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Old Days: Basque Tract
Bordered by Commonwealth in the south, Malvern in the north, the Hunt Food factory in the west and Nicholas/Euclid in the west.



Inexpensive homes for GIs returning from World War Two and Korea  .. as little as $6,000 for a two bedroom home, one bathroom, front and back yard .. dads worked at Hunt Food, Kohlenberger Engineering, Hughes Aircraft, Kimberly Clark, Laura Scudder, Automatics, Northrup, elsewhere .. not unusual for a dad to commute to LA, Long Beach, Downey for work .. home of many of the greatest 1960s Lancer athletes: the McGuire Brothers, the Martin Brothers, the Shepard brothers, and more ., their field was Adlena Park, where they played from almost dawn to dusk on Saturdays .. Boys with butch haircuts, paper routes, playing marbles, riding pedal bikes ,, Girls with Tony hairstyles, barrettes, shirtwaists, pointy tennis shoes, Mary Jane shoes, cardigan sweaters, learning to cook and bake from Mom and Grandma .. Hula Hoops, Slinkys, BB rifles, Monopoly games, paddles with a little ball on a rubber string, jacks, jump rope, homemade skateboards made from a roller skate and a plank of wood ..  hundreds and hundreds of families, predominantly from Oklahoma, Arkansas, Kansas, Nebraska, Iowa, Minnesota, the Dakotas, Texas, Michigan, Indiana, Wisconsin, Kentucky, Tennessee, and then other states .. The Village Market at Commonwealth & North Basque, the coffee shop .. Giovanni’s on Williamson Way from the moment it opened in 1957 .. across Malvern and up Carhart, Hilltop Market (the Little Green Market) .. expeditions up to the lake to fish .. Golden Hill Little League, meeting all those boys .. dads who were police officers, engineers, worked in stores, lumber yards, auto repair shops, aircraft mechanics, airport workers  .. the neighborhood was built around 1946-1947 by the Jewett Brothers .. many streets named for Jewett family people: Adlena, Delphine, Diana, Julie, Gregory  .. by the 1950s, trees were still small, bigger by 1960s .. Steady flow of West Fullerton kids walking north on North Basque to Sunny Hills High School, weekdays during the school year .. Basque Tract kids went to Ford Elementary School and then later Fern Drive Elementary School, or some to Golden Hill Elementary School .. also went to either Wilshire Junior High, or some to Nicolas Junior High .. by 1958, back yard incinerators were gone, or should have been .. largely Nixon for President area in 1960 election, but with plenty for Kennedy, too .. both boys and some brave girls played in the barranca just below Malvern, paved in concrete around 1960 .. the good smell of cooking always in the air — meatloaf, steaks, pork chops, roasts, breakfast bacon, sometimes fresh hot bread, plenty of cakes, pies, cupcakes, doughnuts .. and for better or worse, Hunt Food, less than a block away .. When the Hunt Branch Library was opened in about 1962, many of the Basque Tract kids went there instead of the downtown library on Pomona .. had to cross the railroad tracks or go on the long way, Euclid or Brookhurst .. close alliances with Williamson Way friends .. shopping at the Market Basket when it was built around 1955, Nicholas (Euclid) & Commonwealth .. visits to Roy’s Pets, picking up stuff for mom at Baker’s Drug .. living convenient to the Snack Shop across from Market Basket .. most boys went to the Boys Club, about a mile east on Commonwealth .. Lots of friends also across Nicholas/Euclid on streets like Roosevelt, Amerige, Chapman, Woods .. Basque Tract families went to all the churches in town, plus the synagogue on Wilshire Boulevard in Los Angeles (the closest until Temple Beth Shalom was built on Tustin & Fairhaven in Santa Ana) and later Temple Beth Tikvah on North Acacia in Fullerton, and of course LDS .. The streets of Basque Tract were generally quiet and peaceful .. but not always! By junior high school age, most kids had friends in West Fullerton, the Fern Drive neighborhood, Valencia Mesa neighborhood, and Sunny Hills, and the other parts of Fullerton from Wilshire .. Many families went up to The Barn on Valencia Mesa to square dance .. Main shopping areas were the Orangefair Shopping Center, the Buena Park Shopping Center, the Broadway Shopping Center in Anaheim, Buffum’s in Santa Ana, Bullocks Fashion Square in Santa Ana and La Habra .. You were likely to see a boy or girl from Basque Tract working at any hamburger or taco stand around, in restaurants, or in clothing stores, or at gas stations around town, and the libraries, too .. Many worked at Disneyland or Knott’s Berry Farm, especially Mrs. Knott’s Chicken Dinner Restaurant .. When the Vietnam War came along in 1962, probably more Basque Tract young men served in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Coast Guard or Marines than any other neighborhood in Fullerton .. Basque Tract had been a huge orange grove until the end of World War Two .. lot of guys in car clubs, older sisters and brothers who went to Fullerton Union High School .. kids would go up to the big Muckenthaler house on Malvern and see the trapdoor spider holes and pigmy lemon trees west of the main house .. Daring boys would sometimes venture out to the airport .. or into the City Yards at South Basque by the railroad tracks, where all the city trucks were parked and maintained ..  Major activity was working on cars and hot rods on driveway and in garages, whole families of guys and their dads .. Every time a friend of yours got a new car (even a  new used car), he had to let you drive it around the block! .. Everything from Kaisers to DeSotos to Mercury’s to Nashes and more .. Many Basque Tract kids began their morning at the Brookhurst & Valencia donut shop with friends before school ..


