Monday, January 07, 2008

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!


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