Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Old Films About Knott's Berry Farm

Bill Beeman, one of the original members of the WagonMasters, submits the following e-mail about a couple of old films about Knott's Berry Farm...

November 29, 2006

In the late fifties there were two made for TV films about Knotts Berry Farm by Bill Burred Productions. "A FAMILY BUILDS A MOUNTAIN," about the Gold Mine Ride and "COME AND GET IT," about The Chicken Dinner Dining Room and Momma Knott's kitchen. The films were in black and white. They were aired several times on Los Angeles Stations and were later made available from Knotts in 16 mm sound for loan to Schools and various organizations. Background music for "A FAMILY BUILDS A MOUNTAIN" was performed by, Billy Beeman and Harvey Walker. I had a copy of the film that I showed in a number of Garden Grove Schools while I was teaching there in the 1960s. I do not know what happened to the films after the passing of Walter Knott. If anyone knows whether or not a print of "A FAMILY BUILDS A MOUNTAIN" is still around, please contact me,

Billy Beeman
Contact Billy at the e-mail address above, or "post a comment" below if know anything about these films.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Memories of Newport Beach, 1965

Here is an e-mail I received today from someone who grew up in Newport Beach during the 1960's...
Nice job on OC then. Wow, I didn't realize I was old enough to be part of history. I keep thinking I am still in my 20's (which was decades ago).

My family moved to Newport Beach from Los Angeles in 1965. six of us lived in a tiny apartment on the peninsula for the summer - on Alvarado street.
We moved up the cliffs and lived near Dover shores but not quite in Dover shores.

I could write a lot, but I'll keep it short. My siblings and I became freed birds. Living in LA, there was a lot of crime, and safety. Living in Newport Beach, not! Everywhere we went we could venture in vacant lots, making forts, riding bikes. WE'd ride our 1 speed sting ray bikes 5 miles to the beach. I remember watching Fashion Island being built, and UC Irvine. WE'd go to the back bay to watch remote control airplanes (before they built houses on the cliffs). When we wanted to drive to the country, we'd head out to the orange groves - which are now Irvine. There was nothing but farm land, yes, even where south coast plaza was.

Boy, this area has changed!
Patti M
What do you remember about Newport Beach decades ago? Click on "Post a comment" below.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Circus Near Knott's Berry Farm

Thayla, an OCThen reader, e-mailed me asking if there had been some kind of circus located near Knott's Berry Farm. I don't know the answer, so I thought I'd put it out to everyone...
Hi Steve,
I used to live right on La Palma and Holder in the early 60`s. I was wondering . Do you recall a circus where the barn is at now for the Knotts stagecoach horses. I was told that there was a circus was the before the Knotts took it over . I do remember the pottery store and the Alligator Farm but I cant seem to remember what was next to them on La Palma & western .Was there a Circus ??
Thanks Bunches Thayla Barrett
If you can provide any help on this, please click on "Post a Comment" below and tell us what you know.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Helena Modjeska

Many kids in Orange County will probably learn of Helena Modjeska, a polish born actress who found success in America.

The stage was always her life going back to her childhood. Political pressures in Poland forced her and her husband to immigrate to America, settling in Anaheim working in a farming co-operative. The farming venture was a failure, and Helena managed to learn to speak English and resurrected her skills as an actress. She went on to become the top celebrity of her day, giving performances all over the world. She built a home along the Santa Ana Mountains in the place where the community of Modjeska Canyon lies today, and stayed there until 1906.

I've found some old newspaper articles that date from the period she was alive, and thought to transcribe them here for anyone who was doing research on her.

From the Woodland Daily Democrat, Woodland, CA, January 29, 1890...
The loveliness of Modjeska's character no one questions. Her wonderful talent as an actress is illustrated by the following anecdote, which was originall published in The Rochest (N.Y.) Democrat and Chronicle:

It was in Poland, and on the occasion of one of many hunting parties. At such times, according to custom, the ladies joined the gentlemen at noonday at a settled rendezvous. While all were waiting for Mme. Modjeska, who had been delayed, an old peasant woman, in clumsy sabots and with her hands rolled up timidly in her apron, came to the party and in a mournful tone related the story of her woes. Her only pig had been put in the pound for trespass on another's property. She was so persistent in her demands for aid that the count's brother became angry and ordered the coachman to drag her away. Just as the man was about to carry out the order the old woman threw herself into her brother-in-law's arms and laughingly disclosed her identity. She had completely fooled everyone in the party except her husband, who was in the secret, and he himself isn't sure but that he would have been taken in had he been ignorant of the scheme.

