Juaneño/Acjachemen Culture

 

The culture and history of the Juaneño/Acjachemen indigenous people of Orange County will be the topic of Adelia Sandoval’s program at the Orange County Historical Society’s May 13, 2021 meeting at 7:30 p.m., online via Zoom.

Click here to register: https://tinyurl.com/OCHSAcjachemen

Adelia Sandoval is the Spiritual Overseer (Púul) and Cultural Director for the Juaneño Band of Mission Indians / Acjachemen Nation. Adelia shares her Acjachemen Culture through art, writing, storytelling and singing. She is a Ceremonial Leader, Song Keeper, Wisdom Holder, Tribal teacher and healer.

Adelia is also an ordained minister. She created a ministry called Song of the Earth, a Native American healing service held in outdoor sanctuaries. Sandoval has been a Trustee on the Global Council of the United Religions Initiative, a Global Interfaith organization that “promotes peace, justice and healing for the Earth and all living beings.” Adelia is a member of Women of Spirit and Faith and contributed to their book, “Women, Spirituality and Transformative Leadership, Where Grace Meets Power”. She is an advisor to various interfaith and environmental groups. In November of 2019, Adelia was ordained as a Catholic Deacon in the Old Catholic Tradition and serves at St. Matthew Ecumenical Catholic Communion in Orange.

The Yost Theater / El Cine Yost

The history of Santa Ana’s Yost Theater (El Cine Yost) and its important role in Orange County’s Mexican-American community will be the topic of Professor David-James Gonzales’ program at the Orange County Historical Society’s April 8, 2021 meeting at 7:30 p.m., online via Zoom. To register, visit the OCHS website or https://tinyurl.com/OCHSYost.

Opened in 1913 as The Auditorium, the Yost Theater is Orange County’s oldest and most historic entertainment venue. During its early years, the Yost was considered Orange County’s finest playhouse, as it hosted vaudeville performers and musicians. With its massive stage, 970-seat capacity, and full array of backstage props and dressing rooms, the theater was a popular site for the performing arts, film exhibitions, charitable events, religious services, and political gatherings throughout much of its hundred-plus year history.

But to the ethnic Mexican community, the Yost was much more. The Olivos family, who purchased and then ran the Yost for 33 years, not only introduced Spanish-language cinema to Orange County, but also gave Mexican Americans a public place to gather and “feel proud of their ethnic heritage,” writes Gonzales. “During the early-to-mid-twentieth century when schools, neighborhoods, and parks were segregated throughout Orange County, Latinos could enter the theater and feel a sense of community.”

The theater was, wrote Louis Olivos, Jr., “our answer to the Grand Ole Opry.”

A Southern California native, David-James Gonzales completed his Ph.D. in History at the University of Southern California in 2017, writing his dissertation on the Mexican American struggle against segregation in Orange County from 1920 to 1950. He went on to teach at USC, UCLA and is currently an Assistant Professor of History at Brigham Young University. He is also a producer and host of the scholarly book review podcast “New Books in Latino Studies.”

His article, “El Cine Yost and the Power of Place for Mexican Migrants in Orange County, California, 1930–1990,” was published in the Journal of American Ethnic History in the Summer of 2020. He is currently preparing a book manuscript on the effect of Latino civic engagement and politics on the metropolitan development of Orange County throughout the 20th century.

Caption: The Yost Theater on Spurgeon St. in 1974. Photo by Werner Weiss, courtesy Orange County Archives.

Modesta Avila

The story of Modesta Avila – Orange County’s first convicted felon and a celebrated symbol of protest – is an enduring Early California legend that has long warranted further historical research. Author, attorney, and educator Richard Brock will tell Avila’s story at the Orange County Historical Society’s March 11, 2021 meeting at 7:30 p.m., online via Zoom.

To register, visit https://tinyurl.com/OCHSAvila

Brock’s lecture will include the findings of his article, “Modesta Again” (California History, Fall 2018) as well as even more recent significant findings about Avila’s life.

The tale of Modesta Avila has long been a potent metaphor used by scholars and activists to illustrate themes of social injustice, ethnic intolerance, railroad intransigence, the decline of the Californios, and the treatment of Hispanics following the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo. Because her story is used to explain serious historical themes, accuracy is important. However, the story as it’s always been told was inaccurate and incomplete. Brock’s new research—using original land titles, Mexican land grants, genealogy, trial transcripts, applications for appeals to governors Markham and Waterman, the personal notes of the historian Jim Sleeper in the UCI Special Collections, and hundreds of contemporary news articles—results in a revised and compelling story that has even stronger metaphorical import.

Richard Brock holds a BA from UCI in Classical Civilization focused on Greco-Roman History, Literature, Art, & Myth. He earned an MA in Folklore and Mythology from UCLA and focused on San Juan Capistrano where he did field work with descendants of the Acjachemen, Spanish, Mexicans, and early European settlers. He also holds a JD from Western State University of Law and deploys all of these disciplines in his published papers and novels. He currently teaches law in an ABA program for paralegals at UCR, and also teaches Folklore and Mythology, the Spanish Mission System, and the Pacific Crest Trail through the Osher Foundation.

