a recent visit to the Orange County Archives.) Diana already worked in entertainment at Knott's and had performed there as a character from H.R. Pufnstuf the previous year. She also portrayed Annie Oakley, was the DJ at Knott's first disco (at the Airfield Eatery in 1976), and was the first Halloween Haunt witch in 1973.
(Diana has posted some memories of the mid-1970s "Knott's gang" in the form of a YouTube video. It's appropriately set to disco that samples heavily from old Western film scores.)

The photo above shows Diana as Whittles in April 1973, along with a fellow employee. As you can see, the costume was not nearly as endearing as many of Disneyland's walk-around characters. In fact, some children found this neckless, hydrocephalic Gabby Hayes more than a little disturbing. Eventually, a new and improved costume was created.

Here, Diana (as Annie Oakley) stands next to a performer in the second Whittles costume. It was better, and looked more like the cartoon character, but never did become a popular fixture in the park. On many days, Whittles would stand near Knott's front gate, waving to guests. Sadly, not many wanted their pictures taken with him. Eventually he was pulled from the park.
In later years, Knott's found other ways to fill the giant-headed character gap -- First with characters from their Beary Tales dark ride, and later by licensing Snoopy and the other Peanuts characters.
But shed a tear for Whittles - the scroungy little miner who just didn't work in three dimensions.

UPDATE: Against all odds, a new and improved version of Whittles returned as a walk-around character (an on various merchandise) for Knott's Berry Farm's centennial celebration in 2020/2021. 

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Googie, O.C. Archives, Orange, Dana Point and shameless self-promotion

I'll be giving two talks on local history next week. The photos above show examples of Googie Architecture in the City of Orange - which will be my topic at the March 26th meeting of the Orange Community Historical Society. The meeting will begin at 7pm, at Trinity Episcopal Church, 2400 N. Canal St. (The same place the Orange County Historical Society meets.) In case you don't know, Googie is an exaggerated form of Mid-Century Modern Architecture tailored to the needs of car-crazy California. It often looks like something out of a Jetsons cartoon. It's fun stuff.
The night before, I'll be speaking at the Dana Point Historical Society about the Orange County Archives, its many historical collections, and how to use them. I'll put a special emphasis on ways to research the history of your historic home. If there's time, I also hope to throw in some examples of interesting old Dana Point photos held by the Archives. The DPHS meeting will begin at 6:30pm, March 25, at the Dana Point Tennis Center, 24911 Calle De Tenis.
There's been a lot of activity lately over at OCThen.com. Check out their recent posts about such varied subjects as Saddleback Inn, United California Bank, the New Wave Club, Boy Scout Troop 26, artist Claude Bell, Santa Ana Community Hospital, The Velvet Turtle, Fitz Intermediate School, van clubs at Irvine Park, moped shops, Delhi, Little Corona Beach, Escape Country, the Old Irvine Store, La Palma Junior High, and growing up at MCAS El Toro. (Whew!)
Oops! I almost forgot,... The photo at the top of today's post shows Selman Chevrolet, 1800 E. Chapman Ave. The second photo shows Earl's Home Cookin' (a former Denny's), 807 Tustin Ave. Both are rare examples of Googie architecture still standing in the City of Orange. My talk on the 26th will be illustrated with a variety of current and vintage images.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Historic Old Towne Orange threatened

