In Search of the Mexican Beverly Hills: Latino Suburbanization in Postwar Los Angeles 9780813583181

Residential and industrial sprawl changed more than the political landscape of postwar Los Angeles. It expanded the empl

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In Search of the Mexican Beverly Hills: Latino Suburbanization in Postwar Los Angeles

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In Search of the Mexican Beverly Hills

Latinidad Transnational Cultures in the United States This series publishes books that deepen and expand our understanding of Latina/o populations, especially in the context of their transnational relationships within the Americas. Focusing on borders and boundary crossings, broadly conceived, the series is committed to publishing scholarship in history, film and media, literary and cultural studies, public policy, economics, sociology, and anthropology. Inspired by interdisciplinary approaches, methods, and theories developed out of the study of transborder lives, cultures, and experiences, titles enrich our understanding of transnational dynamics. Matthew García, Series Editor, Arizona State University, School of Historical, Philosophical, and Religious Studies and Director of Comparative Border Studies For a list of titles in the series, see the last page of the book.

In Search of the Mexican Beverly Hills

Latino Suburbanization in Postwar Los Angeles Jerry González

Rutgers University Press New Brunswick, Newark, and Camden, New Jersey, and London

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Names: Gonzalez, Jerry, 1978– Title: In search of the Mexican Beverly Hills : Latino suburbanization in postwar Los Angeles / Jerry Gonzalez. Description: New Brunswick : Rutgers University Press, 2017. | Series: Latinidad: transnational cultures in the United States | Includes bibliographical references and index. Identifiers: LCCN 2017015418 (print) | LCCN 2017029748 (ebook) | ISBN 9780813583174 (E-pub) | ISBN 9780813583181 (Web PDF) | ISBN 9780813583167 (hardback) | ISBN 9780813583150 (paperback) | ISBN 9780813583174 (epub) | ISBN 9780813583181 (PDF) Subjects: LCSH: Mexican Americans—California—Los Angeles Suburban Area. | Los Angeles Suburban Area (Calif.)—History. | BISAC: SOCIAL SCIENCE / Ethnic Studies / Hispanic American Studies. | HISTORY / United States / State & Local / West (AK, CA, CO, HI, ID, MT, NV, UT, WY). | POLITICAL SCIENCE / Public Policy / City Planning & Urban Development. | SOCIAL SCIENCE / Sociology / Urban. | HISTORY / United States / 20th Century. | SOCIAL SCIENCE / Social Classes. | SOCIAL SCIENCE / Discrimination & Race Relations. Classification: LCC F869.L89 (ebook) | LCC F869.L89 M5172 2017 (print) | DDC 305.868/72079493—dc23 LC record available at A British Cataloging-­in-­Publication record for this book is available from the British Library. Copyright © 2018 by Jerry González All rights reserved No part of this book may be reproduced or utilized in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without written permission from the publisher. Please contact Rutgers University Press, 106 Somerset Street, New Brunswick, NJ 08901. The only exception to this prohibition is “fair use” as defined by U.S. copyright law. c The paper used in this publication meets the requirements of the American National Standard for Information Sciences—Permanence of Paper for Printed Library Materials, ANSI Z39.48–1992. www​.rutgersuniversitypress​.org Manufactured in the United States of America

For my family And in memory of Clark Davis


Introduction 1 1. The Lands of Mañana


2. Mexican Americans and the Suburban Ideal


3. El MAPA to the Suburban Ideal


4. Suburban Renewal

Epilogue: Let’s Take a Trip . . .

103 131

Acknowledgments 139 Notes 145 Index 193


In Search of the Mexican Beverly Hills


In 1950 Arthur and Susana Lozano used GI Bill benefits to purchase a new home on a cul-­de-­sac in what would later become Pico Rivera, California.1 After the birth of their second daughter the Lozanos had outgrown their home on Record Street in East Los Angeles, so they were looking to the expanding suburbs. Their two daughters, Susana C. and Silvia, found that the predominantly Mexican American neighborhood was full of playmates, and they enjoyed spending long hours in neighbors’ front yards. Furthermore, Susana C. recalls that the neighborhood provided a positive place to grow up in and that it also shaped her and her family’s relationships to collective identity and political engagement. Indeed, this move reinforced the Lozanos’ commitment to Mexican American advancement. Arthur and Susana Sr. modeled civic engagement for their daughters as they helped to found a local chapter of the American GI Forum and also canvassed precincts for city council and school board candidates.2 In many ways the Lozanos’ narrative of residential mobility dovetails with the classic post–World War II story, centered on a nuclear family’s quest for the good life. Yet at the same time the Lozanos’ story is one of many that disrupts romanticized notions of postwar America. As Mexican Americans in a suburban space, the Lozanos joined a broad regional migration from older barrios to newly built tract developments and participated in the diverse political movements of their day.3 The Lozanos’ new home, Pico Rivera, incorporated as a contract city in 1958 and billed itself as a “place in the sun,” a suburb that comprised “homes, churches, schools, and industry.”4 The former 1

agricultural community twelve miles east of downtown Los Angeles claimed a Mexican American population of nearly fifteen thousand people, amounting to 30 percent of the city’s total. This figure included residents of longstanding colonias (rural worker communities) that had transitioned into barrios (urban and suburban neighborhoods composed of mostly ethnic Mexicans), as well as new homeowners such as the Lozanos, who had migrated from the Eastside (a section of Los Angeles comprising the neighborhoods of Boyle Heights, unincorporated East Los Angeles, City Terrace, and Lincoln Heights). By the close of the 1970s, when a plurality of Americans across the United States lived in suburbs, Pico Rivera’s Mexican American inhabitants had swelled to over 60 percent of its total population.5 The rapid transformation of this particular suburb anticipated similar changes across Southern California, especially in the nearby cities of Montebello, El Monte, Monterey Park, and San Gabriel. In Search of the Mexican Beverly Hills traces the hidden history of how Mexican Americans came to dominate the eastern Los Angeles County suburbs, along with their lived experiences, challenges, and accomplishments in these spaces.6 This section of the metropolitan region shifted after World War II from agricultural areas to a patchwork of suburban industrial and residential zones. Both working-­class and middle-­class inhabitants participated in this transition. Many of the former simply remained in place while new residential developments engulfed their colonias, whereas the latter group pursued their suburban ideal in newly developed housing tracts. All were at the center of a massive shift in American life during which the suburbs came to influence nearly every aspect of society. Although the geographies of racial difference in metropolitan Los Angeles circumscribed housing options for people of color, Mexican Americans found increased inclusion in suburbanizing regions south and east of downtown. Two concurrent historical processes characterize Mexican American suburbanization in this region. First, developers and city planners displaced colonia residents and removed the neighborhoods following the war. Those that remained morphed into suburban barrios from the 1950s onward. 2  In Search of the Mexican Beverly Hills

The second process involved migration into those suburbs. The number of Spanish-­surnamed residents in Los Angeles County nearly doubled during the 1960s, a dramatic increase strongly suggesting Mexican American in-­migration from southwestern states such as Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, and Texas.7 Across the Southwest, the overlapping consequences of reduced labor migration from Mexico during the Great Depression in the 1930s, combined with repatriation programs back to Mexico, resulted in a largely native-­born Mexican American community. The reasons that Mexican Americans moved into the suburbs mirrored those of other Americans at the height of suburbanization. Many were drawn to the opportunity of owning a recently built home in a planned community. Those with GI Bill benefits were especially inclined to seek suburban homeownership because many developments were directly marketed to veterans. Others were pushed out by freeway construction and urban renewal projects, which wiped their former neighborhoods off the map. The buyouts that homeowners received often contributed to their ability to purchase a new home. Similarly, employment opportunities shaped another dimension of this migration to the suburbs. This combination of industrial and residential dispersion contributed to massive population gains all across Los Angeles. For example, in 1950 in the San Fernando Valley the census registered 311,000 residents, most of whom were newcomers to the region.8 Similarly, industrial expansion in Commerce and Montebello attracted blue-­collar workers, as did the opening of the Ford-­Mercury Motor Company assembly plant in Pico Rivera in 1958.

Mexican American Los Angeles The geography of residential settlement and industry at the end of the Depression appeared haphazard only to the untrained eye. Following sixty years of massive population booms and concomitant development, Los Angeles sprawled across the basin. Yet the social geography was tightly engineered. Race-­restrictive ­covenants barred the residency of people of color from certain Introduction 3

Map 1. Eastern Los Angeles County suburbs and their incorporation dates. Map by David Deis. sections and contributed to the maintenance of segregated areas. African Americans were systematically concentrated into several neighborhoods along Central Avenue in Los Angeles, the east side of Pasadena, and the southern part of Monrovia.9 Colonias, on the other hand, were ubiquitous, distinctly working-­class Mexican suburbs. They emerged at the turn of the twentieth century and provided refuge for laborers who toiled in the fields, foundries, factories, and privileged homes found across metropolitan Los Angeles. Despite the protection they offered as culturally affirming spaces, colonias were plagued by endemic poverty, substandard housing, lack of municipal services and infrastructural improvements, public health concerns, and property devaluation. Defined by their proximity to work sites in outlying areas, these communities retained blue-­collar attributes that were reflected in the housing construction. Residents frequently built their own homes from salvaged materials and arranged the built environment according to community needs. People with less to spend established colonias in abandoned railroad boxcars near downtown Los Angeles. With their access to decent housing 4  In Search of the Mexican Beverly Hills

effectively blocked by race-­restrictive covenants, many adapted to life in the United States in these impoverished, segregated communities. Just as important, these communities also served as stepping stones toward suburbanization. The first push of suburbanization toward East Los Angeles, for example, occurred when plans for Union Station forced people to move across the river, away from the colonia that was centered on the proposed construction site.10 Employment also shaped the residential landscape for ethnic Mexicans. For example, Hicks Camp near El Monte and Simons Brickyard in Montebello were both established by companies that relied on ethnic Mexican labor. Other colonias, such as Jimtown and Flood Ranch, developed on their own terms but were located a short distance from job sites. These places differed from barrios because of the latter’s urban connotation.11 Barrios are communities that are locked in by other residential and industrial tracts and more tightly integrated into the pace of daily urban life, whereas colonias definitely broke from the urban center.12 Residents created hybrid cultural communities in which community pride and social belonging clashed with outside perceptions of colonias as sources of crime, disease, and taxpayer waste. With the rapid decline of Los Angeles’s agricultural industries, growth advocates targeted colonias for removal. Inequality shaped the political terrain of Los Angeles in profound ways. City survey maps from the Home Owners Loan Corporation (HOLC) showed a region deeply divided along class and racial lines. Traveling east along Whittier Boulevard, from Boyle Heights to East Whittier, the neighborhoods assessed by the HOLC yielded few positive evaluations. Of the thirteen districts surveyed, only one received an A grade because race-­restrictive covenants protected the area from supposedly deleterious influences. Its class of business professionals and “retired capitalists,” with incomes that ranged from $600 to $6,000 per year, situated it near the top tier of Southern California’s residential areas.13 It was in this process of metropolitan expansion that ethnic Mexicans first became postwar suburbanites and that colonias morphed into barrios, as metropolitan Los Angeles became more spatially interconnected. Introduction 5

During the postwar period the Mexican American population across the Southwest increased, from 2.29 million in 1950 to 3.46 million in 1960, as metropolitan regions boomed. The authors of the 1965 Mexican American Study Project estimated that 60 percent of that growth had occurred in California, especially in Los Angeles and the Bay Area.14 The Eastside Los Angeles absorbed much of the growth of the Mexican American population. Combined with the mass relocation of Jews to West Los Angeles and the dispersal of Japanese Americans to all corners of the metropolis following internment, the Eastside became the hub of Mexican American life and culture by the end of the 1960s.15 In addition to the Eastside, other urban barrios expanded with newly arrived Mexican American and Mexican migrants. Watts, Compton, and South Los Angeles gained in ethnic Mexican residency at the same time that job opportunities, access to fair housing, adequate health care, and decent schooling declined. Beyond these areas, ethnic Mexicans carved out places of their own across the San Gabriel Valley and Gateway suburbs. In the 1950s and 1960s, the decades associated with the height of suburban expansion, the numbers of Spanish-­surnamed residents in the San Gabriel Valley and southeast Los Angeles County suburbs increased from approximately 20,000 to nearly 180,000. By comparison, during that same period the Spanish-­surnamed population of East Los Angeles more than doubled, from roughly 43,000 to over 91,000.16 Thus, while East Los Angeles evolved into one of the nation’s largest barrios, the region surrounding it yielded the largest suburban Latino population in the United States. As stakeholders in the American dream, ethnic Mexicans crafted their own sense of the suburban ideal, which included activities for collective protection and advancement, efforts to establish a political role in their communities, and especially for the youth, practices in public space that marked these areas as culturally distinct suburbs.

Massive Postwar Suburbanization Massive postwar suburbanization resulted from the decentralization of housing and industry away from downtown toward the 6  In Search of the Mexican Beverly Hills

metropolitan fringe. Private development coupled with New Deal liberalism had spurred an unprecedented migration from urban centers to the periphery. World War II armament had drawn millions to Southern California to find work in its booming defense industry. This migration caused a housing shortage in the region that became a catalyst for industrial and residential dispersion.17 Yet suburbanization also embodied cultural and political revolutions that redefined normalcy in Cold War–era America. Popular culture, sexuality, political movements, and gender roles were all transformed within the context of suburbia.18 Indeed, suburbanization redefined what it meant to be American and what it meant to belong in American society. The suburban ideal of a single-­family home on a quiet street close to quality schools and free of poverty, crime, and overcrowding was normalized in public policy and popular culture. For everyday Americans who pursued suburban homeownership, becoming suburban signaled particular aspirations as people strove for upward mobility. The consequences of suburbanization touch every facet of American life to this very day, but despite recent attempts to nuance the story, scholars and the general public remain wed to the notion that suburbanization resulted from white flight from city centers and the concomitant concentration of African Americans in those abandoned spaces. In Los Angeles the decentralization of residential areas and industry remapped the racial boundaries of the metropolis. Following their return from internment camps after the war, Japanese Americans settled in the eastern Los Angeles County suburbs of Montebello, San Gabriel, and Monterey Park. Likewise, Japanese Americans also made new homes in the Crenshaw District and the South Bay suburb of Gardena.19 By the 1970s Japanese Americans, Chinese Americans, and Latinos had also remade Alhambra and other parts of the west San Gabriel Valley into multiracial spaces20 Also in that decade, nearly 80 percent of Asian Americans in Los Angeles lived in suburbs, where they constituted less than 20 percent of the total population.21 These small enclaves paved the way for communities that developed later in the twentieth century. In the eastern San Fernando Valley in the 1980s the largest Introduction 7

concentration of Thai Americans in the country staked their claim to suburban public and private spaces. The Thai Buddhist temple Wat Thai of Los Angeles, in the suburb of North Hollywood, has served as a community anchor since its earliest inception in 1968.22 There are many similarities in the history of Asian American and Latino suburbanization.23 Indeed, Latinos and Asian Americans share space in the San Gabriel and San Fernando Valleys and have remade those places together. However, differences such as the size and acceleration of growth of the ethnic Mexican population in the twentieth century and the group’s flexible ethnoracial subjectivity warrant a dedicated study. For Mexican Americans, especially for those who had weathered the storms of the Great Depression and World War II, becoming suburban was the culmination of a long road to becoming American. Historian George J. Sánchez has argued that for Mexican Americans between 1900 and 1945, cultural adaptation to life in the United States occurred in the absence of significant social mobility.24 Thus, in the decades that followed the war, suburban homeownership embodied a material symbol of arrival. For Mexican Americans who had previously staked their claim to citizenship through labor, the suburban home was the manifestation of decades of struggle. Mexican Americans’ experience with suburbanization is a study in the contradictions of obtaining housing. Mexican Americans were excluded by and large from the most desirable residential tracts, yet gained access to others. At the same time many of the newest suburbs were built amid the colonias that predominated throughout Los Angeles and Orange Counties before to the war. So if becoming suburban redefined what it meant to be American for others in the postwar period, then it likewise reconfigured what it meant to be Mexican American. The process of becoming suburban was a crucible in which the community as a whole grappled with questions of belonging, inclusion, collective identity, and group mobility. The postwar period also marks a significant shift in the periodization of Chicano. For the first time in the United States, millions of Mexican Americans participated in 8  In Search of the Mexican Beverly Hills

some semblance of upward mobility and were able to leverage that position into action. This was also the first period in American history in which Mexican Americans experienced intragroup class tensions that played out in suburban rather than urban spaces. The title of this book references an often-­repeated phrase in discussions of where the postwar Mexican American middle class settled in metropolitan Los Angeles. The city of Beverly Hills barely requires explanation because of its universal renown as one of the wealthiest places in the United States. That modest suburbs such as Whittier, Montebello, and Pico Rivera, and more recently Downey, Hacienda Heights, and Arcadia, are likened to Beverly Hills seems peculiar given that these are not bastions of tremendous wealth.25 Read in relative terms, the seeds of Mexican American class mobility began in modest Southern California suburbs. In that respect, Pico Rivera might as well be Beverly Hills for the Mexican Americans who now live their lives in relative affluence.26 Mexican Americans, though ostensibly nonwhite, acquired greater access to postwar suburban housing than African Americans or Asian Americans.27 This occurred despite the fact that Mexican Americans encompass an ethnoracial group all their own.28 In the interstices of racial identity, Mexican Americans from Chicago to the Sunbelt cities of El Paso, Tucson, and Dallas, as well as Los Angeles, have emerged as powerful actors in shaping local political and cultural spaces.29 There are significant differences between the urban and suburban contexts, to be sure. These differences relate to the history of uneven capital investment, the duration of Mexican spaces through the era of massive suburbanization, and other factors. It is therefore imperative to recover Mexican Americans’ suburban history, because it adds a new dimension to understanding how people negotiated collective identity, often revealing that struggles to preserve places, to combat discrimination in housing, and to participate in local politics helped to forge a cohesive nonwhite identity exercised through local place-­making practices.30 Until recently, to say that there is a history of ethnic Mexican suburbs would have prompted perplexed looks and incredulous Introduction 9

questions about the veracity of such a claim. Historians Becky Nicolaides, Andrew Wiese, and Matt García have led a fresh reinterpretation of suburbs that has dislodged some of the oldest stereotypes of the metropolitan periphery.31 Central to the recovery of this history is the need to locate ethnic Mexicans squarely within the contexts that define the place itself, and homeownership is essential in such definitions. The longstanding suburban municipality El Monte, for example, became a Mexican American suburb despite its history of racial antagonism. Likewise, a history of agricultural labor is essential in defining Mexican American suburbs. The colonias that made up the social and cultural life of workers in agricultural industries prior to World War II led to further ­ethnic Mexican settlement. Postwar suburbs were built in, around, and on top of former colonias. In other words, ethnic Mexicans were part of massive suburbanization prior to the postwar boom in housing.32 Such massive population growth, combined with circumscribed housing options for people of color, resulted in overcrowded barrios and attempts to circumvent age-­ old segregationist practices. One of the techniques many Mexican Americans employed involved claiming a “Spanish” identity to pass as white in order to get approval for housing loans. As a result, suburbs surrounding the Eastside of Los Angeles experienced the most rapid increases in Spanish-­surnamed residents. In addition, homeownership belied the myth that Mexicans were mere “birds of passage” who were temporarily in the United States to earn enough money to support their families back in Mexico. While many migrant workers retained aspirations to someday return to Mexico lindo, the majority of ethnic Mexicans remained in the United States. As early as the 1920s, economist Paul Taylor noted extensive ethnic Mexican homeownership in the San Gabriel Valley and Inland-­area citrus communities of Azusa, Claremont, Covina, El Monte, La Verne, La Puente, Pasadena, Pomona, San Dimas, and Upland.33 A similar trend occurred in Orange County and Corona, areas with ethnic Mexican colonias linked to agricultural and industrial zones. Homeownership meant permanency and an actual investment in community. 10  In Search of the Mexican Beverly Hills

Despite being marginalized in almost every facet of society, ethnic Mexican homeowners made both symbolic and material claims on the American Dream. The pursuit of suburban homeownership reflected a prolonged campaign to enter the American mainstream rather than a sudden political awakening caused by the social and cultural effects of the war.34 Moreover, members of the suburban middle class sought to solidify their positions by embracing their identities as homeowners—indeed, demanding their rights to suburban homeownership—and also to advocate for greater inclusion for the entire group.

Let’s Take a Trip Down Whittier Boulevard This book traverses various Mexican American communities in metropolitan Los Angeles. Chapter 1 explores the decline of the “colonia complex” in El Monte, Pico, Rivera, Whittier, and Santa Fe Springs that gave rise to Los Angeles’s suburban residential development. This chapter recovers the histories of these colonias as they transitioned into suburban barrios. Most colonia residents were homeowners, yet because ethnic Mexicans in prewar Los Angeles were treated as unskilled, temporary workers, their efforts to establish permanent residency registered with few Angelenos at the time. These colonias, and hundreds more like them across metropolitan Los Angeles, would form the working-­class neighborhoods (barrios) within postwar suburbs. The residents themselves formed coalitions for education reform, antiredevelopment efforts, and Chicano movement–inspired social justice. And as working-­ class communities, residents transitioned from agricultural jobs to a range of other service-­oriented occupations such as gardening, domestic service, factory work, and construction. Chapter 2 traces the ascendance of the cohort of Mexican Americans who came of age during the Great Depression and World War II (1930s–1945). Mexican Americans who had accumulated modest equity in their Eastside homes and wanted the benefits of citizenship pushed outward into the nearby suburbs of Montebello, Monterey Park, Pico Rivera, and El Monte. In southwestern Introduction 11

cities like Los Angeles, Latinos (primarily of Mexican descent) were active agents in this metropolitan spatial reorientation. Mexican Americans called upon an increasingly prevalent discourse of rights to gain access to suburban space and demand the benefits of first-­class citizenship, while also advocating for greater inclusion of working-­class Mexican Americans. In doing so, suburban Mexican Americans strategically exploited the fissures in postwar racial logic—without simply “becoming white”—and negotiated intracommunal class differences through a language of collective upward mobility. Chapter 3 traces political activity in suburban Mexican American communities. At a time when most Mexican Americans faced discriminatory barriers to suburban homeownership, political actors such as Louis Diaz, a longtime resident of Boyle Heights, pursued municipal office, relying on campaign strategies that targeted ethnic voters while simultaneously upholding “suburban ideal” rhetoric to appeal to all voters in independent suburban municipalities. Against the backdrop of increasing anti-­ immigrant rhetoric, Mexican Americans argued for the rights of citizenship embodied in suburban homeownership. Through such national organizations as the Mexican American Political Association, Viva Kennedy Clubs, and La Raza Unida Party, as well as through localized efforts that opposed Proposition 14 in 1964, which sought to overturn the Rumford Fair Housing Act of 1963, Mexican Americans became politically active in the suburbs in order to affirm their place in suburban America. Federally subsidized urban renewal projects in Los Angeles displaced thousands of residents across the metropolis in the 1950s and 1960s, a phenomenon best exemplified by Chavez Ravine, the eventual site of Dodgers Stadium. Chapter 4 examines the relationship between urban renewal and suburban development. The working-­class barrios that persisted through the waves of subdivision construction were the targets of redevelopment forces, bringing to light the divisive intra-­ethnic and class politics of suburban housing. Mexican American and white liberals alike pursued redevelopment efforts even as the projects targeted majority Mexican 12  In Search of the Mexican Beverly Hills

American neighborhoods. Grassroots efforts to oppose “suburban renewal” emerged from working-­class suburban neighborhoods. In turn, middle-­class Mexican Americans rallied behind discourses of progress in their efforts to displace and then ultimately fold working-­class ethnic Mexicans into the suburban order.

Introduction 13

1 The Lands of Mañana

In 1948 the Los Angeles Times ran a story on Hicks Camp, located just outside the El Monte city boundary. Newly developed bedroom communities in the San Gabriel Valley contrasted sharply with the unpaved and ill-­lit neighborhood, and many people were becoming aware of colonias for the first time. “Like a village gathered up in its entirety deep in Old Mexico and brought to the banks of the Rio Hondo here,” the article notes, “barefoot babies squat in the sand and play,” old women tend their flowers in tin cans, and “old men sleep like book ends, folded against a shed wall in the afternoon sun.” The claim that some “shacks” were erected in the nineteenth century, when the land baron Elias Jackson Baldwin (known locally as “Lucky” Baldwin) owned a sizable portion of the San Gabriel Valley, only punctuates the anachronistic image. The tenor of the article is clear: Mexican colonias were not only a withering remnant of a bygone California past, but they were on the brink of removal as Los Angeles sprawled into the periphery.1 This marked the beginning of the end for colonias throughout Southern California. As mass residential and industrial suburban developments encroached on rural spaces, the region entered a new metropolitan phase of its history—one that depended on the erasure of the built environment of its Mexican past. Colonias in metropolitan Los Angeles functioned in significant ways as racially segregated, working-­class suburbs.2 By 1940 more than two hundred such communities could be found 14

adjacent to citrus orchards, berry patches, avocado groves, walnut farms, brickyards, railyards, and oil plants up and down California. Locally, they housed economic migrants and refugees from the Mexican Revolution of 1910–1920, as well as their American-­born children, in every place around the region: Orange County, Riverside County, the Inland Empire, the San Fernando Valley, the San Gabriel Valley, and southeastern Los Angeles County along the Rio Hondo and San Gabriel River.3 Most ethnic Mexicans remained confined to these places because race-­restrictive covenants barred access to more affluent neighborhoods. As segregated settlements, colonias were anything but accidental. Growers deliberately organized racialized space in the citrus region of eastern Los Angeles County while simultaneously developing a pattern of employment centered on Mexican labor. Driven by their desire to minimize the impacts of labor unrest, growers replaced Chinese, Japanese, Native American, Sikh, and white farm labor with Mexican labor by the 1920s. To maintain order, growers also participated in efforts to suppress Mexican labor activism, in part by strictly maintaining residential segregation.4 Citrus growers were among a cadre of professionals and industrialists who contributed to a segregated Mexican American world. For example, Simons Brickyard in the Los Angeles suburb of Montebello employed a majority Mexican labor force who lived in the company-­owned neighborhood even though the surrounding neighborhoods barred nonwhite homeownership.5 Likewise, the colonia of Flood Ranch on the east bank of the San Gabriel River housed the oil-­field workers who propped up Santa Fe Springs’s local economy. Work and home overlapped in meaningful ways in these spaces. While agricultural and industrial jobsites abounded, the labor invested in the homes and neighborhoods reflected the blue-­ collar characteristics of colonias just as much as the wage-­based employment in which they were engaged. Residents often built and maintained their own homes; designed and repaired local infrastructure; and used their homes as places of profit, protest, and labor organizing. In many ways this do-­it-­yourself spirit reflected the prewar conditions of rural suburban communities regardless The Lands of Mañana  15

of race. Based on this kind of sweat equity, working-­class whites created a community in South Gate. The Great Depression also ensured that rural suburban residents fended for themselves in the absence of state assistance. On the other hand, the crisis caused by the Depression made it possible for working-­class whites to move up economically by using the tools of the state. The Home Owners Loan Corporation (HOLC) and the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) had a significant impact on shaping the direction of property wealth in ways that explicitly excluded people of color and benefited whites. By 1939 owner building had begun a steady decline in areas under consideration for federal mortgage insurance through the FHA. By contrast, areas where owner building persisted, such as colonias, constituted too great a security risk to receive federal backing. Thus the significant difference between working-­class people in these rural suburbs rested on the structural benefits attached to racial whiteness.6 In the absence of significant private investment or government intervention, Mexican workers were forced to maintain their communities as best they could. Within the context of suburban expansion, neglect by civic officials opened up the possibility to eventually usurp land occupied by ethnic Mexicans. The mass migration of workers into Los Angeles drawn by industries related to World War II exacerbated a regionwide housing shortage and placed a new imperative on securing developable land. Local officials relied on federal programs and private enterprise to alleviate the problems caused by overcrowding and underdevelopment by building up outlying districts. A report published by the California Reconstruction and Reemployment Commission in 1944 noted a massive spike in the state’s population. More than 1.5 million people had made a new home in California since the census taken in 1940, and Los Angeles had gained 301,410 of those transplants, boosting the metropolitan population to more than 3 million inhabitants.7 A building bonanza ensued that replaced vast agricultural lands with tract developments, industrial parks, and freeways. Residents of colonias experienced this metropolitan transformation largely as a threat to the communities that they 16  In Search of the Mexican Beverly Hills

had worked so hard to build and defend. It was in the postwar era that the once isolated communities of Mexican workers moved from the periphery of the metropolis to the center. Large-­scale production of residential tracts and industrial parks gobbled up agricultural territory. With a large number of residents losing wage work with the dying agricultural industry, and with a lack of public investment to improve conditions, these communities languished in a restructured landscape of suburban prosperity. The origins of this struggle lay in the Great Depression. when colonias emerged as sources of concern over blight.

“Typical Semi-­Tropical Countryside Slums” The administration of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt (FDR) enabled unprecedented government intervention in the housing market in response to the Great Depression.8 Formed at FDR’s direct behest, the HOLC placed the power of the federal government behind individual homeowners in danger of default. Initially serving as an active lending agency, the HOLC financed over $30 billion in emergency loans for more than a million mortgages between 1933 and 1935. Nationally, 40 percent of eligible homeowners turned to the federal government for assistance in saving their homes from default. Aside from direct lending, the HOLC introduced the self-­amortized, low-­interest, long-­term loan as a mechanism to bring order to the chaotic home loan industry and ensure that homeowners could fully pay off their houses without wild market fluctuations derailing their ability to pay. As a result, it became possible to complete repayment at a standardized monthly mortgage for a period of twenty years. The thoroughness with which the organization appraised metropolitan regions across the nation set a precedent for federal government home loan financing, as the FHA would soon adopt the standardized appraisal methods advanced by the HOLC. The meticulous set of metrics used to assess the conditions of neighborhoods culminated in a hierarchy of letter grade designations. A-­grade neighborhoods were the most likely to receive federal assistance and corresponded The Lands of Mañana  17

Map 2. Adapted from materials found in the Ralph Leon Beals Collection, National Anthropological Archives, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C. Map by Rafael Lorenzo. with a green color code represented on city survey maps. B grades were assigned blue spaces on the maps, C grades received yellow, and D-­graded areas donned the notorious red shade on the survey maps. The latter score, commonly known as “red lining,” represented the lowest designation assessed by HOLC appraisers 18  In Search of the Mexican Beverly Hills

for weathered and ill-­repaired buildings, lack of infrastructural improvements, and most notably, having large immigrant and/or racial minority populations. Lack of race-­restrictive covenants in property deeds resulted in red grades almost every time.9 Colonias closest to the city received appraisals based on their proximity and because they were likely to be incorporated into the expanding metropolis eventually. Similarly, as residential spaces that attracted working-­ class migrants from Mexico as well as refugees from the American Plains region, colonias and other rural settlements became sites of great concern for public officials. In 1930 there were more than 175,000 Mexicans in Los Angeles County, with more than 72,000 living outside the city limits.10 The growth of the population slowed and eventually declined in the 1930s because of the intertwined factors of repatriation, a national program designed to return undocumented Mexican residents to their country of origin (although for many it was the first time they would set foot on Mexican soil), and the effects of the Great Depression, which stymied immigration.11 By 1940 the ethnic Mexican population in Los Angeles stood at 61,248, most of whom had been born in the United States.12 These folks adapted by blending Mexican and American cultural practices amid stifling poverty and inequitable labor conditions.13 By contrast, the economic crisis of the 1930s provided an impetus to migrate to California from the hardest hit areas of the country. Pejoratively called “Okies,” migrants from Oklahoma sought work in Southern California and settled in agricultural and industrial areas adjacent to colonias. Dust Bowl migrants poured into metropolitan Los Angeles in heavy numbers during the Great Depression. Between 1935 and 1940 alone an estimated ninety-­six thousand such migrants settled in the region. The largest Dust Bowl communities formed in Bell Gardens, El Monte, and Lynwood, where agriculture and tire-­and auto-­manufacturing plants employed them. Smaller communities formed in Long Beach, Signal Hill, and Gardena, where many found employment in the oil and petroleum industry. Places like Glendale, Burbank, and Santa Monica attracted migrants looking The Lands of Mañana  19

to settle closer to work in airplane manufacturing. Many settled in unincorporated places in makeshift camps not unlike Mexican colonias.14 The Okie presence sparked racial tensions similar to those faced by African Americans, Asian Americans, and ethnic Mexicans. With a tenuous claim to whiteness, Okies drew unflattering comparisons with Mexicans. Journalistic representations during the 1930s often noted their lack of humility, labor skill, or cleanliness compared to their Mexican counterparts.15 For all the negative perceptions, Okies did not endure a mass repatriation regime. Okies in El Monte resented Mexicans from Hicks Camp and avoided interactions with them as much as possible, indicating that they believed themselves superior.16 As the Okie presence increased, the Mexican population decreased. The combined factors of the Great Depression and repatriation led to an estimated 30 percent drop in the local Mexican population.17 Despite the relative decline in the Mexican population, the spaces that they inhabited continued to draw harsh rebukes from civic and federal authorities. Appraisers for the HOLC regularly inserted subjective descriptions of communities of color to justify their low evaluations. Such perspectives reflected local anti-­ Mexican prejudices, the very kind that yielded both ethnically specific health quarantines and deportation campaigns.18 The city survey for the colonia of Jimtown on the edge of Whittier is a typical assessment of ethnic Mexican communities outside the city boundaries. Jimtown’s origins are obscure, but the proximity of walnuts, avocados, and oil suggests that its residents found employment in nearby industries. The HOLC evaluator “generously accorded [the community] a ‘low-­red’ grade,” citing a 100 percent “foreign” population, all of whom were listed as “Mexican.” The appraiser noted that “many [were] American-­born—impossible to differentiate.” This community of laborers, farmworkers, and Works Progress Administration (WPA) workers also faced the infiltration of “goats, rabbits, and dark skinned babies.” The housing construction was believed to be fifty years old or more and in terrible disrepair, and many buildings were identified as “hovels and shacks.” In addition, the appraiser noted that deed and zoning 20  In Search of the Mexican Beverly Hills

restrictions were lacking and concluded that “this is an extremely old Mexican shack district, which has been ‘as is’ for many generations. Like the ‘Army mule’ it has no pride of ancestry nor hope of posterity.” To add more injury to the insult of the evaluation, the federal appraiser described the colonia as a “typical semi-­tropical countryside slum.”19 Designating Mexican spaces as slums evolved out of housing, public health, and social work investigations conducted throughout Los Angeles in prior decades. The linkage between race and space became an important marker of blight in the eyes of the state. Deemed by public health officials to be natural incubators of disease, Mexican spaces became primary targets for quarantine and surveillance. Indeed, citing an infiltration of “dark-­skinned babies” served as a warning that the “Mexican problem” would extend well into the future.20 Such representations of Mexicans as perpetually foreign and inherently inferior resulted in continued segregation in underdeveloped neighborhoods. In the El Monte area alone, nine colonias housed over one thousand agricultural and industrial workers. Hicks Camp, Medina Court, Canta Ranas, La Misión, Las Flores, Chino Camp, Wiggins, La Granada, and La Sección comprised the El Monte “colonia complex.”21 Beyond El Monte were nearby colonias Pico, Jimtown, Simons Brickyard, La Puente, Rivera, Irwindale, and Rocktown, and a little farther away were the Whittier-­area colonias of Carmenita, La Mirada, Los Nietos, and Flood Ranch. Each of these places contributed to a thriving blue-­collar landscape that merged work and culture and represented a permanent home for many families who had fled Mexico in search of safety and stability.22 As outgrowths of a racialized society, most of these places struggled with persistent forms of racism, manifested in neglect of infrastructural needs by absentee landlords. Similar to working-­class whites who had built their suburban ideal in places like South Gate, Cudahy, and Bell Gardens, ethnic Mexicans often built their own homes in these colonias.23 A report conducted by the Information Division of the Los Angeles County Coordinating Councils, funded by the WPA, cited extreme overcrowding and poverty as intertwined The Lands of Mañana  21

factors in arguing that the “worst housing problems are among the Mexican population.” The authors of the report estimated that 50 percent of Mexicans living in county areas lived in substandard homes and that nearly 25 percent lived in “slum dwellings of the lowest class.”24 This report drew a connection between ethnic Mexicans and poverty that ignored the conditions of agricultural employment and the growers who had created the unequal wage structures and residential segregation. The demands of local economies dictated the location of ­ethnic Mexican settlements.25 For example, employees of the Bodger Seed Company populated the environs of the Las Flores community outside of El Monte. As a quintessential company town, Las Flores took its name from the products of the Bodger company: “the flowers.” Likewise, Rocktown owed its identity to the labor of its residents. Hundreds of black and ethnic Mexican quarry workers and ranch hands called Rocktown—located between Monrovia to the north and Irwindale to the south—home. Unlike white owner builders, residents of colonias had not acquired the power to shape local government, because the communities in which they lived were regarded as blights upon the landscape and threats to the moral order. As in other working-­class Mexican communities throughout the American Southwest, women anchored community solidarity and ensured cultural adaptation and survival in Los Angeles area colonias.26 Lucy Flores, who grew up in the Medina Court colonia in El Monte, recalled: “When I got married, I worked; I still work. I had all my seven children and I still worked because we had a big family. I worked before marriage, and I worked hard.”27 Women performed wage labor outside the home to supplement family income. The 1930 El Monte city directory showed that women’s outside employment included paid jobs as maids, clerks in various kinds of shops, seamstresses, and even chauffeurs.28 Although paid employment was common, the majority of Spanish-­surnamed women listed in the directory were not listed with a defined occupation. This absence does not foreclose the possibility that women worked in unreported wage labor, but it does indicate that most women’s work was in the home and community. Mary Perez, from the colonia Las Flores, 22  In Search of the Mexican Beverly Hills

recalled that “all my life was work. Later, I got married and continued the same way, working.” Although she did not labor in the factories, she highlighted her work in the home. “The manner in which I worked my whole life is with my husband, in helping relatives— providing food, washing clothes—and later with children taking them to school.”29 Perez articulated the importance of domestic work to the preservation of family and community. The important work that women did in the home provided sustenance in times of prosperity, but especially in times of turmoil. The marginalization that accompanied these spaces gave impetus to labor organizing, as workplace exploitation had a cascading effect on neighborhood livability and community cohesion. Working families in Hicks Camp and other El Monte colonias staged one of the Depression era’s largest labor struggles, challenging their Japanese American employers to increase their wages.30 In spite of the discriminatory Alien Land Law in effect from 1913 through 1952, which barred property ownership and/or the prolonged lease of commercial property by immigrants ineligible for citizenship, Japanese Americans dominated regional berry, celery, lettuce, and tomato production and also made significant inroads in suburban places. A small enclave of Japanese American berry farmers located in Gardena hosted community institutions, such as a Japanese-­language school, Buddhist temple, and Japanese Baptist Church, as well as a theater, a barbershop, a pool hall, and a tofu factory.31 Even as overall farm acreage declined in Los Angeles during the 1920s, Issei holdings remained constant while their property values increased fourfold. With the onset of the Depression, Japanese American farm owners, facing stagnation after more than a decade of steady profits, became intransigent with workers, ultimately sparking labor unrest.32 In June 1933 a diverse group of ethnic Mexican, Japanese, white, and Filipino pickers voted to strike against local berry growers. Hired in family groups, their wages ranged from fifteen to twenty cents an hour per person. When workers asked for an increase to twenty-­five cents per hour, the growers refused. Organized under the auspices of the Confederación de Uniones de Campesinos y The Lands of Mañana  23

Obreros Mexicanos (CUCOM), more than fifteen hundred workers initially participated in the general work stoppage and picket lines.33 The strike lasted for weeks, and its actors carried their rage with them to other picking fields and harvests up and down California. All told, more than seven thousand local workers shut down production on berry, celery, and onion farms, leaving millions of dollars’ worth of crops to spoil. Workers in Hicks Camp led the charge. One of the most important leaders in the strike was a migrant from Chihuahua, Mexico, known as Zenaida, or Sadie as people in Hicks came to know her. Sadie used her ability to read and write English to take a leadership role in the strike and rally folks behind the cause. Sadie’s granddaughter, Kinko Hernandez, recalled that “when [Sadie] wasn’t holding off the union buster, she was cooking rice and beans for the strikers.”34 Sadie offers yet another glimpse into the indispensable roles women played in holding communities together and providing critical leadership in times of community crisis. As the primary actors in the strike’s drama, Hicks residents took the lead in labor organizing in El Monte.35 Organizers from the Cannery & Agricultural Workers’ Industrial Union (C&AWIU) worked with the Mexican, Japanese, and white berry pickers and aided in the calls for and the day-­to-­day activities of the strike. Berries can live on the vine for only three days once they are ripe, and the growers responded quickly to the laborers’ demands, offering fifteen cents per hour or forty cents per crate to settle the strike, but workers rejected that lowball offer.36 In the meantime, the berries remained untouched. The San Gabriel Valley Citizens’ League, a collection of growers and sympathizers, went to the principal of El Monte High School and requested that all Japanese American children be given passes for three days so they could pick the ripening berries. This small contingent of students joined small work crews of Russian immigrants and other European immigrants in the fields.37 Days passed, and tempers flared as the stressful process of negotiating strike terms dragged on. Hicks Camp took center stage in the local press for violent action and charges of radicalism. On June 9 a group of fifteen men allegedly dragged a 24  In Search of the Mexican Beverly Hills

scab worker from a berry field and beat him. Sheriff ’s deputies arrested one man for the beating, a resident of Hicks Camp. In court, Danny Cardiel admitted to beating Pedro Zuniga. Cardiel stated that he and the other men and two women purposely went to the field to forcibly remove strikebreaking workers as needed.38 Hicks’s residents also allegedly detained eight strikebreakers in an empty building and held them there until Sheriff ’s Deputy Lester Burdick arrived with backup and orders to release the captive strikebreakers.39 George P. Clements, manager of the Agricultural Department of the Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce, ordered a survey of Hicks Camp to retrieve information on immigration status and residents’ likelihood to return to Mexico. Clements found that over half of the residents of Hicks Camp were first-­or second-­generation American citizens. That fact notwithstanding, he urged that repatriation be used to alleviate the labor tensions in Hicks Camp. Supported by the county sheriff, the Los Angeles County Welfare Department, and Francisco Palomares, secretary of the San Joaquin Valley Agricultural Labor Bureau, Clements agreed to plant an undercover agent in Hicks Camp to encourage people to accept the Mexican government’s repatriation offer. The deal promised free agricultural land in the states of Baja California and Nayarit, Mexico.40 This strategy to infiltrate organized labor and encourage self-­repatriation was an established practice in Los Angeles County. The welfare department employed two Spanish speakers, Fernando España and Joseph Vargas, who worked tirelessly to encourage people to leave the United States.41 The strike appeared to be drawing to a close when growers accepted a deal to pay $1.50 for a nine-­hour day, or twenty cents per hour during unsteady work periods; they also were to recognize CUCOM as the bargaining agent, rehire union members, and discharge strikebreakers. Unfortunately the deal was struck toward the end of the harvesting period, and the growers reneged.42 As the berry harvest came to a close, workers threatened violence, and CUCOM brought suit against the growers for breach of contract. The Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce, in concert with Mexican and Japanese consular officers A. V. Martinez and Toshito Satow, acted The Lands of Mañana  25

quickly to secure work for CUCOM members with the California-­ Arizona Cotton Association, only to find that the reputation of Hicks Camp workers as labor agitators killed that option. Many were reduced to drawing county relief assistance; others took to the road to find work. The El Monte Berry Strike ignited a cascade of labor activism that extended across the state and spanned several more years.43 Throughout the tribulations of labor activism, the home remained an important source of strength and sustenance, and the colonias forged the collective bonds necessary for mass movements and adaptation to a changing metropolis.

