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Mesa Musings:

Park is full of delights

July 01, 2009|By Jim Carnett

I love TeWinkle Park.

I never thought I’d hear myself say that; but I have — and, I do.

As a lifelong resident, I’ve watched the park grow from nothing into something lovely and praiseworthy. What it’s become is a far cry from what it once was. A massive turn-of-the-21st century refurbishment project did the trick.

I amble daily through the 49-acre park in northeast Costa Mesa while on my early morning constitutional. I see dozens of people of all ages strolling, walking briskly, jogging, riding bikes and doing Tai Chi throughout its bucolic environs.

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What I’ve fallen in love with are the park’s showcase lakes and waterfalls, tennis and volleyball courts, baseball and softball fields, amphitheater, picnic tables and, of course, its well-maintained Angels Playground, constructed last year. And, who can ignore TeWinkle’s impressive “hill?”

My family has enjoyed a decades-long association with the park. My four kids played in the park throughout the 1970s and into the 1980s. One of them, early on, accidentally labeled it “Winkletink.” That’s the name by which our family knows it today.

Though not truly a “natural area,” TeWinkle regularly attracts a wide assortment of water fowl, including such rare species as Hooded Mergansers, Yellow-Throated Warblers and Plumbeous Vireos. A few years back, my little grandson — who’s now not so little — felt it the greatest honor to feed breadcrumbs to the “gucks” in the lake.

My parents walked the park’s expanses before it was a park, in the early 1940s. At that time, it was an unspecified plot near the parade ground of the Santa Ana Army Air Base. My dad was a cadet at the base, and later was permanently assigned there. My mom was a civilian employee. They met at the base and had a whirlwind World War II romance.

The late Fran Albers, who was OCC’s first maintenance and operations chief and served the college for 33 years, once told me shortly after the campus opened in 1948 he routinely went dove hunting on what is today Costa Mesa High School and TeWinkle property.

“Each September and October I’d bring my 12-gauge shotgun to campus,” he told me during a 1998 interview (Bet present Police Chief Christopher Shawkey, would frown on that behavior today).

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