OF REDLANDS, CALIFORNIA  - Founded 24 January 1895


4:00 P.M.

May 13, 2010

The Mickey Before the Mouse

Frederick C. Edwards

Assembly Room, A. K. Smiley Public Library

If you’ve come here today to hear a scholarly treatise researched from original Sanskrit, Egyptian, or Greek texts, or from my having delved into the dank depths of the historic documents of the A. K. Smiley Public Library, I must hasten to disabuse you of that impression.  Rather, I invite you to recall a bit the best part of your childhood, and to allow yourselves to travel in your imagination to a place – a real place - but one tinged with more than just a bit of magic.
            The time is the late 1940s, or maybe even 1950.  Oh, some of you can’t remember that far back.  You weren’t even here!  Maybe this group is younger than I thought.  Well, try for a bit of that magic and imagine it.
              Imagine a place – a generally peaceful and quiet country place.  There are neighbors, but not next door.  People living even a mile away or more are still spoken of as neighbors.  The air is clear. We’ve heard of smog, but that seems to be a city thing. Low hills are seen to the south-east.  Santiago Peak and Modjeska Peak form what we commonly call Old Saddleback.  Much higher mountains, snow covered in winter, are visible far to the north-east – Mt. San Antonio, or Old Baldy.  An afternoon breeze about 4:00 p.m. cools a hot summer day, and may bring a faint scent of the sea. It gets foggy here sometimes, but even the fog has a fresh smell to it. On a summer evening one needs a sweater or jacket. 
            We awake to the smell of eucalyptus leaves dampened by the morning dew that in blossom season soon gives way to the sweet scent of orange blossoms.  There isn’t much that would be called noise.  Most sounds seem far away.  A rooster crows, and perhaps in the far distance a neighbor’s dog barks.  If an airplane is heard we often go outdoors and look up to see it.  If a car goes by on our narrow road we look out the window to see whom it might be.  At night, with the windows open, one might hear the distant sound of a diesel truck starting up and shifting through the gears.
            The night is very dark, unless the moon is out.  People from town remark about how dark it is.  There is no “light pollution” nor does one see the glow of city lights far away.  The night sky is a wondrous sight.  The Milky Way is splashed across  the sky as one looks out upon the plain of our galaxy.  The night sky is so filled with stars that one can hardly sort out the constellations, Orion,  Ursa Major,  Ursa Minor, or find dim but steady Polaris.
            There is just one overhead light at an intersection about a quarter of a mile away.  It is just a large incandescent light bulb under a metal shield.  ’ Certainly not very bright.   That light is near where the only nearby major highway cuts through diagonally to all the property lines.        
            In 1769, Captain Juan Gaspar de Portola, and his entourage of soldiers, priests, and other people, and horses and cattle, had come up from Lower California into Alta California.  I mention this because that highway, angled to the ranch property along the way, roughly follows the route of the Portola expedition, hoping to find a land route to Monterey Bay, and establish a settlement there.  This was Spanish territory, you understand, and very soon with the establishment of missions, and land grants for ranchos, the prevailing language would be Spanish.  Portola’s expedition was looking for something they didn’t find (now called Monterey Bay), and missed it, but found something they didn’t expect to find, which we know as San Francisco Bay, and giant redwood trees such as they had never seen before. 
            The Rancho Santiago de Santa Ana, comprising 62,500 acres, was granted by Spanish Governor José Joaquin Arrillaga, to José Antonio Yorba and Juan Pablo Peralta, a small part of which is the focus of our consideration today.  Eleven years after that land grant, Mexico declared its independence from Spain, and Alta California became Mexico.  There was no border as exists now to separate north and south.  Still more radical changes were to come.
            Portola’s route soon became a trail, and then a wagon road, and then a stage coach route, and then a highway.  Remember, we’re still in the 1940s, and maybe up to 1950.
In these modern times it has become a major highway to Los Angeles. In the 40s it was a three-lane highway, with one lane in each direction and a center lane for passing in either direction.  You can pass unless there is a car coming toward you in the passing lane.  ‘No wonder people called the middle lane the suicide lane. It became 4 lanes, two in each direction, in the 1950s.
