Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Huntington Beach & Westminster in the 1960's

An anonymous OCThen reader remembers growing up as a kid in the 1960s in Huntington Beach, Westminster, and remembers a more conservative, and rural way of life...

In the early 60's my parents purchased a home on the border of Huntington Beach and the City of Westminster. Fireworks were legal and we used to go down to the beach and watch them all, then liberals started banning fireworks and ruined the fun for everyone.

Those were thr good ol days of Freedom Fireworks, Red Devil Fireworks, "The Block Party" from Red Devil Fireworks, "The Smokey Joe" and various different other fireworks.

The Orange Groves were vast and expansive. Disneyland was in it's infancy. These were good times going to Disneyland, shopping at Ed Tunks Country Store in Garden Grove.

I remember going past Los Alamitos and seeing the Nike Ajax anti missles out of their silos and ready to defend the general area from Russian missles

I also remember going to the Movieland Wax Museum in Anaheim as a small child. Going to Angels games in the old stadium.... The Big "A" way before the stadiums renovations.

I also remember going to drve in movies at the "Highway 39 Drive In" on Beach Boulevard with my girlfriends.

The Westminster Mall was being built and I distinctly remember the opening of the Mall and riding my bicycle from my home to the Mall in it's very early days.

I also recollect as a kid fishing from the Seal Beach Pier, fishing from the jetty near the power plant. We used to smoke the gaunge and sit and fish from the bridges near the power plant during the night on the weekends.

These were all good times that I fondly remember. I joined the Navy in the later part of 1979 and early 1980. I left Southern California and went to Northern California, back to San Diego, the East Coast and finally retired from the Navy in Hawaii in 1998.

I never returned to Orange County area after I retired from the military. Instead I decided to get out from underneath the day to day life of the big city and move to middle America where the hunting and fishing is spectacular.

I wish all who were born raised and support Orange County the best that life has to offer and you all have sustained the area and all should be congratulated. I wish everyone in Orange County, Huntington Beach and The City of Westminster all the best.


  1. Thank you for your reminiscing. I have lots of those same memories. it isn't quite the same as then, but close. They call it "The Gold Coast" now, or at least they did before the financial challenges we have had this past year. Best wishes to you, too.

  2. There are no liberals in Orange County, so it must have been conservatives that banned fireworks.

    What a stupid comment that was.

  3. I wish for the simplier ways of life. I grew up in Huntington Beach, nearer Westminster. When I grew up in Huntigton Beach and Westminster there were nothing but fields.

    Disneyland was nothing but an infancy of what it is now, Anaheim Stadium had Nolan Ryan pitching shutouts.

    I rode my bicycle to the Seal Beach Pier and fished for halibut bonito and corbina and sharks at night. My brother and I smoked the gonge at night, drank beer and sucked the coffee down...those were good times.

    We swam at the seal beach jetty just west of the power plant and caught lots of fish there.

    I fished the Seal Beach half day boat and also launched my own boat from Huntington Harbor to fish the same area tat the half day and full day boat out of Seal Beach fished.

    I fished off of San Onofre before joining the Navy. I joined and retired from the Navy and left Southern California. I remember Red Devil Fireworks and Freedom Fireworks in southern California as a child. After retiring from the U.S. Military, I settled out east, where fireworks are legal and the conservatives of California have no grasp.

    Our Heritage, History, and American Values were put forthg from our for fathers. Our country was founded by warriors and patriots who gave their lives for our country. LEGALIZE FIREWORKS ACROSS THE UNITED STATES

  4. Wow that's crazy because I too grew up in the same area also during the 60s and 70s....Never left Orange County, but have left the area, but visit it often. I actually lived right across the street from the strawberry fields that became the westminster mall when I became a teen, what great memories I had in that mall and in that part of Orange County, and just lately I have been reuniting with old friends from back then and appreciating more now then ever the wonderful childhood memories of Huntington Beach/Westminster in Orange County....And YES Ed Tunks :) I DO REMEMBER! Remember the PUP N TACO?

  5. If you remember Red Devil and Freedom Fireworks, you might also remember Black Panther, Red Star, and to some degree Action Fireworks and Jet Dragon. There was also a Red Devil TV commercial in the late 60's shown on the local channels (9, 11 & 13) which was a real sight, and fireworks were sold for about a week in those days instead of the rotton 4 days we have now. And stands could stay open until midnight. If you ran out of stuff to light early, you could go back for more. True there are still fireworks around, but the lawmakers have run wild- feeling we are all too stupid to watch out for ourselves, so they have to do it for us. Good old days gone past indeed.

  6. Well, then...Firemen are Liberals. Folks whose homes burned down from irresponsible neighbors are Liberals. Parent's of kids who have had fingers blown off are Liberals. Last 4th, a So Cal kid blew off fingers fooling with gunpowder from exhausted "legal" fireworks--his friends and family are Liberals. ...and yet, AM radio talk show hosts with millions of dollars flowing their way, and can care less about you, they AREN'T Liberal. Well, I'm proud to say: I'm a Liberal.