At the end of the lecture, Brock will also briefly discuss his new work of historical fiction, Laguna Diary, which features such local personalities as Delfina Olivares (storyteller and Matriarch of San Juan Capistrano) and Paul Arbiso (Mission bell-ringer and Patriarch of San Juan Capistrano).

The Enchanted Quest of Dana & Ginger Lamb

If adventure has a name, it must be,…. Lamb? Author and researcher Julie Huffman-klinkowitz will tell the story of Orange County authors and adventurers Dana and Ginger Lamb at the Orange County Historical Society’s Jan. 14, 2020 meeting at 7:30 p.m., online via Zoom.

Visit https://tinyurl.com/OCHSLamb to register.

Almost 90 years ago, Dana and Ginger Lamb made headlines as they adventured their way through life, creating experiences and stories that thrilled and entertained their audiences. Followed by young and old alike, the Lambs presented themselves through the media of the day to an international following. Married in 1933, the Lambs became popular authors, lecturers, documentary filmmakers, entrepreneurs, amateur archaeologists, and spies for the U.S. government. Their best-selling books included Enchanted Vagabonds (1938) and Quest for the Lost City (1951). Huffman-klinkowitz will speak about the Lambs’ personal histories, their lives and work, and their impact on several generations of followers.

Julie Huffman-klinkowitz is an independent scholar whose work focuses on local history, genealogy, and popular culture. She holds an undergraduate degree in Anthropology and a MA in Spanish. She is Collections Manager of the Cedar Falls (Iowa) Historical Society. She is co-author of the book, The Enchanted Quest of Dana and Ginger Lamb, and is currently working on an annotated index to the Lambs’ voluminous correspondence, which is held at the Sherman Library in Corona del Mar.

Jewish Orange County: The Early Years

                         

Jews have been in Orange County since 1857, when it was still a part of Los Angeles County, and have made significant contributions ever since. Dalia Taft, archivist for the Orange County Jewish Historical Society will speak at the Orange County Historical Society’s Dec. 10, 2020 meeting at 7:30 p.m., online via Zoom. Taft’s program will show how many of Orange County’s Jewish residents were, and continue to be, actively involved in local commerce, culture and politics while still maintaining their Jewish identities. The lecture covers the period 1857-1945, and includes a montage of old photos, period newspaper announcements and vintage advertisements.

Register here to RSVP for this online presentation:

 https://tinyurl.com/OCHSJewsinOC

 As the archivist for the OCJHS, Taft is responsible for increasing the awareness of the role Jews have played in the development of Orange County from 1857, when the first Jew settled in Anaheim, to now. She maintains the Society’s archives and is constantly researching and digitizing the growing collection. She helped organize the group’s website and lectures regularly about the different significant periods in Orange County’s Jewish history. Ms. Taft also writes a monthly column in JLife, Orange County’s monthly Jewish magazine, highlighting images from the society’s archives, and she wrote and directed the documentary California Orange Jews, on the history of the Orange County Jewish community. She has also published the book, Jewish Pioneers of Orange County, (Vol. 44, #3/4 of the journal Western States Jewish History), detailing the many stories of Jewish life in Orange County from the 1860s through the 1980s. This volume is an invaluable resource and features an introduction by longtime OCHS member John Moorlach.

 Ms. Taft graduated from UCLA with a degree in art, summa cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa, and her professional experience includes work as educator at the Simon Wiesenthal Museum of Tolerance in Los Angeles and public relations manager with the Easter Seals organization.

 This program was originally scheduled for April but was postponed due to COVID.

Cinderella Homes: Fairy Tale Tracts in Suburban O.C.

 

 

 

Once upon a time, even before Disneyland, Cinderella had her own housing tracts in Anaheim, Tustin, Costa Mesa, Placentia, and the San Fernando Valley. Author Chris Lukather will discuss his book, The Cinderella Homes of Jean Vandruff – Fairy Tale Tracts in the Suburbs, at the Orange County Historical Society’s Nov. 12, 2020 meeting at 7:30 p.m., online via Zoom.

Register here to RSVP for this online presentation:

https://tinyurl.com/OCHSHouses

In the 1950s, Southern California tract housing developments filled the need of a burgeoning population, but they often lacked innovation, imagination and quality. The plain box-style home tracts featuring little ornamentation came to define the term “cookie cutter.” It’s no wonder that designer and builder Jean Vandruff’s charming homes skyrocketed to popularity, since they exemplified a visionary translation of storybook magic into appealing new homes buyers could afford.

Eventually, over 6,000 Cinderella Homes were built throughout Southern California and the United States. Mr. Vandruff began building houses in Southern California in the early 1950s, after serving as a decorated pilot in WWII. He enrolled in the USC School of Architecture, but eventually left the program to build custom homes with his brother, Shannon.

His first Cinderella Home was a custom home built in Downey in 1953, creating a prototype for his wildly popular model home that was featured at the 1956 Los Angeles Home Show. The success and interest this model generated initiated his venture into tract home building and a subsequent franchise deal that facilitated his Cinderella Homes being built around the country. The style became an iconic mid-century design.

