Monday, February 9, 2015

The weekend

     Teddy went to the door and yammered. He wanted to go outside, to check things out, doing his hunting and sniffing thing. He loves it.

     It was a Saturday morning, and green grass dominated the canyons; the weather was spectacular, albeit a bit breezy. I put on some shoes and we went outside.
     Teddy cruised around a bit and ended up in the gravel zone just past the patio, much of which was bathed in sunlight. I sat on a chair on the edge of the patio while Teddy moved gradually to the furthest edge of the gravel zone, on the outside of the quasi-shed around the propane tank. Lots of deeply green grass was growing there, and Teddy generally seems to think it is an area worth investigating.
     I watched him. Recently, a coyote was spotted stalking Annie's cat, TigerAnn. He had been spotted several days running. So I knew I had to be especially careful to watch over my Buddy Boy.
     Suddenly, his actions became rapid and precise. He pounced. Then he hopped away from the grass and toward me.
     He had something in his mouth. A mouse.
     One must handle these situations carefully. I knew Teddy was likely only holding the mouse in his mouth and that it was thus far uninjured. That's de rigueur among cats.
     He walked toward me in no hurry. I moved toward him. Halfway across the gravel, he stopped and dropped the little mouse. Mr. Mouse seemed to be OK but perhaps dazed. It just stood there as though nothing was wrong, as though he were visiting relatives. (On the other hand, these field mice always seem wired and worried. It’s just their way.)
     Teddy acted as though everything was under control, like he was hanging with friends. Cats do that. He had brought the mouse to me, I know, as a kind of gift. "Look what I got us!" he seemed to say.
     The mouse looked so innocent and bewildered. It was in a daze, I suppose. It just stood there, next to the relatively enormous Teddy, unaware of the danger he was in. The scene was very poignant. I needed to do something.
     I distracted Teddy and then picked him up, taking the mouse out of danger, at least temporarily. I spoke with Teddy, thanking him for the mouse. "Boy, that's one great mouse you found for us," I said. Meanwhile, the mouse just stood there, looking up at me.
     Good grief.
     I kept talking with Teddy while urging the mouse, via foot movements, to move back to his hole over by the shed. The mouse was at first unresponsive, but, eventually, he did head in the right direction. I tried to keep track of him as he headed toward safety.
     Meanwhile, Teddy was complaining. Hadn’t something wonderful just happened? Hadn’t he just hunted and caught a critter and brought it for us to play with and eat? Hey! What's going on here?!
     Well, yes. I thanked him. But the mouse was, by then, just standing over the mouse holes over by the shed. “C’mon, dude,” I yelled. “Get in your goddamn hole!” Mr. Mouse just stood there, uncomprehending.
     I let Teddy drop down. He started sniffing around, sensing that something was amiss, unfinished.
     I distracted him. “C’mon, Buddy Boy, let’s go over here.” I headed in the other direction. With some reservations, Teddy followed. 

     After lunch, I was alone, more or less, with Ma, though Annie and Teddy were playing together in the living room. I raised the issue of Ma's diet. Several weeks ago, she was told that her cholesterol had suddenly climbed to dangerous levels. She needed to take anti-cholesterol drugs, change her diet.
     At the time, I had suggested that she develop five or so low-cholesterol meals and cook them for lunch. (Lunch is pretty much the only real meal Ma ever cooks these days.) Annie and I occasionally come by for lunch. I said, “A low-cholesterol diet would be good for all of us. So just cook these special meals, OK?”
     But, by now, it was clear that nothing was changing in Ma’s cooking. At today’s meal, she drew attention to some corn-on-the-cob she had made. This time, the corn was not dripping with butter. “See?” she said. "No butter!"
     But she had also cooked up a rice and shrimp dish, and it seemed to be swimming in butter. I said nothing.
     Somehow, the subject of grocery shopping came up. Ma was frustrated with Pa. Once a week, on Thursday mornings, the two head to Costco to buy groceries. Pa, says Ma, always insists on buying things that Ma doesn’t want to cook, and he objects to things that she wants.
     This is typical of these two. They've got a problem, but they won't deal with it directly. They won't let it be solved. It's like some kind of prime directive: do nothing to solve this problem that drives you nuts. Complain about it, slowly die from it, but never DO anything about it.

