Thursday, December 05, 2013

Caves at Irvine Park

irvine park
Photo courtesy of the Orange County Archives
An anonymous OCThen reader seems to recall exploring some caves at Irvine Park in the 1950s and 60s...

"I grew up in Santa Ana in the 1950's - 60's. I remember so many of these great memories posted. It really brings me back! I'm wondering if anyone remembers the Caves at Irvine Park? My parents took my sister and I most weekends and we would crawl around and explore these fantastic caves. Also at the park were holes in the ground where tarantula's lived. Sometimes people would pour oil (believe it or not) down the holes in order for them to come up. Then would trap them in cages, and I guess sell them."

I've never heard of them.

There is the "Robber's Cave" at Aliso Woods Canyon, but that's much further south.

Can anyone else add to this?

Wednesday, December 04, 2013

Westminster, CA: When Hoover Street Used To Be Named Eucalyptus Street

OCThen reader Janet Filbeck writes to us about Hoover Street in Westminster, indicating that it had originally been named "Eucalyptus Street", but was changed after a petition brought on by her grandfather. I had a series of e-mail conversations with Janet, and wanted to share this bit of Orange County history with you...
"I lived on a farm (Westminster on Hoover St. once called Eucalyptus St.) until I was 6 with my grandfather and family, then we moved to Santa Ana, Ca. My grandfather took around a paper from the court to have all the neighbors sign so they could change the name of Eucalyptus to Hoover since people then couldn't spell Eucalyptus, and grandpa was tired of spelling it for people. So they changed the name. "
Janet's grandfather was Halsey J. Crouch, who owned a farm along what was then Eucalyptus St, and now Hoover St, along the train tracks, between Main and Hazard, where the Green Valley Growers is currently situated. Crouch came from Quakertown, CT and used to enter his crops at the Orange County Fair.

I asked Janet how they came up with the name "Hoover Street"...
"I talked with my aunt about the road being changed to Hoover st. She said it was around the time I was born or late 40's. She said that grandpa went to the only court house then in Santa Ana and wanted to get the street changed because no one knew how to spelled the name. Grandpa's farm was near the main st she said. He grew melon and tomatoes with his many trees. Then he grew grapes. Grandpa also rented land across the street on Hoover st to grow green beans. I would be to small to remember the change of the street but my aunt remembers it. 
I thought grandpa change the street name before when my mom was young (and that would be in the 1920's but my aunt said it was before she got married in the 1940's."

Of course, located right behind Crouch's farm was the old Hoover School, the famed "Mexican School" that became the subject of a landmark discrimination case in 1947 concerning Mexican kids being denied enrollment at the other school in Westminster, "17th Street School". Hoover School was dedicated in 1929, and most likely named after Herbert Hoover, who had been President at the time. It seems likely that "Hoover Street" was named to align with Hoover School, but Janet seems to disagree...
"My Aunt said that Hoover School was there when they moved to that farm around 1933 right after the earthquake that torn down 17th school. She said it was built of bricks and they rebuilt it with wood. She said that the Hoover school had nothing to do with the Eucalyptus Street. She said that Eucalyptus trees ran all along the street to 17th Street to Garden Grove Blvd.

Grandpa moved on this farm after my great grandfather went blind and couldn't pay the taxes on the land. So my g-grandfather told my grandfather he could have the land if he paid the back taxes. So grandpa bought the land and bought a house for $100.00 and had the house moved to the land. But because of the rail road tracks he had to get a easement to move the house across the tracks and so he could get to his land. So he wrote the railroad and they granted his easement. Grandpa was the only farmer to have an easement from the Railroad on that street. 
Then in 1944-1946 grandpa (whole time my aunt grew up the street was called Eucalyptus St) went to the Santa Ana Court house to get a paper for all the neighbors to sign to change the name since no one knew how to spell the street name. After he got all the neighbors to sign it, he went back to the Court house and talked with a clerk and the clerk asked grandpa what he wanted to call the street if not Eucalyptus? Grandpa said something simple and they both came up with Hoover because of the president and it was simple to spell."
Crouch's Farm in Westminster, along what was then called, "Eucalyptus Street", and now called Hoover Street.  You can see the train running down the tracks. The street is on the other side of the train.  The people in photo are Margaret Crouch, Halsey's wife and Janet's grandmother, and Thelma Crouch, their daughter, who Janet refers to in her e-mail as her Aunt.
As it also turns out, the Mendez Family, who was the family behind the 1947 discrimination lawsuit, lived adjacent to Crouch's farm...
"My Aunt said that Hoover School was on the next street down and behind my grandfathers and the farm she grown up in. She called it in Mexican town. She said that the kids had there school and we had ours but they all played together and got along until the Mendez family put an article in the paper about the whites. The Mendez family (not sure that is how you spell it) lived right behind the farm. 
She said that many of the Mexican families loved my grandmother, the Lopez, Pena and Mendez family were some of her favorite families."
Curious to know if anyone here remembers Hoover Street in Westminster back when it was called Eucalyptus Street, and can add any more information about its name change?

