In 1999, the Costa Mesa Historical Society recognized Roy E. June with a Living Memorial Award for his work as Costa Mesa’s City Attorney and for his contributions to volunteer organizations throughout the area. Born in Montana in 1922, June first arrived in Costa Mesa as a cadet at the Santa Ana Army Air Base (SAAAB). In the late 1950s, tired of the cold, he returned to Orange County with his wife. Soon he found work at the law firm of then-city attorney Donald Dungan, later being hired on as city prosecutor, then rising from acting city attorney to city attorney himself, a position he held for 11 years. He “retired” in 1977, but it was hard to tell. It’s said he set a record for incorporating the most non-profit corporations in Orange County — including our own society. The following lightly edited excerpts were taken from his 1978 oral history.
On arriving in California after receiving orders for SAAAB
I was told to pack a suitcase with one change of clothing and razor and one shaving brush and one toothbrush and toothpaste and that was it. We first came to the Union Station in Los Angeles. I had come from Montana where the snow was about two or three feet deep at the station when I left, and got off the train in Union Station to see the green grass, orange trees, and palm trees. I will never will forget that. I wanted to go pick oranges immediately.
June earned the Distinguished Flying Cross for service in the Pacific theater, flying fighter-strafer and escort missions over Iwo Jima and Japan.
I flew one mission after the bomb had been dropped on Hiroshima and I can recall flying near that area—not over, but near it—and I could look down where there was supposed to be a city. There was just a huge black spot on the earth. I was probably 25 or 30 miles away from it.
As city prosecutor, June saw some interesting cases, including this one about Newport Beach’s policy of no beer on the beach.
There was down there what they called the “Mole Patrol” — police officers in bathing suits who went up and down the beach and wrote citations for people who were found drinking beer on the beach. Here was a German national who was in this country as a visitor, visiting some of his family in Newport Beach and he went down with a group of people and had a six-pack of beer sitting right out on the sand. He got arrested or cited. We tried the case before the jury, the whole thing through the interpreter. The German national, about all he could say was that he didn’t think he was guilty of anything. He wasn’t drunk and there weren’t any signs around saying he couldn’t drink beer. I felt sorry for him and I was hoping that the jury would find him “not guilty,” but they didn’t. So [Judge] Christiansen waved benignly and benevolently fined him and suspended the fine and asked him to drink his beer at home rather than out on the beach.
June developed a rapport with the police department as city prosecutor in the mid-1960s. Many anecdotes illustrate his pride in the department.
We were the second city in California, the first in Orange County, to use sound-motion pictures on drunk driving cases. The guy would go and get his attorney and they would fight this all the way down to zero. I would say, “Fine. Did you know that your client starred in a rather interesting picture the other day?” So the attorney would go over and see the drunk driving film and then the attorney would call up and say, “What is the judge doing on sentencing these days?”
The new city hall, fire house, and golf course required the issuance of new bonds. But the process to transfer the signed bonds from Costa Mesa to the trustees in San Diego ran into a little problem.
Once these bonds were all signed, they then became worth $3,490,000. So after the signing was all done, it suddenly occurred to me. “How are you going to get these to San Diego?” The trust officer said, “Oh my God. I never thought of that.” I said, “You are not going to just put them in the back of your car and go sailing off towards San Diego with $3,490,000 in bonds.” He turned as white as a sheet of paper. He was almost stammering. He said, “I guess I had better call my boss.” I said, “Do you want your boss to know that we hadn’t planned on this?” Finally we decided that we would get the Costa Mesa Police Department and the arrangement was made that we would put half of the bonds in the trust officer’s car with one police officer and we would put the other half of the bonds in a police car with another trust officer’s car. On the way, before they left, I said to Ed Glasgow, the Assistant Chief of Police, “Ed, what is your armament? How are you ready to protect this?” He opened the trunk of the car and there was a machine gun. I said, “OK, that is good enough!”
June explains why some old timers know the section of Placentia from the high school to Adams as “Estancia Drive.”
There was a large delegation of people who came from Mesa Verde down to the Council one day. “We don’t like Placentia,” [they said]. “We want Estancia because it is near the Estancia and also near Estancia High School.” Well, they asked me to go find out how the street was named. Well, I started to trace it back and I found out that as part of a lawsuit to condemn the property with the State of California [for Fairview Hospital] and to get the right-of-way, I had to have a map to describe the streets. Some engineering draftsman had, just for temporary identification purposes, called it Estancia Drive because it started at Estancia High School. It is all resolved now. But there are still those people in Mesa Verde who say absolutely that it is Estancia Drive and they are not going to call it Placentia at all.
June drafted incorporation paper for the Costa Mesa Playhouse and numerous other groups, including the historical society.
I did that for my good friend Charley Priest. The Segerstrom family had the choice of just plowing the [adobe] under and making it part of a subdivision or giving it to the city. The city wanted a vehicle that could accept it and one that could buy insurance and one that could raise funds. The city wanted public participation and couldn’t very well raise funds through public solicitation so we decided that we would form a historical society and incorporate it as a non-profit corporation.
Despite moving out of Costa Mesa later in life, he continued to feel pride in the city.
I think Costa Mesa is, without a doubt, the best city in Orange County from the standpoint of fiscal responsibility and from the standpoint of personnel and quality of leadership that, with few exceptions, has been elected since the city was formed.
Even after retirement, June couldn’t stop working.
I have to get out of the house and do something. I am not the type of person who can sit and vegetate. The idea of sitting looking at a wall for more than five minutes panics me.
