Friday, June 17, 2016

A Red Car anniversary

On June 17, 1904, the Pacific Electric Railway opened a "Red Car" line from Long Beach to Huntington Beach. It was an important moment that really breathed life into the new little beach town.

Henry Huntington owned the Pacific Electric. He also owned Huntington Beach. These things were not coincidental. Anyway, today is the 112th anniversary of the Red Car's arrival in Huntington Beach.

I have no time for a full-fledged post today, but I thought I'd share these two photos. The photo above shows the current "Red Car Museum" which sits on a remaining section of track along the Long Beach to Huntington Beach line in Seal Beach. The image below shows an early Pacific Electric excursion car at the foot of the pier in Huntington Beach. The large brick building stood roughly where Huntington Surf & Sport stands today.

Monday, June 06, 2016

O.C. in the British Library

Here are a couple images of old Orange County from the Flickr feed of the British Library. It just goes to show you haven't done all your research until you've looked EVERYWHERE.

Both images are taken in 1893 and used in an early issue of Land of Sunshine magazine. The image one above is a scene from Tustin, and the one below depicts what was probably Atherton's Ostrich Farm in Fullerton.


Friday, May 20, 2016

The Counterculture in Orange County

Handbill promoting Yippie Day at Disneyland, Aug. 6, 1970.
While the monolithic notion of Orange County as an ultra-conservative bedroom community has long been laid to rest, little has yet been said about the small but active counterculture that flourished here for generations. O.C. has seen quasi-utopian colonies, Timothy Leary’s Laguna adventures, bohemian artists' colonies, Aldous Huxley’s visit to Trabuco Canyon’s Ramakrishna Monastery, the Yippies’ “liberation” of Disney’s Tom Sawyer’s Island, "Happenings," the Brotherhood of Eternal Love, subversive bookstores, and many more examples of local free-thinkers, beatniks, non-conformists, cultists, Communists, iconoclasts, and unclassifiable wingnuts. 

 Curious to learn more about this part of our past? Register for the annual dinner of the Orange County Historical Society, June 10th, 2016. There, journalist/author/commentator Jim Washburn will “discuss the leftish side of the county, in a manner that shows just how entertaining history can be when the speaker has no regard for facts.” (Ed: Don't tell Jim I said this, but he's really quite good about getting his facts straight.)
Gerald Heard, Christopher Isherwood, Julian Huxley, Aldous Huxley and Linus Pauling at the Ramakrishna Monastery, Trabuco Canyon, 1960.
Washburn has written about music, popular culture and politics for the L.A. Times, O.C. Register, O.C. Weekly and publications from Rolling Stone to Reader’s Digest. He co-authored the book Martin Guitars, an Illustrated Celebration and the John Crean autobiography, The Wheel and I. He has curated four exhibits at the Fullerton Museum Center, on such topics as O.C.’s rock music history and O.C. in the disco era. (If you attended his earlier OCHS talk on the history of rock music in Orange County, you know why you need to hear him speak again!)
Timothy Leary: "Rec'd from Orange County 3-18-70."
This year's OCHS annual dinner will be held in the Historic Friends Church (1888), which is now part of Moreno’s Restaurant in El Modena. For more information or to sign up, see the OCHS website. As of this writing, there's about a week left in which to register. There will be no walk-ins allowed.(Yes, I know,... all these rules are a real drag, man. Just another example of "the man" trying to keep you down.)
Tim Morgon performs at Balboa beatnik hangout The Prison of Socrates.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

A couple events this weekend...

...and if you can't make it to this event in Costa Mesa on Sunday (or even if you can), also consider the big Vintage Postcard and Paper Show and the Glendale Civic Auditorium, which runs BOTH days this weekend!

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Pioneer Andres R. Arevalos

Andres Arevalos turns first shovelful of dirt at Arevalos School groundbreaking, 1964.
In the 1950s and 1960s, during Orange County’s unprecedented population boom, schools were being built at a shocking rate. Each school district had its own naming conventions. The policy of the Fountain Valley School District (which also overlaps the City of Huntington Beach) was to name schools for local pioneers like William T. Newland, Hisamatsu Tamura, Robert B. Wardlow and William D. Lamb. Today, many of those schools have closed and in some cases only the adjoining parks – also bearing the pioneers’ names – remain. Now that there’s talk of changing the names of some of those parks, I thought it worthwhile to share a little bit about each of their original namesakes.

Researching Lamb’s biography for my March 22, 2016 post proved pretty straightforward. But it was much more difficult finding information about the namesake of Arevalos Elementary School, built at 19692 Lexington Lane in Huntington Beach.

