Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Local History Open House Day in Santa Ana!

I'm taking a quick break from the Disneyland series to point out a local history event happening in Santa Ana this Saturday, April 3rd.
The Orange County Archives, the Old Courthouse Museum, and the Howe Waffle House Museum will all be open for their quarterly Open House, on Saturday, April 3, 10am-4pm. The Archives and the Old Courthouse Museum are both located in the Old Orange County Courthouse (built in 1901) at 211 W. Santa Ana Blvd., in Downtown Santa Ana. The Howe Waffle House (a beautifully restored Victorian) is right across the street.
The Orange County Archives will offer "behind the scenes" tours, but you'll also be able to spend the time doing research if you'd like. The Archives is home to a large and unique collection of government records, photos, directories, and other materials documenting the rich history of Orange County. This is where I'll be on Saturday, so stop by and say hello. (Normally, the Archives is only open on weekdays, 9am to noon and 1pm to 4:30pm.)
At the Dr. Willella Howe Waffle House & Medical Museum, local history authors including Rob Richardson, Phil Brigandi, Christine Salts, Roberta Reed and Alison Young will be on hand to sign their latest books. Other authors will include Michael Barry and Chip Martin. I think the Santa Ana Historical Preservation Society will be offering walking tours of Downtown again that day, but I'm not positive. The house will also offer tea, sweets, and Easter egg hunts for the kids at 1:00, 2:00 and 3:00pm.
The Old Courthouse Museum's gallery will feature "Defining California Style: The Architecture of Allison & Allison" -- a reprise of a very interesting exhibit from about eight years ago. Allison & Allison's Orange County projects include some of our most attractive schools, such as Huntington Beach High School and the recently demolished tower at Newport Harbor High School.
Hope to see you there!

Monday, March 29, 2010

Disneyland Before & After, Part 2

Today's first "before" picture comes from the Gorillas Don't Blog entry from March 24th. It shows Monorail Blue zipping over the ticket booth area in the old Disneyland parking lot in April 1962. The parking lot is gone now, but many recognizable landmarks remain today. (I couldn't stand in exactly the same spot for this photo without having a ticket booth wall in front of me.)
The next "before" shot comes from Disneyland Nomenclature's post of Dec. 12th. It shows the Disneyland Showcase (a preview center for coming attractions) and the American Egg House restaurant in 1982. I remember both with fondness. Both have now been replaced with retail shops, selling t-shirts, plush toys, etc.
Stay tuned for Part 3...

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Disneyland Before & After, Part 1

Sadly, my Disneyland Annual Pass will expire at the end of this month. So I went for one last visit (at least for a while) last Wednesday. Before I left for the park, I went to some of my favorite theme-park-history-related blogs and printed out images from recent posts. I took these photos along, and took current photos to match. I'll be sharing some of these "before and after" photos over the next week or so.
The Frontierland concept art at the top of this post appeared on Stuff From The Park on March 19th. Somehow, I think the place would look more convincing if the streets really looked like dirt. Otherwise, the dream and the reality are quite similar.
The photo below, showing the start of construction for Splash Mountain in 1987, came from a post on Outside The Berm on Feb. 12th. I couldn't figure out where the photographer was standing until I walked around the area for a while. Eventually, I found the spot on the upper deck of the Hungry Bear Restaurant. Note the still-standing cypress trees along the side of the Haunted Mansion.
More to come...

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Santiago packing house, O.C. Archives, tours, etc

In 1929, the Santiago Orange Growers Association became the largest Valencia packing house in America, shipped over 820,000 crates that year. The photo above shows the interior of their packing house at 325 N. Cypress in Orange, in about 1948. Packers idenitified in the photo include (left to right) "Licha," Ruth Ortega, Carol Garcia, Georgia Garcia, Helen Poblano Castro, Jenny Ramirez, and Esther Poblano. The image below gives you a better look at the "Rooster Brand" label seen above.
Other Santiago Orange Growers Association brands included Cock of the Walk, Searchlight, Dreamflower, Mohawk, Sweetreat, and Planet. The photo below shows the packing house's exterior as it appeared in the 1930s.
Visit the Orange County Archives, the Old Courthouse Museum, and the Victorian Howe-Waffle House Museum (across the street), during their quarterly joint Open House event, on Saturday, April 3, 10am-4pm. The Archives will offer "behind the scenes" tours, but you'll also be able to spend the time doing research if you'd like.
The Dana Point Historical Society and the City of Dana Point have published a local historical driving tour brochure. Copies are available at City Hall, the Chamber of Commerce, local hotels, the Harbor, and the Ocean Institute. It's a great idea, and I hope other communities follow suit.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Marijuana, MCAS El Toro, Thurl Ravenscroft, etc.

