The cover of the Pacific Bell white pages book for most of Orange County depicts a wishing well at the Tustin Civic Center. If you've never been there, it's a peaceful place with cool water dripping from an overhead bucket; the words in the mosaic floor are born of patriotic spirit: "Wishing Well to Everyone."
Mary Kelly of Tustin says its message should mean as much today as it did 20 years ago, when it was dedicated on this nation's bicentennial Fourth of July. "What's the words to that song: 'Let there be peace in the world and let it begin with me,' " Kelly told me this week.
She has a special reason for recalling that dedication. The well was her idea. It was Kelly, with help from her husband Thomas, plus their 12 children (including two sets of twins), who led the drive to have the well built. The city donated the land, the Kellys raised the $6,000 to build it. Thomas Kelly handled the required nonprofit corporation papers, and Mary Kelly led the newspaper and can drive that helped fund it.
Kelly and her husband are both from Philadelphia, and she hasn't given up on her idea to get that city to build a wishing well near the Liberty Bell. It was one of her sons, Gregory Kelly, who wrote to us and asked us to remember his mother's efforts on this Fourth of July.
The day I went by the well, two teenage girls were studying alongside its clear water. They tossed in coins before leaving, and I asked them what their wish had been. One giggled and said, "I wished that I would pass this test." There are all kinds of reasons to make use of a wishing well.
Key Time in History: Placentia is celebrating more than the Fourth of July this week. This year marks the city's 70th birthday. And it's also the centennial anniversary of George Gilman Key's birth on one of the area's largest ranches. The George Key Ranch House is one of the most historic spots of northern Orange County.
On Thursday, all those anniversaries will be wrapped into a special anniversary party on the grounds of the Key Ranch House on Bastanchury Road just east of the Orange Freeway. Open to the public ($3 adults, $2 children) there will be square-dancing, food and wood-carving demonstrations. It's also a good chance to take a look at the house, built before the turn of the century. Says spokesman Mike Miniaci: "It will be a Fourth of July neighborhood gathering the way George would have had when he was a young boy."
Spirit of the Fourth: You think it's been too hot for you, think about those folks at the American Red Cross. The hot months always mean a slowdown in donors, but contributions right now are less than half the usual weekly contributions. To boost the numbers, the Red Cross has added several blood drives. Next up: Home Depot at 6912 Edinger Ave. in Huntington Beach on Friday. Don't use your youngsters as an excuse not to go: There's a petting zoo and face painting for them while you're giving up a pint. . . .
If you're thinking about getting a new flag to fly on the Fourth of July, but you aren't sure what to do with your old one, I know some nice folks who will take it off your hands. The Boy Scouts of America, just off MacArthur Boulevard near Harbor Boulevard in Costa Mesa, are trained in the proper way to retire old flags. You can take it to them.
You can also pick up a free pamphlet there on the history of the American flag, and the proper way to display it on holidays. . . .
More than 3,500 youths from Lutheran churches throughout the western states will gather in Anaheim starting today for a six-day Fourth of July celebration. And do these people know how to party: On Wednesday, they'll hit the beaches in Orange County for an all-day cleanup. On Saturday, they've planned an all-day food collection in connection with the Brea-based Christian group, Canning Hunger--900 drivers will take teams of four throughout selected Orange County neighborhoods on a canned food scavenger hunt. All the food will be donated locally. Who says today's youth don't know how to have a good time?
Mom & Apple Pie: You would expect a patriotic flair on the Fourth from the Richard Nixon Library & Birthplace in Yorba Linda. After all, this is a place that plays John Philip Sousa marching music for you any time you're on hold on the telephone. Here's its holiday deal:
Free entrance for 18-year-olds who will be casting their first presidential vote in November (offer good through July 7) and free buttons depicting Richard Nixon from his 1946 congressional campaign brochure. It's also kicking off its latest exhibit: "The Politics of Peace," where visitors get a chance to vote in a mock election.
Wrap-Up: History quiz: Which Orange County city was once known as the "baby city?" Right, if you said Placentia. When the city was incorporated in 1926, it only had 117 acres, and a population of 800, the smallest on both counts of the 10 cities in the county incorporated up to then. First town nickname: "Placentia, the Home of the Valencia." Oranges were a hot commodity at the time.
Jerry Hicks' column appears Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. Readers may reach Hicks by calling the Times Orange County Edition at (714) 966-7823 or by fax (714) 966-7711, or e-mail (Jerry.Hicks@latimes.com).