Calling the County 'Orange'

Seemed like a good idea at the time . . .

This must have seemed like a no-brainer back on March 11, 1889, what with150,000 orange trees growing across the swath of land that was about to be carved out of Los Angeles County. Then again, lots of avocados, walnuts and lima beans were being farmed, too, so maybe we should consider it a blessing that politicos sensed that the bright and fragrant beauty of the orange somehow seems to capture the essence of the local way of life, the smudge pots notwithstanding. A few months after declaring Orange County-hood, an emblem was adopted consisting of the namesake fruit sprouting a stem and three leaves, and foreshadowing a lucrative trade in packing-crate-art collectibles. But in the next century just about every citrus tree in Orange County was trashed to make way for highways, housing tracts and El Modena High School. The last meaningful use of the image of the fruit that at one time symbolized this county was on the cover of Tragic Kingdom.If you're really desperate to find a little remaining relevance, look to March 12, 2002—exactly 113 years and one day after Orange County was created—when the United States unveiled its color-coded terrorism threat advisory scale. According to no less an authority than the Department of Homeland Security, "orange" equals "high risk."

 
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