Treasures and Tales from Sherman Library’s Collections

A Real Catch: The Newport Harbor Lady Anglers

…When a woman is serious about fishing, watch out… Mrs. Burns, Member of the Newport Lady Anglers, Los Angeles Times Article , 1971 In 1949, eleven women established the Newport Harbor Lady Anglers to create opportunities for women to practice their fishing skills and to meet other women with similar interests, at a time when fishing clubs were male-only organizations.  Founding member Clara Keeler said they created the club because female fishing enthusiasts were growing discontent that their husbands went on fishing trips that women were not permitted to partake in. The Newport Harbor Lady Anglers soon became competition for

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Santa Ana: The Heart of Orange County

It is that time of year when Valentine’s Day decorations and advertising pop-up everywhere and the old tradition of exchanging hearts begins. The heart, as a symbol, has been used for many other types of advertising.  Interestingly many cities have described their cities as having “heart.”  Remember, the “I Love NY” slogan?  Well, as a matter of fact, at one time in Orange County, the Santa Ana Chamber of Commerce also used a heart to define their city. In 1919, the Santa Ana Chamber of Commerce produced a quaint little booklet, in the shape of a small orange, titled Santa

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Dana and Ginger Lamb: Orange County’s Enchanted Vagabonds

On February 19, 1933 when Dana Lamb and Virgina “Ginger” Bishop married, Orange County was a quiet place compared to today. The couple had grown up in Orange County, both having graduated from Santa Ana High School.  But for Dana and Ginger Lamb, civilization had encroached too far into Orange County.  They yearned for adventure – and perhaps a bit of fame. So, in August 1933, they embarked on what became a three-year,16,000-mile honeymoon in their homemade, sixteen-foot canoe, the Vagabunda. The over of Enchanted Vagabonds, the Lamb’s bestselling book. Their adventure took them from Newport Beach down the Pacific

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The Tournament of Lights

In another reminder that 2020 is a year like no other, the Newport Beach Christmas Boat Parade has been canceled.  Next year we will undoubtedly see a return of this popular event. In another reminder that 2020 is a year like no other, the Newport Beach Christmas Boat Parade has been canceled.  Next year we will undoubtedly see a return of this popular event. The Christmas Boat Parade and its predecessor the Tournament of Lights have a long history, that include cancellations due to wartime regulations, the energy crisis, and financial difficulties. Yet, the popularity of the event has always

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Costa Mesa “The Gateway to Newport Harbor”

In 1999, Costa Mesa changed its city slogan from “The Hub of the Harbor” to “The City of the Arts.”  It is home to Segerstrom Center for the Arts, South Coast Repertory theater and South Coast Plaza, one of the nation’s most successful shopping centers.  Yet, Costa Mesa was not always known for these attractions. . . In 1926, Costa Mesa’s Chamber of Commerce wanted to entice people to move to Costa Mesa so, like many other cities, they created a city brochure to entice people to live and work in their community.  It tagged Costa Mesa as “The Gateway

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Supermarkets come to Newport Beach

From the start of World War II through the early 1960s California’s population increased dramatically, making it the most populous state by 1962.  Like California as a whole, Newport Beach  grew faster than any point its history, from 4,438 residents in 1940 to 26,564 in 1960.  The influx of new residents also meant an increased need for housing and shopping. Small neighborhood stores such as Arborn’s Harbor Market on Balboa Island were typical in the years prior to World War II.  But with the increased population, larger stores became viable.  Supermarkets, characterized by larger stores, self-service shopping and individual departments

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Ostrich Farms: An Early Southern California Tourist Destination

Marie Antoinette, the Queen of France, ignited a fashion trend when she accessorized headpieces and hats with beautiful dyed ostrich feathers. Ostrich feathers quickly became a flamboyant accessory for hats, headpieces, trim on dresses or jackets, along with colorful boas. More than a century after Marie Antoinette was led to the guillotine, ostrich feathers were South Africa’s fourth most valuable export, after gold, diamonds, and wool. Given the value of ostrich feathers and the fact that Southern California’s climate is similar to the bird’s natural habitat, enterprising southern Californians decided to compete with South African suppliers. Between 1883 and 1911,

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Merle’s Drive-in

Merle’s Drive-in at MacArthur and Coast Highway, May 9th, 1952. Beckner Collection, Sherman Library. Merle’s Coffee shop opened in 1951 at the corner of Coast Highway and MacArthur Blvd., a space now occupied by the Corona del Mar Plaza. Merle’s, which billed itself as a drive-in, offered a typical menu of coffee shop staples.  In the early 1960s, the restaurant changed ownership and Merle’s became The Zoo drive-in.  Perhaps the most memorable feature of The Zoo was the gorilla-costumed employee who stood on the corner to attract customers. Interior of Merle’s Coffee Shop, 1952. Beckner Collection, Sherman Library. Miss Orange

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Kay Finch: Corona del Mar Artist

For more than twenty years, the ceramicist Kay Finch produced artful porcelain figurines in a studio near the corner of Coast Highway and Hazel Ave.  Kay, along with her staff, created whimsical figurines glazed in pastel colors.    She employed a meticulous, multiple-step process, which included multiple firings and hand decorating. She was best known for animal figures, especially dogs. Kay and Braden Finch moved to Corona del Mar in 1939 to build a little ceramics studio just off  Hazel Avenue.   The outbreak of World War II and the ban of imported goods to the United States created high

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