Monday, December 03, 2007

Intoxicating Smell of Orange Blossoms

orange blossomsNancy submits her memories of growing up in Orange, Santa Ana, and Garden Grove in the 1950s, and mentions how each spring, the orange groves went into bloom, and that she never wanted exhale...

I arrived in OC in 1950. My grandfather owned the Florist Shop on Glassel in Orange. There was a house attached where we all lived until mom and dad bought their own house, in then unincorporated Santa Ana, near Harbor and 17th Streets.

I remember the two markets (one open air) on that corner.

I loved shopping Friday nights. The only place to go was downtown Santa Ana to Wards, Penny's, Sears, and that store on a corner to get my Girl Scout uniform. The name is on the tip of my tougue. No malls then!

We played in the Santa Ana River bed when mom was not looking.

My first school was New Hope Elementary. Someone here mentioned that school. We lived there for five years. Then in Garden Grove near Chapman and Brookhurst, I went to Nelson, Faye Lane, Lampson Intermediate, GGHS and Santa Ana Jr College. We lived near the Pink Spot. I loved that place. Maybe that contributed to high colesterol but it was worth it. Ignorance was bliss then.

I went to the Garden Grove First Methodist Church at Main and Stanford. It was a wonderful building then. I loved it. They replaced it with a BIG concrete stucture. I loved the market next to it.

We did most of our grocery shopping at the Safeway on Main street. I would save my money til I could get a book at the toy store near there. Thank goodness Historic Main Street still has some of the same charm.

Also the Orange Circle area. I remember playing at Hart Park, and on hot days in the little wading pool with the pretty fountain little ones could crawl into. We went to the Methodist Church in Orange and I had Sunday School in the little red brick building that is still there. When I Googled "Images" I found pictures of many of these great historical places.

The Garden Grove Plaza was not there yet. Just orange groves. I could almost pick the oranges from my bedroom window. The smell in the spring was intoxicating. You never wanted to exhale. Do you remember when Jan and Dean, the popular men's duo, performed at The Plaza? The screaming girls? It was probably about 1958 or 59. I lived there until marriage and we moved back to Santa Ana near Bristol and 17th. Then back to Orange near Main and Chapman and Garden Grove near G. G. Blvd and Brookhurst. Lots of Strawberry Festivals and parades.

One of my husbands favorite pizzas came from Teddy's Pizza next to the bowling alley when he was about 13. He has never found a place he likes just as well. He liked to ride with his friends on their bikes to Irvine park. I loved to hike in the hiils there. How about Chis and Pitts BQ on Garden Grove Blvd. and Pricilla Bakery? They are both gone now. We would celebrate special occations with a cake that had custard filling and smooth chocolate icing on a yellow cake. Yum!!

My husband and I also danced at Harmony Park in Anaheim and The Rendevous in high school.

I could go on and on. Knotts Berry Farm when there was no entrance fee. Also Disneyland, Haven Pond in Garden Grove and the Bison Ranch in the hills on the way to the beach. I miss many of the friends we have lost contact with. Memories are good though.

Yup, that's why OCThen continues on, because of the memories...


  1. The name of that store was probably Vandermast's. All the scout stuff was there (boys and girls) upstairs. They gave you "vandermast money" with you purchases to save up and "buy" stuff for a display case. And they had a cool x-ray machine to view you feet through you shoes.

  2. I also went to United Methodist ! I barely remember the old White wood Church before they built the "Submarine" church. I used to live in one of the old Victorian houses behind the church on Acacia. It had a huge Palm tree in front. Our family was sponsered by the chuch when we came to America. The name of the store in front of the church was called "Wheelers Mkt" The Old man and his wife worked there. I can still see the "KOOL" cigarette decal on the back door window. Across the street was Euclid park and that cool Stage that they tore down. My mom used to shop at Zlackets Mkt on Main st (still there !).

  3. Well my Grandfather had five acres of Ornge Trees in the City of Orange. and 70 acers in Atwood near Plcicia.
    Iwas Born in Anaheim Dec.26,1936.
    Love the smell of those Orange blossms.

