Saturday, October 27, 2007

Tustin in the 1950's

Lynda Emery Smith writes to us about her memories of growing up in Tustin from the 1950's to the 1970's...

My husband, Kevin Smith, and I grew up in Tustin, about a mile apart. Between us, we have so many memories of Tustin and Orange County in the 50s, 60s, and 70s. Peacocks on Peacock Hill, Tustin Teeways, the slot-car track, 25 cent Saturday matinees at Tustin Theater. Market Basket was the only market around, unless you counted Tiny Tim's, next to Lemon Heights Drug Store. (My mom still sees Mrs. Toth, the owner's wife.) Before Jamestown Village and Larwin Square opened, we'd have to go to downtown Santa Ana to do "real" shopping at the department stores. My father worked at First Western Bank there, and my grandfather owned a carpet store next to Walker's Market. At Tustin Tiller Days it seemed as if everyone knew everyone else. Adam's Hardware, Millie's Pink Poodle...the list goes on and on. We can't drive through Tustin, (where my 82 year-old mother still lives and attends the same church,) without a trip down memory lane. He grew up on Eveningside and Arroyo, and I on Windsor Lane. (The one that turned into Zig-Zag Lane, which is now Elizabeth Way.) We didn't meet, however, until I was 17 and he was 18. We married when I turned 18, and here we are - 34 years later!

Lynda 'Emery' Smith
Laguna Niguel
Click on "Post a Comment" below and share your memories of Tustin in the old days.


  1. We were the first owners of a new home in Tustin in 1957 -- it was called Bent Twig Lane. It was near Chirping Sparrow near Browning and Irvine Blvd.

    I went to Tustin Memorial, Utt Intermediate and Tustin High School.

    My mother worked at Larwin Square and I remember the Fiddler's Three restaurant on Irvine Blvd (oh....can still smell those burgers and fries with the Thousand Island dressing!)

    We lived across the street from Mr. Nelson whom the school in Tustin was named after....Bill Nelson and his buddies would play guitars on the front porch when I was a kid....

    I recall the old crossguard lady who could barely make it across the street on Irvine Blvd.....I remember teachers like Mr. Revere, Mrs. Saunders, Mrs. Hicks.....cannot remember my teacher in kindergarten though....nice, nice lady.

    Tustin was quiet and just getting started....lovely place.

  2. Yes I remember Tustin the way it used to be. We moved there in July 1960. What a nice place for kids. I remember riding our bikes around town all day long, hanging out at Jamestown Village, the Saturday afternoon matinee for 30 cents after we headed over to Vista Drug next door for 5 cent candy bars. I loved to go to Tiny Tim's and buy a bag of candy corn or getting a float at the Kresge oda fountain. Many of the stores in Larwin Square had not been filled yet. My fondest memory is winning a drawing at Thrifty Drug Store for two tickets to the fourth game of the 1963 World Series between the Dodgers and Yankees. Koufax vs. Ford. What a game!

  3. DK's doughnuts: on Irvine across from Sav-on Drugs: my parents would let me bike down and buy bear claws for the family on weekend mornings. Anyone remember Ernie the crossing guard during days home from Sycamore Elem? My kdg teacherb from Tustin Me morial, Mrs. Graves, took me to lunch once at Fiddler's Three. Anyone remember Stater Brother's right across from the Pioneer Chicken? I learned to play frisbee golf at that park there . . .

  4. OMG Larwin Square! I remember every weekend going to Thrifty's to buy 45's. I went to Guin Foss Elementary for Kindergarten, and then St. Cecilia School for grades 1-8. Remember the mexican place called Don Jose's? Is that still in Tustin? And I remember there was some bar close to it called the Bunny Hut or something like that.

    1. Don Jose's is still there. The bar I remember that was close was up on Irvine Blvd. I wanna say it was called "Sunshine Scene."