            There’s still an old brick winery building beside and parallel to the highway, built back in 1885, by Benjamin Dreyfus, the largest grape grower in the area.  In 1879, he cultivated 70,000 vines that produced 87,000 gallons of wine and 15,000 gallons of brandy. The Spaniards grew grapes and made wine, but mostly for their own use.  The Germans who founded the town of Anaheim made wine an industry, and in the process divided up hundreds of acres of land, once Spanish ranchos, into ten and twenty acre lots.  However in 1886, a disease carried by leafhoppers devastated the vineyards, and the wine industry disappeared from the area.
             War was declared between Mexico and the United States in 1846.  The Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo was signed in 1848 ceding Alta California to the United States.  And thus people who had been Spanish and had become Mexican in 1821, went to bed Mexican on February 1, and woke up American on February 2 of 1848.  How’s that for change?
            But back to imagining.  Are you able to imagine the place as it was?
            The town of Anaheim is two miles north of this place that you are thinking about.  The town has a population of about 12,500 people, though there are signs that it may be growing.  A few subdivisions have been completed, eight or ten houses in each.  There is still one high school, with a student body of about 1200, about 15% Hispanic, all of Mexican heritage, but most second or third generation Americans. There are no Asians or African Americans. 
            There is one department store in town, three movie theaters, one of which now shows only Spanish language films, and many store businesses – jewelry stores, sporting goods, shoes, clothes, a feed store – animal feed you understand, for chickens and such --owned by the Karcher family, one of whom will someday start Carl’s Drive-ins and Carl’s Jr.
            There are a couple of hardware stores.  The one that has everything, but how they find it is a mystery, we refer to as “Lum and Abner’s.”   Oh, sorry, you younger ones don’t know about that corny comedy radio show of the 30s and 40s.  There are also the kinds of stores you can find in any town our size - Woolworth’s, S. H. Kress, barber shops, drug stores (though we don’t call them that anymore), and there are several orange packing houses for the still thriving orange industry.  
            Politically the area is heavily Republican, though a number of our friends are Democrats. The Postmaster, Louis Hoskins and his family are prominent Democrats, he having been appointed as postmaster following the election of President Franklin Roosevelt.  In the 1920s, the town had the shameful distinction of being a haven for the Ku Klux Klan, which did its usual stuff of rallies, racism, intimidation, and even cross-burning, until the people had enough and removed the known Klan members from places of influence in the town, especially from the city council and the police department, but all that is a story for another time.
            There are churches of every kind, and most of them well attended these days, and reasonably cooperative with one another. There were five churches in town that held services in the German language, stemming from the German families that founded the town.  When the United States went to war the local high school stopped teaching German as a foreign language option, and, in now offering only Spanish, Latin, and sometimes French.  The war having recently ended, there are only two churches now that have occasional services in German.  A few others have services in Spanish.
            There are small country schools in the rural areas surrounding the town, most of them constituting their own single-school district.  There is a school a mile from our house, in a nice brick building.  The school is named for the road, now called an avenue, which bordered the farm of the Rea family, and was named for their two daughters, Kate and Ella.  Yes, Katella.  You’ve heard the name.
            Some of the sons and daughters of our neighborhood of fifteen or so families, went off to war.  All returned home safe, save one – a young woman, Marjorie Edwards, who was a pilot with the WASP (Women’s Airforce Service Pilots), who lost her life in the crash of an army plane that was not airworthy.
            The war over, there are big changes in the wind.  We take Sunday afternoon drives to the place they are calling “Lakewood,” though there is no lake and no woods, located just north of Long Beach.  We stand in awe of the thousands upon thousands of houses being built, not one at a time but all at once.  Such a thing has never happened anywhere before.  We wonder who will live in them.  We soon will find out, as thousands of people – no, millions – come flooding into Southern California.  We see changes coming, but thus far it has not affected us, ... yet.  And then the reality of radical change strikes us.  Here’s how it happened.
            In 1951, a man came knocking at the doors of people in our neighborhood.  He wanted to make an offer for the land.  He was offering what was then the typical price for orange property, $15,000 per acre.  “What for?” we wondered.  “Well, I’m representing a wealthy buyer.  He wants a large block of land, and he’d like to buy it here.  This is a big opportunity.  But if you don’t want the money, he’ll probably buy from someone else.  He’ll offer you a fair price for your house, too.  A cash deal. But he needs 160 acres all together.” 