A pretty story is told in connection with one of Modjeska's appearances in Washington. It was during Mr. Cleveland's adminstration. It is a custom among actors and actresses who appear at the capital to send cards to the president and his wife offering the compliments of the season, which means a box at the theatre whenever they feel like seeing the play. Mme. Modjeska carried out this idea, and Mrs. Cleveland in reply wrote a pretty note the madame inviting her to call at the executive mansion, which she did. Mrs. Cleveland received her in her private apartment, kissed her affectionately and told her she never so glad to meet any one in her life. She said that about Modjeska had always been her favorite actress; that she had always gone to see her when was a school girl, and had saved up pocket money for weeks so as to do so, that when she was in New York shopping she went twice to the matinee at the theatre, where Modjeska was playing, alone, keeping veil over her face most of the time for fear some one would recognize her. At the conclusion of the call Mrs. Cleveland filled the carriage of the actress with flowers from the White House conservatory and asked her to call again.
From the Mountain Democrat, Placerville, CA, June 16, 1894...
Woman's Suffrage seems to be the order of the hour, and in all of the large cities steps are being taken by the fair sex to push the constantly growing sentiment until they have carried the day and are allowed to vote. The actress Modjeska says she would rather be the mother of one good, true, affectionate son or one faithful, loving daughter than to start the greatest political reform of the age. She thinks women ought to think more of their homes and babies and less of politics, and the world would be better for it.
Oakland Tribune, Oakland, CA, March 27, 1905...
New York, March 27 - Ignace Paderewski, the pianist, now filling an engagement here, is planning a benefit for Helena Modjeska, the actress, who has been living in retirement for the last year. It was not known that the actress was in need, and the announcement of Paderewski's intention has created a great astonishment. Modjeska has, during her career, made a fortune, and only recently she has received enormous offers for appearances in vaudeville. She has steadily refused these, however. Paderewski has telegraphed to Chicago asking Mme. Sembrich to take part in the entertainment. Paderewski's idea is to give a beneft on May 4th at the Metropolitan opera house. Sembrich has telegraphed that her summer plan is to sail on May 2d. but that it will be changed is possible. Both Sembrich and Paderewski are compatriots of Mme. Modjeska, in addition to being her personal friends. Paderewski, who was in the West at the time of the Christmas holidays, spent a week a Modjeska's ranch in California.

Note: The event described above raised $10,000.00 for Modjeska. Mme. Sembrich did not appear at the event, and Paderewski himself did not appear either, due to exhaustion. (Oakland Tribune, May 13, 1905)
From the Mountain Democrat, Placerville, CA, May 29, 1909...
Mme. Modjeska, the famous actress, who died recently at her home near Los Angeles, Cal., was born Helena Marie Benda, at Cracow, Poland, Oct. 12, 1844. Her father was a musician of high standing, and two of her brothers have distinguished themselves on the stage. She was married at 16 and went on the stage a year later. Her success was marked.

In 1862 she became manager of a theater in Czernowce. Her next removal was to Warsaw, where her husband died, and where, a year afterward, she married Count Charles Bozenta Chiapowski, a young Polish patriot of noble family. In 1875 they came to America, escaping the ignoble censorship of Russia. At San Francisco, in 1879, Modjeska made her debut on the American stage and gave her first performance in the English tongue. In 1879 Modjeska returned to Europe and played in the principal cities of Poland, going thence to play over a year's continuous engagement in London. She delighted cosmopolitan audiences with her Marie Stuart, Rosalind, Helen, Thora, Magda, (???) and Adrienne.

About twenty-five years ago Modjeska and her literary husband, Count Bozenta were with a colony of (???), musical and artistic young men and women to live on a co-operative ranch at Anaheim, in the vicinity of Los Angeles. In two years the colony broke up. The countess then resolved to go on the American stage and retrieve her heavy losses in the colony. By extraordinary work and study almost day and night for ten months the countess was able to play in English the roles she had formerly played in Polish and French. She adapted the name of Mme. Modjeska. The second year of her American success she built an architectural gem of a home for herself and husband among the mountains overlooking the scene of the colony that she and the count had worked and planned for. Mme. Modjeska had one son, Ralph Modjeska, a civil engineer of Chicago.

Helena Modjeska

If you have anything to contribute about the life of Helena Modjeska, particularly about her life in Orange County, and her home, please click on "Post a Comment" below and share it with us.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

The Sounds Royale Show

The Sounds Royale Show was a band that played at various venues in Orange County in 1973. Rick Kern, their dummer, percussionist, and vocalist provided us with a photograph and some background info about the band...
We played in the Orange County area in 1973. The places that we appeared were The Newporter Inn in Newport Beach, The Disneyland Hotel, The Golden Pheasant in Anaheim, Hyatt Regency San Francisco, Reuben's Paddle Boat in Newport Beach and Charlie Brown's in Huntington Beach. We were the first show group to grand open the Charlie Brown's. This was also the last place that The Sounds Royale (as this combination) played together.

The group consisted of:

Newport Beach resident Tedd McKeever-keyboards, trumpet, arranger, leader

El Paso, Tx. resident Sam Stephenson-guitarist, vocalist

El Paso, Tx. resident Gayle Hageman-bass guitar, vocalist, he was later replaced with Huntington Beach resident Wayne Mills-bass guitar, sax, vocalist

Orange County resident Debbie Wilson-vocalist/flute

El Paso, Tx. resident Rick Kern (that's me on the bottom right) drummer, percussionist, vocalist.

This was a very unique group that performed everything from the Four Freshman to the rock opera Tommy. The group disbanded due to individual goals and future endeavors. The group was booked by The Agents in Hollywood (Dorise Vance). Howard King was also involved with some of our bookings.

I am looking for anyone that may have pictures of some of the performances of The Sounds Royale Show, particularly of the Charlie Brown's Restaurant in Huntington Beach. I am putting together a CD of our last four shows there and would like to have a picture of the Charley Brown's sign or pictures of us performing there for the last time. Please contact me (Rick Kern) via e-mail at:
The Sounds Royale Show

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Jamboree Road

1953 Boy Scout JamboreeJamboree Road is one of the major thoroughfares in Orange County, running from just west of Irvine Lake, all the way south to Pacific Coast Highway.

But it used to be just a gravel road running from the Irvine Ranch Boy Scout Troop 36 Clubhouse, near Irvine Boulevard and Myford Road, down to Newport Beach, about 8 miles of road. It was created in 1953, in preparation for the third National Boy Scout Jamboree held July 17-23, 1953.

