Thursday, July 03, 2008

Bozo actor dead at 83 -

.....who in OC didn't grow up, hoping one day to be invited to be in Bozo's audience, or cherished Bozo dolls and toys?

Bozo actor dead at 83 -

LOS ANGELES, California (AP) -- Larry Harmon, who turned the character Bozo the Clown into a show business staple that delighted children for more than a half-century, died Thursday of congestive heart failure. He was 83.

Although not the original Bozo, Larry Harmon portrayed the popular frizzy-haired clown in countless appearances.

His publicist, Jerry Digney, told The Associated Press he died at his home.
Although not the original Bozo, Harmon portrayed the popular clown in countless appearances and, as an entrepreneur, he licensed the character to others, particularly dozens of television stations around the country. The stations in turn hired actors to be their local Bozos.
"You might say, in a way, I was cloning BTC (Bozo the Clown) before anybody else out there got around to cloning DNA," Harmon told the AP in a 1996 interview.
"Bozo is a combination of the wonderful wisdom of the adult and the childlike ways in all of us," Harmon said.
Pinto Colvig, who also provided the voice for Walt Disney's Goofy, originated Bozo the Clown when Capitol Records introduced a series of children's records in 1946. Harmon would later meet his alter ego while answering a casting call to make personal appearances as a clown to promote the records.
He got that job and eventually bought the rights to Bozo. Along the way, he embellished Bozo's distinctive look: the orange-tufted hair, the bulbous nose, the outlandish red, white and blue costume.
"I felt if I could plant my size 83AAA shoes on this planet, (people) would never be able to forget those footprints," he said.
Susan Harmon, his wife of 29 years, indicated Harmon was the perfect fit for Bozo.
"He was the most optimistic man I ever met. He always saw a bright side; he always had something good to say about everybody. He was the love of my life," she said Thursday.
The business -- combining animation, licensing of the character, and personal appearances -- made millions, as Harmon trained more than 200 Bozos over the years to represent him in local markets. Share your 'Bozo' memories
"I'm looking for that sparkle in the eyes, that emotion, feeling, directness, warmth. That is so important," he said of his criteria for becoming a Bozo.
The Chicago version of Bozo ran on WGN-TV in Chicago for 40 years and was seen in many other cities after cable television transformed WGN into a superstation.
Bozo -- portrayed in Chicago for many years by Bob Bell -- was so popular that the waiting list for tickets to a TV show eventually stretched to a decade, prompting the station to stop taking reservations for 10 years. On the day in 1990 when WGN started taking reservations again, it took just five hours to book the show for five more years. The phone company reported more than 27 million phone call attempts had been made.
By the time the show bowed out in Chicago, in 2001, it was the last locally produced version. Harmon said at the time that he hoped to develop a new cable or network show, as well as a Bozo feature film.
He became caught up in a minor controversy in 2004 when the International Clown Hall of Fame in Milwaukee took down a plaque honoring him as Bozo and formally endorsed Colvig for creating the role. Harmon denied ever misrepresenting Bozo's history.
He said he was claiming credit only for what he added to the character -- "What I sound like, what I look like, what I walk like" -- and what he did to popularize Bozo.
"Isn't it a shame the credit that was given to me for the work I have done, they arbitrarily take it down, like I didn't do anything for the last 52 years," he told the AP at the time.
Harmon protected Bozo's reputation with a vengeance, while embracing those who poked good-natured fun at the clown.
As Bozo's influence spread through popular culture, his very name became a synonym for clownish behavior.
"It takes a lot of effort and energy to keep a character that old fresh so kids today still know about him and want to buy the products," Karen Raugust, executive editor of The Licensing Letter, a New York-based trade publication, said in 1996.
A normal character runs its course in three to five years, Raugust said. "Harmon's is a classic character. It's been around 50 years."
On New Year's Day 1996, Harmon dressed up as Bozo for the first time in 10 years, appearing in the Rose Parade in Pasadena.
The crowd reaction, he recalled, "was deafening."
"They kept yelling, `Bozo, Bozo, love you, love you.' I shed more crocodile tears for five miles in four hours than I realized I had," he said. "I still get goose bumps."
Born in Toledo, Ohio, Harmon became interested in theater while studying at the University of Southern California.
"Bozo is a star, an entertainer, bigger than life," Harmon once said. "People see him as Mr. Bozo, somebody you can relate to, touch and laugh with."
Besides his wife, Harmon is survived by his son, Jeff Harmon, and daughters Lori Harmon, Marci Breth-Carabet and Leslie Breth.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Newport Pop Festival - Any Old Timers?

Jeff Overley, a reporter with the OC Register, says he's working on a story about the 40th anniversary of the Newport Pop Festival. He send me a note asking if any OCThen readers ever visited a previous NPF event.
Hi Steve ... I'm a reporter with the Register, and I'm working on a story about the 40th anniversary of the Newport Pop Festival. I came across a commenter on your website who mentioned attending, so was curious if you might know of anyone else who was at the show....Any help would be awesome, please feel free to drop me a line any time ... Best ...
Give him a ring if you'd like to see your name in print...

Jeff Overley
The Orange County Register
714-932-1221 (Cell)

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Shoes on a wire: a lost tradition

When I was a kid in the OC (a long, long time ago) on the last day of school, some kids (not this kid-but OTHER kids- those risky ones) would take their old gym shoes and tie the laces together and throw them over the telephone wires on the way home from school (yes, back then we were allowed to walk to school-shocking I know).....and there the shoes would dangle for all the world to see - forever. Seemed like they never came down. I remember gazing out the back of our wood panelled station wagon on the way to the Alpha Beta grocery store in La Palma and see the same pairs of shoes, on the same wires - for years. Now most of the phone wires in the OC are buried underground, and most public schools don't even offer gym class (P.E. I mean) this whole bizarre tradition is disappearing. I was surprised to read online, that people have attributed this tradition to have other meanings...but I remember very clearly why we did it. We did it because it was funny. We did it because we knew would make the 'grown-ups' mad. And mainly we did it because - well, because-we could.
Visit for more posts by Marcy.....

