Friday, September 16, 2011

OCHS, Mendez, Guy Ball, Irvine Ranch, and an out-of-county experience

It's been a busy couple of weeks. First, I had to prep for my "Pacific Beach Club" talk for the Orange County Historical Society on the 8th. I wasn't sure how such an unsettling topic would go over, but I got a ton of positive comments later. I was also pleasantly surprised by the turnout. We had about 150 people show up! Seems our gatherings just keep getting larger and larger! 

As usual, our September meeting was held at the Sherman Gardens & Library in Corona del Mar. (Always great hosts!) I'll admit that I didn't have time to take photos that night, which is why I'm substituting one I took earlier at the Sherman. (See above.)

About the same time, I got an offer to write a local history book. I'm writing the proposal now, but I think I'll give myself a fairly long period of time to complete the work. This whole year is shaping up to be a busy one. Anyway, I'll write more about the forthcoming book once it's a done deal.
On Saturday, I attended the grand opening of the new exhibit at the Old Orange County Courthouse about the Mendez v Westminster school desegregation case, entitled "A Class Action." Actually, I was also there the night before with the CSUF historical folks (and a few others) who were scrambling to dot the last "i"s and cross the final "t"s.  By the time they were done, it really looked amazing. Go and see this thing!

The photo below shows members of the Estrada, Guzman, Mendez, and Ramirez families (along with a couple politicians who jumped into the photo op), descendants of the plaintiffs who brought at least partial desegregation to California well before Brown v Board of Education. In fact, Mrs. Guzman, (in front, holding a blue folder), is one of the last living plaintiffs.
I also ended up writing two other articles for different publications over the past couple weeks. And in keeping with my duties as the new president of the Orange County Historical Society, I wrote my first "President's Message" for the County Courier too. I think that will turn out to be a fun gig.
On the 9th, our friend, local historian Guy Ball, generously donated a heaping garageful of metal flat-file cases to the Orange County Archives. Steve and I were there bright and early with a County truck. Boy did we need these cases, and boy could we not afford to order new ones! The savings will help pay for our hernia trusses.
On Sunday, my friends Phil and Stephanie and I went on a trek to Julian, taking our time winding through the back-country of Riverside and San Diego Counties to see various fascinating historical sites. I love treks like these, and Phil -- who knows this territory like the back of his hand -- was an outstanding guide. One of the most interesting and surprising stops was the St. Francis Chapel (a "branch office" of Mission San Luis Rey) and the Cupeño (Indian) cemetery at Warner Springs

The photo above shows what Old Saddleback looks like from the back side. Those antennas you see are on top of Santiago Peak. The image below was taken deep inside the Eagle & High Peak Gold Mine at the end of C St. in Julian. (Our tour guide had an official "Grizzled Prospector" beard and hat!) If you're ever in Julian, forget the apples and gift shops and check out this amazing opportunity to experience gold mining and ore processing as it was in the 1870s.

I won't belabor this non-O.C. expedition here too much on the blog, but I've posted a bunch of photos to my Flickr site if you're interested.
This week I also attended the dedication of a new historical marker for the old Irvine Ranch irrigation system. The plaque was placed near the reservoir in Peters Canyon Regional Park by the Orange County Chapter of the American Society of Civil Engineers. Former head of O.C. Public Works Carl Nelson, who did an enormous amount of research on this important piece of Orange County history, is seen speaking at the dedication ceremony in the photo below. Carl is always an amazing source of knowledge when it comes to the infrastructure that made this part of California tick over the past couple centuries.
That's about it for now. Hopefully things will slow down enough that I can get back to blogging more often this week.


Connie Moreno said...

Wow! Chris, I always learn such interesting stuff from your blog. Now that I'm in Riverside, I still keep reading it because I hope to go back to the OC some day. I love Julian and really, REALLY dig learning about this new adventure!!

I started following your blog to learn about the area I was living in. I searched for a similar blog for Riverside but sadly, there isn't one.'ve got a faithful reader in me!

jerry said...

Chris, Great presentation on the Pacific Beach Club, a bit of O.C. history I had never, ever heard of. Looking forward to more of your valuable efforts.

Best, Jerry