With the news that an initiative legalizing recreational pot will appear on our November ballot, it seemed like a good time to share this image from Orange County's war on drugs. This photo, from the First American Corp collection, shows O.C. Sheriff's Deputies at a marijuana bust in 1935.
I was reminded today that I used to occasionally post lists of links to interesting online video relating to local history. It's been a while, so here are a few more you may not have seen yet:
  • Spencer Hughes takes us on a very unauthorized tour of the ruins of MCAS El Toro. Minus one point for camera work, but plus two points for having the right attitude. (And another three for sharing it with us.)
  • For a much more official/PR-type (but still interesting) view of MCAS El Toro's afterlife, there's this OC Lifestyle episode. It includes a segment on "The Legacy Project."
  • O.C. Roundup reader (and occasional contributor) Glenn Frank has posted a video that includes late 1940s footage of Huntington Beach. There's also some footage of the H.B. 4th of July Parade in the late 1970s -- shot at the intersection of Main and Yorktown. (You may remember Glenn as the guy who led the charge to save the Dreger Clock.)
  • A real estate agent posted a video of the Evangeline Hotel (1906) in Huntington Beach. The historic building has already been sold, but the video still gives you a rare chance to see the inside of the place.
  • There's also a short travel-log-type video about Crystal Cove posted to YouTube.
  • From the California of the Past Digital Stories series comes an oral history and slide show of Irma Franklin, who helped put together the first real library at Leisure World in what is now Laguna Woods. The audio was recorded two years ago at the Historical Society of Laguna Woods.
  • And finally, there's a short interview with the late voice actor and singer Thurl Ravenscroft. This Fullerton resident's voice was known to almost every American. He could be heard in TV commercials, in Disney theme park attractions, on LPs, and in animated features like The Grinch Who Stole Christmas. Locally, he was also known as the narrator for the Pagent of the Masters in Laguna Beach.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Knott's, Orange Community Hist. Soc., COPH, etc.

Some of my favorite haunts on the web are listed among the links on the right-hand column of my blog. Sometime, when you have a free week or two, you might want to check them out. Today's image comes from a recent blog post by the interesting and entertaining Vintage Disneyland Tickets blog -- which obviously deals with a lot more than its title implies. The illustration above comes from a 1955 book, The Knott's Berry Farm Burro In Ghost Town. Nobody's mistaking it for great children's literature, but it's a really neat souvenir of Knott's before all the rides moved in. The artist, Peter Alvarado, does a good job of capturing the feel and the details of the place. (And it's all much cheerier than the Danny Donkey children's book series.)
The Orange Community Historical Society will hold their March meeting this Thursday, the 25th, at 7pm, at Trinity Episcopal Church, 2400 N. Canal St., Orange. Stephanie George of CSUF's Center for Oral & Public History will discuss the Center's work, including oral histories conducted with interesting Orange citizens. I'm not sure what else Steph plans to discuss, but she's always fascinating and delightful. I plan to be there and I hope to see you there too.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Prehistoric food processor? Or just a rock?

I know a lot less about pre-history than I do about history. (Although both are fascinating.) So here's where some of you archeo-paleo folks may be able to help me out,...
I came across this rock (above) in a mostly unspoiled area of the San Joaquin Hills, near UCI, this weekend. For some reason, the terrain already had me on alert for artifacts. So, is this an over-200-year-old mortar hole/grinding rock (for grinding acorn meal)? Or is the divot in this rock something much more recent?
It may be possible that even an expert couldn't tell from a photograph. In that case, how does one know the difference when you're actually looking at the rock? I'll be curious to see what answers appear in the "comments" section in the coming days. Thanks in advance.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Knott's Berry Farm History Day, April 18th.

If you enjoyed my series of posts about Knott's Berry Farm's history last year, boy have I got a special event for you! On Sunday, April 18, there will be a major, day-long, ticketed event at Knott's, featuring,...
Historical Walking Tours: Tours of Ghost Town and Grand Avenue will be given by historian Phil Brigandi and Chris Jepsen of the Orange County Archives (that'd be me) throughout the day, beginning at 8:45am.
Book Signing: From 10am to noon, (in the oldest room of Mrs. Knott's Chicken Dinner Restaurant,) Chris Merritt and J. Eric Lynxweiler will sign their still-warm-off-the-presses book about Knott's history, entitled, Knott's Preserved. I've seen a color proof and it is both beautiful and incredibly well-researched. Also on hand to sign will be the head of Imagineering for Disneyland, Tony Baxter, who wrote the book's introduction
Historical Presentation: Author Chris Merritt will discuss the history of Knott's in a special presentation inside the Bird Cage Theater. I saw Chris give a version of this talk a few years ago, and it was outstanding. He has lots of great images, and over 15 years of serious research to draw on.
Dinner at Mrs. Knott's Chicken Dinner Restaurant: A buffet dinner will be served at this 75-year-old, iconic restaurant. (And yes, "buffet" means you can help yourself to some extra cherry rhubarb if you want it, Phil.)
Evening Panel Discussion: After dinner, we'll return to the Birdcage Theater for a panel discussion featuring the following former Knott's designers and employees:
  • Dean Davisson: head of Knott’s Public Relations from 1958 to 1976.
  • John Waite: former Bud Hurlbut employee who did the earliest Halloween Haunt theming in the Calico Mine Ride and Log Ride.
  • Eddie Sotto: Designer of the Wacky Soap Box Racers.
  • Rolly and Chris Crump: Designers of Knott’s Bear-y Tales.
The morning book signing event is open to the public, but you'll need an event ticket to attend the rest of the day's events. You can download the pdf flyer/ticket order/book order form from Merritt's website, or read his blog for further details.
Merritt writes, "Apologies that you have to fax in your order - I really don’t have control over how Knott’s is processing the tickets. And please, if you do want to go, order the tickets soon. The Bird Cage Theatre only seats 230, so I feel confident that we will sell this small, but important event out quickly. If you have further questions, you can drop me an email at:"
Your $55 ticket will also get you into the park, so you'll be able to enjoy some classic rides and attractions between the day's special events.
Hope to see you there!
(For the record: No, I am not being paid by Knott's or Chris Merritt or Angel City Press. And I already bought my Knott's annual pass back in January. Also, I will be paying for my own dinner. For me, this is all about spending a great day sharing Knott's history with people. )

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Tomorrowland and "Discover Orange County"

This is a rarely seen image of an early Disneyland attraction called The World Beneath Us. The photo comes from a Register supplement from July 15, 1955, heralding the opening of the park. The show, which "takes the audience on a simulated trip through the hidden wonders inside the earth," was sponsored by Richfield Oil, which also sponsored another Tomorrowland attraction: Autopia. What you see above is a 840-square-foot diorama of the Los Angeles basin that made up one part of the attraction. The 12-minute show closed in 1960. To learn more about The World Beneath Us, see the article about it on Yesterland, and link over to this great photo on Daveland. (I know, I know. Too many "lands." Just be glad I didn't mention Dairyland in the post too. Oh, wait... Nevermind.)
A new TV show called "Discover Orange County," is giving some coverage to local history. The first episode, which is already airing on KOCE's various channels, features a tour of the cottages at Crystal Cove with Laura Davick of the Crystal Cove Alliance. The second episode, airing next month, features a tour of historic Downtown Orange with historian and Orange native Phil Brigandi. The show is hosted by Lisa Hart of Coto de Caza. See a recent Register article or the show's own website for more information.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Crash in Talbert, COPH, and the Hansen Lecture

