Saturday, March 01, 2008

M.E. Helme, Floral Park, Emilio Martinez, etc.

Today's "before and after" photos show the M.E. Helme Furniture Co. building in Huntington Beach (as discussed in yesterday's blog entry) in 1907 and 2007.
The 2008 Floral Park Home & Garden Tour will be held April 26-27, 10am-4pm and tickets are now on sale. The tour through this historic Santa Ana neighborhood will include homes from the 1920s to the 1950s as well as a display of vintage cars. This is always a fun event.
Gustavo Arellano asked if I’d post a link to his recent O.C. Weekly article about Emilio Martinez, the late O.C. corrido/folk singer. I'm happy to do so. I appreciate Gustavo’s noble goal of highlighting lesser known historical individuals and events, even if I don't always agree with his opinions.
The folks at have been waxing nostalgic over Buena Park's old Cars of the Stars Museum. Stop past to add your two cents.


Anonymous said...

And the Floral Park folks are looking for volunteers to docent the homes. Get a FREE ticket for working a shift, have fun, meet wonderful new people, and enjoy the tour for no charge! Best deal in town. Contact info for them is in the tour section of the newsletter on their website, opens to a pdf.

ItsNotAPlace said...

I've walked past that "M.E. Helme Furniture Co." storefront before and peered in the windows. I thought it was an old building from the 40s or 50s... had no idea it went back to the early 1900s!

Is there any efforts afoot to restore it? or will it deteriorate until they have to tear it down? Does the city own it or is it privately owned?

ItsNotAPlace said...

Oops.. should have read the previous days post.. I see you already said that "Both the house and the store are still owned by descendants of Matthew Helme."

You stated that the house is on the Registery of Historic places... what about the store building?

Chris Jepsen said...

The whole Helme-Worthy complex is on the National Register of Historic Places, including the home and the store.

The only other sites in H.B. on the National Register are the City Gym & Pool, the Newland House, and the Pier. This last entry is somewhat odd, since the old pier was torn down and a new one built in its place in the early 1990s.

Seems like there should be more (existing) structures on that list.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the link, Chris. And you don't have to agree with my opinions to post about them, especially when they deal with the Gunkist memories so many Orange Countians love to keep!

Chris Jepsen said...

Few people discuss the 1936 citrus strike because few people know *ANYTHING* about O.C. history.

If that frustrates you, (as it does me,) then it's your job to do something about it. With your large readership, you can make a positive impact. Just don't let ax-grinding cloud your stories.

Anonymous said...

Chris: when the major Orange County history books have virtually nothing on the Citrus War, when the very nice archivist at First American Title had never heard of it, and when the Los Angeles Times wrote an article in which historians interviewed agreed this was an incident basically suppressed to suit the purposes of the powers-that-be, any decent historian has to wonder why the lack of info--and any decent historian should be angry as hell. Far from clouding my stories, such oversights give me purpose.

Chris Jepsen said...

I don't know how much of this you already have, but here's what I can scrounge up from memory and from my info here at home...

Carey McWilliams wrote about the 1936 citrus strike. Professor Gilbert Gonzales of UCI wrote about it in his book. Phil Brigandi included it both in _Orange: The City ‘Round the Plaza_, and in the retrospective book he edited for the Register. Lisbeth Haas wrote about it in _Conquests and Historical Identities in California_. And the story is also included in the book _Orange County Sheriff-Coroner, 1889-2004: A Legacy of Public Service, Dedication, and Sacrifice_.

A number of thesis have been written on the subject as well, including Clara Engle's "The Orange County citrus stike, 1936; historical analysis and social conflict" (1975), and Louis Reccow's PhD dissertation on "The Orange County citrus strikes of 1935-1936” (1972). Copies are available in a variety of places, including UCI's library.

The story was also covered by the local papers at the time, most of which are still available in public libraries. (As always, it's hard to beat contemporary sources.)

And there are probably numerous interviews that touch on the subject at CSUF’s Center for Oral & Public History.

I imagine there's more out there, but hopefully this is helpful for starters.

Anonymous said...

I have to agree with Gustavo on this one. I had NEVER heard of the Orange Wars until this posting. It may have been covered in academic works, but the common garden variety Orange County history nerd is ignorant of this important piece of our history. Here in Anaheim we focus on the German winemakers, and Rudy Boysen is held in nearly Godlike reverence, with none of us knowing that he blocked Mexican-Americans from using the park he was stewarding. Sure we knew the schools were segregated, but locally it is presented as more of a geographic point than anything else "Well that's where the Mexican kids lived so that's where they went to school"....there is obviously MUCH more to our history than what has been presented by the middle class white men, and I will be looking into it as well. Interesting stuff.