Andres Reynoso “Andrew” Arevalos (sometimes spelled “Arebalos”) was born Nov. 30, 1880 in Mexico. He left Jalisco for the United States in 1905. He married Guadalupe (“Lupe”) Garcia, also a Mexican national, in Indio before they moved to the Fountain Valley (a.k.a. Talbert) area in 1908.
Superintendent Baubier and Andres Arevalos at Arevalos School opening, Feb. 1965.
The Long Beach Press-Telegram would later describe Arevalos as “little man with courteous ways." Despite his size, he was strong and hard-working. He worked for twenty years as a section hand for the Engineering Department of the Pacific Electric Railroad. This meant he was part of a crew of laborers who maintained a particular section of track. Perhaps it’s no coincidence that Arevalos worked for the Pacific Electric for twenty years – roughly the same length of time that the P.E.’s Santa Ana-Huntington Beach line was operational (from 1909 to 1930). 

But most of Arevalos’ attention went to farming and family. He raised sugar beets, corn and peppers in the fields around Talbert, including the land across the street from what would eventually become Arevalos Elementary School. Meanwhile, in the Arevalos home, he and Lupe would raise nine children.

In the early 1920s, the Arevalos were among the first residents of the Colonia Juarez tract in Fountain Valley – a neighborhood specifically created in 1923 as affordable and accessible housing for Mexican-American laborers. After apparently renting for some years, Andres Arevalos bought Lot 42 (10332 Calle Madero) of Colonia Juarez on October 1926. He would live there the rest of his life.
Arevalos Park today.
Andres Arevalos never became a U.S. citizen, and he never learned to speak, read, or write in English. He seldom appeared in the local directories – probably because he could not communicate easily with the directory companies’ canvassers. Likewise, he seldom appeared in the newspapers.
Guadalupe Arevalos died in 1957 – the same year Fountain Valley incorporated as a city.

The Fountain Valley School District broke ground for Andres R. Arevalos Elementary School in January 1964. Andres and his 7-year-old grandson Rodney Arevalos joined School District Superintendent Dr. Edward W. Baubier for the ceremony.

The school was officially dedicated at another ceremony on Feb. 9, 1965. “It doesn't bother us that we named a school after a man who is neither rich nor famous,” Baubier said. “We are honoring the man because he was a pioneer in our community and has been a credit to it all these years. You can't measure what a man is by money but by his success. Arevalos' success is that he provied a good education for his family and knitted his family together with strong ties that are lacking in many families today.”

Among the speakers at the dedication was Dr. Susan J. Freudenthal, who the Register called an "internationally known teacher from the Netherlands," and the school’s first principal, Bruce Sinclair.
Shyly speaking through an interpreter, Arevalos said he never imagined there would be a school named after him. "I was very surprised when they told me they wanted to honor me," he said.
Andres Arevlaos died of emphysema on Feb. 28, 1966 at Orange County General Hospital, where UCI Medical Center stands today. He is buried at Westminster Memorial Park. His obituary in the Register called him the "Beloved father of Fred, Gilbert, Andrew, Michael, Joe and Rudy Arevalos, Mrs. Nettie Aguiliera, Mrs. Esther Garcia and Mrs. Jovie Lara."

Was Arevalos really a Fountain Valley pioneer?  After all, farmers were already settling in Fountain Valley at least thirty-three years before Arevalos arrived. And the Talbert family, who eventually laid out the town site at Bushard St. and Talbert Ave., arrived eleven years before Arevelos did. 
Modern view of the well-marked Arevalos Park.
But Andres Arevalos was clearly one of the first to put down permanent roots in the Colonia Juarez area, south of what’s now Mile Square Park. Today we think of Juarez simply as part of Fountain Valley. But until the city incorporated in 1957, Talbert and Juarez were distinct communities with their own personalities, histories, and pioneers. As such, Arevalos was a Juarez pioneer who later became a Fountain Valley pioneer by dint of annexation.

Sadly, the Fountain Valley School District trustees voted to close Arevalos Elementary School in 1988. In the decades since, the school buildings have been leased to the private Pegasus School. The adjacent park has continually been included on the City of Huntington Beach’s inventory of parks as Arevalos Park. The park features a playground, benches, a swing set, and a greenbelt. If the park is to be renamed, it is unclear what the new name would be.

My thanks to Stephanie George, Crystal Bracey and the Arevalos family (many of whom still live in Fountain Valley) for their help with this article over the past couple months. Click here to see the first part in this series.

Friday, May 13, 2016

Before and After: The Old Courthouse

The image above shows the Old Orange County Courthouse in Santa Ana around the 1910s. We're looking across the intersection of Sycamore St. and Santa Ana Blvd. (then called 6th St.). The image below shows a modern version of the same scene, from the same angle.
Okay,... Let's take a look at the details!

First, you'll notice that the cupola is now missing from the Courthouse. The popular story is that it was damaged during the 1933 earthquake and had to be removed. Indeed, it was removed while other repairs were being made to the building, post-quake. But that just provided a good excuse to remove the part of the building that was the most difficult to paint, clean, and otherwise maintain.

