Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Anaheim Halloween Parade: Then & Now

2013: Witches and a scary tree replicate the S.Q.R. Store float from 1957.
1957: The original!
The 89th Annual Anaheim Halloween Parade, held last Saturday, was a real corker! Not only did it have all the home-town charm you'd expect (e.g. high school marching bands, Shriners in mini-jalopies, etc.), but also a bunch of impressive new features supplied by a new crop of volunteers, including my friends Jody Daily and Kevin Kidney. (Certainly, many more people were involved in these parade, but I don't know their names. My apologies.) From an enormous rolling haunted house to a towering vampire, they came up with all kinds of new ideas. But being history geeks like me, they also went back and looked at the coolest entries from Anaheim Halloween Parades long ago and brought a handful of them back to life.
2013: A "Flying Sasser" is part of the Anaheim Historical Society's parade unit.
1950s: The original "Flying Sasser" invades Anaheim at the dawn of the Space Age.
I'm not sure, but I suspect that even more 2013 parade highlights were direct references to favorites from decades past. I should have taken better notes at last year's Orange County Historical Society presentation on the history of the Halloween Parade.
Vintage, Disney-designed Anaheim mascot "Andy Anaheim" leads the parade.
I've never been to this parade before, so I can't honestly compare this year to earlier incarnations. But I did enjoy the heck out of it! I particularly liked how it evoked an old-fashioned Halloween: Grinning jack-o-lanterns and sheet-draped ghosts instead of blood and gore. And the combination of history, community and creativity was very, very Anaheim. My thanks to EVERYONE involved.

I've posted a BUNCH of photos from the parade (and even some video) on my Flickr account.
The Anaheim Historical Society marches down Broadway.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Champions of O.C. history: Phil Brigandi and Ilse Byrnes

Phil Brigandi has a new book out! Orange County Chronicles includes ten essays that cover a pretty wide span of our local history, from the Portolá expedition of 1769 to our post-WWII boom years. Chapters include:
  • The March of Portolá
  • Drought, Debt & Development: The Story of the Stearns Ranchos
  • The Birth of Orange County
  • Chinese Pioneers in Early Orange County
  • Red Cars in an Orange County
  • King Citrus & Queen Valencia
  • The Good Roads Movement
  • The Great Depression in Orange County
  • Breaking New Ground: The Early Years of Knott’s Berry Farm
  • Boundary Battles of the Post-War Boom
You can order the book via The History Press or look for it in your local bookstore (assuming you still have one).

This Wednesday, historical preservation superstar Ilse Byrnes will speak at the Dana Point Historical Society, Oct. 23, 6:30pm, at the Dana Point City Council Chambers. The public is welcome to attend. If you didn't see the article about Ilse in the L.A. Times last month, do take a look!

Tuesday, October 08, 2013

Last of the Old West

The forgotten tale of the 1907 shooting of Los Alamitos Deputy Constable Juan Orosco will be told by historian Phil Brigandi at the Orange County Historical Society’s general meeting, Oct. 10, 7:30 pm, at Trinity Episcopal Church, 2400 N. Canal St., in Orange. The program is entitled, "Last of the Old West: Los Alamitos Lawman Gunned Down and Forgotten." Over the course of two years, Brigandi has uncovered the details of this intriguing story from the waning days of Orange County’s wild and woolly pioneer era.

Surrounded by freeways, condos and strip malls, it’s easy to forget that Orange County was once part of the Wild West, complete with bandits and horse thieves, tough lawmen, Indians, cathouses, rough-and-tumble saloons, false-front stores, blacksmiths, shoot-outs, cattle round-ups, prospectors, and nearly any other “Old West” cliché you’d care to conjure up. Los Alamitos was such a stereotypically tough and rugged Western town that movie directors would later use it as a location set for their “oaters.” (The movie still above is not actually from Los Alamitos, but you get the idea.)
Rustic downtown Los Alamitos, 1910. Note the sugar factory in the background.
“Orosco seems to have been the first Orange County law enforcement officer killed in the line of duty,” says Brigandi. “The story has been forgotten mostly because we don’t have constables anymore -- or any successor agency to keep a list of their own fallen officers. This is a story I ran across a couple years ago, and there are still some questions to unravel. But the basic facts are clear.”

Brigandi, a longtime local historian, has written more than 20 books, thousands of articles, and a website: So Cal Historyland. His resume of historical bona fides is too long to list here, but I'll point out that I was lucky enough to work with him and learn from him for five years while he was Orange County's Archivist. His new book, Orange County Chronicles should be available later this autumn.

This will be the first time Brigandi has spoken about the story of Deputy Constable Orosco. An article about his research on this subject appeared in the May 28, 2013 issue of the Orange County Register. The OCHS program is free to the public.

Your photographic time machine awaits!

The 72nd anniversary of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows in 1891 was marked by their Santa Ana Lodge with a parade. This is a view of W. 4th St, looking northeast from Broadway.
If you read this blog, you almost certainly dig cool old images of Orange County. In that case, BOY are you in luck! Long hidden away in the recesses of the Archives & Special Collections at Cal State Fullerton's Pollak Library, the Smart Studio Collection is getting a chance to shine! An exhibit entitled "An Orange County Portrait:  The Smart Studio Collection," just opened in the Salz-Pollak Atrium Gallery, (just off the main lobby of the Pollak Library at CSUF), and will run through Dec. 20, 2013.
Judge James W. Towner (1823-1913) in his bathing suit at Newport Beach, circa 1890.
This unique collection of more than seventy-five black-and-white photographs selected from the Smart Studio Collection examines a fascinating cross-section of American life as seen through the lenses of prominent Orange County landscape and portrait photographers Benjamin F. Conaway, Lou Hickox, and Mary Smart. This exhibit chronicles the transformation of Orange County and its people from before the establishment of the county through the mid-twentieth century.  People depicted in the photos include such notables as aviation pioneer Glenn Martin,  Orange County’s first judge, J. W. Towner,  and President Benjamin Harrison during a visit to Santa Ana
Each summer, local apricots were harvested, halved, sun dried, and treated with sulfur before shipment. This photo shows an apricot drying crew in Tustin, circa 1890.
Sponsored by the Pollak Library, this exhibit of previously hidden gems is produced by Stephanie George, archivist at the Center for Oral and Public History; Phil Brigandi, Orange County historian; and Gail Griswold, graphic designer, all of whom will be available to discuss the project at a special Open House—to which the public is invited—on Thursday, Oct. 10, noon to 3pm in the gallery.

It's really bothering me that I can't figure out how to get out of work to go to the grand opening, but I will definitely be going to see the exhibit ASAP.
Carlota Haider hard at work, helping install the exhibit at CSUF.
Go and see this exhibit! Yes, I know you can look at photos online, but there's nothing quite like looking at a large quality print of a photo to appreciate the details that can otherwise be lost.

For more information about the exhibit, contact Trish Campbell.