Friday, May 09, 2008

Happy memories, happy for change....

For as long as I can remember I have been visiting the Orange Circle. The Orange Circle and my family go way way back. You see I am a 3rd generation Orange County native. Pretty rare around these parts- since California, and the OC in particular, is more like a hotel than a residence; people move in and move out all year long. Very few families can trace their family history back to the earliest early days of its development- but happily I can. Over the years I have gathered many stories about the 'early years'. My dad once sang in the choir of the church which is now the Abby Restaurant. My parents first shared a soda at Watsons Drug Store in 1964. They then went to movies in what is now a church. And one of my favorite stories was that my father once filled the fountain with laundry soap on a dare from his fellow teenage friends. The police came- and had a good laugh at the sight…the entire fountain was over come in bubbles and suds in the early morning light. He used to say he got in big trouble for that stunt-I think as a deterrent to me and my brother not to try it ourselves- but as we became adults he admitted the police let them off with a warning and some trash pick-up.

As much as I love the history of the Orange Circle (officially called the Orange Plaza) to be maintained, I welcome the current changes as well. There was a period of time in the late 70s and early 80s when the Circle was run-down and forgotten. It was occupied with nearly all antique stores and very small businesses. Mr.C's Records has survived, but Orange Camera recently closed its doors along with several other businesses. In their place have come young, hip and fabulous stores, numerous restaurants (although my all time favorite Felix's Cuban Cafe has made it, and is as popular as ever) and other interesting additions. Some old time favorites such as the Army-Navy Surplus store have changed with the times by adding a large clothing section and other day to day items and less about combat. All these changes have revived the spot and makes going to Orange Circle a lively experience for the whole family. But I walk the streets and think of my grandmother the 1923 Orange High graduate who also walked these roads along with her fellow classmates with the last names of Glassell and Chapman. I think of my father cruising around and around and around the circle in his 58 Chevy until the police made him stop. I think of my teenage self shopping for vintage clothing at the Assistance League. And I think of my children- who enjoy the Orange Circle as much as I do. I hope they will always visit the circle and realize that is the the touchstone of our family history, and the history of Orange County.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Sweet Memories....

When March and April roll around, it reminds me of the strawberry fields in Tustin, on the Irvine me, strawberries always meant Valentines Day, and the asparagus meant that Easter was coming. It is still so weird to me, even after twenty years of living in northeast Kansas, to not have things greening up in February and March. Out here, the fields and trees are just as bleak and depressing as ever, but by now, OC hills and fields are covered in blankets of bright green, trees are budding up, and the air was at its best in the spring, alive with the scents of fresh new growth. As you would drive through the Irvine lands, the strawberry fields would be a beautiful pthalo green, with splashes of deep red where boxes of picked strawberries sat in the rows, and through the windows would come the scent of the orange blossoms from the groves on the other side of the fields. Even better would be the taste/scent of the wind after a spring rain, with the tang of the eucalyptus trees added to the perfume....

When I grew up in southern California, most folk had trees in their yards left over from the orchards that were there. And avocados were so ubiquitus that people had trouble getting rid of was common to see a tv tray table out on a curb with a sign taped to it, '25 cents a bag', loaded and surrounded with paper shopping bags full of 'cados. And kid got in trouble for using them for bombs on each other....not for wasting food, but because you could hurt someone with them or wreck their clothes! ( too hard, it could be like a throwing a rock, too mushy was a double whammy of mushy 'cado all over you plus the hard seed inside. Moms did not dig having to get oily 'cado off kids clothes.)

But it could always be time I was at the mission San Juan Capistrano, early one morning before the front gate was open, and two friends and I were picking pomegranates for the pastor. So we had Miguel up on top of a pillar that had a tree leaning on it, Ursala there to catch them as he dropped them to her, and me to pack into bags. We were doing just fine, til

'Hey, what do you kids think you are doing!?!'

SPLAT! There went two huge poms, all over the adobe tiles, as we all started, and found one of the Sisters staring at us in her best Disapproving Rabbit style. She didn't know we had permission, and it seems that Miguel had a history of raiding the trees anyway, so she didn't buy our telling her that Msgr. Russell had asked us for this. Or that we hadn't made the mess of splattered poms just because it was a spectacular sight (much like punkin splashing, but more vivid, with the gelatinous red and seeds). So it kind of put a damper on our fun...we cleaned up the mess of course, and rolled up the bags to take to the rectory, then went to Mass.

...but that splashed pom *did* look so cool, didn't it!

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Picnic Garden - Korean BBQ - Closed

The wife and I drove out to Fountain Valley this afternoon to have lunch at a Korean BBQ that we used to frequent years ago when we lived in OC.

It was called Picnic Garden, and it was located on the corner of Euclid and Edinger, in an asian shopping center.

I liked going there because of the spicy pork. And it was "all you can eat". I'd load up my plate of the stuff, and grill it on the table. They also had no shortage of Kim Chi.

I remember after walking out of there, you'd smell like BBQ smoke.

After doing a search on the Internet a few moments ago, I found a site that has some customer reviews, and it appears that the quality of their food went downhill, and they lost customer base.

There are some Korean BBQ joints in SW Riverside County, but they're very pricy, and none let's you eat all the spicy pork you can handle.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Bullwinkles Family Fun N' Food

Rachael remembers going to the Bullwinkles Family Fun N'Food in Fountain Valley while growing up in OC...
One of my memories of growing up in Orange County is the Bullwinkles Center which I *think* was in fountain valley?

My mom would take my little sister and I there during the 1980's. It was a place like chuck-e-cheese although I don't remember if they had games there or not.

The thing I remember most was the little water show. It was probably very bad, but as a kid I was awestruck! Nothing like Fantasmic at Disneyland is now of course!!

Any memories you have of this place are appreciated, as mine are vague.
Bullwinkles was (or is) located on the corner of Magnolia and Warner. I never went in there; I just never had any desire. I haven't been in that area for so long, I don't know if Bullwinkles is still there.