That said, those will keen eyes will notice that the stone work around the attic windows is different too -- And that WAS a direct result of 1933 quake damage. Those with impossibly good eyesight might also notice that parts of the curbs surrounding the courthouse block are still made of cobblestones, as they were in the early 1900s.

Next, notice that there's a lot more foliage in the modern view. The good news is that most of those trees are the same in both photos. I admire them every day, as I walk to and from my office. (And these days, they're often full of noisy green parrots.)

Most of the other buildings seen on the periphery and in the background of the early photo are long gone, but First Presbyterian Church remains. One of it's dome-topped steeples appears on the right of the older photo. The post-quake remodeled version can be seen in the modern photo as a white building with a gray roof.

The block across the street from the front of the Courthouse has changed completely since the first photo was taken. Today, a shiny glass office building and its white concrete parking garage fill the entire block. Prior to that, the block at various times held Santa Ana's old Carnegie Library, the Elks' Lodge, a garage, and more.

In the older shot, many of the surrounding buildings are churches. In fact, part of today's Civic Center Drive, behind the Old Courthouse, was originally called Church St. because of all the churches lined up there. In the 1950s, the car culture took over and people moved into the suburbs. Many of the churches followed, building big new sanctuaries on large parcels of land (with their own parking lots) further out amid the tract houses and orange groves.

That's it for today. Happy Friday!

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Dr. Coy and historical Orange County trivia

Owen Coy rolls out a great idea.
In 1928, Dr. Owen C. Coy, professor of history at USC and director of the California State Historical Association, began a crusade to start "an active, incorporated historical society" in Orange County. He outlined his plans in a lecture before the State Board of Education, which seemed enamored of his noble goal. Coy, not being a local, was unaware that the Orange County Historical Society had been incorporated and holding well-publicized meetings since 1919. But thanks anyway, Owen!

And speaking of the Orange County Historical Society,... You're welcome to attend their next meeting, which will be held in the VERY near future: Thurs., April 14, at 7:30pm at Trinity Episcopal Church, 2400 N. Canal St. This will be an ORANGE COUNTY HISTORY TRIVIA CONTEST, so bring ALL your brain cells along to this event. Quoth the OCHS website,...
"Back by popular demand, you’re invited to an evening at the Orange County History Trivia Contest! 
   
"Members and non-members alike, round up your friends and come as a team (matching t-shirts, hats, or team names always encouraged) or as individuals (and we’ll match you up once you arrive)!  
   
"Test your familiarity with Orange County history and challenge others in areas such as geography, literature, food, art, music, politics, sports, personalities, and general knowledge, in varying formats.  Meanwhile, enjoy the banter by our entertaining trivia game hosts! 
    
"It’s free to play!  Prizes given to the winning team.   If you’re new to the area or you’ve lived here forever, you’ll have fun, so come on down!  It’s a perfect opportunity to meet people who are interested in Orange County history."

Friday, April 08, 2016

Andrew Deneau (1949-2016)

Andy Deneau,1977. Photo courtesy Anaheim Heritage Center.
Andrew Leo "Andy" Deneau, who co-founded and served as the first president of the Anaheim Historical Society in 1976, passed away on Easter Sunday (March 27, 2016). This native son of Anaheim will be especially missed by the city's local history and historic preservation communities.

Andy was born on April 5, 1949 to Harold Leo Deneau and Rose (nee Hargrove) Deneau.  He attended George Washington Elementary School, John C. Fremont Junior High School and Anaheim Union High School (Class of 1967).  He worked his way through college as a dispatcher for the Anaheim Fire Department, and used his California State Teaching Credential to teach arts programs in the public schools.  Most recently Andy, a trained musician and performing arts professional, served as Director of Marketing and Community Relations for the Long Beach Opera and was the founding director of Dance In Schools, a supplementary arts education program in the Los Angeles Unified School District.

Andy’s life was defined by his substantive community service, including (in part): chairman, Heritage Committee of the original Cultural Arts Commission, City of Anaheim; chairman, Ad Hoc Museum Committee, City of Anaheim; member, Heritage Committee, Anaheim Bicentennial Committee; member, Citizens’ Capitol Improvement Committee, City of Anaheim; co-founder and first president, Anaheim Historical Society; founding board member, Anaheim Foundation for Culture and the Arts [aka Anaheim Cultural Arts Center]; founding member and treasurer, Anaheim Museum Inc.; founding member, Central City Neighborhood Council, City of Anaheim.  Most recently, he served two terms on the Anaheim Cultural & Heritage Commission (2007-2013).  Andy also co-authored, with Diann Marsh, most of the National Register applications for Anaheim landmarks [including the Carnegie Library and the Kraemer Building] submitted through the 1980s.

(Ed - My thanks to Jane Newell of the Anaheim Heritage Center for putting this obituary together.)