In the Pipeline: History and writing are in the blood

A young Huntington Beach author has just published his first book.

It's a history book that manages to uncover many unique and interesting facts of which most people may be unaware.

When the author moved to Huntington Beach at around 5 years old, he had the good fortune of being able to spend many hours with the city historian, Alicia Wentworth. She would show him old pictures and give him Huntington Beach artifacts like pins from long-gone parades and various city anniversaries.

He would pore over black and white photographs scattered across her office floor at City Hall while his father took notes, interviewing Alicia for his own book project.

The young author is my son, Charles Epting. He'll turn 20 next week and is about to enter his junior year at USC. When I was working on my first book about Huntington Beach and would visit Alicia to pick her remarkable brain, she and Charlie became fast friends.

He has always had an interest in history. When he was about 5 years old, he announced that he wanted to be a paleontologist. Since then, he has worked at many dig sites around the United States with some of the best paleontologists in the world. In fact, he went to USC so he could continue working in the lab at the nearby Museum of Natural History.

But it's not just 100 million-year-old bones that he's interested in. Like me, he also has a deep passion for more recent history, things that happened in the last 100 years or so.

I think Alicia would be proud to see Charlie's new book, "University Park — Los Angeles, A Brief History," just published by The History Press.

After he became a student at USC, Charlie began studying the history of the surrounding area. He found so many significant things that he decided to pitch a book idea. And while, yes, I might be biased as his father, I will tell you quite honestly that once he let me read his completed manuscript, I think I was just as impressed as I would have been had I never met him.

Here is how his publisher describes the book: "University Park is one of Los Angeles's most diverse and historic neighborhoods. Beginning with the founding of the University of Southern California in 1880, the area has hosted two Olympic Games and numerous presidents and been featured as a backdrop for dozens of movies, along with countless other events of cultural and historical significance.

"Few areas in Southern California boast such a wide variety of historic buildings — residential, educational and commercial — dating to LA's earliest days. With USC as its anchor, University Park thrives as a microcosm of LA's culture, architecture and development from an outpost accumulating settlers into one of the world's great cosmopolitan metropolises.

"Join author Charles Epting on this historical inventory of University Park's significant moments and lasting legacy."

When I read those words, it gives me great pause. Charlie and I evidently were bitten by the same bug when it comes to time gone by. To that end, he and I have taken hundreds of little side trips in search of things historic over the years.

While this book certainly holds interest for people connected to USC, I think fans of history in general will appreciate its scope. As well, he has dug up many marvelous and rare images to help tell the story of a part of Los Angeles that has been all too forgotten.

When I speak to students in Huntington Beach on Author's Day each year, my favorite part is meeting the kids who linger afterward to tell you that they want to be writers when they grow up. Having a young author in the house is really something special. And who knows where this will lead Charlie. Currently he is at work on his second book for The History Press, covering buildings in Orange County connected to the New Deal.

To all the young authors and writers out there, let Charlie serve as an example. You can most certainly write the books that you dream about writing. And you can get them published.

I know Charlie was in a bit of disbelief when he opened the first copies of his finished product. It was a wonderful moment watching him as he gently took the book out of the box, before driving off to present my mom, his Nana, with the first copy.

We have many terrific writers in Huntington Beach. I'd like to personally welcome the newest one, and say, son, we are very proud of you. Congratulations.

The author will hold his first book signing and discussion at the Bella Terra Barnes & Noble at 7 p.m. July 30.

CHRIS EPTING is the author of 19 books, including the new "Baseball in Orange County," from Arcadia Publishing. You can chat with him on Twitter @chrisepting or follow his column at

Copyright © 2019, Daily Pilot
EDITION: California | U.S. & World