     “Why don’t you take control of the shopping?" I said. "You’re in charge of the kitchen; you’re in charge of cooking. Just tell him that you insist on completing the picture and controlling grocery shopping!”
     “I can’t do that,” she said.
     After a few minutes, it became clear that she simply wouldn’t be doing anything about these weekly shopping excursions that she dislikes so much. That was that. There was nothing that I could say or suggest.
     “But you’ve got to start cooking for your new condition,” I said. “And that means that you’ve got to start shopping for it, too. And that means you’ve gotta stop buying all this processed food that you’re always buying at Costco.”
     No. That wasn’t going to happen. It just wasn’t possible to do that, she said. She's got to cook for the (grand)kids. She's got to let Pa do what he does.
     “Yes, but you’ve got to address your cholesterol problem,” I said. "It's serious!"
     “I don’t have a cholesterol problem,” she answered.
     A took a pause. It was clear that the conversation would be a difficult one.
     I said: “I thought that you were told by your doctor that the blood tests showed that your cholesterol was very high!”
     Ma had an answer: “It was the first time ever that my cholesterol was high,” she responded.
     Again, I paused. Then:
     “OK, you haven’t had a cholesterol issue in the past, but you’ve got one now, right?”
     “No, I don’t,” she said. “It was the first time I’ve ever had high cholesterol.”
     At this point, Ma simply could not be reasoned with.
     I’ll cut to the chase. As often happens, Ma commenced expressing the perverse view that I was attacking her and "making trouble" by pressing her on her cholesterol problem. “Stop making trouble!” was her message to me expressed in a victim's lamentation.
     I had a suggestion. I said: “you’ll get another blood test soon. If your cholesterol is back down, I’ll drop the diet issue. But if it isn’t, I’ll be back on it.”
     She didn’t like that. But I suggested that we could just stop talking about this whole business if she’d agree to my compromise.
     She then said OK. Then she commenced complaining about my attacking her. I pointed out that, if she wanted to stop all this “trouble,” then she should let the matter drop.
     She did.
     I left.

     Days earlier, I had suggested that we go out to Ma’s favorite restaurant in San Juan Capistrano: the El Adobe. “How about Sunday?” I said.
     Ma commenced responding, as she often does these days, almost as though I were making trouble for her. She really didn’t know what to say, she said. It was all so very complicated, so difficult.
     But it wasn't. She's become quite the neurotic. Sometimes I'm afraid to tell her anything, 'cause she always finds a way to spin and fret.
     “Look,” I said. “I know you want to go out and that you love the El Adobe, so all you’ve got to do is see if there’s any reason Pa can’t go on Sunday. If he can’t, that’s fine. We’ll do it some other time.”
     She seemed to like that.
     So, by Saturday, it was on. Sunday. We'd leave at 1:00 p.m. OK, then.
     On Sunday, we headed south, the four of us, to SJC. We took the long way, through Rancho Santa Margarita, enjoying the lovely green hills. It was a beautiful day.
     We got to the restaurant, just catching the end of their lunchtime, after-church rush. Still, we didn't have to wait; they immediately showed us to a table in Ma's favorite section of the restaurant. I was pleased to find entertainment: a musician, singing and playing his classical guitar only ten feet away.
     He was good.
     The lunch went well. We had a good time, despite the deafness of two of us and the wackiness of all of us.
     The last time I took them to SJC, afterward, I brought them to the Wholesome Choice market over in Irvine. They seemed to like that. Exotica, delicatessena. So, this Sunday, after lunch at El Adobe, I took them up to that big Whole Foods Market in Tustin, near that big old blimp hanger. I chose a route taking us right through the San Joaquin range (the San Joaquin Toll Road), something I once vowed never to take for reasons environmental. I thought Ma and Pa would like it. I know they’d never been on that road, which affords a wonderful view, even of the ocean.
     But they didn’t seem to notice anything. I had to interrupt their trivial pursuits--my God these people can gossip hideously--so that they’d notice the view. Sheesh.
     Eventually, we got to the Whole Foods Market. I’m sure that neither Ma nor Pa have ever been to The District, the newish retail development on the site of the old Marine helicopter station (which closed in the 90s). I figured they’d like it there.
     They seemed to behave, however, as though Annie and I were forcing them to march through hell on the way to their execution.
     As we walked from the car to the market, Ma and Pa slowed down to a crawl, shuffling absurdly. When we got in the store, I pointed out the restrooms over to the right. They looked in that direction, but they didn’t seem to need to stop there.

     About 30 seconds (and fifteen steps) later, Ma turned to me and said that she needed to go to the restroom.
     “But I just showed you where that is,” I said.
     “That was a long time ago!” she insisted.
     Annie took them. They shuffled off.
     When they came back, still shuffling like centenarians, Annie suggested to me that Ma and Pa didn't want to be at this market. “Pa was snapping at me,” she said. "They seem in pain."
     Well, that seemed right. So I said, “Well, we’ve seen the store, let’s go.” We hadn’t seen anything yet, of course.