            It was becoming more and more difficult to make much money from oranges, and it seemed like a reasonable offer.  Working in the fields was having less and less appeal to many farmers, and most of the next generation wanted to do something other than farming, so with a little persuasion people began to sign up.  It seemed like such a sure thing that only a dollar – one single dollar - sealed the deal.  We could not imagine what anyone would do with that much land.
            The buyer, though, whoever he was, could not put it together and the option fell through.  There was some disappointment and yet some relief at not having to move after investing most of a lifetime in this place. “Well, we won’t do that again,” some said.
            Thus there was a considerable amount of resistance from a few parties when another agent came calling, making essentially the same offer, but this time if the option failed the land owners would receive ten percent of the agreed upon price.  The owners also demanded to know the buyer whom the agent represented, and the purpose for which the land was intended.  This time the sale agreement held.  The buyer had purchased 160 acres of prime orange groves from fifteen families.
            The buyer was Walter Elias Disney.
            The purpose was revealed when the families were invited to Walt Disney Studios for a special presentation on plans for the land.  For a park?  For entertainment?  We were astounded by what seemed like pipedream projections of thousands, even hundreds of thousands of people attending.  Roy Disney, Walt’s brother and near look-alike, made the presentation.  They had a large layout of Walt’s dreamscape of his proposed park.  I don’t remember the term “theme park” used, but surely this was to be the granddaddy of all theme parks, the dream of chief “imagineer” (Walt’s term) Walt Disney.  We all were incredulous.  The nearest thing any of us knew to an entertainment park would be the rather seamy and gaudy Long Beach “Pike,” a seaside entertainment pier with rides, food booths, fortune tellers and such.  Surely Disney had something better in mind that that.
            Nearby Knott’s Berry Farm and Ghost Town hardly qualified as an entertainment park.  Then it was merely a nice restaurant and pie shop, where one could go in for a fried chicken dinner, and afterward walk around in the plant nursery, or the gift shop run by one of  the Knott daughters, or wander out among the collection of buildings, an old  railroad locomotive, and a collection of other things all made to look like a deserted old frontier town.  Knott’s graduation into big time entertainment was yet to come.
            Walt imagined something grand.  He’d been thinking about it for a long time – years, in fact.  He had thought of a small place where families of studio employees could go for family fun and relaxation.  By the early 1940s children began asking where Mickey Mouse and Snow White lived.  Walt resisted giving studio tours, thinking they would be boring.  John Hench, an artist and architect, remembered “several Sundays seeing Walt across the street in a weed-filled lot, standing, visualizing, all by himself.”  A war intervened, in which all attention was devoted to that cause, but the dream was still alive.  The City of Burbank, however, denied the request to build Disney’s park near the studio, and he began thinking of a much larger property, perhaps as much as 100 acres.
            Disney employees were engaged to work on the family entertainment park idea, and paid from Walt Disney’s personal funds.  Money for development of the project was difficult to come by.  Disney was quoted as saying, “I could never convince the fananciers that Disneyland was feasible, because dreams offer too little collateral.”  So he sold his second house just to develop the idea in order to show other people what he had in mind.
            Disney engaged the Stanford Research Institute to find a suitable location with few owners, free of many buildings, in reasonable driving distance of existing population, and in the path of anticipated development of population and business, and at a reasonable price.  After considerable research the Institute identified the land, orange groves and a few homes, south of the still small town of Anaheim.  Specifically, they identified the property bordered by Harbor Boulevard, Katella Avenue, West Street, and Winston Road, with possible options on some adjacent land.  And thus, as you have already heard, the proposal was made to those fifteen families.  More reluctantly this time than before, the families agreed, papers were signed, and the deal was done. 
            To sweeten the deal a bit the families were informed that they would receive lifetime silver passes, to take the family into the park whenever they wished.  That worked very well for a few years, but eventually it seems that “lifetime” might have been Walt’s lifetime, for those passes ceased being renewed. 
