The landmark 1946 Mendez v. Westminster case, which desegregated schools in California, might’ve remained a citation in obscure history books if not for Robbie. Her 2002 documentary, Para Todos Los Niños/For All the Children, won an Emmy; she’s currently touring the country, along with original plaintiff Sylvia Mendez, in a tricked-out VW bus to teach kiddies about the case. At home in her native OC, Robbie is a bit more relaxed.
I usually have breakfast at Watson Drug in Orange Circle because it’s close to Chapman University, where I work. It’s always the same breakfast: the short stack (they’re so fluffy!) with butter and syrup and maybe a glass of orange juice. Afterward, I walk around the antique shops, looking for inspiration for Mendez. I won’t name names, but a lot of them have artifacts that deal with the history of segregation, with serapes, books and other artifacts. One of them once had a book about “Pepe, the Sleeping Mexican,” but I didn’t have money at the time. When I returned, it wasn’t there. Darn!
The week is pretty hectic, but I relax on weekends with my family. I like to buy pan dulce at Grande Bakery & Tortilla Shop. My mom went there ever since we were kids to get masa for the tamales, and that’s where I’ve always gone as an adult. Their best pan dulces are the pan de huevo and the pumpkin empanadas. They’re both really sweet and cheap. We like to drive toward the beach and walk. My favorite is the Seal Beach pier because it’s a small beach town like the other Orange County cities used to be.
Lately, I’ve been going to the Golden West College Swap Meet. I love the mix of everything that’s there: Vietnamese gardeners with orchids; people yelling out, “¡BARATO, BARATO!”; fruits and vegetables; antiques—everything. I love the buzz of that place, of people of all colors looking for a bargain on a Saturday morning.
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• Watson Drug & Soda Fountain, 116 E. Chapman Ave., Orange, (714) 633-1050
• Grande Bakery & Tortilla Shop, 214 N. Grand Ave., Santa Ana, (714) 547-1851
• Golden West College Swap Meet, 15744 Golden West St., Huntington ?Beach, (714) 898-7927; www.goldenwestswapmeet.com.