Historic Downtown Orange has suddenly been thrown into peril and needs your help. The City seems to be planning the methodical destruction of the area's historic fabric and charming small-town feel. The Old Town Preservation Association has sent out an urgent flyer. Excerpts follow...
"Changes are coming to Old Towne [a.k.a. historic Downtown Orange] and they’re not good! The City’s General Plan update is in process. ...Full implementation of the Plan... would result in:
    • 110% increase in total housing units (23,478 units)
    • 354% increase in non-residential building square feet (35.7 million square feet!)
      46% increase in traffic (1,456,700 daily trips vs. the current 995,000)
    • North & South Glassell Streets would become 4 lanes!
    • La Veta to Cambridge would become 4 lanes!
    • Traffic at the Plaza will remain 2 lanes, causing major bottlenecking. The [proposed] General Plan states: .…parallel roadways such as Almond Ave., Palmyra Ave., Lemon St., Olive St., Shaffer St., Grand St.,Palm Ave., and Maple St. will offer relief. That means that if you live on or near these streets, traffic will increase tremendously on your street.
    • Elimination of on-street parking along Chapman & Glassell streets. That means more spillover parking on all surrounding streets.
    • Proposed development could potentially allow for multi-story buildings 2 to 3 times larger than what currently exists along Glassell & Chapman. So much for our quaint Old Towne.
"...The City’s decision makers do not have to accept and approve the plan in its current form,but instead can request the plan be modified to better protect your investments and quality of life.
"...Copies of the proposed General Plan and impact report are available for public review at the City’s three libraries, the Planning Counter at the City, the City Clerk’s Office and on the City’s website, www.cityoforange.org. Questions or need more info? Email [the Old Towne Preservation Association] at : info@otpa.org."
The flyer encourages people to send letters expressing their dismay to the City Council and City Planning Commission (c/o Alice Angus, Community Development Director) and to the City's Principal Planner, Anna Pehoushek. Letters must be received before March 30. OTPA can even provide you with a form letter. The address for Orange City Hall is 300 E. Chapman Ave., Orange, CA 92866.
OTPA's flyer also mentions that an earlier "proposed Plan would have concentrated much development along Lincoln Ave. and on the Mall of Orange [a.k.a. Villages at Orange] property. A lot of vocal resident opposition caused this development to be dropped from the Plan—resulting in much of the development now being concentrated in and around Old Towne. We need to get active, angry and speak up, too!"
The ball is now in your court, dear readers.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Laguna Beach and Modjeska

Today's photo shows Downtown Laguna Beach in about 1925. Note the White House Cafe, and the snappy "Laguna Beach" sign hanging over Coast Highway.
Director Basia Myszynski of OC Influental Productions is working on a documentary about Madam Helena Modjeska, O.C.'s first major celebrity resident. Having viewed the trailer for "Modjeska" on YouTube, I'm very curious to see the whole film. The visuals are really impressive. But why does it make me think of Calvin Klein's Obsession?
Sorry it's a short post today, folks. But it's this or nothing.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Santa Ana, Howe Waffle House, Sam's, etc.

Today's image is a postcard from the collection of Doug McIntosh. It was postmarked June 22, 1916. It's one of those generic cards with the city's name stamped on it after the fact. Today, even the Chamber of Commerce wouldn't call Santa Ana an "earthly paradise" or a "fairyland of rare delight."
The Orange County Historical Commission will dedicate their 51st historic site plaque at the Dr. Willella Howe Waffle House & Medical Museum, 120 Civic Center Drive West, Santa Ana, on March 28, at 10am. If you plan to attend, please RSVP before March 20 to (714) 973-6655. You can read more about the house and this event on the Santa Ana Historical Preservation Society's website.
The former Sam's Seafood (briefly renamed "Kona") will officially become the first Don the Beachcomber restaurant on the mainland in almost thirty years as of Monday, March 16th. Stop by for a celebratory Mai Tai (using their original 1930s recipe).