Anyone want to chime in?

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Ruby's Crystal Cove Shake Shack

Jamie Hahlbohm of Orange Coast Magazine is doing some fact checking on Ruby's Crystal Cove Shake Shack trying to find out about date shakes...
Hi Steve,

I'm fact checking an article about the now Ruby's Crystal Cove Shake Shack. Can you confirm that the then Shake Shack opened in the 1940s and introduced date shakes in the 1960s??

Thank you so much for your help! Please get back to me by 4:30 today.
I couldn't confirm it, but I said I would put it to the readers here and see if anyone can chime in, even though it'll be too late for Jamie's needs.

Riding the Rails on a 1946 Dodge

An anonymous person submits the following story of riding the railroad tracks on a 1946 Dodge through Orange and Tustin, then having the engine go out, and hearing a train coming down the tracks...
Once again! I find myself strolling through the pages of OCthen, what a really neat site! This came to mind and thought you would get a chuckle out of it, I do not advise anyone to try this adventure as it is dangerous and could cause some serious problems!

Anyway, lets look back to a late summer evening, warm air, clear sky and a six pack of guys cruising around in this old forty six Dodge four door sedan. Time frame, 1961!

We had made a left turn onto Esplenade Ave and were heading to Dodge Ave. When we got to Dodge we made a right turn and proceeded over the railroad tracks. The driver stopped and asked, "whats the chance of us riding the rails this evening?" As I recall there wasn't a moments notice and the car was backed onto the railroad heading towards Tustin which was about six miles away! A small amount of air was dumped from the front tires to insure the front wheels would stay on the rails. We all piled back in and we started for Tustin!

As we approached 17th street the driver laid on the horn, cross traffic was very light that time of night, however we could see the really surprised look on those drivers faces as we went across their path! Needless to say, the laughter was just too much, the radio was turned up and we were "rail fans"! The track ran pretty much next to Newport Avenue and we were cruising about twenty to twenty five MPH.

The orange packing house was right in Tustin so when we were almost into the switching we stopped and backed off onto a surfaced loading area, turned the car around and headed back! What fun! This should have been enough but "NOT"! As we proceeded into the night heading to the city of Orange we were in the middle of some lemon groves and it was very dark to say the least! As luck would have it, the motor quit!

So, here we are in the middle of some huge lemon grove, on the railroad in a beat up old Dodge car, basicly, stuck! "What, me worry? The hood was up or to the side and we were teaming up on the most basic of machines, trying to find out what the problem could be. It was late, perhaps even closer to early morning, maybe 4:00 or 5:00 a.m. Finally the problem is resolved, a small wire going to the coil is found to be broken.

One Zippo lighter running short on fuel is providing the light, another set of hands is franticly trying to twist the broken wire into service, "did you hear that"? "Hear what"? "listen" I didnt hear anything to speak of, yet the banter kept on, finally the repair is made and the engine is tried. "Gads, the battery is just about dead"! Again, "listen you guys"! Yep! sure enough, some where up ahead, a clanging sound, a bell sound! "Oh no, just great, its gotta be a train"! "Its coming this way for sure"!

So! we begain pushing the Dodge backwards, the driver yells he is going to pop the clutch. First try doesnt get er done! We push some more, finally the engine roars to life! We are exhausted to say the least! Doors are slammed shut and we are in reverse heading back the way we came! After so many miles in reverse we came to a crossing of sorts and went to work trying to get the car off of the tracks. Anyhow, I got dropped off at my house shortly thereafter, it was about 6:30 a.m. Sunday morning. My folks were still asleep, I clammered into my bed, another adventure for sure!

Memories of an 80's Garden Grove Girl

Trixie talks about her memories of life in the 1980s as a high school teenager in Garden Grove...
I have so many memories I need a wall to mention them.

I went to Los Alamitos High and Rancho Alamitos High School. I lived in Garden GRove at Beach Creek on Beach Blvd. My friend T. Giebel lived down the street. We used to say in school that we went to "Raunch Rancho in Garbage Grove"! LOL

I remember dancing at Disneyland after hours for teens, the parachute ride at Knott's Berry FArm, FArrells Ice Cream and them bring a huge cake or something out on a stretcher, movieland Wax Musem, MEdival Times, The Mc Donalds on AKtells and DAle for lunch, The cove at Corona Del Mar, Shopping at Westminister Mall, Riding a scooter for my first date to Flakey Jakes on Beach and GG blvd, hanging at Edwards theater every SAturday or Golfland, working at Coco's and El Paso CAntina, Driving the PCH coast with my windows open, hanging out on Sundays with my friends from Mid Cities Baptist, bonfires with the kids from Rancho, ROP with some of my friends at the Adult School, going roller skating at the skate park (that is now torn down) on GG Blvd, trick or treating in Briarwood, and riding in a limo with my friends and thier dad who had a limo service in my senior year of HS!

I have so many memories I can't mention them all. Look for more post and I will tell you all I can!

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Notable Comments

Here are some noteworthy comments posted this week on our previous articles...

Feb 17 - Cloud 9 and Studio K - Gary comments that he's the one who came up with the idea for Studio K, and also was the guy who ran Cloud 9. He also says he came up with the idea for tearing down Studio K.

Feb 16 - Stehley's Egg Ranch - Anonymous remembers the exact location of the place.

Feb 16 - Intoxicating Smell of Orange Blossoms - Argo#67 remembers going to the United Methodist church in Orange, and recalls it being a white wooden structure, before they built the "submarine church", and recalls "Wheeler's Market" next to it.

Feb 14 - Beaches and Tastee Freez - Jim thinks the Van's Store mentioned in the article was in Stanton, on the NW corner of Beach and Chapman.

Feb 13 - My Favorite Orange County Restaurants - Anonymous wants to know what used to reside on the location where Acapulco Restaurant now sits, on Bristol Street, in Costa Mesa

Movieworld - Cars of the Stars

Movieworld - Cars of the Stars was a museum in Buena Park that showcased custom cars and hot rods painted up by famous artists like Von Dutch and others. It doesn't exist anymore.