  5. Memories of Tustin-Back in the Day

    *Playing in the endless orange groves.
    *Smelling orange blossoms on summer nights.
    *Market Basket and watching the meat wrapping
    machine in the butcher's area...fascinated me.
    *Lemon Heights Drug (Mr. Bill's)
    *Little Red Inn, listening to Al playing the
    accordion while we ate amazing onion rings.
    *Watching Beatles movies at the Saturday
    matinee at the Tustin Theater.
    *Buying Charms suckers for a nickel at the drug
    store next door before the movie.
    *Seller's Shoe's in Larwin Square.
    *Wanting to buy "cords" at Naha's but could
    only afford Kresge's.
    *Lunch at Kresge's and buying gold fish and
    little turtles in the tanks in the back.
    *Penny candy at Tic Toc Market on Red Hill.
    *Beswick,Nelson and Sycamore Elementary Schools.
    *C.E.Utt Jr. High (every chair in the school
    had a "B" written in front of 'UTT")
    *The "new school" A.G. Currie opened and
    devided us up. until....
    *Tustin High School, Mr. Sours, and Miss Ray.
    *Tustin Tiller Days
    *My first job at Tustin Theater.
    *Fiddler's Three after church on Sundays.
    *Buying Gym clothes at Kresge's
    Those were good days, days of innocence and security.

    1. Memories, memories! My first job was at the Little Red Inn (washing dishes/bussing tables). I remember the screaming arguments that Al and his wife, mostly her screaming, him listening, used to have but they were great people. We moved to Tustin in 1961 (class of '66 at Tustin H.S.). Not always happy memories of high school but really special memories of a certain young lady who still lives in my heart after 45 years. I remember the listening booths at Winn's music and all the latest 45s, cutting through the orange groves to walk to school, and the Piranha at the Kresge's pet store. We live in a small town in Illinois now and it often reminds me of Tustin in 1961.

  6. I can remember going to Tustin high in the 60's and cruising through Larkin square all the timefor something to do.I also was so in love with a waitress at Fiddlers Three Restaurant that I would spend hours drinking coffee that was only a dime back then for all you could drink.Once I did get to take her for a ride in my car but to this day I regret being to shy to ask her out on a real date.

  7. Art Modyman

    My parents moved us to Tustin in 1966 where I attended first grade at Benjamin F. Beswick Elementary. I attended the first 7th grade class A.G. Currie first sharing the campus with C.E. Utt, and attending 9th grade at Tustin High School before moving.

    I remember Larwin Square, Tustin theater, Market Basket and Pantry markets. We used to play ditch'em in many of the orange groves. You could always have a snack because there were orange trees in most everyone's yard.

    I lived right where McFadden & the 55 freeway crossed, we always went over to the Tic-Toc store. Across from Tic-Toc was an old, broken mansion where used to play before they built the apartments. We got scrap lumber from the building site to build our fort.

    Riding our bike to Printice park was always an adventure. At Beswick ... Tuesday was hot dog day and Thursdays were Pioneer Chicken lunch day, for 50 cents. My brother Rocky, Doug, Mike, Billy and Bobby could always find something to do in or outside the house. Having a secret crush on a few of the neighbor girls, like Crystal, Jackie and Marisa were fun too.

    I think the big store was named Kerskie's (or like above Kresge's), and in Larwin Square was a hobby shop where friends and I would buy car model kits to build. A family night out were sometimes at Fiddler's Three or Kenos or the Drive-in at 22 freeway & Beach Blvd. Sometimes I would go bowling at LTA base with Mike & his Dad, who was a jet pilot in the Marines at El Toro. A good memory was learning what a sonic boom was from supersonic jets.

    I remember many summer nights playing tag & hide-n-seek after it got dark on Saturday nights. Roller skates with metal wheels, and when the urethane skate board wheels first came out. School night at "Skate Ranch" and little league. There was a neighbor that lived on Myrtle Ave. that raced VW bugs, his was painted with the Flintstones Dino on the door. He called it Dino Dyno-Saur.

    A lot of good memories, still in touch with my best friend Doug. I always look forward to a cruise through the old neighborhood, but it has changed and thank goodness the memories become better!

  8. What a beautiful way to grow up, so safe. The things we did back then are unbelievable. Riding bikes all day making sure to get home before dark. Buying a bag of "GOLD" bubble gum at the candy store. A few of us girls that lived in Gold Key would go down to the old folks home and put on shows for them. Fourth of July parties with the neighbors, greased watermelon in the pool and the man who made a float out of his pants every year. Progress is great at least we can all remeber together via internet. God bless the familys of Tustin.