Tuesday, December 03, 2013

Orange Fights in the Orange Groves

A Typical Orange Grove in Southern California
OCThen reader Philip Slocum shares his memories of when the Santa Ana Winds blew.  He and his childhood buddies would wander into the orange groves and throw fallen oranges at each other...
There was a tin weather strip across the bottom of the door to the patio. When the hot winds would start to blow, late at night, the strip would vibrate and make a noise that sounded like all the lost souls in the world were in the back yard. I wasn’t afraid. To me that sound meant that oranges were falling in the groves.  
Spring training would start the next day. No, not baseball. I’m talking Orange Fighting here.  
The Santa Ana’s were the precursor to all things good in my life. They signified the beginning of the Christmas season. For as soon as the City would put up the Christmas lights along the streets of Santa Ana. The Santa Ana winds would blow them down. We would ride our bicycles, like avenging demon’s, south along Flower Street. Blown by the roaring winds. Only to struggle interminably against those same winds on the way back. The temperature would soar and the sun would shine and the winds would blow and the surf was Off-Shore. This was at Christmas mind you.  
I firmly believe that half the people in Southern California are there because of watching the Rose Bowl with girls in Bikinis in the crowd while they were stuck in their back East houses, besieged by snow. (they all moved the next day.)   
And the fragrant groves called to us. The groves were a place where parents didn’t stand a chance in hell of finding you. A place where you could spot a Navel Orange tree at 100 yards. (Why do they taste so much better right off the tree?) The groves were the place we ran to.  
We were a ragtag bunch of would be surfers, ball players, astronauts, firemen and race car drivers. There wasn’t a President, School teacher, Lawyer or Accountant in the bunch. Birds fled at the sight of us. For projectiles flew from our hands with thoughtless accuracy. If it moved or stood still for that matter, it was a target. We wore hand down camies from our Marine Corps fathers. Shoes? Our bare feet were tougher than leather. As uncaring as Kevlar. And the Oranges streaked from our hands. On hot afternoons, in the early twilight or in the light of the full moon, we ran down the green passages and played our games of war. I remember my mother being shocked by the perfectly circular bruises on my body. (an unripe orange can hurt, ouch). Oh, how I miss those carefree days.

The Orange Growers hated us. We probably deserved their hate. After all, we were playing with their crops and livelihood. They carried cameras into the groves and placed photos of blurred faces on the bulletin board at the local grocery store. We would steal the photos off the board before our parents could see them. And these same growers would give us jobs tending the Smudge Pots later in the season when the temperatures dropped below the freezing point. Cash was hard to come by in those days. Yet our needs were simple. Indeed, life seemed somehow simpler then. Have I changed? Or has everything changed.