  4. After surfing the web, there is no indication of Belle Isles Restaurant (exact spelling ?), on the corner of West Katella Avenue & South Harbor Boulevard, California. It was right at the border of the cities of Garden Grove and Anaheim. I tried several browse search listings, but to no avail.
    I recall eating there on so many occasions, and usually after work at 3:AM. When I would get off work from the Rendezvous night club, in Garden Grove, or visiting night clubs in the area, I would sometimes top off the night there.
    Belle Isles was famous for their emeses mounds of platter plated breakfasts or pastry delights. There was one specialty the size of its name, the Texas Breakfast. Steak, bacon, pork chop, ham slab, sausage link & patty, six eggs, hash browns, pancakes, and Texas toast all served on one ginormous platter. If you ate it all, it was free!

    Remember the restaurant Pinnacle Peaks, where if you went in wearing your tie, they cut off??

    Someone related the Bison Ranch. I am sure they meant the Buffalo Ranch in Irvine, then owned and operated by the Red Elk family. The large acreage was home to one of the largest herds along the coastal area. They opened sometime around 1955, and host to several events, Pow Wows, and special barbeques. My Indian family and theirs were friends for many years. I can almost taste the fresh sliced buffalo burgers now.

    Since we’re on the eras of the extreme late 50s and the early 60s, what about pulling into Oscars Drive In. The oval shape structure hanging to the edge above the squawks boxes, and pressing the red button to place your order. After several minute, your piping hot order would be delivered by the car-hop on roller skates. She would unfold the metal tray, and brace it over your driver’s side window.
    Bordering Santa Ana and Tustin, it was a magnet for those proudly showing off their cars. Offer this lead to the traditional races throughout the streets and rural backcountry. That’s when most ‘car clubs’ got along, and after the race, pink slips was exchanged.

    I remember the days, growing up in the middle of an orange grove off Redhill Avenue, when Orange County still had orange groves. That was in 1954 to 1959. Within a 15 minute walk, I could pick Valencia or Navel oranges, lemons the size of small cataloes today, avocadoes three times the present day size, tangerines, walnuts, grapefruit, and pomegranates. The surrounding gardens had strawberries, green onions, green beans, corn, tomatoes, and whatever else felt like growing. Flourishing around every water spigot were lush beds of fresh mint. During the summer, very time I turned on the water, the fragrant aroma permeated the air. The smell and taste still brings memories back.
    We moved closer to Newport Avenue, and the land was eventually uprooted, plowed under, and cleared, like all of OC was.

    Calvin the Indian

    1. Belisle's Restaurant was on the SW corner of Harbor and Chapman, in Garden Grove. I was a police officer for GGPD from 1970-1986 and ate there quite a bit.

  5. Hello, My name is George Hushman.
    Was born Dec.26,1936 At Anaheim Hospital.
    I spent most of my childhood at my grandparents house at 736 N. Glassell st. Orange, Ca.
    The house is still there and noted to be part of old Orange, Ca.
    My grandparents had 70 aceres Of trees in Orange ,and Atwood.
    Went to school at Anaheim Union High School 1951 -1955.

  6. Nancy, You and I must have seen each other I was at many of the same places at the same times as yourself. One correction I believe you are speaking of Red's Ranch Market (open) and the market across the street at Harbor and 1st (Bolsa). They were both popular.

  7. Pat from Pismo BeachDecember 18, 2009 9:59 PM

    Nancy, you brought so many good memories alive for me and many others. I moved to Garden Grove when I was five in 1955 from all places Picoma in the San Fernando valley via Roger Young Village via
    (Griffith Park veterans housing project on what is now the parking lot.)My parents bought a house in a new tract just off Garden Grove Blvd
    (Memory Lane) and Barrydale (Fairview)called Magnolia Manor, 4br/2ba, $11000.00 on Laird St. across from a Chatholic school/church. Of course it was once an orange grove and we still had a mature adult grove behind our house all the way to the Santa ana river. I tell my children that the sweet smell of orange blossoms filled the air in OC from spring thru late fall year after year growing up. The orange grove was like a second home to us kids for many summers.
    My elementary school's were Earl Warren, Clinton and finally Riverdale. I started my first paper route when I was nine, delivering the Mirror News from GG Blvd to Harbor to Trask to Barrydale (35 papers.)
    My family would go to Teddy's Pizza once in awhile and maybe a show at the Grove Theatre. My uncle had a furniture store in GG Plaza call Dainger's Furniture. I think many homes at that time were furnished by his store. I also had a friend that worked at Pricilla's bakery and he would get us free donuts and cream puffs sometimes. Loved Chris and Pitts B-B-Q too.
    I remember New Hope Elementary because I used to have Pop Warner football practice there. Wasn't there a chicken egg ranch next to the school owned by the Carr family?
    We shopped for groceries at Alpha Beta on Harbor and GG Blvd next to Hi Lo Drugs and Alphie's resturant. Wow, I remember going to eat there after my paper route on the weekends when my dad would drive me through my route. Three eggs any style with hash browns and toast 75 cents, cooked with butter!
    You mentioned the Buffalo Ranch and it made me think of the first pair of cowboy boots my parents bought me after seeing the famous white baffalo running with the other buffalo's.
    The other open air market I recall was called Ed Tunks on 17st somewhere.
    We also bought some of our clothing at Vandermast's in Santa Ana, Hills around the corner and a place called Caret's at Orange Plaza next to Big Five and the Copper Penny resturant.
    Anyway, I finished up my schooling at Doig Jr. High and then Santiago High, both on Trask.
    Thanks again Nancy for the reflections and fond memories that seem to link many of us early OCer's together in such a fun and nostalgic way.
    I moved away when OC started to get a little sour but still love visiting my growing up places.
    Maybe someday, someplace we will all connect somewhere to share memories and good times again. A reunion of unknowns getting together on a Blues Cruz or something would be cool. Just kicking the good times and memories around.

