SAAAB graduate Ralph Welsh (1943) has compiled 150 vignettes in Wow!, an anthology depicting the trials, triumphs, and daily lives of B-24 bomber pilots during World War II. Third-hand reports and interviews provide context, but the beating heart of the book is found in the vivid recollections of the pilots themselves. Highlights include the author’s original diary of his 33 missions over France and Germany in 1944, the lively account of a downed pilot who managed to escape from behind enemy lines not just once, but twice, and a talk between Albert Speer, the Nazi minister in charge of producing armaments, and Lt. Gen. Ira C. Eaker and Arthur G.B. Metcalf, the men whose job it was to destroy them. Both WWII buffs and casual readers will find something of interest here. Wow! is also available as a two volume set, Bombs Away!, and is on hand at the Costa Mesa Historical Society Museum.
College Center is a $2 million shopping complex that first opened in 1965 on the corner of Harbor and Adams near OCC. It is perhaps best known as the site of the West Coast’s first Howard Johnson’s Restaurant (later a Ground Round and now Coco’s) and as Pier 1 Imports’ home for the past 49 years. Less noticed is the College Center Office Building (AKA San Joaquin Office Building or Harbor Plaza) which is interesting in its own right.
If you were one of the several dozen smart shoppers who visited the Costa Mesa Historical Society on Sunday, February 18, you know the difference between “vintage” and “rummage”. Everything from school yearbooks to picture frames, small furniture pieces to historic bric-a-brac was available at reasonable prices. The sale of these collectible items not only generates cash for your society, but also frees up storage space at the society building. OK, you’re a smart shopper but missed the sale. No worries — get yourself down to the society museum ASAP to see what’s left to buy. Last call!
Changes are coming to the west side of the Costa Mesa Historical Society building. In the middle of February, the west yard was stripped of its trees and turf to make way for a stormwater reservoir and parking lot in connection with the new public library and community center projects at Lions Park.
Although we are sorry to see the trees go, the society still has eleven mature trees on its east and north sides. Another “benefit” of the tree removal is better visibility of our signage from Anaheim Avenue. Stay tuned for further progress reports.
Although boatbuilding has played a critical part in Costa Mesa’s economic history, it’s a chapter that’s largely been overlooked. Until now.
Those of you who have visited our museum may have seen our harmonium reed organ. However, of those who have seen it, only a percentage have read the story posted above it explaining how we obtained it. Even if you did read it, there is still part of the story you haven’t heard.
This year marks the 100th anniversary of the 1918 influenza, one of the worst pandemics in history, which claimed the lives of up to 100 million people and infected 500 million worldwide. About 300 died out of Orange County’s population of 30,000. While the mortality rate here was lower than elsewhere, the demand for nurses still outstripped the supply, leading the chairman of the Santa Ana Red Cross to plead for volunteers to “meet the call of humanity” and tend to the sick.
Alice King (later Eastman), a young philanthropist from Costa Mesa, answered the call. But it didn’t turn out the way she expected. Decades later, she told the story to our own Mary Ellen Goddard:
Your historical society held its annual Installation Dinner on January 26. Attended by nearly sixty society members and friends, the evening event was held at a new venue — the famous Newport Rib Company. After President Dave Gardner’s welcome, attendees enjoyed a buffet dinner which included BBQ tri-tip and chicken. Following the meal, speaker David Whiting took the audience on a “Race for the Wall,” a heart-warming tour of Vietnam vets riding motorcycles from Rancho Cucamonga, California, through America’s heartland, and on to the Vietnam Veterans’ Memorial in Washington, DC. According to Whiting, a columnist for the OC Register, riding with the vets was “the best thing I’ve ever done.”
The final order of business was the installation of society officers and board members for the 2018 term. Experienced “installer” and former mayor Mary Hornbuckle conducted the ceremony with warmth and wit. Not leaving anything to chance, Hornbuckle also “installed” the audience to support the officers and board members throughout their 2018 terms.
After the installation, President Dave Gardner closed the meeting with his humorous monologue honed through decades of experience with Toastmasters International. — ART GODDARD
February 18, 2018, 1-4 p.m.
Join the Costa Mesa Historical Society February 18th for its second annual Bring a Friend event. This free event is being held at the Costa Mesa Historical building at 1870 Anaheim Avenue, Costa Mesa in Lions Park near the Donald Dungan Library. Last year’s offering was well-received and considered a great success. On sale will be rare local history books and other printed materials, framed historical pictures, vintage clothing, and dozens of picture frames of all sizes — including panoramic sizes, most with glass. Locals will love the large collection of yearbooks from the Newport-Mesa intermediate and senior high schools and Orange Coast College. Everyone is welcome to browse and will surely find books and other items of interest at prices from 50 cents to $75.
At the same time, you will be able to present and record stories about Costa Mesa’s unique past. Seating will be provided to those who wish to listen to these interesting tales. As always, everyone is invited to browse the museum, relax, and have refreshments.
There is free parking next to the historical society building. For more information, email us or call 949-631-5918.
The Costa Mesa Sanitary District (CMSD) recently commended the historical society for 50+ years of preserving and promoting local history. At their December 12, 2017 board meeting, the CMSD Directors presented a proclamation to historical society representatives Art and Mary Ellen Goddard. In part, the proclamation noted the society’s years of voluntary community service, our museums and research capabilities, and our partnership with the Sanitary District for wrapping the District’s utility boxes with historical images. Thank you, Costa Mesa Sanitary District!
You can see the Pump Station historical images at: cmsdca.gov/index.php/wastewater/pump-station-art-history