People frequently assume I'm a SanTana native, but that's probably because I devote so many stories to the Banana Republic. Fact is (as I've said a billion times in this paper and blog), I'm a proud fourth-generation Anaheimer (pre-order my coming book on the subject) who will proclaim Anaheim's superiority over SanTana until I'm blue in the cara. Besides us looking better and being at ease with our lot in county life (unlike constantly insecure SanTana, which constantly seeks to reinvent itself), our course of history is just better. Whereas Anaheim drove out the Klan, Santa Ana accepted them as prominent citizens (more on this in a post after Labor Day). While we beat up our minorities (details to come in my book), Santa Ana burned down their Chinatown or lynched Mexicans. In regards to the Reconquista, Anaheim has done a much better job of mitigating it than Santa Ana by also attracting Arabs, Romanians, Samoans, Somalis, and other immigrants. And when it comes to the city's last orange groves, Anaheim preserves, SanTana builds houses.
But the most telling reason why Anaheim beats Santa Ana is because of our amateur historians. Our ten or so faithful Navel Gazing readers will recall my fight with SanTana historians earlier this month regarding their whitewash of the city's Klan and segregationist history. Let's add one more guy into the fire: Guy Ball.
He's the author of Santa Ana in Vintage Postcards, one of those Arcadia Publishing books with pictures of the past and short captions. I don't know how the hell I got a copy of it, but I looked through Ball's book last night to see if he committed the same sin as his Santa Ana Preservation Society contemporaries. Lo and behold, Ball did: on page 81 is a picture of the old Franklin Elementary School, one of the principal segregationist culprits cited in the landmark Mendez vs. Westminster case. Did Ball's book mention Franklin's role in Santa Ana's segregationist past? Is Papi Pulido a good mayor?
Now, compare the oversights in the books of Ball and Roberta A. Reed with an Anaheim Arcadia Publishing effort: Early Anaheim, published in 2006 by Stephen J. Faessel. On page 113, Faessel includes a picture of La Palma Elementary (above), one of the city's two Mexican schools in the days before Mendez vs. Westminster. Rather than gloss over his city's old racism in captions like SanTana historians, Faessel doesn't shy away:
La Palma School was built in 1928 as a segregated school for Latino children. Anaheim's Latino population provided the labor force to maintain the area's many groves and handled much of the fruit-picking effort as well. Unfortunately, Anaheim's subtle segregation was carried out in its schools, churches, and even at the city park plunge, where “non-whites” were only permitted to swim on Mondays, the day before the Olympic sized pool was cleaned. In 1946, the precedent setting case of Mendez vs. Westminster ended segregation in California Public Schools. Within a few additional years, many of the other vestiges of this dark era in Anaheim had ended.
Faessel, by the way, is an Anaheim Planning Commissioner, a role historically used by people to bulldoze away a city's pesky past and present for a Gunkist future. But the amateur historian doesn't because he realizes Santayana's famous maxim. Kudos to Faessel for being courageous enough to write the truth. SanTana historians: with the exception of the Orange County Mexican American Historical Society, ustedes are WEAK. Anaheim rules!!!!!