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Remember When Santa Ana .... Postcards and Memories

by Juanita Lovret 

Reprinted from The Tustin News, 2001 Juanita Lovret. Used with permission.

Once upon a time Tustin folks relied on Santa Ana for doctors, dentists, optometrists, lawyers, funerals and any need not met by Tustin's bank, drug store, grocery stores, jeweler and feed store. The professional services and stores of Santa Ana were vital to our lives. For this reason flipping through Guy D. Ball's recently published Santa Ana in Vintage Postcards is like finding an old scrapbook. The Tustin resident, a transplant from New Jersey who has immersed himself in Santa Ana history as a member of the Santa Ana Preservation Society, has recreated the Santa Ana we once knew.


Many of the postcards show Santa Ana in its earliest days, but others are familiar enough to cause us to scan the sidewalk crowds looking for people we knew. Fourth Street is pictured exactly as it was when we popped into Davis Stationers for ink, writing paper or a typewriter ribbon after shopping for dresses at Rankin's, Steele's and Mattingly's.


Frozen in time on Main between Fifth and Sixth Streets, the Sears store and Horton's Furniture store flank the Arcade, a corridor-like building running between Main and Bush. With its string of small shops, the Arcade recalls special memories. I spent many hours there in a shop belonging to my best friend' s mother, sometimes actually being left in charge for a few minutes. This was not difficult since the establishment sold only colorful fabric remnants which were sold by the pound to be torn into strips for crocheting rag rugs. And here's Albert Sheetz, next to Montgomery Ward at the corner of Fourth and Main. How grown up we felt eating there before attending the Saturday matinee. The West Coast Theater was just across the intersection on Main and the Broadway a few blocks east on, if you can image, Broadway.


The clang of its bell is only in my mind, but the Pacific Electric Red Car appears to rattle down its tracks bisecting the length of Fourth Street. Passengers could board and alight at the intersections, some traveling all the way to Garden Grove and points beyond, others just going home to the west side.


Santa Ana's Andrew Carnegie Library and the Elks Lodge, both elegant old structures, are pictured as they once were, next door neighbors on Sycamore between Fifth and Sixth, with the Masonic Temple catty corner. The American Legion Hall on Birch as photographed could be waiting for the Tustin and Santa Ana teenagers who crowded it every Friday night for the DeMolay sponsored dance.


Away from the downtown area, a photo of the northeast corner of Seventeenth and Main captures the Seventeenth Pharmacy and Wilson's Seventeenth Street Market just as they were when I shopped with my mother. Cary's of Santa Ana, a restaurant north of Bower's on Main Street, and Kono Hawaii, where Don Ho performed, still exist on postcards which bring back memorable nights out.


Thanks for the memories, Guy!

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