September 8th General Meeting- Silent Auction and the Ortega Highway!

Please join the Orange County Historical Society as we welcome fall and kick off our 2022-2023 lecture season at our general meeting and silent auction held at the beautiful Sherman Library & Gardens on Thursday, September 8, 2022. The Sherman is located at: 2647 East Coast Hwy, Corona Del Mar, CA 92625.

Parking is free at the Sherman and there are two available parking lots: Lot A located at Dahlia Ave at Pacific Coast Highway & Lot B located at Dahlia Ave at 3rd Avenue. Handicapped parking is located in Lot A.

For more information about the lovely Sherman Library & Gardens please click here.

The social hour and auction begins at 6:00 p.m. with our guest speaker, Riverside County Historian Steve Lech, speaking about the history of the Ortega Highway starting at 7:30 p.m.

Silent auction results and payments will be announced at 9:00 p.m. Light snacks and beverages will be provided. Members and guests please do not bring any food items to share.

More details to follow and we look forward to seeing you on the 8th of September!!!

 

NO June Monthly meeting or Annual Dinner

The Orange County Historical Society regrets to let you know that our 2022 June Annual Dinner has been cancelled. If you’re already registered, you will be reimbursed.
We apologize for the inconvenience and look forward to seeing you at our September 8th meeting at Sherman Gardens. More information will be shared later, but our speaker will be Riverside County Historian Steve Lech, speaking about the history of the Ortega Highway.

Anaheim’s Little Arabia

The Story of Anaheim’s Little Arabia will be the topic of speaker Amin Nash of the Arab American Civic Council at the May 12, 2022 meeting of the Orange County Historical Society, 7:30 p.m., at Trinity Episcopal Church, 2400 N. Canal St., Orange. Nash will discuss local immigrant communities from the Middle East and North Africa, how they established Little Arabia from the 1960s, and how the area has grown and developed in the decades since.

President of CSUF receiving food from Nader, a baker at Forn al Hara

Tucked along a busy Brookhurst Street in West Anaheim, Arabic signs advertise services from restaurants to lawyers to doctors. Some signs are explicitly in Arabic, such as Forna al Hara, which translates to “The Neighborhood’s Oven,” while others are English transliterations, like Al Tayabat, meaning “Wonderful Things.” The businesses and many others like them are regularly patronized by thousands of Arabic-speaking consumers who have made this part of Anaheim their center of business and culture. This neighborhood has been affectionately named Little Arabia by Arabs and non-Arabs alike and offers a rich perspective of Orange Country’s – and Southern California’s – diverse history. Little Arabia’s story reflects the challenges the Arab community has faced and reveals heartwarming aspects of how Anaheim has supported the Arab community through the years.

Little Arabia Plaza sign

Amin Nash is a Ph.D. Student at Claremont Graduate University, where he studies the Arab and Muslim American experience through literature, culture, and history. He is also a Fellow for the Arab American Civic Council located in Anaheim, where he regularly advocates for the Arab community and provides educational materials to the Anaheim population. Amin grew up in Las Vegas, the third child born to Iraqi immigrants, and recalls regularly traveling to Anaheim’s Little Arabia to purchase halal meat during the 1990s and early 2000s. Amin feels that Orange County – and Southern California – has challenged Arab and Muslim Americans and brought an opportunity to the community. He hopes that his work will allow the experiences of this unique American community to be recognized and understood as positive contributors to Orange County and America.

Sammy Khouraki, the owner of Al Tayabat (the oldest market in Little Arabia), giving a kiss to a young girl (the future of Little Arabia!)

2022 Annual Dinner Cancelled

The Orange County Historical Society regrets to let you know that our 2022 June Annual Dinner has been cancelled. If you’re already registered, you will be reimbursed.


We apologize for the inconvenience and look forward to seeing you at our September 8th meeting at Sherman Gardens. More information will be shared later, but our speaker will be Riverside County Historian Steve Lech, speaking about the history of the Ortega Highway.