  7. It was still fun though. They ban fireworks where
    I live in Oceanside, But I go into Orange County
    or buy them near Moro Bay. I remember buying
    fireworks when I was 11 years old. We would
    crimp the Piccolo Petes, so they would explode.
    Lighting those black snakes and the burn spot would last for months. My perfectionist Father,
    we had a dicondra Lawn, would have a fit. Then
    there were Cherry Bombs, M-80's, M-100's. I remember someone saying that a M-80 was 1/8
    a stick of dynamite.
    So we taped 8 of them
    together. Could not get them to go off at the
    same time. Even wrapping the fuses together.
    We bought them from a Kid who went to
    Mexico alot. The smaller fire crackers, were very fun. Yes
    a few blew up in hands, Yes I threw one that exploded near my brothers head. Yes we threw
    Sparklers on wood roofs or under cars by accident. Yes were shot Bottle Rockets out of
    pipes at each other.
    But is was sure fun. When I was older
    we would ride motor cycles down various streets
    in southern Santa Ana and drive through people's displays. Normally showers of sparks from a
    large cone. The adults would always get mad and
    yell at us. On the morning of July 5th, we would ride our bikes looking for unexploded fire
    crackers. Just pull the fuse out and they are
    as good as new. Last New Years Eve, I lit some
    fireworks left over from the 4th and my 15 yo
    nephew was afraid to light one, as he had never
    done so. He is 6'2" and 190 pounds and I was
    thinking how I was blowing up model ships with
    Cherry Bombs and Lobbing Fire Crackers with slingshots ( That's Fun )at age 11.
    If I had the choice of the current Liberal Nanny
    State or the Fireworks, I would take the fireworks. Even back then there was talk and
    Rumors about some kid blowing off his fingers
    or some house fire, but that made it even more

  8. The Westminster/HB city-line bisected our Springdale tract, where we moved to in '63 from Torrence. Everything was new, and we were surrounded by farmers feilds that, as we watched, were transformed into newer housing tracts. Before it was the Westminster Mall it was a goldfish-farm and you could actually fish out of Slater and Talbert lakes (altho only Blue-gill and sun-fish.. and God help you if Mom found out you road that far). How about the dragon slide at atlantis park? Only cost a dime all day. The public schools were great and city recreation had baseball (remember the colored Tee's with the city Seal?)and games and carnivals there during summer. Sponored Fireworks stands on every corner,,, rememember pinching the picallo-pete's on the o with pliers so they finished with a bang?(guess that makes me an ultra conservative). Great place, and time, to live and grow up and thanks for the smile. BF

  9. I was born in 1958. I grew up in Huntington Beach. I still live in Huntington Beach. I remember going with my mom and dad to Ed Tunks. I also remember going by Bishop Ranch on Magnolia. Every now and then we would see a cow or two walking along on Magnoila. They would get out once in a while.

    I also remember playing on some of the farms. We would ride our bikes through some of these old farms and pretend that we were in the army or that it was a haunted forest.

    On one occasion, we were playing at the farm on Newland and Talbert and the old lady who lived on the farm chased us out waving her shotgun at us.[We didn't lawyer up!!!]. We knew we were wrong. We didn't run to our dads or call the police.

    But rest assured, we never went back. We thought it was funny. One time, Ricky and his brother Bobby and I were playing in the ditch catching goldfish. Ricky stepped in the mud and his foot got stuck. Bobby and I thought that he was in quicksand, so we left him there ran to his house. We told his dad that he was in quicksand and we needed help.

    The three of us ran across the field back to Ricky. We got to the fence and Bobby and I climbed the fence, no problem. Ricky's dad, on the other hand, being a big guy and a little over weight, struggled getting over the fence. When we got back to Ricky, he was just sitting there on a rock. Needless to say, it wasn't quick sand. I remember Ricky's dad started laughing and said "that will teach you not to play in the ditch." I remember, sometime later, he bought some Oscars and he would send us in to the ditch to catch some gold fish to feed his Oscars.

    That is just one of my stories. I will have to tell, someday, about the time Ricky set the field on fire.

    1. I grew up in the tract adjacent to Bishop Ranch and went to Jesse Hayden School which was surrounded by it. When I was 10 my friends family ran the dairy farm. I would go there early in the morning to help him feed the calves. It was great we would round them up running through the fields then got the tractor to bring the bottles of milk to feed them. The Bishops raised Tennessee Walkers I remember watching him exercising them on the training track next to the Kindergarten playground. We also used to sneak into their barns and they would chase us off with a shotgun firing rock salt into the air. They abandoned one field near our house and we built forks and tunnels in it using the tumble weeds to hind them.