            Families said their goodbye’s to one another, sometimes expressing to each other more of a personal and emotional closeness than they had ever expressed before, with the hope to meet again.  Families which had been neighbors for several decades began moving to other places, a few of them far away. 
            As soon as the transaction was closed another great change began to take place.  On the morning of July 21, 1954, even while a few families had yet to move, several huge D-8 Caterpillar bulldozers moved in and began pushing out prime producing orange trees, pushing them into huge piles of 20 or even 30 trees together, and in the morning hours setting them afire.  They had pledged to protect houses, and yet the fire was too close to one small wood frame house and it burned to the ground.  The activity was exciting, but tinged with sadness, as some of us had lived in those homes all of our lives.
            Our neighbors and very good friends, Paul and Laura Dominguez, lived in one of the two very fine two-story houses on the land, on property that had belonged to Laura’s parents since the late 1800s.  They came over to visit one evening, saying that they had purchased a house “in town,” and that there was a vacant lot next door.  “Why don’t you buy it and build a house?”  And thus the Edwards and Dominguez families remained neighbors and close friends for another three decades.  Their son, Ronald, my best man at our wedding, went to work for Disneyland, taking tickets, but eventually retired as executive vice president of Walt Disney Attractions, West Coast.
            The two large two-story houses, originally a ways down the road from each other, were moved and joined together, thus making space for administrative offices.  Most remaining houses were destroyed when people moved out.  Two houses were sold as residences and moved a few miles to the east, where they remain as next door neighbors, in a lovely enclave near the Orange Mall, just off the freeway to Newport Beach.  Some decorative trees from home yards were boxed and saved and destined for replanting in the park.  Some palm trees eventually went into the Jungle ride, along with artificial look-alike palms.
            Groundwork for Disneyland proceeded at a frantic pace, with deep places gouged out for proposed waterways, and hills built up in other places.  Tall structures began to appear as scaffolding was constructed around them, though what these structures were remained the subject of conjecture and guessing games.  Soon they became castle spires, mountains, and towers.
            Disneyland was built in one year.   The transformation of the land began on July 21, 1954, and opening day was on July 17, 1955.  Quite a feat, in anybody’s book.  Such a place as this had never been built this way anywhere before. People were were hired by the hundreds for all kinds of jobs, everything from managers to ticket-takers, supervisors to people to sweep up bits of paper and cigarette butts, ride operators, and others to put on Disney character costumes – Mickey Mouse, Pluto, Donald Duck, and Snow White.  They all had to be trained, which required other staff people.
            One amusing story got around, in that Disney also liked authenticity, or at least the appearance of it.  The Rivers of America would have the large boats, which were guided by tracks under the water, but would also have the keelboats, large flat-bottomed boats to ferry people out to Tom Sawyer’s Island, and also Indian canoes.  Young men in costumes and coonskin caps would do for the keelboats, but it seemed a good idea to have authentic Indians for the canoes.  Where do you hire real Indians?  In that time there was little thought about the indigenous people right here in Southern California, but there were plenty of Indians in Arizona.  How many canoes have you seen in Arizona?  So this attempt at authenticity proved to be somewhat problematic.  These desert people didn’t know anything about canoeing, especially in the large unwieldy so-called “war canoes” to carry visitors.  The very hot days proved tempting to both those struggling with both the keelboats and the canoes, and splashing as well as falling in the “river” proved to be a good way of cooling off, but that was soon put to an end.  Authentic Indians were indeed hired from various places to be in the “Indian Village,” not just as “atmosphere,” to use an old movie term, but to talk about Indian lore, customs, and such things, especially as children might ask of them.
            If you have ever been to the park you couldn’t help but notice the monorail, and the vintage locomotives that pull trainloads of visitors on the tracks that surround Disneyland.  From the beginning this was to be a feature of the park, simply because Walt Disney loved trains.  When he was a teenager his uncle, Michael Martin, a locomotive engineer on the Atchison, Topeka, and Santa Fe Railroad, helped him get a job selling fruit and snacks to passengers.  Walt loved it, and the experience helped whet his appetite for everything to do with trains.
