Saturday, October 25, 2008

La Palma, and Ron & Elfriede Mac Iver's new book

Today's photos are scenes from the City of Dairyland, which incorporated in 1955 in order to keep cows in and people out. Specifically, the local dairy farmers wanted to keep new development from pushing out their farms, as it had years earlier in Los Angeles. Ultimately, the developers won, the farms uprooted and moved again, and the city changed its name to La Palma. (Surrounding cities like Cypress and Cerritos have similar origins.)
Both of these photos are from Ron and Elfriede Mac Iver’s new book, Images of America: La Palma, from Arcadia Publishing. The first shows the dairy farm of the first mayor of Dairyland, Jack deVries. In later years, deVries admitted that the selection of the name "Dairyland" in 1955 was somewhat influenced by the opening of another D-land, just down the road. The second photo shows a group of dairy farmers with their new milking machines in the 1940s.
I just received a copy of Ron and Elfriede's La Palma book this week. The Mac Ivers are a perfect example of how local history is usually done – not by professionals or academics, but by local volunteers who care. They became La Palma's historians when they accepted the task of compiling information about the city’s history in advance of its 50th anniversary (2005). Nobody hired them for the job - They just started doing it.
As a small community of somewhat modest means (by Orange County standards), La Palma has no official historical repository, meaning the Mac Ivers had to spend years collecting bits and pieces from all over. They talked to old-timers and pioneer families, they explored collections in neighboring communities, they publicized their search to anyone who would listen, and they picked the brains of other local historians. Once the anniversary was over, their work continued, but with a book as their new goal.
Although they aren’t professional writers, the Mac Ivers have poured an enormous amount of enthusiasm, research, man-hours and shoe-leather into this project. In doing so, they’ve done a great service to their community and produced as good a photo history of La Palma as we’re likely to see in our lifetimes.


CoxPilot said...

We lived just up the street from Lukin's Dairy in Santa Ana (on Edinger), and I remember playing in the hay many times with my friends. Later, I went to High School with the Lukin sisters.

Viewliner Ltd. said...

Boy, the pictures are just great. Truly bring up a lot of great memories. Thanks for all the great work.

Captain said...

And now the descendants of the farmers who were forced out of L.A., then forced out of Dairyland, are themselves being squeezed out of one of the places to which they moved.... Chino.

Chris Jepsen said...

Quite true, Captain. An excellent point.