Thursday, April 29, 2010

Santa Ana tiki trek, and Sad Leback

I'm not posting as often because I'm spending more of my free time out driving around and taking additional pictures of lost Orange County tiki shrines for my June presentation. Yesterday turned out to be "Santa Ana Tiki Apartment Complexes Day" -- and I visited quite a few.
I won't share all the details with you now, but I thought I'd offer proof that I'm out doing something productive.
The fellow in the photo above is Jim. He's in charge of security at a still-very-tikified apartment complex near The Block at Orange. When he saw me shooting photos through the fence of waterfalls, rooflines, tikis, etc, he didn't shoo me away. Instead, he gave me a tour and told me all kinds of interesting details about the place. Thanks, Jim!
This sign has nothing to do with tiki, except that it graces what was once a Polynesian-themed complex in Santa Ana.
Poor Leback! Why is he sad?

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Visiting the Orange Drive-In

Yesterday, our lovely Orange correspondent and I were on a Modern architecture pilgrimage to the Crystal Cathedral campus in Garden Grove, and unexpectedly stumbled across the last remaining bits of the Orange Drive In Theatre. Not that they were marked or identified in any way, but it wasn't hard to figure out. Dr. Robert Schuller began his ministry in Southern California in 1955 by preaching to folks in their cars at the Drive-In. His pulpit was the roof of the snack shop, a portion of which was apparently saved in 2003, when the rest of the building was bulldozed. (The screens came down earlier, in 1997. The whole area is now part of a freeway onramp/offramp.)
Also saved for posterity were these speakers, which are designed to mount on the inside of your car window during the movie (or during the drive-in church service). There was also an organ, mysteriously unmarked, nearby. I'm not sure what its origins were. Perhaps it was used at the Drive-In also.
In any case, all this stuff, and a rotary telephone, are on display on the second floor of the Richard Meier-designed International Center for Possibility Thinking (a.k.a. the "Welcoming Center").

Friday, April 23, 2010

Looking back at Sunday's Knott's event

A lot has been posted to the web since our "Knott's Preserved" event on Sunday, so I thought I'd provide some links...
First of all, authors Chris Merritt and Eric Lynxwiler were interviewed on Airtalk with Larry Mantle the other day on KPCC. The interview is available online as a download.
Dave DeCaro ran a recap of Sunday's events on Daveland. See Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4.
Tim at Vintage Disneyland Tickets also blogged about the event and also shared an outstanding 1953 article from Desert Magazine about Walter Knott's efforts to rebuild the old mining town of Calico.
The O.C. Register did short pieces about the new Knott's book and Sunday's panel discussion. I know they shot a bunch of video too, but (to my knowledge) that hasn't shown up online yet.
Even MiceChat left their usual Anaheim stomping grounds to give us a photo essay about Sunday's proceedings. (Thanks to our old pals Fishbulb and DustySage.)
On Flickr, there have been some great photos of the event posted by Eyduck, Keith, Eric, Season Pass, and Dave Cobb. I also added a number of videos of the tours, shot by Katie Schroeder, to my own Flickr account. And one of my favorite Flickristas, Mini Jen, referred to Sunday as, "a who's-who of creative, retro peeps." It truly was, and I was so glad to be among them!
Another large batch of photos was posted to TwitPic by "knottsbrryfarm."
Blogger Giddy Girlie also gave us an account with photos of the event. (Note to GG: Thanks for your amazing compliment in the post that followed. I'm still blushing.)
And on a related note, Ken had a great article on Outside The Berm about the fate of Knott's Little Chapel By The Lake.
Today's first two photos were from Sunday's "Knott's Preserved" history events. The last photo, immediately above, shows Knott's retail/dining facilities in the 1930s.
One last time: Huge thanks to Chris Merritt, Eric Lynxwiler, Phil Brigandi, Jennifer Blazey and the folks at Knott's Berry Farm for working your butts off and making this great event possible. It was an honor to be included. My thanks also to Werner Weiss and Allen Palovik, who volunteered to jump in and help with the tours if needed.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Orange County Tiki