  10. How can you say that all firemen are liberals? I am a United Staes Navy Conservative Fireman who served my country for 20 years and retired. How about all of you non military serving individuals, come on up and identify yourselves. Exactly how many of you out there haven't served with the United States Military, how about a show of hands.....or donb't you want to embarass your wives and girlfriends becausae you haven't served? I challenge every one of you to go down to your recruting office and join the U. S. Military, maybe it will pop you into reality and let you know that because of others such as I that all of you idots can "Claim" the right for freedom of speech.

    Yeah thats right, haulk yur ass down to the nearest military recruiting office and join.

    Matbe after you ave seen some action, then you can reserve the right to have an opinion on anything.

    1. I was born in long beach, in 1954, moved to oc in 62, santa ana by euclid and mcfadden. my brother and i used to walk to huntington down brookhurst in the 60's, collected pop bottles and cashed them in, .5 for the small ones, .10for the big ones, made enough to eat lunch at taco bell, we rode when we got bikes, went to the pier, remember taco bell by huntington pier? remember the golden bear? I remember puking after smoking my first cigarette at the golden bear. I remember the trailer park right on pch in huntington, i wanted to live there sooooo bad. We used to jump off the santa ana river bridge over pch, jumped on the side then jumped down about 20 ft into about 10 feet of water. used to catch makerel at the end of newport jetty until 3am, which is after the reuben e lee closed, then we went on that boat and fished for sharks,, caught a bunch, i swore i would never swim in newport harbor. i remember watching the people come in off the boats that were under huntington pier, they used to catch the log size barracuda. they would stick out from the gunny sacks about a foot. those things had some teeth too sonny.
      i remember fishing on the other side of the bridge from the reuben e lee at a trailer park and they had a private dock,, caught lots of buttermouth perch,, they were good eatin too.

    2. i joined the navy when i was 19, girlfriends father said i could work with my back or work with my brain... so i took a typing class in high school after auto shop. Did some silk screen printing at graphic sign shop for george eisenbart just prior to that. the old guy who owned the drapery shop next door saw me riding my motorcycle in the rain one day and sold me a 1960 chrylser saratoga, golden lion 383, tq flite, 4 dr hdtop,, blk with sky blue cloth interior. When I joined the navy, i got stationed aboard the USS Saratoga, i served from july 73 till july 77.. spent my time in the med and carribean. i would love to find that old car,, lic plate was LRK024,, my brother went to viet nam because he was a bad boy, either viet nam or cya, he chose the army. i learned how to keypunch, program, operate, and setup databases.. thanks to the experience i gained while in the navy. It was quite an experience. It wasnt just a job, it was an Adventure,, :)

    3. WELL SAID .. AMEN

  11. Californis is full of left wing liberals, no wonder why the state is going broke. Back in the late 60's and early 70's Westminster and Huintington Beach was a good place to raise a family.

    I moved from there after I joined the Navy at 17 and decided to see the world outside of Southern California. What a revelation that was. I retired from the military and the last thing vision I have was the sign I seen on the highway on Intersstate 15 was "You are Now Leaving California", I stopped, got out of my vehicle, pissed on the California side and left.....for a brighter future because at that point as a born and raised Californian, I seen where the state was going and you know what....I was right.

    The left wing liberal state of California has predictably and as I have previously stated dragged themselves into an abysimal state in which will go broke and claim bankruptcy.....Why, because California and all the left wing liberals who in the Senate dragged the state ...along with the so called "Gevernator" which was a complete joke, into an empty state.

    This is a long ways away from the state where I grew up as a kid.

    I'm glad I got out and I'm glad that now California needs to make some hard choices. Get the lazy ass people off their asses and get a job,do something about illegal immigration and make some welfare reforms that will get people off their asses, stop screwing the state over for welfare and pop into reality.

    I lived in Southern California, specifically in Huntington beach and Westminster area. After joining the military, voluntarily to serve my country, I witnessed first hand people pan handling and getting into BMW's. Those same individuals are at the local hospitals wanting medical care not only for themselves but for the 15 kids they spo proudly pumped out that were on the state dole.

    I'm glad I left that state, but the same situation continues accross this country unfourtunately. The "Food Stamp President" has done nothing to advance this country economically. His vision of that of the European Type Economic system....Socialism. The difference between capaialism and socialism is this.....Working for a living and paying taxes, or sitting on the couch, pumping out kids and expecting the government to pay for your food and living expenses when those same people are watching HDTV, have smart phones, buying lap top computers, are on food stamps and everyone el;se is paying for it.

    It's time that even the liberal left wing democrats not only in California but accross this country say enough is enough

    1. Wow. On the behalf of California, Thanks for Leaving. Too bad the door didn't hit you in the A$$ on the way out.

  12. Lived at Beach and Terry 1962-1969 our street backed up to the white front parking lot. All of the kids on our block would cut through the Hamilton's back yard to get there. Went to Westmont on Heil and Beach and Serrano the World's Smartest Horse was stabled across the street from the end by the ditch where Billy and Jimmy Ristauf(sp) from accross the street used to catch carp. It was a lot like the show the wonder years back then. How I miss the strawberry fields and orange groves.


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