     We soon got out of there, shuffling all the way. 
     Pa was moving and talking as though he were on the edge of death. Once he got in the car, however, he explained to me that he was driving down to Ortega Highway tomorrow (Monday) to drop off a load of oak branches that he had cut yesterday.
     “Great,” I said.

     So why was he seemingly near death today? WTF? What's it all mean?

     This morning, Lisa and I got a chance to talk. I briefly described my adventures over the weekend. She has similar tales, of course, concerning Andrew's father, who seemed suddenly to sink into incompetence after his wife died.
     Lisa listened. She told me that she had just read Roz Chast's book about her family and parents. They were wacky, grew old, died. They were nutty immigrants. Her stories were wonderful
     "You've got to read it," she said.

From Roz Chast's book, Can't We Talk About Something More Pleasant?
     My folks think of themselves as a very special unit together, huddled together deep inside a cocoon. It is a unit that excludes other family members. Often, when conflicts erupt, I think, "It's them against the world," but the world outside the cocoon is often right.
     As they've grown older, they're retreated more frequently into their weird secret cloister, a world that is so private that they never think to explain it or refer to it, even to their children. Like Chast's elderly parents, my parents have lost even the skill to socialize, for they live really only with each other and their many eccentricities are unknown to them. "What's so odd about that?" Ma will say, as she cooks enough pasta for twenty people (she did that this morning), not for the three or four of us. "We can save what we don't eat! It's no problem!"
     I would say that, through much of their lives, on the surface, my dad was obviously the domineering one, though I do think that one really ought to probe below the surface. If my mom gets angry enough with my dad, she has her ways to get what she wants and to leave him decidedly on the defensive. I don't think I've ever seen these things go the other way. My mom can be fierce and terrible, an unmovable mountain of will. Yes, my dad makes daily endless unpleasant noises, but, in the end, when Ma has made like the rock of G, he's as silent as a lamb, all accomodation.
     Clearly, we're a family of lunatics.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Friendly friends

It was a day of "friendly friends," as Nelson used to say, way back when.
First, Kathie came over to visit The Boy.
Then Annie showed up.
Then we all rendezvous'd with Jan at "Rootin' Tootin's" in Orange

Annie and I noticed the back of this old building. 
Took a snap. Very cool.

Annie and Kathie, catchin' up, visiting the Boy

Now plastic smiles for me, boy.

Late lunch at Rutabegorz, Orange

We stayed pretty long. Darkness fell.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Been scribblin'*

Where you been, boy?
     The phone rings and provides only foolishness.
     Yes, the doctor, or his sweet nurse, called at 8:30 a.m. Where you been, boy? You need to come in! Good Lord!
     Lookin’ at the fine Teddy, thinking about love and betrayal, here on the still, big bed. Sad to think—is it betrayal to make him wait this long to go outside and play in the bright morning sun? Surely it comes close.
     Finally, almost in tears over the deep wonderfulness of the faithful Boy, I get up. Can feel the onions of last night’s stir fry, can feel the breeze of today’s mild Santa Anas. It’s a beautiful morning, and there is only the sound of wind and bugs and a distant jet.
     I grab this Mac and open the door. Teddy rushes out, an me, I’m listening to Clem Snide doing Journey. He finds beauty, that singer, where others find only parties and cheese. I swoon.
     Teddy once again needs direction and encouragement, and I’m glad to give it. Let’s examine this delicate grass, shall we? And this hill, and this hole in the ground. He looks up to me, he does. That Teddy boy, he does. "Dad? What do we do next?"
     Now he’s stalking around and sniffing the air, and I’m over here typing.

     And on and on, on and on.

Strangers waiting
Streetlight people
Some were born to sing the blues
In the night
Hold on to the feeling

*Went to Aaron Bros. Got a fine pen and some paper.
Drew shitloads last night. Didn't have a scanner and so I photographed some of these drawings. Then Photoshopped the crap out of 'em. Not good, but it's a start.