I hope you'll be able to join us for dinner with the Orange County Historical Society at Don the Beachcomber in Huntington Beach, June 10. I will be speaking at their dinner program about the history of the "Polynesian Pop" phenomenon of the 1950s and '60s in Orange County.
From architecture, décor and music, to literature, theme parks and backyard luaus, the South Seas was a wildly popular theme throughout Mid-Century America. This was especially true in sunny Orange County, where primitive carved figures, grass huts, 'Aloha shirts,' and lush jungle landscaping seemed right at home.
The location for this dinner event is doubly historic. Don the Beachcomber is a historically significant restaurant that recently took up residence in one of America’s few remaining authentic tiki establishments: The former Sam’s Seafood. The place has recently been lovingly restored and improved. We'll be dining in the "Hidden Village" room, with waterfalls, a tiki bar, grass huts, fishing float lamps, tikis galore, and everything else you'd expect.
The event is open to everyone -- not just Society members. But please sign up soon before we run out of space. To register or for more information, download a PDF flier at:
(Today's photos show the late Pitcairn Motel on Harbor Blvd. in Garden Grove.)

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Knott's, Lacy, Santa Ana, trains & Laguna Beach

Many thanks to everyone who came to our Knott's Berry Farm day-long history event on Sunday. Phil Brigandi and I had a great time giving the tours and attending the lecture and panel discussion. I still haven't recovered,... but I'd do it all again if asked. If you missed the event, Chris Merritt & Eric Lynxwiler's excellent new book Knott's Preserved, will be available soon in a book store near you.
The photo above shows Sunday's book-signing line-up of (seated left to right) J. Eric Lynxwiler, Tony Baxter, Steve Knott (grandson of Walter and Cordelia), and Chris Merritt. Standing on the left is John Waite, a longtime employee of ride owner/operator/designer Bud Hurlbut. The photo below shows Phil at the old George Washington Fireplace exhibit, which was refurbished in advance of our tour! Way to go, Knott's! I've posted many more photos of the day's events on my Flickr account.
Sometimes the good guys win: The Friends of the Historic Lacy Neighborhood (FHLN), a grassroots preservation group, just sent out a press release saying they have "settled an action in O.C. Superior Court against the City of Santa Ana to enforce the California Environmental Quality Act. The Petition for Writ of Mandamus, filed Nov. 19, 2009, asked the Court to void the City’s unlawful approval of the demolition of vintage homes in the Lacy Neighborhood because the City had not complied with state environmental laws designed to protect historic and cultural resources. The case was settled upon the City’s agreement to: Rescind its imminent salvage and demolition of 11 vintage and historic homes in the historic Lacy Neighborhood of Santa Ana. Reconsider the future of the 11 vintage and historic homes only after certification of an adequate Environmental Impact Report (EIR). The Draft EIR for the Transit Zoning Code, which includes consideration of demolitions of Lacy Neighborhood and surrounding area, was thus revised and recirculated to consider a new alternative for rehabilitation of the 11 City-owned vintage structures. Reimburse the Friends for legal fees and costs.".
The Orange Empire Railway Museum's annual Rail Festival will be held this weekend. The museum is in Perris, California. "Ride trains and trolleys all day long, plus a special mini 'Run One' where you can take the throttle on a real railroad locomotive. There will be live bluegrass music, a special parade of Los Angeles trolleys, handcar rides, and other special exhibits. There will also be food vendors on site for lunch. Both steam and diesel powered trains will operate on the mainline!" Adults $12. Children ages 5-11, $8. Under age 5, free. See OERM's website for details..
The Laguna Beach Historical Society has posted a bunch of photos from their collection to SmugMug. Check it out.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Soylent Orange

I've seen some strange fruit crate labels in my day, but this one from Placentia takes the cake! Had they not included an image of a baby, perhaps we could have believed that the brand (and company) had just been named for some unfortunate soul named Babi. But no, the artwork makes it clear that "Babijuice" comes from babies. There is no way in which this can be a good thing.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Filled to Capacity

Today's photo (circa 1970) is both a reference to today's rain storm and to the fact that our big Knott's Berry Farm history event is completely sold out. For those who missed out on purchasing a ticket, it's still possible to attend the book signing, from 10am to noon, this Sunday.
Sorry my posts are few and far between lately. I've been pretty busy prepping for a few events including this weekend's Knott's wingding and an event on June 10th that involves tikis. More on that later.
On an unrelated note, the Diego Sepulveda Adobe in Costa Mesa will be open for tours on Sat., April 17, noon to 4pm. The adobe is located in Estancia Park, 1900 Adams Avenue.