  8. I was a Harmony Park regular!

  9. Hey Calvin,
    I worked at Belisle's and went to school with the youngest son Paul. Did you know Harvet Belisle owned Harvey's Gold Street which later was Pinnacle Peak? Used to go to Oscar's in the early 60's too. Right near the Santa Ana DMV. Great place.

  10. Harvey's Gold Street? What? Where was it located on GG Blvd? I think I might have gone there for music or something. Anyone know?

  11. Harvey owned it as well as the restaurant there were name acts that played there. He told me that Little Richard fired Jimi Hendrix on stage there for stealing the show. Wasn't there so I don't know but he seened positive about it. It was on GG Bl. near Beach on the south side.

  12. I grew up in Fullerton and can recall the sweet orange blossom scent. I found a cologne and body cream with that exact fragrance. It is sold in the high-end department stores and is by Jo Malone London. It is called "Orange Blossom'. If you have a hankering for that amazing smell. check it out!

  13. In response to Anonymous 12/4/07 post the name of the department store on the corner of 4th and Main was Rankin's. Leeds Shoe Store was across the street. I was born in 1945 and don't remember there ever being a Vandermast's in Santa Ana. Harvey's Gold Street closed before I was old enough to get in. My exhusband went there to see Sonny and Cher perform. Then it became Pinnacle Peak's.

  14. Vandermast's was located on the South West corner of 4th and Sycamore. I got all my boy scout equipment and uniforms there, and still have some Vandermast's Dollars.

    1. I lived in Orange from 1950 till about 1962. went to holy family catholic school and purchased my salt and pepper cords at vandermast in Santa Ana. I loved the toy case and have looked for some of the play money for the past 40 years. If you would consider selling a couple please let me know! Does anyone remember Halls Heavenly Hamburgers near the Santa ana drag Strip? Did a lot of street racing out of Oscars and Merles Drive In in Carona del Mar.

  15. I began to doubt my memory, so I did a little research. The Orange County list of Historical places shows Vandermast's Department Store at 118 W. 4th Street, and that's just where I remembered it. The building now houses Don Roberto Jeweler's, and has be modernized. It was a sweet place, and I remember the air tubes that sent the transactions up to the accounting department, and you change came back the same way. All transactions were handled with a sales book, and no registers. I also remember the x-ray machine to measure the size of you new shoes to see how they fit.

    We only had one car then, which my Dad took to work, so Mom and I would have to take the little two tone green bus from our house on the 1400 block of Olive. I can still remember the driver cranking that thing to jumble up the change. (Never really knew why he did that.) We got off right in front of the old city hall.

    We would have lunch at the Woolworth's counter, and then walk around town to do the shopping. 4th and Main was our mall. If I was lucky, Mom would get me a Dinky Toy (english made cars) from the Santa Ana Book Store (all the toys were in the basement) I still have most of them (about 20). I believe the S.A. Book Store was located somewhere between 4th and Sycamore on the South side.