OCThen reader Sean writes asking if anyone had more information about it, and offers up some of his memories...

I was looking for some info on Movieworld - Cars of the Stars in Buena Park on your site, but noticed it was not on the list of Attractions. I went there when it first opened and all of the exhibits (movie props and celebrity/movie cars) were just laid out on the floor in a large warehouse in rows. It was not the fanciest why to display them (it looked like a flea market), but it was still really cool, especially if you were a movie buff.

I remember hand painted signs describing some of the props and what movie they came from.

Years later, I went again and it had been transformed more into a museum with false walls which led visitors on a specific path (like Movieland Wax Museum), more dramatic lighting, and a snack bar in the middle of the museum. I also remember TV commercials which featured Billy Barty promoting the museum and sliding down a tube slide which was also in the middle snack bar area.

I have not seen much about this museum on the Internet although it seemed to be a decent attraction in Buena Park at the time. Is there any other information on it and what happened to the collection? I think I saw some of the cars at the Peterson Museum in L.A. but the movie props were the most interesting part of it for me and I often wonder what happened to them. Some of them included movie miniatures like ships, trains, and submarines. The most memorable prop was the miniature of King Kong shackled on display (near the end of the 1933 movie) which Willis O'Brien used in the stop motion animation.

When the Von Dutch clothing and hats were popular a few years ago, I did see something mentioned in an article about Von Dutch living in the parking lot of this museum in a bus. Other than that, I have not seen or heard anything else and I am wondering if anyone else has any memory about this place.

Keep up the great work. I just found your site and have a lot of exploring to do still on it!


P.s. I wonder if you remember the religious wax museum that was connected to Movieland Wax Museum too? It had a replica of Michelango's Statue of David in front of the entrance.
Click on "Post a Comment" and let us know if know you anything.

Friday, February 08, 2008

You Know You Were A Teenager In Orange County In The 80's if...

You broke up with your 11th grade boyfriend once you saw him in his Farrell's uniform.

You smoked cloves at Old World on Saturday nights listening to OMD.

You were forbidden from saying "whatever" to your Mom.

You could relate to the plight of Julie in the movie "Valley Girl."

You and your friend ditched school the day the Golden Bear was torn down--and cried.

You couldn't decide: was The Poor Man a poser?

You were banned from using the family washing machine to acid wash your jeans-- following a tragic incident with your brother's OP shorts.

You went to see "Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence" and said it was great, purely because David Bowie was in it.

You thought Olivia Newton John's hairstyle (with braided headband) in the video "Physical" was not only awsome, but worth replicating.

Your dad wore a rust colored Members Only Jacket --and you didn't care.

You thought the cartoon Ziggy was hilarious.

The summer MTV launched, you and your friends never left the house.

You held the erroneous belief that combat boots went with everything.

You refused to take your little sister to the Orange Street Fair unless she changed out of her "Cats" sweatshirt.

You pondered the eternal question: Should I let my boyfriend wear his bolotie to prom?

You spend more time on making your hair big--teasing it, blowdrying it while hanging upside down and spraying it-- then on homework.

You were embarassed for Bruce Springsteen when he did his "little dance" in the video "Dancing in the Dark" but, understandably, not for Molly Ringwald when she did the same dance in "The Breakfast Club."

You saw bands like 10,000 Maniacs, Jane's Addiction and The Hags at Safari Sam's in Hungtington Beach.

Friday, February 01, 2008

Mystery Candy Store in Santa Ana

A brand new OCThen reader asks if anyone can identify a candy store in Santa Ana during the 1950s...
Perhaps someone can help me recall a specific candy store in Santa Ana. Era – early 50's. It was on North Main just below Buffum's. It wasn't McFarlan's (sp?) which was on Main closer to 4th. And it wasn't See's which was on main just below 4th.

The store actually made "hand-dipped" chocolates in-house.
Post a comment if you know anything.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Saddleback Inn - Santa Ana

Whatever happened to Saddleback Inn in Santa Ana?

When my folks moved to Santa Ana in 1978, my mom got a job there cleaning the rooms, and in that time Saddleback Inn was a nice hotel. The bridge that crossed over 1st st., connecting the hotel to that little building on the other side was always a cool way to present the City of Santa Ana to drivers coming in from the east.

I know it has been out of business for years, but I'm not sure if it's no longer in use. Is it still being used for meetings, or storage? Does it still make money? One has to wonder since the building just sits there, and has not been turned into something else.

Meanwhile, the Motel 6 sitting caddy-corner across the street looks to be doing really well.

I couldn't find a photo of Saddleback Inn online, but I did find this ashtray on eBay!

Saddleback Inn Ashtray

Monday, January 28, 2008

OCThen Forum - New Site Feature

I added a web forum to OCThen today.

You can access it here...

You'll also find it linked in the dark-orange horizontal navigation bar above, "Forums".

This is the first time I've managed a web forum, so, it's a learning process for me.

If the forum finds success in getting a lot of users and posts, I may cross post stuff from the forum to the blog. I'll be glad to add new sub-forums for other topics, for example theme parks, cities, schools, etc.

To post a message there you have to have a user account, which is different than the Blogger account that you may have used to post comments on this blog. Note that the blog allows anonymous comments, but the forum does not.

The advantage the forum brings to you as a visitor of OCThen is that you can start new topics, whereas on the blog, only myself and the few bloggers that have signed up, can start new topics.

So, click on over to the new forum, create a user account, and get to posting!