Monday, January 5, 2015

A gossamer Michelle Pfeiffer "connection"

     On this day [April 29] in 1958, future actress Michelle Pfeiffer was born in Santa Ana. The family later moved to Midway City and eventually Fountain Valley. Today's photo shows her swinging at a birthday pinata in the backyard of Felix and Vita Garcia, 8302 Peters St, Midway City, circa 1967. Thanks to Tim Castroreale for making this image available. —From OC History Roundup

     A close friend of mine during my UCI undergraduate days—and later—was Kathy Leonard (later, Kathy Pike, then Kathy Blanchard). Shockingly (I suppose), she was "dating" Prof. Nelson Pike even during her undergraduate years (which coincided with mine, more or less). Later, she was very much around during Kathie (Jenni) and my graduate student years, when she was with Nelson. She briefly tried Law School—she hated that—and eventually attended veterinary school (UC Davis), which she seemed to like. She practices veterinary medicine today in the Inland Empire. (And think she's now a grandma.)
     Back in the day, I spent some time at Kathy's mother's place—I think it was in Fountain Valley. Kathy's sister, Kris, was the best friend of none other than Michelle Pfeiffer. Evidently, Pfeiffer attended many of the parties that I attended, but I have no clear memory of her. Maybe Kathie does.
     At the time of these parties, Kathy's mom was divorced, and she lived with Kris and Kathy, when Kathy wasn't somewhere else. The parties were pretty wild, I guess, by my standards, but not by many others'. I recall Gerry Santas getting me seriously drunk one night on Ouzo. I woke up in some room at Kathy's place. Had a hangover literally for days. Kathy thought it was pretty dang funny. (I was known, I'm sure, for being very straight-laced. Also, they say I'm very funny when I've got a bad hangover. But I essentially stopped drinking years ago. Now I'm always as serious as a crutch, and just as funny.)
     There was some skinny-dipping, too. I recall that Jill Burroker (sp?) was involved in some of that. With Nelson, no doubt. Don't know who else. Pretty tame, I guess, by contemporary standards.
     Kathy and I "dated," I guess once or twice. I recall we saw Up in Smoke at a theater in El Toro (we snuck in some beers). I changed the oil on her car, a Honda Civic, once. At the time, I had no idea how she was connected with Nelson, who later became a mentor of mine.

Kathy (Leonard) and I, goofing around, on the the top floor of
Humanities Office Building, UCI, c. 1979
     Whatever, dude. It all passed right by my consciousness. (Wake up, Roy. At long last, wake up.)
     I seem to recall hearing that Kris's friend—Pfeiffer—was on a TV show during those days. I'm pretty sure that the TV show was Delta House, based on the film Animal House, which ran in 1979. I never saw it. Another failed comedy spewed forth by the Hollywood garbage factory. And things were pretty bad in those days. Not like now.
     Here's what Wikipedia has on Michelle Pfeiffer's early life:
Pfeiffer was born in Santa Ana, California, the second of four children of Richard Pfeiffer, a heating and air-conditioning contractor, and Donna (née Taverna), a housewife. She has one elder brother, Rick (born 1955), and two younger sisters, Dedee Pfeiffer, a television and film actress, and Lori Pfeiffer (born 1965). Her parents were both originally from North Dakota. Her father was of German, Dutch, and Irish descent, and her mother was of Swiss-German and Swedish ancestry. The family moved to Midway City, where Pfeiffer spent her childhood. She attended Fountain Valley High School, graduating in 1975. She worked as a check-out girl at Vons supermarket, and attended Golden West College. After a short stint training to be a court stenographer, she decided upon an acting career. She won the Miss Orange County beauty pageant in 1978, and participated in Miss California the same year, finishing in sixth position. Following her participation in these pageants, she acquired an acting agent and began to audition for television and films.
The Bauers—Edith: bottom left; Manny: top right—at Nelson's place in Laguna Beach, c. 1984. Nelson's mug is in the middle. Kathy's face is between Kathie Jenni's and Edith's, at bottom. Annie must've taken the pic. Also pictured: George and Karen Draper, Linda and Rod Jenks (and Annie's friend Alan).

P.S.: Yet another gossamer connection to a Hollywood star: I graduated high school with Kevin Costner. (See.) He was an asshole.
Another: I went to UCI at about the same time that Jon Lovitz did. I think I remember him. UCI was smallish in those days (early to mid seventies)

Monday, December 29, 2014

Bauers' Canyon: topo & fault maps

This map combines old topo and earthquake data with contemporary roads and
structures, some of which appeared after (sometimes long after) the topo maps were made.
The central shape here, defined by Santiago Canyon Rd. (at left) and Live Oak Canyn. Rd.
(middle and right) resembles the tip of a finger. Cook's Corner (biker bar) is the red triangle
at left; Bauers' Cyn. is the red blotch at right. I noted the local ridges in green.
As you can see, Bauers' Canyon is at about 1400 ft. elevation and is near some fault
Click on graphic to enlarge it.

     Yesterday, Manny noted that he had a cache of old maps that he seems to have acquired during his time with the water district. I asked to locate them and then I briefly examined them. Though the maps are part of a 1973 state report, much of the data they present is from much older data-gathering efforts, some going back to the 20s, some from the 60s.