Anonymous said...

...and because I believe in always finding the pony, DH and I have been debating the merits of the time and expense of my getting that degree in history, and this tips it. When OCs only architectural historian does not know about the Orange Wars, it is time to join academia. So Chris, what do you carry to college, lunch box or brown bag?

Chris Jepsen said...

Cynthia: Well, although I've liked the majority of my professors very much, I'm pretty irritated generally with my current "institution of higher learning." I might just have to jump ship and join you. If we move fast, maybe we can still get a class or two with Art Hansen before he retires.

Anonymous said...

Now THAT would be worth the nightmare of returning to math classes. Let's go.

Anonymous said...

Chris: Gracias for proving my point. Academic histories are far different from colloquial ones, mainly in the distribution of their findings to the population at large. That's why the lack of widespread modern coverage (contemporary newspaper accounts don't count) about the 1936 Citrus War is telling. Phil's books are an exception because he's smart and sympathetic toward subaltern histories, but take a look at the coverage of some of the main Orange County books:

*100 Years of Yesteryear: nothing by any of the contributors.
*Orange County Through Four Centuries: nope
*Virginia Carpenter's history of Placentia? Not a mention
*The CSUF oral history library has only a couple of remembrances, not numerous.
*And the sheriff book is sheer propaganda, especially since Logan Jackson is one of the strike's main villains.

This is just what I immediately remember. In doing my cover story on the Citrus War in 2006, I was struck by how little had been written about one of OC's most important event. Colony Rabble is right: historical societies have reams of info on the hallowed pioneers, and brush almost everything else to the proverbial dustbin. Why? That's always a part of my stories--and if by asking that question again and again makes me an ax-grinder, then call me Paul Bunyan :-)

Chris Jepsen said...

Colony Rabble wrote: "When OCs only architectural historian does not know about the Orange Wars, it is time to join academia."

Are you really O.C.'s *only* architectural historian? I can think of numerous other folks who are architecture experts of one type or another, but I guess they all do something else as their primary career (architects, office managers, archivists, etc.) I guess it's possible that you're the only one in O.C. who does this as their day-to-day profession. It was just kind of shocking to realize that you might be right about this. This all goes back to my theory that we need to clone you.

BTW,... "Joining academia" never solved anything. Besides, with the exception of Art, Stephanie, Gilbert Gonzales, how many people in the academic world actually know much about O.C. history? It has to be a very small number.

Anonymous said...

I would love if there were more AH's in OC, and it is certainly a possibility. But as far as I know I am the only individual focused exclusively on the research, documentation, and preservation of Orange County's historic built environment. (Diann being in Galena) There are architects who do historic, and there are AH's that come up from San Diego or out from Pasadena, etc. But as far as I know I am it for OC. Phil Chinn of course is amazing, but I do not know if that is his full time profession, he does not seem to answer RFP's. When a local civic govt was soliciting bids for the inventory I did for them they went nuts trying to find companies to send RFPs to, and I was the only one they found in the County. I hear the same when I am working with developers trying to get competitive bids, they cannot find anyone but me. Gail Eastman does some surveys in Anaheim, but not outside Anaheim. I understand Marcia Garten will begin doing some Anaheim surveys soon. But yeah, if you find another kindred spirit, holler, especially since I can get so swamped at times I would love to be able to refer someone. That said I am also going for a Planning degree rather than History. Decided to actually earn money when i am finished. But would still take Art's class with you.

Anonymous said...

...and if you figure out how to clone me, can you make the duplicate love cleaning?

Bob Chaparro said...

RE: "The Salt Flat of the Flags."
I worked as an analyst in the County Administrative Office (1969-1972) at the time the design for the "Plaza of the Flags" was finalized. The Capital Projects Program was part of the CAO at that time and consisted of two very conservative "never think outside the box" gentlemen. Both fine men but not expansive thinkers.
When the final design was brought to the CAO staff meeting I recall one of our more sage analyst saying, "when this plaza is completed it's going to look like nothing but a bunch of dollars laying on the ground."
The plaza was never the friendly, casual gathering ground it was supposed to be due to the lack of seating and greenery.
As it was, when the County solicited flags from the fifty states some never responded and some only would provide a flag for a fee.
I spent most of my 34 years with the County in the Civic Center and found the Plaza of the Flags to be nothing more than and overly broad sidewalk to get from one building to the next.
Bob Chaparro
Hemet, CA

Chris Jepsen said...


Drop me a line by email one of these days: Perhaps I can arm-twist you out of any old County of Orange material you might have collecting dust in your garage for the O.C. Archives. Or at the very least, I'd like to hear more of your stories from the trenches.

All the best,