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Buffalo Bill of Santa Ana

CoxPilot submits another memory of a guy who looked like Buffalo Bill, that lived in the some apartments behind the Pep Boys in Santa Ana, near the old City Hall building...
I grew up in Santa Ana, and when I was about 10 or 12 (around 1950), my friend and I would ride our bikes to the old West Coast Theater to see the free show on Saturday mornings. We decided to return to the South side of S.A. via the alley behind the old City Hall and Pep Boys. There we encountered a man that lived in some small one room appartments behind Pep Boys. He looked just like Buffalo Bill (hat and all), and invited us to see his gun collection. (Yes! I know. Not something that you would want a child to do today.) The gun collection was VERY extensive, and covered every wall of his sitting room. We didn't stay long, and I never found out his name. Does anyone know of him, or who he might have been?
I certainly don't remember anything of this guy, but this memory does remind me of the time I grew up in San Diego, when between the ages of 5-7 years, my friend Mark and I would get to know all the strange characters that lived in the area.

Like he says, it's probably not something a parent would allow their kids to do these days, but back then, you could visit with all the freaks and they'd have fun showing a couple of kids what their "shtick" was all about.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Hello from an exile from OC!

I have been invited by Steve to contribute to this wonderful collection of memories of Orange County, and he asks that I give a bit of an intro to his readers:

It is both wonderful and bittersweet to see others' memories of my beloved Orange County. I was born and raised in what was then unincorporated section of OC, in 1960, literally in the county, since our back fence was the city line of Orange, and our cross street was that of Tustin! (Prospect and Fairhaven). As a kid, there were still orange groves across the street, down on 17th Street, major streets still lined with eucalyptus windbreaks from the groves. Back then, Knotts didn't have more than the chicken restaurant and ghost town-no fence or rides- 'Its A Small World' was the big attraction at Disneyland, and you would get a bag of fries at McDs for 15 cents at the Tustin Avenue store, near the Marie Callendars pie shop.

My life was both typical, and unusual for an OC kid, growing up in the wonderful ethnic melting pot of southern California, sharing in the multitude of customs and traditions from around the world, hearing my parents talking about people they knew or used to see around OC that I later realised were famous, and being friends with some of the great characters of the area, such as Joe Holtz. My family went to the Mission San Juan Capistrano for many years, where we had been given a master key to the mission by the pastor, Msgr.Vincent Lloyd-Russell. So I grew up on the mission grounds, with it as my private playground in the early morning hours long before it opened for the tourists....misty mornings, scented by the guava and olive trees wet with fog off the ocean. My parents, who had moved to California back in the 1940 and lived in the LA area first, introduced me to so many of the southland's fascinating places and history, from going to the original Bob's Big Boy, running our dogs behind my dad's VW Squareback along the dirt lanes in Irvine's orange groves, visiting the Bower's Museum so much that we were on a first name basis with the staff, and on and on.

I lived in OC from 1960 till 1987, when I came out to NE Kansas to college, married, and still here because of my husband's teaching position at a small Catholic school here. This is a quiet, small town, where you can feel safe about allowing children to go to the minimart, but boring in contrast to the ethnic diversity I loved in OC.

I always thought that I would live in OC, but it seems God had other ideas, and I've been 'exiled' out here in northeast Kansas since 1987....where He sends asthmatic Californians to purgatory! ^_^ My family is tired of my telling about OC, and it would be nice to be able to share what I remember, with those who love this place as much as I still do. I may live here in Kansas, but home will always be Orange County, California. It is my hope that I can add to this treasury of memories of Orange County at its best.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Shakey's Pizza and Pipe Organ

An anonymous OCThen reader asks if anyone remembers the Shakey's Pizza Parlor near Disneyland that had a pipe organ and a "nickelodeon guy"...
I'd sure like to find out anything pertaining to shakey" pizza parlor, particullarly the one near disneyland.. they had an amazing pipe organ and a nickelodeon guy, who I think was referred to as "mr nicelodeon" who played it all from the same console..
If you know anything, don't be shy to post a comment...

Beaches and Tastee Freez

Noelle Harrison submits some memories of growing up in Huntington Beach in the 1960s and 1970s, going to the beach, and getting ice cream at the Tastee Freez...
We moved to Huntington Beach in 1968, first into a town home complex just off of beach blvd., and later into a housing development off of magnolia and atlanta...surrounded by earliest memories are walking to the beach (down beach blvd.) with my mom and sister and stopping at tastee freeze for a dipped cone on our way home - if we were lucky we would have already had strips and sauce at jack's (where we later worked in 8th grade). The sauce was sweet and spicy. I'm always amazed how, at 7 and 8, we would play at the beach every day while our mom read and slept. We had such a blast (and nearly drowned many-a-time despite being taught how to drive under the face of any wave...).

Another great memory: Our mom used to drive to the old van's shoe store in-land (I'm not sure where but it was in an old house of sorts) and have custom-made deck shoes made to match our dresses and short outfits! She would just take in the extra fabric and voila we had matching shoes!

I left in 1980 and returned only once, in 1984. I don't want to see how huntington's been ruined, the miles of empty state beaches turned into a hotel parking lot. I live just outside of san francisco now and have never gotten used to the cold!
Note that everyone wants to put an "e" at the end of "Freez" but, the correct spelling is without that last "e".

As far as Van's shoes, I recall there being a store in Orange, on Glassell, pretty close to the Orange Circle, this would be north of the Circle, that used to sell lots of Van's, and I think was one of the first stores in OC to sell them.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Orange County History Writers Wanted

Images of America - Santa AnaJerry Roberts, the acquisitions editor for Arcadia Publishing, wrote to me asking if I knew anyone interested in authoring a book for their popular "Images of America" series. Since I didn't, I thought I post it here.

They're also looking for folks interested in doing the same for their other series on sports, postcards, ethnic studies, campus history, corporate history, and their "Then and Now" series.

You can check out their website and get more info on each series...

Their series of books are heavily photo-centric. I own copies of several for towns here in the Inland Empire. The title for the town I live in is just all photos, and captions for each. Sounds pretty easy to author one of their books, you just gotta get access to a bunch of photos, postcards, and be knowledgeable enough to write some words about them.

Their new postcard series, and the "Then and Now" series looks really interesting.

If you think you're up to the task, contact Jerry Roberts by phone or e-mail...

