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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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Three Generations Tour Museum
Jeani Hibbard, Katie Hibbard, and Bonnie Murray tour the Hull Story boatbuilding exhibit.

Three Generations Tour Museum

Three generations of special women toured the society’s boatbuilding exhibit in September: Jeani Hibbard,  Katie Hibbard, and Bonnie Murray.

Bonnie Murray’s husband Arland “Buzz” Murray was a key player in the Costa Mesa boatbuilding industry. Together he and Mel Potter built Mel-Craft dinghies and sabots. The family posed for a photo next to a model of one of Mel-Craft’s most popular crafts, a 12-foot sailing pram.

A fun bonus came when Mary Ellen Goddard helped find a picture of Bonnie’s sister in the society’s archives!

Boatbuilding played a significant role in Costa Mesa’s postwar industry. Plan a visit to the society museum and explore this fascinating history yourself

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Remembering Hank Panian

Historical Society Charter Member Henry S. “Hank” Panian passed from this life on July 14. In addition to his career as a history professor at Orange Coast College and a dedicated family man, Hank made time for community service and your Historical Society.

Hank became a charter member of the Historical Society in 1966. Since that time he has:

  • Served with distinction on our board of directors
  • Co-authored the Historical Society Quarterly from 1977-1987
  • Served as a docent at the Diego Sepulveda Adobe
  • Contributed his wit and wisdom to innumerable Society meetings and celebrations
  • Recorded his memories of Costa Mesa’s history at the city’s 50th anniversary, and
  • Provided expert review of the Society’s two pictorial history books.

Hank received the Society’s Living Memorial Award in 1987 and special recognition as one of two surviving charter members of the Society in 2015.

Rest in peace, Hank. This society will never forget your contributions.

— Art Goddard

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Remembering Brad Long

Brad Long passed away from complications of a blood disorder on Nov 26, 2017.

It’s hard to imagine a more widely-known, outgoing city staff member than Brad Long. As the city’s senior videographer, you could find Brad at almost any city or community event, not only filming the event, but also, with his warmth and smile, serving as a City Hall ambassador.

Brad always said his favorite project was Echoes From the Fields, a one-hour video (available on YouTube) chronicling Costa Mesa’s history from the time of the Native Americans to the emergence of South Coast Metro in the 1990s. One of the themes of Echoes From the Fields is the value of local history — a theme every reader of this newsletter can appreciate. During his career, Brad covered nearly every City Council meeting, every Lions Club Fish Fry, Concerts in the Park, Mayor’s Dinners and Breakfasts, or just about any other city or community event.

Then, too, there were the special videos to recognize prominent citizens such as Hank Panian and Jack Hammett. Oh, and let’s not forget the video Costa Mesa My Sweet Home (available on YouTube) filmed as part of the City’s 60th anniversary. Then, too was the oral history series filmed for the City’s 50th anniversary in 2003. In fact, almost every one of Brad’s videos has a historical element, giving the Historical Society’s mission a big boost. Brad, for your warmth, friendship, and support of local history, we will all miss you — but you will live on in our memories and hearts.

– Art Goddard, on behalf of the entire Costa Mesa Historical Society

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