Sometimes I stop at an Orange Grove somewhere off the beaten track and just walk those green hallways. I smell that glorious smell and think of the friends I had then. Glen died of a Brain tumor. Ken passed with Cancer. Doug has become a famous surf board builder. Larry is a Corporate type in California. Steve builds freeway walls. And me, I run a very exciting book store in Vietnam. There are no Orange groves in Santa Ana any more. I wish that there were. I wish that the kids of today could have a little of the freedom that we had running through the groves in the hot Santa Ana winds. 
Philip R Slocum,
Known to the gang as Randy.
P.S. My apologies to the Orange Growers of Southern California

Monday, December 02, 2013

Bernie's Restaurant in Buena Park, CA

An Anonymous OCThen reader recalls eating at Bernie's Restaurant in Buena Park from the 1950s all the way until it closed up at its final location in La Habra...
How about Bernie's Restaurant on Beach Blvd. in Buena Park? 
In the mid 1950's when I attended Lindbergh Elementary School (at Stanton and 4th Street) we would, at lunch time, ride our bikes down 4th Street to Bernie's for lunch. Have a hamburger and a coke. Throughout the years, Bernie's was always there for breakfast and lunch. At one time it was even open for dinner.

In the 1970's I recall that Cliff would have a great New Year's Eve Party in the restaurant. At one of those parties Cliff went up to Mike Clewley and said, "I want no trouble here tonight, Mike, OK."

I often ate breakfast on Staurdays with my dad. As the years went by, we often ate breakfast on Sat. or Sun. I recall one man who would always wear a top hat and sat at the counter.

Connie and/or Paula would often work there too. These are Cliff and Jean's daughters. Calvin is Cliff and Jean's son and later on he ran the place. Kimmie even worked at Bernie's, Kimmie is the owner of the chain of Kimmie's Coffee Shops (restaurants) (in Fullerton, Orange, Brea, Placentia and also Reno, NV). The decor in Kimmie's Coffee Shops reflects that of Bernie's country style. It was Cliff's mother Bernie who originally started the restaurant. Artie worked there (Arthur Lucas) who was a Buena park resident. Pete, another Buena Park resident, also worked there.

Throughout the years Bernie's was always a place to go. But, alas, with the closure of some closeby businesses and certain demographic changes, the number of customers dwindled. Bernie's in Buena Park was eventually closed after being there for well over 50 plus years. Calvin moved the business to Harbor Blvd. in La Habra, but after a short while even that Bernie's was closed.
There is a short article about Bernie's Restaurant (the final location in La Habra) here:

There is also an detailed article about Kimmie (mentioned) above, which mentions Bernie's here:

OC Weekly published a brief review back in 2001, found here:

Anyone with memories, information, or photos to share about Bernie's, post a comment below or contact me.

Sunday, December 01, 2013

20th Century Limited, Costa Mesa, CA

20th Century Limited was a restaurant located in Costa Mesa, inside South Coast Plaza. It opened to the public on December 1, 1975.

It was named after the famous 20th Century Limited railroad line of art deco inspired construction. The railroad connected Chicago to New York and ran from 1902 to 1967.

The restaurant was decorated with all the same accoutrements of an art deco styled passenger train. The interior was made to look like Grand Central Station in New York. Towards the front of the establishment were traditional booths, while in the back were replica Pullman cars that you could dine in.

Restaurant patrons would walk down brick platforms strewn with prop luggage, giant black engines spewing steam, and dined aboard gently rocking train cars with rear-projected scenery outside the window and the click-clack sound effects of the train tracks.

A couple of OCThen reader had posted comments throughout the site in reference to 20th Century Limited...

Anonymous (June 14, 2006) - Does anyone remember a restaurant that was located inside South Coast Plaza from the 80's called 20th Century Limited? It was a restaurant inside an actual railroad car. I remember this only vaguely from childhood.

Anonymous (July 26, 2006) - I remember 20th Century Limited. I had lunch there with a friend and her mom when I was about 8 or so. The sugar bowls had multicolored sugar in them and I thought the whole train concept was so sophisticated!

Marianne Dow (July 15, 2008) - Remember the 20th Century Limited restaurant in South Coast Plaza - it was a real train car. Good times.

Anonymous (Sep 17, 2010) - Remember the 20th Century restaurant? The one inside the train?

Anonymous (Sep 21, 2012) - when I got married we went to the 20th century restaurant with the rail car motiff quite a bit...there are a lot of great memories for me at that mall...

Anonymous (Apr 22, 2012) - Other favorites over the years were the 20th Century Limited Dining Car Restaurant.

If anyone has a photo of 20th Century Limited, e-mail me here, and I'll add it to this page.

Post your memories of 20th Century Limited below...

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