            Disney built his own 1/8 scale railroad on his home property purchased in 1949, in the Holmby Hills area of Los Angeles.  His wife, Lillian, was quite supportive of this all-engrossing hobby, but forbade him to have it cross through her garden.  This hobby railroad, the Carolwood Pacific Railroad, was named for the street on which he lived.  It was built with the encouragement of Ward Kimball and Ollie Johnson, two of the studio animators who already had their own back yard railroads.  Walt named the scale model live steam locomotive the Lilly Belle, after his wife, Lillian.  It had 2615 feet of track, with a figure 8 track, and another track that encircled most of the property.  Walt’s train entertained not only himself, but his friends and neighbors, and his daughters and their friends.  Of his dream of Disneyland, Walt said, “I want it to look like nothing else in the world and it should be surrounded by a train.”  All the other Disney parks, in other countries and in the United States, are surrounded by trains.  Disney’s original train barn and workshop is now in Griffith Park, in Los Angeles, and is open to visitors.
            The locomotives at Disneyland also have names.  Number one is the Walter E. Disney.  Number two is Lilly Belle, again named for his wife.  Number three is the Roger E. Broggie, named for his fellow “imagineer.”  And number four is the Roy O. Disney, named for his brother.  But let us get back to Disneyland, just about to open.
            Opening day, an anticipated day of rejoicing, turned      out to be a near disaster.
Six thousand tickets were sent to special invitees for the inauguration of the park, but 28,000 showed up.  Traffic was lined up for seven miles, according to the Anaheim Police Department.  Remember, this was still a highway - a major highway to be sure, but not yet a freeway.  There were also problems inside the park.
            How would one dress to go to the opening of Disneyland?  Would men wear dress shoes and slacks, or even suits?  Would women wear dresses, stockings, and high heels?  They did.  The weather had been beastly hot for a few days, and the fresh asphalt on the park’s walkways and roads became soft and sticky, and bad news for shoes with heels.  Due to a plumbers strike it seemed that water fountains and restrooms could not be ready for opening day.  In the final rush to completion it had come down to a choice between having operating restrooms or drinking fountains.  Walt opted for restrooms.  A wise choice, but thirsty visitors suffered from the heat. 
            Not all the rides that had been hoped to be completed were operable.  A gas leak temporarily closed Fantasyland.  The whole event was viewed on live television, but the television crews moving about here and there caused periodic closing of attractions. But that was just opening day.  Those problems were quickly solved, and Disneyland became a major attraction, with Fantasyland, Adventureland, Frontierland, Tomorrowland, the Jungle Cruise, Submarine ride, Moon rocket, Autopia, Small World, and many others. 
            The very next day, 10,000 of the general public got their first visit to Disneyland.  Admission into the park was only $1.00, which would translate to about $6.50 in todays money, and individual tickets for rides cost 10 cents - to 35 cents.  Attendance was limited to twenty-thousand people per day in order to avoid crowding, and even so the attendance topped one million in only seven weeks.
            The purchase of books of tickets to go on various kinds of attractions was not introduced until 1959.  The tickets were designated by letters - A, B, C, D, and E.  The “E” tickets were for admission to the more expensive rides – Space Mountain, Pirates of the Caribbean, and so forth.  And thus “an E-ticket ride” came to be an expression not only for Disneyland, but in common parlance meaning any really good time.  Many people went back and purchased another ticket book, just to get some more “D” and “E” tickets.  Most people returned home without any “E” tickets, if indeed they returned home with any tickets at all.  The ticket books were retired in 1982, replaced by a “Passport,” which allowed unlimited rides.
            You also may remember that in 1959, the Soviet Premier, Nikita Kruschev was invited by President Eisenhower for a conference and visit at Camp David, and then to be able to see some selected places in the country.  He was invited to 20th Century Fox studio in Hollywood, where “Can-Can” was being filmed, and was scandalized when the risque dance was performed for him.  Yet what Kruschev wanted to do more than anything else was to visit Disneyland.  When he was prohibited from doing so because of security concerns, it almost caused an international incident.