This old map shows the same area as above plus the area to the west. The map is designed to show "slide" areas--which, typically, are not suited for construction. As you can see, there are no slide areas indicated on our side of the ridge, where Bauers' Cyn. is located, but there is a great deal of slide activity on the west side and the hills beyond further to the west. Naturally, there's been construction, sometimes massive construction, in those zones. It's amazing what years of legal effort by developers can do.

Saturday, December 27, 2014

1963 maps of our area in the Santa Anas

     As I indicated recently, I got ahold of my dad's 1963 Thomas Guide for Orange County. We've still got its front and back covers, though they have torn off of the wire binding. Aside from that, the guide is in good condition.
     I sought the maps depicting our area in Lambrose/Trabuco Canyon:

Click on graphics to enlarge
     I've indicated the approximate location of Bauers' Canyon with a blue dot at right. The location of Ron & Susan's place (today) is at left (just southwest of Jeffrey's northern terminus). (See "Ron & Susan" map below.)

     Here's the (1963) map to the east of the one above (note: there's overlap). Again, the X marks the approximate location of Bauers' Canyon. Observe that neither Hamilton Trail nor Hunky Dory are indicated on this map.
     Here's a contemporary map showing Ron & Susan's place:

Ron & Susan map

     At the risk of being accused of morbidness, I offer this unpleasant but interesting image that relates to these locations. It depicts the takeoff/flight path of the large Marine jet that crashed into Loma Ridge in 1965, an event that does figure into Bauer family lore.
     Just west of this area, in 1965, some famous UFO photos were taken. (See.)

The Newport Freeway, part II

     In yesterday's post, I suggested that the construction of the Newport Freeway (later called the "Costa Mesa" Freeway) could be viewed as marking the beginning of the end for old, rural Orange County. The opening of its first segment (from the Riverside Freeway [91] to Chapman Ave.) in January of 1962 occurred just a year or so after we moved into the area (our home was on the border between Orange and Villa Park, just west of Santiago Blvd.). The segment that continued to Costa Mesa was completed by 1967.
     Today, I got ahold of Pa's old Thomas Guide from 1963, and it answers some questions I had about what existed before the construction of the Newport Freeway. In those old maps, both the old Route 55 and the projected (or nearly completed?) extention of the Freeway to Interstate 5 (101, also the "Santa Ana Freeway") are indicated, which confuses me a bit. See below.
The green dot marks the spot of our
Orange home (1961-1976). See blue arrow.
     I was amazed to discover that the Newport Avenue of Tustin and Orange (which, as it travels northward, eventually runs into E. Santiago (near Irvine Park and the old Catholic cemetery) is the very same Newport Blvd. of the (unfortunately named) City of Costa Mesa! Or so my dad assured me. The freeway project is what finally separated that road into seemingly unrelated segments.
     As you can see above, the old (pre-freeway) Route 55 followed Tustin Ave. until it met with Newport Ave. in south Tustin, near the Marine Corps blimp/helicopter station with its famous hangers.
     From there, it was a straight shot, I guess, to Costa Mesa.
     Actually, here, the map begins indicating, not Newport Boulevard, but the "proposed" Newport Freeway, and so I'm not sure just where the pre-freeway Newport Boulevard was:

     My dad remembers driving through vast "bean fields" when he took this route back in the day.

Friday, December 26, 2014

The "Newport" Freeway (1962-present)

Newport Blvd., Costa Mesa, c. 1960—very near the existing terminus of the 55 freeway.
BTW: "Costa Mesa" is meaningless in Spanish. It was chosen by ignorant gringos.
     The Bauer Family saga would be incomplete without mention of Orange County's "Newport Freeway," the 55, which, since 1976, has gone by the name "Costa Mesa Freeway," a fact many of us old-timers have not quite caught on to.

(California) homes of the Bauers, 1960 to present.
(Newport Freeway in red)
Click on graphic to enlarge it
     The family moved from Vancouver, B.C. to California in (c. February) 1960, targetting the LA area. But Manny was told that the real jobs were down south, in Orange County, where much construction was occurring, and thus it was that we secured a rental in Anaheim—in north OC—on Academy Street (see map above). By April of 1961, the family managed to move to a new home (on Topaz Street) in a development ensconsed in orange groves in the part of the City of Orange (central OC), bordering Santiago Boulevard and the "city" of Villa Park. (Villa Park became a city, in the mid-60s, only to prevent annexation by the City of Orange.)
     Well, as it turns out, we moved to the Topaz home smack dab in the middle of construction of the new "Newport" freeway, which cut through a decidedly rural section of the county dominated by orange groves. I recall family walks, with Prince the dog, who was just nuts about oranges, in and around the development. It is a memory of quiet, country life, with old farms, thick orange blossom aroma, and long stands of fragrant eucalyptuses, still protecting the orange groves from wind. 
     Most of that disappeared fast after the opening the Newport Freeway in January of 1962. No doubt the county population saw its arrival as "progress." Now, it's hard not to see the freeway as among the first acts of betrayal of OC's rural ideal and self-conception, the initial heating of an eventually fully-boiled frog.