Hicks Camp, El Monte El Monte is one of the oldest suburbs in Los Angeles County, founded in the 1850s and incorporated in 1912. El Monte’s place in Chicano history stems from its role in the post–Mexican-­ American War (1846–1848) era as a center for aggressive white suppression of local Mexican and indigenous communities, and also as a staging area for the infamous California filibusterer Henry Crabb’s ill-­fated 1857 invasion of Sonora, Mexico.44 In less blatantly violent ways, local growers came to rely on the exploitable labor of immigrants to the area. Most of the growers in this and surrounding towns claimed membership in the ubiquitous California Fruit Growers Exchange and raised a diverse array of crops and fruits, including walnuts, berries, wheat, and avocados. Prior to World War II, there were approximately six hundred to seven hundred acres of berry patches in the San Gabriel Valley, the majority centered on El Monte.45 The origins of Hicks Camp reach back to 1910, when the community was designated “Mexican Camp” by the census enumerator who documented the presence of a standing Mexican community. There, situated along Main Street, dozens of immigrant families from Mexico declared their presence. The overwhelming majority of the men indicated that their occupation was laborer; they undoubtedly worked in the many orchards and fields in the vicinity or on the gigantic Baldwin family ranch.46 Less than ten years 26  In Search of the Mexican Beverly Hills

later, Lucky Baldwin’s daughter Anita sold the twenty-­two-­acre swath of land along the western bank of the Rio Hondo to one Robert Hicks for the sum of ten dollars.47 The property remained in the Hicks family until its demise. Stanley Hicks eventually took sole ownership and control of the day-­to-­day operations of the camp and liked to describe himself as a “member of the family” among the ethnic Mexican residents. He claimed that people considered him more Mexican than white and that he did not know of any other white person who knew Mexicans as well as he did. Hicks’s paternalistic attitudes were buttressed by his fluency in Spanish and the fact that his wife was reading Beatrice Griffith’s American Me.48 But Hicks’s attempt to posture as solely altruistic stood in stark contrast to his primary interest in the daily social activities and administration of his town. He deemed the camp a “successful sociological experiment.” The primary reason he purchased the property and “tolerated the problems” associated with the property was his self-­identification as a “sociologist at heart . . . interested in this cluster of people . . . finding out in what small way [he] could be of assistance.”49 Yet he remained focused on his tenants’ availability to harvest his modest fields and to pay their rent on time. His ranch on the northern end of the community employed dozens of men from the colonia, and he had also secured employment for some of the men at the nearby Arden Dairy. The prevalence of local employment opportunities made the area attractive to migrants, and many settled down in and near Hicks Camp on the suggestion of family and friends. Slightly different than labor contracting, in which companies and even whole industries employed recruiters to bring workers north, many of the first residents in Hicks Camp settled there based on assurances from their kin that work was plentiful. In 1920 Cheno and Polo Prado crossed the US-­Mexico border into El Paso, Texas. The devastation caused by the Mexican Revolution had limited opportunities for employment, particularly in their home state of Michoacán. As the most heavily trafficked point of entry for revolutionary-­era Mexican immigrants, El Paso both offered local industrial employment and served as a labor recruitment center for The Lands of Mañana  27

points in the Midwest, Pacific Northwest, and Southwest. After several months in the United States, the Prado brothers sent for the rest of their family. As an infant, Lupe Prado accompanied her parents, grandmother, uncle, and sister Cuca across the border. The family moved to Flagstaff, Arizona, for a time, where they lived and worked until 1925. Not very long afterward, when Lupe was still a child, her family left Flagstaff to resettle in El Monte. Lured by the promise of steady work and a permanent home, the Prados settled in Hicks Camp, where everyday social life revolved around the two restaurants, three grocery stores, billiards hall, barbershop, bakery, and gas station. “It was our own little village,” Lupe recalled.50 Her memory of the tight-­knit community, small streets, tightly situated houses, and beautifully gardened yards echoes the reminiscences of hundreds of Hicks Camp residents.51 Memories of Hicks Camp as a quaint, idyllic place rest uncomfortably alongside the legacies of racialized segregation, labor exploitation, and economic disparity inherent in metropolitan Los Angeles’s early twentieth-­century agricultural areas. Like most colonias, Hicks Camp lacked paved roads, street lamps, and waste disposal. Trash collected alongside the houses or in the backyards. Residents also disposed of their rubbish in the San Gabriel River, a short distance from the property. Hicks did not make major improvements to the property, such as constructing sewers, curbs, gutters, and sidewalks, nor did he install adequate plumbing for running water in the homes. Father John V. Coffield, the local priest for the ethnic Mexican communities in El Monte, noted that when Stanley irrigated his nearby fields, the already inadequate indoor plumbing in the camp was reduced to a trickle, making it unusable by anybody.52 One of Hicks’s employees attested to the owner’s frugality in business and property matters, stating that Stanley was a “stingy man.”53 Working families—over 130 in total—rented eighteen-­hundred-­ square-­foot lots in Hicks Camp for $4.00 per month. If Stanley Hicks happened to own the dwelling on the lot, the rent rose to as high as $10.00 per month.54 Those rates increased by 1948 to $7.00 per month for three-­room houses and $10.50 per month 28  In Search of the Mexican Beverly Hills

for four-­to five-­bedroom homes.55 By comparison, unfurnished rental homes in the immediate El Monte area ranged from $15.00 to $30.00 per month for three rooms, $20.00 to $30.00 per month for four rooms, and $25.00 to $30.00 per month for five rooms.56 Priced out of the local housing market, many chose to rent a lot space from Hicks and build their own homes out of scraps of wood and timber or anything sturdy enough to withstand San Gabriel Valley’s cold rainy seasons and hot, humid summers. Railroad lumber from a nearby Southern Pacific yard offered the most efficient home-­building material, and refuse ties and siding girded the majority of the homes in the community.57 Families added bedrooms and carports to their property as needed, also built from discarded material. Bare flooring and makeshift furniture presented fewer problems than the lack of indoor plumbing and heating. Residents pumped water from an outdoor well for their everyday needs and cooked food over wood stoves. Fires alone did not warm the house. Residents neatly hung photographs of family and friends on the walls, alongside posters of favorite movie stars clipped from popular magazines. Catholics in the community meticulously kept their ofrendas to La Virgen and other favorite saints in the belief that their continued reverence might promise a brighter future for their families. Residents attempted to make homes of Stanley Hicks’s hovels by placing plants and flowers in the entryways and on windowsills throughout the camp.58 Even as the conditions of the Great Depression began to improve, the housing and community continued to reflect the working-­class spirit of its residents, who continued to work in local fields despite the labor actions of that decade. In a 1940 survey of Hicks Camp sponsored by the El Monte Exchange Club and the local Spanish-­ American Recreational Committee, fifty-­four family heads were asked questions about their labor situations. The respondents were 80 percent male and 20 percent female. One-­third listed their occupation as “farm laborer,” with the remaining respondents citing jobs as general laborers, construction workers, foundry workers, gardeners, and seed company employees, among others. The respondents’ hourly wages ranged The Lands of Mañana  29

from fifteen to ninety cents, with the majority claiming a wage of thirty to forty cents.59 This wage structure was consistent with citrus labor in Orange County, where a packer earned forty-­three cents an hour, and pickers earned between thirty and thirty-­five cents per hour, but because agricultural work is seasonal by nature, average incomes were far less than the wages suggest. Moreover, agricultural workers earned less than their urban counterparts. In general, Mexican workers in urban industry earned a minimum of fifty cents per hour.60 The meager wages many received barely covered the four dollars of rent each family owed to Stanley Hicks at the end of every month. In addition, there were 242 children in the colonia, 30 of whom worked to help support their families. Children made considerably less than their parents in the fields, but their contributions nonetheless helped to put food on the table and a roof over their heads.61 After World War II the labor structure of Los Angeles changed in favor of light manufacturing and industry, and the vast acres of agricultural production outside of the city of Los Angeles began to disappear. As the local political economy changed, the everyday realities of laborers’ lives also changed. Surveys of laborers in Hicks Camp began to reflect a larger number of people working farther from home. For example, working men from Hicks Camp commuted to work sites outside of El Monte, some as far away as Wilmington and Torrance.62 Despite the deplorable conditions that existed in many Los Angeles County colonias, these spaces promoted the construction of complex bicultural and regional identities.63 For some residents of Hicks Camp, labor relations contributed to the creation of Mexican American identity.64 Raphael Hernandez was born in Waco, Texas, and spoke English fluently. He imparted to his children pride in being Mexican by teaching them Spanish and encouraging them to use it in the home. At his job at Lockheed in Burbank, Hernandez took note of the differences between his ethnic Mexican counterparts and other racialized groups. In his perspective, African Americans had a more difficult time with workplace discrimination, as they were relegated to the worst jobs 30  In Search of the Mexican Beverly Hills

Fig. 1. Hicks Camp, 1946. Ralph Leon Beals Collection, Box 81, Folder “Field Studies: Religion/Misc./Haynes FD Maps,” National Anthropological Archives, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C. in the company. He was critical of some coworkers who refused to speak Spanish in conversation with him, believing that they had willingly given up an essential element of their identity.65 His experience in having a relatively good job and his ability to speak both English and Spanish fluently provided Hernandez with the tools to move upward along the racial and class hierarchy. Language barriers had the potential to dictate the employment options for immigrant communities in the United States. Unlike Hernandez, The Lands of Mañana  31

many lacked access to jobs in aircraft assembly plants and instead were limited to employment in agriculture. About one-­third of the Hicks Camp residents continued to work in the local fields, and nearly all of the residents held low-­ wage, low-­skilled jobs.66 The Bodger Seed Company and Pierson Brothers employed local Mexican and Japanese labor from Hicks Camp and other such communities in El Monte, like Medina Court and La Misión Vieja. Frank Lara frequently visited friends in Hicks Camp and recalled the labor challenges residents experienced after the citrus and walnut groves in the local area disappeared in the wake of subdivision development. “Every summer, by August, you’d go into Hicks Camp, and there wouldn’t be fifty people in it,” Lara described. “Everybody would take off, and go up north, and pick cotton, or pick grapes, and come back.”67 Although walnut season extended from early August to the end of September, the rapid diminishment in fields in El Monte, San Gabriel, and Pico forced Hicks Camp residents to track down work in far-­ flung areas of California. Kinko Hernandez (mentioned above; no relation to Raphael) recalled the migration of workers from Hicks Camp in the summer months when she was a little girl. As a child she could not understand why her friends had to accompany their parents up north, but later in life she understood the privileged position her parents had created for her and her siblings. Her father held a position at the Du Pont paint factory in El Monte that provided enough financial support to avoid the long treks up north. Hernandez’s mother worked in the home until Kinko and her siblings had reached the eighth and ninth grades, then sought work at the Diamond walnut plant in Los Angeles, where she cracked and packed walnuts. Even though Hernandez’s mother worked long hours at the plant, she still returned home to complete her domestic work of washing clothes, preparing meals, attending to the needs of her children, and cleaning. Hernandez remembers that her mother’s workload became too heavy between the plant and the home, and she eventually quit Diamond.68 In spite of the hardships they faced, Hernandez’s family occupied a relatively privileged position in the community. Families in similar 32  In Search of the Mexican Beverly Hills

situations witnessed gradual upward mobility, as they relied less on the wages of picking and more on the increased industrial opportunities in the suburban sphere.

The Catholic Church as Space of Survival Ethnic Mexicans in El Monte were excluded from worship at the whites-­only Nativity Church, despite their overwhelming religious affiliation with the Catholic Church.69 Hicks Camp residents exercised their religious faith as best they could in strained conditions. For the majority of the liturgical year, community members either worshipped in chapels within their colonias or trekked to the San Gabriel Mission; they were only allowed to attend Mass at the community church on holy days of obligation or on important feast days. At Nativity Church in the 1930s, ethnic Mexican parishioners had to wait outside the church to make room for white parishioners to receive their ashes on Ash Wednesday. The daily indignity of segregated worship was reinforced by the dilapidated structure and tight quarters of the Mexican auxiliary chapel of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Medina Court.70 In 1943 the Archdiocese of Los Angeles assigned a young priest to Nativity Catholic Church to oversee the faith practices of ethnic Mexicans in the surrounding colonias. Father John Coffield had only been in the vocation for six months, but he eagerly accepted his assistant pastor position. Father Coffield had served previously in a more affluent parish in central Los Angeles at Saint Brennan’s before spending six months at Our Lady Help of Christians in Lincoln Heights. Working with parishioners from Lincoln Heights and El Monte fueled Father Coffield’s commitment to serving the poor and oppressed and would later influence his participation in the black freedom struggle and César Chavez’s United Farm Workers movement.71 Throughout his tenure in the El Monte communities, Father Coffield worked diligently to eradicate the problems produced by dire poverty and political disenfranchisement. Coffield remembered his twelve years of ministry in El Monte as “some of the most challenging of [his] priesthood, wide open to new The Lands of Mañana  33

Fig. 2. Father Coffield in Hicks Camp, 1950. Courtesy of La Historia Society Museum, El Monte, California. possibilities.”72 Although he had limited ability to speak Spanish, the diocese had chosen Father Coffield, who enthusiastically accepted the challenge to communicate with his parishioners. In an interview with a researcher, Father Coffield estimated that between two-­thirds to three-­fourths of the people in Hicks Camp identified as Catholic; only about one-­tenth, he guessed, made it to Mass on a regular basis because of the segregated conditions.73 As an advocate for the Catholic residents of Hicks Camp, he labored to build Our Lady of Guadalupe chapel into a viable church to relieve the elderly in the community of the burdensome trek to the San Gabriel Mission, some five miles northeast. His advocacy for his Mexican American parishioners extended beyond standard faith services. He often took on larger projects aimed at forging tighter community bonds and integration into the larger community, and he also took on the role of protector from outside threats. Threats to the community took a violent turn with the outbreak of the LA Zoot Suit riots in June 1943, following months of tension 34  In Search of the Mexican Beverly Hills

between military personnel stationed near downtown and local Mexican American youths. White sailors and soldiers instigated the violence through daily provocation and harassment. The all-­out assault on Mexican American youths sanctioned by the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) began on the downtown streets but quickly spilled over into Eastside barrios. The beatings and clashes intensified on June 7, when thousands of servicemen and civilians, men and women alike, charged down Main Street and beat and terrorized Mexicans, Filipinos, and African Americans. An African American defense worker going home on the streetcar had his eye gouged out with a knife by the mob, and Mexican American youths were severely beaten and “undraped.” Surrounding barrios endured violence as well. Sailors and soldiers in taxi caravans, escorted by LAPD squad cars, carried out searches for pachucos into the dawn hours. It took an order from Naval Command, declaring the city of Los Angeles off-­limits, to end the violence.74 Although much of the literature highlights the urban context of this event, the violence of the Zoot Suit riots extended to the colonias. Vera Guerrero remembered that in addition to the downtown attacks, military personnel also sought out zoot suiters in Los Nietos, Watts, and El Monte. Rumors circulated through the latter that Marines and other white servicemen had targeted El Monte, particularly Hicks Camp and Medina Court, for one of their nighttime assaults. Father Coffield recalled how the youths of Hicks Camp armed themselves with buckets of rocks as they waited for the attackers to arrive. He rushed down to the police station to warn the chief that trouble was on the way. Two military policemen based at Santa Anita were already in the department talking with the chief when he arrived. Father Coffield warned them that the servicemen were on their way and that if a fight broke out in Hicks Camp, with all its unlighted streets, a fire might erupt and sweep through the community. In addition, he made it clear that if anybody in the colonia was harmed the responsibility would fall squarely on the shoulders of the chief himself.75 Like the major Los Angeles newspapers, the El Monte Herald supported the activities of the servicemen. The paper reported that a The Lands of Mañana  35

score of sailors “in an orderly but determined manner went through local theatres, and through cocktail lounges, pool halls, and other hangouts of ‘zoot-­suiters’ in Medina Court and Hicks’ Camp.” The paper continued that “the soldiers . . . were courteous and showed no disposition to molest anyone else or to damage property.”76 Apparently as long as the soldiers focused their violent activities on young Mexican American males, their actions did not require reprimand. Further rationalizations assured the reading public that the soldiers’ activities were grounded in justice. A soldier’s wife, the paper reported, had sustained serious injuries in an alleged attack on the couple by pachucos in neighboring Monrovia.77 Despite claims by the El Monte Herald that servicemen whisked through El Monte with order and respect, some residents of Hicks Camp had different stories to tell. Ernie Gutierrez was only a boy when the drunken and disorderly soldiers came through, but he remembers how sailors broke out all the windows in his father’s grocery store in their wild quest to harm pachucos.78 The servicemen who were supposed to be fighting against the ills of racism and fascism overseas wreaked havoc in the barrios and colonias across Los Angeles that hot week in June. From East Los Angeles to the San Gabriel Valley, soldiers involved in those racist, criminal activities left a deep impression on the collective consciousness of colonia residents. Blamed for the violence, Mexican youths received more focused attention from local authorities. The question of how to pacify the allegedly criminal inclinations of Mexican American youth produced a number of proposed solutions. In 1943 the Citizens’ Committee for Latin American Youth proposed to the county board of supervisors that special consideration be given to the establishment of adequate summertime recreational facilities for these young people. They specifically targeted Jimtown in West Whittier, the Pío Pico neighborhood in Pico, and Hicks Camp as places of immediate concern. Summertime provoked more intense fears because of the belief that youths would take advantage of the free time to run wild and cause trouble. Supervisor John Anderson Ford’s reply indicated that the County Recreation Department 36  In Search of the Mexican Beverly Hills

was working with the board of supervisors to establish some form of temporary recreation for youths in those communities.79 One of the ways that Father Coffield felt he could steer youths away from danger was by keeping them out of situations to begin with that placed them in harm’s way. He served as scoutmaster to steer community boys away from the gangs and drugs that plagued their everyday existence. The idea came to him after a teenager was refused entrance to a Baldwin Park swimming facility. He was upset at the rampant segregation throughout the San Gabriel Valley and wanted to do something positive for his own folks.80 A Los Angeles Times article in 1948 lamented that the community social center in Hicks Camp that Father Coffield had founded had been vandalized and left in a state that required its relocation to Medina Court.81 While some reformers saw an opportunity to improve the conditions of Hicks Camp by introducing community institutions, these establishments could not fundamentally change the endemic problem of racial segregation enforced through everyday social practices. As Carey McWilliams astutely observed, “Establishing a clinic or reading room or social center in the colonia has no doubt been helpful; but it has not changed, in the slightest degree” relations between colonia residents and white homeowners.82 The lesson that McWilliams hoped to convey was that underlying racist practices rotted social relations at the core. Both everyday forms of racism and structural inequality stuck with colonia residents and informed their perspective of the world around them. In addition to erecting the chapel of Our Lady of Guadalupe, Coffield organized a number of other Catholic activities and organizations, some of them having little to do with doctrinal instruction. He organized sports leagues for boys to compete against their peers from neighboring barrios. Ben Campos, a young resident of Hicks Camp in the 1940s, participated in the baseball league and recalls playing games against Canta Ranas and Medina Court, but his most vivid memories are of the games the Hicks boys played against all-­white teams from El Monte. Campos remembers he and his teammates received an extra charge from playing and defeating white teams because of the conditions they lived in and The Lands of Mañana  37

experienced every day. A victory in baseball, though short and fleeting, offered some psychological relief from the lived experience in the camp.83 Despite the efforts to incorporate Hicks youth into activities geared to combat juvenile delinquency, the programs were highly gendered in their approach. Boys and girls were socialized into gender-­specific roles marked by masculinity, femininity, and domesticity. Young girls between the ages of ten and fifteen met together for instruction in sewing, went on picnics, and engaged in other activities that promoted housekeeping. Kinko Hernandez grew up in Hicks participating in such programs and ultimately opted to be a homemaker after marrying at the age of nineteen.84 Father Coffield also oversaw a group of women who visited the sick and prepared the large community fiestas. A parallel men’s group discussed necessary improvements to be made in Hicks Camp and addressed community concerns to be brought before the El Monte City Council.85 Father Coffield represented an anomaly in what has otherwise been a history of neglect by the Catholic Church in Los Angeles of movements to advance social justice in communities of color.

A New Suburban Order Twenty miles south of El Monte, in an area near Long Beach, community builders implemented a new form of suburban development. The mass-­produced community of Lakewood emerged in sections following the war, with federal construction and mortgage programs sustaining the growth of housing tracts and strip malls across the former agricultural territory. In March 1954 the community of seventy-­one thousand residents voted for municipal incorporation as a way to stave off annexation by either Long Beach or Los Angeles, thereby changing the political landscape of the region. City leaders brokered a deal with county government to contract for trash collection, water, police and fire services, and electricity, an arrangement that would ultimately lower property taxes considerably and provide incentives to prospective home buyers to 38  In Search of the Mexican Beverly Hills

look to the suburbs. Known as the Lakewood plan, this new kind of suburb gave rise to a wave of municipal incorporations throughout the region that marked phenomenal postwar growth and set a pattern for continued expansion. Within two years of Lakewood’s incorporation four new suburban cities had followed suit, five in 1957, twenty-­six more by 1960, and thirty-­two more by 1970.86 The immediate surrounding areas of El Monte caught the momentum. In 1956 Baldwin Park, along with the grammatically incorrectly named La Puente, began the trend in Lakewood-­style, contract city incorporations in the San Gabriel Valley. They were followed by Irwindale in 1957, South El Monte and Pico Rivera in 1958, Rosemead in 1959, and finally Temple City in 1960. Steady development and population increases since the end of the war rapidly transformed the San Gabriel Valley into a suburban commuter region. Large-­scale agricultural tracts were giving way to planned communities, causing a shift in the local economy. The Azusa-­ Foothill Citrus Company ceased most of its operations in 1955 as it hemorrhaged farm operators, who had been selling massive tracts of land to speculative subdivision developers.87 The suburbanization of the San Gabriel Valley in the 1950s rested on the restructuring of local economies. The lifeblood of workers in Hicks Camp and neighboring colonias began to vanish at an astonishing pace. At the outset of this revolution in the political economic geography of the area, Hicks Camp residents witnessed up close how suburbs were made. Stanley Hicks began to entertain the possibility of selling the property to speculators. Given the lucrative market in real estate transfers following the war, it made sense for Hicks to give up on his “social experiment” and finally cash in on his property as other local growers were. Hicks sought to do something similar, which would have required that he evict all of the six hundred residents residing in the colonia. Many of the residents expressed concern about the difficulty of finding adequate housing. There were some, however, who did not allow the threat to bother them. Celia Salgado lived in Hicks Camp with her husband and three children in a house owned by Stanley Hicks. When asked about her family’s The Lands of Mañana  39

prospects for moving, she replied that they would most likely move into Medina Court, where the lots were bigger and people owned their own plots of land. Otherwise, she did not appear to be worried about losing her house in Hicks.88 Alberto Salgado worked in agriculture near Lower Azusa Road, not far from their home in Hicks Camp. One of the unique features of Medina Court compared to most of the other colonias in the area was that ownership included the piece of property in addition to the house itself. Hicks Camp residency blocked the opportunity to build equity because residents could not claim true property ownership. The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors began to consider the social and economic costs of the presence of ethnic Mexican settlements amid the burgeoning San Gabriel Valley suburban landscape. The people and their homes presented an unsettling problem to local officials and government agencies invested in the development of suburban communities. Turbulent times for ethnic Mexican residents in and around El Monte began with county government mandated evictions in the small colonia La Misión in September 1951. The owners, William Eyers and his wife, operated La Misión much as Robert and Stanley Hicks operated Hicks Camp. People had the option to own the houses they lived in or pay rent to the Eyers, but the property ultimately belonged to the Eyers. With no chance to build equity over time, ethnic Mexicans in La Misión were left especially vulnerable to economic hardship when the eviction notices came out. Father Coffield, through the El Monte Coordinating Council, organized financial assistance for one particularly hard-­hit family. José Avila and his wife had fifteen children, two of whom were disabled and required special attention, and they were barely making ends meet with his laborer job and additional government assistance. The Avilas’ search for a new home proved difficult with little financial backing, even with $500 in aid secured by Father Coffield’s activities.89 In situations like this, people commonly moved into a neighboring colonia; Hicks Camp was the closest. Hicks Camp residents came face to face with FHA-­financed tract development in 1952 with the completion of the Arden Village 40  In Search of the Mexican Beverly Hills

neighborhood, built atop a section of land cleaved off from the Arden Dairy. The neighborhood’s all-­white residents took exception to the proximity of the colonia to their community and began to pressure LA County supervisor William A. Smith to eradicate “substandard Mexican settlements” in the area. Smith summarily convened a committee to oversee the timely removal of the Hicks Camp residents and the reconstruction process. People in Hicks Camp had mixed reactions to the news. Father Coffield, representing Hicks Camp at a meeting of the Los Angeles County Committee on Human Relations in March 1953, reported that the actions of Arden Village homeowners made Hicks Camp residents “sad and resentful,” but they harbored no bitterness.90 Arden Village homeowners, who had only two years earlier moved into the area, continued their crusade. Not long afterward the El Monte City School District faced pressure from Arden Village residents who demanded a suitable school for their children. Though still in unincorporated territory, El Monte was charged with fulfilling Arden Village’s community needs. In December 1954 the county committee formed to study the redevelopment of Hicks Camp concluded that forty-­three people would be forced out of their homes to accommodate the space needs for the construction of Rio Vista School.91 The county government feared the social and fiscal impacts of Mexican settlements on Los Angeles County at large. Colonias were deemed “communities of great public concern not only because of the humanitarian issues involved, but because in the long run they become the source of our gravest law enforcement problems and the occasion for large welfare expenditures from the County Budget.”92 People in a position to sway public consciousness did very little to acknowledge the structural factors prevalent in the creation of these colonias; instead these places were discursively constructed as products of ethnic Mexicans’ purportedly inherent vices. This coupling of race and class, so closely intertwined in the geographic history of Los Angeles, signaled the limits of ethnic Mexican mobility to millions of Southland residents. In the 1950s, as suburban communities encroached on the boundaries of previously isolated colonias, efforts to remove or The Lands of Mañana  41

redevelop “blight” outside the city intensified. March 1953 marked a critical turning point in the eradication of “substandard housing” throughout Los Angeles County. Hicks Camp took center stage as the “worst tenement area in the Southland” because of its apparent lack of paved roads, sidewalks, curbs and gutters, sewers, toilets, and “other modern conveniences.”93 Los Angeles County super­visor Herbert Legg initiated the push to destroy Hicks Camp. Legg sought the assistance of county health, welfare, law enforcement, and fire officials to eliminate the colonia. County counsel Harold Kennedy and county health officer Dr. Roy Gilbert both complied by declaring Hicks Camp a menace to public welfare and safety with the potential to spark a regionwide typhoid epidemic. Such warnings of contagious disease outbreaks, especially when linked to ethnic Mexicans or Asian Americans in Los Angeles, prompted swift action on the part of local governments. In previous decades, both groups had endured quarantines and repatriation, had been denied access to certain neighborhoods, and even had been met with violent reprisals on the basis that they were biologically predisposed to harboring and spreading disease.94 The Los Angeles County Committee on Human Relations, the civil rights wing of the county government, was familiar with the practices that followed such designations. The committee met shortly after the county health officials’ declarations to study the problem and implement steps toward preserving Hicks Camp for the residents, who could ill afford forced removal. The committee deliberated on the feasibility of the forced removal of six hundred people from Hicks Camp because the property owner threatened to evict everybody in retaliation for the county’s action. Father Coffield voiced the concerns of the residents as the lone spokesperson for the community. He stated that people were worried about being thrown out of their homes without a place to go. He also revealed that local realtors had fabricated claims that there were no vacancies in area rental properties. Stanley Martin, the director for the County Department of Sanitation, stated that fewer than 30 of the 161 homes were in a condition to be brought up to the health and safety standards of the county and state.95 The number 42  In Search of the Mexican Beverly Hills

of homes would soon be reduced to make way for Rio Vista Elementary School. The families affected by that decision found no support in obtaining new living arrangements in the immediate area from either the board of supervisors or local realtors.96 Supervisor Legg’s study of structural safety in Hicks Camp yielded 2,136 code violations, an average of five per household. Legg’s research team also found that residents balked at the suggestion that they would receive aid from the County Welfare Department and the Housing Agency to find alternative living arrangements.97 Many residents refused to leave the colonia because of its relative affordability and their attachment to the community that they had forged over the decades. Hicks Camp, in the eyes of the state, constituted a grave threat to metropolitan progress. Yet in the hearts and minds of the residents, it represented their own corner of the world. On a more practical level, the working-­class residents of Hicks Camp had few housing options in metropolitan Los Angeles in 1953. Massive private development, enabled by government policies at the national, state, and local levels, systematically transformed the region into a sprawling modern metropolis that excluded working people of color. In 1956 Supervisor Legg’s crusade to eliminate Hicks Camp came to partial fruition. Forty-­two more homes were razed to make way for the construction of Rio Vista Elementary School. The transfer of title to the El Monte Unified School District and subsequent evictions posed serious problems for many residents. Although most residents did not own any property, they received anywhere from $75 to $2,000 to cover relocation expenses, depending on the condition of their houses. The uneven distribution of relocation packages benefited some, but most people lacked the resources to establish roots somewhere else. John Vera, a resident of Hicks who lost his house, worried about poor and elderly residents who had lived in Hicks their entire lives. “A lot of them can’t work anymore,” he told the Los Angeles Times, “but they can afford the $16 a month they pay for rent on their lots. What are they going do when they have to move? Where else can they pay that small a rent for a house?”98 While many people relocated into The Lands of Mañana  43

other neighborhoods surrounding El Monte, or into different houses in Hicks, some families had the financial means to seek property elsewhere. Ben Campos had lived with his grandparents in one of the condemned houses, but they eventually purchased a new house in the growing suburb of Rosemead north of El Monte.99 The Hicks residents who lost their homes on the leased property brought a lawsuit against the city, arguing that they did not receive proper compensation. After the case had been in court for nearly five years, the state disagreed and considered the matter closed, citing that appraisers believed “vacant industrial land” best matched their idea of the highest use of the property.100 The City of El Monte annexed the remainder of Hicks Camp in 1958 and harbored plans to redevelop the former colonia into a tract development typical of other suburban neighborhoods. The challenges that residents in Southern California colonias faced mirrored the difficulties with metropolitan growth in Florida and in Northern California. Colored Town in Miami was a colonia by another name. As an outgrowth of Jim Crow’s devastating effects on black mobility, the segregated neighborhood comprised of substandard homes made white slum lords wealthy and housed and fed white middlemen while black tenants remained mired in poverty. City leaders proposed slum clearance and public housing projects such as Liberty Square as the only viable means to rehabilitate black spaces.101 Similarly, Alviso, a neighborhood in San José, California, experienced dramatic changes in the 1960s as tract housing developments encroached on community boundaries and threatened to destroy it.102 Hicks Camp, then, was caught up in the momentum of national growth politics as cities across the country pushed metropolitan boundaries. From the Great Depression through the 1950s, colonia residents endured the transformation of local economies, forged communities that reflected their working-­ class character, and protested against labor exploitation. Hicks Camp residents were central actors in the Berry Strike of 1933, which ignited labor activism up and down California. As blue-­collar suburbs, colonias represented the limits of spatial freedom for most ethnic Mexicans, 44  In Search of the Mexican Beverly Hills

as they were barred from residential neighborhoods all over the region. Most of the settlements typified segregated spaces in their lack of paved roads, absence of sewers, and jerry-­built structures. Inhabitants of these places formed lasting bonds and prepared to face new challenges as Los Angeles transformed all around them. Subdivision developments similar to Arden Village emerged with increasing frequency across the region. Designed to serve a growing population, these mass-­produced communities sparked a wave of municipal incorporations and annexations that remade the metropolitan landscape. As the basis for ethnic Mexican suburban settlement, colonias were long part of Los Angeles’s terrain. The onslaught of development threatened the community structures that they had come to rely on. Official reports by federal appraisers, health agencies, county supervisors, and academics accumulated over time and all pointed to removal or redevelopment of Mexican spaces. While most colonia residents recognized the need for infrastructural improvements, few wanted to be forcibly removed. At the same time that colonia residents struggled to save their homes and communities, Mexican Americans from East Los Angeles struggled to purchase homes in places like Arden Village.

The Lands of Mañana  45

2 Mexican Americans and the Suburban Ideal

On a cool spring day in 1951, a World War II veteran named Manuel Gonzales anxiously awaited a decision on his loan request for a new suburban home. As a social worker with a $3,600 annual income, Gonzales could be described as middle class, earning just above the median income for working, male Angelenos.1 Despite his apparent suitability, Gonzales was denied the loan. He remained undeterred, believing wholeheartedly that his service in World War II entitled his family to a stake in the “American dream.” Gonzales and his wife then attempted to purchase property in a nearby housing tract developed exclusively for veterans with GI Bill benefits, only to be denied once more. Left with few other options, he purchased a house in the Los Angeles barrio of Chavez Ravine, unaware that the city had already initiated plans to clear the area for public housing units.2 While Gonzales possessed the right kind of cultural capital—he was a veteran, the head of a nuclear family, and a car owner—his exclusion from the suburbs mirrored the experiences of many prospective home buyers of color in postwar America.3 The exclusion of Mexican Americans such as Gonzales from suburban homeownership demonstrates the challenges that many faced in the pursuit of first-­class citizenship. By contrast, Arsie Trujillo and her family moved to Los Angeles after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, where her husband found 46

work as a pipe fitter. His years of experience building dams in New Mexico and Colorado had prepared him for the booming wartime economy, and because his job was considered essential to the war effort, he received a military deferment and housing priority in the Aliso Village public housing project.4 There, in one of the development’s 802 units, they settled with their three children. After the war ended, and the arsenal for democracy was slowly dismantled, Arsie’s husband was forced to take on a new job as a truck driver. As Angelenos slowly became aware, peace brought with it significant challenges. Available housing was in short supply, and what there was increased in value, pricing many out of their current living arrangements.5 Wage decreases were accompanied by rent increases for the Trujillos, which forced them to make a tough decision. Rather than risk their future by paying higher rent, they opted to search for a house. The Trujillos had little idea of where to begin looking for a home given the regionwide shortage, but a real estate agent directed them to a section of Pico Rivera bordering Montebello that had already begun to accept Mexican American buyers.6 Arsie felt it important to settle prior to the beginning of the school year so that her children would not fall behind in classes. Her two youngest children attended Fremont Elementary near their new home, while her oldest daughter continued to attend Roosevelt High School in East Los Angeles because she did not want to move to Montebello High School.7 So, while many Mexican American parents staked the futures of their children on suburban environs, many of these families remained connected socially, culturally, and politically to barrios on the Eastside and around metropolitan Los Angeles. These two contrasting stories epitomize Mexican American suburbanization in the immediate postwar period. While many faced barriers, others found niches in the expanding housing market. Homeownership in the postwar years presented families like the Trujillos with a tangible symbol of their hard work, as well as a foundation upon which to build a future. Despite rampant discrimination, Mexican Americans joined the wave of suburban home seekers in search of their slice of the dream. The local cohort Mexican Americans and the Suburban Ideal  47

of veterans numbered greater than thirty thousand, and most were intent on using the GI Bill benefits that they had rightly earned fighting overseas. Many more had participated in the war effort on the home front, building planes and ships, assembling arms, canning food, and cleaning factories, among many other things. As a young woman, Olivia Rivas contributed to the war for democracy by censoring the letters written by Spanish-­speaking GIs.8 Suburbs contiguous with the Eastside received the first wave of Mexican American home buyers. Monterey Park, Commerce, and Montebello all experienced an uptick in their Latino populations in the years immediately after the war, and a population explosion by 1970. Similar patterns took shape in Alhambra, Rosemead, El Monte, South El Monte, Downey, Santa Fe Springs, and Bell. Pico Rivera, a suburb twelve miles east of downtown Los Angeles, is an example of this phenomenon. By 1960, 81 percent of all the residential structures were owner occupied, with Latino households representing 23.9 percent. This figure made it among the most Latino suburbs in the region.9 The community sprang from two colonias, Pico Viejo and Rivera, both of which had long sheltered ethnic Mexicans in this area. Just as important, the suburb became a postwar destination for home seekers. According to the 1960 Census, 81.5 percent of Spanish-­surnamed homeowners inhabited structures built within the previous two decades.10 Like most Americans seeking peace and prosperity in the postwar period, ethnic Mexicans looked to the suburbs for beautiful homes, access to jobs, decent schools for their children, and opportunities for the future. The struggle to claim their space served as a powerful reminder of the necessity to think collectively when it came to accessing homeownership. Discrimination colored every dimension of suburbanization throughout the 1960s, but Mexican Americans forged ahead. They balanced their identities as members of a marginalized group of people, as aspirant homeowners, and as good Americans. The Mexican American suburban ideal, while mirroring the ideals of millions of others, also rested on a foundation of constant struggle. Many who were denied continued to find ways to crack the barrier surrounding 48  In Search of the Mexican Beverly Hills

new suburban tract developments. Some chose to use the tools of the state to directly challenge housing discrimination, with the belief that those actions would help other ethnic Mexicans seeking first-­class citizenship. Others found more quotidian ways to get around discriminatory barriers, such as claiming to be of Spanish descent to close a home purchase. Although this method tacitly reinforced the flawed logic that Mexicans were unfit for suburban homeownership, it also made segregation against ethnic Mexicans unsustainable over the long term. This cohort created communities in their new environments modeled on decades of barrio and colonia life, but also aspired to move up the socioeconomic ladder. Not only did they share characteristics similar to those of other educated and professional middle-­class Americans, but they also based their identities on unquantifiable ideas about behavior and ambition. Their working-­class backgrounds, combined with their efforts to improve upon their living conditions, produced a sense of entitlement to freely seek out their place in the sun.11

Suburban Inertia Launched in 1934, the FHA adopted the appraisal measures standardized and implemented by the HOLC to determine which mortgages to insure and which to deny. As an institution, the FHA insured mortgages administered by private lending agencies and aided both first-­time home buyers and existing homeowners. Designed as a policy to stimulate job growth, the FHA achieved that and more. According to historian Kenneth T. Jackson, no other government institution has had as profound an effect on American society as the FHA.12 The stimulation of growth and the rapid pace at which American metropolises grew in the postwar years validate this argument. In 1944 FHA practices were supplemented by the Veterans Administration through the Servicemen’s Readjustment Act, better known as the GI Bill. Under the provisions of the law military veterans could apply for low-­interest-­rate loans to purchase houses and fund their higher education plans, as well as take out small business loans. The pillars of middle-­class Mexican Americans and the Suburban Ideal  49

life in midcentury America rested on the provisions of that benefit. As a presumably race-­neutral measure, the GI Bill figured as a just reward for the more than sixteen million soldiers who had served on two fronts. But just like the HOLC and the FHA, local control of the GI Bill ensured that the wages of whiteness would dictate how it was applied. The FHA programs shaped the expansion, form, and demographics of suburban America in three fundamental ways. First, by following the HOLC model and requiring that mortgage loans be fully amortized with a repayment period of between twenty-­ five and thirty years, it lowered monthly and down payments and reduced the mortgage foreclosure rate significantly.13 In effect, this provision made homeownership attainable and sustainable for a greater number of people than in the 1920s. when 30 percent down payments to purchase homes were common and balloon payments awaited them at the end of ten years. The FHA’s new finance products combined to limit the amount of risk assumed by banks and to yield a market in which it became cheaper to buy a house than to rent. Second, the FHA demanded that developers abide by uniform construction guidelines, aimed at minimizing structural flaws and other quality concerns. These codes were outlined in writing and enforced by on-­site inspections. As a result, developers began abiding by the FHA standards regardless of whether they sought or were approved for mortgage securitization. Tract developments such as Levittown, New York, and Lakewood, California, became models for suburban community development based on these new standards. Home building and sales boomed, the majority of which took place in the suburbs. By 1972 FHA programs had resulted in 11 million new home loans and 22 million improvement loans and had insured 1.8 million units in multifamily dwellings; the rate of owner-­occupied structures increased from 44 percent in 1934 to 63 percent in 1972.14 Finally, FHA programs deepened class-­and race-­ based inequalities across the country. Many working-­class white communities failed to qualify for federal assistance, for any combination of factors, including inadequate building and zoning codes, 50  In Search of the Mexican Beverly Hills

underdeveloped utilities and infrastructure, poor schools, and “tax blight.”15 South Gate, California, had experienced the latter, as the provisions of the Mattoon Act of 1925 nearly devastated the suburb. This state law created tax assessment districts and empowered them to simultaneously acquire and improve land, all while transcending municipal boundaries. By design, the law intended to create a shared investment in infrastructural metropolitan development, but bonding provisions spelled potential trouble for suburban homeowners. Improvement bonds resulted in collective liens on all parcels within an assessment district, thereby holding every property owner liable for a share of the overall tax. In the event of an individual property owner’s default, the debt was distributed across the district, thereby increasing every other owner’s responsibility. By 1931, when the law was repealed following a vigorous low-­tax movement, suburbs such as South Gate, Bell Gardens, Lynwood, Inglewood, Beverly Glen, and Westlake were shouldering heavy burdens caused by overdevelopment and bonded debt. In more damaging terms, the debts that had accumulated under the Mattoon Act were not nullified, and by the time the federal government began to evaluate metropolitan regions for their worthiness for government relief and investment, many such indebted neighborhoods had missed the boat.16 The eventual access to federal housing money marked a critical distinction between white working-­class neighborhoods and those comprised of African Americans, Asian Americans, and ethnic Mexicans, because tax abatement programs solved the problem of the former, but race proved to be a far more impenetrable barrier for the latter.17 If heavy tax burdens initially prevented predominantly white neighborhoods from accessing government relief, then the same was true of segregated communities, where virtually no improvements took place and the people themselves, rather than the built environment of the district, were viewed as potential tax burdens, as well as threats to property values. Race-­ restrictive covenants governed where people of color could purchase homes for exactly those reasons. This class of deed restrictions sought to limit the loss of property value by barring the Mexican Americans and the Suburban Ideal  51

introduction of racially undesirable owners. Across the country, these covenants targeted primarily African Americans. However, in Los Angeles realtors and individual sellers applied restrictions unevenly to Mexican Americans, Asian Americans, and Jews. A typical covenant from August 1937 that covered a property in a neighborhood west of downtown declared that “no portion of any said lots, pieces, or parcels of land shall ever be occupied by any person other than of the Caucasian, or White Race, during said term of years.” Moreover, “no person whose blood is not entirely that of the White race shall live upon any of said real property during said term, nor be kept thereon, save and except in the capacity of a domestic servant of a White person residing on the selfsame parcel.”18 In Depression era Los Angeles it would have been clear that Mexicans were of mixed blood, even if their legal racial designation remained illusory. Violation of these covenants could be actionable in a court of law, as individual property owners were bound to others in the neighborhood. These deeds indemnified homeowners’ associations from rogue sellers who violated the terms of the deed restrictions. Fair housing had been a central concern of social justice advocates even prior to World War II. Among the many rights El Congreso de Los Pueblos Que Hablan Español (the Congress of Spanish-­Speaking Peoples) struggled for was the right to purchase and rent decent homes.19 In the years following the war a number of groups, including the Community Service Organization (CSO) and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), took up this fight. Civil rights activists across the country made fair housing a principal objective in their pursuit of first-­class citizenship. Set within the context of a severe housing shortage, the struggle against restrictive covenants took on added importance. In 1945 the application of racial restrictions against Mexican Americans was put to the test in El Monte, where Nellie Garcia purchased a home that was covered by a restrictive covenant. Municipal Court judge Alfred E. Paonessa, who ruled on the case, argued that there is “no Mexican race as there is no American race” and endorsed Garcia’s continued ownership of the property. By declaring that Mexican Americans were not classifiable as a 52  In Search of the Mexican Beverly Hills

race unto themselves, the legal system in effect recognized Mexican Americans as another white group.20 Despite the ruling, discrimination against Mexican Americans continued. Many remained stuck in segregated neighborhoods like Pico Viejo in Pico Rivera or Hicks Camp in El Monte. As one longtime resident, Alex Castro, put it, “Yeah, Hicksville, you had to live there because you couldn’t live no place else.”21 El Monte’s housing market shut out ethnic Mexican renters during World War II. “[Whites] wouldn’t rent to Mexicans in those days,” Castro stated. “There were people that were very anti-­Mexican.”22 Brokers who failed to maintain a united front and instead sold homes to people of color faced severe penalties. In 1948 realtor Maurice Curtis ignored the governing rules of both the Realtor’s Code of Ethics and the El Monte Realty Board and sold a house to a Mexican American family despite its location in an exclusively white El Monte neighborhood. The local realty board threatened to revoke Curtis’s license if he failed to convince the Mexican ­family to sell the property back to the company. The family shrewdly agreed to sell the house back to the realty company but requested three times the price they had paid for it. They kept the home, and Curtis lost his job.23 According to the El Monte city directory, Curtis and his wife Florence had been residents of El Monte from as early as 1930. Curtis undoubtedly knew the racial boundaries of the city, and his actions indicate that he purposely attempted to integrate sections of the city that were denied to Mexican Americans. Despite and because of his best intentions, Curtis was punished by his colleagues in the realty business. In response to this debacle, the San Gabriel Valley Board of Realtors sent an angry letter to the county board of supervisors, declaring: “We feel that our citizens are better off when allowed to congregate in districts or settlements, such as Irwindale for Mexicans.”24 Realtors understood that housing, particularly suburban housing, represented the pivot upon which upward mobility and first-­class citizenship turned. To sell property to ethnic Mexicans at the expense of “American” families meant to betray the trust placed in them as gatekeepers of the American dream. Mexican Americans and the Suburban Ideal  53

The landmark 1948 US Supreme Court decision Shelley v. Kraemer declared race-­restrictive covenants in property deeds of sale legally unenforceable. Despite the Court’s attempt to dismantle the apparatuses of inequality that had for so long been embraced by white Americans and subsidized by the federal government, attempts to maintain segregation remained prevalent in the suburban housing market; realtors simply devised new ways to circumvent antidiscrimination mandates, because the Shelley decision had no enforcement power. On top of that, Mexican Americans’ place vis-­à-­vis the Shelley decision was never exactly clear. There is no direct reference to Mexican Americans in the Shelley decision, nor was there in the years following. This absence can be explained by the fact that the Shelley case originated in St. Louis and concerned African American exclusion directly. The omission can also just as easily be read as a statement about Mexicans’ racial position in late 1940s America. Some scholars have argued that ethnic Mexicans enjoyed a flexible whiteness that opened up spaces of opportunity, whereas Asian Americans continued to face barriers to their inclusion in American civic life well into the 1950s.25 However, the struggle to obtain suburban housing suggests that this argument is overstated, because many ethnic Mexicans continued to face housing limitations. For all its promise, the Shelley decision had little impact on the housing market in the years immediately after it was issued. For example, L. Gird Levering, a real estate and insurance broker in El Monte, California, explained in 1949: “No one would sell to [Mexicans], . . . not in white districts. . . . This is true of the unincorporated territory, too. Certainly I . . . wouldn’t introduce Mexicans into white territory; it wouldn’t be ethical.”26 Another representative from El Monte–based E. J. Shirpser Real Estate Company echoed similar sentiments in describing a Mexican family who lived in a white neighborhood. He complained that Mexican families failed to maintain their homes to white standards and compromised the steady growth of property values for white families. He further asserted that Mexican homeowners belonged solely and completely in “Mexican districts.”27 Such defiance of the Court 54  In Search of the Mexican Beverly Hills

by local realtors ensured that suburban homeownership remained elusive and halting for ethnic Mexicans. Guided by the Realtor’s Code of Ethics, realtors and their agents were bound to the core set of principles that governed home sales. In particular, Article 35 stated, “A realtor should not be instrumental in introducing into a neighborhood . . . members of any race or nationality . . . whose presence will be clearly detrimental to property values.”28 This guideline enabled realtors to consciously and deliberately exclude Mexican Americans and other racialized minorities from living in white neighborhoods, but also prevented individual realtors from willfully ignoring the preconditions of neighborhood fitness for suburban homeowners. Routine denials in the wake of Shelley affected even the political elite. In July 1949 Edward Roybal, a rising star originally from the “Flats” district in Boyle Heights, was a thirty-­three-­year-­old with a wife and children, was a World War II veteran, and had just been sworn into office as the first Mexican American elected to the Los Angeles City Council in seventy years. In short, he had a lot going on at that moment in his life, all of it good. That is, until he and his wife sought to purchase a home in a new development in the Ninth District that was marketed to GI Bill recipients. With the $250 check ready to make the deposit, the Roybals prepared to purchase their new home, but the salesman turned them down flat. He stated directly that the developer did not sell to Mexicans. With all of his renowned dignity, Roybal handed the man his newly printed business card and returned to the family car without saying a word. The salesman either recognized what a mistake it would be to overtly discriminate against a member of the city council, or he was motivated by the promise of a sale, or both, but he chased after Roybal and told him that he appeared to be “different” and therefore eligible to purchase property with one simple fix. According to Roybal the salesman told him that “we can’t sell to Mexicans, but if you say that you are of Spanish or Italian descent, we will sell you a house.”29 Roybal refused on principle. The experience left an impression on Roybal that housing discrimination constituted a serious challenge for Los Angeles. Indeed, the CSO, which Roybal Mexican Americans and the Suburban Ideal  55

had been instrumental in organizing, and which had created a broad-­ based coalition that delivered him the council position, staged a picket in front of the development to draw attention to housing segregation. Ultimately, in order to end the undue attention, the developer agreed to open the site for sale to “all [former] GIs regardless of color or creed.”30 But the problem was bigger than a single developer. A survey conducted that summer in response to the Roybals’ experience found that only six developers in the county did not discriminate against people of color, and eleven would sell to Mexicans if they claimed to be Spanish instead.31 In order to avoid the charge of racism, some white homeowners argued that residential segregation protected property values. Historian Robert Self, writing about Northern California’s East Bay, highlights the irony of this shift in rhetoric and strategy: “This structural and ideological rationalization of segregation encouraged whites and Anglos in the East Bay—as it did millions of Americans during the postwar decades—to argue that their actions were not racist, even as their individual choices and advantages represented, in sum, a version of apartheid with deleterious long-­term consequences.”32 Subtle forms of discrimination, though intended to reinforce segregation, actually opened a window of opportunity for Mexican American activists to confront segregation on a larger scale. Developers trumpeted residential developments aimed at GIs of Mexican descent with no down payment and low escrow and impound fees, but such separate developments clearly resulted in the separation of white and Mexican neighborhoods. Rancho Burke in unincorporated Rivera was touted by the Los Angeles Times as the third tract development aimed at Mexican American veterans in the Whittier area over the previous twelve months, all of which were well received by the community. It was also reported that both the US and Mexican governments lauded such private enterprise responses to combat discrimination, without recognizing that they were designed to maintain segregation as a fixed feature of American life.33 Mexican American leaders around Southern California decried these segregated housing units despite the groundswell of support 56  In Search of the Mexican Beverly Hills

from the community. Ignacio L. López, the publisher and editor of the San Gabriel Valley–based, Spanish-­language weekly newspaper El Espectador, issued a scathing editorial about these tracts. In López’s estimation, the tracts actually represented a denial of access to white neighborhoods, an affront to Mexican American acceptance that he portended would reap bitter fruit. He admonished the community for failing to see that it was not whites who would suffer the fallout, but ethnic Mexicans themselves for failing to advocate for true integration. Accepting segregation promised to produce an “exclusive world reserved only for ourselves.”34 Opening the door to veterans might have begun the downfall of outright segregation against Mexican Americans, as veterans and Mexican American homeowners staged formal protests, organized around community issues, and exerted pressure on local governments to be more responsive to the needs of ethnic Mexican communities. World War II veterans were among a cadre of actors attempting to expand opportunities for marginalized peoples and were at the forefront of change in the decade to come. Indeed, given the great lengths to which many Mexican Americans went, in terms of both patience and financial investment, a move from working-­class barrios marked a critical life transition for many. It is because the Eastside is viewed as the traditional home of ethnic Mexicans in Los Angeles that it has been marked as a local, racialized space. With roots in the nineteenth century, the Eastside barrios functioned as way stations for the millions who have called those neighborhoods home. By World War II, the principal barrio of Boyle Heights was among the most racially and ethnically diverse places in the United States. The community of Mexicans, Japanese, blacks, Jews, Serbians, Turks, Russians, and Italians made it an exemplar of multicultural intersection and progressive collective action.35 At the conclusion of World War II, the community began to splinter. Jews began to move to the Westside, suggesting that progress measured in geographic mobility slid along a continuum of east to west. Japanese Americans also resettled in new locations, though under different circumstances. Following the war, enclaves in the South Bay, Alhambra, and Monterey Park Mexican Americans and the Suburban Ideal  57

grew with returnees from West Coast internment camps.36 The multiracial coalitions that had forged a sense of community and advocated for everything from fair housing to political representation suffered from the loss of people in the neighborhood and the emerging homogeneity. As historian Anthony Macias has argued, “the wartime relocation of Japanese Americans, a postwar exodus of Jews, a concomitant movement of ethnic Mexicans from Watts and South Central Los Angeles, and a steady stream of braceros eventually left Boyle Heights less multicultural and more Mexican than it had been at the beginning of World War II.”37 This out-­migration of Jews and Japanese Americans coincided with an increase in the Eastside Mexican population.38 A concurrent trend involved established Mexican Americans also participating in the suburban migration, often choosing to settle in the eastern suburbs closest to East Los Angeles.

Becoming Suburban By 1950 suburban growth was outpacing that of central cities by ten to one. Los Angeles was at the leading edge of this development, as it grew in area and population more rapidly than did any other metropolis.39 Indeed, between 1940 and 1950 the county population almost doubled, from 2.78 to 4.15 million residents.40 Concurrently, the Latino population in the county increased from 61,248 to 249,173, a 30.7 percent growth rate.41 Natural increase, immigration, and a significant interstate migration contributed to this boom. The Eastside became too small to contain this growing population. Freeway construction and overcrowding pushed Mexican Americans out of Eastside barrios and into expanding suburbs. The plan to build regionally accessible freeways through Eastside Los Angeles began as early as 1930. When the last of the freeways was completed in 1970, at least 2,865 homes with a population of 10,045 residents, or 13 percent of the area’s population, had been removed for freeway construction.42 Many of those residents relocated to the suburbs, especially in the developing San Gabriel Valley and Southeast area communities. Edward Roybal recalled 58  In Search of the Mexican Beverly Hills

that the State Highway Commission approved construction of the Golden State 5 Freeway through Boyle Heights despite community objections. In exchange for uprooting thousands of people, the city, county, and state collaborated on providing the “highest possible valuation” for the destroyed homes. Although modest, housing remuneration enabled many families to reestablish themselves as homeowners in nearby suburbs such as Pico Rivera and Montebello. Many of the people who made this move were influenced by the proximity to Eastside communities and the easy access to the very freeways that had displaced them, making it easier to commute to and from their jobs.43 Daily travel on the freeways became a hallmark of suburban Los Angeles as automobiles replaced mass public transit as the leading mode of transport.44 Displacement caused by urban renewal projects brought about by city and county officials’ disregard for the region’s Mexican population tells only part of the story. Casting suburban movement strictly in those terms paints the Mexican community as passive and powerless. The strategies to capitalize on the promises of postwar America depended not only on government buyout checks but also on a perspective fomented during the prewar years that as Americans, ethnic Mexicans were entitled to all the commensurate material benefits of that identity. Equally powerful forces drew Mexican Americans to pursue suburban homeownership: jobs and affordable housing. Manufacturing and industrial jobs unfolded across the metropolitan landscape alongside, and often in advance of, housing tracts, often following established trucking routes and highways. In the twenty-­five largest metropolises between 1949 and 1963, employment in suburban areas grew at a faster pace than it did in central cities.45 This link among transportation circuits, housing, and jobs proved vital as Los Angeles developers chose locations based on access to industrial development.46 The economic landscape greatly expanded in the 1950s, with the San Fernando Valley and the Pomona-­Ontario regions becoming hubs for aerospace manufacturing, Orange County hosting defense-­related industries, and manufacturing coming to dominate the greater Eastside corridor Mexican Americans and the Suburban Ideal  59

of Los Angeles County.47 By 1955 Montebello and Pico Rivera had emerged as industrial growth areas. The rapid transition from agricultural land to manufacturing sites produced at least a 25 percent jump in the overall valuation of each community as more than one hundred plants, distribution centers, and warehouses employing thousands made these suburbs particularly attractive for growing families.48 In the rush to industrialize the region, little was sacred. Kalsman Builders of Beverly Hills purchased the historic Magnolia Ranch, which straddled the Montebello and Pico community lines, with plans to develop the fourteen-­acre site strictly for industry. The former rhubarb fields and citrus orchards provided ample space to further local industrial expansion, particularly because of the land’s close proximity to the new Ford-­Mercury plant.49 This suburban industrial core anchored the immediate area, as 40.6 percent of Pico Rivera residents and around 37 percent of Montebello residents claimed employment in manufacturing industries.50 Access to employment enabled many Mexican Americans to take the first step toward suburban homeownership at a time when such a status was largely limited to whites. This allowed a select few Mexican Americans to build equity and compound economic advantages. For example, in 1950 72 percent of Latino residents in South Gate owned their own homes, with values ranging from $3,000 to over $5,000.51 Among the many benefits that Mexican Americans found in the prospect of suburban homeownership, perhaps the most important centered on their children. Parents often made reference to schools and environments free from the gangs and drugs so prevalent in the barrios. Based on this notion, subdivision developers frequently marketed their housing tracts to families with young children by playing up the recreational opportunities and the presence of neighborhood schools.52 This strategy to tap into the desires (and fears) of young married parents to provide a safe haven for their children was widespread across the country and was certainly a characteristic shared by all aspirant suburbanites regardless of race.53 Local school districts felt the crunch of increased numbers of pupils. The exponential increases in children strained budgets 60  In Search of the Mexican Beverly Hills

Fig. 3. “1960s—A School in Pico Rivera.” As Pico Rivera grew in size and

population, an increasing number of Latino children filled the school ranks. Courtesy of Pico Rivera History and Heritage Society.

and space and ultimately forced new school construction throughout the region. In Pico, record enrollments for the 1951–1952 school year led to the building of two new elementary schools. In neighboring Rivera, the school population more than doubled from the previous academic year.54 Throughout the mid-­to late 1950s these numbers continued to grow, as Pico Rivera’s youths from kindergarten to high school age numbered 14,738, with almost 11,000 of those school-­age residents enrolled in elementary school.55 Mexican American parents contributed to the growth in the child-­age population as they sought to establish families in suburban neighborhoods. Georgia and Joe Perez moved from their home in East Los Angeles into Pico in 1951. Initially the couple hesitated, because at the time a mortgage would stretch Joe’s $100 per week income from Standard Steel as an ironworker, which was barely enough to pay the bills and buy food. They justified the $500 down payment and thirteen-­year loan with a monthly mortgage of $71.50 because they wanted a house in which to raise their children in a quiet neighborhood. Georgia did not regret the decision they had Mexican Americans and the Suburban Ideal  61

made, stating simply, “I am very happy here [in Pico Rivera] where I am. We raised three kids and here they are, very nice.”56 Similarly, Manuel Aguilar recalled that he had moved his family to Pico Rivera from East Los Angeles because the youth culture concerned him. “By that time [mid-­1950s] I made up my mind,” he remembered. “Let’s get these kids out of this environment and give them a fair chance. We came here to Pico Rivera which then was then very, very peaceful. . . . I figured this was the place to raise our kids. Our youngest daughter attended El Rancho High School.”57 Another set of parents, Frank and Rose Garcia, made similar calculations. Both had grown up in Boyle Heights but decided to move to Montebello following their marriage. The real estate agent representing the tract initially tried to deny them a home by claiming that none were available. But Frank forced a “showdown” with the agent, and they eventually were allowed to purchase. As Rose recalled, it was worth the struggle because their children deserved an opportunity to grow up outside of the barrio. “We sure didn’t want to raise our kids to grow up and be pachucos,” she argued.58 In the minds of many parents, suburban schools offered better opportunities for their children, and they were willing to fight for access. In 1956 Dionicio Morales organized a fledgling community organization called the Council of Mexican American Affairs (CMAA) to combat segregation and facilitate transition into the mainstream. The CMAA initiated an appeal to Congressman Chester “Chet” Holifield by sending Arthur Rendon to Washington, D.C., to discuss discrimination against Mexican American veterans. Rendon argued that fighting for freedom and democracy abroad should have resulted in first-­class citizenship at home. The CMAA accused the federal government of hypocritical lending practices that disadvantaged Mexican American homeowners. “Many disappointed applicants have faced this discrimination in the southland from unscrupulous sub-­ dividers who receive their financial assistance through government-­sponsored loans,” Morales proclaimed. “It is unthinkable in our daily application of high American ideals and equal respect and opportunity for each American citizen to observe this practice in this and other areas of 62  In Search of the Mexican Beverly Hills

our nation.”59 The CMAA challenged the flagrant disregard of the GI Bill of Rights, which guaranteed former servicemen benefits generative of a middle-­class life. Qualified veterans expected to receive low-­interest home and business loans, as well as college tuition assistance. More than 300,000 Mexican Americans had served in the military during World War II and had earned the highest proportionate share of Congressional Medals of Honor of all ethnoracial groups. Of the sixteen Mexican American Congressional Medal of Honor award winners for World War II and the Korean War, six came from California, an important point of contention for CMAA officials who sought a resolution on discrimination against veterans in Los Angeles.60 Mexican American veterans credited their service and experiences overseas for fueling their desire to expand the rights of the group at home.61 One veteran, Vince Ramirez, grew up in Boyle Heights, where he and his brother attended Garfield High School. All later served in the US Army Air Corp during World War II and came home to the metropolis on the make. Using their GI Bill benefits, each went on to pursue higher education. Vince started out at East Los Angeles College and then transferred to the University of Southern California, where he studied for a career as a licensed civil engineer. He was among the first cohort of Mexican Americans hired by the California Department of Transportation (Cal Trans). He purchased a home in Monterey Park with his wife Edna in 1956, when there was only one other Mexican American family on the block. Vince recalled that in those days his colleagues on various job sites would ask him which nationality he was and when he responded that he was of Mexican descent his colleagues would point at the laborers on the job site and proclaim that they were Mexican, Vince was Spanish. He recalled that “without the GI Bill a lot of us would still be in East L.A., would still be doing pick and shovel jobs.”62 Despite the significant numbers of veterans who could stake a claim to suburban places, segregationist practices continued throughout the region, including in Ramirez’s Monterey Park, as realtors sought more clandestine ways to engineer all-­white neighborhoods. Mexican Americans and the Suburban Ideal  63

A 1958 listing for a property on Andrix Street in a neighborhood on the western edge of Monterey Park bordering the barrio of Belvedere by less than half a mile instructed realtors that the owner did not want the property to be shown to Mexicans.63 Similarly, realtors in the Pico and Rivera communities cultivated and maintained elaborate exclusionary measures. While advertisements and showpieces in the Los Angeles Times heralded the completion of Pico housing tracts aimed at veterans as invoking an “atmosphere of country living, ideally located for children . . . [with] all the modern conveniences of a close-­in city property,” individual homeowners colluded with local realtors to protect the virtues of this suburban ideal against minority intrusion.64 In the post-­Shelley suburbs of Los Angeles, realtors possessed the discretion to withhold or present homes to potential buyers based on race. House listings circulated internally in realty offices with specific instructions on who should (and who should not) be shown property. A Dow Realty listing for a house in the Pico Vista Park tract in February 1958 directed real estate agents in capital letters to “PLEASE SHOW TO CAUCASIANS ONLY.”65 Similar directives, such as “owner requests no Mexicans or Orientals to be shown [property],” “owner reserves right to qualify any Spanish family,” and “please do not show to Mexicans” accompanied house listings for various realtors in Pico Rivera, Montebello, and Monterey Park.66 Maria Avila encountered such clandestine forms of discrimination when she, her husband, and her daughter moved from Watts to El Monte in 1958. The Avilas first attempted to purchase a home in nearby Alhambra but were turned away because of Maria’s dark skin: I remember going to Alhambra one time and we walked into this real estate office. My husband is much lighter than I am and by looking at him, if you were going to take him at face value, you would say he is not Mexican. And so he would go in and they would show him this possibility or that possibility. When I would get down from the car then the whole story would change. Then 64  In Search of the Mexican Beverly Hills

the down payment was higher or the criteria was another thing, but I didn’t want to live there anyway. If they didn’t want me, I didn’t want to live there.67

Avila’s narrative echoes that of Edward Roybal and further demonstrates the contingency of Mexican American racialization as real estate agents instantaneously amended down payment fees and finance decisions to avoid introducing ethnic Mexican homeowners into exclusive neighborhoods. Like Roybal and Avila, regardless of employment status or social standing, many families were denied ownership on the basis of their skin pigmentation alone. Dionicio Morales, a longtime Mexican American community activist from Moorpark, California, who resettled in Pico Rivera, telephoned a Whittier realtor about an available house. The realtor asked Morales if he was a dark-­or light-­skinned Mexican, to which Morales replied, “What difference does it make?” The realtor said, “If you are light-­skinned we have several homes available, but if you are dark-­skinned, don’t waste my time.”68 This type of incident was far from unique. Realty boards throughout the Southland employed this tactic as a means to maintain racial exclusivity throughout the 1950s. Decisions to segregate and deter Mexicans from suburban homeownership grew out of realty board strategy sessions at local conferences. At a meeting of the Southeast Realty Board, Forest Beyer recalled a discussion that took place over one such executive directive that forbade realtors to sell to “dark-­skinned Mexicans.” When an audience member posed a hypothetical question about the protocol for dealing with “dark-­skinned Argentineans,” the president of the realty board replied, “well, as far as I am concerned, he is still a dark-­skinned Mexican.”69 Since the early twentieth century, immigration officials had determined a person’s race based on a subjective set of visual markers. The practice of racial marking not only affected a person’s recognition by the state, but also contoured his or her ability to move in and out of race-­based labor structures.70 Marked as either Indian or mestizo, a common racial ascription given the overwhelming Mexican Americans and the Suburban Ideal  65

makeup of descendants from the Revolution-­era migration, the majority of Mexican Americans faced extreme difficulty in moving upward in American society. Victor Gonzales, a teacher at El Rancho High School in Pico Rivera, recalled the tough times his son encountered in elementary school near their home in West Covina. “My little boy is dark skinned, like me,” he noted, “and I remember he was in elementary school and he came home and said ‘Dad, you know, a girl told me why I didn’t wash myself; your skin is dirty.’ ” In his school, Gonzales’s son was the only child of Mexican origin.71 As Gonzales’s testimonio suggests, people with the lightest complexion had greater access to the paths toward upward mobility.72 Indeed, lighter skinned Mexicans fared much better on the housing market than did their darker skinned counterparts because they could claim “Spanish” heritage. Although asserting Spanish identity was meant to redeem the racial character of Mexicans by conjoining them with a European rather than an indigenous past, it also opened up an opportunity for some Mexican Americans to manipulate their level of acceptance. It is probable that few realtors believed that “Spanish” truly meant the family was descended from Spain, but if the Mexican family had light skin, then realtors could simply look the other way. Scholars also argue that Mexican Americans who willingly identified as “Spanish” denied their Mexican identity and instead uncritically adopted a white identity.73 This denial of racial identity was likely only a single response couched within a broad and complex rubric of Mexican American attempts to pursue suburban homeownership. Author D. J. Waldie, who has written on the lived culture of 1950s Lakewood, California, ruminated on the complexity of Mexican American claims to Spanish identity. When a real estate agent explained the racial restrictions to a young Mexican American couple who wished to purchase a house in the suburb, they replied that their ancestors originally came from Spain. The agent gave the couple a once over and then signed the paperwork to sell them the house.74 Laying claim to a Spanish identity recast this couple’s racial status just long enough to circumvent Lakewood’s deed restrictions. This narrative is but another example of the ways that ethnic Mexicans exercised some 66  In Search of the Mexican Beverly Hills

level of control over their racial subjectivity. In distancing themselves from a nonwhite racial identity, they reinforced the belief that people of color were not fit for suburban homeownership while simultaneously cracking the window open a little wider for expanded access for other members of their group. Some African Americans perceived ethnic Mexican flight from segregated neighborhoods as proof of Mexican whiteness.75 Frita Shaw Johnson of Watts articulated a widespread concern and interpretation of Mexican resettlement in suburban Los Angeles. “Mexicans get an education, the first thing they do is move away from the area where they have lived and move over some place else and they are no longer Mexicans,” she argued, “they are Spanish-­ Speaking people.”76 Johnson’s reading of Mexican American mobility spoke to the fears many African Americans had about continued segregation and further marginalization in relation to another perceived immigrant group. Although middle-­class Mexican Americans held onto a collective group consciousness, ideologically and rhetorically many

Map 3. Map by Nazgol Bagheri. Mexican Americans and the Suburban Ideal  67

diverged from a multiracial collectivity. Latent tension with African Americans found its way discursively into periodicals that circulated throughout the San Gabriel Valley in the 1960s. In an editorial for Vida News titled “Se Habla Español,” Mexican Americans are characterized as ideal minorities who attained their justified place in the “melting pot” not through dedicated and committed grassroots organizing, but simply by virtue of a collective “respect and dignity—not parades and demonstrations of economic blackmail.”77 This coded criticism of black civil rights’ organizing may have captured a sentiment shared by many upwardly mobile Mexican Americans, particularly in the San Gabriel Valley, but it defied the actual circumstances by which suburban inroads were made while simplistically casting Mexican Americans as an “off-­white” immigrant group that was gradually assimilating into the American mainstream. At the same time, many African Americans felt that ethnic Mexicans made distinctions between those who had preceded the World War II westward migration and African Americans who moved west to work in wartime industries.78 Maria Avila, who lived with her family in Watts during her high school years in the 1940s, acknowledged the distinctions some ethnic Mexicans drew between black migrants and black Angelenos but painted a much different portrait: “I was raised in [Watts], and where I was raised at, we all mingled. Those [migrant] blacks, like [prewar] blacks said at the time, were different than the blacks who came in during the war to work in the factories. I didn’t have any bad relationships; I associated with everybody, and my kids did too.”79 Avila’s description of interracial relations between black and Mexican residents of Watts contrasts with the fact that she and her husband moved to El Monte in 1958. Although nothing in her story suggests a claim to whiteness, from the African American perspective the ability to exercise residential options beyond the restrictions of the ghetto suggested otherwise. In suburbs where Mexican Americans were enjoying considerable success, few African Americans found a place. For example, only ten African Americans resided in Pico Rivera in 1960, two more than in South Gate at the time and three 68  In Search of the Mexican Beverly Hills

more than in West Covina. More than a decade after the end of legal housing segregation, African Americans faced an impenetrable wall that continued to surround many of the region’s suburbs.80

Still Mexican By 1960 Los Angeles had reached a population of 2.5 million residents, with a metropolitan-­area population that had surpassed 6 million inhabitants.81 Also over the preceding decade, the number of Latinos in Los Angeles County had more than doubled, to 582,309.82 A collective push into Montebello, Alhambra, San Gabriel, Pico Rivera, Whittier, Santa Fe Springs, Downey, West Covina, Baldwin Park, Lakewood, and South Gate began to remake the racial geography of the region. This surge both resulted from and contributed to gradual socioeconomic improvement for a minority of Mexican Americans. Although the overall statistics demonstrate widespread disfranchisement, a closer look at the local level shows how these changes took place. Census data for Pico Rivera in 1960 reflect two significant income disparities. The overall annual median family income was $7,069. Latinos on the whole trailed that figure by $658, but this statistic masks significant spatial distinctions between the old colonia and new tract developments. Residents in the area containing the former colonia of Pico Viejo lagged $1,819 behind the median for Latinos in Pico Rivera generally. Latinos lived in all of the nine census tracts within Pico Rivera. In six of those tracts Latinos earned more than the median income for the city. In terms of relative affluence, four of the tracts logged a median income higher than the average family income in Orange County, at $7,219.83 Thus there was a definite difference in income between longtime colonia residents and new suburban homeowners. That they all inhabited roughly the same areas of the suburb provides a misleading portrait that merits closer attention. Upward mobility occurred incrementally for Mexican Americans. Many who moved into postwar residential developments grew up in colonias or barrios but acquired a college degree and moved into the professional ranks. In 1961 Ben Campos and his Mexican Americans and the Suburban Ideal  69

wife walked into the lending office of a new subdivision development in the affluent neighborhood of Charter Oak, just east of the San Gabriel Valley city of Covina. The agent took one look at the couple and told them that they could not qualify for a home loan. Having grown up in Hicks Camp and spent his young adult life in the suburb of Rosemead, Ben was driven by the desire to own a new, ranch-­style home with a large yard for his children. Like so many, Campos and his wife were turned away ostensibly because they were a financial risk. He had a college degree from California State University, Los Angeles, and earned a good living as a teacher and administrator in the El Monte Union School District. Not long after this rejection, Campos and his wife found a tract development in the city of La Puente that did not discriminate against Mexican Americans.84 Campos’s narrative makes the point that some Mexican Americans’ suburban success came at great personal financial expense, through patience and luck, and did not necessarily represent a sea change in white perceptions of Mexican American racial acceptability. Yet many were determined to make positive contributions to their new communities. Armando J. Mora, a third-­ generation Mexican American originally from the Eastside, where he graduated from Roosevelt High School and attended East Los Angeles College, parlayed his World War II veteran status into a comfortable suburban home in the southeastern Los Angeles County suburb of Santa Fe Springs and became a methods analyst with Sears, Roebuck & Company. Rather than sit quietly on the sidelines and bask in suburban comfort with his wife and five children, Mora became a local leader. Mora’s dedication to the “awakening of Mexican-­ Americans to the problems surrounding their community” buttressed his efforts as the president of the Santa Fe Springs Coordinating Council to procure public funding for a free medical clinic and a dental clinic. He participated in the Club Cultural Mexicano and the Cub Scouts and also served on committees for the parent-­teacher associations in both Rancho Santa Gertrudes and Los Nietos school districts.85 While Mora’s résumé calls attention to remarkable efforts he made in the political and 70  In Search of the Mexican Beverly Hills

social arena, his biography suggests that his allegiance to his city and to the Mexican community writ large was not unique, nor did his commitment to cultural issues supersede his dedication to Santa Fe Springs. People like Mora sought to capitalize on their relative acceptance through a range of social behaviors and mores, which they used to put a middle-­class sensibility into social and political practice. If their economic positions did not automatically admit them to middle-­class standing, some segments of the community reasoned that comportment and cultural adaptation, if not outright assimilation, held the key to achieving the suburban good life. Class differences tied to suburban homeownership became a wedge issue for Mexican Americans in the 1960s. Pico Rivera resident Manuel Aguilar, reflecting on his life experiences in the suburban city known colloquially as the “Mexican Beverly Hills,” cautioned against the spread of apathy among Mexican American homeowners: “[Barrios are] communities where the people become so apathetic that they don’t cut their lawns regularly. They don’t paint their homes . . . the blighted areas begin to happen,” he proclaimed. “Sometimes it is because of lack of money, but sometimes people just don’t worry or care very much how their home looks.”86 East Los Angeles, he believed, was riddled with substandard homes because of homeowner neglect, but Aguilar fell into the same trap as many middle-­class families of his generation. He failed to recognize the impact of state neglect on the Eastside and the significant spatial disruptions caused by urban renewal projects in that area. He and his family moved to Pico Rivera in 1965, drawn by its tranquility and distance from the ills of barrio life. “It was a very peaceful community, this is what attracted us,” he said. “Peaceful, quiet, everybody liked everybody else; everybody respected everybody else. I figured this was the place to raise our kids.”87 Aguilar’s nod to community life was tied to a notion that harmonious relationships bred clean and safe social environments for children. Calling upon the rhetoric of child rearing brought Aguilar, and many others like him, into conversation with suburbanites across time and space, race and class. Mexican Americans and the Suburban Ideal  71

At a public forum hosted by the CMAA that focused on the impacts of Proposition 14, a California ballot initiative to overturn the Rumford Fair Housing Act of 1963, which outlawed racial discrimination in public and private housing, realtor Sal Montenegro highlighted practices that exploited this shift in rhetoric. He related stories of three Mexican American families who attempted to purchase homes in Monterey Park, Alhambra, and Whittier, all of whom were turned down because their presence in the neighborhood would be greeted by homeowners as a threat to property values. In Monterey Park, for example, a property owner apologetically told Montenegro that he refused to sell to a Mexican American family, not because he harbored ill feelings toward them, but because he feared neighborhood reactions to the introduction of Mexican American homeowners. He faced relentless pressure from the next-­door neighbor, who vehemently opposed the idea of having ethnic Mexican neighbors. 88 When Montenegro walked next door to ask about the possibility of having Mexican American neighbors, the man told him that Mexicans “bring in their trashy cars to lower the value of . . . property.” Before slamming the door in Montenegro’s face, the neighbor made it clear that he simply did not like the idea of having Mexicans in the community, and if Montenegro did not like it, then he could go back to Mexico.89 Certainly color-­blind racism shaped one dimension of this scenario, as the neighbor called upon property value to bluntly state his case for Mexican exclusion. But he also made it exceedingly clear that not all racism in housing was color blind. The combative homeowner embraced his “right” to exclude and upheld the notion that suburban homeownership was an American entitlement that could be extended to or withheld from perceived foreigners. His assumption that Montenegro came from Mexico speaks to the striking misconceptions whites held about Mexican Americans. This person’s overt attitudes notwithstanding, the suburbs were already changing. In 1963 Los Angeles Times columnist Ruben Salazar penned a front page article entitled “Mexican Americans Succeeding: Members of Ethnic Group Make Good in Many Fields,” in which he challenged negative stereotypes ascribed to Mexican Americans by 72  In Search of the Mexican Beverly Hills

highlighting the economic and spatial mobility of select individuals. “Mexican-­Americans can be found in almost every walk of life that spells the American Dream,” Salazar boldly proclaimed. Indeed, the individuals profiled for the article—all men—included an owner of an auto dealership, a superior court judge, and a deputy attorney general, among others, who articulated a vision of collective upward mobility for Mexican Americans regardless of class position. For example, a biochemist and microbiologist at Northrop Space Laboratory, Frank Macias, asserted, “Those of us who have a good education and economic stability have an obligation to help others of our kind who are less fortunate.” Macias continued, “We, who are on our way up, so to speak, must continue to associate ourselves with the problems of those who for many reasons are stagnant—in order that they realize that they too can make it.”90 Dionicio Morales, founder and director of the Mexican American Opportunity Foundation, added, “the isolation of the Mexican-­American must be broken for his [sic] good and that of the community.”91 This “isolation,” of course, referred to the pervasive, segregated barrios found throughout the metropolitan region, such as the two most iconic, Boyle Heights and East Los Angeles. In the early 1960s open discussion of progress seemingly belied pervasive discrimination, continued political neglect, stifling poverty, and lack of access to educational and health resources. Colonias, such as those found in and around El Monte, remained working-­ class communities even as suburbs began to encircle them more closely during the 1950s housing boom. But upward mobility was not an aberration; Mexican Americans made significant inroads in suburban Los Angeles from the 1950s through the 1960s. Montenegro witnessed both discrimination and success in surrounding cities. “After many years,” Montenegro asserted in 1964, “the Mexican-­Americans have made gains in the city of Monterey Park, Montebello, Pico Rivera, Alhambra, and the City of Commerce. Not because the members of the majority opened their hearts, but because the Mexican-­Americans opened their wallets.”92 Suburban Los Angeles became a stage upon which the Mexican American struggle for full citizenship played out. The residential Mexican Americans and the Suburban Ideal  73

expansion beyond the confines of urban barrios into federally subsidized tract developments between 1950 and 1965 was driven by an ideal that embraced decent housing as a right. In the complicated racial milieu of postwar Los Angeles, Mexican Americans faced halting and uneven progress in their pursuit of the suburban good life, but they took the lessons from these encounters and advocated for housing equality for themselves and their community.93 The collective push into the suburbs not only changed the demography of the metropolitan region, it also changed the ethnic and cultural spaces of metropolitan Los Angeles by opening a new range of housing options. Those who moved into suburbs such as Pico Rivera, San Gabriel, Rosemead, and Covina sought to establish themselves as good neighbors, as well as supporters of ethnic Mexican concerns. Political activity at the local level was aimed at protecting the gains made by Mexican Americans in suburban spaces, but also at furthering access for the collective group.

74  In Search of the Mexican Beverly Hills

3 El MAPA to the Suburban Ideal

For Mexican Americans in southern California the 1950s was marked by continued segregation, renewed battles over immigration and citizenship, crises in culture and identity, and strident efforts to make good on the American dream of suburban homeownership. Waves of development across the metropolitan landscape introduced greater access to affluence for working people. Although Mexican Americans enjoyed uneven acceptance into the suburban good life, they nevertheless channeled political energy into preserving and expanding those hard-­won opportunities. This activism took form in municipal elections, community organizations, and fair housing advocacy. With state and national political positions seemingly out of reach, organizers and community groups sought to establish themselves in independent incorporated cities. This suburban constituency fused grassroots movements with municipal elections, and San Gabriel Valley and Southeastern Los Angeles County suburbs became battlegrounds for housing and education rights as people migrated into planned subdivisions. They held fast to the memory of political disenfranchisement and seized opportunities, even if still limited, to represent their community interests on suburban city councils. In addition, as in other former citrus regions, Mexican Americans found a niche in municipal politics that had mostly evaded them in the city of Los Angeles proper. The Democratic Party headed by Franklin D. Roosevelt attracted minority support for its policies aimed at improving 75

access to employment and improved housing.1 Among the Mexican Americans who became politicized in this period was Eduardo Quevedo, a transplant from New Mexico with no formal education. He ran unsuccessfully for city council in 1938, but went on to chair El Congreso de Los Pueblos Que Hablan Español and served as a member of the LA Democratic Council, as well as the LA Democratic Advisory Committee. Likewise, Manuel Ruiz chaired the Citizens’ Committee for Latin American Youth and formed the Coordinating Council for Latin American Youth, both of which sought to address the unique problems of barrio kids by offering programs aimed at keeping them out of gangs. Edward Roybal transcended city and regional boundaries and emerged as the leading elected official for Mexican American concerns. Like Quevedo, he was a native of New Mexico; he had moved to Los Angeles with this family at an early age. In 1949 Roybal became the first elected Mexican American city council member in Los Angeles since the nineteenth century.2 As one of the principal founders of the CSO, he influenced its direction. Through his strong leadership on social justice issues, Roybal gave the Mexican American community a voice in city politics in the critical postwar decades. He also inspired grassroots activists well beyond the city’s boundaries. In response to the resurgence of anti-­immigrant legislation embodied in the McCarran-­Walter Immigration Act of 1952 and through Operation Wetback in 1953, Mexican American advocacy groups began to place an emphasis on naturalization and voter registration. The CSO, which had placed no citizenship restrictions on membership since its inception, was coordinating a program of 450 citizenship classes throughout California by 1955. These proved so successful that within a year and a half the group reported five thousand graduates, and by 1960 it claimed a role in helping more than forty thousand earn US citizenship.3 This orientation toward citizenship translated into the pursuit of greater political representation. In January 1958 the California Democratic Council (CDC) announced its slate of candidates to challenge the Republican-­ controlled state government.4 The relatively unknown Enrique 76  In Search of the Mexican Beverly Hills

“Hank” Lopez, a Mexican American attorney from East Los Angeles, garnered the party endorsement for secretary of state over the highly favored John Anson Ford, who had relinquished his post as Los Angeles County supervisor for the third district to run for the post. In addition, Roybal faced Ernest Debs for Ford’s vacated seat. In a decade when Mexicans suffered the injustice of Operation Wetback and political witch hunts that resulted in the deportation of stalwart union activists Luisa Moreno, Josefina Fierro de Bright, and Frank Davila, both Roybal and Lopez represented a glimmer of hope that Mexican Americans might finally break into the political mainstream and advance more progressive positions in support of the community.5 Despite his underdog status, Lopez and his allies skillfully mobilized delegates around a platform for minority representation at the state level, and he easily won the nomination for secretary of state. The defeat left Ford and his supporters stunned. Although Lopez’s triumph suggested progress on behalf of the state party, the possibility of his victory in the general election did not sit well with entrenched Democrats. Ford supporters aired their frustrations in the weeks following the CDC convention. One such backer, Aldrich Blake, wrote in a letter to Ford, “It saddens me to read this morning that you had been beaten by a Mexican attorney. I have no doubt he is a capable person, but it just seemed to me that probably you were sacrificed on the altar of political expediency. . . . [A]fter your life-­ long espousal of the rights of minorities, I thought this rather an ungrateful thing. It made me more devoutful [sic] thankful than ever that in this country we still have white supremacy.”6 This represented one type of response to the efforts by the CDC to appeal to Mexican American voters. In a similar vein, K. Wallace Longshore, a delegate from the 24th Congressional District of California, assured Ford that had party members known that a Lopez victory was possible, delegates “would certainly have been busier than bees” to ensure a Ford nomination.7 Another Ford supporter offered the consolation that “the name of your opponent will of itself defeat him [in the general election]. So have no regrets.”8 El MAPA to the Suburban Ideal  77

Ford similarly aired his dismay over Lopez’s “frank bid for recognition of minorities” in a letter to a friend: To have supported Hank Lopez to emphasize the party stand for civil rights is a bit of sophistry. Not only is my record on this point officially and publicly 100% in accord with all the party stands for, but—and this should be a major consideration to one who wants to be a practical idealist—my stand on civil rights is known far and wide—much more widely than Hank’s position could possibly be known. In a sense I have officially personified this very issue.9

Ford’s indignation was partially justified. His record showed that he had supported youth programs for children of color; publicly demonstrated remorse for Japanese internment; and served on the County Commission for Human Relations, which monitored complaints about racial discrimination. On the other hand, he had also supported an expansion of Mexican repatriation programs and failed to throw his influence behind Lopez in the general election.10 Similarly, CDC leaders Edmund “Pat” Brown, the Democratic candidate for governor, and Jess Unruh openly refused to campaign for Lopez, believing a Mexican American politician stood zero chance of winning a statewide office.11 Roybal’s race for supervisor similarly promised to expand the progressive politician’s influence in the metropolis, given that the diverse district included downtown, Boyle Heights, Montebello, Bell, Maywood, Hollywood, and Wilshire district, as well as Silverlake and Echo Park. Opposite Debs, whose pro-­growth position seemed at odds with many residents still reeling over the Chavez Ravine and Bunker Hill urban renewal projects, Roybal appeared to be the logical choice for the position. Unfortunately his campaign lacked party support despite his previous success in building the CSO, a multiracial coalition that had ushered him onto the city council less than a decade earlier. Moreover, his seat on the city council was hotly contested between African American and Mexican American voters. Gilbert Lindsay entered the runoff with 78  In Search of the Mexican Beverly Hills

Richard Tafoya, an aide to unpopular mayor Sam Yorty and the only Mexican American candidate with a realistic shot at gaining the seat. The election swung Lindsay’s way largely because Boyle Heights and the Latino Eastside looked much different than they had when Roybal was first elected. In an interview with political scholar Kenneth C. Burt, Richard Tafoya attributed his defeat to displacement of Mexican American voters by freeway construction and urban renewal programs and the subsequent move to the suburbs of both Mexican Americans and Jews: “Mexican Americans went into Pico Rivera, Whittier, and Montebello. The Jewish population which was very liberal and which could have voted for a Mexican, moved out. Who moved in? Mexicans from Mexico, primarily, who didn’t vote.”12 Democrats won the day in November 1958, as they nearly swept the statewide election; Lopez was the lone exception, losing a close race to the Republican incumbent Frank Jordan. According to Bert Corona, a veteran labor organizer and founding member of the Mexican American Political Association (MAPA), Lopez’s campaign suffered from a lack of institutional support, evinced by his travels up and down California in his “broken-­down old car” and with little money.13 Years later Ford reiterated that he would have garnered more votes than Lopez. In a letter to Quevedo, Ford wrote: “The mistake in endorsing Hank Lopez, was not in your desire to get official recognition; rather, you who supported Hank did not realize how strong and how widely known the Republican opponent [Frank Jordan] was.” He continued, “I certainly had demonstrated my friendship and support of the Mexican people. I would have gotten many more votes than Hank, tho [sic] I cannot say positively that I would have won.”14 Equally disappointing was Roybal’s electoral defeat. In a race marred by accusations of dirty tricks and voter intimidation, the Boyle Heights–based councilman fell shy of a supervisor position. Both the Democratic Party’s abandonment of Lopez’s campaign and the controversy swirling around the Roybal race provided enough impetus to create a political organization aimed at Mexican American representation. Veteran labor and political organizers, El MAPA to the Suburban Ideal  79

politicians, and business owners channeled postelection bitterness and resentment into the development of MAPA.15 Designed as a nonpartisan coalition aimed at improving Mexican American representation in elected positions at every level of government, MAPA served as a bulwark against voter exploitation and manipulation by both major parties.16 The organizers also envisioned it as a vehicle to address local issues, as well as to take an active role in voter education.17 Despite its ubiquity in the 1960s, inconsistent leadership and its electoral failures in major cities compromised the organization’s success on a broader level.18 However, when viewed at the suburban municipal level, its legacy lies in the formation of local political networks. “Community issues and electoral politics were two sides of the same coin,” Corona explained. “While elections came around every two years or so, community issues went on all year round.”19 MAPA held tremendous potential for bringing meaningful change and political power to ethnic Mexican communities in suburban and rural areas rather than in large cities like Los Angeles because they forged alliances with white liberals.20 In January 1958 residents from the two independent communities of Pico and Rivera in unincorporated eastern Los Angeles County went to the polls to decide on city incorporation. The proposed city covered an 8.5-­square-­mile swath of land between Rio Hondo and San Gabriel River and promised home, community, and security to its nearly fifty-­two thousand residents. Cityhood passed by a narrow margin, 4,190 to 3,529.21 John Todd took a post as city attorney for Pico Rivera after it incorporated in January 1958. As Lakewood’s former city attorney and a member of the Lakewood Chamber of Commerce, Todd fulfilled Pico Rivera’s need for someone experienced specifically in suburban politics. The connection to Lakewood became tighter with the hiring of Mary Simmons as city clerk pro tem for Pico Rivera; she had served as deputy city clerk for the city of Lakewood prior to accepting the position in Pico Rivera. The duo’s experience in crafting the Lakewood Plan undoubtedly led to Pico Rivera City Council’s decision to hire them to contract services through the county government, 80  In Search of the Mexican Beverly Hills

such as fire, police, and animal control, among other services.22 Although the election only drew approximately 52 percent of eligible voters, Pico Rivera’s incorporation provided a place that enabled Mexican Americans to exercise a hybrid political identity as both suburban homeowners and members of a racial minority. Louis R. Diaz, a former UCLA student, became an important member of the Mexican American community in Pico Rivera. His earlier experiences directing the Variety Boys Club in his native Boyle Heights, which offered after-­school activities, field trips, and athletics to neighborhood youths, instilled in him a commitment to public service.23 He was a first in two respects. Not only was he elected to the first city council of Pico Rivera in 1958, but he was also the first in a long line of Mexican American council members and mayors. Diaz’s youth, energy, and position gained him recognition from political heavyweights early on. He accompanied Roybal to important public events and on one occasion supported Roybal’s motion in the Los Angeles City Council to investigate former Los Angeles police chief William H. Parker for racist comments. Parker’s claim that despite their historical roots in California, some “­aren’t far removed from the wild tribes of Mexico” elicited a rebuke from Roybal and introduced Diaz as an up-­and-­coming leader.24 Diaz parlayed his popularity into a leadership role with the Viva Kennedy Clubs in 1960. Serving as a Southern California coordinator, Diaz occupied a position on the executive board and organized important campaign activities for John F. Kennedy in Mexican American communities throughout the region.25 In South El Monte, Joe Vargas championed conservative causes and offers a glimpse into the ways that local political divergences within Mexican American suburban constituencies led to larger tensions across the metropolis. Unlike Louis Diaz and Frank Terrazas in Pico Rivera, both committed liberal politicians, Vargas adopted a set of beliefs that shunned ethnic politics proper and instead promoted an ideal of individual hard work as the means to end racial discrimination. Reflecting on his arrival in El Monte in 1927, Vargas recalled that segregation between whites El MAPA to the Suburban Ideal  81

and ethnic Mexicans impeded collective progress. “You couldn’t go to the same clubs,” Vargas remembered, “You couldn’t sit in the same aisles in the movies. They had someone to segregate you. You couldn’t live where you wished to live. The Real Estate Board and the feeling of the Anglo community saw to it that you would be allocated to a certain area.” Vargas also recalled a confrontation he had with a bar owner in El Monte who displayed a sign that read “No Mexicans Allowed.” In the confrontation, Vargas threatened to sue the owner if he refused to remove the sign. His threat prompted the bar owner to call the sheriff.26 Vargas’s family was relatively wealthy, and he himself owned a couple of dance halls and a large walnut ranch in South El Monte before the city incorporated in 1958. Vargas took public office at the outset of South El Monte’s cityhood and remained in power well into the 1970s. His public office and political stances on various issues were at times contradictory and did not follow neatly with white conservatives. As the only Mexican American public official in a burgeoning San Gabriel Valley suburb, his voice and representation for ethnic Mexican community affairs became more important as the years passed. He adopted civil rights rhetoric and spoke out on the problems that beset ethnic Mexican communities in South El Monte. Despite his claims that conservative values best represented the needs of Mexican Americans broadly, Vargas later became a significant opponent of fair housing in California. In the 1960 presidential election between John F. Kennedy and Richard M. Nixon, MAPA drew on its expanded municipal political base to enter national politics. The Nixon campaign refused to appeal to Mexican American voters, which gave Democrats an opening that they quickly recognized.27 Viva Kennedy promoted the Massachusetts senator in barrios and colonias across the Southwest with the goal of gaining lifelong party members. Activists from both Texas and California provided a solid southwestern base as the American GI Forum contributed leadership and grassroots support.28 In recognition of their crucial roles in founding MAPA, Hank Lopez secured a leadership position overseeing the direction of Viva Kennedy throughout thirteen states, 82  In Search of the Mexican Beverly Hills

while Edward Roybal assumed the position of California state director. Together CSO and MAPA coordinated efforts to register voters and steer community education.29 Lopez described the early formation of the clubs as simply a matter of a short-­term name change from MAPA to Viva Kennedy. Indeed, his connections throughout the state made it easy to call on the support of local MAPA chapters for the Kennedy campaign.30 These local efforts validated the organization among Mexican American community members and Democratic Party leaders.31 In 1962, when Diaz quit the Pico Rivera City Council to lead a Peace Corps contingent through Latin America, Frank Terrazas took his seat. Terrazas was born in El Paso, Texas, in 1913, just days after his mother crossed the Rio Grande, fleeing from Pancho Villa because his father, the chief engineer of the water department in Ciudád Juárez, had shut down the water and electricity so Villa’s forces could not establish camp.32 The family eventually left El Paso and settled in Boyle Heights. Terrazas graduated from Garfield High School and later worked as a salesman around the eastern Los Angeles county region. He recalled frequenting parties in Pico’s citrus suburbs when he was young. “It was a saint’s day of somebody, or somebody got baptized,” he said. “[For] some reason or another there was always a party down there among all the orange pickers.”33 Terrazas’s interest in politics began at an early age when he actively campaigned in 1928 for Democratic presidential candidate Alfred E. Smith, a Catholic politician from New York who ran against Republican Herbert Hoover.34 Whether he had developed an attachment to the place or simply found the housing affordable, Terrazas moved to the Pico Rivera area in 1950 and never left. His job at Lockheed afforded him the opportunity to live in the newly developed suburbs. He began his public career in 1962 as a city council member in Pico Rivera, where he held the distinction of being the second Mexican American on the city council since the city’s founding. As a lifelong Democrat and suburban homeowner, Terrazas’s political views reflected a firm belief that the purpose of government is to serve the people, regardless of race.35 Elected on the strength of a El MAPA to the Suburban Ideal  83

Fig. 4. “Students from El Rancho High School—Pico Rivera City Hall.” Frank Terrazas (back row, second from left) represented the local voice of Mexican Americans throughout the 1960s and 1970s. Courtesy of Pico Rivera History and Heritage Society.

biracial coalition, Terrazas balanced the dual role of speaking on behalf of Mexican Americans while working for the city at large. Early on in his tenure, Terrazas faced a significant challenge to his middleman position. A September 1962 race riot at Pioneer High School in neighboring Whittier drew the city of Pico Rivera into a political firestorm. On a daily basis hundreds of students crossed a footbridge that spanned the San Gabriel River to go to class. Tensions had been simmering since the beginning of the fall semester as the demographic changes that were sweeping across the metropolis led to small outbursts of hostility in neighborhood schools. Pioneer’s student body profile reflected the working-­and lower middle-­class neighborhoods that surrounded the school, with a majority of white students and a sizable minority of ethnic Mexican students. At the conclusion of classes on September 21, 125 students converged at the bridge, and fighting broke out between white and ethnic Mexican students. Fifty-­two Los Angeles County sheriff ’s deputies deployed from the Pico Rivera 84  In Search of the Mexican Beverly Hills

substation arrived on the scene and ordered students to disperse. Ultimately, thirty-­seven teenagers and two mothers were arrested and charged with inciting a riot and refusal to disperse. None of those arrested were white. The onlooking crowd of students taunted and jeered as the sheriff ’s deputies led the suspects away.36 Charges of racism and police brutality put city officials and law enforcement on the defensive and brought out the underlying racial divisions existent in the small suburban city. Both the CMAA and the Pico Rivera chapter of the American GI Forum held open meetings at which attendees spoke out against police brutality and racism. Representatives from the CMAA and the GI Forum met with Frank Terrazas and decided that an organized protest should be submitted to the city council. Frank Macias, the GI Forum representative, charged that “the situation was not only aggravated by the action of the police, but was probably ignited and started by them.”37 Police brutality in LA Mexican communities unequivocally marked Mexican Americans as racialized “others” in US society and as a result facilitated the construction of a cohesive political identity.38 In 1960s suburban Los Angeles, excessive police force revealed community divisions over questions of race, class, and citizenship. Elected Mexican Americans risked their credibility in the barrio as sellouts, or in the white community as biased, based on their public response to such incidents. Claims of impartiality rang hollow in the politically charged atmosphere of the city, and the collective identity that began to emerge in suburban barrios evolved out of stark class divisions in the community. In Pico Rivera, elected officials’ attempts to preserve order exacerbated class tensions and strained group unity by siding with the police. Louis Diaz publicly defended the deputies’ actions and concluded that race did not appear to be a significant factor in the arrests of the teens and their mothers.39 Diaz at the time was no longer on the council, but remained a person of distinction in the community; his failure to come out strongly against the actions of the sheriff ’s deputies angered many. Likewise, Terrazas agreed with Diaz that race was not a motivating factor in the arrests.40 El MAPA to the Suburban Ideal  85

Both Diaz’s and Terrazas’s tepid responses to the incident reveal a unique challenge that Mexican American elected officials faced in the suburbs. These councilpersons and mayors occupied a middle space in municipal governments, as their loyalties were divided between their ethnic constituents and their non-­Mexican voters. Although these elected officials remained overwhelmingly liberal and voted Democratic, barrio residents ultimately judged them based on their ability to improve conditions for the group. Small city councils served as springboards to higher office.41 In 1962 Phil Soto, a small businessman and councilmember of La Puente, and John “King” Moreno, a teacher and mayor of Santa Fe Springs, each won a state assembly seat in a newly created district without an incumbent.42 These victories resulted from the organizational vision of MAPA as chapters proliferated across the state, especially in state assembly districts inhabited by large populations of Mexican Americans.43 In January 1964 Carta Editorial—a periodical that reported on Mexican American activities, communities, policy issues, and news—cited the organization’s hidden success in suburban settings. Pointing specifically at Alameda County in Northern California, the San Fernando Valley, and Irwindale in the San Gabriel Valley, the authors made a more general claim that “this is probably to be expected, since the greater cohesion of the smaller Mexican-­American communities probably makes group identification and therefore, organization, an easier task.”44 One of the characteristics that made the group successful was that members regularly responded to perceived discrimination in housing and in the workplace. In Irwindale, for example, MAPA members employed by Permanente Cement Company requested an investigation into discrimination against Mexican American employees. Workers charged that the trucking company paid these workers less than other employees despite their union membership and that the company offered the bulk of work hours to white drivers. Permanente Cement had federal and state contracts for construction projects, which subjected the company to Fair Employment Practices Commission guidelines in hiring and employment.45 86  In Search of the Mexican Beverly Hills

MAPA members also responded forcefully to housing concerns. In 1964 Pico Rivera City Council member Orlyn Culp anticipated a substantial profit from a proposed upgrade to property he owned in the former colonia of Pico Viejo in the northwest corner of Pico Rivera. Culp owned a dairy farm and several other properties in an area that the city had rezoned in 1962 for the “redevelopment of blighted areas” and construction of multiple-­family dwellings.46 Culp’s neighbor, Maria Aguirre, became the lead claimant in a lawsuit filed against the city on behalf of the residents of the Pico Viejo colonia. Although Aguirre described herself at the time as mostly apolitical, “just a good housewife, cleaning, and [committed to] my family . . . my own little world, a good housewife, that was it, nothing else,” she was thrust into a political battle that would change the course of her life.47 At the behest of Pico Viejo community members, Aguirre took the lead role and helped organize a MAPA chapter to launch a lawsuit against the city.48 To raise funds for legal fees, Aguirre and her allies arranged dances in the local United Auto Workers union hall on Rosemead Boulevard. At these dances, members sold food donated by local restaurants, individuals, and companies to augment their legal fund.49 The effort reached beyond the tiny neighborhood of Pico Viejo, as the dances suggest. Aguirre’s assertion that even the people from the “southside” (middle-­class, suburban homeowners) helped in the effort shows that ethnic Mexicans across the suburb recognized the pervasive threat Pico Viejo redevelopment posed to Mexican American suburban homeownership writ large. The plaintiffs in Aguirre, Lujan v. Pico Rivera (1965) emerged victorious, as the judge struck down the planned expansion of condos and apartments on Aguirre’s land. Building on its success in municipal battles, MAPA increased in size and influence despite the loose regulation of chapter formation. Carta Editorial carried a story about the March 1964 convention, at which a quarrel broke out among the membership concerning the endorsement for Los Angeles district attorney. A flood of new members from Pomona and Compton tilted support toward Evelle J. Younger, a staunch conservative with a military El MAPA to the Suburban Ideal  87

record who was once described by a political rival as being as exciting as a “mashed potato sandwich.”50 Prior to the influx of new delegates, support for the position had leaned toward Vincent S. Dalsimer, a member of the first city council of Bellflower when it incorporated in 1956 and a career jurist.51 As Carta observed, these new members “seemed ill-­at-­ease in the convention, and for many it was obviously their first time at a political meeting.”52 It was the largest endorsing convention to date for the Southern California region and clearly articulated the mounting political prowess of the Mexican American electorate. The newsletter cautioned the organization to be mindful of growth, stating that new members must be instructed on the workings of the organization so that they could become individual thinkers within the group; “now that they are in MAPA they need to be welcomed and helped to learn about the organization, its history, and its objectives.”53 In 1962 Roybal led an effort to enforce fair housing practices in residential rentals and sales within city boundaries. Roybal’s multiracial 9th District embodied the outcomes of housing segregation throughout the metropolitan region, as the postwar housing shortage and prevalent discrimination swelled the minority population of the district. Speaking about the bill, Roybal ensured MAPA’s full support because, as he stated, “Mexican-­Americans have a stake in fair housing here, too.”54 Roybal’s personal experience with housing discrimination made him particularly aware of the obstacles racialized minorities faced in their attempts to secure decent housing.55 Likewise, Dionicio Morales, a board member for the CMAA, reported that he had received twenty-­nine reports of discrimination aimed at Mexican American home buyers.56 Community activists responded to such discrimination by launching collective efforts to desegregate Los Angeles area housing. The Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) oversaw a multiracial effort dubbed “Operation Windowshop” that identified racist real estate agents and landlords. The campaign deployed African American, Mexican American, and Asian American decoy home seekers on 23 and 24 June 1962 to suspected exclusionary areas with instructions to identify property owners who denied fair housing to people 88  In Search of the Mexican Beverly Hills

of color.57 CORE and fair housers alike linked property rights to basic human rights and sought to increase pressure on local, state, and federal governments to enforce nondiscriminatory laws. Decades-­ long efforts to reverse discrimination in housing seemed to pay off in 1963 when the California State Legislature passed into law a fair housing bill sponsored by State Assemblyman Byron Rumford. The Rumford Fair Housing Act mandated nondiscrimination in California’s private housing market. Although the legislation was seen primarily as a way to advance African American suburban homeownership, Mexican American organizations quickly embraced its protective measures as well as the opportunities it represented.58 A groundswell of opposition emerged almost immediately after the act was passed. Set in motion by the California Real Estate Association (CREA) in 1964, an initiative to repeal the Rumford Act materialized into Proposition 14. The CREA and the California Apartment Owners’ Association organized under the banner of the Committee for Home Protection (CHP) to carry out the campaign against Rumford. The public discourse on Proposition 14 centered on homeowners’ rights, as CHP misrepresented the Rumford bill as an oppressive measure to force white homeowners to accept racial minorities into their neighborhoods.59 Rumford Act supporters organized quickly in response to rumblings of a ballot measure to strike down fair housing legislation. In January 1964 the NAACP and CORE protested outside regional CREA meetings that were discussing the Rumford Act in Pomona, Monterey Park, Van Nuys, Westwood, and Pasadena.60 Mexican American activists began to drum up opposition to the pending ballot measure. MAPA and the CMAA opposed Proposition 14 in recognition that it would block generations of potential Mexican American homeowners from suburban residence. Focused on the disjuncture between American freedom and individual segregationist mentalities, these organizations joined with nearly every minority civil rights organization, the Democratic Party, and progressive whites to block its passage.61 In a 1964 MAPA Southern Region newsletter, attorney Frank Muñoz, who lived in the suburb El MAPA to the Suburban Ideal  89

of La Puente, railed against misguided or deceitful, community leaders who failed to recognize Proposition 14’s potentially harmful impact on residential equality. “Recent events indicate that many Mexican Americans do not understand the threat that passage on Prop. 14 would pose to vital interests of our Community,” he argued. “No one can deny that for years Mexican-­Americans in California have for years suffered [sic] from the effects of prejudice and discrimination.” Muñoz continued to explain how protective legislation such as the Fair Employment Practices Commission, the Unruh Civil Rights Act, and the Rumford Act stood to be stricken from the record if the California electorate voted Proposition 14 into state law. Muñoz also refuted the idea that both the Rumford Act and Proposition 14 solely spoke to the state of racial affairs between white and black homeowners. Rather, the issue of fair housing was a ubiquitous concern for all racialized groups in California, especially Mexican Americans. “For a Mexican-­ American organization, supposedly interested in the welfare of the Community, to come out in favor of Prop. 14,” Muñoz proclaimed, “is nothing short of betrayal. MAPA is unequivocally opposed to Proposition 14.”62 The idea that Proposition 14 directly threatened Mexican American homeowners and potential homeowners was echoed by a number of activists and community leaders. Salvador Montenegro, who founded a committee of East Los Angeles realtors and real estate agents who opposed the measure, argued that it would “hit most sharply at Mexican Americans and other minority races and religions.”63 Despite calls for a united opposition, some Mexican Americans supported Proposition 14. Republicans like Joseph Vargas from South El Monte vigorously campaigned for its passage, and the Mexican Chamber of Commerce likewise rallied its members in a vote to support the proposition. Carta Editorial blasted the chamber, calling its actions “stupid” and uninformed. “Composed mainly of immigrant shopkeepers, without a vote,” Carta charged, “the Mexican Chamber of Commerce of Los Angeles took it upon itself to recommend to the Mexican-­Americans that they support the discrimination initiative.” Carta then highlighted 90  In Search of the Mexican Beverly Hills

that the action did not even originate from a Mexican American member, but from a “Cuban doctor.” The editorial closed with a call for members to overturn their support of discrimination and for the resignation of the chamber president.64 Almost overnight, the Mexican Chamber of Commerce held an emergency meeting at the Alexandria Hotel in downtown Los Angeles to reconsider its position. The group overrode its previous vote to endorse Proposition 14 and instead changed its stance to neutrality. The move was hardly an inspired opposition to the initiative, but Manuel Sanz, spokesperson for the chamber, declared that endorsing the initiative ran counter to the chamber’s by-­laws, adding that “it was immoral for us to endorse something like that, especially since Mexican Americans have been discriminated against for so many years.”65 Sanz felt that the endorsement meeting had been hijacked by right-­wing ideologues, charging that “one Cuban refugee, and several other people, obviously misled voters to endorse it” in his absence and over his previous objections.66 The aftermath of the chamber’s decision revealed clear tensions between Mexican Americans and immigrants, as well as a widespread lack of understanding among Mexican Americans about the proposition’s potential outcomes. Two months before the election, researchers Jesús Chavarría and Richard Maullin conducted a survey in Mexican American neighborhoods in Boyle Heights and Monterey Park. They concluded that Mexican Americans lacked fundamental knowledge about the potential effects of Proposition 14 on their lives. Nearly 76 percent of working-­class respondents and 53 percent of middle-­class respondents had no knowledge of the proposition and thus failed to understand how its passage could potentially limit their future residential options. In Monterey Park, an area that became home to many Mexican Americans in the 1950s and 1960s, 52 percent did not know whether the Rumford Fair Housing Act helped them or not, 24 percent believed it did help, and 24 percent felt it had no impact on their living conditions. The most valid conclusions the researchers could draw were that a general feeling of discrimination still existed in the Mexican American community and that El MAPA to the Suburban Ideal  91

Spanish-­language media factored heavily into voter education.67 Leaders in the Mexican American campaign against Proposition 14 attempted to reverse the lack of voter understanding by connecting cultural events to the “no on 14” camp. The Mexican American committee of Californians Against Proposition (CAP) 14, American GI Forum, CSO, League of United Latin American Citizens, and MAPA cosponsored a float to appear in the annual Mexican Independence parade as it traveled through the Chicano Eastside with the slogan “Vote No On Proposition 14” emblazoned on each side. Organizers sought to “dramatically illustrate [the Mexican American] people’s united stand against the housing discrimination that Proposition 14 seeks to unleash on [the] community.”68 The public displays of opposition to Proposition 14 also took flyer form, as CAP 14 began to distribute leaflets directed at Mexican American voters. Reminding them that “It is your fight too,” the poster issued an implicit reminder that Mexican Americans were subject to racism just like African Americans and Asian Americans.69 Although ongoing public lectures and debates about the ballot initiative failed to reach the majority of the Mexican American electorate, many had committed themselves to its defeat. Speaking at a public debate hosted by the CMAA at the International Institute in Boyle Heights on 19 March 1964, Montenegro delivered a powerful statement against the initiative, pointing out the ways that suburban homeownership engendered and enabled housing discrimination.70 “The bigots have not disappeared,” he insisted, “they have just moved further out.”71 Montenegro relayed several stories of discrimination against ethnic Mexicans in middle-­class suburban housing. In 1963 the owners of a home in West San Gabriel refused to sell to Manuel Hidalgo, a Mexican American attorney, because he was “undesirable.” Likewise, in Alhambra in 1964 a local realtor threatened to remove real estate agent Anthony Sandoval’s listings if he allowed the Mexican American clients he represented to purchase a home in an exclusive neighborhood.72 Montenegro directly challenged the conservative proponent of Proposition 14, Joseph Vargas, to defend his position in support of discriminatory legislation by posing a hypothetical 92  In Search of the Mexican Beverly Hills

scenario. Unable to purchase a home in San Marino in the near future, Montenegro’s son asks why he has experienced discrimination. In his fictive response, Montenegro tells his son that he tried to stop Proposition 14 and similar discriminatory measures but ultimately lost the struggle. He then turned to Vargas and asked, “What will your answer be should your son approach you with the same question?”73 Montenegro concluded with a missive that addressed the multilayered consequences of the proposition for Mexican Americans, stating clearly that a vote for the initiative equated to an endorsement of discrimination.74 Despite the vigorous efforts by grassroots activists such as Montenegro, Mexican Americans grew frustrated with the Democratic Party’s inability to respond meaningfully to their concerns, particularly in metropolitan Los Angeles. One example of the Democratic leadership’s blunders was the general strategy to defeat the proposition. Pundits at the time painted the proposition as a black-­and-­white issue that marginalized ethnic Mexicans and Asian Americans. Carta editors called the party on this error by pointing out that supporters of the proposition were making more effective use of the Spanish-­language media in Los Angeles. The miscalculation of the Democratic Party and the opponents of the proposition resided in their neglect of Spanish-­language media to spread the word against the latent racism inherent in the proposition. It was a case of their either taking Mexican votes for granted again or lacking the analytical ability to piece together the complicated fabric of postwar racial relations. CAP 14 decided that the potential funds allocated to combat the initiative through the Spanish-­language media would be better spent in other places rather than on Spanish radio. It was only in the final weeks leading up to the November election that Mexican American community activists such as Eduardo Quevedo, president of Channel 34 at the time, began to take the campaign against 14 to the airwaves.75 These hastily prepared, last-­ditch efforts failed to convince enough voters to deny the initiative and pointed to the lack of communication between CAP 14 organizers and Mexican American activists. El MAPA to the Suburban Ideal  93

Proposition 14 passed by a significant margin statewide, 4,526,460 “yes” votes to 2,395,747 “no” votes.76 In Montebello, Monterey Park, Norwalk, and Pico Rivera the initiative won by better than a two-­to-­one margin.77 It is unclear whether more concerted opposition by Mexican Americans would have produced a different outcome, but the defeat left a bitter taste that contributed to a more militant political space. Opponents of Proposition 14 immediately contested the constitutionality of its provisions. Both the California State Supreme Court in 1966 and the US Supreme Court in 1967 declared that Proposition 14 contradicted the equal protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the US Constitution, so it was never implemented, but the racial discourses surrounding the campaign left an indelible mark on the social and political culture of California. Supporters of Proposition 14 shielded themselves from charges of racism by deploying a language of racial innocence. Proponents held that they were driven by a populist sentiment to protect homeowners’ rights and property rather than by racism.78 As many Mexican American homeowners negotiated a dual identity of suburban homeowner and member of a minority, the language of property rights and equality resonated profoundly. For ethnic Mexican opponents to Proposition 14, the fallout from the campaign contributed to a growing resentment and militancy in the barrios among ethnic Mexicans who felt shunned by mainstream politics. Despite Sal Montenegro’s appointment by Governor Pat Brown to participate on the bipartisan commission to amend the Rumford Act, Mexican Americans understood that their political position in California was tenuous at best.79 MAPA also provided a vehicle for changing local political machinery by institutionalizing the Mexican American vote and throwing support behind candidates with community-­ inspired perspectives. In a 1965 local election for the El Rancho Unified School District in Pico Rivera, MAPA-­ supported candidates Henry Alonzo and Tony Sanchez both unseated white incumbents. The local newspaper reported an unusually high number of votes emerging from the Pico Viejo neighborhood, where Aguirre lived and actively organized the community.80 Perhaps because of 94  In Search of the Mexican Beverly Hills

their success in electing their chosen candidates, activists from the Pío Pico neighborhood continued to engage in political activity. They targeted the neighborhood schools, which they charged had failed to meet the needs of ethnic Mexican children. In June 1967 the El Rancho Unified School District in Pico Rivera attempted to convert the Pío Pico School from a graded to a nongraded format. The school board reasoned that Mexican American children, most of whom spoke Spanish, stood to benefit academically from an educational structure that eliminated age-­ determinant grade levels (i.e., first grade, second grade, etc.) and instead emphasized scholastic achievement at an individualized pace. In the nongraded structure, first through third grades are collapsed into one continuous progress plan, identified as “primary education.” Proponents of the nongraded system contended that educational atmosphere was improved by reducing pupils’ tensions and anxieties and individualizing the educational process, and that this arrangement made teachers more aware of individual student strengths and weaknesses.81 Parents in the Pío Pico School neighborhood balked at the idea of nongraded education for their children. They saw the idea as a way for the largely white staff to continue to alienate their children. Community members knew full well the failures of the neighborhood school to prepare children to compete academically at the primary level. Parents brought a petition to the El Rancho Unified School Board arguing that three generations of “non-­readers, children with low self-­status, [and] potential drop-­ outs that later [become] actual drop-­outs,” had cycled through the dysfunctional school; the school’s inadequacies rendered students “unprepared with non-­marketable skills and [unsatisfactory] college preparatory work.”82 Whether the school remained graded or transitioned into a nongraded curriculum made little difference to the parents; racist and ill-­trained faculty bore responsibility for the school’s failures. Parents demanded a complete personnel overhaul from the principal down to teachers, calling for the transfer and replacement of all staff who had “preconceived attitudes.” Only staff with nongraded school experience, the parents reasoned, El MAPA to the Suburban Ideal  95

would possess the ability to successfully oversee their students’ passage from primary education to middle school.83 A concurrent problem exacerbated the tensions between the Pío Pico residents and the school board. Maria Aguilar Burke, the school’s community relations specialist and trusted liaison on the parents’ behalf, had resigned from the school board in protest over the board’s dismissive attitude toward the parents and students of Pío Pico School. At the behest of the parents, she sought reinstatement, but the board denied her request. The rejection sparked outrage and charges of discrimination from the community.84 Burke’s absence from the board signaled a loss of decision-­making power for the community, and efforts to bring her back began. Burke was well known among the parents for her ability to bridge the cultural gap between the schools and households. As a Mexican American community member, Burke placed special importance on the achievement of children in Head Start. This War on Poverty (introduced in 1964) program aimed to provide comprehensive services to children from low-­income families and assisted them in their progress toward high school graduation. Burke’s commitment to the children in this program garnered the support of parents throughout the district for her attention to kids who might otherwise be forgotten. She also received glowing reports from her superiors. In one such evaluation, El Rancho Unified School District director of curriculum Jim Stafford wrote to Assistant Superintendent John E. Moore that “Maria Burke performed a valuable service as Parent Consultant.” He further noted that “I sat in on several of these discussions and I could tell quite readily that these sessions were informative and valuable for the mothers. The culmination meeting wherein Maria obtained noted speakers was particularly well-­conceived and executed.”85 Neither the district nor the parents who relied on her expertise could afford to have Aguilar Burke resign. More important, the children that Aguilar Burke worked with stood to suffer the most. Community members banded together to negotiate a reconciliation between Burke and the board members, but after repeated failed attempts to meet with the school board, parents organized 96  In Search of the Mexican Beverly Hills

the Ad Hoc Committee of Mexican Americans for Better Schools. Both the Los Angeles County superintendent of education and the county counsel blocked the meetings, citing a confidentiality agreement that forbade public discussions of faculty and administrators.86 The committee then sought out and secured assistance and support from MAPA and the American GI Forum. With this backing, the committee’s list of demands grew to include a reinstatement of Burke to her position as community relations specialist with a pay increase. Since the board refused to meet with the ad hoc committee in person, community members staged a protest outside the board meeting, carrying signs that read “De Facto Segregated schools in California? Yes, in Pico Rivera,” and “It’s un-­American to segregate, it’s happening in Pico Rivera.”87 Challenging the authority of the school board took a concerted organizational effort by leaders in both MAPA and the GI Forum, but the collective action of parents and concerned citizens points to a growing suburban consciousness. Identifying the actions of the school board as segregationist carried ideological and political weight in a suburb that was struggling with how to accept and incorporate its growing Mexican American population. Matilde C. Lujan, a representative for the ad hoc committee, commented in a local newspaper about community-­led protest, stating that the residents’ frustration was “based on the unmet needs unique and specific to this ‘de facto segregated school’ composed of an almost total Spanish surname student body.”88 The power of the protest stretched beyond the racial discourses of de facto segregation, however. Aguilar Burke and Lujan were ethnic Mexican women in politically powerful roles to challenge male-­ dominated school systems. Despite the historically large numbers of women in the kindergarten through high school teaching profession, men acted as the primary decision makers in Los Angeles–area schools. The parents’ protest in Pico Rivera on the surface embodied an attack on racial discrimination, but underneath was a power struggle against patriarchy. Aguilar Burke’s resignation, and the board’s subsequent refusal to allow her to rescind the action, grew out of the board’s El MAPA to the Suburban Ideal  97

refusal to take her seriously as an accomplished educator and administrator. She interpreted the board’s decision to block her from returning to her administrative post and to limit her solely to the classroom as an act of gender discrimination. Her replacement, Larry Sandoval, indicated further that the board knew very little about the daily interactions and parental needs that community liaisons were forced to meet. Burke then enlisted the assistance of the National Organization for Women (NOW) to bring suit against the school board for illegally naming Sandoval as successor and for gender discrimination.89 Mexican American women like Maria Aguirre and Maria Aguilar Burke thrived politically in suburban Los Angeles, mainly in grassroots efforts and school issues. As a political force, Mexican American women spearheaded grassroots efforts focused on community concerns and carried out significant movements to initiate change in neighborhood schools.90 The political energy created in suburban neighborhoods reverberated throughout the region. For example, Julian Nava’s election to the Los Angeles Board of Education in 1967 depended on the participation of politically active ethnic Mexicans from surrounding suburbs. Local MAPA chapters steered Nava’s campaign, with leaders like Bert Corona crafting strategies, organizing voter registration drives, and walking precincts with rank-­and-­ file members.91 Symbolically, Nava’s victory proved that Mexican Americans possessed the ability to unify for specific causes and effect electoral change. If they could do this in the city of Los Angeles, they could certainly do so in suburban areas with highly valuable state assembly districts, where many of the organizers in the Nava campaign lived.92 The Nava campaign also showcased the metropolitan nature of the effort to gain a big city position. Success depended on the vested involvement of politically active people from outside the city limits. Ignacio Lopez, the southern regional director of MAPA at the time and the longtime editor of El Espectador, who was overflowing with optimism following the Nava campaign, said, “If we work it right we have a good chance to get some of our people elected to the assembly next year.”93 Such hopes fell short of realization, as Mexican Americans continued to 98  In Search of the Mexican Beverly Hills

encounter problems with gerrymandering and backroom deals on the state level. By 1968 MAPA began to espouse a more pronounced grassroots ideology. Bert Corona’s guidance between 1966 and 1968 helped shift the organization toward a barrio-­suburban collaboration. His labor organizing background and his experience in the CSO grounded his policies and MAPA’s agenda in social justice and barrio improvement.94 The June 1968 MAPA convention was important for a number of reasons. First, it occurred in a presidential election year in which Robert F. Kennedy, a popular candidate in Mexican American communities across the Southwest, was pitted against Richard M. Nixon, a Whittier native and staunch conservative. Second, the conference took place in Pico Rivera, a city that by 1968 was a symbol of Mexican American upward mobility. In a letter to MAPA members and conference participants, Corona illustrated the expanded base of MAPA. “We are taking great pains to guarantee the fullest participation of grass-­roots and rank-­and-­file members in the deliberations of this convention,” he noted. “We are working to ensure the participation of college and ‘barrio’ youth, senior citizens, our women, our ‘barrio’ poor, and our Paisanos in Organized Labor.”95 While Corona’s letter certainly paid heed to the rumblings of discontent in barrios earlier that spring, the 1968 MAPA convention also placed Pico Rivera at the center of barrio politics. It is probably for this reason that Pico Rivera served as a launching pad for Bobby Kennedy’s tour through Chicano Los Angeles on 20 May 1968. The motorcade began on Passons Boulevard running north, then went west on Whittier Boulevard through Montebello, Monterey Park, and East Los Angeles. His convertible was mobbed on both sides by supporters, many of whom stood for hours awaiting his appearance. Children raced alongside his car, and adults seeking to shake Kennedy’s hand grabbed at the senator as his car crept along. Pico Rivera’s mayor, Frank Terrazas, and his family accompanied Kennedy for the duration of his ride through town. Terrazas later recalled that “a guy grabbed [Kennedy] by the tie and held on and the car is moving. He held onto him. He was El MAPA to the Suburban Ideal  99

almost choking to death, you know, and this fool holding on to Kennedy’s tie. Wouldn’t let him go. So he took the tie out and gave it to my daughter, who was in the front seat.”96 The overwhelmingly partisan crowd demonstrated both Kennedy’s success in speaking to Mexican American voters as well as the political diversity of the suburbs themselves. As a Democratic Party presidential candidate, Kennedy galvanized working-­class and middle-­class communities across the United States. High school and college students especially were a strong presence along the motorcade route. His youthful energy and good looks resonated with the youth, and his message of enhancing educational benefits for underserved communities, better housing for the poor, and a more sound fiscal policy appealed to many.97 Ophelia Lozano recalled, “I remember that we met him. . . . [H]e had one of those real big smiles; he was very friendly with us. . . . I think he affected a lot of us.”98 Bobby Kennedy’s motorcade tour through Pico Rivera was an important community event that resonated with everyday folks in town. John Adame recalled his brother’s excitement at having the opportunity to shake Kennedy’s hand while he was making his way west on Whittier Boulevard.99 Kennedy faced similar mob scenes in San Diego and the San Gabriel Valley.100 Little more than a month had passed since the Blow Outs in Eastside high schools and other predominantly Chicano schools across the country, in which Chicana and Chicano students had staged the largest protests to date against unequal education and racist teachers and administrators.101 The walkouts embodied the political engagement of Chicano youth, many of whom turned out to greet Kennedy enthusiastically along the motorcade route to East Los Angeles. Strong demonstrations of support for Democrats masked a growing conservative trend in suburban Mexican American communities. Republicans like Joseph Vargas clung to conservative fiscal and social values and saw themselves as defenders of the ethnic Mexican community. The rise of conservatism in suburban America has been well documented and is defined by a place-­ based political sensibility concerned with residential segregation, 100  In Search of the Mexican Beverly Hills

low income and high property taxes, free trade, local control over school politics, and anticommunism. Southern California was one axis of this rising conservative revolution that remade American politics and resonated throughout Mexican American suburbs as well.102 Suburban homeownership provided the critical link between white and Mexican conservatives. Collaboratively, they created a new cast of enemies to the suburban state: unwed mothers, illegal immigrants, and drug abusers. In a letter to Congressman Chester “Chet” Holifield in August 1970 (one day before the Chicano Moratorium march in East Los Angeles), a collection of conservative women sent a letter to Holifield chastising the welfare state. These residents of Montebello, Pico Rivera, Whittier, Norwalk, and Santa Fe Springs clamored for a change to existing welfare guidelines. In the letter they framed public assistance as a “burden on the taxpayer and the homeowner” that threatened the lives that they had worked so hard to achieve. Although the women acknowledged that some people legitimately required government assistance, such as the “blind, physically handicapped, or the aged,” they also detailed why “unwed mothers, divorcees, dope addicts . . . and aliens” did not deserve welfare assistance.103 This group also declared that in order to avoid abuse of the welfare system, “aliens of any country should not be allowed in our country if they have no means of support.”104 This group included a mix of both white and ethnic Mexican folks, and they joined a tradition of conservative grassroots organizing founded in Southern California.105 It was this grassroots political energy that helped to elect conservative Mexican American homeowners to local office. On the other side, Chicanos grew weary of electoral politics, believing it offered little in the way of true progress. Likewise, liberal Mexican Americans cast suspicious gazes at “radicals,” who represented a new social order that many in the suburbs were not quite ready to deal with. George Medina, co-­owner of Cox, Medina & Associates professional insurance services company, wrote Congressman Chester Holifield: “It is my desire to more effectively serve a broader base of the Mexican-­American community in an attempt to alleviate radicalism, and replace it with rationalism.”106 El MAPA to the Suburban Ideal  101

A congressional constituent from Pico Rivera addressed the questions that arose from the youth movement: “The young people today are forcing a ‘show of hands’ among our stable and solid institutions—government, schools, and churches—The ‘older’ generation to which many of us belong are trying to find out answers why, why!”107 Despite the disavowal of Chicano activism by some Mexican Americans, the Chicano movement profoundly reshaped the discourse of calls for Mexican American rights and equality. Mexican Americans who were engaged in the suburban political arena sought to bring about lasting change for the community by dismantling a political culture dominated by racist whites. By constructing alliances with working-­class members of the barrios and liberal whites, middle-­class Mexican Americans wielded enough political power to effect change at the local municipal level in the San Gabriel Valley and southeastern communities.108 Through these networks of electoral and grassroots political action, Mexican Americans in suburban Los Angeles built an effective system in the late 1950s and early 1960s to meet the needs of growing communities. By the end of the 1960s the movement to secure political power in individual municipalities was suffering, stricken by an inability to establish widespread representation at every level of government. Expanding suburbs promised to redevelop ethnic Mexican spaces through land annexations, followed by a new tool of community building: suburban renewal.

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4 Suburban Renewal

Isaías “Cy” Mesa tried his best to imagine a home on the patch of land he had purchased for his family in July 1948. Situated squarely within Flood Ranch, an old colonia in present-­day Santa Fe Springs on the east bank of the San Gabriel River, Mesa’s property consisted of nothing but an empty lot next to rows of jerry-­built homes. With meager means to live on, he and his wife Carmen dutifully made the best of the sixteen-­by-­sixteen-­foot tent that they had bought from a friend for twenty dollars. For seven months Cy, Carmen, and their two young sons survived the cool autumn and rainy winter, making a home in that old army tent until a neighbor helped Cy build a modest house out of scrap material early in the spring of 1949. Over the years Cy and Carmen became involved in the community, helping other ethnic Mexican families in a similar socioeconomic situation.1 Property owners in colonias on county land enjoyed relative autonomy. There they could build their own homes and make improvements as they saw fit. In 1957 the Mesas built a second house on the property to rent, to supplement their income.2 The Mesas’ inauspicious beginnings belie a deeper, more complex narrative concerning the ethnic Mexican suburban experience. Nothing on the surface of this story suggests that the family would find strength and stability in its community or that it would someday enjoy the comforts of a suburban home. A struggle lay ahead for them certainly, but they had no idea they would become 103

engaged in a pitched battle with the City of Santa Fe Springs over a suburban renewal project that threatened the very home that they had worked so hard to build and maintain. In 1962 Mesa became an active opponent of a proposed urban renewal plan, even though it meant challenging the authority of fellow Mexican Americans. Ultimately his activism positioned him to steer redevelopment along more equitable and just lines for all the residents of Flood Ranch. As a member of the Citizen’s Advisory Committee for the Flood Ranch Redevelopment Project, he ensured that the needs of working-­class residents were met rather than disregarded.3 Like many other Mexican Americans in the postwar era, Mesa embraced his American identity, believing that the rights and entitlements granted to citizens belonged to the members of his community. “Being an American citizen,” he recalled about his decision to battle urban renewal, “I felt I had the right to demand our God-­ given rights to own a piece of land—the most sacred thing we can have this side of heaven.” Although he pointedly highlighted his American citizenship, he also adhered to his ethnic Mexican identity. During an impassioned protest at a public meeting against the project, he recounted his family’s struggles in Flood Ranch and expressed his fear of the redevelopment project’s uncertain impact on his family’s future. His words spoke to the anxieties of the mostly male homeowners in attendance; he recalled that “as I finished my speech, we all cried. We have a saying in Spanish, Como todos los hombres, which means, ‘We cried like men.’ ”4 The redevelopment of colonias and barrios marked an important transition in the postwar metropolis. In cities such as Los Angeles, Chicago, Tucson, and San Antonio, powerful municipal interests solicited federal and state support to remove Mexicans from their homes and erect housing tracts, industrial parks, universities, and strip malls in their stead.5 The 1949 Housing Act and its Title I provision that had codified urban renewal into law promised to revitalize languishing urban neighborhoods following decades of neglect. It granted civic governing bodies the authority to seize private property under the auspices of eminent domain and deliver it to private developers in the name of the public good. 104  In Search of the Mexican Beverly Hills

The federal government made redevelopment feasible for developers by providing subsidies to reduce site and start-­up costs, funds to relocate residents, and support to facilitate the acquisition of property. At the outset, urban renewal and its predecessor, slum clearance, were viewed as viable solutions to improving the living conditions of poor people by erecting public housing in place of substandard homes. However, opponents of “creeping socialism” red-­baited the humanitarian designs of housing policy and defeated public housing at nearly every turn. The 1954 amendment to the Housing Act extended the benefits of federal housing legislation to private developers by sanctioning the FHA 220 program, which offered mortgage insurance to large-­ scale projects. The Urban Renewal Administration under the Housing and Urban Development (HUD) program oversaw applications and government investments in redevelopment projects.6 Ultimately, the combined effects of urban renewal policy enriched private industry at the expense of poor people. The 1954 amendment to the law only solidified this fact by dropping the pretense of public housing, retaining slum clearance as an ideal. The people most often displaced were presumably those least likely to challenge the state. With the demolition of some 400,000 residential units by 1967, of which only 11,000 were replaced, urban renewal emerged as a new and powerful tool of the state that was used against communities of color with relative impunity.7 Urban renewal, by definition, limits analysis of the many programs associated with the term to downtowns and civic centers. Yet government-­ sponsored redevelopment likewise helped to make suburban Los Angeles possible. The presence of “slums” in new suburbs constituted an enormous contradiction of the ideal pervasive throughout postwar metropolises. Civic elites were so successful in their collective enterprise to erase and “whitewash” the history of Los Angeles that the spaces inhabited by ethnic Mexicans seemingly melted into the peripheral “virgin soil” coveted by developers.8 All across the metropolitan region, municipal leaders set their sights on colonia removal. In the eastern citrus suburbs, Claremont McKenna College leaders, with the support Suburban Renewal  105

of civic authorities, chipped away at Arbol Verde and remade it from la tierra de nadie (land of no one) into an appendage of the university by the end of the twentieth century.9 To the surprise and chagrin of many first-­time suburban homeowners, these old colonias presented an unsettling reminder of the decaying urban core that they had either left behind or sought to avoid. Indeed, the presence of “blight” in ostensibly new suburbs constituted an unstable contradiction that grated against the collective imagination of suburbia. Los Angeles’s sprawling geography deceived casual observers into believing that suburbs filled a spatial void. However, as FHA programs accelerated metropolitan decentralization, they not only exacerbated central city blight, they created suburban slums out of established colonias.10 Indeed, the programs’ benefit, as well as their greatest flaw, was that implementation powers rested with local officials, who defined the contours of each project. Developers and local redevelopment agencies waged war on these spaces to clear the way for new and ever-­expanding tract developments. The racial fault line in suburban redevelopment was not as clearly drawn as in the central city, because the process of building and creating LA suburbs was not solely a black-­and-­white phenomenon. Mexican Americans participated in the growth of, and shaped the contours of, the San Gabriel Valley and southeastern areas through support of neighborhood redevelopment in far more pronounced ways. While working-­class Mexican American barrios in the city resisted removal, upwardly mobile Mexican Americans worked diligently to dismantle the colonias scattered about the suburbs. The participation of Mexican Americans in planning suburban redevelopment programs unseats the notion that ethnic Mexicans as a group were only victimized by displacement strategies. On the surface, their central leadership in such efforts constitutes a betrayal of ethnic and racial unity. And while many in the barrios read the situation through that lens, the story is more nuanced. Similar to middle-­class people of color in Miami, Florida, and Tucson, Arizona, Mexican Americans in suburban Los Angeles assumed paternalistic roles in community redevelopment. They 106  In Search of the Mexican Beverly Hills

believed that improving the built environment could improve the people, thus achieving progress toward first-­class citizenship and seamless integration into the postwar order.11 Flood Ranch thus represents a significant case study of the political diversity of ethnic Mexican communities and the varied approaches toward property. Unlike the Hicks Camp project explored in chapter 1, however, Santa Fe Springs pursued urban renewal with a mixed-­ race city council and redevelopment board that included middle-­ class Mexican Americans. Historian Andrew Wiese’s concept of suburban renewal is a useful point of departure for understanding the uses of state power to shape the private residential landscape of metropolitan Los Angeles. Wiese argues that suburban renewal enabled municipal officials to restructure the suburban geography by removing African Americans in order to build housing for middle-­income white people. The results of suburban renewal handicapped African American migration into previously affordable suburbs and curtailed their ability to move up the economic ladder.12 I extend this concept by interrogating the racial underpinnings of slum clearance as it applied to Mexican Americans in the postwar period. Like many other suburban civic leaders in the region, Santa Fe Springs City Council members attempted to annex chunks of productive land in order to generate tax revenue for the city while lowering property taxes for homeowners. Municipal officials used urban renewal as a device to redirect slum clearance funds into civic center development.13 In this all-­important game of suburban city building, Mexican Americans confronted the legacies of racialization head on. Their homes and their communities stood in the way of massive suburban growth.

Renewing the City To understand the responses of activists and community members in Flood Ranch, a brief tour through downtown Los Angeles is necessary, because development policies at the core affected how ethnic Mexicans experienced their fate on the peripheries of the Suburban Renewal  107

metropolis. Slum clearance and massive redevelopment coalesced around a civic mission to alleviate the housing crisis caused by World War II migration into Los Angeles. By the conclusion of the war, the Housing Authority estimated that 280,000 new housing units per year would be required to address the shortage. Tens of thousands of returning veterans found themselves staying in barracks or aboard their ships. Others slept with their families and other down-­and-­out Angelenos in converted buses, remote canyons behind Monrovia, Quonset huts, or public parks.14 Low-­ cost public housing enjoyed wide support by city leaders, especially Mayor Fletcher Bowron and councilman Edward Roybal. As one strategy to solve the housing problem, the city adopted plans to greatly expand the number and availability of housing units for working-­class people. Under the auspices of the Housing Act, the city council approved a contract with the federal government for $100 million that would have disrupted the lives of some forty-­ eight thousand families on two sites with a combined area of 213.6 acres. The downtown neighborhoods of Bunker Hill and Chavez Ravine, nestled in the hills just north of the city center, were targeted for redevelopment as city leaders envisioned massive public housing units in place of barrio homes.15 Chavez Ravine was a stable community comprised of three barrios, with small commercial activities and a decent school in the Palo Verde neighborhood. As a low-­density residential zone connected to the greater region by public transportation but operating daily in relative autonomy from the downtown power base, Chavez Ravine resembled the numerous colonias spread around the metropolis. Deemed a “blighted” area in need of serious revitalization, the area was pegged for urban renewal. Under Bowron’s administration the city secured federal funds to build low-­rent housing units using slum clearance to make way for the development. In 1951 the city approved a plan that called for 3,360 units sited at Chavez Ravine and began clearing the area of residents in 1952. By the following year the tide had turned against public housing, and with the backing of the pro-­growth, anticommunist Los Angeles Times, Norris Poulson was elected to the mayor’s 108  In Search of the Mexican Beverly Hills

office. The three-­time Republican congressman was well suited to contest public housing and ultimately helped to scuttle any plans for a housing project to be built in Chavez Ravine. With the area mostly cleared and no plans in sight for its redevelopment, the area lay dormant, save for a few public spaces and several property owners still immersed in litigation with the city. Developable land did not want for suitors in Los Angeles. Poulson, along with his associate Fritz Burns, himself a leading developer, public housing opponent, and advisory board member to the FHA, set their sights on attracting the Brooklyn Dodgers out west. In what has been deemed the “sweetheart deal,” Walter O’Malley, the owner of the Dodgers, acquired 315 acres of the site along with $4.7 million in site grading and roads, mineral rights, a ninety-­year lease, and all revenues generated by parking and concessions. In exchange, O’Malley gave the city his share of the nine-­acre Wrigley Field in South Los Angeles and financed the construction of a public youth center to be built in the development area.16 Television cameras captured the forced removal of the Arechiga family on 8 May 1959, which sent shock waves around the country.17 Closer to home, ethnic Mexicans in barrios and colonias took note of the potential effects of urban renewal on their communities. Skepticism remained high in ethnic Mexican neighborhoods throughout the 1960s. Barrio newspapers and periodicals cautioned readers that government interest in their neighborhoods could lead to mass removals of homeowners and tenants. Frank Moreno Sifuentes, writing for La Raza magazine in 1968, argued that the most powerful actors in metropolitan centers systematically planned the demise of Mexican neighborhoods, calling it “the genius of capitalism conspiring against the poor and powerless masses.”18 And just as urban renewal projects and freeway construction contributed to a mass migration out of the Eastside into the surrounding communities, expansion of existing schools in East Los Angeles pushed Mexican American families out of their homes.19 As a result of this perceived assault on Mexican spaces, the Los Angeles Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA) acquired a notorious reputation throughout the barrios. Suburban Renewal  109

Activists applied a new definition to the acronym CRA: “Chicano Removal Association.”20 It is through this lens that the opposition to redevelopment in Santa Fe Springs must be understood. As in the Zoot Suit riots, violent forces that affected ethnic Mexicans in the central city made their way to the suburbs.

Flood Ranch, Santa Fe Springs In the prewar years, Flood Ranch belonged to a wider network of colonias. Residents worked alongside their compatriots from the nearby colonia of Los Nietos in the area’s walnut groves and oil fields. Despite their place in the local labor structure, 70 percent of Flood Ranch residents owned their own homes. As homeowners, they presented serious challenges to suburban developers. They were more than willing to fight for their homes. Just as important, and probably more problematic for suburban builders, the overwhelming majority of residents were at least second-­generation Mexican American. This meant that they could also make use of the legal and electoral systems in defense of their neighborhoods. Community cohesion only became more entrenched following World War II as the suburb of Santa Fe Springs developed around it. During and after the war the Los Angeles County population grew by 2 million every decade, from 2.8 million in 1940, to 4.2 million in 1950, to 6.1 million in 1960.21 Such dramatic population increases stressed existing housing and school systems and sparked a massive residential construction boom that encroached on and displaced agricultural and rural lands. Colonia residents quickly saw their communities change from being on the rural periphery to the middle of a dizzying, sprawling metropolis. Flood Ranch was no stranger to upheaval. Residents adopted the name in the 1940s because the neighborhood was prone to San Gabriel River floods during intermittent periods of intense rain. Ironically, the threat of flooding protected homeowners and tenants from residential displacement for decades. However, the Los Angeles County Flood Control District and the US Army Corp of Engineers encased all significant Los Angeles–area rivers in concrete in 110  In Search of the Mexican Beverly Hills

Fig. 5. Flood Ranch Aerial, 1945. Flood Ranch, outlined in bold, is surrounded by agricultural fields and various industrial zones. The San Gabriel River runs along its western edge and in the bottom right corner, oil derricks dot the landscape. Fairchild Aerial Photograph Collection. Courtesy of the Map and Imagery Lab, University of California, Santa Barbara Library.

1954, sweeping aside the modicum of protection Flood Ranch once enjoyed; the properties, now secured against natural disaster, became subject to developer interests. In 1957 the small suburban community of Santa Fe Springs, located twelve miles southeast of downtown Los Angeles, incorporated as a contract city with fifteen thousand residents, almost evenly split between whites and ethnic Mexicans. Despite its overwhelmingly industrial character, it quickly earned recognition as an “All-­American City” by the National Municipal League for citizen participation in municipal affairs.22 Suburban Renewal  111

Massive flood control projects enabled the suburbanization of Southern California by making large tracts of land available for development.23 Unprecedented growth followed in the formerly flood-­prone regions of Southeast Los Angeles County. Lakewood is an exemplar of the kinds of community building projects made possible by making dynamic geographies predictable. However, suburban developments like Lakewood, situated at great distances from highways and freeways, required access to metropolitan hubs. In 1954 the California Highway Commission approved a twenty-­three-­mile stretch of freeway that ran north from Lakewood to a connector with the 60 Freeway in El Monte.24 Not only did this freeway weave Lakewood integrally into the expanding metropolitan sphere, it also introduced the possibility of further Lakewood-­style developments along the San Gabriel River corridor. The freeway, which snaked alongside the concrete monstrosity once known as the San Gabriel River, buried working-­class colonias under one hundred million tons of “progress and prosperity.” When the first leg of the freeway was completed in 1964, it dissected the predominantly Mexican American neighborhoods of Jimtown, Rivera, and Flood Ranch. Freeway construction consequently reduced Flood Ranch from eighty-­five to sixty-­five acres before the city’s push for renewal. Santa Fe Springs was one of thirty-­four suburban municipalities to incorporate in the county between 1954 and 1965 amid population spikes, housing shortages, and shifting boundaries. The incorporation boom prompted a decline in tax revenues and infrastructural neglect in the city of Los Angeles. Communities of color, particularly African American and ethnic Mexican, felt the strain more acutely than anyone else because the ghettoes and barrios that entrapped them sank even further below the poverty line and drifted further from the minds of civic reformers and philanthropists. State and federal governments likewise abandoned people of color to the predations of realtors and employers, resulting in the drastically uneven distribution of resources and wealth that became central to grassroots mobilization in the 1960s for civil rights, housing justice, and economic equity. These dynamics that 112  In Search of the Mexican Beverly Hills

Fig. 6. Flood Ranch Aerial, 1962. Flood Ranch is attached to a sprawling suburban zone. The shape of the neighborhood is unchanged aside from the 605 San Gabriel River Freeway represented by the gray line. Fairchild Aerial Photograph Collection. Courtesy of the Map and Imagery Lab, University of California, Santa Barbara Library. characterized the end of the postwar city cultivated an American “urban crisis” marked by spiraling poverty and a metastasizing deficit. Uprisings in Los Angeles, Detroit, Philadelphia, and New York underscored the desperation in urban America as people of color spectacularly vented their frustration with endemic racism and government disinvestment on city streets during the long hot summers of 1965 through 1968.25 Virtually every postwar suburban municipality in Los Angeles was forced to deal with the remnants of ethnic Mexican colonias Suburban Renewal  113

in its midst. Reconciling the motivations of developers with the aspirations of Mexican Americans involved miniature versions of the problems accompanying the urban crisis, though the stakes were no less important. Suburban civic leaders responded by eradicating ethnic Mexican communities. In El Monte, San Gabriel, Pico Rivera, Whittier, and Montebello, city council members and local redevelopment agencies collaborated with Mexican American members of the community to devise redevelopment plans for older sections of town. By 1967 more than one hundred cities in California had redeveloped aged districts with the assistance of urban renewal grants, all done in the name of progress.26 Santa Fe Springs followed the lead of other incorporated suburban cities in seeking to “modernize” the Mexican American neighborhoods within their boundaries. In 1962 leaders appealed for funding from the Urban Renewal Administration to begin redevelopment feasibility studies in Flood Ranch. Homeowners sought to recast the mixed agricultural and industrial character of the city in order to attract middle income families. For their part, Flood Ranch residents challenged the city’s actions through grassroots efforts to halt progress on the project. Flood Ranch residents also took the city to court twice to secure an injunction against the project. The court eventually sided with the city, and suburban renewal began in 1967. Ultimately, Santa Fe Springs proved victorious, but Flood Ranch residents achieved a voice in the later planning phases of the project and scored some partial victories in the process. Suburban civic leaders could never comprehend the attachment ethnic Mexicans had to their modest homes. Urban renewal did not signal to colonia residents a genuine effort to provide assistance in home upgrades; rather, it embodied a threat to their livelihood and future security. Homeowner Louisa Flores put it best: “This is my home. I do not wish to leave. I wish to stay. I want to die here.”27

Dissenting Voices The aging homes, overgrown yards, and muddied, unpaved roads of the sixty-­five-­acre Flood Ranch colonia presented the fledgling city 114  In Search of the Mexican Beverly Hills

with a tremendous financial opportunity at the outset of the 1960s. Steps toward redevelopment began with city council meetings to decide the nature of the plans. Residents like Cy Mesa opposed urban renewal in their neighborhood and instead requested street paving, sewers, sidewalks, and street lamps. Initial assessments conducted by city planning director Dick Weaver concluded that the uneven quality of homes in Flood Ranch complicated the city’s course of action. Weaver determined that the mixture of substandard homes and “good” homes negated the city’s ability to “sweep the area clean,” even with federal funds. “It is not a slum area,” Weaver declared, “and we are trying to determine what would be the best program.”28 However, for the city to secure urban renewal funds, the planning department was required to define the area as blighted, and one of the first steps involved rezoning existing neighborhoods. Thus, in 1960 the council rezoned residential properties in Flood Ranch from R-­2 to R-­1—a switch that limited the number of residential structures on a single property lot from two buildings to one.29 The zone change accomplished two things: first, it solidified the power of the city council over the newly acquired Flood Ranch area, and second, it froze structural improvements that would have raised the neighborhood’s overall value. This last point is especially important because maintaining a low overall cost made the redevelopment project more likely to secure federal funding. Equally important to reclassifying Flood Ranch as a slum, however, was the demographic makeup of the neighborhood. The predominantly working-­class, Mexican American colonia of more than fifteen hundred homeowners and tenants provided enough justification to declare Flood Ranch a “slum” in the minds of developers and civic leaders. Only four years after it was incorporated as a city, officials argued that the deplorable physical condition of Flood Ranch required a complete and thorough slum clearance effort and that the neighborhood threatened the fiscal health of the city while posing personal danger to local homeowners. Citing studies conducted by the City Planning Commission and the Los Angeles County Health Department, Santa Fe Springs officials highlighted that although Flood Ranch housed Suburban Renewal  115

a mere 8 percent of the suburban city’s entire population, the neighborhood accounted for 48 percent of structure fires and 45 percent of arrests in the city.30 While neglecting the deep legacy of hyper-­policed barrios in California, these statistics reinforced prevalent racist attitudes against working-­class ethnic Mexicans while also tapping the nerve centers of suburban homeowners by raising the specter of higher taxes and crime.31 Affixing the slum label proved both easy and necessary in order for municipal leaders to acquire assistance from the Urban Renewal Administration for slum clearance. A 1949 adjustment to federal housing laws had empowered local redevelopment agencies to employ eminent domain as a tool to acquire and redevelop properties that were officially deemed slums and/or blighted.32 Although eminent domain was a tool meant to help old cities recoup tax revenue lost from the mass migration of taxpayers to the suburbs, it became a tool for new suburbs in Los Angeles to eliminate ethnic Mexican “slums” in places where housing developments were being built or in the planning stages. Flood Ranch residents, however, did not see their neighborhood as a slum, nor did they feel it necessary to tear down the neighborhood and construct new homes. They understood that improvements were necessary, but their repeated requests to the city for improved infrastructure continually fell on deaf ears. After the city annexed the neighborhood in 1958, residents anticipated infrastructural improvements that never materialized. Homeowners in particular longed to bring their community up to the standards of neighboring suburbs and therefore requested paved streets, underground sewers, street lamps, and a public park, none of which were built. Instead of finding assistance from the city, property owners faced a redevelopment agency bent on creating a new-­look Flood Ranch, replete with middle-­income tract homes and Newport Beach–style townhouses.33 The discursive construction of “slums” and “blight” by city planners and developers neglected the history of racial segregation and systemic inequality built into urban and suburban environments. Such a monumental denial enabled suburban builders 116  In Search of the Mexican Beverly Hills

to carry out their plans free from charges of racism.34 In Santa Fe Springs, the city could also rely on the shelter of having Mexican Americans being centrally part of the project. The Flood Ranch Redevelopment Project director, Massey Herrera, although a self-­ identified Mexican American, denied that the project in Santa Fe Springs had racial implications; rather, he claimed that the redevelopment agency “merely aim[ed] to provide better housing and commercial facilities for approximately 300 families living in the Flood Ranch area.”35 Grassroots activism related to Flood Ranch redevelopment reveals a complex set of political ideologies at work. In Flood Ranch, within the span of four years grassroots activists defied simplistic categorization of their political identities. While community activists and organizations began to espouse militant language in defense of their homes, they also flirted with the Republican Party and grassroots conservatism in ways that connected them with white suburbanites in Orange County, as well as the Sunbelt South.36 The Santa Fe Springs Redevelopment Agency applied to the Urban Renewal Administration for $168,000 in detailed surveys and preliminary planning work for the project.37 On 9 October 1964 Santa Fe Springs approved the renewal program, which called for the displacement of over 150 ethnic Mexican families from their homes.38 As justification, the redevelopment agency identified 131 “deteriorating” homes, 86 “substandard” homes, 102 houses in need of major repair, 70 houses slated for demolition, and 96 homes in need of minor repairs costing $2,000 or less. These studies only found 59 houses that met county standards and 8 in perfect condition.39 Suburban homeowners often responded to threats to their property values and tax dollars by flexing their collective political muscles and removing the perceived problem.40 Because this was an urban renewal project, the federal government shouldered three-­fourths of the cost. To acquire the area from the property owners cost $1,942,934, of which the city of Santa Fe Springs was responsible for only $700,000. These costs included purchase of Suburban Renewal  117

the land at its value and temporary relocation costs for residents. The city promised Flood Ranch residents several benefits if they agreed to “temporary” relocation, such as cash for their equity and payment of closing costs, assistance in finding new homes, the opportunity to obtain low-­interest-­rate loans because they lived in the redevelopment zone, and “fair-­market value” for their property.41 With potential state and federal monies burning holes in the pockets of city officials, Santa Fe Springs was set to boost the overall value of property in the industrial city by acquiring this desirable land. Suburbs like Santa Fe Springs seemed unlikely places for Chavez Ravine–style displacement, but in former colonias across Los Angeles new suburban cities exercised their broad powers to determine the “public good” through the use of eminent domain.42 Small municipalities mimicked the language of urban centers in drawing distinctions between respectable and slum housing. They understood that urban renewal dollars translated into a massive economic windfall. Cities that were awarded urban renewal contracts in the 1960s capitalized on federal investment because the Department of Housing and Urban Development funneled money directly into city chests. Because federal urban renewal monies did not have to filter through the county, small cities like Santa Fe Springs benefited in greater proportion than larger cities like Los Angeles or Long Beach. In essence, the federal government provided economic incentives to eliminate colonias. Middle-­class Mexican Americans were at the center of the movement to redevelop Flood Ranch. Ernest Flores began his career in Santa Fe Springs in the Planning Department in 1962 and worked his way up to planning commissioner by the beginning of 1964. In January 1964 Councilman Joe Ramirez suddenly resigned from the city office, and the remaining members appointed Flores to Ramirez’s post. Since settling in Santa Fe Springs with his wife Lupe and their four children in 1956, Flores had been active in several community organizations and advocacy groups. Most notably, he served as the president of the Santa Fe Springs chapter of the American GI Forum following his service in the Army Intelligence 118  In Search of the Mexican Beverly Hills

Department during World War II. He used the GI Bill to earn a degree in civil engineering from the University of New Mexico. Employed as a civil engineer for a firm based in nearby Pico Rivera, Flores likely enthusiastically supported city incorporation in 1957, as his record of civic participation suggests a deep interest in and commitment to the affairs of Santa Fe Springs. Since incorporation, he had become an active member of the Sister City Committee and the street naming subcommittee—a coupling that yielded the naming of a street in Flood Ranch as Navojoa after the city’s adoption of Navojoa, Sonora, in Mexico as a sister city.43 If Mexico embodied premodernity in the minds of middle-­class Mexican Americans, then naming a street in Flood Ranch after the Mexican sister city made an important statement about their regard for the colonia and its residents. It also signaled to Santa Fe Springs developers to take the necessary steps toward progress and uplift in the colonia. Flores’s tenure as planning commissioner, though short, ensured that he and other Mexican American civic leaders would continue to pursue Flood Ranch redevelopment. Despite the promises made by the redevelopment agency, Flood Ranch residents remained skeptical. They quickly mobilized opposition to the plan. As denizens of a large, rapidly expanding metropolis, they understood that working-­class communities of color disproportionately bore the consequences of renewal. Not all middle-­class Mexican Americans adopted a hostile posture toward suburban barrios, however. Despite the prevalence of Mexican American council members engaged in redevelopment efforts, other Mexican American activists advocated for justice in the barrios. Dionicio Morales had a long record of defending Mexican American rights throughout his career. As head of the Mexican American Opportunity Foundation, based initially in Pico Rivera, Morales was an active participant in local social justice struggles. In May 1964 he led a contingent of more than one hundred protestors down the main thoroughfares of Santa Fe Springs to city hall to demand an end to the redevelopment project.44 Opposition to the project was at its highest in 1964. Manuel Magaña, a Protestant minister and Flood Ranch homeowner who Suburban Renewal  119

spearheaded the grassroots movement to halt the project, told the Los Angeles Times, “I think the date the Flood Ranch area was annexed to Santa Fe Springs and the date this urban renewal project was first brought up, are suspiciously close.”45 Magaña accurately read the city’s intentions for Flood Ranch. Santa Fe Springs stood to benefit dramatically from federal investment in the project, and Flood Ranch provided an ostensibly easy target. However, Flood Ranch residents, like so many other barrio residents throughout the Southwest, challenged what they perceived as the injustice of suburban renewal. At a public hearing, John Alvarado, a resident of Flood Ranch, voiced concern over the city’s trampling of his civil rights in the name of progress. Alvarado then asked the central question on the minds of most residents: “As a Mexican, I have been studied my whole life. And it always comes out the same. Somebody has a plan to help me. But I have no voice in it. I’m the person they’re trying to help. Why don’t they ask me how?”46 At that same hearing, Magaña invoked indigenous identity in a way that anticipated the cultural-­nationalist language of the Chicano movement: “I don’t believe we are so retarded in our progress that we need Great White Father to come build us a teepee.”47 By confronting municipal power structures through grassroots activism, small metropolitan communities under siege, like Flood Ranch, made important contributions to the development of Chicano consciousness. The emergence of chicanismo in colonias on the suburban fringe instilled a sense of shared fate with urban barrios as activists recognized the similarity of their experiences. In their charges against Santa Fe Springs, Chicano activists drew distinct parallels with the events that had taken place in Chavez Ravine. Protest marches on Santa Fe Springs city hall made clear reference to the tragedy at Chavez Ravine. Picket signs boldly stated: “Move Out Mexicans—We Need Your Land” and “Chavez Ravine All Over Again.” In a marked departure from the community activism surrounding Mexican American removal from Chavez Ravine, activists in Santa Fe Springs assumed a self-­consciously militant posture, evinced by signs that read: “I Will Fight For My Land,” “Arms Are Used in Defense of Freedom,” and “When You Bring 120  In Search of the Mexican Beverly Hills

Your Bulldozers, Don’t Forget Your Guns.”48 A council member and redevelopment board member later recalled that she had once walked out of a meeting at city hall only to face a man pointing a rifle at her.49 Such harrowing incidents, however, were not the only form opposition took; they were accompanied by litigation. In December 1964, 173 Flood Ranch homeowners sued the city of Santa Fe Springs for violating the six-­month-­old Civil Rights Act. The homeowners charged that the city and local redevelopment agency had purposely targeted Flood Ranch because of its historically large Mexican American population. The presiding California Superior Court judge summarily issued an injunction against the project under the provisions of the Civil Rights Act, the first such use of the act in the United States.50 City councilman Ernest Flores dismissed Magaña’s charges of discrimination, calling them, “the same, old tired charges of racial discrimination. . . . I am, myself, a Mexican-­American and I would have been one of the first to raise my voice if I had seen any hint of an intent to discriminate against Mexican-­Americans.”51 Flores’s tenure on the Santa Fe Springs Planning Commission influenced his perspective on the Flood Ranch Redevelopment Project. In his capacity to oversee “orderly and attractive growth” for the city, he pushed diligently for the project’s completion as a member of the council.52 The story was not as simple as white racial discrimination directed at an impoverished group of ethnic Mexicans. Middle-­class Mexican Americans, like Flores, participated in the redevelopment project at Flood Ranch from the beginning. Likewise, World War II veteran and California state assemblyman John “King” Moreno helped create the Flood Ranch Redevelopment Project while serving as mayor of Santa Fe Springs in 1959. After a drunk driving conviction unceremoniously ushered Moreno out of public service in 1964, other middle-­class Mexican American city officials assisted in redevelopment planning. City councilman Joe Ramirez furthered the city’s attempts to remove working-­class and poor Mexican residents from Flood Ranch, as did the executive director of the Santa Fe Springs Redevelopment Agency, Massey Herrera.53 Middle-­class Mexican American Suburban Renewal  121

involvement in redevelopment efforts obviously created conflict with working-­class Mexican Americans because of the former group’s alliance with white municipal officials. Tensions over housing in the early 1960s seem to partially indicate that Chicano vitriol directed at vendidos (sell-­outs) and tio tacos (Mexican Uncle Toms) during the movement in the years to follow originated, at least in part, in middle-­class Mexican American efforts to displace working-­class people.54 Local Republican Party leaders saw opportunity in the suburban renewal controversy. Here was a chance to make inroads into the local Mexican American community, especially before the 1964 presidential and state elections. Party leaders hoped to build a lasting relationship with the Mexican American community through their support of the Flood Ranch opposition. Given Barry Goldwater’s success in courting middle-­ class Mexican American friendship and support in Tucson, Arizona, the California Republican Party sought to expand that connection into the Los Angeles suburbs.55 In October 1964 Latin Americans for Goldwater hosted a free barbeque for Flood Ranch residents. The theme of the barbeque, “Mi Casa Es Mi Castillo” (“My Home Is My Castle”), invoked the sanctity of the home while also echoing suburban-­ideal rhetoric common in white working-­and middle-­ class suburbs across the country. Manuel Magaña was one of the nearly thirty-­five hundred attendees at the event and proved eager to hear what Republicans could offer residents in defense of their castillos. He noted the absence of Democratic Party leadership at the open-­invitation event but proved more than willing to entertain Republican courtship. William Sousa, the field director for Latin Americans for Goldwater, denounced the renewal plan and charged that “Democrats are interested in power not people.” Sousa also explained why Mexican Americans fit naturally into the Republican ideological camp: “This minority group is interested more in personal dignity and self-­reliance than in government handouts. Maybe some of the area’s homes are in bad shape, but most of these people are trying to improve their lot through individual resources—not by directives from Washington.”56 122  In Search of the Mexican Beverly Hills

Carta Editorial, a politically progressive mailer devoted to Mexican American concerns, cautioned the Democratic Party not to neglect Mexican American issues on the heels of this event. Highlighting that Goldwater stood little chance to win the presidential election, the editors warned that “the theme of the speeches at the barbeque will outlast the elections—that the Democrats have for too long taken the community for granted.”57 One of the barbeque attendees, Everett Hunt, was in the midst of a bitter election campaign against incumbent Democratic congressman Chester Holifield. Hunt made himself visible to Mexican American voters in speeches at the barbeque and at community hearings. Santa Fe Springs mayor A. J. Emmens removed Hunt from a public hearing for continually interrupting the proceedings with repeated challenges to school and public space plans for the redeveloped area.58 Indeed, renewal issues made strange bedfellows. Members of both the civil rights organization CORE and the ultraconservative John Birch Society sat side by side at city council meetings in support of Flood Ranch residents.59 As homeowners, Flood Ranch residents challenged displacement. Dissident leaders marshaled the prevailing political language of suburban America that linked taxpayers and homeowners to popular conceptions of “the people,” an increasingly politicized term that signified white, middle-­class suburbanites.60 With arguments recognizable in every postwar suburban municipality, the president of the oppositional Flood Ranch Improvement Association, Manuel Magaña, decried the actions of the local government to draw on federal funds for the project. “We feel it is tragic that taxpayers’ money is being used to further and promote grandiose schemes by some politicians, in this case local politicians. Urban Renewal gives power to the few to control, dominate, and intimidate the taxpayer citizens whose money is used for such nefarious practices.”61 Magaña’s blatant characterization of Flood Ranch residents as “taxpayer citizens” dispelled generalized racial stereotypes associated with ethnic Mexicans as public charges and perpetually foreign. Within this logic Flood Ranch residents should have possessed a legitimate claim to autonomy as well as the license to define Suburban Renewal  123

the meaning of home. However, Mexican American homeowners in Flood Ranch understood too well the implicit racial meaning behind the redevelopment effort, because they were not the right kind of homeowners, nor did they own the right kind of homes. Ironically, the passage of Proposition 14 in 1964, which won by a representative 2:1 margin in Santa Fe Springs, stalled progress on the redevelopment project because of ensuing legal challenges.62 The anti-­fair-­housing initiative for a constitutional amendment sought to overturn California’s Rumford Act of 1963, which had criminalized racial discrimination in residential sales and rentals.63 HUD shelved more than $200 million in federal redevelopment projects throughout the state until the California Supreme Court decided on the legality of Proposition 14. California governor Pat Brown pleaded with HUD to release the funds. He argued that urban communities of color desperately needed the money for community improvement. Believing that urban renewal was “a good thing,” many Democrats like Brown failed to understand that ethnic Mexicans, many of whom owned homes in redevelopment target areas, were displaced by such projects.64 Despite the tide of opposition that faced the redevelopment agency, Massey Herrera and Ernest Flores spearheaded a campaign in the local press to discredit the grassroots opposition. In November 1966 the local paper, the Whittier Daily News, profiled the Flood Ranch Redevelopment Project in a series of articles that were, in Flores’s words, meant to “honestly reflect” the redevelopment undertaking.65 The articles provided Herrera and Flores with a sounding board to signal the beginning of clearance and construction by recasting community sentiment from opposition to cooperation. Herrera proclaimed: “We’ve been thrilled recently by the greater number of phone calls we’ve gotten from project area residents wanting to know when the money will be available and when they can file their applications. The people are finally getting behind this thing.”66 The series writer, Dick Singer, completely omitted dissenting voices, in articles proclaiming the end of opposition. Noting the quietude, he wrote: “There are no more pickets, no more speeches, and no more mass marches. Just quiet 124  In Search of the Mexican Beverly Hills

Map 4. The redevelopment project laid out a new grid for the former colonia. Map by Nicholas Hager.

resignation to the fact that the urban renewal plan for the area is, after all, a fact.”67 Although Singer had written the obituary for Flood Ranch a bit prematurely, in March 1967 US district judge Francis Whelan concurred with the Redevelopment Agency that racism did not factor into the decision to proceed.68 With over Suburban Renewal  125

fifteen hundred Mexican Americans threatened with displacement, the judge’s decision seemingly took into account the presence of Mexican Americans in the planning process, even though that fact did not dislodge the glaringly racialized overtones that pervaded the project’s entire life cycle. A mere ten years after Santa Fe Springs had incorporated as a city, it realized its objective to “renew” itself. Victory in the legal arena did not completely eliminate the challenges to the Santa Fe Springs Redevelopment Agency. Although the project was granted clearance, the city and agency still had to contend with the uncertainty of federal budgets. In 1967 the Federal National Mortgage Association (Fannie Mae) suddenly adopted a policy of denying funds for homes and neighborhoods situated too close to freeways, blighted areas, and, ironically, within designated redevelopment zones.69 Massey Herrera’s experience with Fannie Mae presented a potential deal breaker for Flood Ranch residents, who remained skeptical about the true motivations of the redevelopment agency. The uneasy peace delivered by the judge and municipal officials hung in the balance as Fannie Mae seemed poised to deny the loan request for five property owners under Section 220 Special Assistance funding. According to Herrera, the property owners had agreed to support Flood Ranch redevelopment on the promise of low-­interest-­rate loans for home improvements. Fannie Mae’s imminent denial prompted the FHA to make a specialized “across the counter” loan offer for 8 to 10 percent more than the homeowners had originally agreed to. The FHA loan would ultimately cost each homeowner more than $1,500 out of pocket on top of what they had lost in equity from their demolished homes. More than anything else, Herrera feared the cascading effect that even a minimal loss of confidence posed to the overall success of the project. In a letter to Chet Holifield pleading for his intervention, Herrera expressed his and the city council’s fear that “if the opponents of [the] program succeed in learning of the freeze, they would not hesitate to use this opportunity in not only attacking the prestige of the Council-­agency but [would] belittle the benefits of all 126  In Search of the Mexican Beverly Hills

federal programs.”70 Holifield, who had proved an able ally to the project throughout the planning stages, pressured friends in the Department of Housing and Urban Development to help Santa Fe Springs maneuver around the Fannie Mae debacle. Ultimately, HUD secured the Section 220 assistance without the homeowners ever learning about the close call.71 Residents, however, shifted their focus from stopping redevelopment to controlling it to meet the needs of the community. Mandated by legislation built into President Lyndon Johnson’s War on Poverty program, citizen advisory councils wove barrio property owners into the planning process.72 Former redevelopment opponents, such as Cy Mesa, organized the citizen’s advisory council and ensured that the demands property owners had been making for ten years found their way into policy. In 1965 a small group of residents led by Mary Gingras and Candelaria Corral established a neighborhood service center in a rented house along Pioneer Boulevard. The center provided social services and educational programming for low-­income residents of Santa Fe Springs, especially Flood Ranch. The clientele outgrew the physical building, and with the proposed clearance of Pioneer Boulevard in 1967, community activists saw a golden opportunity to make the renewal program meet their needs. Together with the Club Cultural Mexicano, Gingras and Corral spearheaded an effort to secure funding for a permanent building to house the neighborhood center. HUD granted over $140,000 toward the construction of the Santa Fe Springs Neighborhood Center and allowed for the expansion of services provided by the staff.73 Similarly, the citizens’ advisory committee advocated for the development of multifamily dwellings in the form of apartments and condominiums to accommodate the individuals and families who could neither afford displacement nor afford to stay. The Mexican American middle class, which from the start had constituted a beachhead against Flood Ranch activists, now proved to be an important ally in brokering redevelopment deals for its working-­class counterparts. In addition to the infrastructural improvements made to the neighborhood, residents successfully advocated for the neighborhood center, a public park, and Suburban Renewal  127

affordable housing for the neighborhood. More important, the majority of property owners returned to the neighborhood upon completion of the project in 1972. Others displaced by the project relocated into the neighboring suburbs of Pico Rivera, Downey, Whittier, and other sections of Santa Fe Springs.74 By 1971 Cy Mesa had turned to promoting the benefits of the redevelopment effort. “I was against this project at the beginning and I fought hard against it, but I was wrong,” he said. “It is a wonderful thing and I am proud to say that I now have a beautiful home.”75 Flood Ranch’s struggle with slum clearance demonstrates that in at least one significant area Mexican Americans actively and enthusiastically participated in the making of suburban Los Angeles. By using the broad powers of the state such as the legal system, the electoral system, and federal government funding packages, both working-­class and middle-­class Mexican Americans exercised a suburban civic identity that was intimately linked to protection of the home and neighborhood. In contesting slum clearance, the “citizen taxpayers,” in Magaña’s words, challenged their second-­class treatment at the hands of municipal officials regardless of the leadership roles fellow Mexican Americans exercised. The stakes of the Flood Ranch Redevelopment Project involved a complex class strategy to redefine the social space of everyday life. Middle-­class Mexican Americans involved at the highest levels of the redevelopment project held a different vision of suburban legitimacy than their working-­class counterparts. The middle class approached the redevelopment of Flood Ranch paternalistically, as a rescue effort to deliver the promises of suburbia to its working-­class counterparts. Flood Ranch residents exhibited a much more pronounced ideological promiscuity that permitted them to challenge suburban renewal from multiple angles. Faced with the inevitability of the redevelopment project, in 1967 these grassroots activists formalized their demands into policy decisions that ultimately won support from the middle-­class Mexican Americans who had once opposed them. Ranch’s struggle with the city of Santa Fe Springs is representative of suburban-­growth dynamics in postwar metropolitan 128  In Search of the Mexican Beverly Hills

Los Angeles and demonstrates that urban renewal has remained a constant and critical feature of postwar suburban community building. Yet the striking difference between suburban renewal projects like Flood Ranch and urban renewal projects like Chavez Ravine rested on the targets of redevelopment. While working-­ class Mexican American communities were victimized by renewal proponents throughout metropolitan Los Angeles, suburban city builders sought to channel funds into the development of private property; urban renewal programs sought to channel funds into public projects, even when they were not so public, as in the case of Dodgers Stadium. Large urban renewal projects in the city were executed primarily by an all-­white council and redevelopment board. In the suburbs, Mexican Americans held tightly to the levers of power available to them, sometimes at the expense of their own aims to broaden access to the good life.

Suburban Renewal  129

Epilogue Let’s Take a Trip . . .

In late 1965 a popular East Los Angeles band named Thee Midniters launched the anthem of weekend cruising. The song, aptly titled “Whittier Boulevard,” captures the energy of youth culture in Southern California while also drawing on the sounds of the boulevard itself, deploying the faint hum of crowds, car horns, and revving engines in the background. The only lyrics of the mostly instrumental song, “Let’s take a trip down Whittier Boulevard,” are followed by a cry of “Arriba! Arriba!” as pulsating drums and guitar riffs take over. When discussing the genesis of the song, band member Romeo Prado explained: “We practiced on Whittier Boulevard, we cruised Whittier Boulevard, and [band manager] Eddie Torres lived on Whittier Boulevard. So we thought, ‘Why not write a song about Whittier Boulevard?’ ”1 Few rock fans would have recognized the subtext of the song unless they had experienced the greater Eastside cruising scene. The San Gabriel Valley and Southeast county areas are connected geographically to the Eastside by a series of highways and boulevards. Chief among them is Whittier Boulevard, an eleven-­ mile stretch of road that extends from East Los Angeles through the incorporated suburbs of Montebello, Pico Rivera, and Whittier. Though it is designated State Route 72 by the California Department of Transportation, multiple generations of cruisers have known it simply as “the boulevard.” The racial transformation of these suburbs, examined in the preceding chapters, extended 131

the landscape of Chicano youth culture in ways that collapsed the boundaries between urban and suburban.2 The music scene laid the foundation for cruising as dance halls beckoned young people from all across Los Angeles. “Although young people may have lived in a particular neighborhood segregated by race and class,” historian Matt Garcia argues, “the common experience of listening to music broadcast across the Southland on KRLA and other radio stations prefigured the interethnic popularity of the halls.” Specifically, the El Monte Legion Stadium, a favorite destination for many, but especially for the youths from local barrios in El Monte, Pico Rivera, San Gabriel, and Whittier, drew multiracial crowds on a weekly basis. Garcia contends that the commute to dance halls like the El Monte Legion Stadium gave rise to Los Angeles’s car culture, and in particular lowriding and cruising.3 Thus, weekend nights on Whittier Boulevard emerged as a Chicano hotspot where the slow train of lowriders (and heavy proportion of beat-­up old cars) cruised stealthily along the main drag. Chicano youths transformed cruising from an “urban” form of recreation into a metropolitan phenomenon that drew heightened police harassment and suburban homeowner anxieties over crime and property values. In the latter half of the 1960s, as the popularity of cruising matured, the Los Angeles County Sheriff ’s Department ramped up its patrol and surveillance of the boulevard in East Los Angeles. One year after the famous 1968 East LA Blowouts, in which Chicano youths staged mass walkouts from their Eastside high schools to protest educational tracking, racist teachers and administrators, and a lack of Mexican American history courses, Whittier Boulevard again became a site of struggle. In July 1969 young Chicanas and Chicanos held a protest rally against the sheriff ’s department’s decision to strictly enforce curfew laws and increase the number of citations issued to cruisers. The peaceful protest quickly devolved into chaos as sheriff ’s deputies indiscriminately clubbed protestors and made mass arrests. According to La Raza Magazine the rioting lasted three days and was the fourth such scene involving police brutality within the previous 132 Epilogue

twelve months.4 Such repressive measures along the drag in East Los Angeles pushed cruisers further down the boulevard into the suburbs of Montebello, Pico Rivera, and Whittier, which had all experienced significant increases in Mexican American homeowners and tenants in the 1960s. According to the US Bureau of the Census, in 1970 Mexican Americans comprised 47 percent of the population of Montebello, 61 percent of Pico Rivera, and 13 percent of Whittier.5 Although the cruisers went to great lengths to avoid police confrontations like those in East Los Angeles, they met with similar intimidation in the suburban setting. Using “gang violence” as an excuse to harass young Chicanos, the Los Angeles County Sheriff ’s Department in Pico Rivera regularly stopped cars with non-­gang members in them and dismantled their cars in search of drugs, weapons, or any other type of paraphernalia that could provoke a citation or arrest.6 To justify their actions, law enforcement officials cited crime statistics and tied cruising directly to gang activity. However, such accusations were often misplaced. Some cruisers also blamed gangs for increased police repression. Many lamented the violent conflicts between rival neighborhoods, because such outbreaks led directly to police crackdowns on cruising. A. L., a twenty-­two-­year-­old Chicano biker who frequented Whittier Boulevard, told a reporter in 1979, “We’re just bikers, man. . . . People think we’re out to make trouble, but we’re not. It’s the cholos that cause the problems. It’s the truth. Who cares about the cholos, anyway?”7 While officials tended to portray cruising itself as the problem, on the boulevard young people drew distinctions among themselves and assigned blame for trouble. In their own defense, cruisers challenged police harassment and defied law enforcement attempts to barricade sections of Whittier Boulevard. In August 1976 a group of white and Chicano youths in the city of Whittier formed a “Whittier Blvd. Rights Committee” to air their grievances to the city council. At a planning meeting in a local park that drew more than one hundred people, the leaders of the Whittier Blvd. Rights Committee denounced police harassment and demanded a clear set of guidelines outlining the grounds Epilogue 133

for arrest and citation. In addition, the committee developed an agenda for combating attempts by the police department to limit their use of the public thoroughfare: they invited members of the American Civil Liberties Union to observe the conduct of police officers on weekend nights, requested public hearings to discuss cruising and individual rights, invited city council members and police officials to discuss short-­and long-­term solutions for more amicable relations between cruisers and police, and initiated meetings with car clubs to discuss ways to achieve the autonomy afforded them by occupying public space.8 Despite the best efforts of some youths to challenge the repressive tactics of the police in the late 1970s, local authorities pushed forward with a plan meant to frustrate cruisers. The sheriff ’s department ordered barricades set up on side streets to stop the flow of traffic toward the boulevard. These measures offered temporary relief from cruising, but it was not long before cruisers moved further down the boulevard, or even onto parallel streets such as Beverly or Olympic. Fourteen-­year-­old Ronnie Delgadillo mused, “They can’t stop the cruisers, no way can they stop them.”9 Another young person agreed in a statement made to a Los Angeles Times reporter as he gestured at the boundless agency cruisers enjoyed: “The cruisers will just go somewhere else.”10 That somewhere else was further down the boulevard. Suburban homeowners complained that side-­street parking presented the largest threat to neighborhood safety. When Montebello blocked off all side streets along Whittier Boulevard, homeowners hailed the decision as “the best thing they’ve ever done.”11 Homeowners in Pico Rivera disagreed. City Manager John Donlevy argued: “Moving the cruisers down the road a bit might correct Montebello’s problems, but it sure doesn’t help us.”12 For young Chicana and Chicano cruisers, the distinctions between suburban and urban mattered less than the autonomous expression they enjoyed on the boulevard. The cultural power of cruising down la calle from East Los to Whittier embodied one trajectory of ethnic Mexican postwar suburbanization. Centrifugal demographic transitions in the cities of Montebello, Pico Rivera, 134 Epilogue

and Whittier created more than profound changes in the political and economic arenas of these suburban municipalities. It also gave rise to a flourishing, racialized youth culture tied to the use of suburban public space. The wide boulevards that barreled through ethnic Mexican neighborhoods, coupled with pervasive pop cultural expressions of Chicano cruising, transformed the boulevard experience into a wider metropolitan phenomenon. Postwar suburbanization in Los Angeles was a process of residential and industrial decentralization that eventually extended the reach of the metropolitan region into the neighboring counties of Ventura, Riverside, San Bernardino, and Orange. Driven by the insatiable demand of homeownership—a demand that sparked a regionwide housing shortage early in the 1950s—and fueled by substantial federal investment in FHA and Veterans Affairs programs, the burgeoning Southern California–based defense industry, and urban renewal projects, this suburbanization reshaped metropolitan planning, popular culture, and national politics for the remainder of the twentieth century.13 In addition, suburbanization deepened longstanding patterns of racial and class-­based segregation, which gave rise to a new spatial common sense.14 Gender relations were hardly immune to the new metropolitan order, as the roles of women and men became rigidly defined in relation to the suburban home.15 By 1970, the year when a plurality of Americans lived in suburbs as opposed to large cities or rural towns, virtually every facet of life had been fundamentally transformed because of the spatial reordering of American metropolises. Los Angeles was at the cutting edge of this transformation, and ethnic Mexicans were at the center of it all. From one vantage point, suburbanization exacerbated barrio poverty, because the property tax revenues generated by homeowners that had at one time subsidized infrastructural improvements had fled to the suburbs. Yet this is not the whole story. Suburbanization unfolded across a vast region, encompassing rural villages and ethnic Mexican colonias that were swiftly drawn into the orbit of expanding suburban developments.16 By virtue of municipal incorporation, a process sought by localized factions of entrepreneurs and interest Epilogue 135

groups to charter independent cities exclusive of the authority of the City of Los Angeles, dozens of old Mexican settlements were swallowed up by suburban municipalities and their constituents. In these two veins, suburbanization was something that happened to ethnic Mexicans. However, Mexican Americans participated in suburbanization even as the collective group contended with the overlapping consequences of spatial reconfiguring. The racial geography of Los Angeles underwent drastic changes in the wake of market-­ driven development and the decline of the agricultural industries.17 Where ethnic Mexican colonias had once lain at the heart of local officials’ public health concerns and criminal policing activities, their erasure, even if many were only wiped from the collective consciousness in a figurative sense, gave credence to the myth that suburbs sprang up atop virgin soil devoid of contestation.18 Mexican Americans saw suburban homeownership as a critical link to collective advancement, and they proved relatively successful despite the prevalent discrimination directed at them. Significantly, this phenomenon paralleled both the consolidation of nonwhite ghettoes such as Watts and East Los Angeles and the explosive growth of racially exclusive white, middle-­class suburbs.19 Residential segregation in early 1950s suburban Los Angeles led to the expansion of Eastside barrios like Boyle Heights, Lincoln Heights, and East Los Angeles, with sharp increases in populations of Spanish-­surnamed residents, which nearly doubled between 1950 and 1960.20 Despite realtors’ vigilant maintenance of the suburban racial order via clandestine exclusionary practices, Mexican Americans strategically exploited the fissures in Los Angeles’s racial geography and established themselves in the suburbs.21 Indeed, by 1970 ethnic Mexicans had so firmly established themselves in Pico Rivera that Latino real estate salesperson Bernie Ruedas of Sweet and Co. Realty, based in Pico Rivera, won the “Salesman of the Year” award from the Pico Rivera Board of Realtors.22 The expansion of ethnic Mexican communities beyond the confines of urban barrios into suburban tract developments between 1950 and 1970 was driven by middle-­class Mexican Americans who sought 136 Epilogue

justice in housing and through the persistence of former colonia residents who wanted to claim their place in the sun. Postwar suburbanization expanded the separation between white and black Angelenos, crippling the opportunities for African Americans to collectively pursue upward mobility. Mexican Americans on the Eastside experienced similar economic disadvantages that contributed to the consolidation of the barrios in Boyle Heights, Lincoln Heights, and East Los Angeles. However, the fluidity and historical contingency of racial categories provided crucial openings for Mexican Americans to acquire suburban housing. The outcomes of Mexican Americans’ use of racial identity politics warrant careful reexamination of reflexive interpretations that paint them simply as sellouts. Instead, they exercised a strategic manipulation of racial categories to clear a path for upward mobility for themselves and their community. The grassroots work of MAPA, though not entirely successful in placing Mexican American political figures in statewide office, became a vehicle to oppose discrimination at the local level in suburban barrios. Finally, even in their collusion with redevelopers, middle-­class Mexican Americans held tight to their racial identities if only as a means to refract charges by Flood Ranch residents that the redevelopment project represented a racist plan aimed at their wholesale removal. Using redevelopment as a strategy to boost working-­class ethnic Mexicans into suburban homes was misguided and imperfect, but the event provides a window onto important struggles around identity within the ethnic Mexican community by exhibiting the different uses of racial language to mobilize community support. The significant transformation of these communities has escaped the purview of scholars who investigate questions about the role of postwar suburbs in altering the American way of life. The persistence of the black/white paradigm that originated in urban studies and transferred smoothly into suburban studies obstructs serious analysis of the integral challenges that histories of other people of color present to the national narrative. As a consequence, the black/white dichotomy removes groups like Latinos and Asian Americans from these literal and analytical spaces, Epilogue 137

rendering them unintelligible to experts and casual observers alike. Ethnic Mexicans did, in fact, become suburban at the same time that the nation became suburban. It is time to recalibrate the lenses of both Chicano history and suburban history to capture this overlooked reality.

138 Epilogue


The idea that launched this book came to me one day in 2005 during my routine commute from La Habra to the University of Southern California campus. At that point in graduate school, I was committed to a project that explored intersectional histories of immigrant groups in Lincoln Heights so that I could better understand the history of my family. But, throughout the fifty-­minute journey on Lambert Road to Washington Boulevard and then finally down Figueroa Street I thought about the unbroken spaces that connected Latinos from the eastern suburbs to the very heart of the city. I then thought about my family’s eastward regional migration across the twentieth century from Oxnard to Lincoln Heights to Pico Rivera and then to La Habra. Was there a bigger story there? I wondered. Twelve years later this book offers one answer to that question. Now that I have reached the end of this particular road, it is my distinct pleasure to give credit to all the wonderful people and institutions that made this book possible. Whatever it does well is a testament to the years and countless exchanges I have had with sharper minds. The errors and omissions are mine to own. My academic journey truly began the day I entered Gerry Padilla’s Introduction to Ethnic Studies at Fullerton College. In combination with Adela Lopez’s Chicano Studies courses I found the drive to transform myself from a flailing student with straight F’s in my first college semester to an intellectually curious scholar with a broader vision of my community and my role in it. Ethnic studies curriculum has been immensely important for students like myself across time and space and I appreciate the courage and 139

dedication of every single mentor, teacher, administrator, and student fighting for its preservation. Adelante! After I transferred to California State University, Fullerton I was fortunate to have had fantastic mentors. Lawrence De Graaf and Raphael Sonenshein helped me turn historical questions into research projects. Clark Davis, for whose memory this book is partly dedicated, nurtured my interests in Chicano and Los Angeles history and was the first to encourage me to pursue doctoral study. As a community college transfer student, I never imagined such a thing. I hope Clark knew how much he inspired me. My mentor George J. Sánchez prepared me for the rigors of academia. Even still when things get rough I call upon his wisdom. Also at USC, I was privileged to learn from a number of great scholars. Bill Deverell, Leland Saito, Ula Taylor, Lon Kurashige, Steve Ross, and Peter Mancall all gave generously of their time and guidance. Maria Elena Martinez always took time out to offer her wisdom with a smile, she is dearly missed. Lori Rogers, La Verne Hughes, Brenda Johnson, and Sandra Hopwood were a constant source of joy and laughs in the Social Sciences Building. Several institutions supported this book by offsetting the costs of research, offering time to write, or providing rich source material. I am grateful to the Irvine Foundation, the Historical Society of Southern California, the Haynes Foundation, The Huntington Library, the USC College of Letters, Arts, & Sciences. A UTSA Faculty Development Leave provided funding, as well as time away from teaching at a crucial time that enabled me to complete this book. The Pico Rivera History and Heritage Society and the La Historia Society in El Monte are doing the most important recovery work of all as they take time out of their very busy lives to ensure that the communities in which they serve continue to have access to their own histories. Thank you to Susana Lozano, Dr. Ben Campos, Sergio Jimenez, Chuck and Josie Gonzalez, Cecilia Hernandez, and Rosa Peña for their invaluable contributions to this book through their personal stories and images. Ernie and Olga Gutierrez touched the lives of generations in El Monte and beyond, que descansen en paz. 140 Acknowledgments

As a post-­doctoral fellow in the Latina/Latino Studies Department at the University of Illinois at Urbana-­Champaign I learned about the profession with a fresh set of eyes from Adrian Burgos, Ricky Rodriguez, Isabel Molina-­Guzmán, Rebecca Hester, Naomi Paik, Keith Camacho, Aide Acosta, Frank Galarte, Sonia Mariscal, Laura Castañeda, and Alicia Rodriguez. For helping to me to establish a new home in San Antonio, thank you to my brilliant colleagues at UTSA, Rhonda Gonzales, Kirsten Gardner, Wing Chung Ng, Anne Hardgrove, Gregg Michel, Catherine Nolan Ferrell, Gabriela Gonzalez, Drew Konove, LaGuana Gray, Jack Reynolds, Pat Kelly, Catherine Clinton, Omar Valerio-­ Jimenez, Cathy Komisaruk, Tony Calabria, Jim Schneider, David Johnson, Marco Cervantes, Kinitra Brooks, Ian Caine, Nazgol Bagheri, Sonja Lanehart, Deborah Thomas, Joycelyn Moody, Rudy Rosales, Ben Olguin, Keta Miranda, and Liliana Saldaña. Savannah Carroll taught me what it is to struggle while smiling. She was with us too briefly but I am grateful to have had the chance to learn from her. Long nights at the office were made more enjoyable by breaktime conversations with Aida, Erlinda, Humberto, and Maricela. Away from campus Antonia Castañeda, Graciela Sanchez, and the buena gente of the Esperanza Center work tirelessly to make the city more livable and to ensure that raza history is preserved one building at a time. Over the years, I have been blessed to work with creative and energetic students whose passion to learn constantly sustains me. I would especially like to acknowledge Victoria Benavidez, Daniel Herrera, Vincent Ramos, Micaela Valadez, Leo Treviño, Liz Nieto, Reuben Aleman, Michael Ely, Alejandra Nava, Amber Walker, Michelle Foster, Ernest Rodriguez, Moriah Walter, Lindsey Dillon, Teri Castillo, Allison Saenz, and Katelyn Grun for keeping me focused on the most important group in higher education. Many esteemed colleagues have offered comment or suggestions on various aspects of this work. Sincere thanks to Natalia Molina, Becky Nicolaides, Lilia Fernandez, Anthony Macias, Al Camarillo, Jose Alamillo, Elaine Lewinnek, Shana Bernstein, Thomas Sugrue, Matt Lassiter, Aaron Cavin, Carl Nightengale, Randy Ontiveros, Acknowledgments 141

Andy Wiese, Nancy Kwak, Herb Ruffin, and participants in the Los Angeles History and Metropolitan Studies Group, the San Antonio History Seminar, and the Southern California Urban Group. David Deis, Rafael Lorenzo, Nicholas Hager, and Nazgol Bagheri produced the wonderful maps found in this book. I am especially grateful to my editor Leslie Mitchner who saw promise in this project many years ago when it existed as just a conference paper. Without her dedication, patience, and keen eye this book would never have seen the light of day. I could not have been more fortunate than to have Matt Garcia as the series editor. A World of It’s Own provoked many of the questions at the core of this study. Matt’s suggestions at an early stage and his timely and insightful feedback down the stretch helped make this a better book. At different points along the path friends have reminded me what is important in this world and encouraged me to forge ahead. I offer my heartfelt gratitude to Abel Correa, Sean Greene, Richard Purcell, Andrew Highsmith, Curtis Terrell, Phuong Nguyen, Alex Aviña, Gustavo Licon, Jesus Ortega, LaGuana Gray, Gilbert Estrada, Hillary Jenks, Nick Franco, and Rebecca Sheehan for sharing in all of the ups and downs in this life. Kristina Alvarado was there from the beginning, I hope she sees her imprint on the pages of this book. I also appreciate the support and friendship of Rosina Lozano, Mark Padoongpatt, Michan Connor, Julie Weise, Veronica Castillo, and Mario Sifuentez. My cuñado Bladimir Ruiz has been kinder to me than I deserve and he has helped to make so many things possible, for that I am indebted to him for life. A mis suegros, Napoleón Fernández y Haydee Dávila, les agradezco todo el apoyo y oraciones que me ofrecieron durante estos años, los quiero mucho y siempre los recuerdo con mucho cariño. A Gustavo Delgado, gracias por todo homes, erés más sabio de los años que tienes, persigue tus sueños, te quiero mucho. Tambien quiero agradecer a toda mi familia en Venezuela por recibirme de la manera que lo hicieron y mostrarme el camino para seguir luchando por mis metas. None of this would feel complete if I could not share it with my family who has never wavered in their support of my work. 142 Acknowledgments

Although I am a thousand miles away, you are all close to my heart. Jackie, Mike, Candace, Gabriel, Kristen, and Rob always make sure that my homecomings are filled with life and laughter. Rikki, Priscilla, Elise, Gabriel, and Robbie all make me a very proud uncle and I look forward to seeing what amazing things they will do. Of course, my parents, Jerry and Maria, deserve the grandest thanks of all. They have always been at my side encouraging me to follow my dreams no matter where they may lead. Finalmente, a mi amada esposa, Karina. Me has dado una nueva manera de ver, ser y aprender. Para mí es imposible imaginarme terminando este libro sin tu amor, ni tu paciencia. Gracias por tu apoyo incondicional y por abrirme la puerta a un nuevo mundo en el que pasaremos la vida entera.

Acknowledgments 143


Introduction 1. At the time that the Lozanos purchased their home, the community

was still unincorporated. However, for clarity and continuity I refer to it here by the name of the city after its incorporation in 1958.

2. Susana C. Lozano, interview by author, Pico Rivera, Calif., 7 April 2008. 3. Identities are not fixed. People constantly reconsider who they are in

relation to a broad range of factors. Because of this, attaching labels to

any group of people obscures just as much as it clarifies. However, in an effort to remain true to the people who comprise this history, I employ a range of identifiers that all, in some way, are attached to Mexican

ethnicity. Throughout the book I use “ethnic Mexican” and “Mexican”

interchangeably to discuss the group as a whole, which includes Mex-

ican nationals and US citizens of Mexican origin. The term “Mexican” has historically been used as a racial marker, and I employ it when the context dictates. “Mexican American” is in keeping with a common

self-­identity among the children and grandchildren of migrants from the Mexican Revolution. Similarly, I use the term “Chicano” when it is contextually appropriate, as a political and cultural self-­identity. I

also use the umbrella term “Latino” when the national origins of the community are diverse.

4. “Place in the Sun: City of Pico Rivera, First Annual Report, 1959; City of Homes, Churches, Schools, and Industry” (Pico Rivera Museum, Pico Rivera, CA). William Deverell’s discussion of “typicality” as a method to sell the landscape, and thus the neighborhoods, of Los

Angeles is especially important here. As the first annual report makes 145

clear, the city of Pico Rivera was exceptional only in that it protected

its territory from annexation by Whittier, its neighbor to the east, and Montebello, its neighbor to the west. Aside from that, the writers of

the report emphasized that theirs was a typical suburban city outside

of the reach of Los Angeles rule. See William Deverell, Whitewashed Adobe: The Rise of Los Angeles and the Remaking of Its Mexican Past (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2004), 173–176.

5. US Bureau of the Census, U.S. Censuses of Population and Housing:

1960 Census Tracts, Final Report PHC(1)-­82 (Washington, D.C.: US Government Printing Office, 1962), 606, 28; US Bureau of the Cen-

sus, Census of Population and Housing: 1970 Census Tracts, Final Report

PHC(1)-­117. Los Angeles-­Long Beach, Calif., SMSA Part 1 (Washington, D.C.: US Government Printing Office, 1972), 598.

6. George Lipsitz’s notion of hidden histories informs my own reading of Mexican American suburbanization in Los Angeles. See Lipsitz, Footsteps in the Dark: The Hidden Histories of Popular Music (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2007).

7. Regional Planning Commission—County of Los Angeles, Quarterly Bulletin, no. 116 (1 April 1972): 2.

8. Greg Hise, Magnetic Metropolis: Planning the Twentieth-­Century

Metropolis (Baltimore, Md.: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1997), 191.

9. Lawrence B. de Graaf, “City of Black Angels: Emergence of the Black Ghetto, 1890–1930,” Pacific Historical Review 39, no. 3 (August 1970):

323–352; Josh Sides, L.A. City Limits: African American Los Angeles from the Great Depression to the Present (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2003), 110.

10. Albert Camarillo, Chicanos in a Changing Society: From Mexican Pueblos to American Barrios in Santa Barbara and Southern California, 1848–1930 (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1979), 207.

11. See Matt García’s discussion of colonias in A World of Its Own: Race,

Labor, and the Making of Greater Los Angeles, 1900–1970 (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2001), 1–3. My use of the terms

barrio and colonia indicates whether I am discussing ethnic Mexican communities prior to or following postwar suburbanization.

12. Scholars have argued recently that colonias fit the mold of ethnic,

working-­class suburbs in their own right. See Aaron I. Cavin, “The

146  Notes to pp. 2–5

Borders of Citizenship: The Politics of Metropolitan Space in Silicon

Valley” (PhD diss., University of Michigan, 2012); and Paul J. P. Sandul, California Dreaming: Boosterism, Memory, and Rural Suburbs in the

Golden State (Morgantown: West Virginia University Press, 2014), 57.

13. See the scanned images of city surveys and HOLC maps for dozens of American cities at Robert K. Nelson, LaDale Winling, Richard

Marciano, Nathan Connolly, et al., “Mapping Inequality,” in American

Panorama, ed. Robert K. Nelson and Edward L. Ayers, accessed 2 Janu-

ary 2017, https://​dsl​.richmond​.edu​/panorama​/redlining​/​#loc​=​11​/34​.0094​


14. These estimates were based on US Census data, which have always

been more of an approximation rather than an exact count, given the fluidity of populations and especially those persons unaccounted for who lived in the shadows of the state during this time. See Joanne Moore, Leo Grebler, and Ralph Guzman, The Mexican American

People: The Nation’s Second Largest Minority (New York: The Free Press, 1970), 107.

15. George J. Sánchez, “ ‘ What’s Good for Boyle Heights is Good for the Jews’: Creating Multiracialism on the Eastside during the 1950s,” in

Los Angeles and the Future of Urban Cultures: A Special Issue of American Quarterly, ed. Raúl Homero Villa and George J. Sánchez (Baltimore, Md.: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2005), 135–159; Hillary Jenks, “Seasoned Long Enough in Concentration: Suburbanization and

Transnational Citizenship in Southern California’s South Bay,” Journal of Urban History 40, no. 1 (2014): 6–30; Michan Connor, “Public Ben-

efits from Public Choice? Producing Decentralization in Los Angeles County, 1954–1973,” Journal of Urban History 39, no. 1 (2013): 79–100.

16. US Bureau of the Census, U.S. Census of Population: 1950, vol. III,

Census Tract Statistics, Chapter 28 (Washington, D.C.: US Government Printing Office, 1952); Bureau of the Census, U.S. Census of Population

and Housing: 1960 Census Tracts; Bureau of the Census, Census of Population and Housing: 1970 Census Tracts.

17. See Mike Davis, City of Quartz: Excavating the Future in Los Ange-

les (New York: Verso, 1990); Hise, Magnetic Los Angeles; Dana Cuff, The Provisional City: Los Angeles Stories of Architecture and Urbanism

(Cambridge, MA: Cambridge University Press, 2000); and Becky M. Notes to pp. 5–7  147

Nicolaides and Andrew Wiese, eds., The Suburb Reader (New York: Routledge, 2006).

18. See Elaine Tyler May, Homeward Bound: American Families in the Cold War Era (New York: Basic Books, 1988); Lisa McGirr, Suburban War-

riors: The Origins of the New American Right (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 2001); Eric Avila, Popular Culture in the Age of White

Flight: Fear and Fantasy in Suburban Los Angeles (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2004; Matthew D. Lassiter, The Silent Major-

ity: Suburban Politics in the Sunbelt South (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton

University Press, 2006); Karen Tongson, Relocations: Queer Suburban Imaginaries (New York: New York University Press, 2011); Laura R.

Barraclough, Making the San Fernando Valley: Rural Landscapes, Urban Development, and White Privilege (Athens: Georgia University Press, 2011); and Lily Geismer, Don’t Blame Us: Suburban Liberals and the

Transformation of the Democratic Party (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 2015).

19. Jenks, “Seasoned Long Enough in Concentration:,” 6–30.

20. Wendy Cheng, The Changs Next Door to the Diazes: Remapping Race

in Suburban California (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press,

2013). See also Scott Kurashige, The Shifting Grounds of Race: Black and

Japanese Americans in the Making of Multiethnic Los Angeles (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 2008).

21. Jenks, “Seasoned Long Enough in Concentration,” 13.

22. Tanachai Mark Padoongpatt, “ ‘A Landmark for Sun Valley’: Wat Thai of Los Angeles and Thai American Suburban Culture in 1980s San

Fernando Valley,” Journal of American Ethnic History 34, no. 2 (Winter 2015): 83–114.

23. Hillary Jenks has shown that the experience of Japanese Americans in the 1930s South Bay area was similar to that of ethnic Mexicans

in colonias. And Charlotte Brooks and Wendy Cheng have demon-

strated that both groups enjoyed a modicum of racial privilege vis-­à-­vis African Americans. Finally, Leland Saito and Mark Padoongpatt have each argued that both Latinos and Asian Americans made claims on

municipal space in ways that disrupted notions of white suburbia. See

Jenks, “Seasoned Long Enough in Concentration”; Cheng, The Changs Next Door to the Diazes; Charlotte Brooks, Alien Neighbors, Foreign 148  Notes to pp. 7–8

Friends: Asian Americans, Housing, and the Transformation of Urban

America (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2009); Leland T. Saito, Race and Politics: Asian Americans, Latinos, and Whites in a Los Angeles Suburb (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1998); and Padoongpatt, “A Landmark for Sun Valley.”

24. George J. Sánchez, Becoming Mexican American: Ethnicity, Culture, and Identity in Chicano Los Angeles, 1900–1945 (New York: Oxford University Press, 1993), 11.

25. Cindy Carcamo, “Latinos’ Rising Fortunes are Epitomized in Downey,”

Los Angeles Times, August 5, 2015, accessed 14 December 2015, http://​www​

.latimes​.com​/local​/la​-­­­­me​-­­­­downey​-­­­­latinos​-­­­­20150805​-­­­­story​.html; and Tina

Vasquez, “No, Downey Is Not ‘Mexican Beverly Hills,’ ” Downey Patriot,

6 August 2015, accessed 14 December 2015, http://​www​.thedowneypatriot​ .com​/articles​/no​-­­­­downey​-­­­­is​-­­­­not​-­­­­mexican​-­­­­beverly​-­­­­hills.

26. Rodolfo Acuna has argued that working-­class Latinos are spread

across the Los Angeles metropolitan region, but that the middle class is concentrated in the San Gabriel Valley and that some folks refer to

Hacienda Heights as the “Mexican Beverly Hills.” See Acuna, Anything but Mexican: Chicanos in Contemporary Los Angeles (London: Verso, 1995), 6.

27. Recent studies of Mexican American racial identity have come to varying conclusions. Jody Argus Vallejo concludes that Mexican Americans who reach a middle-­class status become whitened by their educa-

tional, professional, and residential contexts. Manuel Pastor and Laura Pulido draw similar conclusions but analyze Mexican Americans in

the context of immigration debates. Wendy Cheng identifies Mexican

Americans as having flexible whiteness, or situational whiteness, particularly in direct comparison with Asian Americans in the suburbs of the

San Gabriel Valley. Sociologist Julie Dowling’s study of the Rio Grande Valley argues that Mexican Americans themselves are often divided over the question of race, particularly in response to the US Census

Bureau classifications. Ultimately, what these studies reveal is that the question, while direct, yields complicated answers that hinge on citi-

zenship status, class mobility, region, language, and skin color. See Jody Argus Vallejo, Barrios to Burbs: The Making of the Mexican American

Middle Class (Stanford, Calif.: Stanford University Press, 2012); Laura Notes to pp. 8–9  149

Pulido and Manuel Pastor, “Where in the World Is Juan—And What Color is He? The Geography of Latina/o Racial Identity in Southern California,” American Quarterly 65, no. 2 (2013): 309–341; Cheng, The

Changs Next Door to the Diazes; and Julie Dowling, Mexican Americans and the Question of Race (Austin: University of Texas Press, 2014).

28. See Mark Overmeyer-­Velasquez, “Good Neighbors and White

Mexicans: Constructing Race and Nation on the Mexico-­US Border,”

Journal of American Ethnic History 33,no. 1 (Fall 2013): 5–34; and Natalia Molina, How Race Is Made in America: Immigration, Citizenship, and

the Historical Power of Racial Scripts (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2014).

29. See Gabriela Arredondo, Mexican Chicago: Race, Identity, and Nation,

1916–39 (Champaign: University of Illinois Press, 2008); Lilia Fernandez, Brown in the Windy City: Mexicans and Puerto Ricans in Postwar Chicago (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2012); Raul Ramos,

Beyond the Alamo: Forging Mexican Ethnicity in San Antonio, 1821–1861

(Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2010); Monica Perales, Smeltertown: Making and Remembering a Southwest Border Community (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2010); Anthony Mora, Border Dilemmas: Racial and National Uncertainties in New

Mexico, 1848–1912 (Durham, N.C.: Duke University Press, 2011); Lydia

Otero, La Calle: Spatial Conflicts and Urban Renewal in a Southwest City (Tucson: University of Arizona Press, 2009); Gerald Cadava, Standing on Common Ground: The Making of a Sunbelt Borderland (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 2013); and A. K. Sandoval-­Strausz,

“Latino Landscapes: Postwar Cities and the Transnational Origins of a New Urban America,” Journal of American History 101, no. 3 (December 2014): 804–831.

30. Works by Gilbert Gonzalez, Matt García, José Alamillo, A. K.

Sandoval-­Strausz, and Aaron Cavin have prompted the question of

how Mexican Americans formed racial identities in suburban contexts.

See Gilbert G. González, Labor and Community: Mexican Citrus Worker Villages in a Southern California County, 1900–1950 (Urbana: University

of Illinois Press, 1994); García, A World of Its Own; Jose Alamillo, Making Lemonade Out of Lemons: Mexican American Labor and Leisure in a California Town, 1880–1960 (Champaign: University of Illinois Press, 150  Notes to p. 9

2006); Sandoval-­Strausz, “Latino Landscapes”; and Aaron Cavin, “The

Borders of Citizenship: The Politics of Race and Metropolitan Space in Silicon Valley” (PhD diss., University of Michigan, 2012).

31. Since it was first published in 1985, every work related to suburbs has

had to engage Kenneth T. Jackson’s canonical Crabgrass Frontier. In his sweeping analysis of the suburban United States, Jackson laid a blue-

print for later suburban historians to interrogate previously held truths

about suburbs as spaces of exclusivity and privilege. Two of his students

heeded that mandate to critically interrogate the mythology around the suburban narrative and expand the boundaries of inquiry. Becky Nico-

laides and Andrew Wiese each expanded Jackson’s work by focusing on white working-­class suburbs and African American suburbanization,

respectively. Nicolaides argues that Southgate, California, constituted

the typical postwar suburb, as white folks who benefited from federal

subsidies capitalized on their equity and moved from such suburbs to far more affluent places by the conclusion of the 1960s. Wiese contends that African Americans were present in suburbanization for

most of the twentieth century, but scholars either did not recognize

their presence or underestimated the importance of African American

suburbanization altogether. See Kenneth T. Jackson, Crabgrass Frontier: The Suburbanization of the United States (New York: Oxford University Press, 1985); Becky Nicolaides, My Blue Heaven: Life and Politics in the

Working-­Class Suburbs of Los Angeles, 1920–1965 (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2002); and Andrew Wiese, Places of Their Own: African American Suburbanization in the Twentieth Century (Chicago: Uni-

versity of Chicago Press, 2004); see also Lawrence B. de Graaf, “City

of Black Angels: Emergence of the Los Angeles Ghetto, 1890–1930,”

Pacific Historical Review 39 (August 1970): 323–352; Josh Sides, L.A. City Limits: African American Los Angeles from the Great Depression to the

Present (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2003); and Douglas Flamming, Bound for Freedom: Black Los Angeles in Jim Crow America

(Berkeley: University of California Press, 2005). A new generation of metropolitan historians is uncovering the myriad ways that diversity

defined suburban America. See Elaine M. Lewinnek, The Working Man’s Reward: Chicago’s Early Suburbs and the Roots of American Sprawl (New York: Oxford University Press, 2014); Herbert G. Ruffin II, Uninvited

Notes to p. 10  151

Neighbors: African Americans in Silicon Valley, 1769–1990 (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 2014); N.D.B. Connoly, A World More Con-

crete: Real Estate and the Remaking of Jim Crow South Florida (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2014); Andrew R. Highsmith, Demolition Means Progress: Flint, Michigan and the Fate of the American Metropolis

(Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2015); Nancy H. Kwak, A World

of Homeowners: American Power and the Politics of Housing Aid (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2015); and Geismer, Don’t Blame Us.

32. González, Labor and Community; García, A World of Its Own; Alamillo, Making Lemonade out of Lemons.

33. García, A World of Its Own, 69. See also Matthew J. García, “Requiem

for a Barrio: Race, Space, and Gentrification in Southern California,” in Making Cities Global: The Transnational Turn in Urban History, ed.

Andrew Sandoval-­Strausz and Nancy Haekyung Kwak (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2017).

34. See Jackson, Crabgrass Frontier; Lisa McGirr, Suburban Warriors: The Origins of the New American Right (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton Uni-

versity Press, 2001); García, A World of Its Own; Nicolaides, My Blue Heaven; Robert O. Self, American Babylon: Race and the Struggle for

Postwar Oakland (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 2004);

Avila, Popular Culture in the Age of White Flight; Wiese, Places of their

Own; Matthew D. Lassiter, The Silent Majority: Suburban Politics in the

Sunbelt South (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 2006); David M. P. Freund, Colored Property: State Policy and White Racial Politics in Suburban America (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2007); and Brooks, Alien Neighbors, Foreign Friends.

Chapter 1. The Lands of Mañana 1. “Land of Manana [sic]: Hicks’ Camp Retains Touch of Old Mexico,” Los Angeles Times, 11 December 1948, 10. Mike Davis notes that the

Los Angeles Times from its inception through the 1980s had consid-

erable influence over development discourse in the region. Regional

competition eventually wore the Times down, but in the middle of the

twentieth century, when this article was published, the paper facilitated a number of development schemes simply by the power of suggestion. 152  Notes to pp. 10–14

See Davis, City of Quartz: Excavating the Future in Los Angeles (New York: Vintage Books, 1992), 138–140.

2. Carey McWilliams studied these ethnic Mexican spaces outside the city of Los Angeles as “out-­of-­the-­way” places on “the other side of

the tracks” and described the “colonia complex” as an intricate system of power and hierarchy that positioned white landowners at the top

and laboring Mexicans at the bottom of a semirural social hierarchy cleaved along spatial, linguistic, racial, cultural, and economic lines.

Carey McWilliams, North from Mexico: The Spanish-­Speaking People of the United States (1948; updated by Matt S. Meier, New York: Greenwood Press, 1990), 197–201. New suburban historians have begun to make similar cases for colonias as blue-­collar suburbs. The fact that

they were home to majority working-­class populations living relatively

autonomous lives from the central city except for the relationship with local industry forces us to reconsider the roots and ultimate legacies of

these places for the extension of suburbia following World War II. See Paul J. P. Sandul, California Dreaming: Boosterism, Memory, and Rural Suburbs in the Golden State (Morgantown: West Virginia University,

2014), 6–7; Aaron I. Cavin, “The Borders of Citizenship: The Politics

of Race and Metropolitan Space in Silicon Valley” (PhD diss., University of Michigan, 2012); and Christopher C. Sellers, Crabgrass Crucible:

Suburban Nature and the Rise of Environmentalism in Twentieth-­Century

America (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2012), 173–182.

3. This figure comes from Gilbert G. González, Labor and Community:

Mexican Citrus Worker Villages in a Southern California County, 1900–

1950 (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1994), 1. For the expanse of ethnic Mexican colonias throughout Southern California, see Douglas Monroy, Rebirth: Mexican Los Angeles from the Great Migration to the Great Depression (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1999),

13–14; Matt García, A World of Its Own: Race, Labor, and Citrus in the Making of Greater Los Angeles, 1900–1970 (Chapel Hill: University of

North Carolina Press, 2001), 47–86; José Alamillo, Making Lemonade out of Lemons: Mexican American Labor and Leisure in a California

Town, 1880–1960 (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2006); William Deverell, Whitewashed Adobe: The Rise of Los Angeles and the Remaking of Its Mexican Past (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2004),

Notes to pp. 14–15  153

129–171; and Laura Barraclough, Making the San Fernando Valley:

Rural Landscapes, Urban Development, and White Privilege (Athens:

University of Georgia Press, 2011), 55–58. For examinations of colonias in Northern California, see Steven Pitti, The Devil in Silicon Valley: Northern California, Race, and Mexican Americans (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 2003), 88–92; Robert O. Self, American

Babylon: Race and the Struggle for Postwar Oakland (Princeton, N.J.:

Princeton University Press, 2003), 272–277; and Cavin, “The Borders of Citizenship,” 299–347.

4. García, A World of Its Own, 49–50.

5. For an academic study of Simons Brickyard, see chapter 4 of

Deverell, Whitewashed Adobe; for a literary interpretation of the

community, see Alejandro Morales, The Brick People (Houston: Arte Público Press, 1992). Although race-­restrictive covenants did not

cover many of the homes in Montebello, a clandestine agreement

to forbid home sales to African Americans, Asian Americans, and

Mexican Americans was in effect until at least the late 1950s. See the local real estate industry’s multiple listing forms advertising properties for sale, Edward Roybal Collection, Series I, box 175–177, folder “Mexican-­American Study Project UCLA, ’64–66,” Department of

Special Collections, California State University, Los Angeles (hereafter Roybal Papers).

6. Becky M. Nicolaides, My Blue Heaven: Life and Politics in the Working-­ Class Suburbs of Los Angeles, 1920–1965 (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2002), 189–190.

7. Greg Hise, Magnetic Los Angeles: Planning the Twentieth Century

Metropolis (Baltimore, Md.: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1997),

153–159. The estimate of Los Angeles’s total population following the

wartime spike is adapted from Philip J. Ethington, William H. Frey,

and Dowell Myers, “The Racial Resegregation of Los Angeles County, 1940–2000,” in Race Contours 2000 Study, Public Research Report No. 2001–04 (Los Angeles: School of Policy, Planning, and Development, University of Southern California, 12 May 2001), 10.

8. The federal government exercised vast influence on suburban expan-

sion following the Great Depression, principally through the HOLC of 1933; the FHA of 1934; the Servicemen’s Readjustment Act, more

154  Notes to pp. 15–17

commonly known as the GI Bill of 1944; and urban renewal as part of the omnibus Housing Act of 1949.

9. See Kenneth T. Jackson, Crabgrass Frontier: The Suburbanization of the United States (New York: Oxford University Press, 1985), 196–201.

10. “Mexican Population of Los Angeles County and Mexican Pupils

Enrolled in Los Angeles County School Districts,” John Anson Ford Papers, box 75, folder dd (7), The Huntington Library, San Marino, Calif. (hereafter Ford Papers).

11. Ibid. For many ethnic Mexicans, repatriation was the first time they set foot on Mexican soil. For an in-­depth treatment of repatriation,

see Francisco Balderrama and Raymond Rodriguez, Decade of Betrayal: Mexican Repatriation in the 1930s (Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 2006).

12. Ethington, Frey, and Myers, “The Racial Resegregation of Los Angeles,” 10.

13. George Sánchez, Becoming Mexican American: Ethnicity, Culture, and

Identity in Chicano Los Angeles, 1900–1945 (New York: Oxford University Press, 1993), 13.

14. Peter La Chappelle, Proud to Be an Okie: Cultural Politics, Country

Music, and Migration to Southern California (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2007), 51.

15. Ibid., 26–27.

16. “Interview, October 7, 1948, notes, CH with Faustina Solis re: Hicks

Camp,” folder “Additional Interviews—Hicks Camp,” box 80, Ralph

Leon Beals Papers, National Anthropological Archives, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C. (hereafter Beals Papers).

17. Sánchez, Becoming Mexican American, 213–214.

18. Natalia Molina, Fit to Be Citizens? Public Health and Race in Los Angeles, 1879–1939 (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2006), 136–141; Deverell, Whitewashed Adobe, 172–206.

19. Although it does not say so, this appraisal describes the colonia

known as Jimtown and prior to that as the Guirado district. It currently sits on the edge of the 605 Freeway and Whittier Boulevard

exit. See HOLC appraisal of the “San Gabriel Wash and Whittier

Way” section of Los Angeles, 1939. Los Angeles City Survey Files,

Area Descriptions, Home Owners Loan Corporation, Record Group Notes to pp. 19–21  155

195, National Archives, Washington, D.C., 1939. Doc #D-­57. Quoted

in Becky M. Nicolaides and Andrew Wiese, The Suburb Reader (New York: Routledge, 2006), 243.

20. Molina, Fit to Be Citizens?, 166–167.

21. McWilliams, North from Mexico, 197–198.

22. See the map “Mexican colonias in the San Gabriel Valley area, 1947” to view the location of these colonias.

23. Owner builders made significant contributions to the suburban built environment. Ranging from fully planned to piecemeal, jerry-­built

structures, the houses that owner builders constructed constituted a large share of the early housing stock in suburban Los Angeles.

White owner builders in South Gate, for example, had developed that semirural working-­class suburb well before World War II and would introduce greater design and affluence. See the discussion of owner builders in Nicolaides, My Blue Heaven, 29–33.

24. “Some Notes on the Mexican Population in Los Angeles County,”

prepared by the Information Division, Los Angeles County Coordi-

nating Councils, WPA Project 11887, December 1941, box 75, folder “The Races-­Mexicans,” dd(7), Ford Papers.

25. González, Labor and Community, 2.

26. Historian Monica Perales has shown that in the El Paso, Texas,

community of Smeltertown, Mexican American women adapted the language and education of Americanization programs to shape the

cultural parameters of their community and to collectively demand

their rights as citizens. See Monica Perales, Smeltertown: Making and

Remembering a Southwest Border Community (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2010), 185–188.

27. Lucy Flores, interview by Pat Aroz, in Personal Stories from the El

Monte Communities: A Project of the Exploratory College, ed. Susan Sellman Obler et al. (Whittier, Calif.: Rio Hondo College, 1978), 35.

28. Alhambra City Directory, 1930: Including El Monte, Monterey Park, Rosemead, San Gabriel, and Wilmar (Los Angeles: Los Angeles Directory Co., 1930), 441–480.

29. Mary Perez, interview by Javier Valencia and Irma Hernandez, in

Personal Stories from the El Monte Communities, 75. Translated from the original Spanish by the author.

156  Notes to pp. 21–23

30. With rare exception, scholars reference Hicks Camp only in relation

to the 1933 El Monte Berry Strike. The role Hicks Camp played in the strike is well known but not well understood. Matt García is the only scholar to fold Hicks Camp and El Monte into a larger analysis of metropolitan formation. García, A World of Its Own, 69–70, 74–75.

31. Hillary Jenks, “Seasoned Long Enough in Concentration: Suburbanization and Transnational Citizenship in Southern California’s South Bay,” Journal of Urban History 40, no. 1 (2014): 14–15.

32. Lon Kurashige, Japanese American Celebration and Conflict: A History of Ethnic Identity and Festival in Los Angeles, 1934–1990 (Berkeley: Uni-

versity of California Press, 2002), 18–23. Kurashige shows that Japanese

American agriculture effectively disappeared in the aftermath of World War II internment. See ibid., 127–128.

33 Camille Guerin-­Gonzales, Mexican Workers and American Dreams: Immigration, Repatriation, and California Farm Labor, 1900–1939 (New Brunswick, N.J.: Rutgers University Press, 1996), 116.

34. Kinko Hernandez, “Friday Night at Abuelita’s Home in Hicks Camp,” Cuentos De La Historia: The Journal of Barrio Literature and History 3, no. 1 (Fall 2005): 42.

35. Most Japanese growers circumvented the baldly racist state Alien Land Law, which prevented “aliens ineligible for citizenship” from owning or leasing commercial property. Mark Reisler, By the Sweat of Their Brow: Mexican Immigrant Labor in the United States, 1900–1940 (Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1976), 238.

36. Ronald W. Lopez, “The El Monte Berry Strike of 1933,” Aztlán: A Journal of Chicano Studies 1, no. 1 (Spring 1970): 114.

37. “El Monte Berry Crop Threatened by Strike,” Los Angeles Time, 7 June 1933, A16.

38. “Berry Strike Gets Violent,” Los Angeles Times, 10 June 1933, A6; “Striking Berry Picker Admits Beating Worker,” Los Angeles Times, 23 June 1933, 4.

39. “Berry Strike Gets Violent.”

40. Guerin-­Gonzales, Mexican Workers and American Dreams, 118–119. 41. Balderrama and Rodriguez, Decade of Betrayal, 129.

42. “Strikers Make Pay Pact,” Los Angeles Times, 7 July 1933, A1; Guerin-­ Gonzales, Mexican Workers, American Dreams, 117.

Notes to pp. 23–25  157

43. Guerin-­Gonzales, Mexican Workers, American Dreams, 120–138.

44. The El Monte Boys, who roamed around Los Angeles, occupy a

nefarious place in the memories of ethnic Mexicans. El Monte stood at the center of one of the most diverse agricultural regions in the United States but was home to hostile, anti-­Mexican Anglos who were always ready for violence. See Deverell, Whitewashed Adobe, 18.

45. The figure of berry acreage is found in Lopez, “The El Monte Berry Strike of 1933,” 103.

46. US Bureau of the Census, “Los Angeles, Enumeration District 34,” in Thirteenth Census of the United States, 1910—Population (Washington, D.C.: US Government Printing Office, 1913), 219–221.

47. Deed of sale from Anita Baldwin to Robert Hicks, January 11, 1918,

Los Angeles County Archives, Norwalk, Calif. This account has been confused with the origins of Wiggins Camp by Carey McWilliams

and Ralph Leon Beals, who both independently asserted that the camp grew out of a flood in 1922 that forced people from the riverbed onto higher ground. Both the deed and the census data establish that the

built community reaches back further than 1922 and possibly even into the late nineteenth century.

48. Griffith’s study of ethnic Mexican youths’ maturation into “Americans” fulfilled a need for more information on Mexican Americans in the 1940s. See Beatrice Griffith, American Me (1948; Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1973).

49. “Stanley Hicks on Hicks Camp,” conversation with Faustina Solis,

November 20, 1948, folder “Additional Interviews-­Hicks Camp,” box 80, Beals Papers.

50. Lupe Ruiz, “I Remember Hicks Camp,” Cuentos de La Historia: The Journal of Barrio Literature and History 3, no. 1 (Fall 2005): 4–5.

51. As in similar communities, the bonds that tied residents to one another crossed generations, and the memory of life in the colonia continues to resonate into the present. La Historia Society actively preserves

the historical and cultural memory of the El Monte area colonias by

hosting reunions, an annual fund-­raiser, and in 2009 were successful in establishing a park. Former residents of Hicks Camp have been active in preserving the memory of the community that they once shared

158  Notes to pp. 26–28

on the banks of the San Gabriel River. Several community members

active in this preservation were kind enough to share their experiences with me in interviews. For an overview of their project, see http://​

lahistoriasociety​.org/. See also Daniel Morales, “Hicks Camp: A Mex-

ican Barrio,” 21 May 2014, accessed 25 April 2016, https://​tropicsofmeta​ .wordpress​.com​/2014​/05​/21​/hicks​-­­­­camp​-­­­­a​-­­­­mexican​-­­­­barrio/.

52. John V. Coffield, Memoirs of Juanote (El Monte, Calif.: La Historia Society, n.d.), 26.

53. Bonifacio Solis biographical sketch, box 81, folder “Outline Draft/ Notes/Household Members/Family Studies-­Hicks Camp,” Beals


54. “Tabulation of Facts on Conditions Existent in Hicks’ Mexican Camp, (paper presented to the Special Mexican Relations Committee of Los

Angeles County Grand Jury, 8 October 1942), box 75, folder dd(8), Ford Papers.

55. Letter from H.K.D. Peachy, Deputy Area Rent Coordinator for Los

Angeles County, to Charlotte Hanna, Research Assistant, UCLA, 1948, box 80, folder “Notes—Hicks Camp,” Beals Papers.

56. Ibid.

57. Frank Lara interview, in Personal Stories from the El Monte Commu­ nities, 44.

58. “Tabulation of Facts in Hicks Camp,” Ford Papers. 59. Ibid.

60. González, Labor and Community, 29–31. 61. Ibid.

62. Of the 101 men surveyed in the study, 84 worked outside El Monte.

Box 81, folder “Field Studies Data in the Following Folders . . . ,” Beals Papers.

63. García, A World of Its Own, 69–70, 74–75.

64. For a detailed analysis of what constituted Mexican American biculturality, see Sánchez, Becoming Mexican American.

65. Profile of Rafael Hernandez, box 80, folder “Outline Draft/Notes/ Household Members/Family Studies,” Beals Papers.

66. “Tabulations of Facts on Conditions Existent in Hicks’ Mexican Camp,” Ford Papers.

Notes to pp. 28–32  159

67. Frank Lara interview, in Personal Stories from the El Monte Commu­ nities, 44.

68. Cecilia “Kinko” Hernandez, interview by author, 24 August 2007, El Monte, Calif.

69. Ethnic Mexicans are historically and traditionally Catholic, if not in

everyday practice, at least in culture. See Roberto R. Treviño, The Church in the Barrio: Mexican American Ethno-­Catholicism in Houston (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2006).

70. Ibid., 25–27.

71. Marjie Driscoll, “Activist Priest Pursues Dignity for Barrio’s Poor,” Los Angeles Times, 24 October 1973, OC-­A1.

72. Coffield, Memoirs of Juanote, 24.

73. Ralph Leon Beals, interview with John Coffield, 6 November 1948, box 80, folder “Additional Interviews, Hicks Camp,” Beals Papers.

74. See Mauricio Mazon, Zoot Suit Riots: The Psychology of Symbolic Annihilation (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1984); Eduardo Obregon Pagan, Murder at the Sleepy Lagoon: Zoot Suits, Race, and Riot in

Wartime L.A. (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2003); and Elizabeth R. Escobedo, From Coveralls to Zoot Suits: The Lives of

Mexican American Women on the World War II Homefront (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2015).

75. Vera Guerrero, interview by Maggie McNamara and Vince Ponce, in Personal Stories from the Pio Pico Neighborhood: A Project of the Exploratory College, ed. Susan Sellman Obler et al. (Whittier, Calif.: Rio Hondo College, 1978), 84; Coffield, Memoirs of Juanote, 29–20.

76. “War Against Zoot Suiters Finds its Way to El Monte,” El Monte Herald, 11 June 1943, 1.

77. Ibid.

78. Ernie Gutierrez, interview by author, 24 August 2007, El Monte, Calif. 79. Stephen J. Keating to Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors, 6 May 1943, box 75, folder dd(9), Ford Papers.

80. Coffield, Memoirs of Juanote, 32.

81. “Land of Mañana,” Los Angeles Times, 11 December 1948, 10. 82. McWilliams, North from Mexico, 199.

83. Ben Campos, interview by author, 26 July 2007, El Monte, Calif. 84. Hernandez interview. 160  Notes to pp. 32–38

85. “Ralph Leon Beals Interview with Father John Coffield,” 6 November

1948, box 80, folder “Additional Interviews, Hicks Camp,” Beals Papers.

86. Michan Andrew Connor, “ ‘Public Benefits from Public Choice’:

Producing Decentralization in Metropolitan Los Angeles, 1954–1973,” Journal of Urban History 39, no. 1: 79–81.

87. “Certificate of Election of Azusa Citrus Association to Wind up

and Dissolve,” 17 October 1955, box 4, folder 4, Records of the Azusa-­ Foothill Citrus Company, 1844–1956, The Huntington Library, San Marino, Calif.

88. Alberto Salgado Profile, box 81, Folder “Outline Draft/Notes/Household Members//Family Studies,” Beals Papers.

89. “Parents and 15 Children Looking for New Home,” El Monte Herald, September 7, 1951, 1.

90. Los Angeles County Committee on Human Relations General Meeting, 11 March 1953, box 72, folder cc (8), Ford Papers.

91. Residents spent another five years in appeals court, to no avail.

92. John Anson Ford policy proposal to Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors, 29 March 1946, box 75, folder dd(12), Ford Papers.

93. “Plan to Rid County of Hicks Camp Prepared,” Los Angeles Times, 5 March 1953, 21.

94. Ibid. The association of ethnic Mexicans with contagious diseases

originated in 1924 with the outbreak of bubonic plague in Mexican

colonias and urban barrios. The plague epidemic resulted in the quarantine of specifically ethnic Mexican communities. William Deverell has argued that public health officials used essentialist discourse to uniformly hold ethnic Mexicans accountable as natural carriers of

deadly, contagious diseases such as bubonic plague. That the response

resulted in the destruction of homes and neighborhoods also suggests

that housing officials in Los Angeles benefited from slum eradication. More available space and fewer Mexicans opened the doors for tract

housing and industrial developments. See Deverell, Whitewashed Adobe, 182–206. Likewise, historian Natalia Molina has shown that Mexi-

cans became indisputably linked with disease and that public health

officials’ responses to them shifted from Americanization to repatria-

tion rapidly between the 1920s and 1930s. Relational racialization with Chinese and Japanese Americans marked Mexicans as racial others

Notes to pp. 38–42  161

and thus susceptible to removal. Molina, Fit to Be Citizens?, 8–11. For a fuller examination of Molina’s theories on relational racialization

as a mutually constitutive process that draws on historical scripts, see Molina, How Race Is Made in America: Immigration, Citizenship, and

the Historical Power of Racial Scripts (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2014).

95. L.A. County Committee on Human Relations, General Committee Meeting, 11 March 1953, box 72, folder 5, a, cc (8), Ford Papers.

96. Ibid.

97. “2136 Code Violations Found at Hicks’ Camp: County Health Department Cites Refusal of Denizens of Area to Move from Place,” Los Angeles Times, 22 November 1953, 3.

98. “Houses of El Monte Hicks Camp to Make Way Soon for School Site,” Los Angeles Times, 9 December 1956, K12.

99. Ben Campos interview.

100. “Appeals Court Rules Against Hicks Camp,” Los Angeles Times, 14 January 1960, E 1.

101. N.D.B. Connolly, A World More Concrete: Real Estate and the Making of Jim Crow South Florida (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2014), 74–99.

102. Aaron Cavin has shown that both Mexican Americans and Japanese Americans in Northern California’s expanding East Bay suburbs

struggled for the preservation of their communities against metropoli-

tan growth. The working-­class neighborhoods that bound families and friends together, and that were forged in the context of widespread,

legally sanctioned housing discrimination, faced new threats to their existence as a result of the combined forces of private enterprise and government backing. See Aaron Cavin, “Fringe Politics: Suburban

Expansion and the Mexican American Struggle for Alviso, Califor-

nia,” in Social Justice in Diverse Suburbs: History, Politics, and Prospects, ed. Christopher Neidt (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 2013), 105–126; Cavin, “The Borders of Citizenship: The Politics of Race

and Metropolitan Space in Silicon Valley” (PhD diss., University of

Michigan, 2012); and Robert O. Self, American Babylon: Race and the Struggle for Postwar Oakland (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 2005), 273–276. 162  Notes to pp. 42–44

Chapter 2. The Suburban Ideal 1. According to census statistics from 1950, the median income for working males in Los Angeles was $3,239. US Bureau of the Census, U.S. Census of the Population: 1950, Vol. II, Characteristics of the Population,

Part 5, California (Washington, D.C.: US Government Printing Office, 1952), 368.

2. “Mexicans—Research Project by UCLA Graduate School of Journal-

ism,” Los Angeles Herald Examiner, “California Sun Supplement,” 8 June 1951, Los Angeles Herald Examiner Subject Clippings, Department of

Special Collections, University of Southern California, Los Angeles. The public housing units slated for Chavez Ravine never evolved past the

clearance and grading stage. The City of Los Angeles subsequently used this plot of developable land to entice the Brooklyn Dodgers to relocate

to the West Coast. For the story of Chavez Ravine, see Ronald William Lopez II, “The Battle for Chavez Ravine: Public Policy and Chicano

Community Resistance in Postwar Los Angeles, 1945–1962” (PhD diss.,

University of California, Berkeley, 1999); and Eric Avila, Popular Culture in the Age of White Flight: Fear and Fantasy in Suburban Los Angeles (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2004), especially ch. 5.

