Here are some recollections from a fourth-generation Orange County native about living the rural life in Villa Park as the tract homes starting coming in...
I was born in Anaheim in 1961 and was taken home to our tiny 3 bedroom tract house on Clinton Ave. in Orange. My big sister and I are fourth generation OC, and a lot of our family's lemon, orange, and avocado orchards uliimately became groves of homes. Santiago Middle School was built on one of my grandmother's last citrus holdings. My grandfather's last 13 acres of oranges in Villa Park, which were woefully damaged in one of the many canyon fires of the 1950's and 1960's, was sold and subdivided in 1975. Both sets of grandparents lived in rural Villa Park, "across" the street from each other on Mesa Drive. My mother used to ride her horse down from the Villa Park ranch to our elementary school, Handy, for an annual show and tell.
We were quite the popular kids as we lived a city life, yet we had a lot of country living still available to us. When I was three we moved, using our little blue wagon as packing box and furniture transport, up the street to the stately old ranch house next door to Handy Elementary School. The tract houses in the Handy Elem area were once part of the ranch that Big House, as we called it, oversaw.
We kept dozens of rabbits on our one acre of suburbia, as well as an angus calf that we raised from a bottle. The kids next door at school thought the calf was a big dog. We gave tours of our "dog" to many a neighbor kid. We also went door to door selling avocados, from original trees from the ranch, for 5 cents apiece. Last time I went past Big House I noticed at least one of the ancient avocado trees were still alive and producing. It must be nearing 100 years old.