Hat’s off to founding father R.Q.

THE OLD Orange County Courthouse opened in 1901, a dozen years after the county was established. It is still in use; it’s the place where you can still get your marriage license (Orange County Tribune photo).

George Washington, John Adams and Thomas Jefferson were among the founding fathers of the United States of America, but can you name any of the folks who made Orange County a reality?

Neither could we, until we stumbled upon the story of R. Q. Wickham, a Garden Grove resident who is said to have helped lead the charge in 1889 to separate what was then called the “Santa Ana Valley” from Los Angeles County.

A HEADLINE from the June 8, 1889 Santa Ana Standard newspaper.

Like many people in what would become the OC, Wickham was a man of many talents and occupations. Born in Hancock County, Ohio, he moved west, traversing Iowa, the Dakotas and Nebraska, finally landing in California. Although he had been a printer and a teacher, he joined a real estate business and rented a house in Garden Grove.

In Jim Sleeper’s book “Turn the Rascals Out!”, Wickham earns credit for enthusiastically pushing for “separation,” gathering signatures for petitions to place the matter before voters.

Through his – and other people’s – efforts, folks here voted overwhelmingly to create the new county, by a vote of 3,004 in favor and 998 opposed. The main focus of dissent came from Anaheim, where it was rejected 231-12, probably because the new county would have Santa Ana as its seat.

Wickham’s status as a founding dad earned him election as OC’s first county clerk. In 1892, he was elected to the state Assembly as a Republican.  He would later become editor of the short-lived Orange County Herald newspaper.

Taking some time off from school

The return to hybrid instruction – a combination of in-person teaching and distance learning – on Feb. 2 in the Huntington Beach Union High School District  may create some changes in the teaching lineup.

According to published reports, “approximately 60 teachers” have opted to take leaves of absence to avoid potential exposure to the coronavirus, or for other reasons connected to the pandemic. While effective vaccines have been developed to prevent infection, teachers are not at the front of the line to be inoculated, unless they are 65 years old or older.

According to the HBUHSD’s “dashboard” (https://covid19.hbuhsd.edu) three staff members and 37 students are confirmed coronavirus cases. Edison High had the most, with 11 students and one staff member; Huntington Beach High had the fewest, with three student cases.

Duck, duck, go get a Duck

The coronavirus pandemic has been tough on a lot of people and a lot of businesses, especially eateries. SteelCraft, an outdoor urban food hall in Garden Grove, has been especially hard-hit. Slumping business due to fears of the pandemic have led to the closures – temporarily, we hope – of most of the food stands there, which have led to fewer patrons.

DUCK DONUTS is set to open at SteelCraft in Garden Grove on Feb. 12.

But with signs of improvement showing up in declining statistics about new cases and hospitalizations, hope is on the horizon.

The latest sign of new life is the impending debut of Duck Donuts, which will have its grand opening on Friday, Feb. 12 from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Duck is a national chain based mostly in the East Coast. The only local Duck Donut store is at the Five Points Plaza at Main Street and Beach Boulevard in Huntington Beach.

What’s unique about his donut shop is the confections are made-to-order with wide variety of coatings (including lemon, peanut butter, chocolate, etc.) toppings (rainbow sprinkles, chopped bacon, shredded cocoanut) and drizzles (hot fudge, marshmallow, salted caramel and raspberry).

So, if you want to help re-invigorate SteelCraft, you might wish to “duck” in and see what the lip-smacking is all about.

“Usually Reliable Sources” is posted every other week, alternating with Jim Tortolano’s “Retorts” column.



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