See green arrow: Academy Street in Anaheim.
Observe our proximity to Knott's Berry Farm (on Crescent
and Beach, just to the north). From our house, we could hear Richard
speaking there during the Nixon/Kennedy contest of 1960.
Map: Pa's 1963 Thomas Guide
     The freeway was perhaps a quarter of a mile to the west of our house, and, when opened, it provided a constant whooshing roar of cars and trucks breaking through air and spewing smog. (You can't imagine how bad the smog was in the 60s!) I don't recall anybody complaining much about that noise, which seems odd. Why wasn't everybody pissed off? Well, it was a different timethe beginning of the end, more or less. Hell, we only just got there!
     Below, I've assembled some factoids about the freeway and its development. The core facts are these: 
     Route 43 was established in 1931. It connected PCH to Corona/Riverside on surface streets (including Newport Ave. in Costa Mesa and Tustin Ave. in Santa Ana, Orange, and Olive). In 1959, the 43 was [truncated and] renumbered the 55, and construction of its first "freeway" segment soon began, completed in 1962. The Newport Freeway then stretched from the newly-renumbered 91 (aka  the Riverside Freeway) down to Chapman Avenue in Orange. In 1966, the (more or less) final section was completed, and the freeway now extended all the way south to Costa Mesa (Mesa Drive?). In 1992, it was stretched further south to 19th Street in Costa Mesa. Community opposition prevented completion of the final stretch to PCH. Right now, it would seem that completion of the initially-conceived freeway will never occur, owing to that opposition.
     The Garden Grove Freeway—the 22—was completed in 1967, connecting Orange/Santa Ana to Long Beach. The 55 is, of course, bisected by the San Diego Freeway (405) (see map). That construction occurred between 1964 and 1968, starting in the north. The original Highway 101, stretching between Mexico and Canada, was renamed Interstate 5 owing to the Eisenhower Interstate Highways Act of 1956. It, too, bisects the 55. Not sure when the 5 came to be known as the Santa Ana Freeway, though it was likely thus named from the start, since, at that time, the four-lane section was meant to connect Los Angeles and Santa Ana, the latter city being regarded OC's central town. Nowadays, it is regarded by many in the white population of OC as an enormous, unattractive barrio. It seems to me that OC is increasingly polarized between the immigrant-heavy north and the very white and wealthy south. The 55 seems to provide the (rough) dividing line between these different worlds.

Olive Hill, turn of century
     1. I worked right along the 55 in my summer job of 1975. I was employed by a Mr. John Haight, who owned a Mobil station on 4th Street/Irvine Blvd.--on the east side of the freeway. The job was all I expected it to be, a real education in some ways. Haight was quite the racist, though he usually wasn't very open about it. Once, I told him that a customer had cheated me out of 5$ (something like that). "Was he black?" asked Haight. "Well, yes he was," I answered. (Blacks were actually rarely seen in OC in those days.) "They're all like that," he said. "Remember that." I knew that disagreement would be both pointless and likely very bad for me. So I said nothing. I recall that, ironically, Haight routinely sang the chorus to "Ease on Down the Road" from the African-American musical "The Wiz" (1974).
     My best friend at the station was a guy named Mike, a Chicano. He was the oldest son (?) in a nice family that lived in El Modeno, just off Chapman. He introduced me to the nighttime work culture: after work (at midnight or a little later), he'd need to wind down with a meal and a beer, purchased at a 7-11 or worse. We'd do that together and then park in all sorts of interesting places around town. He had a nice old Impala and I had my cherry '66 Bug. On my car stereo, I played the newly-released "Dark Side of the Moon" and he'd play--well, I really don't remember. I really liked him and was kinda sad to quit at the end of the summer, somehow knowing I'd never see Mike again.
     2. At some point during the 60s, a K-Mart, that symbol of commerce and cheapness, was built immediately behind the freeway relative to us. The freeway, of course, was a kind of noisy, stinky wall or fortress that, somehow, is not quite seen for what it is, a Maginot Line, a blunder, a disaster. K-Mart stores are similar disasters whereever they are placed. Growing up near a K-Mart is a kind of misfortune, I think, especially if you routinely enter it and are molded by its mentality of bright, cheap emptiness.
     Our development was defined by Santiago Boulevard to the east, Taft St. to the south, the 55 to the west, and Meats St. (yes "meats" street) to the north. The freeway went over Taft but it went under Meats, and thus there was an absurdly massive overpass on the latter road and we (kids) would climb it on our way to the intersection of Meats and Tustin. I recall visiting what used to be called a "five and dime" store there, a "TG & Y." It wasn't much. I bought plastic models there. I enjoyed making, at first, model dinosaurs. Later, I specialized in military aircraft. I have always had a fascination with military hardware. Still do.
     In the very early days (c. 1961), there was a chicken ranch on Meats, just across from our development. I recall that Edith bought eggs there. That parcel later became dominated by a Lutheran High School, founded in 1973.

