Places Called Home: Orange County, California

I went with the entire county this time because, or so I am told, we lived in Redondo Beach, Newport Beach and Santa Ana from 1965 to 1970. I honestly only recall Santa Ana.

Mostly, those memories are pretty good. My first dog, Samson, and I had great adventures. Unfortunately, he passed away before we left Santa Ana.

IMG_1283I went to my first baseball game in Anaheim. I still have the ticket stub from 1967 when the California Angels hosted the Cleveland Indians and a memory of a baseball player running down the first base line. Why that one snippet of that game has lasted over 50 years escapes me, but it stuck inside my 3-year-old brain for some reason.

We went to see the Lakers play at both the Sports Arena and The Forum, the two former homes of the Lakers before Staples was built. I’ve seen games played in all three arenas much later in life, otherwise I wouldn’t be able to tell you what the interiors looked like based on memory alone. I had the pleasure of listening to both Vin Scully and the late Chick Hearn, Bob Miller and Dick Enberg call games on radio and local TV. Four masters of their trade.

Disney_Original_EntranceThen there were trips to Disneyland, Knotts Berry Farm and the now-closed Marineland. My dad loves telling the story of how I blew through a whole dollar (1968 money) on dime-a-bag treats for the seals. I was very popular among the seal population that day.

Of course, there was the wonderful night we were loaded up in the car and headed for the mountains following an earthquake that spawned a tsunami warning. I think I was four or five and for some reason – already a huge Godzilla fan – the “Tsunami” was a monster that Godzilla was going to have to show up and fight. The tsunami alert was cancelled, we went home and I was bummed I didn’t get to see the big fella in person.

There was the drive-in theater we went to every Friday night, passing the iconic Coppertone Billboard just off of I-5 to get there. A miniature golf course that seemed to stretch out for miles and endless days of sun. I’m trying to remember a single day of rain and I can’t.

Orange County today is vastly different of course. I don’t even know if that billboard is still up. But for those five years that it was home, it was a nice place to be.

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