Shifra Goldman: Godmother of Latin American & Chicano Art

 

Historian Manny Escamilla will discuss Professor Shifra Goldman of Santa Ana College – one of the first academics to seriously study Chicano/a and Latin American art – at the April 14, 2022 meeting of the Orange County Historical Society, 7:30 p.m., Trinity Episcopal Church, 2400 N. Canal St., Orange.

 

Dr. Shifra Goldman’s pioneering work in the field of Chicano and Latin American art was paired with a lifetime of activism, an encyclopedic knowledge of artwork, an eagerness to teach others, and a willingness to vocally defend threatened Chicano/a and Latin American art.

 

She was a driving force behind the preservation of Siqueiros’ 1932 “La América Tropical” mural on Olvera Street. She taught courses in Mexican Pre-Colombian, Modern and Chicano Art at Santa Ana College for 21 years where she organized the college’s first mural program. She personally documented thousands of works of art across the country (including here in O.C.) and her collection at UC Santa Barbara remains a starting point for researchers. This presentation will highlight her work and a slide show of murals/paintings from her collection.

 

Manny Escamilla is a local historian, urban planner, and lifelong Santa Ana resident. He graduated from Santa Ana College, from UC Berkeley with a BA in History, and from UCLA with a Master of Library and Information Science and a Master of Urban and Regional Planning. Manny worked for the City of Santa Ana from 2005-2019 as a local history librarian, management analyst, and urban planner. He was also on the board of the Orange County Historical Society. In 2020 he was appointed to the City’s Art and Culture Commission and is currently working as an urban planner with the City of Oakland. Over the past 14 years he has assisted with, led, and implemented a range of projects covering the areas of urban planning, government administration, digital humanities, historic research, and place-based art.

History Hike: Weir Canyon – From Indians to Missions, from Rancheros to Bandits

Join Orange County Historian Eric Plunkett on a hike that explores several sites in Weir Canyon — in the hills above Anaheim and Orange. Once home to an Indian village, traveled by vaqueros from the Yorba and Peralta family ranchos, and perhaps used as a hideout by bandits, Eric will offer interpretations of the former Indian village and archaeological site, the missionization of the Indians in the village and the rise of the rancho era, and the American Era and the rise of bandit gangs – the story of Juan Flores being captured at the mouth of the canyon.

The route is 2.5 miles in length with an elevation gain of 600’ and considered a moderate climb. The trail is clearly marked; in addition, there are some steep sections with loose dirt. The entire loop should take about 1.5-2 hours.

You’ll need to complete and submit a liability waiver (sent with your confirmation) in order to participate.

**There are no restrooms on this route.**

Date: April 23, 2022

Meet at 8:45 a.m. Hike leaves promptly at 9:00 a.m.

Additional information (directions, parking meeting location, liability waiver) will be provided as part of your email confirmation.

This hike is recommended for ages 13+.

Priority will be given to OCHS members. To register for this hike, please follow this link: https://tinyurl.com/OCHSWeir.

Any other questions, please contact: hikes@orangecountyhistory.org

Two Families and Mendez v Westminster

Janice Munemitsu, author of The Kindness of Color: The Story of Two Families and Mendez, et al. v. Westminster, the 1947 Desegregation of California Public Schools, will discuss her book at the March 10, 2022 meeting of the Orange County Historical Society, 7:30p.m., Trinity Episcopal Church, 2400 N. Canal St., in the City of Orange. The public is welcome.

The Kindness of Color tells the true story of two immigrant families who came to Southern California for better lives, only to face their own separate battles against racism during the 1940s. One family came by land from Mexico and the other by sea from Japan. Little did they expect their paths would meet and lead to justice and desegregation for all the school children of California in Mendez, et. al v. Westminster (1947) – seven years before Brown v. Education (1954).

