‘Forgotten Wonders’ of OC

HI-WAY 39 Drive-In under construction in 1955 (Orange County Archives).

There used to be a thing called “The Seven Wonders of the World,” mostly extinct (and possibly mythical) places and buildings that out stand out as monuments to the creativity and history of the people who established them.

I got to thinking  – as someone who grew up in our West Orange County area – what might be “The Four Forgotten Wonders” of our communities.

For Garden Grove I would nominate “Kid’s Haven,” the “lake” at Chapman Avenue and West Street that – for a generation or so of kids – was a  chance to relive the Mark Twain life of going down to the “fishin’ hole” and laze away the summer days under your straw hat, hoping to get a bite.

Somewhere along the line, the lake was converted to its principal function as a stormwater reading basin, and closed to recreational uses. An attempt by local service clubs revive its past glories was unsuccessful, but the opportunity remains.

In Westminster, perhaps the most memories – some of them somewhat naughty – originated at the Highway 39 Drive-In, located on Beach Boulevard at Trask Avenue.

It started out as a single-screen outdoor movie house in 1955, and eventually expanded to four, operating until it was closed in 1997 to make way for a shopping center anchored by the area’s first Walmart store.

It was was the largest drive-in  (1900 spaces at its peak) and was Orange County’s last of its kind. Films great and silly were screened there, but there were many teenagers who smirked, “Who cares what the picture was?” Lots of romances – and perhaps offspring – got their start there.

  Part Two of our “Four Forgotten Wonders” will follow in Saturday’s Retorts.

Categories: Opinion

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