Friday, August 27, 2010

History of surfing in Orange County

Today's photos show surfers at the mouth of Newport Harbor in the 1940s. Note that the rock jetty has not yet been built on the Corona del Mar side. From Duke Kahanamoku's adventures in Newport Beach in the 1910s, to the modern U.S. Open of Surfing in Huntington Beach, there's a long history of riding the waves here in Orange County.
The "season opener" meeting of the Orange County Historical Society, on Sept. 9th, will explore some of Orange County's surfing history. Dick Metz, board member and founder of the Surfing Heritage Foundation (SHF), will give a talk on this subject, with a special emphasis on the Laguna Beach and Newport Beach areas, his first-hand experiences, and his efforts to develop a place where future generations can learn about the roots and development of surfing. He supplied the vision and initial funding for the SHF. He is also donating his extensive collection of historical surfboards, and has bequeathed his estate to the organization.
Metz was born in Laguna Beach where he grew up on the beach and learned to surf. A friend of such notables as Hobie Alter, Reynolds Yater, and Hevs McClelland, he is himself a pioneering figure in the sport and industry. He owned the Hobie Sports surf shops for 50 years, lived and surfed in Hawaii for 20 years, and was the driving force behind Surfline Hawaii.
He traveled the world surfing, and was the first American to surf in South Africa. In fact, it was Metz who suggested South Africa to Bruce Brown as a filming location for The Endless Summer.” The most spectacular segment of that groundbreaking surf film was shot there.
The public is welcome to attend this free event, which will be held at Sherman Library & Gardens, 2647 E. Coast Hwy, Corona del Mar. The event will begin at 6:30pm with an appetizer/desserts potluck (bring enough of something for six people if you'd like to participate). Dick Metz will begin his talk (with "slide show!") at 7:30pm.
Hope to see you there.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Spanish-American War, HCC, & O.C. Hospital

Two more images from Irvine Park today. These are from the Spanish American War Monument, which I also mentioned last month. The plaque above is made from metal salvaged from the U.S.S. Maine. The plaque below provides the names of the men of Company L who served in that war. If you'd like to learn more about Company L, track down a copy of Charles Swanner's book, The Story of Company L, Santa Ana's Own (1958). It's available in many libraries and used copies for sale aren't too rare either.
Stephanie George of COPH pointed out today that it's been "thirty-eight years since Heritage Coordinating Council [HCC] was founded as a volunteer group committed to preserving the heritage of Orange County. " The HCC is made up of representatives from various historical libraries, museums, archives and related facilities and organizations throughout the county. It mainly acts as a professional organization with each of us learning about the collections and projects of others -- sharing information and resources.
If your historical organization is interested in getting involved in HCC, be sure to check their website and ask about coming to their Sept 7th meeting. As Steph wrote, "We’ve sent out invitations to libraries, universities, museums, and archives in the past, but sometimes, people slip through the cracks. It’d be nice to meet some of our colleagues who aren’t already a part of this group."
By the way, if you didn't get over to see the historic Orange County Hospital (1914) in Orange, forget about it. The bulldozers have done their thing.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Goldie's finally busted

Yesterday, Knott's Berry Farm began tearing down Goldie's Place (a.k.a. "Gold Dust Goldie's Palace," or "Goldie's Joint.") It was one of the last original 1940 buildings left in Ghost Town. Its design was copied from an building in the real ghost town of Bodie "in the days before so much of the town had been burned out." The photo above shows Goldie's under construction.
Yes, they're going to build a replica on the same spot. Yes, I know the removal of historic stuff began while the Knotts still owned the property. And yes, Goldie's is still standing only because the termites are holding hands. But it's still sad to lose a historic building. A replica is only a replica.
The color photo shows the interior of Goldie's in the 1960s. By most accounts, Cordelia Knott hated having a "house of ill repute" in Ghost Town. But Walter insisted that no replica of an old mining town would be complete without one.
This last photo shows Goldie's in the 1940s, with menfolk climbing up the facade to get to the women. On the far left is Jim Y. "Dad" Lewis. In the center of the photo, giving another guy a boost up to the roof is Arthur D. "Slim" Vaughn (1904-1968).
When he wasn't working in landscaping or as a tree surgeon, Slim Vaughn, (a.k.a. the "Southwest Tumbleweed" or the "Village Romeo,") explored the desert and hung out "in character" at Old West-themed attractions and events. He also wrote poems and short stories, played a cowboy in films, and was the honorary mayor of Sunland and Tujunga.
Jim Lewis was an old vaudeville performer who found a new audience as Sheriff Dad Lewis at Knott's Ghost Town. He would entertain and dance for the tourists. One such performance was captured in Knott's 1948 promotional film, "Ghost Town." I've seen some references indicating that he may have been born in Belgium.
Sorry the posts have been so few and far between, folks. This doesn't indicate a lack of interest on my part. I've just been very busy and have also had some online access problems. However, I'll try to keep posting at least a couple times a week until things get more-or-less back to normal.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Dawson's Book Shop is closing its doors