     3. The 55 ends, roughly, in the area of Olive Hill. Crowded between Olive Hill (a small quasi-town) and the 55 is the intersection of Tustin and Nohl Ranch Road/Lincoln, the site (slightly to the west, on the north side of Lincoln) of "the old brickyard," a memorable old structure from my first years in Orange (see photo above). Despite its charms, the brickyard was knocked down in favor of a park--Eisenhower Park--and a relatively pleasing strip-mal called "The Brickyard," which sits on the northwest corner of the intersection (of Tustin/Lincoln). I do believe that the pond that always sat next to the original brickyard was retained when the park was constructed. At any rate, there's a lovely pond there now.
     Ray's notorious "trouble" began perhaps in 1974, when I got a call from the police one Saturday morning that Ray had punched a cop in Eisenhower Park while on LSD. He was (I believe) 13 years old at the time.

Annie and I visited the Eisenhower Park pond a few years ago
     4. Family friends, the Stolps--of murder-suicide infamy--lived in a very nice neighborhood atop Olive Hill, overlooking the canyon and the 91 freeway.

* * *

1. Orange County Transportation Authority: Costa Mesa Freeway

State Route 55
     The Costa Mesa Freeway, State Route 55 (SR-55), was originally constructed in 1962 as a four lane (two in each direction) highway. Within the next ten years one additional lane was added in each direction.
     In 1985, Orange County's first carpool lane was added between the I-405 and the SR-91 freeway. The freeway was also extended to 19th Street in Costa Mesa in the late 80's.
     With the help of Measure M, Orange County's half cent sales tax for transportation improvements, along with additional state and federal dollars, the face of the SR-55 continued to change.
     In late 1995, the freeway was widened between the SR-22 and McFadden Avenue, with a direct carpool lane connector between the I-5 and SR-55.
     From 1996 to 2002, Caltrans and OCTA completed the addition of one lane in each direction between the I-5 and the SR-91. Currently, the freeway has a total of five lanes in each direction including the carpool lane and provides enhanced traffic flow to more than 300,000 motorists traveling the freeway each day.
     Thanks to Measure M, the half-cent sales tax approved by voters in 1990, $1.5 billion worth of improvements have been made to the Santa Ana Freeway (I-5) during the past 20 years. The Renewed Measure M (M2) Freeway program promises to earmark another $1 billion for SR-55 improvements in central and north Orange County….

2. Wikipedia: California State Route 55

     State Route 55 (SR 55) is an 18-mile (30-km) long north–south highway in the U.S. state of California. The portion of the route built to freeway standards is known as the Costa Mesa Freeway ([1976;] formerly the Newport Freeway). SR 55 runs between Finley Avenue south of Pacific Coast Highway (SR 1) in Newport Beach and the Riverside Freeway (SR 91) in Anaheim to the north, intersecting other major Orange County freeways such as SR 22, SR 73 [mostly, the toll road going through the San Joachin Hills], and Interstate 405 (I-405). The freeway passes through suburban Orange County.
     SR 55 was first added to the state highway system in 1931, known as part of Legislative Route 43, and was routed on surface streets. It was renumbered SR 55 in 1959, and the construction of the freeway portion began in the 1960s and continued until 1992. Due to congestion, several alternatives are being discussed to expand the freeway portion past its current end in Newport Beach. SR 55 received the first carpool lane in Orange County in 1985, and the first direct carpool ramp in 1995.
. . .