The Jamboree was the first ever held west of Mississippi River. It was a big event for Orange County, perhaps one of the key events putting Orange County on the map.

The site of the Jamboree is located where today's Newport Center and Eastbluff communities in Newport Beach now stand.

At the height of the festivities, the Jamboree was a city unto itself. People called it, "Jamboree Town". Peggy Goetz, wrote an article about the Jamboree which appeared in the Irvine World News...
It had a fire company, a bank, a theater, a hospital, a telephone office, a U.S. Post Office, stores and even a zoo. People called it "Tent City" and "Jamboree Town." It had about 50,000 residents living in more than 25,000 tents.
If you know what the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally is to the town of Sturgis, South Dakota, the Boy Scout Jamboree had the same significance in Orange County just over 50 years ago. Today, just the name of Jamboree Road is the only living reminder of that event.

Read more about the logistics that went into building and preparing for the 3rd National Boy Scout Jamboree in Peggy's article.

Do you remember the Boy Scout Jamboree? Click on "Post a Comment" below, and share them with us.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Enchanted Village

Enchanted Village was a theme park located in Buena Park, built on the former site of Japanese Village and Deer Park.

I don't have much information about Enchanted Village, when it exactly started, and when it closed. It all ran in the early 1980's. It had a "tiki" theme to it, and offered only a couple of rides. Our family never went there.

One of its claims to fame was that it was the home of Oliver, a normal, healthy chimpanzee that walked only on its two feet, as opposed to alternating back and forth with its fists. Oliver also had a face that looked like a cross between a human being and chimpanzee.

Chase Maxwell, who previously submitted the brochure of Arnold's Farmhouse to us, submits some scanned copies of Enchanted Village paraphernalia. Thanks Chase!

Click on each image below to see the full sized images.

Enchanted Village Newspaper Article

Enchanted Village Theme Park Map

Enchanted Village Postcard Front

Enchanted Village Postcard Back

Do you have any memories of visiting Enchanted Village? Maybe you used to work there? Please share with us what you know; click on "Post a Comment" below.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Memories of Gary Zaremba

Gary Zaremba, another visitor, shares his many memories of growing up in Orange County. Among them, the El Toro Marine Base, Cook's Corner, the Hells Angels, and the schools he went to...

Thanks for this web site, Steve! I wasn't born here but my family and I arrived in Orange County in the summer of 1958 when I was almost 7. There were orange groves and eucalyptus trees everywhere and most cities were "islands" between one orange grove or ranch to another. My dad was stationed at El Toro Marine base, becoming the Manager of the Staff NCO club. He used to book entertainment acts for Friday and Saturday nights. I remember my dad getting us a signed copy of a photo from Tex Ritter (John Ritter's dad) after he performed there one night.

We even lived in the military housing on base for a couple of years while I attended 4th and 5th grades. Stanley Cook, the son of the owner of "Cook's Corner" was the pitcher on our little league team. Another pitcher, Dan Peavey, was such a baseball fanatic (he had the best collection of baseball trading cards that I ever saw), that he impressed Joe Dimagio enough that he came to visit us at the El Toro Elementary School in 1962. Our team even took a photo with him that was blown up and mounted in our school cafeteria. I wish I knew what happened to it.

The smog was much worse and the traffic was about the same as it is today. I remember hardly being able to breathe from all of the "yellow" air that passed through our lungs all day while attending school. On summer weekends, we used to go to "Tin Can Beach" - where Bolsa Chica Beach is today. The beach got its name from all of the rusted tin cans that lined the road. We had to walk through thin, sandy lanes that were formed by foot traffic in order to get to the beach. Of course, this was in the days of pop tops, so you really had to watch out where you walked or you'd get one stuck in your feet.

We moved around a lot in those days, living in Orange (near the Circle), Tustin and then El Toro before finally moving to Santa Ana. I remember going to Hart Park a lot while I lived in Orange. There was a hobo used to ride the rails and who lived in the park in the winter months. He "borrowed" wood from a lumberyard that was nearby to fashion his makeshift shack. My friends and I would talk to him about his travels while he cooked his food out of tin cans. Sometimes he would feed the park squirrels and rabbits. I can't imagine my son doing something like that today.

When we moved to Santa Ana, I attended John Adams Elementary, McFadden Jr. High (first graduating class) and Santa Ana Valley High. In my Jr. year, they opened Saddleback High and about 1/2 of the students were transferred to that school becoming the first graduates.

While I was at Valley, Martin Luther King was killed and we had riots on Greenville with cars being burned right near our school.

Special places and people that I remember in Orange County in those days included the Pier at Newport Beach (where I spent many a time after cutting classes at school), Lars the "Greeter" in Laguna and the hippie shacks (where I stayed with friends) above the old bookstore, "Farenheit 451", crashing beach parties along the boardwalk in Newport on summer nights, the "Nutburger" restaurant on Fairview and Warner in Santa Ana, "The Zoo" drive in restaurant at the corner of MacArthur and PCH where the waitresses served you fast food on rollerskates, the long winding, country road from El Toro all the way to Cooks Corner, Lion Country Safari and "Bubbles" the hippopotamus who escaped and submerged in one of the ponds on Laguna Canyon Road.