Today at 97 years old, Jean Vandruff still lives near Anaheim. He is proud of the legacy of his work as a designer and builder, and remains active in the community that still today celebrates his Cinderella homes.

This program was originally scheduled for March but was postponed due to COVID.

October 2020 General Meeting: Millard Sheets and Home Savings

Author Adam Arenson will discuss Millard Sheets and Home Savings at the Orange County Historical Society’s October 8, 2020 meeting at 7:30 p.m. online via Zoom.

Register here to RSVP for this online presentation: https://tinyurl.com/OCHSsheets

For more than three decades, Millard Sheets (1907-1989) and his studio of artists designed Home Savings and Loan branches throughout California, studding their iconic projects with mosaics, murals, stained glass, and sculptures that celebrated both family life and the history of the Golden State. The collaboration between the Millard Sheets Studio and Howard Ahmanson (1906-1968), Home Savings’ executive, resulted in more than 40 branches designed and built between the completion of the first collaboration in 1955 and Ahmanson’s death. It set the course for more than 100 additional branches that bore the Home Savings name until the institution was sold to Washington Mutual in 1998.

Combining private investment and public art, and championing historical themes in a period of dramatic cultural and political change, the Home Savings and Loan buildings are signature structures of mid-century modern architecture, and their story deserves to be known before it is too late to save these remarkable works.

Adam Arenson has created a richly illustrated book, Banking on Beauty: Millard Sheets and Midcentury Modern Design in California (University of Texas Press, 2018), that shines a light on this distinctive style of architecture and art that graced sixty communities throughout Southern California. (To purchase the book at a 30% discount at www.utexaspress.com, OCHS members may use discount code BANK30.)

Arenson is a professor of history and the director of the urban studies program at Manhattan College in the Bronx, NY. Born and raised in San Diego, he holds degrees from Harvard and Yale and is the author of two award-winning books and is co-editor of two others. Professor Arenson has written for The New York Times, The Atlantic, and The Washington Post, and he has presented his research on Home Savings and Millard Sheets throughout California, including at Palm Springs Modernism Week. He has been awarded a Certificate of Merit for his book and its preservation advocacy by DOCOMOMO-US, which declared, “Arenson’s research has uncovered an extensive legacy of ‘every man modernism’ that was largely unknown and under-appreciated, and brings attention to main street architecture with real design value.”

September 2020 General Meeting: Junipero Serra in Orange County

Local historian Eric Plunkett will discuss Junipero Serra in Orange County at the Orange County Historical Society’s September 10th, 2020 meeting at 7:30 p.m. online via Zoom.

 

Register here to RSVP for this online presentation:  https://forms.gle/R297RVp16UWGg6NGA

Franciscan friar Junípero Serra y Ferrer (1713 –1784) led the effort to establish establishing the California Missions. He was a key figure in the development of Alta California and was canonized in 2015 but has become a controversial figure in some circles. Rioters recently tore down statues of Serra in San Francisco, Sacramento and Los Angeles. OCHS’ program is not intended to praise or condemn Serra, but simply to explain what he did while he was here.

Eric Plunkett is the leading authority today on Orange County’s Spanish and Mexican Eras. He recently spoke before OCHS on the subjects of Richard Henry Dana’s visit to Dana Point and Hippolyte Bouchard’s raid on San Juan Capistrano. He also co-authored OCHS’ recent book about the Portola Expedition’s trek through what’s now Orange County, and helped lead the Society’s day-long tour following the expeditions’ path.

He is currently nearing completion of a book on the subject of Junipero Serra’s experiences in what is now Orange County. His research has broken new ground, uncovering stories about Serra and early Southern California that had previously been unknown even to dedicated historians.

March 2020 General Meeting: Early Motorcycling in Southern California

“Outdoor Motorcycle Recreation in Pre-World War II California” will be the topic of historian and OCHS member Paul Clark’s presentation at the March 12, 2020 meeting of the Orange County Historical Society.

7:30p.m.
Trinity Episcopal Church
2400 N. Canal St., Orange.

The public is welcome to this free event.

(Please note that this program replaces a previously planned program on Cinderella Homes, which will likely be rescheduled at a later date.)

Horse power took on new meaning around 1900, with motorized vehicles transforming transport and life throughout California and the world. Motorcycles were part of this movement away from the horse and buggy, leaving many (literally and/or figuratively) in the dust. Southern California’s climate welcomed outdoor sports, and soon motorcycling attracted the interest of newspapers, radio, and eventually motion pictures. Local motorcycling events began to draw tens of thousands of spectators.

Not only were there massive group rides down the coast and races, but also wildly-popular “hill rides” where riders pitted their stamina and engines against gravity. The 1923 Capistrano Hill Ride, for instance, drew 50,000 spectators.

Paul Clark, as a graduate student at CSU Fullerton, co-authored a report in 1978 to the Federal government spanning the wide range of outdoor recreation in the California desert. Since then, he completed his MA in history and has published extensively on recreational history. The recent Brand Book 23 of the Los Angeles Corral of Westerners features Clark’s article focusing on outdoor motorcycle recreation in California from 1900 to 1945.