Olive Through the Ages

About this web site

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 join us.

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