Today I'm posting about the fabled Dawson's Book Shop, which is in Los Angeles rather than Orange County. But it should be of interest to you anyway. As they explain on their website, "Since 1905, Dawson's Book Shop has been a leading source in Southern California for rare and out of print books in the fields of California history, Western Americana and photography. In fact, Dawson's is the oldest continuously operating book shop in the city of Los Angeles..."
"...Ernest Dawson started the shop in downtown Los Angeles. After three moves downtown and a transfer of ownership to the second generation of Glen and Muir Dawson, the shop settled on Larchmont Boulevard in the Hollywood/Hancock Park area in 1968. Michael Dawson marks the third generation of the Dawson family to helm this Los Angeles treasure."
The photo at the top of today's post shows Michael Dawson minding the till and Orange County historian Phil Brigandi thumbing through a book in the background.
Sadly, Dawson's will soon be giving up its "bricks and mortar" store and will only be selling online. If you want to buy a lot of great California and Western history books for 75% off, I strongly suggest a trip to Los Angeles before the sale ends, next Saturday, August 21. I went last week and spent $144, which would have been $576 without the sale! (And I'm sure I will kick myself for not buying even more.)
My fellow fans of Mid-Century Modern architecture will also appreciate the look of Dawson's. It feels like one of the Case Study houses.
It's a crying shame that this place is going away. Of course, I also thought it was a crying shame when so many other wonderful bookstores bit the dust over the past five years or so.
Online shopping may have certain advantages. But it can NEVER take the place of browsing through the shelves of a good used book shop and making unexpected discoveries.
The folks who tell us differently also trust Wikipedia entries and think "library" is pronounced "li-berry." A pox on all of them.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Dana Point history

The photo above shows developer Sidney Woodruff making a pitch to real estate agents in the late 1920s. As you see on the side of his car, Woodruff was behind the development of both Dana Point and Hollywoodland. (The "land" part eventually fell off his promotional sign and became a permanent icon.) Only 35 homes were built in Dana Point before the Depression hit and scuttled the project. The image below shows the area that would eventually become Dana Point Harbor.
The public is invited to hear author/historian Doris I. Walker speak about “The Romantic History of Dana Point” on Aug. 23, 7 pm, at the Dana Point Library, at PCH and Niguel Rd. Her presentation is sponsored by the Dana Point Friends of the Library. Doris organized two current exhibits in the library about namesake Richard Henry Dana and his books. These displays are sponsored by the Dana Point Historical Society, of which Walker was co-founder in 1987 (two years before the city.)
Nobody knows Dana Point history like Doris, so I definitely recommend attending this free event if you have an interest in the subject. She will also be selling and signing books that evening.
This year marks the 175th anniversary of Dana’s two short visits here. This anniversary will also be celebrated at this year's Tall Ships Festival, Sept. 10-12 in Dana Point Harbor.

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Fountain Valley, O.C. Archives, Launer, etc.

Welcome to Fountain Valley, "A Nice Place To Live." Today's photos both come from the Fountain Valley Historical Society. The image above shows the old Fountain Valley School, which opened in 1903 and was replaced with a new school in 1920.
The photo below shows the last bean threshing on the Callens Ranch in Fountain Valley in 1985. Note how the little chunk of acreage is surrounded by tract housing. The Callens Ranch headquarters can still be found on Talbert Ave., not far from Costco.
The Orange County Archives will be open this Saturday afternoon, from noon to 5pm. The historic Howe-Waffle House across the street and the Old Courthouse Museum, upstairs, will also be open. I understand that historical tours of Downtown Santa Ana by trolly will also be offered.
There was an obituary in the Register this week for Lealand "Lee" Launer, son of Lulu and Albert Launer, for whom the Fullerton Public Library's history room is named. Lee was born in Fullerton in 1918 and served on the Orange County Aviation Commission during the planning of the Orange County Airport.
Another recent passing is Don Williamson, who began working on the Pageant of the Masters in Laguna Beach in the 1930s and who served as the program's director from 1964 to 1978. Many of the Pageant's traditions can be traced back to Williamson's ideas.
There's also a very belated obit for Max Lee Barlow, who was the Marshall (manager) of Knott's Ghost Town for many years and who helped me with some of my historical research there.

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

On track in Fullerton

Today's photos come from the Launer Room at the Fullerton Public Library and show rail travel in Fullerton. The image above shows a Pacific Electric "Red Car" in 1937, and the image below shows the Fullerton Santa Fe station in 1955.