Friday, March 13, 2009

Santa Ana, O.C. Fair, H.B., and Garden Grove

Today's photo shows the Santa Ana train station - probably around the turn of the century. (Can one of you rail fans out there help pin down the year for us?) Note the Southern Pacific boxcars on the left and the Ringling Bros. Circus car on the right.
O.C. Fair/SAAAB Update: One of my readers wrote to the Fair people complaining about the demolition of the Fair's Administration Building, which was once part of the Santa Ana Army Air Base. He're part of the reply he received: "While none of the buildings on the facility have been deemed 'historically significant' through the Master Plan study conducted in 2003, it does not mean that the buildings have not served a role at the property or that there is not sentimental value to them. The certified Environmental Impact Report (EIR) determined that the buildings on the property do not meet the legal definition for historical significance, but we still look for ways to celebrate and preserve the significant history of the grounds that house the OC Fair & Event Center. Look for an all-new exhibit celebrating this rich history at the 2009 OC Super Fair called "Airbase to Fairspace."
Nice. They celebrate their history by destroying it. (BTW, if you hire the right people, EIRs can be made to "determine" all kinds of crazy things.)
Another anonymous reader wrote to me on a different topic,... "What a remarkably lousy article on the Encyclopedia Lots in this morning's Register ...They [got] the date, and the publisher of the encyclopedias wrong... but I love that they also have the city of Huntington Beach as the one giving away the lots."
At least they were consistant.
Reader Mike sent in the photos of Garden Grove posted below and wrote, "This is old 1960s Harbor Blvd. between Trask & Garden Grove Blvd. On the west side of Harbor was a small shopping center called World's Fair Center. My folks used to drive past this center all the time on our way to and from Leonards Dept. Store. ...The two main stores in this little shopping center were World's Fair Imports & Gifts, and Sav-On Electronics."
Sav-On Electronics was indeed a great place to rummage for interesting equipment and parts. As recently as a few years ago they still had 8-inch floppy drives. How cool is that?! The shopping center was still there the last time I looked, but most (if not all) of the businesses have changed.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

O.C. Plaza, Black history, Bob Johnson, etc.

Remember my post, last March, about Orange County Plaza in Garden Grove? Me neither. But it garnered 23 comments. Just in time for the anniversary of that inexplicably popular post, alert reader Mike sent me the photo above. He writes, "During my countless hours of web surfing I ran across [this] Orange County Plaza photo from 1963. ...We are looking east on Chapman toward Brookhurst." Thanks for sharing this great image, Mike!
Bob Johnson will discuss Orange County Black history in at the next meeting of the Orange County Historical Society, this Thursday, March 12, 7:30pm, at Trinity Episcopal Church, 2400 N. Canal St., in Orange. Bob has been active in Fair Housing and other civil rights issues in O.C. since the 1960s. He has been researching local black history for many years, and has just completed a book with Charlene Riggins entitled, A Different Shade of Orange: Voices of Orange County, California, Black Pioneers. The book is published by and available through CSUF's Center for Oral & Public History. To learn more about Bob and his book before attending see the recent article about him in the O.C. Register.
I was concerned about the historic Wintersburg Japanese Presbyterian Church complex after reading that Rainbow Disposal Co. was bringing expansion plans to the city tonight. But it turns out that tonight's item was for a different parcel of property. The Notice of Preparation/Draft Environmental Impact Report for the historic properties will probably be released this summer, with a hearing scheduled at the end of 2009 or in early 2010. Thanks to Phil, Donna, Michael, and everyone else who's keeping an eye on this issue.

Monday, March 09, 2009

Nixons at Knott's, and more Nixon-y goodness

The two photos above show the Richard and Pat Nixon at Knott's Berry Farm on Aug. 16, 1968. (The top image was taken inside the Chicken Dinner Restaurant.) In fact, all of the images in today's post show Nixon at Knott's. This is a direct response to Daveland's recent "Nixon Family & Disneyland" series, which I really enjoyed. Here are links to each post in that series: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6, and Part 7.

The photo above shows Walter Knott and Vice President Richard Nixon at the "Pan for Gold" attraction in 1959. The photo below was taken at a Nixon rally at Knott's Berry Farm a year later. Note the lineup of Nixons and Knotts.
The last photo, below, shows's Nixon in Fall of 1962, at a political rally held by Japanese Americans in Knott's Wagon Camp. The Wagon Camp is now used for the park's stunt show.
In related news, the Register recently ran an article about yet another Nixon/O.C. story. It seems the famous Frost-Nixon discussions (now the subject of a major movie), took took place in the home of Harold and Martha Smith in the Monarch Beach area of Dana Point.
Nixon's younger brother, Ed, has a new book out, The Nixons: A Family Portrait. It should be interesting to get his take on growing up with the future president in rural Orange County. Ed Nixon also gave a talk at the Nixon Library & Birthplace on Presidents Day.
And although I'm late getting to this news, I should also report that John H. Taylor, President Nixon's former chief of staff and executive director of the Richard Nixon Library & Birthplace Foundation since 1990, left in February to serve full time as vicar of St. John Chrysostom Episcopal Church and School in Rancho Santa Margarita. Taylor played a critical role in building what is truly an impressive museum and research facility.

