Saturday, June 18, 2016

Exploring the Santa Ana River (Part 2)

Last week, inspired by a book I'm reading called Imperial by William T. Vollmann, I decided to explore the Santa Ana River, the main river in Orange County.  On my first hike, I began at Angel Stadium and made it to the Riverview Golf Course.  Today, I took the bus to the intersection of Harbor Blvd. and Warner Ave., which is (I think) in Fountain Valley.  My goal was to hike as far south along the river as I could before I got too hot or tired.  I made it to Adams Ave. in Huntington Beach, before I started getting light-headed from the heat.  As with my first adventure, I took pictures along my route, as a kind of photo-essay.  Here's what I saw...

Here's the view from Warner Ave. looking south along the Santa Ana River.  As you can see, at this point the river is mainly a concrete gulch with a trickle of greenish water flowing (mysteriously) north!  This mystery will be solved a bit further downriver.


Here's a hint as to the origin of the greenish water flowing north in a river that should be flowing south, toward the ocean.


On my first Santa Ana River journey, I noticed that there were lots of homeless "tent camps" located beneath freeway overpasses, right in the riverbed.  I didn't see any of those along this stretch of the river, but I did see this lone homeless man sleeping on the concrete.


Continuing on, I encountered these ominous-looking pipes ready to spew God-knows-what right onto the homeless man, and into the Santa Ana River.



There were signs warning people to keep out of the dangerous three inch-deep green water.


This brave cyclist threw caution to the wind and rode headlong into the mighty Santa Ana River.


The freeway overpasses offered both shade from the oppressive heat and interesting geometric shapes.


Someone had thrown a television off the overpass and into the river.


Horrible-looking factories lined the riverside, offering various interesting smells.


At a certain point, the river's edge became flanked by high chain-link fence.


What's that up on the right?


Why, it's the Orange County Sanitation District Plant No. 1, which (along with Plant No. 2 in Huntington Beach) is the third-largest wastewater (i.e. sewage) treatment facility west of the Mississippi!  So THAT's what that smell is.  And here, the mystery of the northbound green water is solved.  It is runoff from Plant No. 1.


Here are some more shots I took of Plant No. 1.




Just past Plant No. 1 was a power plant/nursery that looked like something out of The X-Files.


Up ahead, I saw green in the riverbed!  And then, as if someone had literally drawn a line in the sand, the river changed from brown to green.


And then, as if by magic, the Santa Ana River was full of green plants.  I have no idea why.  But here are some photos to prove it.



As much as I wanted to press on, and follow this greenery to the ocean, I was getting light-headed from the heat (and maybe industrial fumes).  I had this fear that I would pass out on the trail, and no one would find me.  I would die beside this river, like so many other living things had.  So, I exited the Santa Ana River Trail at Adams Avenue in Huntington Beach and wearily made my way to a shopping center oasis, where I got some pizza, and then took two different buses back home.

I shall return, O mighty Santa Ana River!

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Researching Fullerton's “Pioneers”

The following is from a work-in-progress called The Town I Live In: A History of Fullerton.

In the local history room of the Fullerton Public Library, there is a huge, 1,600 page book called History of Orange County, California by a Mr. Samuel Armor, which was published in 1921.  Most of the book is dedicated to short biographical sketches of notable Orange Countians.  The local history librarian explained that this book may be considered a “vanity book” because each person profiled actually paid for their own inclusion it.  Thus, the book excludes people without the means to pay for such things.  It is pretty much exclusively devoted to wealthy, white businessmen.

Also, because the entries were paid for, their tone is hilariously praiseworthy of each man profiled, carefully excluding excluding any kind of criticism which is the task of a real historian.  Thus, the book must be read with a critical eye.  It’s instructive, but also does not contain the whole truth.  For example, in describing local Fullerton doctor Danforth C. Cowles, Armor begins with these words of high praise:

“A member of the medical profession of Orange County of superior training, whose skill and conscientious attention and care to every patient has enabled him to rise to well-deserved prominence in his chosen field, is Dr. Danforth C. Cowles, who stands high in the profession, not only in California, but in the East, where he was very prominent as a surgeon, having a splendid record in Minneapolis, Minn., so that he was not long in establishing a successful practice after locating here.”

This fawning tone is characteristic of nearly all the entries in Samuel Armor’s gigantic book.  And so, in utilizing this book as a resource, I am careful to exclude overly flowery praise.  Instead, I will try to stick with the facts, which are good enough for me.

Also, as I read these sketches of what I would consider rather ordinary dentists, farmers, politicians, etc, I encounter another problem.  Who do I include in my own history of Fullerton?  Do I include everyone?  After reading dozens of praise-filled sketches from Armor’s book, I find myself, frankly, bored.  This is an impressive feat by Mr. Armor, to bore even someone like me, who is totally obsessed with local history.  But I think the reason I am bored is because, in excluding any mention of problems, faults, and failures of the local “pioneers”, Armor has stripped them of what makes them most interesting—their humanity.

And so, moving forward, I will endeavor to produce more well-rounded portraits of Fullerton’s “pioneers”.

Danforth C. Cowles, M.D. (early Fullerton doctor)

Sunday, June 12, 2016

George Amerige: Co-Founder of Fullerton

The following is from a work-in-progress called The Town I Live In: A History of Fullerton.

George Amerige was born in Malden, Massachusetts in 1855 to Henry and Elizabeth Amerige.  His family was one of the oldest in New England.  George and his brother Edward established a successful grain and hay business in Massachusettes, before moving to Southern California in 1886, during a real estate boom.  In 1887, the Amerige brothers, in conjunction with the Santa Fe Railroad, founded the town of Fullerton.  They named the town after the George Fullerton, president of the real estate arm of the Santa Fe.

George Amerige

The Amerige brothers real estate office, the first structure built in the town, still stands next to Amerige park on Commonwealth.  The second building they built was the St. George Hotel (named after George), which was demolished in 1918 to make room for a new business block.  The brothers were instrumental in establishing the fist banks in Fullerton: the First National Bank, and the Fullerton Savings Bank.

The Amerige Bros. Real Estate office still stands next to Amerige Park.

George and Edward named many of the first streets of Fullerton after streets of their hometown of Malden.  Some of these include: Commonwealth Avenue, Malden Street, Highland Avenue, and Amerige Avenue.  Other streets were named after officials of the Pacific Land and Improvement Company and the Santa Fe Railroad Company, which were business partners with the Ameriges.

George married his wife Annette in 1894.

Annette J. Amerige

In addition to having interests in real estate, commodities, and banking, George Amerige was also (for a time) a walnut farmer.  He was one of the founders of the Fullerton Lodge of the Odd Fellows.  He was a Republican.

Edward Amerige: Co-Founder of Fullerton

The following is from a work-in-progress called The Town I Live In: A History of Fullerton.

Edward R. Amerige was born in Malden, Massachusetts in 1857, son of Henry and Elizabeth Amerige.  Along with his brother George, he built up a successful grain and hay business there.  In 1886 they traveled to the Pacific Coast to check out the real estate boom.  The following year, in 1887, they purchased 430 acres of wild, uncultivated land beside what was then the town of Anaheim.  On July 5, 1887, they drove the first survey stake into the ground on what is now the corner of Harbor and Commonwealth Ave, thus founding the town site that would become Fullerton.

The Amerige brothers convinced the Santa Fe Railroad to pass through the town by offering George Fullerton (head of the Santa Fe’s real estate arm) a financial interest in the new town.  As a sort of “thank you” to George Fullerton, they named the town after him.  The Ameriges also partnered with H. Gaylord Wilshire, a real estate developer whom present-day Wilshire Ave. is named after. 

Edward was also involved local and state politics, serving as the fist mayor of Fullerton and two terms in the California State Assembly.  He was also, for a time, president of the Anaheim Union Water Company, and one of the founders of the Fullerton Lodge of the Masons.  After his death in 1915, his body was taken back to Malden, Massachusetts, where he was buried.

Source: The History of Orange County by Samuel Armor

Edward Amerige

Edward Atherton: Fullerton Ostrich Farmer

The following is from a work-in-progress called The Town I Live In: A History of Fullerton.

Edward Atherton was born in Capetown, South Africa in 1860, son of John Atherton, a prosperous merchant.  In 1886, at age 26, he sailed to California to start an ostrich farm.  At the time, ostrich feathers were very fashionable and valuable.  Eventually, Edward settled on a sixty-acre farm in Fullerton, where he raised his ostriches, and also became an orange and walnut farmer.  Atherton's ostrich farm is the inspiration for author Dora May Sim's Fullerton's history book Ostrich Eggs for Breakfast.

Edward Atherton and his ostriches in Fullerton.

Anti-Club Playlist 6/10/16

On Friday nights, I DJ at Mulberry St. Ristorante (aka The Anti-Club) with my friend Tim.  Here's what we played last night, with album art.  Click each song title to give it a listen...

“Ayrilik Osla Blue” by Esmeray


“Gimme Little Sign” by Brenton Wood


“Hal Hal” by Nazan Soray


“The Rapper” by Jaggerz


“The Shape I’m In” by The Band


“Everybody Plays the Fool” by The Main Ingredient


“Willie the Pimp” by Frank Zappa


“Mighty Man” by Mungo Jerry


“Wplj” by The Mothers of Invention


“The Train” by 1910 Fruitgum Co.


“God’s Sure Good” by Dr. John


“As the Years Go By” by Mashmakhan


“Nadine” by Chuck Berry


“Walk Away from It All” by Lobo


“What Can I Do For You” by Bob Dylan


“Indian Reservation (The Lament of the Cherokee Reservation Indian)" by The Raiders


“Bo Diddley” by Bo Diddley


“I Won’t Do Anything” by The Moments


“Telephone Call From Istanbul” by Tom Waits


“Lady Marmalade” by Labelle


“Have Love Will Travel” by The Sonics


“Hey There Lonely Girl” by Eddie Holman


“Graceland” by Casiotone for the Painfully Alone


“Ask the Lonely” by The Four Tops


“Ride” by Lana Del Rey


“Mercy” by Ohio Express


“Abortion Song” by The Chicago Women’s Liberation Rock Band


“Tequila” by Tony Mottola


“Birthday” by The Beatles


“Octopus” by Syd Barrett


“Death to My Hometown” by Bruce Springsteen


“I Wanna Be Your Lover” by Bob Dylan


“Barely 21” by Seth Bogart


“Life Is Long” by David Byrne and Brian Eno


“You Make Me Feel Good” by The Zombies


“Bikeage” by The Descendents


“Luau” by The Beach Boys


“La Bamba Rebelde” by Las Cafeteras


“Love’s A Real Thing” by Super Eagles


“Science Fiction/Double Feature” by Richard O’Brien


“In the Summertime” by Mungo Jerry


“Nightcall” by Kavinsky and Lovefoxxx


“Call Any Vegetable” by Frank Zappa


“Price of Love” by The Everly Brothers


“Sitting On a Barbed Wire Fence” by Bob Dylan


“Too Many People” by The Leaves


“Que Bonito” by Bomba Estereo


“Tougher Than the Rest” by Camera Obscura


“Cao Cao Mani Picao” by Tito Puente


“Shanty Town” by Desmond Dekker


See you next Friday night at The Anti-Club!