It's been 50 years since my late husband John and I left Tucson and put down our roots in Costa Mesa, and I feel like celebrating!
All things considered, it's been an exciting 50 years and looking back, I am very thankful that I didn't leave Costa Mesa, and I don't plan to leave in the future. It's a city where, although not perfect, middle-class families with children, singles, and seniors representing many cultures enjoy a wonderful quality of life.
I am still in love with Costa Mesa: its people, fresh Pacific Ocean breezes, (I never use air conditioning) our nature and playground parks, the multi-ethnic vibe, endless creativity...the fun just never ends!
So how did John and I find Costa Mesa? Or how did Costa Mesa find us?
In 1968 John enlisted in the Army Reserves during the Vietnam War and did his basic training at Ft. Knox. We were married in Tucson in 1969 at the end of my junior year at the University of Arizona. I graduated in 1970 with a BA in Education with an English major and journalism minor.
While I taught high school journalism and English for two years at Canyon del Oro High school, John completed his BS in architecture and graduated in 1972.
Immediately after John's graduation, we were ready to strike out on our own (and leave the heat for cool California). John landed a job with the famous America's Cup winner and local architect Bill Ficker, and we moved to an apartment in Westminster, and he started working at the very cool Ficker offices on the old Irvine Ranch on Bison.
I was hired as a reporter, likely because of my very short 70's mini skirt, at the Santa Ana Register on Grand Ave. and reported on the City of Tustin affairs, its schools and city government and sometimes the Orange County Department of Education the OC Planning Commission. The newsroom was noisy with busy reporters typing on typewriters without spell check and using carbon copies. There were no copying machines.
COSTA MESA HERE WE COME!
A dear friend from junior high school lived in Huntington Beach at the corner of Hamilton and Brookhurst, so we were familiar with the Costa Mesa area when we started looking for a home to buy.
We drove west on Brookhurst and turned left on Victoria, driving up "the hill". We spotted the "Open House" sign on Valley Circle, by the small shopping center. The lots were long and narrow and there it was: a cute 3-bedroom home for $24,500.
The realtor told us that very soon, a "big marina" would be near our home, bringing the Pacific Ocean to the Marina Highlands bluffs just a block away. In those days, Costa Mesa's motto was "Hub of the Harbor." It would be a great investment! We could add a second story someday and have an ocean view. My smart, architect husband could design the second story!
Also, thinking ahead, Victoria School was just a block away so our (future) kids could walk to school. I was a product of Chicago area public schools and John went to public school in Tucson and we believed in public education.
We borrowed the down payment from John's folks, bought the house and moved into our "heaven on earth" in Costa Mesa.
Next: Costa Mesa in the 70's.