            One of the less spectacular attractions, and yet one appreciated by many adults, was “Great Moments With Mr. Lincoln.”  In the subdued light of a room, Mr. Lincoln sat and waited as the crowd gathered and was seated.  Then slowly he stood up, took a step, and turned, looking over the audience, and began to speak.  This was a mechanical figure, but looked so convincingly like a real man.  His body moved, his hands and head and eyes moved.  His lips moved, corresponding to the words that were being spoken, certainly not through his mouth, but it was easy to think they were.  However convincing it was to most of us, we learned that the lips did not move in a way of actually forming the words, and so anyone who had to read lips could not do so with this Mr. Lincoln.  At the end of his speech, Mr. Lincoln returned to his chair, sat down, and the room cleared for the next group of people. 
            A friend who worked for Disneyland said that it was rather spooky to go into that room at night after the crowds had gone home, and to see “Mr. Lincoln” sitting there and looking so much like a live person.  Some of the maintenance people even began to greet him and talk to him as they went about their work in that place.
            Walt Disney, the chief “imagineer,” died in 1966.  By then, in only twelve years, Disneyland had changed remarkably.  Some attractions had closed, to be replaced by newer ones.  That was not by accident.  It was planned that way.  Once exciting imaginings of space adventure became surpassed by the real thing, and had to be “re-imagined.”  Live adventure experienced by so many people today did not exist in the park’s early days, and what was exciting about the park then might be uninteresting today.  Yet many things have remained good fun and adventure today.  Walt said it best, that “Disneyland will never be completed as long as there is imagination left in the world.” 
            Someone has said that the only constant is change.  ’Sounds oxymoronic, doesn’t it?  Some attribute the saying, or something close to it, to Heraclitus. Many of us have used it too. Perhaps the world changes only through those who think beyond what is, and imagine what the future can be.  In the change, however, it behooves us to be aware of what we lose. We have brought change with us.  We cannot deny that much of it is good, and we cannot do without what our world has become, though from time to time we have to “get away” and find a place for renewal.  For some it is the joy and excitement of entertainment.  For others of us it is to the need get away to a quiet place, and once again behold the natural world.
            No longer does the river that begins in the mountains high above Redlands, and in season overflow and carry silt onto the ground to create that rich and fertile sandy loam, so prized by agriculturists, nor does it carry sand to the sea that over thousands of years created California’s beaches.  No longer does night bring darkness and sky spangled with stars, but now the night never grows dark.  No longer does the sweet smell of blossoms drift over the land on the breeze, and the afternoon air have a tinge of the salty sea.  No longer in that place is there is such a quietness that one can hear a bee buzzing, the call of a bird, or even still enough be aware of your own heartbeat. These things, and many more, we have lost with the change.  But some of us remember.
Oh yes, you’re wondering about the Mickey Before the Mouse.  I must admit to having used that little device to capture your attention, but there really was a Mickey there before Mickey Mouse moved in.  Mickey was perhaps only a footnote in the annals of canine history, but this one was special.  He came into the life of a two-year-old little boy who immediately, on the spot, called him “Mickey,” though where that small boy had heard the name nobody knew.  And so Mickey lived with that boy and his family until the boy was seventeen years old, which meant that in dog years he was very old.  Mickey was of medium size, black with white paws and bib, and the type of dog you may have seen herding sheep in Scotland or Ireland.  He had all those herding instincts.  Mickey loved to herd chickens and ducks, to chase rabbits when he saw them, and knew where the boy slept, and so he slept at night under a branch of an orange tree outside the boy’s bedroom.  Mickey was a little afraid of being indoors, and much preferred being outdoors, even at night.  Lightning fast and agile on his feet, there were no balls to chase, but instead there were plenty of oranges that had dropped from the trees.  He loved to chase and retrieve them, no matter how far they were thrown.  He might not see an orange thrown out into the grove, but he would stop and listen until he heard it fall, and invariably bring back the same one.
            Mickey would watch the boy ride off to school on a bicycle, through grade school and on into high school, and in the afternoon when he sensed it was the right time, he would go out to where he could look down the road, and lie in the shade of a tree, and then run out to greet the boy and run alongside the bicycle on the way down the driveway.  Mickey had a long life, and was much loved by the family.  Yes, there was a Mickey in that place before the Mouse, and I was the boy. 