  9. To Linda Emery Smith,
    Unbelievable! I lived on Windsor Lane also! Corner house on Windsor and Newport Ave.( The Griffiths). What a 'Leave it To Beaver' childhood. Every family on the street knew one another; the Myhra's, Creighton's, Murphy's Reid's Allessi's, Post's, and Sweet Mr and Mrs Hush. Summer block parties with Hula hoop contests and water balloon fights. Garage sales and lemon-aid stands.Riding bikes, building tree houses, building our own skateboards and playing kick the can until bedtime .Orange groves, Halloween when we spent
    weeks making our own costumes. Walking to the Saturday matinee and Larwin Square to spend my whole allowance on a Thrifty's 5cents cone and a movie. Walking to and from Jr high and high school( Tustin High) yes, I remember Miss Rae, she was also the swim team coach, not a good memory !

    It is sad to visit Tustin now. (live in Northern California now) my Husband and I met on a blind date while I was attending FJC (1968), we married at St Paul's Episcopal Church in Tustin and held our reception at the Red Hill Tennis Club 40 years ago this July:)


  10. Does anyone know anything about a woman her hanged herself in the Little Tree Church ?

  11. WHEN? When do you think (time frame) this woman hanged herself...and where is Little Tree Church? (street/s)?

  12. I lived on the corner of Chirping Sparrow and Rolling Stone Lane, just off Browning and another big street that went straight out to El Toro Marine Base - all orange groves back then. Loved to ride our bikes out that way; took the bus to the beach via Santa Ana during the summer. Good years!

  13. The Ruby's on Newport Avenue, does anyone remember what it was before it was Ruby's?

  14. Wow! It seems to be there are so many wonderful memories!
    Tonight is actually the class reunion from the years of 1959 and 1960 and 1961 i believe. I never went here, but my dad did and he is at the reunion right now!

    Do you remember CHUCK FISCHER?
    He was the class president at that time. He told me many funny stories, like the time when he went to court about having the Jukebox in the cafeteria.

  15. I remember Tustin tho not a lot. I was at El Toro in 1956-57-58 and bought groceries at the Market Basket in Tustin. From Tustin to El Toro it was orange groves all the way. Red Hill avenue was a pretty drive then. I went back to Santa Ana & San Diego to visit friends in 1962 & 1964. The beautiful smell of the oranges made me homesick. I am still in Indiana but sure miss the southern California and Orange County of the 1950s. When I was discharged in 1958 I stayed at a motel in Tustin and next morning came back to Indiana most of the way on old Route 66. Oh how I wish I had stayed in California. What beautiful memories. I am pretty well up in the years now but would love to go back one more time. There was a small park in Santa Ana that was real nice also. Do not remember the name of it. Happy Memories..

  16. Do any of you remember "The Crocodile" Hippie/Headshop near the Orange Circle, circa 1970?
    It was a big store in an old building, they sold new and used items, I hung out there many times, they always had music playing, tons o fun.

  17. The park in Santa was probably Santiago Park, right along the creek. You can't go back. Cherish your memories of OC as you recall them. Most of it is a hell hole now. So sad

  18. The tree is no longer in the Little Tree Church on El Camino Real but the church is still there. A friend of mine got married there years and years ago. Never heard about the hanging.

  19. Does anyone know why Fashion Lane in Tustin has that name? Did the street that curves between Irvine Blvd. and First St. go through a shopping center at some time? The buildings there now are office buildings, not fashion stores. If you have any photos of Fashion Lane in its earlier days, would you post them? That would be awesome. Thanks very much.

    1. Fashion Lane has always been though office buildings. Before that it was vacant property.

    2. Fashion Lane goes through what used to be Fashion Square...the first big "mall" in the area.

  20. I grew up in Tustin, first on Theadora( new in "56 ), then Brittany woods .Kindergarden on C street,then Tustin Memorial,CE Utt, Tustin High(1970). Mom worked at B of A, Larwin Square, I took drum lessons at Winns Music acrross from where the B of A was originaly,Dad was on Redhill Fire Dept. which is now Rubys.Next to Tustin Theater was the slot car track called Grand Prix something.Having never read,or heard the word "Prix", the station wagon full of kids found my pronunciation of Prix quite entertaining.Market Basket,what a cool Building.It was that or Walkers Market on Tustin Ave. Adams hardware,Tustin hardware, Jamestown Village,A+W Rootbeer,Tustin Tiller Days Parade,the list goes on and on. What a great time and place it was to grow up.


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