Despite the discrimination and racism the Mendez and Munemitsu families encountered, there was one thing that helped them persevere. Acts of kindness by friends, neighbors and strangers encouraged their hearts and souls, opened paths to solutions, and created communities of support and kindness. This is the family story behind the case, highlighting the beauty and power of the Kindness of Color that made the landmark case possible. Photos show Felicitas and Gonzalo Mendez on the left and Masako and Seima Munemitsu on the right.

The book tells the story of how racism against the Japanese-Americans led to Tad Munemitsu leasing his family farm to Gonzalo and Felicitas Mendez during the forced evacuation and internment of 120,000 Japanese-Americans during World War II. When the Mendez family moved to the Westminster farm, the Mendez children were denied entry to the “white” school and forced to go to the “Mexican” school with inferior academics. Racism by the government and school districts denied both families of their constitutional amendment freedoms and rights, but acts of kindness along the way created the path to justice.

Janice Munemitsu is a third-generation Japanese American Sansei. A native of Orange County, California, Janice worked on the family farm from age five through high school. She is a graduate of the University of Southern California and Biola University.

Duke Kahanamoku in Orange County

Author Mark Zambrano will discuss the life, legacy, local impact of the “father of surfing” – Duke Kahanamoku – at the Feb. 10, 2022 meeting of the Orange County Historical Society, 7:30p.m., Trinity Episcopal Church, 2400 N. Canal St., in Orange. The public is welcome.

While surfing defined much of his history, Duke Paoa Kahinu Mokoe Hulikohola Kahanamoku also led a storied life as a lifeguard, Olympic athlete, Hollywood actor, Hawaiian sheriff, and world ambassador. A Native Hawaiian, he played a key role in spreading the popularity of his homeland and its culture. He left a significant positive impact most places he traveled, and particularly in Orange County. Our speaker will discuss this impact, which spanned nearly fifty years and which continues today. “It all started when Duke ignited the surf craze in Orange County and rode the wave from there,” says Zambrano, “leaving an indelible mark on our history.”

Mark Zambrano lives and works in Huntington Beach. He is the author of Surfing in Huntington Beach, an in-depth visual history of the generations of surfers who helped make this community one of America’s most iconic surf towns. He is an avid advocate for the preservation and education of surfing throughout Orange County, working with museums and archives throughout the area to that end, and as a member of the Huntington Beach Historic Resources Board. He also works with Corky Carroll’s Surf School and Board Members surf shop, helping visitors and locals alike learn to surf and “get stoked on surfing.” When not working and writing, Mark spends his time free surfing around Orange County.

A. Otis Birch: The Strange Saga of Santa Ana’s Oil Tycoon

Historian Paul Spitzzeri will discuss “A. Otis Birch: The Strange Saga of Santa Ana’s Oil Tycoon” at the January 13, 2022 meeting of the Orange County Historical Society, 7:30p.m., Trinity Episcopal Church, 2400 N. Canal St., Orange.

Albert Otis Birch was an early Santa Ana resident who became an oil tycoon during the early 20th century, with gushers in Brea Canyon. 

He also owned a furniture company in Los Angeles and was an insurance company executive, among other business endeavors. After living many years on a hilltop estate in South Pasadena, an aging Birch and his wife Estelle fell into the clutches of Pearl Choate, a Texas-born nurse with a penchant for having older husbands die not long after marriage and who served prison time in one instance. Not long after she began “taking care” of the Birches in the mid-1960s, Choate spirited them off to Texas where both died within a short period of time. But that’s just part of their strange story.

Paul R. Spitzzeri is Museum Director at the Workman and Temple Family Homestead Museum in the City of Industry, was raised in Orange County, and lives in Carbon Canyon, a stone’s throw from the county line in Chino Hills. He has written extensively on the history of greater Los Angeles through articles, a national award-winning book on the Workman and Temple families, and blog posts and has spoken several times to the OCHS.