Saturday, March 07, 2009

Good news and bad news at O.C. Fairgrounds

The bad news is that the Administration Building at the Orange County Fairgrounds in Costa Mesa is now completely demolished. The photos above show the demolition as of March 3, and the empty space I found there today. So little is left of Santa Ana Army Air Base (SAAAB), that it's a shame to lose any of the remaining structures. It's even worse to lose such a nice example that also housed the Fair's offices for the past 60 years. It had quite a story.
The good news is that several other SAAAB buildings still stand at the fair grounds. One of them is a two-story and nearly as nice as the Admin. Building. I hope they plan to hang on to (and maybe even restore) this building -- which is now clearly the best remaining bit of SAAAB.The photo below is the same building from another angle. What a great building. Too bad it's covered in stucco. I suspect the original wood siding is hiding underneath.The 11 historical plaques in front of this building include one from the O.C. Historical Commission, which reads,
Santa Ana Army Air Base Site. Memorial Garden established 1954. The Air Base was one of the largest of its kind in the nation. It was activiated in February of 1942. Pilots trained here for Europe and the Pacific during World War II.
Another plaque reads,
Santa Ana Army Air Base Construction Accomplishments
3 months, site approval to ground breaking.
4 months to start of training of 5,000 cadets.
14 months, ground breaking to 3,000,000 sq. ft. in 800 buildings housing 26,000 cadets on 1,337 acres.
33 miles of waterlines, reservoir, 2 wells.
31 miles of electrical lines, 39 miles of paved roads, 28 miles of sewer.
And yet another plaque, from the American Society of Civil Engineers, marks the SAAAB as an "Orange County Historic Civil Engineering Landmark."

The next two photos show two more small SAAAB buildings that still stand at the Fairgrounds. I could not find any others. If you know of another one, please let me know.
The destruction of the Administration Building is definitely a loss, but happily it is not our last physical link to SAAAB. Hopefully this incident will serve as a wakeup call to be vigilant in defense of the other remaining structures from this historic air base.

Dana and Ginger Lamb of Orange County

If adventure has a name, it must be,.... Lamb? . Corona del Mar residents and Santa Ana High School graduates Dana and Ginger Lamb were best-selling authors, lecturers, documentary filmmakers, entrepreneurs, amateur archaeologists, and spies for the U.S. government.

The couple married in 1933 and soon built a canoe (named Vagabunda,) which they paddled from Southern California to the Panama Canal. Their adventures during the journey became the basis of their bestselling book, Enchanted Vagabonds. On the success of their book and their self-promotional skills, they were able to fund numerous other treks to some of the world's most remote locations. During WWII, FDR (a fan of theirs) hired the Lambs as spies in Mexico. After the war, they undertook their Quest for the Lost City, which they later documented with another book and a film.

Julie Huffman-Klinkowitz and Jerome Klinkowitz have written a book about the Lambs, entitled The Enchanted Quest of Dana and Ginger Lamb. They will discuss (and probably sign) their new book March 14, 3pm, at the Laguna Beach Library, 363 Glenneyre St. . Today's photos come from Enchanted Vagabonds. The one at the top of the post shows the Lambs as they began their ascent up the Coatzacoalcos River in Mexico. The second, inset image shows them with a turtle (soon to be dinner) in Costa Rica.

Friday, March 06, 2009

GAR, Archives Saturday hours, Doheny House, etc

Charles Beal will discuss Orange County's Civil War veterans and the Grand Army of the Republic (G.A.R.) at the next meeting of the Seal Beach Historical Society, March 26, 7pm, at the Senior Center in the Mary Wilson Branch Library, 707 Electric Ave. Charles will also bring displays of his extensive collection of local G.A. R. ribbons, postcards and buttons, as well as information about his ongoing project to document the graves of all Civil War veterans buried in Orange County. The photos above show G.A.R. gatherings at the Methodist Tent City in Huntington Beach. The first of them (top) shows the flag-raising ceremony at their 1905 convention.
REMINDER: The Orange County Archives will be open tomorrow, March 7, 10am-4pm. The Archives are very rarely open on weekends. If you normally can't get in to do research during the week, this is your chance. "Behind the scenes" tours will also be available. These special hours are in conjuntion with an Old Courthouse Museum open house event, as I mentioned last week. Also, the Santa Ana Historical Preservation Society will offer tours of Downtown Santa Ana and the historic Howe-Waffle House (across the street from the Archives/Old Courthouse).
Score one for the good guys! Capistrano Beach's historic "Doheny House"(1928) has been (at least temporarily) saved from the wrecking ball by the Dana Point Planning Commission. See the recent article in the O.C. Register.
Diane Ryan's first History of Huntington Beach class started this week and is full. If enough people sign up, the City of Huntington Beach's Adult School will offer another 5 week course, April 22 to May 20, on Wednesdays, from 1:30-3:30pm. To register, call the Adult School at (714) 847-2873, ext. 219. These classes are being held in conjunction with the City's year-long centennial celebration.
Valencia High School in Placentia is celebrating it's 75th year. A retrospective exhibit about the school will be on display at the Placentia Public Library, 411 E. Chapman Ave., throughout March.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

More SAAAB destruction images

These photos are an addendum to yesterday's post, which has garnedred more than a little interest. Today's images are from the OCFair.com website. For more images of this historic building's demolition, see their construction page. Can you imagine bragging about this?!?

I really want to keep feeling warm and fuzzy about the Fair. I really do. But this isn't helping.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

O.C. Fair to demolish SAAAB building

The Administration Building for the Orange County Fairgrounds -- one of the few remaining Santa Ana Army Air Base buildings -- is scheduled for immediate demolition. I will quote directly from Niyaz Pirani's story in yesterday's O.C. Register, since the exact wording may be important:
"The administration building at the OC Fair & Event Center will be demolished this week. The building was previously used by the Santa Ana Army Air Base, but through research was deemed to have no historic value. The doors and windows of the demolished building will be donated to Habitat for Humanity. Fair officials said the staff has outgrown the building and that a new administration building will be ready by June."
What research? By whom? And how much were they paid to reach that conclusion? Even if the Fair folks are legally within their rights to demolish the building, how can anyone say the building "has no historic value?" SAAAB is one of the most important sites pertaining to Orange County's involvement in WWII. And why are we hearing about this only now -- on the very week demolition is going to begin?
(I took the photo above during last year's Fair. For the record, the Fair moved onto this part of the old SAAAB in Costa Mesa in 1949.)
And as long as we're being outraged, see the article, "Googie Bowling Alley Destroyed on TV" from the Preservation Magazine website. It's not about Orange County, but I think you'll see why I linked to it. I can well imagine how our pal Chris Nichols felt while watching this travesty. It makes me sick just thinking about it.

Monday, March 02, 2009

Historical markers, Laguna Hills, & Santa Ana

Glenn Frank writes, "I was riding the Aliso Creek Bike Trail today and passed the historical marker sign for the Juan Avila Adobe which is along the trail at the top of the hill just south of the 5 freeway. I thought that someone in the city should be made aware of the horrible condition this sign marker is in... plexiglass marker cover is nearly impossible to see through, it is shattered and broken and has words scratched into it... and someone of course had marked up the photo of Juan Avila on the sign... It would be fitting if the city or the city's historical society or both spent some time and money to fix it up again."
These days, historical markers seems to be constantly vandalized and stolen. The County Historical Commission went to great lengths to select the most vandalism-proof materials possible for a recent interpretive panel at Wieder Regional Park -- and even that was damaged within a year.
Sadly, law enforcement still seems unwilling to shoot vandals on sight. So I guess we're left with the (much less satisfying) option of replacing and repairing these things regularly.
As for the city's historical society, I don't know that Laguna Hills actually has such a group yet. Someone please correct me if I'm wrong.
Tonight, the Santa Ana City Council was scheduled to discuss ways to cut or restructure the City's Historic Resources Commission. Perhaps someone out there can post a comment and let us know what happened. Santa Ana's historic preservation movement has really picked steam in recent years and greatly improved numerous neighborhoods. If the city can make their involvement more efficient, that's great. But care should be taken not to ruin a good thing.