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Tales of Roy E. June

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.

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1918-1919 Flu Hits Southland, Patient Hits Bottle

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:

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