Jerry Roberts
Acquisitions Editor
Arcadia Publishing
22708 Ravenna Avenue
Carson CA 90745
phone: 310-733-7080
fax: 310-834-9222

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Old Berry Stand at Knott's

Dale Turkle has a question for OCThen readers about what he thinks may be the remnants of the old roadside berry stand that Walter Knott used to run...
I'm enjoying your site and passing it on to interested friends, and have something to ask you and your readers.

I wonder if you can answer something for me. If you go into the Fiesta Village area at Knotts, walk all the way to the back,, and there is a food court near the furthest Northeast corner of the park.

Stand on a planter there and look over the inside wall toward Beach Blvd and you will see hidden in brambles an old shack and some berry plants. Could this be the remains of the old roadside stand, walled off from the general public and still facing the corner there?

Dale Turkle
Torrance CA
If can add something to this, click on "Post a Comment" below.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Carl's Jr. Memories

Carl's Jr. Old LogoIn a tribute to Carl Karcher, who passed away this evening, I wanted to spend some time remembering his lasting legacy, the Carl's Jr. restaurants.

Having moved into Orange County in 1978, from San Diego, it was easy to notice a change in fast-food dominance. In San Diego, Jack-in-the-Box dominated the landscape, having been founded there. In Orange County, it was Carl's. Even though I could still get my fix of "Moby Jacks" (remember that sandwich?), Carl's would eventually get most of my lunch money.

In the late 1980s, when I worked in Anaheim, a co-worker and I would visit the Carl's on the corner of Harbor and Romneya, which was the restaurant next to the corporate headquarters. Carl sometimes would come in to greet the patrons, though I never did get to greet him.

My favorite sandwich was the California Roast Beef. It was very much like an Arby's Roast Beef, except with a whole green chile and monterey jack cheese, and sesame seed bun. They don't make this anymore, but I can still remember the taste.

They also had the crinkle-cut french fries, which had a consistency more like mashed-potatoes, instead of cut potatoes. I wish they brought those back.

I also remember getting a certificate of achievement from Carl's Jr. while I attended Spurgeon Intermediate School, for outstanding attendance. It came with a free meal.

Carl's Drive In Barbeque

After Carl Karcher earned money with his hot-dog stands in Los Angeles, he opened up a restaurant in Anaheim called "Carl's Drive-In Barbeque". Later on, he opened up smaller versions of this restaurant which he called, "Carl's Jr." for obvious reasons.

I remember for the 50th anniversary of Carl's, the restaurant bought back the hot dogs.

I'd love to hear your memories of Carl's Jr., Carl Karcher himself, his company, or even Taco De Carlos...

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Crystal Cove

An anonymous commenter submits a question if anyone remembers the group of beach homes at Crystal Cove, right by the Shake Shack, though he/she doesn't actually remember the name of the community...
Does anyone remember a very small community that consisted of maybe 20 or so mobile homes that were located right on the beach,not more than 100 feet from the water, off Pacific Coast Hwy just south of Corona Del Mar? At the time there was nothing else around there and as I remember the story they were on a month to month lease and there was a waiting list 10 miles long to move there. I dont know if this place still exists as I moved to another state 20 years ago, but I sure thought it would have been cool to have lived there. I'm sure the place had a name maybe someone out there knows more about it.
And to bring you up to date, the community you remember is gone. The area is a state park, and the state evicted them in 2001, and razed the old bungaloes. I heard they were going to build a hotel, but they ended up building a new set of beach homes.

El Morro Trailer Park
Perhaps someone else can share more accurate details here.

Monday, January 07, 2008

An Old Orange County Joke

I read all of the Levitz Furniture Stores are closing and it reminded me of an old Orange County joke. When I attended Golden West College, about twenty years ago (yikes!), we students used to say we went to "UBL" (University Behind Levitz) when someone asked where we attended college.
I guess those days are now officially over. The students could say they attend "UBBT" (University Behind Bella Terra) but that doesn't hold the same punch.

El Toro in the 1960s and 1970s

OCThen reader, Janet Kelsey-Berg, submits her memories of growing up in El Toro during the 1960s and 1970s. She recalls a time when El Toro was a safe neighborhood, where you could leave your garage door open all day, and playing in the large fountain by the I-5...
Great blog site idea! I too have fond memories of my growing up years in Orange County. I still live nearby (Chino)and go into the OC quite a bit.

My family moved us out to El Toro in 1969 where I attended Olivewood Elementary. We lived on the outer edge of the then new luxury homes of Lake Forest. I thought my parents were crazy to move us out there where we had no relatives, no friends, and no shopping malls!

My memories include the sweet smell of the Eucalyptus trees and being able to "roller skate" thru partially built homes. Playing "King of the Sewer Pipe" on land being graded for more homes. In that same area was a mountain of graded dirt about 2-3 stories high where we would open up and flatten out boxes and hold unto each other and slide down the very steep incline. Some of the boys would take their bikes and ride it down. I cant believe we didnt seriously injure ourselves.

Bus drivers would drop you off in front of your home, not at a bus stop. Taking the first mini-bus shuttle in the morning to the Laguna Beach and the last one back home, every day of the summer.

We lived across the street from "The Fountain" that bordered the 5 fwy. You could see this towering fountain for miles and knew you were close to home when you spotted it. Sometimes, kids would put suds in it and it was a sight to see! We would catch tadpoles at the fountain "marsh area" and bring them home to be frogs.

Not only did we not have a shopping mall, but no middle or high schools, so we were bussed to La Paz Jr Hi and Mission View High in Mission Viejo. We finally got our own high school in my sophmore year: El Toro High and I thought it was cool that we were the bicentennial graduates (1976). Our tassels were red/white/blue.

I remember many weekends for years at the "Skate Ranch" along the 5 fwy. I remember the Japanese Deer Park too!

I think for the most part we lived a very sheltered life there. Not much ethnic diversity there. There was almost NO CRIMES other than us high schools kids pulling pranks from 1968-1976. I remember my parents would leave the garage door open all day and not think much about it. They would leave the front door open all night so the air would filter through the screen door.

