Not everybody owns an old house or can rescue an important building from the wrecking ball, but anyone can take part in improving the quality of life in an historic neighborhood. We’re very fortunate that our community is chock-full of incredible people who have a welcoming spirit, help neighbors in need, and who embody the old Anaheim philosophy of “Hi Neighbor.”
The Andy Anaheim Award honors very special people in our community who go out of their way to bring people together, being an inspiration and a leader, and creatively making Anaheim an even more wonderful place to live.
We are very happy to give the first Andy Anaheim Award to Anaheim Mother Colony resident Keith Olesen.
Recently we chatted with Keith about life in Anaheim, old houses, and what inspires him.
Keith, tell us a little about yourself, and why you choose to live in a 1920s house in Anaheim.
My wife Judy and I didn’t really choose to live in an old house in Anaheim. We were living in a non-descript tract home in Garden Grove and got it in our heads that we wanted to live in an old house. We knew nothing about old houses, but one thing we did know was that if you wanted to live in one you went to Orange. We looked and looked but most of the houses we looked at were old on the outside and remodeled to 1968 on the inside. It was very disappointing. Our realtor, a long time Anaheim resident, set up an appointment for us to see an old house in Anaheim. I said I really didn’t care because we didn’t want to live in Anaheim, we wanted to live in an old house in Orange.
But the next day we went to Anaheim, and when we drove up to the house we fell in love. We walked in the front door, straight through the house, right into the backyard, and asked our realtor “what do we have to do to own this house?”
We made an offer, met with the sellers Diann and Robert Marsh, and the five month-long process of actually buying the house started. It took that long because it had been awhile since anyone had purchased an old house in the area to actually live in; they bought them to tear down so they could build apartments.
However, during this time we got to know Diann and Robert, and we really liked them both right off. On the day we moved in Diann gave us an old photograph of Jessie Melrose-Backs, the lady for whom the house was built. It’s been hanging by our front door ever since.
What are some of the kinds of things that bug you, and how do you manage to keep calm and carry on?
I hate it when people complain about something but aren’t willing to do anything about it. I hate it when legal beats moral. People whose only motivation is personal gain or self-promotion make me nuts. I hate politics, and closed-minded people. As for keeping calm, I’m not sure I do. I guess just keeping things in some sort of perspective helps. You carry on because if you don’t, you lose.
What or who inspires you? What makes you happy?
All kinds of things! My wife, my dog, my friends, our community. If you just look around, how can you not find something that makes you happy and/or inspires you? Music and art, creative ideas…other peoples’ greatness are a constant source of inspiration. Realizing you actually can make a difference.
Do you spend time thinking more about the past or the future?
I think it’s spread pretty equally between past, present, and future. Individually, any one is pretty meaningless without the other two.
What would you like your neighbors to know?
That we’re all in this together and no one gets out alive. One of the greatest feelings is when you stop and think about all the friends you’ve made.
Anything else you'd like to say?
(Keith Olesen will receive the Andy Anaheim Award at the AHS Annual Banquet on June 14. Congrats, Keith! Well deserved.)
Related Post: Who Is Andy Anaheim??
Related Post: Who Is Andy Anaheim??