Thank you for listening, and my friend Mickey Mouse thanks you too.*


*The large Mickey Mouse character figure that was used in the Fortnightly Club presentation was presented to my mother, Marie Metz Edwards, by a Disneyland “Ambassador,” on the occasion of her 100th birthday celebration, together with a new “Passport” to Disneyland.  Ron Dominguez, a friend and neighbor, and Disneyland official, was also present for the occasion.  She enjoyed this Mickey Mouse, and displayed him in her apartment, but was unable, at that age, to go to Disneyland.

Some Families:

Laura and Paul Dominguez lived in a fine stately two-story home named “Wynila Home,” the name formed by the first two letters of the names of her parents, Wyram, Nicanora, and her own name, Laura Knowlton.  It was built on the  property owned by Laura’s family since the late 1880s.  Her father, Wyram Knowlton moved from Wisconsin, purchased property in that place, and married Nicanora Aguilar, daughter of a Spanish land grant family.  The Knowltons built the beautiful large house, and Laura was born there.  Laura married Paul Vincent Dominguez  (Christened Pablo Vicente Dominguez y Yorba) a grandson of Don Bernardo Yorba, land grantee of the Rancho Cañon de Santa Ana, comprising most of Santa Ana Canyon.  Laura and Paul’s sons, Paul Jr., and Ronald Knowlton Dominguez, were born there also.  Laura’s father had sold much of the land, but the family retained the home and 10 acres of prime orange trees, which in 1951 were sold to Disney.  The house became part of the administrative offices of the park, was eventually demolished to build new offices.  A small ceremony was made of the occasion, and Ron was given a sledge hammer and the “honor” of delivering the first blow to the house in which he and his brother and their mother had been born and grew up.  The Dominguez and Edwards families moved into town and continued as neighbors and very good friends for many more years.
            See also: Armor, Samuel,  History of Orange County, California.  Biographical sketches, p. 311)


Fred and Marie (Metz) Edwards were married in 1916, and lived for the first couple of years in Huntington Beach, until Standard Oil Co. transferred Fred’s work to Anaheim, where their two daughters, Marjorie Doris and Bessie Marie were born.  In about 1922, they purchased a walnut grove and chicken ranch, and a small house on Winston Road, two miles south of Anaheim.  The house was remodeled and expanded at least twice, to become a comfortable and beautiful home.  They soon ceased raising chickens, and in a few years took out the walnut trees and planted orange trees.  Son Fred, Jr., was born in 1932.  By that time, Fred Sr. was working for the Association Laboratory, where friend and neighbor Paul Dominguez also worked. There he learned about citrus, and later attended classes and seminars at the University of California’s citrus experimental station  at Riverside, where he learned still more.  About 1940, he started his own business of citrus grove management and advisory service, managing 1000 or more acres of citrus, and had a small home laboratory for soil testing.  He continued this business until his retirement in the late-1950s.  Marie and Fred were both active in the Methodist Church, and sang in choir.  Marie played piano, and saw that all three of the children learned to play an instrument.  In later years they enjoyed travel, beginning with Fred’s trip in 1947 back to England, where he had grown up, to see his mother for the first time in 38 years. Daughter Marjorie became a school teacher, and later a pilot with the WASPs.  Daughter Bessie Marie married and raised a family, and still later trained as a licensed vocational nurse.  Son Fred became a Methodist minister and writer, married artist Janet McLean Edwards, and raised a son and daughter.  Fred Sr. and Marie remained active in community and church, and social groups.  Fred Sr. died in 1964, and Marie in 2002, at age 105 ½.


Charles Peltzer was a wheat farmer in Kansas, with a wife and nine children.  All the sons were named for Popes, indicating this was a devout Roman Catholic family.  I remember the names of only two of the sons, Victor and Urban.  In 1913, the Peltzers sold their farm and moved to California, and purchased 20 acres planted with year old orange trees, and with 9 dairy cows.  When the parents became of an age to cease active farming, son Victor took over the property, and there he and wife Irma raised their own family until Disney purchased the land for part of Disneyland.  After the sale to Disney, Victor and son Charles II began a new chapter in Peltzer farming, this time raising Christmas trees.  The enterprise has now expanded to growing many other things, including pumpkins, and now the next generation, Charles III, who is often called “Farmer Charlie” runs much of the greatly expanded “Peltzer Farms,” a wonderful and entertaining place to take the children.


The Mauerhan family lived on Katella Avenue, just east of the Katella School, where all the Mauerhan children had attended.  Johann Conrad Mauerhan and his third wife, Gotlobin Lombard, and their seven children came from Reutlingen, Germany, to San Francisco, in or about 1875.  William Christian Mauerhan was one of the children by the third marriage, and he married Anna Clara Schroeder, on June 21, 1906, in Anaheim, California.  Anaheim’s German origin, and large population of families with
German ancestry probably made it a welcoming place for them.  William and Anna Clara had six children, four of whom lived to adulthood – Anna Claire, Clarence, Grace, and Marion.  The Mauerhan families owned property on both sides of Katella Avenue, some of which was not in included in the original Disney purchase, but some land was soon leased to Disney, which proved to be a good and profitable arrangement.  Additional business and sales of property resulted in considerable wealth for the Mauerhan family.  Fortunately the family had high moral and spiritual values and recognized the obligations of wealth, with the result of having been very generous to worthy causes, but never ostentatiously, for all of which they deserve the thanks of their beneficiaries.
            See also-


The Callens family emigrated to the United States from Mein, Belgium, in 1885.  Three sons, brothers Gustave J., Adolphe, and Joseph, came to Orange County about 1911.  They were enterprising agriculturalists and entrepreneurs.  In 1930 they owned and/or leased part of the Buck Ranch, now part of Huntington Beach, for the oil rights.  The brothers soon moved on to farm land in other parts of Orange County.  Gustave and his wife purchased acres of orange trees, and built a fine home in which they raised their family of four daughters and a son.  The children were all named for saints.  The daughters were Agnes, Anita, Angela, and Andrea, all with Mary as their middle name.  The son’s name was Gerard.  The children all attended Catholic schools. After the passing of Gustave, son Gerard soon began to manage the orchards.  Matriarch of this very Catholic family, Mrs. Callens, went to early Mass at St. Boniface Church every morning, returning home about 7:30.  The family home was a beautiful and imposing two story white stucco house.  The interior was mostly white, with beautiful hardwood floors, and furniture.  The Callens maintained a cow, and churned their own buttermilk and made their own butter, which we purchased from time to time.  Gustave “Gus” Callens had raised and raced pigeons, and for years Gerard continued to care for them.  Gerard married Anita Borchard, built a nice home  down the street from the home in which he had grown up,  They had a son whom they called Jerry.  Gerard died in a tragic auto accident.  The Callens groves and homes were in the middle of the Disney acquisition.  The Callens’ house was moved and joined to the Dominguez’ house and used for years for Disneyland administrative offices.

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