How may people remember Victor Hugo's restaurant in Laguna before it became Las Brisas? How many people remember the "head shops" in Laguna where meditation and pot smoking were common events? How about the Hara Krishnas who used to dance and play tamborines on the main streets in Laguna? How about the annual events when the Hell's Angels would ride into Newport and park hundreds of their choppers effectively blocking off Newport and Balboa Blvds. near the pier? I remember the police securing many "paddy wagons" just for this occasion. Eventually, the Hell's Angels didn't return but it was exciting while they were there.

Does anyone remember the town that disappeared between Placentia and Anaheim along the railroad tracks - ATWOOD? My grandfather had a used furniture store there. How about the Tustin Marine LTA (lighter than air) base with the very large blimps that were housed in the blimp hangers before they were replaced by helicopters?

I attended several pop festivals and especially remember the Newport Pop Festival at the O.C. Fairgrounds where Country Joe & The Fish and Jefferson Airplane played. I also went to another 3 day festival at Devonshire Downs in San Fernando Valley (you name the 60's rock group, they were all there!) and one in Palm Springs during the summer of 1968 that became an all out riot with police helicopters dropping tear gas on the crowd. In fact, a curfew was established for several years after that where minors had to be accompanied by adults to enter into Palm Springs.

Well, that's about enough to cover for now. Maybe I'll add some other things when I remember them.
Thanks Gary!

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Arnold's Farm House

Arnold's Farm HouseOne of the famous landmarks in Orange County was Arnold's Farm House, a buffet-style restaurant in Buena Park, on the corner of Stanton and Manchester, just a block from Knott's Berry Farm.

I was started in 1956, supposedly from an old farm house that had been standing there since the early 1900's. It was a landmark because of the huge neon windmill drawing in families tired from a day at Knott's.

The family that owned Arnold's Farm House, also owned The Buttery, another restaurant on the other side of Stanton, but a traditional, up-scale place.

The restaurant finally gave way to the wrecking ball in 1988, and is now the home to a car dealership.

A guy named Chase Maxwell has an brochure from Arnold's Farm House dated 1981. He scanned it and send it in to us.

Click on the images below to see the full size...

Arnold's Farm House - Front

Arnold's Farm House - Back

Thanks Chase for these images!

Do you remember anything about Arnold's Farm House? Care to share some memories? Click on "Post a comment" below, and share it with us.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Osterkamp Family of Santa Ana

Dorothy Uranich, formerly Dorothy Osterkamp, writes about her memories of growing up in Santa Ana, going as far back as the 1920's.

She writes this after having read Mark's memories of Santa Ana and Garden Grove...

Dear Steve,

I don't have to go far to conger up old memories for I am alive and well and still living in Orange county. I was born on July 6, 1925 in Valley Hospital (Community Hospital), Santa Ana, California the 4th child of 10 to Anna and Tony Osterkamp. My parents were Dutch immigrants who owned and operated their dairy for 40 years on Harbor and Heil in what is now Fountain Valley. In 1961 they were advised, due to urban pressure, to relocate the dairy to Corona, CA.

While my husband was in the Air Force, I lived in many states and as many countries, but I always knew that Orange County was home and that was where I would eventually live again. The death of my husband in 1957 did bring me back and five of my six children and most of my siblings still reside here.

I loved the comments that you made about the names of the different streets. I remember them well, mainly because those were the streets we traveled on in my childhood. I learned to drive by steering the truck in the alfalfa fields, and my brothers and I got our driver's license's at age 14.( This was possible if you lived out in the country. Don't forget, we're talking about 1925 and beyond) Every Saturday, my mother and dad would make the trip into "town" and do their substantial grocery shopping at Joe's Market on First and Broadway in Santa Ana and if we ran out of something during the week,we could replenish the item at Red's Market on the corner of First and Harbor. Remember the noisy turkey farm on Smeltzer and Harbor? In order to cross the river on Edinger we drove through the "dip". There no bridge yet.

I started school at the Balsa Elementary School, and started second grade at St Joseph School in Santa Ana. Newhope School had not been built yet. The Martin's, Eddie and Johnny (of Orange County Airport fame) were our Neighbors on Heil Ave. and their parents lived on Newhope where they owned an orange grove. Oh yes, there were many orange groves in Orange county then! I remember especially how they used smudge pots which emanated foul warm air to save the orange trees during the frosty days in winter. My brothers and sisters and a few cousins rode our bikes to St Joseph School every morning and on those frosty mornings we would come to school with gray smudge all around our nostrils. We were called, " The Osterkamp Brigade."

The Drive-in Theater on Harbor Blvd. came and went to make room for a strip mall. The old West Coast and the Broadway in Santa Ana were the only theaters in the area in the Forties and Fifties and the drive-in restaurants were a favorite "hangout" for teens.

We had a devastating earthquake in 1933. It came with a jolt and knocked my sister, Mary, and I to the ground. Our house, except for the chimney, was not damaged, but we slept outside around a fire for three days because the after shocks were rather unnerving. I had never experienced an earthquake before and it was very frightening for an eight year old.

After my husband, Maj. Leonard Conkle's death in 1957, I remarried and lived the civilian life in Fountain Valley for 43 years right next to the 9 hole golf course that Mark mentioned. He mentioned Don Wash. My husband, Ed Uranich, taught at Garden Grove High when Don was superintendent. Don died in a dune buggy accident in the desert while he was still in office.

I am now widow again living in Costa Mesa, CA and would not live anywhere else. I travel to Orlando, several times a year to visit friends so we have a common bond, Steve.

Thank you for writing about our little corner of the world.


