Thursday, August 07, 2014

125 years of L.A./O.C. sibling rivalry

Southern California citrus, as shown in Sunset Magazine, March 1911
The rumors are true. We were part of Los Angeles County until we split off, 125 years ago this month, to become Orange County.

We seceded for the usual reasons: It was too hard to get to the county seat to do business, all our tax money was spent in the “big city,” we had a strong enough economy to survive on our own, and we wanted the right of self-determination. L.A. wanted to hang onto us, not out of love and affection, but out of financial and political expediency. We’ve been wary of L.A. ever since.

Asked if he got to Los Angeles very often, Orange County’s “last rustic,” historian Jim Sleeper, once told a reporter, “Hell! I wouldn’t drive up there to watch Jesus Christ wrestle a grizzly bear!” (An L.A. newspaper printed the comment on their front page.)

For their part, Angelenos have invented an imaginary “Orange Curtain” dividing our counties, which I suppose explains why so many of them think they can’t venture south of Coyote Creek. Many also cling to the claim that there’s “no culture” down here, and therefore no reason to visit.
The old plaza in Los Angeles, circa 1869 -- our previous county seat.
For all our sibling rivalry, sometimes we're more like our older sister, Los Angeles, than we (or they) would like to admit. Still, there are plenty of reasons to celebrate the fact that, 125 years ago, Mom and Dad gave us separate rooms.

Unlike Los Angeles, with its delusions adequacy, we're not accustomed to gloating and bragging. But since this month marks our 125th birthday, perhaps a bit of comparison is in order,...

Let me start by pointing out that the "HAPPIEST PLACE ON EARTH" is in Orange County! Really!

Also, Orange County is friendlier, cleaner, and less cramped than Los Angeles. We have better governance, air quality, public safety, school districts, parking, and water conservation. We enjoy cheaper gas, better drivers, a more user-friendly airport, and even a more interesting Spanish Mission. We have lower taxes and less violent crime. We call it a riot when kids get unruly and knock over trashcans in Huntington Beach.
Early 1920s Southern California postcard. (Images courtesy O. C. Archives)
Our freeways and streets are better designed, better maintained, and less congested than those in L.A. Our beaches are cleaner and more accessible. And with the exception of now-ubiquitous Home Owners Associations, we have a long tradition of defending the freedom of the individual.

And if that wasn’t enough, Sacramento clearly hates us – Which is perhaps the ultimate proof that we’re doing things right!

Feliz cumpleaƱos, Orange County. ¡Viva la independencia!


outsidetheberm said...

That's some refreshing honesty. Nice work on these posts, Chris.

Dreaming Casually said...

Great blog...and thank you for linking my blog to your site.-- J'aime Rubio, Historian for "Remembering Anaheim's History"

Fast Cat said...

Truer words were never more spoken. Great Commentary!

Anonymous said...


JG said...

And this is why I love Orange County.

Well said.


CoxPilot said...

It's been forever since you've posted. Are you finally giving it up? I hope not. I may not always comment, but it's a daily look-see. I miss the OC.

Chris Jepsen said...

CoxPilot: No, I'm not giving up the blog. I don't have excuses for the long delay in new posts, but here are some of the reasons:

1) My old computer started to die by degrees at the end of June. One of the first things to go was my ability to upload stuff. Thus, no blog posts (except when I borrowed someone else's computer) and no Flickr posts. Not even any photos posted to Facebook. After it finally became clear that I couldn't fix the (multiplying) problems, I bought a new computer, which I'm still figuring out how to use.

2) There have been some health issues in the family that have required some of my spare time.

3) I'm taking on more historical writing work in my free time. The paying stuff (with deadlines) tends to get more attention than the blog. This is a trend you may have noticed over the past few years. This may get worse before it gets better. There may be a book (or two) in my future.

4) Being president of the Orange County Historical Society is taking up some of my time too. I love it, so I'm probably going to stick around -- either until I'm voted off the island or until it stops being fun.

5) I'm now trying (when the weather cooperates) to regularly hit the trails at Bolsa Chica. I can't keep up this enchilada habit if I don't burn some calories now and then.

All that said, I WILL get back to posting stuff here. I already started the ball rolling last weekend by updating a bunch of the links. Look for more blogging soonishly.

I'm glad you're still interested.