I dont know why I couldnt wait to leave that area. I remember being able to hear the El Toro Marine Station Jets from afar. Now my eldest daughter lives is Rancho Santa Margarita, just above Cooks Corner and O'Neil Park and thinks its the best place next to heaven! Go figure!

Garden Grove in the 1950s and 1960s

OCThen reader Mark, submits his memories of growing up in Orange County during the 1950s and 1960s, and talks about watching the filming of Route 66, smelling the burgers at Zestos, the original names of streets before they changed names...
Steve, thanks for your project. I was born in Orange County in 1951 and lived there until I went to College. My memories of farmland, fields, open spaces in Orange County are hard to find these days. I moved from Orange County to live in downtown Seattle what a thrill. Today with my family we lived in Orlando Florida domninated by the Mouse. Can't hear the trail whistle like I did when I was young but it is here in Florida as well.

When I was born, St. Joseph's in Orange, my parents brought me back to a new house built off of Bolsa (1st avenue) between Newhope and Magnolia (then called Cannery). I believe this was one of the first"developments" that was to become many in Orange County. We eventually lived on Lucky Way off of Andes place, not to be confused with the "new" West Lucky Way. It was there where I went to Newhope Elementary school. An interesting note is that our janitor was Mr Wash who son Don Wash eventually became the Superintendent of schools for Garden Grove. By the way a huge man who had played professional football, he was my principal at the new Jr. High down the street Stephen R. Fitz, not really sure who Stephen R was but they named a school after him.

Growing up it was not unusual to bike to the beach, in those days we would bike down Newhope until you hit the Santa Ana River and then follow the river down to the jetty. Had to climb over a fence or two and eventually the fences got higher and higher. The names of those streets were not the same. McFadden was Sugar... Magnolia was Cannery, Edinger was Smeltzer, and eventually when you got to the beach you were at Brookhurst and 1 or 101. It was not unusual to ride into Santa Ana to watch the trains, bowl or golf. There was a 9 hole course 3 par that might have been part of Willowick that rented clubs and seemed to like kids.

One of the big thrills of 1962 or 63 was the onsite filming of the Television show Route 66 with Marvin Milner and George Maharis. I heard about it from some friends and rode my bike. Just like you see in the movies, no one paid much attention to the kids and I got up to the area where dialogue was being spoken. One of the hands gave me a cold 7-up seeing how hot I was. Even the Corvette was there. Martin Milner ended up as Adam 12. George Maharis was the Rock Hudson of early TV fame, good looking and every womans dream until it was discovered he preferred the company of men.

My father owned the Surplus Store on Garden Grove Blvd across from the Garden Grove Theatre. It was a business that developed out of WWII and the supplies of the Korean war. I grew up working there selling foam rubber, camping equiptment and Levi's. I guess the least expensive pair I can remember is the 401's selling for $2.98. Today that building is the home of a Korean Buffett. Across the street in the same center as the Grove Theatre was my favorite restaurant Zestos. I can smell the burgers cooking from Zestos this very second with onions, melted cheese, double burgers, bbq sauce and the sausages that the owners father would make. They were light years ahead when it came to shakes and malts. You could get a banana chocolate walnut malt.....fact is he had 30 or more ingredients to put into one of these masterpieces. Several of my addictions, one being a love of onion rings has its base in the deep fryer of Zestos.

Was going to list a number of places I remember.

Calva Dairy-owned by our neighbors the Hunts who had come to California as a family from Virginia. They donated the land for the Little League field that was on Bolsa between Harbor and Euclid.

Red's Ranch Market at Harbor and Bolsa.
Across the street was another market my mother liked that was not an open market. She always mentioned the flies.

Gem Theatre-went there on my first girlfriend whirl with Kathy Whitehead. Kathy's sister I believed married the famous Santiago hurler Bert Blyleven.

My folks would get all dressed up and go to the restaurant on Garden Grove Blvd...Knights Table I believe.

Cake Box Bakery...I tell my famous story about how I discovered money at the Cake Box.

In the same center, in the 50's, was the kiddie park with rides for the little ones. Hang Hong....I think was the name that was our family choice for Chinese food. The BBQ restarant that always smelled sooooo.....good.

Well I could go on and on......that is why I have one of these blogs myself....til later be well.
You can read more about Mark's thoughts on his own blog, "Cabernet & Chocolate". In fact he has an interesting article about picking up girls at Disneyland during the 1960s...

Saturday, January 05, 2008

Old Orange County Television Station

OCThen reader, "Duckling" writes asking if anyone remembers an old television network that originated from Orange County around 1967, and thinks it aired on channel 56 or 57. Anyways, this network had a catchy jingle and wondered if anyone knows the jingle...
Hi Steve!

I just came back from Southern Califonia where I visited my mom in Sun City, just a hop, skip and a jump from where you live now! I grew up in Ontario. My associations with Orange county are that of the theme parks: Disneyland, Knotts Berry Farm and Movieland Wax Museum.

I do have a question for some of your Orange County residents though. I was looking for a television network that I believe originated out of Orange County around 1967 or so. It ran old movies (I remember a lot of Deanna Durbin musicals) and it ran the cartoons "Kimba the White Lion" and "Speed Racer." I believe it was channel 56 or 57, but I am really awful at remembering numbers, so it could have been something else. I distinctly remember a catchy network jingle that was all instrumental and I wanted to find out what the the tune was. Hoping that some of your Orange County residents have a better memory than I and can assist in my search. Thanks for creating this site. It was fun to read!:-)
It's obviously not KDOC, since KDOC didn't go on the air until 1982.

Friday, January 04, 2008

Wally George - Father of Orange County

Wally George Hot SeatIf you attended high school or college in Orange County during the 1980s and 1990s, you know all about Wally George.

In the early 1980s, I used to stay up at night to watch his television show, "Hot Seat" on KDOC channel 56. The show, which was billed as a conservative talk show, was anything but. It was instead Wally dragging derelicts in off the street, putting them on air, and then bashing them in Wally's irreverent style.