a great, wonderful safe place to live!

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Don Martin, 64 on March 25, 2019 at 10:38 AM said:

Paul, you've done a remarkable job of capturing our youth as we grew up in the Basque Tract. I have always felt blessed to have grown up in that "neck of the woods". Playing in the barranca, whenever it rained hard enough to run over to the trestles and jump in. The Over-The-Line games at Adlena Park. Cub Scouts with Shep and Randy Palmer and others. Delivering papers on Randy's paper route. Pooling our money to go to the Village Market to buy cokes, chips and TOPPS baseball cards. Ah, the halcyon days of our youth!!!!
LInda Percan,’67 on March 24, 2019 at 5:12 PM said:

More memories.... walking up the hill to Fern Dr. past the chicken ranch and crunching eucalyptus leave to cover the smell from the chicken ranch on a hot summer day. The pool at Adelena Park, summertime movies on the wall at the park and the ice cream man. Almost all the houses had alley's that we'd use a shortcuts to get from one block to another. Spying on the hobos in the baranca under the trestles by Hunts. Catching butterflies, watching cacoons hatch. It was an excelent neighborhood in which to grow up.
Paul Shepard, ‘64 on March 24, 2019 at 5:11 PM said:

Thanks for the memories, Paul. Growing up in the Basque Tract was special. In adfition to the memories you mention, I remember being in Y Indian Guides in first and second grades, and Cub Scouts in third through fifth grades, with Don Martin, Tim Twombly (before they moved elswhere in town) and other youngsters who went to Golden Hill and Fern Drive schools. Also, running errands to the Village Market for neighborhood mothers, sometimes receiving a dime or a quarter for my time and trouble; and frequently taking returnable soda bottles (2 - 5 cents deposit each) to a Village Market for enough spending money to buy a candy bar (5 cents) and soda (10 cents). Later, I had a News Tribune paper route in the “newer” area from Orchard Avenue to Russell Avenue; and, even later washed dishes at the Village Inn Cafe during sophomore through senior years at SHHS to earn money for athletic shoes, required athletic insurance, to buy my first car, and other necessary expenses for a 1960’s teenage boy. Growing up in the post-war Basque Tract was a learning experience I would not trade for anything - and something from which I believe later generations of kids could have greatly benefitted.
Tommy Kerr '67 on March 24, 2019 at 4:51 PM said:

That brought back a lot of great memories. Thank you for that Paul. So well written too. Nice,,,,,,,,,,


Thank you, Tommy! - Paul

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