Bad things happen when airplanes run into utility poles. This photo was taken in Talbert (Fountain Valley) in the 1950s. This view is from Warner Ave. looking north. It came from the collection of Doug McIntosh. I believe there are also photos of this crash in the Bob Geivet Collection at the Old Courthouse Museum, but I don't think I scanned them when I had the chance.
The Center for Oral and Public History (COPH) at Cal State Fullerton will hold the Second Annual Hansen Lecture on March 22, 6pm, in the Recital Hall (PA-11), at CSUF's Joseph Clayes III Performing Arts Center. Robert K. Sutton, Ph.D. , the chief historian at the National Park Service will present "Civil War to Civil Rights: The Sesquicentennial in the National Park Service." He will describe "the challenges public historians face in telling the story of a war that in some ways has not yet ended." Click here for a PDF flyer with more information.
No, the lecture isn't directly related to O.C. history, but the person who asked me to post it definitely is. And the lecture is named for Dr. Art Hansen, emeritus professor of history and former director of COPH, who has contributed so much to the preservation and understanding of Orange County history.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Anaheim High School

The Anaheim Historical Society will present a history of the pipe organ at Anaheim High School on March 22, 7pm-10pm, in the school's Cook Auditorium, 811 W. Lincoln Ave. AHS Art Instructor Brad Pettigrew, who is also a member of the City's Historical Preservation Committee, will present a slide show. A member of the O.C. Theater Organ Society (whose members restored the Wurlitzer at Fullerton Union High School's Plummer Auditorium) will also speak.
Today's photos are all images of Anaheim High School from the postcard collection of Tom Pulley. Note that the school has been through multiple incarnations.
Anaheim High School was first established in 1898. The image at the top of this post shows the version of the High School that was built in 1901. The middle image (with the cars) comes from the early 1920s. The black and white photo below shows the school a couple decades later.

This last/current structure was built after the 1933 earthquake damaged the earlier buildings.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Disneyland, Jolene Lake, MDA, Wally Boag, etc.

It's been a while since we've been to Disneyland. Today's photos show 3 1/2 year old Muscular Dystrophy Association (MDA) poster child Jolene Kay Lake visiting the park with her mother in October 1955. This was just a few months after Disneyland opened. The photo above shows them on the Peter Pan ride. The image below shows them with someone named JoAnne Steel (on the left) at the Chicken of the Sea Pirate Ship Restaurant that once stood in Fantasyland.
Seattle native Jolene Lake (later Jolene Worley) went on to be a lifelong volunteer for MDA. According to the MDA, "she worked in planning and publicizing events in her community of Camano Island, Wash., was an award-winning amateur painter and advocated for greater accessibility for people with disabilities." She died April 17, 1993, at age 41.
Speaking of Disneyland, I somehow missed mentioning Werner Weiss' book review of Wally Boag: Clown Prince of Disneyland on

Friday, March 12, 2010

Forest (again), citrus, bungalows, Placentia & H.B.

One more day of Cleveland National Forest photos. This time, the images are a bit more recent. The photo above was taken on the Main Divide in the Santa Ana Mountains in about 1960. The image below shows the San Juan Forestry Station, off the Ortega Highway, in July 1973.
The Preserving Citrus Heritage Foundation (a.k.a. Citrus Roots) is now shipping their latest book, which focuses on the history of Orange County's citrus industry. The soft-cover book, written by Richard H. Barker, has the most peculiar title I've run across in a long time: Citrus Powered the Economy of Orange County for Over A Half Century Induced By A Romance: A Illustrated, Compelling History. I have yet to see a copy, but Bob Chaparro writes that it "has abundant historical images, many of which are of packing houses and some of railroad scenes. Quite a bit of the text is devoted to the packing house associations as well..." Order forms can be downloaded from Citrus Roots' website.
Architect Richard Dodd will speak to the Costa Mesa Historical Society on the subject of "The Bungalow Era in Orange County," at 1870 Anaheim Ave., on March 21, 2:00pm.
Placentia's historic Bradford House (1902) at 136 Palm Circle will be open for tours on Sun., March 14, 2-4pm. The modified Queen Anne Victorian-style home is furnished in typical 1900-1920 style. Tours are given on the second Sunday of each month.
I'm sorry to report that California Greetings, which was probably the most interesting shop in Downtown Huntington Beach, is closing. Their last day will be April 30th. I mention them here because (like the late lamented Smith's Nut House in Orange,) they always carried a selection of local history books. Yes, they had Arcadia books, but they also carried a smattering of books that couldn't be found at Borders, B&N or Amazon. A good example is Ebb & Flow -- a Centennial history of Huntington Beach. Anyway, you might want to stop by and buy something while you still can.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

National Forest, Laguna, Santa Ana, Neutra, etc.