Friday, April 09, 2010

Huntington Beach, OCHS, Tustin blimp hangars

Here's a great image of the Pacific Electric Depot being built near the base of the Huntington Beach pier around 1904. For a pretty casual photo, this has SO much going for it.
Thanks to Rob Richardson for his great program at OCHS last night. And thanks to all 70 of you who attended. Next month's program (May 13th) will be about the blimp hangars at Tustin, so save the date! I'll post more info about this event later.

Monday, April 05, 2010

Orange County Railroad History

Rob Richardson will talk to us about "The History of Railroads in Orange County," at the Orange County Historical Society's meeting this Thursday, April 8th, 7:30pm, at Trinity Episcopal Church, 2400 N. Canal St., Orange.
From the Atchison Topeka & Santa Fe, to the Southern Pacific, to the short local rail lines, Mr. Richardson will discuss the impact of trains on Orange County over the past 130 years. He is a long-time member of the O.C. Railway Historical Society and the Santa Ana Historical Preservation Society. He will have copies of his new book, Railroads and Depots of Orange County, available for sale after his talk. The meeting is free and the public is welcome.
Both of today's photos show Santa Fe trains in Orange County. The image at the top of today's post is an unidentified shot from about the 1890s. The second image (immediately above) shows the Fullerton Santa Fe Depot in 1955. This depot was built in 1930 and is still used by Amtrak.

Sunday, April 04, 2010

Happy Easter! (etc)

Here's a 1947 photo of a school Easter Party in Wintersburg (which is now part of Huntington Beach). Love those ears!
Diane Ryan is once again offering her 8-week Orange County History class through Huntington Beach Adult School. Classes will be held at the Fountain Valley Senior Center, at Bushard and Talbert (that's Downtown Talbert to you longtime Orange Countians). The class will be held on Wednesdays, 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. from April 21 to June 9 and will include a couple field trips to historical sites. To register, call (714) 901-8106 ext. 4405.
My apologies to Barry K. and Connie M. for deleting their comments the other day. I wasn't quite ready to have my April Fool joke completely blown yet. Several days later, I'm now willing to admit that I completely made up the bigfoot story. I have to specifically say this now, or the story will come back to haunt me in five or six years. I can just see it turning up in a newspaper article as "old local lore."

Friday, April 02, 2010

Disneyland Before & After, Part 3

Picking up where we left off a few days ago,... The black and white "before" photo, above, shows the construction of the Swiss Family Robinson Treehouse at Disneyland in 1962. The photo comes from the March 21st post on artist Kevin Kidney's excellent blog. (Kevin's other recent posts about the Treehouse appear here and here.) My current "after" photo of the same scene shows a lot more real foliage, as well as the additons to the Treehouse made during its Tarzan makeover in 1999.
The "before" photo below shows the wooden Indian at the entrance to the Westward Ho Trading Co. in Frontierland in October 1959. The image comes from the March 24th post on Daveland. (I consider Dave's blog mandatory reading.)
As you can see in my "after" photo, it's amazing how little has changed in over half a century. The inside of the store is another matter however... Davey Crockett hats and kid-sized replicas of "Old Betsy" have given way to pins for the pin traders.
See you at the Orange County Archives open house tomorrow?

Thursday, April 01, 2010

"Santiago Sam"

You may have heard about that oarfish that washed up on Aliso Beach in 1922, giving rise to talk of sea serpents. But have you heard of "Santiago Sam," the bigfoot/sasquatch that shows up occasionally in the Santa Ana Mountains? Rumor has it that he's only about 5' 2", which makes him the shortest bigfoot ever recorded, but he still leaves enormous 20" footprints behind. (The photo below is an example of a similarly sized footprint.) Sam's short stature has probably allowed him to remain mostly hidden in the scrub brush of the Santa Anas.
There have been four sightings (reported to me by Rangers who preferred not to be idenitified) in or adjacent to Black Star Canyon, with other sightings scattered across both the Riverside and Orange County portions of the Cleveland National Forest.
In his Boys Book of Bear Stories, historian Jim Sleeper points out that although bears have long been considered exterminated from our mountains, there are still occasional verifiable sightings. If animals as large as bears can remain well hidden in that terrain, it's certainly reasonable that a critter the size of Santiago Sam could keep a pretty low profile.
If you know of any additional local cryptozoological lore, please let us know in the comments section below.