Get History Lesson and Doggie Breath Medicine on Same Stroll

<i> Benjamin Epstein is a free-lance writer who contributes regularly to the Times Orange County. </i>

Mary Newland of Huntington Beach used to visit her daughter in Palm Springs, traveling by horse and buggy. Now, a few doors from the Newland House and less than a century later, 2-year-olds are playing on computers at Futurekids. Chew on the wonder of it all over kung pao tofu.

Noon to 1 p.m.: The Newland House Museum is the site of the first house in Huntington Beach, built in 1898. William and Mary Newland raised 10 children in the turreted Victorian farmhouse. When William, “the barley king,” died in 1933, his wife continued to operate the ranch until the mid-'40s; the family occupied the property until Mary’s death in 1952, at 93.

The house, now owned by the city, originally had no inside plumbing; water was carted in, from the water tower out back, until the 1920s. According to docent Lelene Smith, Mary did all the cooking, for her family and up to 70 employees, on the wood-burning stove, delivering lunches to the fields and dinners to the bunkhouse. The kids took turns in one big tub. Said Smith, “We always ask the schoolchildren, ‘Would you want to go in the tub first, or last?’ ”

In the kitchen are such artifacts as a mustache cup and a cherry-pitter. Upstairs in the master bedroom are a scissors-like contraption used to melt wax for mustaches, a curling iron actually made of iron and heated over the fire, and, for dressy occasions, elaborate headpieces crocheted from the Newland women’s own hair. Many of the children’s clothes are displayed.


“All the little boys wore dresses,” Smith said. “They were babies, whether they were girls or boys.”

Back downstairs in the parlor, Smith cranked up the Victrola; the familiar Victor Talking Machine logo depicts a dog listening to “His Master’s Voice.” “Now here’s your volume,” she said, opening the cabinet doors.

Admission is $2, children $1, and tour duration varies. Said Smith, “People come in and wind up telling me stories. ‘Oh, my grandmother had a shawl like that on the piano. . .!’ ”

1 to 1:30: For many of us, Mother’s Market & Kitchen is a staple of our existence, if not a complex carbohydrate. Who can resist such recently posted specials as Royal Jelly--"the concentrated super food responsible for turning an ordinary worker bee into a long-lived reproductive dynamo--the queen!"--or maximum-strength water pills at 50 for $4.99, or the non-dairy drink called Soy Moo?


The store carries pine tar shampoo and “cruelty-free” cosmetics. Pet products alone are worth a visit. Newton Homeopathic Medicines for Pets, for instance, are variously labeled Nervousness, Doggie Breath and Leukemia; books include “The Complete Herbal Handbook for the Dog and Cat” and, by Swami Beyondananda, “When You See a Sacred Cow . . . Milk It for All It’s Worth.” Nearby in the people section is “Sharks Don’t Get Cancer.”

There’s PMS.O.S. for women, and for men, Vital Male Support--with wild oat extract, of course. Golf Pro is a nutrition bar specially formulated for concentration, calmness and energy. I’d need Fuel for Thought just to think about trying it. But can that Power Punch concoction (99 cents) really be good for you? “Aeeeee, no comment,” said the checker.

1:30 to 2:30: You can take out lunch from Mother’s, or you can eat in: Set out a blanket and picnic beneath the huge pine tree planted by the Newlands next door, or ask to be seated near the window, which looks right out onto the Newland property.

In the deli are buffalo tempeh ($4.75 per pound) and Bulgar wheat tabouli ($3.75). On the restaurant menu are energy salad ($4.75); kung pao tofu, sauteed tofu in a spicy peanut sauce with broccoli flowerettes and other vegetables; and bleu pasta, with chunks of cheese served over udon noodles with walnut garnish (both $6.25). Sandwiches include tofu dogs ($3.95) and a no-threat-to-dolphins tuna melt ($4.75). Corn bread and chapati-- a whole-wheat tortilla--are 50 cents.


Then blow the benefits of all that healthful eating with something from the freezer section. The store carries Haagen-Dazs vanilla ice cream made with Belgian chocolate and almonds, which proves that Mother’s is more than just a health food store.

2:30 to 3: According to director Michelle Rauch, Futurekids computer learning center offers classes for students “ages 3 to 103,” but in fact she’s had students as young as 2 1/2. Summer camps (starting at $139 for two-week sessions) include Cartoon Camp, for ages 3 to 5, Storybook Maker, 3 to 7, and Robotics, 8 to 15.

You can watch one of the sessions or bring by the kids for a free “learning adventure” demo. I watched a robotics session, where children program computers to move Lego pieces.

“We’re putting people on a conveyor belt,” said Chris Gravell, 13. “They’re crash dummies.”


“It was going too fast when we first did it,” clarified Chase Stopnik, 9. How long had the pair been at the project? “A few minutes,” Stopnik said.

Another group had already programmed a carousel, complete with musical tones, and were now tackling a Lego washing machine.

And this was the beginners’ class.

Newland House Museum


1. Newland House Museum

19820 Beach Blvd.

Open Saturday and Sunday noon to 4 p.m.; Wednesday and Thursday, 2 to 4:30 p.m.

(714) 962-5777


2. Mother’s Market & Kitchen

19770 Beach Blvd.

Open daily, 9 a.m. to 10 p.m.; restaurant, 9 a.m. to 9:30 p.m.

(714) 963-6667


3. Futurekids

19734 Beach Blvd.

Open Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Saturday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

(714) 964-2210



Parking: There is ample parking in lots at each location.

Buses: OCTA bus 76 runs along Adams Avenue Monday through Saturday and stops at Beach Boulevard; 37 runs north and south along Beach Boulevard and stops at Adams Avenue; 29A runs along Beach Boulevard Monday through Saturday.