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Orange County, California

I grew up in the 1960s and ‘70s in Orange County, and sometimes it's hard to recognize the place today. I don't mean the actual Orange County, I mean the growing image of the place as "the O.C." -- the rich, ritzy, coastal, snobbish stereotype. That's not the Orange County I grew up in (even though we had a summer place in Balboa), and it's not the Orange County I live in today. Yet the image is spreading, picked up by advertisers, magazines, and newspapers. It's an outsider's image -- wishful thinking, at best.

The real Orange County is much more than just "the O.C." Drive the bungalow-lined streets of Orange, or the winding roads in the hills above Tustin. Look at the unbroken swath of tract homes that spreads across Anaheim, Garden Grove, Westminster, and Fountain Valley, or visit the brushy canyons of the Santa Ana Mountains. Even in the newer planned communities of South County, tightly-packed townhomes are more common than lush estates. Sure we have our rich neighborhoods, and a narrow strip of coastline, but that's not how most of us live.

Now that I've gotten that off my chest, you can find a growing collection of stories from the history of Orange County on my new website: