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.

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