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  • Kalyn McCall

Welcome to the OC

The story of Orange County is typically seen as a story of post-war suburbanization. After World War II, new migrants - many veterans who had first seen the paradise when stationed out West - settled in the sleepy community in the shadows of Los Angeles. Previously a hub of agriculture, fields and farms were converted into tracts of homes, and the American dream became a reality.

Yet this telling of history misses the bulk of the story and its critical parts. Orange County did not emerge from a cultural void in the post-war years. Orange County did not only begin to craft its identity once the rural became suburban. To understand the OC, its culture, its communities, and its contributions to the world - in terms of politics, the suburban dream, and Disneyland - one needs to go back to the beginning. Doing so uncovers not only a rich history of Midwesterners and Southerners, Yankees, and Europeans working together to make a new world but also a history of intersections. Carved from native land by citizens hoping to leave the race problem of black Americans back East and built by successive generations of migrant labor from Asia and Latin America, Orange County - despite its prevalent reputation and presumed homogeneity - embodied and reflected the diversity and complexities of the nation despite its efforts to avoid them.

Just as California redefines and reinforces the American Dream, so too does the OC in its own way. It took a lot of work for the home of the happiest place on earth to come to be, and hopefully, we can all learn a little something from this journey.

— Kalyn McCall

Sunkist California Dream Crate Label [Photo Courtesy Archives at Cal State Fullerton]

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