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.


  1. Dorothy,

    Mark White, formerly of Santa Ana and Garden Grove here: My family and I would love to see you the next time you make the journey to Orlando. My wife lived in Orange County for a short while in the late sixties and then moved to Orlando with the opening team for Walt Disney World. I would love to hear your stories and life of growning up in Orange County. I do not believe there is any place on earth that has experienced the radical demographic and land utilization transformations over a shorter period of time than Orange County California. Here in Orange County Florida there are some simularities but they have come fast but not as fast as those in Orange County California. Here is an email link


  2. Does anyone remember a Skateboard park where the F.V. Boomers is now? I know there was one there... anyone?

  3. Yeah I remember the skatepark in Fountain Valley, in was next door to the Malibu Grand Prix and the roller rink.

  4. Dorothy, that was fascinating! You should write a book. I'd buy it, for sure! As an archaeologist, I am truly interested in the history of this area and the books I have read are very general. We need some good books like the tidbit you've written here. One of the better books is the Walter Knott Bio. by Helen Kooiman. you should think about writing something...

  5. In reference to the above message from Dorothy :) My name is Cameron Conkle. I live Just north of Mile Square park and am grandson of Edward S. Conkle. I believe your first husband Leonard was his brother. My father is Edward Conkle and he has told me stories as a child of His uncle and aunt Ostercamp :) He has sisters, Mary, Carol and Jeannette. My grandfater "Tiny" also has past but his wife "kitty" now lives in Arizona along with Mary. While my father lives in Anaheima nd myself, well I still Live int eh old Conkle house that Tiny lived in off of Bolsa/First street. If you ever wish to contact any of them you can e-mail me at nosferatu357@sbcglobal.net Thank you for sharing your story. I love family history and would love to hear more.

  6. camron conkle OMG. I remember you from fitz i think and possiably los amigos . I was reading this ladys story and saw the name and thought you know I kneww a guy with that last name and then I read the comments and found yours . WOW . Been a long time HUH. I to am back in my childhood house my dad past away 3 yrs ago and I moved back from nevada to keep a eye on my mother . If you wanta chat email me amxracer1973@yahoo.com

  7. Harbor and Heil, 1960s



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