Take a trip back in time in an interactive Orange County history experience!
Stop by our booth at this fun event presented by the Orange County Historical Society! There will be tons of great activities:
• Live Reenactments of some of Orange County’s iconic historical figures.
• Tours of H. Clay Kellogg House
• Scheduled Talks presented by local historians
• Live Music from the Lillies of The West string band
• Exhibits featuring OC historical and genealogy societies
• “Storytellers Corner” where long-time residents share their personal local histories.
• Open House at the OC Historical Society Archives located on site.
• Nature Tours of Gospel Swamp
• Silhouette Artist on hand
• Food Trucks and Refreshments throughout the day
• Free Parking!
Click below for the full brochure.
Presented by the Orange County Historical Society
Help us celebrate Early California Days in Estancia Park. This popular annual event will feature the following:
- Free tours of the second oldest building in Orange County.
- A free talk on the 250th anniversary of the Portola Expedition by historian Phil Brigandi.
- Free mobile recreation booth and games for the kids.
- Free kid-friendly activities. Make your own corn husk dolls and friendship bracelets and visit the coloring station.
- Free folk music by the Sweetwater Creek Band.
- Free cookies and sample Coffee Bean iced drinks.
- PLUS $2 TACOS from El Toro Bravo!
We hope to see you there!
EARLY CALIFORNIA DAYS
Hosted by the Costa Mesa Historical Society
Saturday, June 1, noon – 3 p.m.
1900 Adams Ave
(at Placentia and Adams)
Free parking, admission and refreshments.
View the full flyer below:
You may have heard of the postwar Japanese-Costa Mesans like the Sakiokas and the Iwamotos. But how much do you know about the Japanese families who lived here before World War II – the Hiratas, Yamamis, Omoris, Ikedas, and Kuriharas?
The Costa Mesa Historical Society and the Friends of the Costa Mesa Libraries are pleased to co-host noted author STAN PAHER as our speaker on Sunday, April 28, 2019, as he presents another of his acclaimed programs on ghost towns.
Willard T. Jordan (1913-1981) is perhaps best known for his public service, both in politics and in philanthropy. Not only did he serve as mayor from 1966-68 and as councilman for a decade, he received, among other honors, the OCC’s Outstanding Citizen’s Award for Distinguished Community Service and Man of the Year awards from both the Costa Mesa Chamber of Commerce and the City of Santa Ana.
“I never heard anybody say anything but the very best about him,” said local historian and friend George Grupe. “And that’s hard to happen to you if you’re the mayor of the city.”
With such an honored public reputation, it’s easy to forget that privately, Jordan, AIA, was a prolific architect. Nevertheless, he designed many Costa Mesa landmarks over the course of his 30-year career.
In a 1978 interview with the historical society, Jordan was asked which of his buildings he was most proud of. Sadly, developers haven’t been kind to his legacy. Much is now lost. Below we find out what has befallen this significant Costa Mesa architect’s favorite projects .
330 West Bay Street
This award-winning facility served as the home of the Daily Pilot for nearly six decades. But after the newspaper moved to the LA Times building in 2004 the structure was demolished to help ‘revitalize’ the area, as was said at the time. It is now the home of a housing development, the Bungalows of Bay Street.
2803 Royal Palm Drive
Built in 1961, Fire Station No. 1 once served as the headquarters for the Costa Mesa Fire Department. In 2017 it was determined the structure — by then aging, cramped, out of date, and out of code — would be cheaper to rebuild than to renovate. A new $10-million, 11,740-sq. ft., state-of-the-art station opened in the summer of 2018.
2850 Mesa Verde Drive East
Jordan designed this medical, dental, and professional building in the early 1960s. In 2017, the Costa Mesa Planning Commission determined the site was “not an efficient use of land and really no longer functional”. The building was demolished to make way for 11 new houses in phase 2 of the Miraval housing development.
2600 Harbor Boulevard
The iconic Nabers Cadillac earned Jordan an “Award of Honor” in 1968 for its creative, functional, and dramatic use of concrete. “Nabers Cadillac is probably as good as I have ever designed,” said Jordan in 1978. In 2014 the building was demolished by Orange Coast Buick GMC Cadillac and replaced by a “state-of-the-art dealership with 32 indoor service bays and two ‘Internet-driven’ showrooms.”
The Costa Mesa Historical Society is pleased to announce that author Craig MacDonald will be our speaker on Sunday March 17, 2019 . as he presents his latest book, “Trailblazing Women in the Old West”!
Craig will talk about some amazing women in the field of Mining, Conservation, Voting, Law Enforcement, Temperance and Crime. He’ll also have available for autographing some of his award-winning books, including The California State Library’s “Book of Week,” “Old West Christmas-Tales with a Twist.” It’s a talk you won’t want to miss!
Pulitzer Prize nominee Craig MacDonald, a member of Phi Alpha Theta, the national history honor society, is the author of 24 books on the West. The historian speaks at national conferences, museums, historical societies and universities. His relatives came to California in the Gold Rush. To learn more about Craig and his books, go to www.goldrushglimpses.com
So come bring a friend and hear some tales of the Old West!
Seating is limited, for RESERVATIONS call (949) 631-5918. Doors open at 2:00, program at 2:30. Free admission and refreshments. We are located at 1870 Anaheim Ave. northwest corner of the Lions Park complex. Visit www.costamesahistory.org or go to facebook/costa mesa historical society for more information.
Note: Due to construction, entry to parking lot must be made from Anaheim Ave.
For its 60th birthday, we go back to 1959, the first year of the Costa Mesa institution.