Two more photos from the Cleveland National Forest today. These two show the Santa Ana Tin Mine, which I discussed on this blog last April. I won't be surprised if James Newland also talks about the mine -- or at least mining -- in his talk to the OCHS tomorrow night.
The Laguna Beach Historical Society's March 15th meeting features designer and architectural historian Ted Wells speaking on the subject of (1960s &'70s) "Architectural Modernism in Laguna Beach." The program will be held in the City Hall Council Chambers, 505 Forest Ave., 7:30-9:30pm.
The Assistance League of Santa Ana will hold a fundraising "Historic Santa Ana Tour" on Sat., March 13th, 10am-4pm. The guided tour will include First Presbyterian Church, The Episcopal Church of the Messiah, the Old Orange County Court House, the Dr. Howe-Waffle House, Santa Ana High School, and a building I'm unfamiliar with, called the Madame Modjeska Building. Tickets available at or click here for a downloadable ticket flyer. For more information or to buy tickets by phone, call 714-664-0547.
The Register's "Arts Blog" recently featured an update on the (endangered?) Mariners Medical Arts complex (1963, Richard Neutra) in Newport Beach.
The First Presbyterian Church of Anaheim celebrated their 140th anniversary last Sunday. See the Register's article for the story. The church also has a book available by Alan Lopez, entitled, Living the Journey: 140 Years Serving in Anaheim. Can anyone challenge their claim of being the "oldest Protestant church in Orange County?" (I'm not trying to burst anyone's bubble. I just tend to see "oldest" statements as a challenge for us historians. )

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Cleveland National Forest, James Newland, etc.

California State Parks supervising historian James D. Newland will discuss the history of the Cleveland National Forest at the Orange County Historical Society's meeting this Thursday, March 11, 7:30pm, at Trinity Episcopal Church, 2400 N. Canal St., Orange. Mr. Newland will have copies of his recent book (on the same topic) available for sale after his talk.
Today's photos are both scenes from the 460,000-acre Cleveland National Forest. The image above shows local officials during their ride to inspect the route of the proposed Ortega Highway, in the mid-1920s. The center man standing on his horse is Orange County Supervisor Willard Smith. To his left (or our right) is Supervisor William Schumacher.
The second photo, below, is a view of Orange County from atop Santiago Peak on Dec. 23, 1974. It's amazing to see how much empty land was still left between the mountains and the Pacific.
Hope to see you Thursday!

Monday, March 08, 2010

Orange, Seal Beach, and historical preservation

Today's photo shows the Plaza in Orange. I have little additional information about it, since I took it off a flyer that was recently handed to me. Comparing it to other photos I have, I'm going to guess this was taken sometime around the 1890s. I'm sure some of you Orange folk will be able to tell us more in the "comments" section below..
Do you own an old building? A seminar on "Financial Incentives for Historic Preservation" will be held this Thurs., March 11, 2010, 6:30-8:30 p.m., at First Presbyterian Church of Orange, 191 N. Orange St. Topics include the Federal Historic Preservation Tax Incentive program, and the Mills Act Historic Property Contract Program. Speakers include Dan Ryan (Historic Preservation Planner for the City of Orange), Matt Dillhoefer (Historic Preservation Consultant), Lambert Giessinger (Historic Preservation Architect), and Dan Reardon (from Trust for Architectural Easements). To RSVP, call 888-831-2107 or send email to
Afraid I won't be there myself. I'll be at the Orange County Historical Society meeting that night. More on that later.
The Red Car Museum at Electric Ave. and Main St. in Seal Beach is open the second and fourth Saturdays of each month, Noon to 3pm. It will next be open this Saturday, March 13.
The Orange Community Historical Society will also offer a walking tour this Saturday, 10:00-11:30am. This is a recurring event, held on the second Saturday of each month. The tour will begin at the Orange Main Library & History Center, 407 E. Chapman Ave.

