Catching up

I've been too busy to blog much lately. But I decided I was going to give myself a break this weekend. So here's a little photo essay showing a few of the places I've been instead of in front of my computer in recent weeks. I start with the photo above, from the Silent Movie exhibit that ate more time than anything else. More about that later. In fact, I'll probably write more about all these things in future blog posts. On April 20th, David McIntosh took me, some of his family, park ranger Lorrie Zuczek, and a few others on a historical tour of undeveloped portions of O'Neill Park. It was a fascinating trek back to the days of the homesteaders -- including his family -- in what is still wild and beautiful country. We saw the remains of old homes, ranches, reservoirs and other historical features amid the forest of oaks and sycamores. In the photo above, David tells us how some of the area's "vernal pools" weren't so "naturally occurring" after all. His son (and regular Roundup reader) Doug looks on in the background.
Afterward, Lorrie took Phil Brigandi and I over to the Trabuco Adobe (1810), which was an outpost for the cattle operations of Mission San Juan Capistrano. Not much is left, and even the few remaining walls took another hit in last winter's storms. In the photo below, you can see the wood shelter that protects the remaining portion of the building.

On April 28th, I went to the estate sale at Bud Hurlbut's house. Estate sales always make me uncomfortable -- but I did end up with a couple boxes of materials that I felt complimented the many documents, photos, etc, the Hurlbut Estate is already graciously giving to the Orange County Archives. It's better to see these things kept together (where they'll be cared for and made available for research) than scattered to the four corners of the earth. The photo below shows the exterior of Bud's home in Buena Park, after the big crowds had subsided.

The following day, I went to Bud's office to pick up additional materials from the Estate, including Bud's diaries. This will be an important Archives collection long after I'm gone.

On May 1st, I set up booths for both the Archives and the Orange County Historical Society at Rancho Fiesta Day at Heritage Hill Historical Park in El Toro. Luckily, some great volunteers manned the Society booth all day, so I didn't need to be in two places at once. (Thanks to Adam England, Daralee Ota, and Don Dobmeier!) The photo below shows one of the programs that day.

Later in the afternoon, Adam and I went over to Cook's Corner. I'd never actually been IN this famous/infamous 1930s-era back-country watering hole before, and neither had Adam. We were the only ones in the place NOT dressed as bikers. In fact, we were wearing our cowboy duds from Rancho Fiesta Day. Nobody even raised an eyebrow at us. Not even the leather-clad gal carrying an albino boa constrictor around the patio.

The following day, April 1st, I heard the bad news about the burning of the Huntington Beach Women's Club and rushed over to assess the situation and take some photos. I already blogged about that earlier, so I won't rehash it all.

That afternoon we had a Saturday open house at the Archives, which was well attended.

But what really took over our lives for a long time was preparation for the opening of "On Location: Silent Films in Orange County." If I started thanking people for their help with this, the list would be very long indeed -- so those thanks will appear elsewhere. (Or at least they'll appear later.) The exhibit will run through Aug. 5th, upstairs in the Old Orange County Courthouse.

The photo below shows Archivist Susan Berumen with Mr. & Mrs. Harder at the show opening. (Remember the wonderful Ann Harder from the Santa Ana History Room? She now works for the O.C. Law Library.) About 50 or 60 people came to the opening night shin-dig -- Mostly friends of the Archives. I'll definitely write more about the exhibit later.

Just two more photos from the exhibit's opening reception: The photo above shows one of my favorite bits of the exhibit before the doors opened to the pubic. Yes, that's Zorro in old Capistrano. And the photo below shows Jim Sleeper signing copies of his book, Great Movies Shot In Orange County That Will Live Forever (Or At Least Until 1934).

The next day didn't provide much rest either. I already had plans to see the Ramona Pageant, which has been an annual event in Hemet since 1923. Luckily, my friend Stephanie George (of COPH) was willing to drive, so that helped a bunch. Click on the photo from the Pageant's "Fiesta Scene," below, to see if you can spot an Orange County historian making a cameo appearance. (It's like Where's Waldo.)

The Pageant is long, still a little 1920s-ish, and features uncomfortable seats (bring bleacher seat pads or rent a cushion outside) -- but it is definitely something every Southern Californian should see at least once. It has some wonderfully talented performers and great music, it teaches us about the cruelty of the Indian removals, and it uses an entire valley (no lie!) as its stage. Also, they encourage you to consume tacos and margaritas while you watch. Plus, it has a fun community vibe, with what seems to be half of Hemet pitching in to help in one way or another.

The following Monday, May 9th, I took a few hours of comp time to visit a friend from out of town who was in South O.C. We had lunch in San Juan Capistrano and then we milled around the Los Rios District. The photo above shows the Silvas Adobe, built in the 1790s. The plaque outside tells us "this is a typical example of the dozen or more one-room adobes in the Los Rios district. San Juan Capistrano was the first Mission to allow workers to live outside Mission grounds."

And finally, this last photo shows the panel discussion at the Orange County Historical Society on Thursday night. I think this discussion about the remaining buildings from the Japanese community at Wintersburg was an excellent first step toward preservation. The panelists in the photo above (left to right) are Rainbow Disposal COO Jerry Moffett, CSUF Professor of History Emeritus Dr. Art Hansen, historian and former Japanese American National Museum associate curator Dr. Carla Tengan, and Orange County historian Phil Brigandi.

Rainbow Disposal, the current property owners, seem to be very encouraging of our desire to see the buildings saved. Also, I think everyone came away from the meeting knowing a lot more about the site's importance than we did before.

Well,... That's a little peek at just some of the stuff I've been up to recently. My thanks to everyone involved in this mad whirl of activity. I'm looking forward to seeing what's next.

(By the way,... For those who WANT to get out and do something this weekend, there's a lot going on, including the historic home tour in Anaheim.)