Dorothy Uranich
If you'd like to get your memories published on OCThen, type them out in an e-mail, attach a photo or two if you'd like, and send it to us. Visit our Contact Page for our e-mail address.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

A Kid Growing Up in Santa Ana & Garden Grove

Mark, a teacher in Orlando, FL, grew up in Orange County, and shares his memories of what it was like in the 50's and 60's...
Steve, thanks for your project. I was born in Orange County in 1951 and lived there until I went to College. My memories of farmland, fields, open spaces in Orange County are hard to find these days. I moved from Orange County to live in downtown Seattle what a thrill. Today with my family we lived in Orlando Florida domninated by the Mouse. Can't hear the trail whistle like I did when I was young but it is here in Florida as well.

When I was born, St. Joseph's in Orange, my parents brought me back to a new house built off of Bolsa (1st avenue) between Newhope and Magnolia (then called Cannery). I believe this was one of the first"developments" that was to become many in Orange County. We eventually lived on Lucky Way off of Andes place, not to be confused with the "new" West Lucky Way. It was there where I went to Newhope Elementary school. An interesting note is that our janitor was Mr Wash who son Don Wash eventually became the Superintendent of schools for Garden Grove. By the way a huge man who had played professional football, he was my principal at the new Jr. High down the street Stephen R. Fitz, not really sure who Stephen R was but they named a school after him.

Growing up it was not unusual to bike to the beach, in those days we would bike down Newhope until you hit the Santa Ana River and then follow the river down to the jetty. Had to climb over a fence or two and eventually the fences got higher and higher. The names of those streets were not the same. McFadden was Sugar... Magnolia was Cannery, Ediger was Smeltzer,and eventually when you got to the beach you were at Brookhurst and 1 or 101. It was not unusual to ride into Santa Ana to watch the trains, bowl or golf. There was a 9 hole course 3 par that might have been part of Willowick that rented clubs and seemed to like kids.

One of the big thrills of 1962 or 63 was the onsite filming of the Television show Route 66 with Marvin Milner and George Maharis. I heard about it from some friends and rode my bike. Just like you see in the movies, no one paid much attention to the kids and I got up to the area where dialogue was being spoken. One of the hands gave me a cold 7-up seeing how hot I was. Even the Corvette was there. Martin Milner ended up as Adam 12. George Maharis was the Rock Hudson of early TV fame, good looking and every womans dream until it was discovered he preferred the company of men.

My father owned the Surplus Store on Garden Grove Blvd across from the Garden Grove Theatre. It was a business that developed out of WWII and the supplies of the Korean war. I grew up working there selling foam rubber, camping equiptment and Levi's. I guess the least expensive pair I can remember is the 401's selling for $2.98. Today that building is the home of a Korean Buffett. Across the street in the same center as the Grove Theatre was my favorite restaurant Zestos. I can smell the burgers cooking from Zestos this very second with onions, melted cheese, double burgers, bbq sauce and the sausages that the owners father would make. They were light years ahead when it came to shakes and malts. You could get a banana chocolate walnut malt.....fact is he had 30 or more ingredients to put into one of these masterpieces. Several of my addictions, one being a love of onion rings has its base in the deep fryer of Zestos.

Was going to list a number of places I remember.

Calva Dairy-owned by our neighbors the Hunts who had come to California as a family from Virginia. They donated the land for the Little League field that was on Bolsa between Harbor and Euclid.

Red Ranch Market at Harbor and Bolsa.
Across the street was another market my mother liked that was not an open market. She always mentioned the flies.

Gem Theatre-went there on my first girlfriend whirl with Kathy Whitehead. Kathy's sister I believed married the famous Santiago hurler Bert Blyleven.

My folks would get all dressed up and go to the restaurant on Garden Grove Blvd...Knights Table I believe.

Cake Box Bakery...I tell my famous story about how I discovered money at the Cake Box.

In the same center, in the 50's, was the kiddie park with rides for the little ones. Hang Hong....I think was the name that was our family choice for Chinese food. The BBQ restarant that always smelled sooooo.....good.

Well I could go on and on......that is why I have one of these blogs myself....til later be well.
If you like to hear more about Mark's thoughts on life, visit his blog.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Wham-O Superball Disaster

Wham-O SuperballAn OCThen reader submitted the following comment to our About Us page, wondering if anyone had more information to provide...
hey, i was wondering if anyone in the fullerton area remembers something that DID wind up in the register around 1987 or 88.. apparently wham-o had stored maybe MILLIONS of superballs in a warehouse by the train tracks near commonwealth.. somehow they wound up all over the place.. there was like a lot 2-3 feet deep with them.. i still have a few left, but i used to have a few hundred.. for weeks you'd see guys with boxes full of them at the la mirada swapmeet.. man.. i sure wish someone else remembered that....
I never heard about this! But it intrigued me so much, that I posted it here for your consideration.

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Photos of Japanese Village and Deer Park

Yesterday, Justin Allen, a visitor to this website, sent us several photos of Japanese Village and Deer Park taken in April of 1970. We've published them below.

These photos are actually from 35mm slides he purchased from a man in Arkansas. This man used to work as a police officer in California during the 1960's.

Justin was able to hold the slides up to a light and take a digital image of each one, and sent them here for everyone to enjoy.

Thanks Justin!