  16. Nancy, I went to the same church and ate Teddy's Pizza. We are still in touch with Bob And Dawn Washer, the church's pastor. Do you have any information on Teddy's. I forgot the owner's name but his wife's name was Fran. All other pizza's have been disappointing.
    Mark E. Edmiston

    1. I grew up in Garden Grove, lived on Yockey Street, from 1958-1968, and was friends with the Santorelli family who owned and operated Teddy's Pizza. Great pizza! You are correct, Fran was my friend Phillip's mom's name. Very nice family! So many great memories about Garden Grove & OC --- Sunnyside Elementary, Brookhurst, SW Little League, Laguna Beach, the orange groves. There was one on the corner of Yockey St and Westminster Blvd where we picked oranges for Mrs Yockey who paid us ten cents for every bushel we picked! Our next door neighbor was a stunt man at Disneyland (the old west) and kept his beautiful Palomino horse in the field right across the street. Growing up in Southern California in the 60's was the best!

  17. Nancy,

    Were your grandparents the Hutsons, Dee and Larry. If so, they were close friends of my parents.

    Don Hunt

  18. Hey Pat from pismo
    we must have crossed paths at on time or another
    we moved here in 54 my folks bought a brand new home on harbor blv between twintree and lampson I rember we had an incenrator in the back yard for burning our trash I went to lampson jr. hi 54/55 i washed dishes at teddys great pizza my folks would take us to chris and pitts once a week
    my friend bill olson,s folks owned pricillas cake box and i used to do your uncles yard once a week just off lampson /daniger bros furniture/
    my future wife was working at carl shoe store when jan and dean were doing a concert at the plaza and came in to hide from the crowd.
    rember the trampoline place next to the a and w
    we used to go in after they closed at nite and bounce for hours. i finished school here now my grand kids have gone here. it has changed a lot but i still love it here especialy when I drive down gilbert home, right at orngewood. I just love that street
    one of my sons lives on Varian ranch in pismo.
    I could go on for ever i rember all about this town I rember around 1957 or so the plymouth dealer at garden grove bl. and brookhurst donatied a brand new 57 plymouth fury hard top for a time capsule that they buried, almost in front of your uncles store at the plaza parking lot to this day i still visulize my self diging that thing up i wanted one so bad when i was young
    I will bring the subject up when I am around some of the older people here in town and not a one of them has rembered it. some day before i die i know that there will be a smal article in the santa ana register. OLD FAT MAN ARRESTED IN PARKING LOT WITH BACK HOWE CLAIMS HE WAS DIGING UP HIS CAR. it would be so great to have a get to gather with a bunch from the past from arond here.
    i just discovered this site and just love it
    Don Wright from garden grove,s past

  19. Growing up in Orange County in the '50s and '60s meant inhaling the wonderful aroma of orange blossoms. It also meant spending time playing in the multitude of orange groves that were scattered across the county, often adjoining the open and equally as aromatic strawberry fields.

    I lived in Garden Grove from 1956 until 1965, when we moved to Orange. I remember orange groves being everywhere back then, and how much open space and empty fields were still around before OC became a victim of urban sprawl. Heck, you could drive for miles on Irvine Ranch land, south of Tustin and Santa Ana, and see nothing but Eucalyptus and citrus groves. The same could be said for further south, into El Toro, Lake Forest, and Mission Viejo.

    It is easy to go astray at this site as one memory inevitably conjures up a dozen more, so I'll stay focused in my posting. I remember watching them build the Garden Grove freeway out of the orange groves. I attended Agnes Ware Stanley Elementary, in Garden Grove, and it was surrounded by groves and fields. I played in the orange grove that is now the location of Heritage Park, and the OC History Museum.

    Another memory is going to the beach during the summers and stopping by one of the many fruit stands along the way for fresh strawberries, other fruits, and selected vegetables. Again, the aromas of ripening strawberries, oranges ready for picking, and honeysuckle remain vivid and delightful memories of growing up in OC.

    Finally, few people will remember that there were numerous small "orange ranches" located within various cities. Not all homes were built on postage stamp lots, so properties were big enough for folks to plant a wide variety of citrus crops, expansive vegetable gardens, and equally impressive flower gardens. Some of these properties consisted of multiple acres, were usually set back off a main road, and surrounded by Eucalyptus and other heavy vegetation. Over the years, the owners died off and families sold off the properties, which were later subdivided. Suburbia marches on...

    Thanks for the memories...

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  22. I used to walk through the orange groves in Fontana while on my way to school; this was in 1968. The smell was intoxicating. I still remember the fragrance.


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