Sunday, March 07, 2010

San Juan Capistrano, Part II

Glenn Frank sent me this image of the same area of San Juan Capistrano shown in my last post. If you click on the image, it should take you to an animated gif, fading from 1959 to the 2000s and back again. (Thanks, Glenn!)

Thursday, March 04, 2010

San Juan Capistrano, 1959

Today's image is a 1959 aerial photo of San Juan Capistrano. The freeway and the cross-shaped walkways of the Mission should help you get your bearings. (Click on the image to enlarge it.)

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

GAR, Seal Beach, Santa Ana, Disney & ice cream

Charles Beal has once again shared some utterly amazing, previously unknown images of Grand Army of the Republic (Civil War veterans) gatherings in Orange County. The photo above shows the very first GAR gathering in Orange County, at Anaheim Landing (now Seal Beach) in the summer of 1888! I believe this is the only known photo of this event. It was taken by a photographer from the studio of Conaway & Hummel in Santa Ana. In the detail below, note that the Orange City Band was performing for the vets. The next photo (below), also from Charles, is from a later GAR gathering in Santa Ana in May 1919. They are posing in front of City Hall, but because of the panoramic view, we also get to see the businesses on either side, including a "Shoe Hospital" and the "Orange County Oldsmobile Co." managed by William R. Gordon. (Be sure to click on the images to enlarge them.)
Major Pepperidge of Gorillas Don't Blog has posted a great story about the Carnation Ice Cream truck that once resided on Main Street at Disneyland. More importantly, the post also discusses the larger story of Carnation's relationship with Walt Disney over the years. It's a fascinating bit of local theme park history.

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Serrano mystery, El Toro, and Mission Viejo

Today, we have a mystery image. Are these members of the pioneer Serrano family of Orange County? If so, who are they? First, a little background on this painting.
OC Parks Ranger Sue McIntire from Heritage Hill Historical Park dropped by the Archives today with the news that a number of items from the Serrano family had been purchased for the Serrano Adobe at Heritage Hill in El Toro. It seems one of the Serrano kin passed away recently, and an estate sale was held in Corona. Unfortunately, nobody in O.C. seems to have heard about the sale until after it was over. But luckily, Parks picked up some of the remaining items on eBay afterward -- including this painting.
It appears this painting was based on family photos. Are these folks Serranos? It is signed, "Navarro '86." The painting is also shrink-wrapped(!!), and bears a sticker on the back advertising "Clement Art Gallery: Picture framing, cleaning, restoration. 613 1/2 Howard St., Corona." I doubt that contacting the artist or gallery would shed much light at this late date. I think the odds are better that one of you attentive readers will be able to identify some of these folks. Please post something in the "comments" section of this post if you have information.
On a thoroughly unrelated note, the City of Mission Viejo's Heritage Committee is selling playing cards featuring 55 different historical images of the community. They also still have copies of our friend Doris Walker's book, Mission Viejo: The Ageless Land, for sale. The card decks are $10 through the Recreation & Community Services Dept: (949) 470-3061. The books are $25 at the Mission Viejo Library, 100 Civic Center.

Monday, March 01, 2010

Fashion Island, Newport Beach

I did two posts about Fashion Island in Newport Beach a couple years ago (Part I, Part II), but here's another one. Why? Because I can't resist posting good photos when I run across them. The 1981 image above was probably taken from a plane leaving John Wayne Airport. It only seems like yesterday, but look how much open land was still left in the background. The photo below is from the 1970s and shows the old playground at the center of Fashion Island.
I was never quite sure what you were supposed to do with those spinning barrel-type things. But the twirling merry-go-round/tub-thing was fun to ride in when it worked. Often, sand got into the mechanism and kept it from spinning properly.
Somebody send me some good local history news, willya?