Remember When Santa Ana .... Elevators
by Juanita Lovret
Reprinted from The Tustin News, 2001 Juanita Lovret. Used with permission.
Tustin had no elevators while I was growing up although there were two buildings with second floors. Bank Hall atop the historic First National Bank of Tustin building really didn't count because no one ever seemed to use it by the 30s. The second floor of the Knights of Pythias building, however, was in constant use. Lodge brothers and their counterparts, Pythian Sisters, frequently trudged up and down the steep stairs. On occasion others used the facility. Tustin High often held dances in the ballroom. The stairs as was customary in buildings of that age, circa 1925, were tucked in between the front windows of the drug store, now the Chamber of Commerce offices, and the adjoining shop.
These steps are still the only access to the lodge rooms although they have been made easier with the addition of a sit down elevator.
The unpleasantness of having to visit our doctor's office in the Surgeon Building in Santa Ana were softened by the opportunity to ride in an elevator.
A cigar-newspaper-candy counter manned by a old codger who always wore a vest and visor fronted the minuscule lobby entrance off Fourth Street. Behind this was the single elevator to the three floors of offices.
Elevators in those days were not self operated. An attendant welcomed you to his conveyance and asked whose office you were visiting. He would then close the door, push one of the buttons on the operating panel and chat with you until the elevator stopped at the correct floor. Other passengers were rare, but if another person or two crowded in with you, he could deliver them to their destination with the same ease.
Rankin's Dry Goods Store also had an elevator to take you to the office on the mezzanine or the third floor. Since the children's department was located on three, I got to ride in that elevator quite often. Although Santa Ana had other buildings with elevators including the town's first high rise, the First National Bank building erected in 1923, and the Masonic Temple built in 1930, I don't remember riding in them.
Stairs I remember. As seventh and eighth graders we raced or labored up to our dancing class, depending on our mood, using the steep flight of steps leading to the hall over the Alpha Beta grocery store. Climbing to the second floor of the Penney store was easier. Their staircase was wide with a gentler elevation.
Visiting Mrs. Daniger's tearoom on the second floor of the Santora Building for lunch or dinner was an elegant experience. A little girl could only feel graceful and glamorous. drifting up the beautiful Spanish style double staircase.
Then came the day my mother and I came up against our first self-operated elevator in a multi-story building in an Anaheim, but that's another story.