Teenagers ate the stuff up.

Wal-LY! Wal-LY! Wal-LY!

Perhaps he may not have known it at the time, but teenagers saw him as a rebel, like a high-school principal on coke. He taught his teen audience about moral fiber, but at the same time, showed them the low-life scum they longed to see. He'd bring in these porn actresses, let them strip down to nearly nothing, and then kick them off the set. Hot Seat was a risque show.

Wally reached an all-time high in popularity just a couple of years into his show. I remember in 1984, KDOC gave him a day-time talk show where he fetched calls from his viewers. He would start off by commenting on the news of the day, and then open up the phone lines.

Well on this particular day, it was December 7, otherwise known as Pearl Harbor day. I'm very keen on Pearl Harbor day, because I was born at Pearl Harbor, albeit not on December 7. So when Wally George failed to pay homage to the soldiers and sailors who died in the attack of Pearl Harbor, I decided to call him up. When he answered my call, I said, "Wally, I'm ashamed at you..." And before I could finish he blurted out, "Well I'm, ashamed at you!", and then hung up on me. Then he proceeded to say on television, "How dare he say that he's ashamed at me!".

I remember catching an episode of Hot Seat during the late 1990s, and was amazed to learn that George was still hosting the show live. While he wasn't running the same format, it was still George, albeit an older, more reflective George. I remember feeling kinda sorry for the guy, in that all he had left in life was his show, and intended to hang on to it for as long as his body would allow.

The way I see things, Wally's rise to fame seemed to have coincided with Orange County's rise to fame. Just as Wally began to make a name for himself across the country, so did Orange County. OC wasn't a suburb of Los Angeles anymore, it was its own metropolis. It was developing its own culture, lifestyle, and reputation.

And like Wally, Orange County was conservative, and in the same way Wally associated himself with conservative figures like Pat Boone, John Wayne, Bob Dornan, and Robert Schuller, so did the rest of the United States associate Orange County.

In the end, Wally will be forever known as an eccentric, out of touch with reality, which is exactly what the country thinks of Orange County today.

To me, Wally George is to Orange County as Howard Stern is to New York City. After listenting to Howard Stern, one might have a chaotic and perverted impression of The Big Apple. If New York people listened to Wally George, they might think of The Big Orange as bastion of white picket fences and Stepford wives.

So now that Wally George is dead and gone, what celebrity best personifies Orange County today?

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Old Orange County Crime Stories

OCThen reader, "ladyonthecase" seems to have a taste for true crime stories, because she asks us if anyone here can remember crime nostalgia from the 1940s, 1950s, and 1960s...
Orange County nostalgia? Don't get me started. I was born in Orange in 1943. Grew up there, came and went, and finally got out for good in 1970. I don't miss what it is now, but have fond memories of the "good old days".

I'm looking for stories of the "not-so-good" old days, however. Does anyone know of any sensational (or not so sensational but interesting) crimes or scandals that occurred in Orange during the 40's, 50's and very early 60's? I don't know how to access that kind of information unless there are old newspaper archives available. I'd love to see replies from anyone who remembers reading or hearing about criminal activity from that era. Since I was a kid then, I didn't pay any attention to the newspapers (other than the comics) and don't remember anything but the good stuff.
The Anaheim Police Department has some crime stories on their website...

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Nightclub in Huntington Beach

An anonymous OCThen reader asks if anyone remembers the name of a nightclub in Huntington Beach, about a mile north of the Golden Bear...
I recall a club in Huntington, not far from the GB, but a mile or so north, where Cal Tjader would play his vibraphone frequently. I was there on Halloween about 1976 or 1977. Bonnie Raitt was playing that night and she was amazing. Does anyone remember the name of the club?
Post a comment here, if you know anything.

Crescent Junior High School - Buena Park

An anonymous OCThen reader asks about what happened to Crescent Junior High School in Buena Park...
Does anyone remember Crescent Jr. High and where did it go?? I went there in 62-63, then to Kennedy High class of 66. I have lived in Michigan and Northern California and now in the foothills of the Sierras above Fresno..but each time I go into BP..I am always at a loss as to where that funky styled jr. high went.
I did a quick Google search and came up empty. If you know something about it, or attended the school, post a comment here.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Santa Ana Plane Crash - 1940s or 1950s

OCThen reader, "coxpilot" asks if anyone remembers the time when a jet plane crashed into a neighborhood in Santa Ana, in the late 1940s or early 1950s...
Does anyone remember a jet plane that crashed in Santa Ana in the late '40s or early '50s, in the area around S. Ross & W. Cubbon? I lived in the 1400 block of S. Olive when we all heard a great boom, and went outside to see the rising smoke. My friends and I jumped on bikes and went as fast as we could. We were there before any fire trucks or police, and saw a big hole in the ground where the front yard once was, and the living room wall was missing too. My friend kept a piece of green aluminum he found in the street. I'm told that it was a saber jet from El Toro, and the pilot had not been able to eject.
Seems like this is something that should have quite a bit of coverage in the Santa Ana Register, but I don't have access to those archives online.

Update Sep 12, 2010: Larry Fuller submits the following photo showing where the airplane exploded...

Hi Steve,

I just posted about the jet aircraft that crashed in Santa Ana in 1952. Above, is a photo of the intersection of S. Olive and Wilshire from that period. The Green "X" is where I was standing and the Red "X"
is where the aircraft exploded just above the trees. I've also attached the full photo this section was taken from. The bean patch in the rear of the full photo would later become the playground behind Glenn Martin Elementary.
After the crash, two military helicopters landed on the playground to assist with the recovery and investigation of the crash.

Larry Fuller
Albuquerque, NM

P.S. I marked the attached photo as 1949, but it could well have been summer of 1950. The photo was taken from the front yard of 1310 S. Olive.

The green "X" and red "X" he mentions above were not on the photo he submitted, but marked over the photo perhaps through his e-mail client. But the explosion occured above the tallest tree on the far-right.

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