Orange Coast Magazine - - OC Answer Man

O.C. Answer Man | by Chris Jepsen

Q: I’ve seen references to a Nixon’s Restaurant in Fullerton. Any link to the late president?
Between 1952 and 1956, Richard’s brother, F. Donald, opened family restaurants in Whittier, Fullerton, and Anaheim. (There also was a Watergate Motel in Anaheim, but that’s another story.) Nixon Burgers were 20 cents and the restaurants’ mascot was a thrifty Scotsman. Strangely, billionaire Howard Hughes lent the chain $205,000 to (unsuccessfully) keep it out of bankruptcy. Accusations of the then-vice president favoring Hughes with government contracts dogged later campaigns, and President Nixon—wary of his brother’s somewhat sketchy business practices—found him a “safe” job at the Marriott Corp. But he also wiretapped Don’s phone to keep tabs on him. 


Q: What were the first ‘green energy’ technologies invented in Orange County?
A: “Wave motors,” designed to harness the power of the ocean, were the rage among Southern California inventors from the 1870s to the early 1900s. Projects cropped up in Huntington Beach, Newport Beach, and elsewhere. Santa Ana blacksmith D.F. Spangler’s 1896 version failed for the usual reason: Maintenance on a machine in unpredictable seas is far more expensive than generating power through other means. But at least Spangler made an honest effort. A number of wave motor schemes merely separated investors from their money. Seems like wave motors presaged the “green power” movement in more ways than one.


Q: Did Orange County host any of the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics? 
A: I smell a driving tour! Venues included Cal State Fullerton’s gym (handball), the Anaheim Convention Center (wrestling), Irvine’s Heritage Park Aquatic Center (pentathlon and  swimming), and the Coto Valley Country Club and Coto de Caza Equestrian Center (more pentathlon). The Olympic cyclists’ route through Mission Viejo began at Olympiad Road near Lake Mission Viejo, turned right on Marguerite Parkway, left on Los Alisos Boulevard, left on Mustang Run, right on Crucero, left on Hidalgo, left on Vista del Lago, right on Marguerite, left on La Paz, and left on Olympiad, back to the beginning. You can stop for smoothies on the way.


Illustration by Devon Bowman

Chris Jepsen is the O.C. Answer Man. Have a question? Send it to

This article originally appeared in the November 2012 issue.

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