Oh, gee … I remember Gemco!

BELISLE’S RESTAURANT in Garden Grove at Chapman and Harbor.

Are you “OG?” Or perhaps “OGG?”

OG is slang for “original gangster,” a term which started on the mean streets of L.A. and which has come to mean “old school” or a long-time-resident of an area or veteran of a profession or skill.

A lot of our readers are OG, mostly because – let’s face it – hardly anyone under the age of 40 reads a newspaper (or news website) any more).

So, you may be OG if you remember:

  • The Green Shack in Huntington Beach where the oil workers, wildcatters and roustabouts liked to hang out
  • The slowly saluting giant Chevron service station attendant at Katella Avenue and Harbor Boulevard in Anaheim
  • Southern Hills Miniature Golf Course in Stanton on Beach Boulevard, where there were absolutely no hills
  • Belisle’s Restaurant at Harbor Boulevard and Chapman Avenue in Garden Grove, which served brownies as big as your head (well, almost)
  • Barber City, one of the communities absorbed into Westminster
  • Any of these now-defunct stores: The Treasury, Boston Stores, J.J. Newberry, SQR, Robert Hall, Orbach’s, Food Giant, Mayfair, Fazios, Wineman’s, Broadway, Montgomery Ward, Gemco
  • Any of these now-gone eateries: The Pink Spot, Priscilla’s Cake Box, Imperial Restaurant, Charley Brown’s, Me N Ed’s, The Jolly Knight, Victoria Station, Bob’s Big Boy (gone from Orange County, anyway), Circus Wagon.
  • The original name of these shopping areas: The Promenade (Orange County Plaza), Bella Terra (Huntington Center), The Outlets at Orange (The City), Koreatown (Garden Square), MainPlace (Santa Ana Fashion Square).
  • These gone (or re-purposed) schools: Mendenhall Elementary (later a continuation school, replaced by housing), 17th Street School in Westminster (torn down for senior housing) Chapman Intermediate School in West Garden Grove (now an adult education center), Fitz Intermediate School (the original; closed because of earthquake safety issues, repurposed into Garden Grove’s first  city hall, torn down).
  • These organizations: Active 20-30 Club, Junior Chamber of Commerce, Tall Teens, Junior Women’s Civic Club, Silver Belles Grandmothers Club.

I could go on and on (and probably do). Which raises the question: in a few years, how many of the current stores, restaurants, landmarks, etc. will survive only as memories for a new bunch of OG’s?


Jim Tortolano’s Retorts columns appear on Wednesdays and Saturdays. Usually.

Categories: Opinion

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3 replies »

  1. Naugles, Texas Loosey’s, Fedco, Federated, National Lumber, Ole’s, Builder’s Emporium, The Wherehouse

  2. Right on Jim! I remember them all. I remember learning to drive at the Gemco parking lot on Harbor and I LOVED Belle Isle’s! Great memories. Warm memories. Thanks for posting that.

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