Olive Through the Ages
As a child, I formed a strong curiosity about that secluded
community on a small, raised area north of where I lived, ever within
view, but always at a distance. Olive seemed an exclusive and elusive
secret garden of a place to me, enveloped in its own time warp with
its hilly and narrow streets lined with antique pepper trees and quaint
houses. And at the foot of that rise, the dilapidated wooden church
beside the railroad spur, the old-fashioned corner gas station and garage,
the Sunkist packing house with its time-worn facade, and the brick yard
with its outdoor kilns... all of these rustic but picturesque sights
hinted at layers of a rich past now fading into deep recesses of black
and white memories.
In the early 2000s I decided to look up Olive on the Internet and was
dismayed to find scarcely any information available. Was Olive not important
enough to have its own Web site? Why not? Growing up close to this historic
spot and having lived here nearly my entire life, I recall what Olive
used to be but sadly watched remnants of it paved away or bulldozed
into oblivion through the passage of time. In my adult years, The
Orange County Register even speculated with great concern about
Olive's future—that this shrinking community would one day be
erased from the map, gradually absorbed into the City of Orange.
My fondness of Olive was greater than I realized, because I felt compelled
to build a Web site to preserve whatever was left of it. In doing so,
I hoped to keep the memories of Olive alive and also perhaps resolve
the mystery in my own life as to why this place has long held my fascination.
Research led me to the Orange County Archives, Orange Public Library,
and Santa Ana Public Library History Room. I wanted to represent as
much of Olive's history as possible on the Web site, so found myself
exploring subjects relatively unknown to me, such as the Ranchero era,
waterworks, the history of the railroad, citrus packing houses and other
commercial businesses in the area. I soon realized that this research
was only the beginning. There was much more to learn.
Olive Through the Ages was launched in 2005, but I felt I should still
be researching Olive. Questions remained unanswered; in particular,
why this place just beyond my reach still haunted me.
Early in 2009, out of the blue I was contacted by a then-new site visitor,
Gordon T. McClelland, who has authored several books pertaining to local
history subjects such as watercolor artists in Southern California and
citrus crate labels. Sharing his youthful remembrances of Olive and
knowledge about the community, as well as Olive-related images and articles
from his personal collection, Gordon inspired me to create a new section
of the Web site called "The Living Branch." In time, that
section of the Web site grew larger than the original Web site. In 2013,
the two sections were combined to streamline the Web site and make it
easier to navigate.
These days, as I walk along the streets of Olive and its surrounding
area, having learned and experienced all I have about Olive to date,
I still find Olive that elusive place in time, but now I also see its
glorious history unfolding before my eyes; a history that reveals itself
in each image I behold and each story that is told. This history is
presented in these pages.
It is my hope that this Web site will inspire each visitor and give
an appreciation of this place that is close to many of our hearts and
remains inexplicably unforgettable.
And if you too would like to share your memories about Olive, please