75th Anniversary of Citrus War this Week as Orange County Yawns
75 years ago this week, the Citrus War--Orange County's most notorious and bloody labor conflict--began in earnest in an orange grove that still stands today, on Santa Ana Street between Helena and Clementine streets in Anacrime. Of course, no one bothered to mark this momentous moment--which forever solidified the distrust Orange Countians have toward their Mexicans, whether of the legal or illegal variety--because who cares about history when Disneyland just opened their latest rendition of Star Tours? (hey, not hating on my part: once those damn lines shorten in 17 years, I'm going to go until I try all its manifestations).
Anyhoo, from my 2006 cover story marking the anniversary then:
Seventy years ago this week, Orange County's most brutally suppressed strike began with a bite.
On June 15, 1936, at the break of dawn, about 200 Mexican women gathered in Anaheim to preach the gospel of huelga--strike. Four days earlier, about 2,500 Mexican naranjeros representing more than half of Orange County's crucial citrus-picking force dropped their clippers, bags and ladders to demand higher wages, better working conditions and the right to unionize.
The women spread across the groves of Anaheim, the heart of citrus country, urging workers to let the fruit hang. Twenty Anaheim police officers confronted the women; they refused to disperse. At some point there was an altercation, and 29-year-old Placentia resident Virginia Torres bit the arm of Anaheim police officer Roger Sherman. Police arrested Torres, along with 30-year-old Epifania Marquez, who tried to yank a strikebreaker--a scab--from a truck by grabbing onto his suspenders.
All four of you--okay, two of you--interested in learning about the most important event in OC history can continue the reading here.
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