When I was 2 we left family and friends in Ohio in search of the California dream complete with blue skies and sunshine all year round. My parents were told by friends, Milt and Sue Legome, of this idyllic area in a new community south of Los Angeles called Orange County. Aptly named upon arriving we found acres and acres of orange groves, rolling hills, open land to roam, horse ranches and fruit stands. And sunshine all day long! After 40 odd years of living here, for most of us who got thrown from the horses, threw the oranges at school buses, and roamed wild all day, it still is absolutely idyllic!
We moved to one of the neighborhoods in North Tustin called Cowan Heights. There are many similarly charming neighborhoods in the area each with their own charm: Redhill Ridge (where silver was once mined and you can walk to the tennis club), Lemon Heights where many of the oldest homes in the county still stand, Barrett Hill and the Foothills – which have found huge popularity with our more cautious generation of parents in search of flat streets, cul-de-sacs and the joy of walking to school!
When those of us who grew up here we relive our childhoods daily as we drive down the streets: sweet memories of horse shows at Peacock Hill, the candy machine at Shady Canyon Horse Ranch, swimming in little Peter’s and being scolded by the sheriff, roasting hot dogs at the abandoned boy scout camp (now Bent Tree Park) and walking to Bob & Jean’s.
While the horses have moved out to Orange Park Acres and most of the orange trees are gone, what I love about North Tustin is that it has maintained a wonderful respect and reverence for nature. Peter’s Canyon is now a regional park, most real estate owners allow their trees to stand tall and proud, and kids play in the streets not in developed areas climbing their friends trees and play in their yards.
Sadly Orange County has gotten a reputation for being materialistic and shallow thanks to TV shows named after the county. But to me, and many of us who are here happily “Rustin’ in Tustin” our town is the antithesis of these values. People who live here don’t try and impress, they just want to live a comfortable family-oriented life amid the trees and hills God blessed us with.