Entrance to Japanese Village and Deer Park

Geese and a boat at Japanese Village and Deer Park

Ducks sleeping at Japanese Village and Deer Park

Picturesque scene at Japanese Village and Deer Park

Japanese Village and Deer Park

Deer at Japanese Village and Deer Park

Parking lot at Japanese Village and Deer Park

Lake at Japanese Village and Deer Park

Parrots in a tree at Japanese Village and Deer Park

Character house at Japanese Village and Deer Park

Duck pond and bridge at Japanese Village and Deer Park

Tourists watching birds at Japanese Village and Deer Park

Oriental bridge Japanese Village and Deer Park

Tortoises at Japanese Village and Deer Park

Boulders at Japanese Village and Deer Park

Pond and rocks at Japanese Village and Deer Park

Eucalyptus trees at Japanese Village and Deer Park

Ducks at Japanese Village and Deer Park

Ducks and birds at Japanese Village and Deer Park

Pelicans at Japanese Village and Deer Park

Exotic bird at Japanese Village and Deer Park

Pond at Japanese Village and Deer Park

Lake at Japanese Village and Deer Park

Seals at Japanese Village and Deer Park

Parrots at Japanese Village and Deer Park

Read more about people's memories of Japanese Village and Deer Park.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

1972 United California Bank Robbery, Laguna Niguel

bank robberyDid you know the largest bank robbery in the United States took place in Orange County?

In 1972, Phil Christopher robbed United California Bank, located in the Monarch Bay Shopping Center in Laguna Niguel, right off Pacific Coast Highway, and made off with $30 million.

The bank is still in operation today, though now operating as Bank of the West.

A new book, entitled, "Superthief", has been published accounting Christopher's firsthand account of the heist. It was written by Rick Porrello, who hosts the website American Mafia. He was able to interview Christopher's wife, whom she communicated with Christopher himself, to get material for the book.

Superthief provides a raw and candid accounting of Phil Christopher's brutal street world and subsequent prison life, and spills the details behind the planning and execution of his breach of the bank's vault.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

The Wagonmasters of Knott's Berry Farm

The WagonmastersDoes anyone remember going to Knott's Berry Farm and listening to The Wagonmasters?

They were a band that played at the Ghost Town there, doing a variety of Americana.

Billy Beeman was one of the founding members of The Wagonmaster, and played with them from 1954 to 1968. He has a website filled with his memories of playing music at the Ghost Town.

Check out all the old photos of Ghost Town from the 1940s and 1960s just on this page alone.

He also CDs for sale based on actual recordings done by The Wagonmasters.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Skate Ranch in Santa Ana

Skate Ranch - Santa AnaIn Santa Ana, just off of Main Street and along the I-5, there was the Skate Ranch.

It was rollerskating rink built inside of a red barn-looking structure. It was all meant to be in western-style decor. I only went there twice during the middle and late 1980's.

But you could never not notice it. From the freeway, it was always visible, big and red.

In the two times I went there, I took girlfriends. It was a great excuse to get close and hold hands.

I'll never forget the last time I went there. I was with my future wife. I believe it was a Tuesday afternoon. It wasn't very crowded at all. After about 15 minutes of skating, it dawned on me there no other women, except for my wife. I mentioned it to her. But after looking at everyone, I finally found a another guy and gal skating together. But when I skated by them, I soon discovered the guy was actually a girl also!

It turned out it was Gay Day at the Skate Ranch.

The Skate Ranch finally got tore down, in the early 1990's I believe. The Children's Discovery Museum replaced it.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Movieland Wax Museum Closing Down

Movieland Wax MuseumI received a note from David Valdez, a reader of ours, saying that Movieland Wax Museum is closing down and moving to San Francisco.

They are going to auction off their wax figures on March 11, 2006, on location. The museum opened in 1962 and was founded by Allen Parkinson and later sold to Six Flags.

I remember going there with my dad in 1978. I don't remember too much about it. Maybe Knott's can buy some of the wax figures and create a small wax museum in their Roaring Twenties area?

They're auctioning off everything...

  • wax figures of celebrities

  • all props and sets

  • chandeliers

  • fine art

  • marble carved actual replicas of Michaelangelo's "The David" and "The Pieta"

  • celebrity photos

  • furniture

  • display cases
You can buy their complete Star Trek set!

Got any memories of Movieland Wax Museum? Post a comment!

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Alligator Farm in Buena Park

Did you know there was once an alligator farm in Buena Park?

It was adjacent to Knott's Berry Farm on La Palma Ave. The Radisson Suites Hotel now sits on the old spot. I always wanted to go there, but my folks would never take me there.

We collected a few alligator farm memories from folks during the old days of OCThen, and posted them below...
By: Chrissey, 20 Aug 2002

The alligator farm was fun, but they scared me. The alligators were very quiet and had a harness on him and people would sit on the alligator and have their pic taken. Both the Alligator Farm and Knotts seemed so far away from L.A.

By: Pat Swift, 9 Aug 2002

I remember taking my son's there (Alligator Farm). We were amazed at how a snake felt. We were always interested in the alligators but watching how fast a cobra or rattlesnake could strike was the main attraction for us.

By: Ross, 13 June 2002

Being there when I was about 6 or 7. I am now 48, I have had a facination with alligators and crocodiles all my life. I currently live in Boise, Idaho and have 2 pet american alligators (Forest and Bubba). I remember my mom taking me and my brother there it had to be like 1960 or 1961, they had baby gators for sale in the gift shop, and of course I wanted one, but didn't get one. But, I was trying to figure out where a Southern California kid would develop and interest like this. I was talking to my dad and he said he remember the Los Angelos Alligator farm in Lincoln Heights LA, well I did some research and sure enough it started there in like 1905, and then moved to Buena Park, where it was until about 1986. Anyway, I wish I could have gone there as an adult before it closed. Little trivia, they moved all the gators and crocs by private Boeing 707 to an estate in Florida owned by the inventor of Naultilus workout equipment!

By: John Nemeth, 15 Jan 2002

What a great place if you were a herpatologist. They had almost every species of crocodile, many rare species that are seldom seen. The place was always deserted, not well known as a popular tourist attraction. They did snake shows with cobras.

By: Mark Wallace, 31 Dec. 2001

Remember the Alligator Farm across the street from Knott's? This was such a great creepy place that had been there forever. Full of giant alligators, croc's and tortoises, snakes and lizards. I still have dreams about this place eventhough it was torn down years ago.
Do you have any memories of the Alligator Farm? Post a comment below, and share it with us!

Saturday, February 04, 2006

Golden Bear Nightclub in Huntington Beach

Growing up in Orange County, my family often packed up the family van on weekends and headed down to Huntington Beach to spend an inexpensive day of family fun at the beautiful beach. My parents used to comment on the Golden Bear Nightclub (opened in 1929) on 306 Ocean Avenue whenever we'd pass it, because it was so famous, and the host to so many of the performers they listened to as teens in nearby Norwalk and Santa Fe Springs. I always dreamed of getting to go there myself once I became an adult... But I never got the chance.

I was appalled when this county landmark closed in 1986 to make way for the downtown redevelopment of Huntington Beach. The Golden Bear was as synonymous to Huntington's rich beach culture as is surfing itself. The beaches of Huntington are still beautiful, but I rarely go now(choosing more quaint and laid back San Clemente or Laguna instead) because I don't like what I see there anymore. It's far too commercial and yuppified now.

Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Light Rail in Orange County

light railI just found an article published in the Los Angeles Times regarding a new light rail project planned in Irvine.

This particular project involves a short rail of only 5 1/2 miles...
The proposal, which won an initial endorsement from the Irvine City Council last week, would use millions in state money that the city had earmarked for CenterLine to instead help connect the future Orange County Great Park with Irvine's Metrolink station and the Spectrum shopping center.
This reminds me of another project called "Irvine PeopleMover" interestingly enough, that had also been proposed back in 1998, which was published right here on the old OCThen website.

I remember back in the 1980's the City of Santa Ana was mulling over a light rail project called CenterLine that would connect people from John Wayne Airport, to South Coast Plaza, to Santa Ana Civic Center, to Main Place Mall, and to Disneyland. I used to work at the Santa Ana City Library in downtown, and saw the plans. Apparently, this project is still in the works.

Of course, light rail is nothing new to Orange County. The Pacific Electric Red Cars ran from Orange County to Los Angeles County from 1904 to 1950. My mother-in-law took the red car from Santa Ana to high school in Long Beach at St. Anthony's, the only Catholic High School in the area at the time before Mater Dei opened.

You can visit some Red Car history at the Spaghetti Station restaurant in Fullerton, where they have plenty of stuff on exhibit.

In Santa Ana, there is a stretch of Red Car track still in place crossing Fairmont street, running adjacent to Spurgeon Intermediate School, and crossing over the Santa Ana River in the form of an old railroad bridge.

Monday, January 16, 2006

Annual Passport for Disneyland

Disneyland Annual PassportI suppose if you live in Orange County, there's a good chance you hold, or once held, an annual passport to Disneyland.

In the early 1990's, my wife and I bought annual passports. We would go out for dinner on a Friday or Saturday night, and then cap it off with a evening visit to the Happiest Place on Earth.

What really made this convenient was that the cost of parking was included in the pass. We'd go to Disneyland two or three times a month.

We didn't do a whole lot during these evening visits. We'd start by jumping on board the Disneyland Railway there at the Main Street station, and usually rode a couple times around the park. Then we'd jump off at Tomorrowland Station and head over to the People Mover for a ride.

During the Summer months we'd try to time things perfectly so that we could ride the Skyway and watch the fireworks from up there.

And that was probably all the rides we'd take. We often perused the wares at some of the shops, and then relax on the bench on Main Street at the photography shop. We'd stay there until closing just watching the people go by.

We bought annual passports three years in a row, and then the whole experience just started to get old, and that was that.

Saturday, January 14, 2006

The Barn

Yesterday I mentioned some of my favorite OC restaurants, and it got me thinking about another one. The Barn.

The Barn was located in Tustin, on the corner of Edinger and Red Hill. It actually looked like a giant barn, but with several additions to it. It was basically a steakhouse. The employees there wore cowboy and cowgirl outfits.

I remember our first visit there, it was a Christmas party for my step-father's employer. I was 13 years old then. I remember at first being in awe of the place because it was big and there was so much stuff going on inside. The place had an upstairs area, but my folks wouldn't let me go up there. Later on in life, during other visits I got to up there, and it was a bar with pool tables.

Food-wise, it was pretty good. They gave you big portions. I always ordered the salad bar to go with my steak.

My wife and I used to go there once in a while, and one of the companies I used to work for held employee birthday parties there.

The Barn closed up something like 7 or 8 years ago. I don't know if it moved to a different location, or just went out of business. I think they finally tore the place down.

Friday, January 13, 2006

My Favorite Orange County Restaurants

There were several places to eat around Orange County that I would regard as favorites. Some of them are not around anymore.