     SR 55 was built in 1931 and originally numbered Route 43. It was built from the southern terminus of SR 1 (the Pacific Coast Highway, or "PCH") and continued northbound on roughly the same route it follows today, following Newport Road (today Newport Boulevard) northeast to Tustin, and then Tustin Avenue north to near its current terminus at SR 91. From here, Route 43 continued east on what is now SR 91 towards Riverside. In 1959, the highway was renumbered as Route 55, and its route was shortened from Route 1 to the also-renumbered Route 91. The freeway portion from Chapman Avenue to SR 91 opened on January 18, 1962, at a cost of $4.6 million (about $73.2 million today). The segment between SR 73 and Chapman Avenue opened in 1966.
     SR 55 was the first freeway in Orange County to receive carpool lanes, opened in October 1985 between I-405 and SR 91. The stretch of SR 55 between Mesa Drive and 19th Street in Costa Mesa was opened in 1992; plans to extend SR 55 freeway south from 19th Street to State Route 1 were never realized due to community opposition, fueling an amendment to the city charter to prevent this extension.
     In 1995, the direct carpool lane ramps between I-5 and SR 55 were completed; these were the first in Orange County. The year also saw further widening of SR 55 between SR 22 and McFadden Avenue. Between 1996 and 2002, the fifth lane in both directions was constructed between I-5 and SR 91, funded with a sales tax of half a cent approved by Measure M. In April 2007, the Orange County Transportation Authority approved funds to study the feasibility of extending the Costa Mesa Freeway south to 17th Street via tunnels or flyover ramps. The segment of SR 55 from Finley Street to the Newport Channel bridge was legally authorized to be turned over to the city of Newport Beach in 2009.
     SR 55 was formerly called the Newport Freeway. In 2010, the stretch between Chapman and Katella avenues in the City of Orange was renamed the Paul Johnson Freeway for longtime local radio television traffic reporter Paul Johnson, who died the same year.

See green dot at lower right (and blue arrow). It indicates our home on Topaz
St. in Orange. The blue dot well below it indicates Patton's Market.
From Pa's 1963 Thomas Guide
3. Suburbanization in the Post-WWII era [The Open Computing Facility for UC Berkeley students]

     At the end of World War II, the Santa Ana Army Air Base (SAAAB) was no longer needed by the military and was closed. The buildings soon became used as the campuses for Orange Coast and Santa Ana Junior Colleges. The many servicemen who were trained and stationed at SAAAB came to enjoy the wonderful air and climate of the Orange County region. So after the war, these servicemen brought their families to Orange County to start their new lives. A rapid increase in city population occurred. The growth can be seen clearly in Garden Grove. The city only incorporated in 1956 with a population of 46,000. By 1962, the population was nearly 130,000. In a span of only 37 years, the population of Orange County multiplied tenfold, from roughly 200,000 in 1950 to more than 2,000,000 in 1987 (Kling, Poster, and Olin, 1991:2).
     The Red Cars promoted growth in Orange County during the first half of this century. However, with the increase of automobile traffic competing with the Red Car's right of way, the trolleys slowly began to fall out of use. Ridership by the 1940's declined rapidly and by 1950 service was stopped on the last remaining Orange County lines to Santa Ana and Huntington Beach. The last Red Car pulled into Long Beach in 1961. It was the end of the trolley era and the beginning of the freeway era. This tool aided the growth of Orange County during the post-war years. In the early 1950's, US Route 101 was upgraded to a four-lane freeway, providing quick and easy access from Santa Ana and Anaheim to Los Angeles. This allowed workers to be able to live farther away from the central city than was previously possible. After the Eisenhower Interstate Highways Act of 1956, US Route 101 was re-signed as Interstate 5, which stretched from San Diego to the Canadian Border. Another early freeway was US Route 91, resigned CA-91, the Riverside Freeway. Built in the mid-1950's and finished in 1960, the freeway went from the Santa Ana Freeway (US-101, I-5) to about Imperial Highway. Other freeways built in the 50's include the Costa Mesa Freeway (also known as the Newport Beach Freeway, CA-55), finished in 1962. The Garden Grove Freeway (CA-22) was built in the early 1960's, and served to alleviate traffic on Garden Grove Blvd., was finished in 1967. It is one of the few freeways in the Southland that has not undergone lane additions since it was built. The San Diego Freeway (I-405) was built from about 1964-1968 in Orange County. The progress went from north to south. Throughout this time of mass freeway building, the Riverside/Artesia Freeway (CA-91) was extended from the Santa Ana Freeway (I-5) to the Harbor Freeway (I-110, formerly CA-11 and US-6) in the late 60's. There was much less freeway building in the 1970's, due in most part to environmental concerns as well as lack of funds. However, the Orange Freeway (CA-57) was completed in 1976, and the Corona del Mar Freeway (CA-73) was completed in 1979 (the free part, up to MacArthur Blvd.).