Lemon Heights is a small unincorporated community located off of Skyline Drive and Foothill Blvd, just north of Tustin. When I grew up in Orange County, Lemon Heights was known to us an upscale community, where the "rich folks" lived, to get away from the noise and commotion of the city. It apparently was a much different place decades earlier.
An OCThen reader named Steve (no, a different Steve), submitted his memories of growing up in Lemon Heights during the 1950's and 60's. Eventually, he moved away from Orange County, and then just recently returned for a reunion, only to find a Lemon Heights that looks much different than what he remembered...
Tustin California was a very small place back then, the year 1956! My folks had bought a new home in a small secluded neighborhood right in the middle of an orange grove! The area was Lemon Heights.
I went to Tustin Elementary for seven and eighth grade and then to Tustin Union High School. The area was pretty much "laid back" to say the least! Seventeenth Street was a two lane road running east and west from Newport Blvd all the way to Santa Ana, alot of it covered over with giant fir trees. The area smelled of lemon and orange blossom, eucalyptus and weed oil! The sound of bees filled the air no matter where you might go.
Saturday nights would be filled with dancing at the Wanger Studio on Main street in Santa Ana or get togethers at some classmates house, this was the norm!
After graduation, I joined the Navy and was gone for several years. I could not beleive how fast the area had developed into housing tracts upon my return just three years later, 1961-1964!
I married a gal I went to Tustin High with and we moved into the Viking apartments off of Tustin Ave and Seventeenth street. This was a small village of sorts as there was Walkers Market, Hahns Hardware, Village Cleaners, Lemon Heights Realtors, Market Basket, Fathers Bar(really great sandwiches and ice cold beer) and several other little shops and places of business.
It didnt take long for the growth pattern to take off like a wild fire and destroy the charm of a different time and place! I moved out to Huntington Beach and lived on Grove Circle, this little spot was just off of Warner Road and about a mile from PCH and the state beach. Truck farms were up and down Warner road with vegetable stands offering the best fresh produce around. Needless to say that area became another enity of packed home sights shopping malls and thousands of people all with in a very few short years!
Years went by and I had long sinced moved away from Orange County, I went to a couple of high school reunions and attended a getogether in 1987 with some classmates at the home Mr. and Mrs. Knaack of Cowan Heights. The house was located on a bluff over looking the Redhill and Skyline Ranch neighborhoods. The evening was filled of talk about Tustin, Newport Beach, Corona Del Mar, Santa Ana, Orange County history and rememberance.
The next morning I drove to my old neighborhood and very slowly made my way from one street to another the houses were freshly painted for the most part, beautiful lawns and close cropped shrubs, everything looked as if it were from another era! There was not a person on the street or in a yard, almost as if it was deserted, stone quiet! I lingered for a while and finally drove out and headed for home, McCammon Idaho.
One thing for certian, having lived in "that time and place" always brings back the most pleasant of memories, what a time and what a place, Orange County back then!
If you have memories of Lemon Heights, click on "Post a Comment" at the end of this article, and share them with us.