Chicago Pizza Factory - I don't know if this was the correct name of the place. But it was located in Santa Ana, about a block east from 17th Street and Bristol. They served only chicago style pizza, of course, and some other dishes too. They had saw dust on the floor. (Update: This place was actually the first BJ's Restaurant & Brewhouse, before they became "BJ's")

Rubino's Pizza - Probably my favorite pizza joint of all time. They had several locations, including one in Santa Ana on the corner of Main & MacArthur. They had also a location in Mission Viejo, at the Portola Plaza off of Marguerite and Rancho Santa Margarita Pkwy.

Goro - For Japanese food, this was my favorite Japanese restaurant of all time. It was located in a shopping center in Irvine, on the corner of Culver and Alton. It had a "jazzy" decor. The food was probably the most authentic I experienced of any US-based Japanese restaurant.

Las Brasas - This was located in Santa Ana, right across the street from the old Zody's on Harbor Blvd, near Edinger. This is was a hole-in-the-wall type of Mexican fare. Quality-wise, it was ok. But for whatever reasons, me and a buddy of mine used to eat here a lot during our college days.

Ricardo's - This is located in Orange, on Katella, about a couple blocks west of Tustin Ave. It's actually part of the Don Jose's chain. My wife and I used to go here an awful lot, and every now and then we'd run into an old co-worker of mine who also loved going there. They have some really good margaritas, and great salsa.

Bob's Big Boy - Before Bob's started shutting down most of its restaurants, my wife and I used to go here for Sunday breakfast buffet. We'd always go to the one in Laguna Hills, right off the 5 freeway, caddy-corner to the Laguna Hills Mall. I think it's a Carrows now.

What were your favorite eateries in Orange County? Post a comment below.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Ed Tunk's Country Store

Does anyone remember Ed Tunk's Country Store?

I believe it was located on the corner of Westminster and Magnolia in the City of Westminster.

It was a store that sold locally grown produce, and it had sawdust on the floor. Radio station KEZY would often set up a remote broadcast from Ed Tunk's.

The store has since gone, and there isn't much else on the Internet about it.

Below are a few comments we collected from the old days of
By: Jerry Parker, 12 July 2001

In the mid-60's I recall Ed Tunks Country Store in Westminster or Seal Beach. I remember the location as bieng Golden West and Westminster. I could be wrong. On weekends, KEZY from Anaheim would broadcast from the store. As I was interested in radio then, I would hang around and watch the DJ play records and do his radio thing. Bythe way, KEZY was the Anaheim radio station "With studios and offices in the Disneyland hotel." Their studio was on the ground floor of the Disneyland Hotel, in the old building where the monorail station is, across from the drug/camera/card store where I worked in 1968.

By: Shirley Azvedo, 6 Aug 2001

I came to Orange County in 1963 and there was an Ed Tunk's Country Store on the corner of Westminster and Magnolia. There is a strip mall there now.

By: Eileen, 7 Dec 2001

I remember Ed Tunks also - I recall sawdust on the floor and real low prices on food. Sad to hear it is no longer there.

By: J. Russell, 4 Mar 2002

Oh my gosh! I haven't thought about Ed Tunks Country Store in so many years. I remember when I was little, my mother would take us there to buy fruit. They had the best cherries!! And my sister and I loved to run in the sawdust. Thanks for the memory.
If you remember Ed Tunk's Country Store, please click on "Post a Comment" below and tell us what you remember.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Santa Ana Valley High School

Santa Ana Valley High SchoolAnyone an alumni of Santa Ana Valley High School?

Well, I am. I went from 1981-1984, graduating there.

Valley High had the reputation of being the roughest high school in the city, and probably among the roughest county-wide. There were several gang fights there. I remember one black guy getting pounded to a pulp by a gang of Samoans. Nearby at Centennial Park, there were students and gang members that died in knife fights.

One time a guy got his throat slit while walking though Carr Intermediate School on his way into Valley High.

There was also a prankster club there called the "Crack Club". All they did was pull some unbelievable pranks, like hauling up some lunch benches up on to the roof of the Auditorium.

Watch out for Spirit Week! At this time, the seniors set their sights on the freshman and kicked their asses. I mean some kids got flat out beaten senseless. I imagine some lawsuits were filed between parents. I don't know how I managed to escape it.

At Valley High, they had a annual tradition called "The Kangaroo Court". The whole school went into the auditorium and watched a panel of judges (members of the senior class) pull some of the popular students out of the audience, and convict them of various sins. One guy was pulled up for having a reputation of dating a lot of girls. They blindfolded him, and told him that they would be bringing a mystery girl out, and that he would have to kiss her. Well, they ended up bringing his mother out! He grabbed her by the arms and laid a full-on open-mouth tongue-tickling kiss. Nobody expected such a thing; they thought it would just a peck on the lips. They pulled the blindfold off, and he just about wet his pants.

But due to political correctness, they cancelled The Kangaroo Court in 1982.

Monday, January 09, 2006

Santa Ana River Trail

Does anyone remember riding the Santa Ana River Trail?

I used the ride the trail frequently during the late 1970s and early 1980s. We lived in Santa Ana, on Richland Ave, near Bristol Street. I'd ride my ten-speed up Edinger Street all the way to the river.

Sometimes I'd head west to the beach, riding below the street-overpasses, and passing by other bikers and joggers. Most times there was no water. In fact back then, the river bed wasn't concrete like it is today, it was all natural sand.

Other times I'd head east towards Yorba Linda. By the time I got to Yorba Linda I was pretty exhausted and usually didn't continue.

These days I couldn't even ride a mile without running out of breath!

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