This Is Your Life: A Companion Guide/Shameless Propaganda for 'Orange County: A Personal History'

Orange County: This is Your Life
A companion guide/shameless propaganda for Orange County: A Personal History

Dear Orange County: We’ve come a long way, baby. From Indians to industry, orange groves to master-planned communities, Mexican-bashing to Mexican-bashing, our slice of paradise is playing a bigger role in America’s affairs with each passing year. You can read all about it in my new book, Orange County: A Personal History (appearing in local bookstores Sept. 16), which deals with our collective experience as lived by four generations of my illegal-immigrant, anchor-baby-dropping Mexican family.

It’s a great book, but don’t believe just me—Publisher’s Weekly gave it a starred review. But Orange County lacks two things: footnotes and pictures. Following are some of the missing pieces, along with chapter descriptions to entice ustedes into buying the book. For those of you who read Orange County, consider this issue a companion guide. For those of you who don’t, I’m sure you can sell this free copy of the Weekly for a couple of bucks on eBay as a collector’s item. See you next Thursday at the Yost Theater in SanTana!

Mission San Juan Capistrano
Courtesy Santa Ana Public Library
Mission San Juan Capistrano
Veyna Bros. Grocery Float, Anaheim Halloween Parade. The Veynas were one of Jerez's first Anaheim families.
Courtesy Anaheim Public Library
Veyna Bros. Grocery Float, Anaheim Halloween Parade. The Veynas were one of Jerez's first Anaheim families.

This Is How We Do It In the OC (Don’t Call It That)

Gustavo makes a case for why the Reconquista will ultimately prove to be banal by describing a snapshot of his family’s life . . . Follows with a bird’s-eye description of Orange County, from Old Saddleback to John Wayne’s sad statue . . . Official history of Orange County—Serra, John Birch Society, bankruptcy . . . The importance of half of this book, the necessity of the other part and nachos!

Errata & Miscellany

• Orange County map courtesy of the Orange County Clerk-Recorder office.

• Mile Square Park blowjob information courtesy of . . . um, sources.

• The Halloween segregationists live in Floral Park.

• Foothill Ranch isn’t a city, but it sure doesn’t mind people mistaking it for one.

• Due to development, the Portola ride now only happens on the Rancho Mission Viejo. It’s still hella cheesy.

• Anaheim marks its founding as 1857, when the Los Angeles Vineyard Society purchased the lot that became the original city, but residents didn’t begin moving in until 1859—hence, my confusing-as-hell sentence.

• The Los Alamitos Joint Forces Training Base was originally a Naval air station when it first opened in 1942, not an Air Force base.

• By far the stupidest mistake in the book: Disneyland opened in 1955, not 1958. My only solace for such idiocy is that it’s not the stupidest error ever published in an Orange County history book; that dishonor goes to former Los Angeles Times reporter Steve Emmons. In his 1988 Orange County: A History and a Celebration, he misidentified Calvary Chapel founder Chuck Smith as legendary Warner Bros. animator and longtime county resident Chuck Jones.

• Editing mistake: should read “fundamentalist wild child.” But I like the idea of “wild” signifying the great unknown.


Flying Potatoes, Anchor Babies and Kidnapped Teen Brides: The Mirandas Go North

Gustavo’s maternal great-grandfather and grandfather end up in Anaheim in 1918, his maternal grandmother an anchor baby . . . How more than 2,000 Mexicans from one village settled in Anaheim . . . Jaime Crow in Orange County . . . Why San Bernardino is Hell.

Errata & Miscellany

• Broadcom co-founder Henry Samueli pleaded guilty to a felony but still must stand trial with former partner Henry Nicholas III.

• The most famous local resident to emerge from Arizona’s copper country is Rueben Martinez, the MacArthur “Genius”-winning barber-cum-bookstore-owner behind Librería Martinez; he hails from the town of Miami, about two-and-a-half hours from the Morenci Mine.

• Area code 562 also touches some Orange County cities, and a bunch of us in the 714 region now have a 657 area code overlay with which to deal. Damn you, fax machines!

• A more famous descendant of El Cargadero-area families than I is Los Angeles council member Jose Huizar; he was born in Los Morales, a rancho in between El Cargadero and Jomulquillo.


“Our Climate Is Faultless”: Constructing America’s Perpetual Eden

Orange County as terrestrial heaven . . . 1936 Citrus War . . . The evil, evil Don Bren . . . Leisure World, San Clemente and other master-planned Gomorrahs . . . Who’s better: The Ink Spots or Glenn Miller?

Errata & Miscellany

• The Anaheim orange grove (known as the Pressel orchard) with which I open the chapter is unfortunately suffering from the devastating Quick Decline virus, but the owners are committed to replanting their lot with new trees.

• Mission San Juan Capistrano was returned to the Catholic Church by decree of Abraham Lincoln, not through the good graces of Juan Forster.

• I originally found Leon Rene’s anecdote about his inspiration for “When the Swallows Come Back to Capistrano” on the website of the Afro-Louisiana Historical and Genealogical Society, but it was actually published in a 1979 article for The Advocate of Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

• Carey McWilliams also played an important part in county history besides covering the 1936 Citrus War; his coverage of the Mendez vs. Westminster trial for The Nation was repackaged for his 1949 book, North From Mexico: The Spanish-Speaking People of the United States, probably the first Chicano Studies book ever published. During the 1970s, one of the younger Mendez sisters first learned of her family’s involvement by reading North From Mexico at UC Riverside. She had never heard about the landmark desegregation case in Orange County schools.

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