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Mailbag: Remembering Merle's Drive-in

May 17, 2012

Re. Carnett: OCC's early dorm residents quite the party animals (May 15):

Come on now. Jim Carnett writes an article of history in Newport Beach and Costa Mesa and doesn't even know the name of one of America's greatest drive-in restaurants? Merle's Drive-in.

Merle's was the original name until the 1970s, when the name changed to the Zoo. Then, they even had a guy in a gorilla suit waving a sign out front until the day it closed, sometime before 1982.

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Merle's was huge in the '60s and drew all the fastest cars in Southern California to race on either MacArthur Boulevard up from Coast Highway, or some went all the way down to Brookhurst Street and Coast Highway, where in the late '60s we laid down more than 175 feet of H70 x 15 Firestone tire tread, going sideways all the way.

Anyway, if you need information on various old-time hang-outs in Newport, the resources are almost endless. Hey, Sid Soffer had Sid's Blue Beat by the Newport Pier. The Chinese restaurant just around the corner was the best. Their waiter Tim Morgan sang at the Prison of Socrates on the Balboa Peninsula right between the Harbor Inn and that New York City pizza joint. Dillman's was the original restaurant there across from the Orange Julius.

Finally, Mr. Editor, ask your writers to dig out the facts. No generic, "there was a restaurant there." These are modern days and Google is available for all. Tell Carnett to consider using it on occasion.

Ron and Anna Winship

Corona del Mar

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Coastline building an eyesore

Regarding the new Coastline College campus construction, Britney Barnes' puff piece about this monster building makes no mention of the eventual impact on the neighborhood including traffic and noise ("Construction continues for Coastline's Newport campus, May 17).

Actually, the noise is already a constant din beginning early in the morning and continuing late into the afternoon, even on Saturdays. This huge complex, which sort of resembles the Great Wall of China, suddenly popped up out of nowhere right over my back fence a few months ago, and it has eliminated a wonderful view I once had of snow-capped mountains.

I fear that it serves as an appetizer to let me and my neighbors get a taste for the proposed Banning Ranch development now awaiting approval from the Planning Commission which is supposed to include a big sports complex to be built adjacent to the Coastline facility.

My advice to all Newport Beach residents is to not be complacent and to pay more attention to what they may be planning soon for a new development next to your back yard. My only hope is that like just about everything else around here, it will get torn down in a decade or so. I can't wait.

Lenard E. Davis

Newport Beach

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