3. For examples of such discrimination, see Andrew R. Highsmith,

Demolition Means Progress: Flint, Michigan, and the Fate of the American

Metropolis (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2015), especially ch. 6; N.D.B. Connolly, A World More Concrete: Real Estate and the Remaking

of Jim Crow South Florida (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2014), 210; David M. P. Freund, Colored Property: State Policy & White Racial Politics in Suburban America (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2007); Andrew Wiese, Places of Their Own: African American Subur-

banization in the Twentieth Century (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2004); and Charlotte Brooks, Alien Neighbors, Foreign Friends:

Asian Americans, Housing, and the Transformation of Urban California (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2004).

4. The city and county of Los Angeles used specially appropriated federal

funds authorized by the Wagner Act in 1937 to build Aliso Village. The neighborhood torn asunder for the public housing project was known

as “The Flats,” widely regarded as the worst slum in Los Angeles at the Notes to pp. 46–47  163

time. It had been redlined in the 1930s by the HOLC and described as

a blighted area “honeycombed” with subversive elements. See George J. Sánchez, “Disposable People, Expendable Neighborhoods,” in A Companion to Los Angeles, ed. William Deverell and Greg Hise (New York: Blackwell, 2010), 129–146; Dana Cuff, The Provisional City: Los Angeles Stories of Architecture and Urbanism (Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 2000), 52–55.

5. Cuff, Provisional City, 54.

6. The Trujillos’s relocation predated the incorporation of Pico Rivera in 1958. I use the official city name here for clarity.

7. Arsie Trujillo, oral history interview, in Personal Stories from Pico Rivera: A Project of the Exploratory College, ed. Susan Sellman Obler et al. (Whittier, Calif.: Rio Hondo College, 1978), 85–86.

8. Olivia Rivas, interview by author, 13 March 2003, Pico Rivera, Calif. 9. Of the 3,104 housing units occupied by Latino heads of household, more than 83 percent were owner occupied, and other nonwhites

accounted for .39 percent. US Bureau of the Census, U.S. Censuses of Population and Housing: 1960 Census Tracts, Final Report PHC(1)-­82 (Washington, D.C.: US Government Printing Office, 1962), 642, 877–879.

10. Ibid., 879.

11. See George J. Sánchez, Becoming Mexican American: Ethnicity, Culture,

and Identity in Chicano Los Angeles, 1900–1945 (New York: Oxford University Press, 1993) for an explanation of working-­class traditions and

union ties among prewar Mexican Americans, especially chapter 11. For an examination of how these connections spanned the period from the Great Depression to the 1970s through the life of a single activist, see

Mario T. García, Memories of Chicano History: The Life and Narrative of Bert Corona (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1994).

12. Kenneth T. Jackson, Crabgrass Frontier: The Suburbanization of the United States (New York: Oxford University Press,1985), 203.

13. Foreclosures declined from 250,000 in 1932 to 18,000 in 1951 for all nonfarm units. Jackson, Crabgrass Frontier, 204.

14. Ibid., 205.

15. Becky M. Nicolaides, My Blue Heaven: Life and Politics in the Working-­ Class Suburbs of Los Angeles, 1920–1965 (Chicago: University of Chicago

164  Notes to pp. 47–51

Press, 2002), 179; and Highsmith, Demolition Means Progress, 104–105, 179–180.

16. Nicolaides, My Blue Heaven, 144–156. 17. Ibid., 180.

18. “Real Property Restrictions Agreement,” 1 August 1937, box 25, folder 6, Loren Miller Papers, The Huntington Library, San Marino, Calif. (hereafter Miller Papers).

19. This popular front organization modeled after the National Negro Congress was composed of labor organizers, professionals, and

­intellectuals, who by the end of the 1930s had organized nationally in pursuit of justice in labor, education, housing, and gender dis­

crimination. Josefina Fierro de Bright to John Anson Ford, 1

­September 1939, box 75, folder 5, Ford Papers. For more on El Con-

greso, see Sánchez, Becoming Mexican American, 245–249; and David

Gutiérrez, Walls and Mirrors: Mexican Americans, Mexican Immigrants, and the Politics of Ethnicity (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1995), 110–116.

20. “No Mexican Race,” Los Angeles Times, 16 February 1945, 8. Greg Robinson, After Camp: Portraits in Midcentury Japanese American Life and Politics (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2012), 124–125.

21. Alex Castro interview, in Personal Stories from the El Monte Communities: A Project of the Exploratory College, ed. Susan Sellman Obler et al. (Whittier, Calif.: Rio Hondo College, 1978), 19.

22. The denial of home sales receives the bulk of scholarly attention, but the denial of rentals was probably just as devastating for people of

color looking to find decent housing. More research on this is yet to be conducted. Ibid., 18.

23. Memo to Executive Committee of the County Commission on

Human Relations, 11 September 1948, John Anson Ford Papers, box

72, folder “5, a, cc, 3, 1945–1958,” The Huntington Library, San Marino, Calif. (hereafter Ford Papers); Alhambra City Directory, 1930: Includ-

ing El Monte, Monterey Park, Rosemead, San Gabriel, and Wilmar (Los Angeles: Los Angeles Directory Co., 1930), 451.

24. Quoted in James P. Allen and Eugene Turner, The Ethnic Quilt: Population Diversity in Southern California (Northridge: Center for Geo-

graphical Studies, California State University, Northridge, 1997), 109. Notes to pp. 51–53  165

25. Wendy Cheng, The Changs Next Door to the Diazes: Remapping Race

in Suburban California (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2013), 34–36; Brooks, Alien Neighbors, Foreign Friends, 61–64.

26. Interviews with Levering and a woman at Shirpser by Faustina Solis, box 80, folder “Additional Interviews—Hicks Camp,” Ralph Beals

Papers, National Anthropological Archives, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C. (hereafter Beals Papers).

27. Ibid.

28. Quoted from Becky M. Nicolaides and Andrew Wiese, eds., The Suburb Reader (New York: Routledge, 2006), 225.

29. Quoted from George J. Sánchez, “Edward R. Roybal and the Politics

of Multiracialism,” Southern California Quarterly 92, no. 1 (Spring 2010): 51–54; Kenneth C. Burt, The Search for a Civic Voice: California Latino

Politics (Claremont, Calif.: Regina Books, 2007), 100; “The Right to a Decent Home,” Los Angeles Sentinel, 15 September 1949, A7. Edward

Roybal went on to serve the city with distinction, all the while remaining committed to multiracial coalition politics and social justice.

30. Burt, The Search for a Civic Voice, 100. 31. Sánchez, “Edward R. Roybal,” 54.

32. Robert O. Self, American Babylon: Race and the Struggle for Postwar

Oakland (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 2003), 131. David Freund documents this shift as a result of federal government investments in the profitability of the housing market. He also argues that

vigilant policing of racial boundaries in the period between 1920 and

1950 laid the foundation for structural segregation, which then became a function of American life, protected by a steadfast belief in the race neutrality of the market. See Freund, Colored Property.

33. “Throngs Inspect New Development in South Whittier,” Los Angeles

Times, September 10, 1950, E2. The article described the location as the

“Whittier District,” but the tract was actually in the southern section of the future city of Pico Rivera. Pico Rivera incorporated in 1958.

34. López, El Espectador, 11 August 1950, 2–3.

35. In fall 2002 the Japanese American National Museum in Los Angeles, California, displayed an exhibit on the history of multiracial community in Boyle Heights that spoke to harmonious relationships among

various racialized groups and a deep commitment to social justice. See 166  Notes to pp. 54–57

also George J. Sánchez, “ ‘ What’s Good for Boyle Heights is Good for

the Jews’: Creating Multiracialism on the Eastside during the 1950s,” in Los Angeles and the Future of Urban Cultures: A Special Issue of American Quarterly, ed. Raúl Homero Villa and George J. Sánchez (Baltimore, Md.: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2005), 135–159.

36. Hillary Jenks, “Seasoned Long Enough in Concentration: Suburbanization and Transnational Citizenship in Southern California’s South Bay,” Journal of Urban History 40, no. 1 (2014): 6–30, Scott Kurashige,

The Shifting Grounds of Race: Black and Japanese Americans in the Making of Multiethnic Los Angeles (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press,

2008), 281; Lon Kurashige, Japanese American Celebration and Conflict: A History of Ethnic Identity and Festival in Los Angeles, 1934–1990 (Berke-

ley: University of California Press, 2002), 131–135; Greg Robinson, After Camp: Portraits in Japanese America Life and Politics (Berkeley: Univer-

sity of California Press, 2012), Brooks, Alien Neighbors, Foreign Friends;

Cheng, The Changs Next Door to the Diazes; and Leland Saito, Race and Politics: Asian Americans, Latinos, and Whites in a Los Angeles Suburb (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1998).

37. Anthony Macias, Mexican American Mojo: Popular Music, Dance, and

Urban Culture in Los Angeles, 1935–1968 (Durham, N.C.: Duke University Press, 2008), 122.

38. See these works in tandem as they speak to a spatial transfer in which Jews moved out of Boyle Heights to be replaced by Mexicans from South Central and Compton. Sánchez, “ ‘ What’s Good for Boyle

Heights”; and Josh Sides, L.A. City Limits: African American Los Angeles from the Great Depression to the Present (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2003), 108–112.

39. Jackson, Crabgrass Frontier, 238–239. 40. Nicolaides, My Blue Heaven, 219.

41 Philip J. Ethington, William H. Frey, and Dowell Myers, “The Racial Resegregation of Los Angeles County, 1940–2000,” in Race Contours

2000 Study, Public Research Report No. 2001–04 (Los Angeles: School of Policy, Planning, and Development, University of Southern California, 12 May 2001), 10.

42. Gilbert Valadez Estrada, “How the East Was Lost: Mexican Frag-

mentation, Displacement, and the East Los Angeles Freeway System, Notes to p. 58  167

1947–1972” (MA thesis, California State University, Long Beach, 2002), 127.

43. “Mexican American Study Project; Community Advisory Committee Meeting, Statler Hilton Hotel,” 26 September 1964, 6, Eduardo Quevedo Papers, M0349, box 4, folder 6, Department of Special Collections, Stanford University Libraries (hereafter Quevedo Papers).

44. See Scott Bottles, Los Angeles and the Automobile: The Making of a Modern City (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1991).

45. Ibid., 200.

46. Greg Hise, Magnetic Metropolis: Planning the Twentieth Century

Metropolis (Baltimore, Md.: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1997), 1–9, 187–215.

47. See ibid., 117–152; Ann Frank, “Pomona-­Ontario Growth Spurred by

Aviation,” Los Angeles Times, 23 October 1955, H1; Lisa McGirr, Suburban Warriors: The Origins of the New American Right (Princeton, N.J.:

Princeton University Press, 2001), 25–27; Nicolaides, My Blue Heaven;

and Victor M. Valle and Rodolfo D. Torres, Latino Metropolis (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2000), 15–43.

48. Charles Gould, “Industries Still Pour Into Montebello,” Los Angeles Times, 16 October 1955, H1.

49. “Historic Area Property Sold,” Los Angeles Times, 20 January 1957, F11.

50. Bureau of the Census, U.S. Censuses of Population and Housing: 1960 Census Tracts, 440–441.

51. Nicolaides, My Blue Heaven, 194.

52. For example, see the description of Pico Vista quoted previously in this chapter. “Homes Completed Daily in New Whittier Tract,” Los Angeles Times, 7 May 1950, E6.

53. Elaine Tyler May, Homeward Bound: American Families in the Cold War Era (New York: Basic Books, 1999), xx.

54. “Schools Forecast Peak Enrollment: Whittier High Utilizes All Space to Accommodate Opening Day,” Los Angeles Times, 17

­September 1951, A7.

55. Bureau of the Census, U.S. Censuses of Population and Housing: 1960 Census Tracts, 28.

56. Georgia and Joe Perez, oral history interviews, in Personal Stories from Pico Rivera, 61–74.

168  Notes to pp. 59–62

57. Manuel Aguilar, oral history interview, in Personal Stories from Pico Rivera, 11.

58. The Garcia narrative is cited in Macias, Mexican American Mojo, 215. 59. Chester Holifield’s 19th District encompassed all of Pico Rivera,

Montebello, Bell Gardens, Santa Fe Springs, Norwalk, La Mirada, El

Monte, and South El Monte, as well as parts of East Los Angeles, Bell, West Covina, La Puente, Industry, Commerce, and Whitter. Morales

to Holifield, 28 February 1956, Chester Holifield Papers, box 16, folder “Dionicio Morales,” Department of Special Collections, University of Southern California, Los Angeles (hereafter Holifield Papers).

60. Morin to Holifield, 21 February 1956, Holifield Papers, box 16, folder

“Raul Morin.” Geographers James Allen and Eugene Turner attribute this growth to veterans’ persistence in triumphing over racial discrimination and the increased Americanization of second-­and third-­

generation Mexican Americans. See Allen and Turner, The Ethnic Quilt,

108. Chicano historians debate the distinction of the World War II

period as a watershed moment in Mexican American upward mobil-

ity. George Sánchez argues that the cultural capital necessary to carry out sustained challenges to discrimination in the postwar period was

formed in the Depression era by second-­generation Mexican American youths. David Gutiérrez argues that no such sweeping change in

consciousness occurred; rather, most ethnic Mexicans remained deeply ambivalent about their identities as Americans. Finally, Matt García

argues that both interpretations are valid because a mounting collective

consciousness in the prewar years found footing in the material benefits provided by military service, but that Mexican American identity was more complex than claiming an “American” identity. See Sánchez,

Becoming Mexican American, ch. 12; David G. Gutiérrez, Walls and Mirrors: Mexican Americans, Mexican Immigrants, and the Politics of Ethnicity (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1995), 117–9; Matt García,

A World of Its Own: Race, Labor, and Citrus in the Making of Greater Los Angeles, 1900–1970 (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2001), 226–228.

61. Leo Grebler, Joan Moore, and Ralph Guzman, The Mexican American

People: The Nation’s Second Largest Minority (New York: The Free Press, 1970), 201.

Notes to pp. 62–63  169

62. Vince Ramirez’s narrative and quote are cited in Macias, Mexican American Mojo, 218–219.

63. Internally distributed sales listings, 25 April 1959, box 3, folder 4, Max Mont Papers, Urban Archives Center, California State University,

Northridge (hereafter Mont Papers). For the neighborhood map and distance, see Gillespies’s Guide: Complete Los Angeles City and County, 1953–1954 (Los Angeles: California Map Centre, 1953), map 47.

64. “Homes Completed Daily in New Whittier Tract,” Los Angeles Times, 7 May 1950, E6. The Pico Vista Park homes in unincorporated Pico near Whittier received considerable attention from the Los Angeles Times

in short articles and write-­ups. See also “80% of Pico Vista Park Sold

to Veterans in Three Weeks,” Los Angeles Times, 21 May 1950, E6; “Pico Vista Park Homes to Open,” Los Angeles Times, 23 April 1950, E3; and “Dwelling Tract to Be Shown,” Los Angeles Times, 13 August 1950, E6.

65. Internal real estate listing for home in Pico Vista Park, 12 February 1958, Mont Papers.

66. Ibid.

67. Maria Avila interview, in Personal Stories from the El Monte Commu­ nities, 2.

68. Montenegro, “Effects of the Initiative and Fair Housing Law on the Mexican American Community,” 9 March 1964, Ernesto Galarza

Papers, M0224, box 5, folder 5, Department of Special Collections, Stanford University Libraries (hereafter Galarza Papers).

69. Ibid.

70. See Sánchez, Becoming Mexican American, 30; and García, A World of

Its Own, 61. See also Neil Foley, The White Scourge: Mexicans, Black, and Poor Whites in Texas Cotton Culture (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1997), 60–61.

71. Victor Gonzales interview, in Personal Stories from Pico Rivera, 29.

72. According to historian Rodolfo Acuña, “It has been easier for lighter-­ skinned Mexicans in L.A. to pass—to move and to live where they

wanted. Euroamericans made exceptions for them.” See Rodolfo F.

Acuña, Anything but Mexican: Chicanos in Contemporary Los Angeles (London: Verso, 1995), xii.

73. See also Avila, Popular Culture in the Age of White Flight, 52; Sides, L.A. City Limits, 111.

170  Notes to pp. 63–66

74. D. J. Waldie, Holy Land: A Suburban Memoir (New York: St. Martin’s Griffin, 1996), 103.

75. Sides, L.A. City Limits, 109. 76. Cited in ibid., 111–112.

77. “Se Habla Espanol,” Vida News, 13 November 1963, vol. 1, no. 4, 2, Quevedo Papers, M0349, box 20, folder 2.

78. Sides, L.A. City Limits, 110.

79. Maria Avila interview, in Personal Stories from the El Monte Communities, 2.

80. Many of the suburbs counted in the 1960 census had single-­digit black suburban populations: for example, Bellflower had 9 individuals; Bell Gardens, 4; Gardena, 8; Hawthorne, 3; Lakewood, 7; Lynwood, 9;

Montebello, 9; Paramount, 2; Temple City, 3. Bureau of the Census, U.S. Censuses of Population and Housing: 1960 Census Tract, 25–28.

81. McGirr, Suburban Warriors, 26.

82. Ethington, Frey, and Meyers, “The Racial Resegregation of Los Angeles County, 1940–2000,” 10.

83. Bureau of the Census, U.S. Censuses of Population and Housing: 1960

Census Tracts, 28, 104, 606, and Inset D; McGirr, Suburban Warriors, 43.

84. Ben Campos, interview by author, 26 July 2007, El Monte, Calif.

85. Sears, Roebuck Co. newsletter, 20 December 1972, Holifield Papers, box 5, folder “Sears Citizen of the Year—Armando Joe Mora.”

86. Manuel Aguilar, oral history interview, in Personal Stories from Pico Rivera, 3.

87. Ibid., 11.

88. George Lipsitz speaks to the issue of pervasive white racism and its benefit to white people who do not subscribe to racist beliefs; see

Lipsitz, The Possessive Investment in Whiteness: How White People Profit

from Identity Politics (1998; rev. and exp., Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 2006) See also Eduardo Bonilla-­Silva, Racism Without Racists:

Color-­Blind Racism and the Persistence of Racial Inequality in the United

States, 2d ed. (Lanham, Md.: Rowman & Littlefield, 2006); and Daniel Hosang Martinez, Racial Propositions: Ballot Initiatives and the Making of Postwar California (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2011).

89. “Effects of the Initiative and Fair Housing Law on the Mexican-­ American Community,” Galarza Papers, M0224, box 57, folder 5.

Notes to pp. 66–72  171

90. Ruben Salazar, “Mexican Americans Succeeding: Members of Ethnic Group Make Good in Many Fields,” Los Angeles Times, 28 February 1963, A1.

91. Ibid.

92. Sal Montenegro, “Effects of the Initiative and Fair Housing Law on

the Mexican American Community,” 19 March 1964, Galarza Papers, box 5, folder 5. Becky Nicolaides found similarities in South Gate,

where Latino residents had increased from 2 percent to 17 percent of

the population in the 1960s, and 47 percent of them were homeowners. Nicolaides, My Blue Heaven, 194.

93. For studies on the racialization of Europeans from “other” to “white,”

see David Roediger, The Wages of Whiteness: Race and the Making of the American Working Class (London: Verso, 1990); Karen Brodkin, How

Jews Became White Folks and What That Says about Race in America (New

Brunswick, N.J.: Rutgers University Press, 1998); Matthew Frye Jacobson, Whiteness of a Different Color: European Immigrants and the Alchemy of

Race (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1998); and Roediger, Working Toward Whiteness: How America’s Immigrants Became White: The Strange Journey from Ellis Island to the Suburbs (New York: Basic Books, 2005). For scholarship that posits a path of assimilation for Latinos similar to that of European immigrants, see Joel Perlmann, Italians

Then, Mexicans Now: Immigrant Origins and Second-­Generation Progress,

1890–2000 (New York: Russell Sage Foundation, 2005). Mestizaje made the racial experiences of Mexicans and other Latinos in the United

States wholly different than those of European immigrants and even

Asian immigrants because of its potential flexibility in different settings.

Chapter 3. El MAPA 1. The New Deal (1933–1939) realigned party loyalties for people of color despite the ways that access to those benefits became limited by racial

discrimination. See Shana Bernstein, Bridges of Reform: Interracial Civil Rights Activism in Twentieth-­Century Los Angeles (New York: Oxford University Press, 2011), 33–36.

2. Edward Roybal’s election is well documented. See Kenneth C. Burt,

“The Power of a Mobilized Citizenry and Coalition Politics: The 1949

172  Notes to pp. 73–76

Election of Edward R. Roybal to the Los Angeles City Council,” Southern California Quarterly 85, no. 4 (Winter 2003): 413–438.

3. David G. Gutierrez, Walls and Mirrors: Mexican Americans, Mexican

Immigrants, and the Politics of Ethnicity (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1995), 170.

4. The Democratic “sweep” of 1958 wrested control of California state government from the Republican Party, which had been at the helm since

the early twentieth century. Other CDC-­endorsed candidates included

Edmund “Pat” G. Brown for governor, Clair Engle for US senator, Bert Betts for state treasurer, and Stanley Mosk for superior court judge.

5. See Juan Gómez Quiñones, Chicano Politics: Reality &Promise,

1940–1990 (Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 1990), 67; Gutierrez, Walls and Mirrors, 142–143, 173.

6. Letter from Aldrich Blake to John Anson Ford, 13 January 1958, John

Anson Ford Papers, box 48, folder 11, e, dd(6), The Huntington Library, San Marino, Calif. (hereafter Ford Papers).

7. Letter from K. Wallace Longshore, 22 January 1958, Ford Papers, box 48, folder 11, e, dd(6).

8. Letter from James D. Meredith to John Anson Ford, 14 January 1958, Ford Papers, box 48, folder 11, e, dd(6).

9. “Democratic Machine in High Gear,” Los Angeles Times, 14 January

1958, B4; Letter from John Anson Ford to Joseph Johnson, 21 January 1958, Ford Papers, box 48, folder 11, e, dd(6).

10. A perusal of John Anson Ford’s papers presents plenty of evidence that he stood with progressive causes for much of his career in public office. Details of his plans to expand Mexican repatriation can be found in box 75, folder dd (8) 1942, and box 75, folder 5, i, dd(7), Ford Papers.

11. Ibid.; Kenneth Burt, The Search for a Civic Voice: California Latino Politics (Claremont, Calif.: Regina Books, 2007), 163–164.

12. Richard Tafoya, interview by Kenneth Burt, Montebello, 31 May

1997, cited in Kenneth C. Burt, “Latino Los Angeles: The Promise of

Politics,” in City of Promise: Race and Historical Change in Los Angeles ed. Martin Schiesl and Mark M. Dodge (Claremont, Calif.: Regina Books, 2006), 189.

13. Mario T. García, Memories of Chicano History: The Life and Narrative of Bert Corona (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1994), 196.

Notes to pp. 76–79  173

14. “Ford to the Friends of Sr. Edwardo [sic] Quevedo,” 5 March 1964, box 9, folder 20, Eduardo Quevedo Papers, M0349, Department of Special Collections, Stanford University Libraries, Stanford, Calif. (hereafter Quevedo Papers).

15. For a detailed narrative of the genesis of MAPA as an organization, see Kaye Lynn Briegel, “The History of Political Organizations Among Mexican-­Americans in Los Angeles since the Second World War”

(MA thesis, University of Southern California, 1967), 45–53; Kenneth Burt, MAPA: The History of MAPA and Chicano Politics in California

(Sacramento, Calif.: Mexican American Political Association, 1982); and Burt, The Search for a Civic Voice, 159–184.

16. Burt, The Search for a Civic Voice, 195.

17. Briegel, “The History of Political Organizations Among Mexican-­

Americans,” 51; and Leo Grebler, Joan W. Moore, and Ralph C. Guz-

man, The Mexican American People: The Nation’s Second Largest Minority (New York: The Free Press, 1970), 544.

18. For critiques of MAPA in secondary literature, see Juan Gómez

Quiñones, Chicano Politics: Reality &Promise, 1940–1990 (Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 1990), 68–69; Ernesto Chávez, My

People First/“¡Mi Raza Primero!”: Nationalism, Identity, and Insurgency

in the Chicano Movement in Los Angeles, 1966–1978 (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2002), 33–41.

19. García, Memories of Chicano History, 204–205.

20. Matt García, A World of Its Own: Race, Labor, and Citrus in the Making of Greater Los Angeles, 1900–1970 (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2001), 233.

21. “Pico Rivera Cityhood Plan Wins; Election Draws 52% of 16,973 Eligible Voters,” Los Angeles Times, 8 January 1958, C7.

22. “Pico Rivera to Be City Tomorrow,” Los Angeles Times, 27 January 1958, C6; “Pico Rivera Sheds Its Swaddling Clothes with Municipal Election,” Los Angeles Times, 20 April 1958, SG2.

23. “Eastside Boys to Get Free Ocean Park Outing,” Los Angeles Times,

29 March 1954, 24. The tradition of YMCA-­inspired youth programs aimed at Latino boys originated with the fallout from the Sleepy

Lagoon incident and Zoot Suit riots in 1943. County and state agencies invested heavily in combating juvenile delinquency in Mexican 174  Notes to pp. 79–81

communities and encouraged community leaders to take active roles in curbing delinquency.

24. “Parker Asked to Explain His Attitudes Towards Latins: Accused of Prejudice by Roybal,” Los Angeles Times, 29 January 1960, B1.

25. Viva Kennedy Clubs of California, Quevedo Papers, M0349, box 2,

folder 7, Special Collections Department, Stanford University Libraries, Stanford, Calif.

26. Joseph Vargas interview, Personal Stories from the El Monte Communi-

ties: A Project of the Exploratory College, ed. Susan Sellman Obler et al. (Whittier, Calif.: Rio Hondo College, 1978), 112–113.

27. Ignacio M. García, Viva Kennedy: Mexican Americans in Search of Camelot (College Station: Texas A&M Press, 2000), 47–48.

28. See García’s second chapter, “Organizing the Viva Kennedy Clubs,” in ibid., 33–59.

29. Kenneth Burt, MAPA: The History of MAPA and Chicano Politics in California (Sacramento, Calif.: Mexican American Political Association, 1982), 5–6.

30. Ibid., 6. 31. Ibid.

32. Frank Terrazas interview, in Personal Stories from Pico Rivera: A Project of the Exploratory College, ed. Susan Sellman Obler et al. (Whittier, Calif.: Rio Hondo College, 1978), 82–83.

33. Ibid., 75.

34. Ibid., 77. 35. Ibid.

36. Ruben Salazar, “Case History of a ‘Rumble’: Who’s To Blame?” Los Angeles Times, 21 October 1962, K3.

37. Ibid.

38. See Edward J. Escobar, Race, Police, and the Making of a Political Iden-

tity: Mexican Americans and the Los Angeles Police Department (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1999).

39. Ibid.

40. “Pico Rivera ‘Incident’ Praised and Censured,” Los Angeles Times, 8 January 1963, 22.

41 Ibid., 18–19.

42. Burt, “Latino Los Angeles,” 185. Notes to pp. 81–86  175

43. Briegel, “The History of Political Organizations among Mexican-­ Americans,” 51.

44. “Report on MAPA,” Carta Editoria: For the Informed—Interested in

Mexican-­American Affairs II, no. 18 (20 January 1964), Ernesto Galarza Papers, M0224, box 54, folder 8, Department of Special Collections, Stanford University Libraries (hereafter Galarza Papers).

45. Eduardo Quevedo to Permanente Cement Company, 16 December 1963, Quevedo Papers, M0349, box 3, folder 5, Stanford.

46. “Pico Rivera: A Progressive City with Rich Historical Heritage and a

Background of Dramatic Changes Faces a Prosperous Future,” Whittier Daily News, 10 October 1962, 10 B; Maria Aguirre interview, in Personal

Stories from the Pio Pico Neighborhood: A Project of the Exploratory College, ed. Susan Sellman Obler et al. (Whittier, Calif.: Rio Hondo College, 1978), 26–27.

47. Ibid., 27.

48. Ibid., 28.

49. Ibid., 30.

50. John Balzar, “Ex-­Attorney General Evelle Younger Is Dead at 70,” Los Angeles Times, 5 May 1989.

51. “Obituaries: Vincent S. Dalsimer; Former County, State Judge,” Los Angeles Times, 28 April 1999.

52. “Organization For Whom, For What, and On Whose Terms,” Carta Editorial, 1, no. 22 (1 April 1964), Galarza Papers, box 54, folder 8.

53. Ibid.

54. “Council Facing Fair Housing Bill,” Los Angeles Sentinel, 12 April 1962, A1.

55. “The Right to a Decent Home,” Los Angeles Sentinel, 15 September 1949, A7.

56. “Fair Housing,” Los Angeles Sentinel, 28 June 1962, A6. Roybal’s decision to ultimately pursue a congressional post in 1962 presented a tremen-

dous opportunity for Mexican Americans nationally, but also created a crisis in political empowerment in Los Angeles city politics.

57. “CORE Plans New Fight for Integrated Housing,” Los Angeles Sentinel, 7 June 1962, A5.

58. Becky Nicolaides and Robert Self each concentrates on the Rumford Act’s impact on black and white social consciousness. See Becky M.

176  Notes to pp. 86–89

Nicolaides, My Blue Heaven: Life and Politics in the Working-­Class

Suburbs of Los Angeles, 1920–1965 (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2002), 308–315; and, Robert O. Self, American Babylon: Race and the

Struggle for Postwar Oakland (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2004), 166–170 and 260–265. Mexican Americans demonstrated a critical awareness of the issue as well, but the full nature of this problem is yet to be fully explored.

59. See Self, American Babylon, 260–265; Nicolaides, My Blue Heaven, 308–315; and, Daniel Hosang Martinez, Racial Propositions: Ballot

Initiatives and the Making of Postwar California (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2010).

60. “Pickets March to ‘Save Fair Housing,’ ” Los Angeles Sentinel, 16 January 1964, A3.

61. A MAPA mailer with the organization’s slate of preferred candidates

and initiatives for the 1964 general election, “MAPA Slate/Vote No En La 14,” Quevedo Papers, box 9, folder 20.

62. MAPA Southern Region newsletter, 1964, box 9, folder 2, Manuel Ruiz Papers, M0295, Stanford University Libraries, Stanford, Calif.

63. “Anti-­Prop. 14 Group Formed in East L.A.,” Los Angeles Times, 21 September 1964, 5.

64. “What Can We Say,” Carta Editorial II, no. 6 (20 August 1964): 3–4, Galarza Papers, M0224, box 54, folder 8.

65. “Mexicans Qualify ‘No Stand’ on Proposition 14: Minority Nixes ‘14’ Stand,” Los Angeles Sentinel, 20 August 1964, A1.

66. Ibid.

67. “Voter Education Indicated by Survey,” Carta Editorial II, no. 7 (8 September 1964), Galarza Papers, box 54, folder 8. See also Ruben Salazar, “Housing Issue Ignored by Mexican Americans: Large Percentage in Survey Have Little Knowledge of Discrimination Controversy,” Los Angeles Times, 30 August 1964, J7.

68. “Mexican-­Americans Plan ‘No on 14’ Float,” Los Angeles Sentinel, 3 September 1964, D1.

69. “It’s Your Fight , Too!” flyer, box 5, folder 7, Max Mont Papers, Urban Archives Center, California State University, Northridge.

70. The debate was moderated by Assistant Secretary of the Army Daniel Luevano. Sal Montenegro and Milton Gordon, chairman of the

Notes to pp. 89–92  177

California Real Estate Association, argued in favor of Rumford and

against Prop. 14. South El Monte vice mayor Joseph Vargas and Jack

Hagler, member of the California Real Estate Association, argued for

Prop. 14 and against Rumford. For the announcement of the debate, see “U.S.-­Mexican Council Slates Rumford Study,” Los Angeles Times, 16 March 1964, A2.

71. Sal Montenegro, “Effect of the Initiative and Fair Housing Law on the Mexican-­American Community,” 19 March 1964, Galarza Papers, box 57, folder 5.

72. Ibid. 73. Ibid. 74. Ibid.

75. “Spanish Radio and Proposition 14,” Carta Editorial II, no. 10 (29 October 1964): p. 1, Quevedo Papers, M0349, box 9, folder 20.

76. California Secretary of State, California Statement of the Vote: General

Election, November 3, 1964, 1964, 25. Ironically, this occurred in the same election in which Lyndon Baines Johnson ran as an incumbent for

the Democratic Party with a civil rights agenda. LBJ’s history with

Mexican Americans extended back to his early professional career as a schoolteacher in south Texas, working primarily with young Mexican

students. See Julie L. Pycior, LBJ & Mexican Americans: The Paradox of Power (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1997).

77. California Secretary of State, California Statement of the Vote, 69.

Between 1960 and 1970 the percentage of Latino residents more than doubled in each city except one. Montebello increased from 22 to 47 percent, Monterey Park from 13 to 33 percent, Norwalk from 15 to

27 percent, and Pico Rivera from 30 to 61 percent. US Bureau of the Census, U.S. Censuses of Population and Housing: 1960 Census Tracts,

Final Report PHC(1)-­82 (Washington, D.C.: US Government Printing Office, 1962); US Bureau of the Census, Census of Population and

Housing: 1970 Census Tracts, Final Report PHC(1)-­117. Los Angeles-­

Long Beach, Calif., SMSA Part 1 (Washington, D.C.: US Government Printing Office, 1972).

78. Daniel Hosang-­Martinez, Racial Propositions: Ballot Initiatives and

the Making of Postwar California (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2010).

178  Notes to pp. 92–94

79. Newspaper clipping, “Sal Montenegro: Realtor on Rumford Act Study,” ca. 1966, Quevedo Papers, box 8, folder 6.

80. “Elect MAPA-­Backed Candidates: Incumbent Monson Is Returned as Trustee,” Pico Rivera Times Post, 22 April 1965, box 9, folder 10, Manuel Ruiz Papers, M0295, Department of Special Collections, Stanford University Libraries (hereafter Ruiz Papers).

81. The differences between graded and nongraded school systems were

hotly contested by educational administrators and policy researchers alike. My understanding of late 1960s versions of nongraded pri-

mary education systems is aided by Wilmajean Williams, “Academic Achievement in a Graded School and in a Non-­Graded School,” Elementary School Journal 67, no. 3 (December 1966): 135–139.

82. “Petition Presented to El Rancho Unified School Board, June 18, 1967,” Ruiz Papers, M0295, box 9, folder 10.

83. Ibid.

84. “El Rancho Board Meet Picketed,” Whittier Daily News, 25 July 1967, 1. 85. Stafford to Moore, 30 August 1965, Holifield Papers, box 2, folder “El Rancho Unified School District—Pico Rivera.”

86. Letter from Matilde Lujan to Dr. Max Rafferty, 30 July 1967, box 9, folder 10, Ruiz Papers.

87. “El Rancho Board Meet Picketed.”

88. Newspaper clipping, “Petition Given Trustees Asks Principal, Teachers Transfers at Pio Pico, Pico Rivera News/Santa Fe Springs News, 7 July 1967, A7, Ruiz Papers, M0295, box 9, folder 10.

89. “Burke to Sue El Rancho Board: Woman Cites Illegal Acts by Trustees,” Whittier Daily News, 26 July 1967, 1.

90. See Mary S. Pardo, Mexican American Women Activists: Identity and

Resistance in Two Los Angeles Communities (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1998); Lisa García Bedolla, Fluid Borders: Latino Power,

Identity, and Politics in Los Angeles (Berkeley: University of California

Press, 2005); and Gilda Ochoa, Becoming Neighbors in a Mexican American Community: Power, Conflict, and Solidarity (Austin: University of

Texas Press, 2004). For discussions of how white women in the suburbs engaged in political activity, see Nicolaides, My Blue Heaven; and Lisa McGirr, Suburban Warriors: The Origins of the New American Right (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2001).

Notes to pp. 94–98  179

91. Corona came down from the Bay Area to help lead the Nava campaign, as did others. García, Memories of Chicano History.

92. Frank Terrazas, who was a city council member for Pico Rivera at the time, helped organize campaign efforts for the City of Los Angeles’s position. He then began to position himself as a would-­be candidate for state assembly.

93. Newspaper clipping, “Nava Poll Victory Jolts L.A. Politics,” People’s World, 10 June 1967, Quevedo Papers, box 9, folder 3.

94. See García, Memories of Chicano History, for a thorough biography of Bert Corona.

95. Corona to Friends and MAPA Members, 29 April 1968, Holifield

Papers, box 70, folder “Mexican-­Americans; File 1; Legislative Info.”

96. Frank Terrazas, interview by Sylvia Gonzalez and Jerry Alexander, in Personal Stories from Pico Rivera: A Project of the Exploratory College, ed. Susan Sellman Obler et al. (Whittier, Calif.: Rio Hondo College, 1978), 82.

97. “Kennedy Motorcade Visits Pico Rivera,” Whittier Daily News, 21 May 1968, 1.

98. Ophelia Lozano, interview by Maija Thackerson and Sylvia Gonzalez, in Personal Stories from Pico Rivera, 43.

99. John Adame, interview by Alex Darancou and Liz Dominguez, in Personal Stories from the Pio Pico Neighborhood, 3.

100. Paul Houston, “Screaming Crowd Greets Kennedy in Tour of East L.A.,” Los Angeles Times, 21 May 1968, 3.

101. The Blow Outs erupted on 6 March 1968 in East LA and became

an iconic event in the Chicana and Chicano movement, as students directly confronted racism and educational tracking into vocational

positions. See Carlos Muñoz Jr., Youth, Identity, and Power: The Chicano Movement (London: Verso, 1989), 64–72; and, Mario T. García and Sal Castro, Blowout! Sal Castro and the Chicano Struggle for Educational Justice (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2014).

102. See McGirr, Suburban Warriors; Nicolaides, My Blue Heaven; Self, American Babylon; Kevin M. Kruse, White Flight: Atlanta and the

Making of Modern Conservatism (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton Univer-

sity Press, 2005); and Matthew Lassiter, The Silent Majority: Suburban

Politics in the Sunbelt South (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 2006).

180  Notes to pp. 98–101

103. Betty Lounsberry et. al. to Holifield, 28 August 1970, Holifield Papers, box 22, folder “Welfare Programs, 1970.”.

104. Ibid.

105. See McGirr, Suburban Warriors.

106. Medina to Holifield, 23 November 1970, Holifield Papers, box 23, folder “Cabinet Committee on Opportunity for the Spanish-­Speaking, 1971.”

107. E. G. Romero to Holifield, 15 May 1970, Holifield Papers, box 22, folder “Miscellaneous Correspondence, 1970.”

108. Similar coalitions were found in the citrus suburbs of eastern Los

Angeles and western San Bernardino counties in the 1940s. See García, A World of Its Own, 233.

Chapter 4. Suburban Renewal 1. Scott Duke Harris, “Family’s Saga Parallels That of Proud City,” Los Angeles Times, 30 November 1978, SE1.

2. Although her work is based on an earlier period in suburban develop-

ment than the Mesas’ story, Becky Nicolaides discusses the importance of homeowner-­homebuilder independence in forming working-­class

suburban identity in her important study of South Gate in Southeast

Los Angeles County. See Nicolaides, My Blue Heaven: Life and Politics

in the Working-­Class Suburbs of Los Angeles, 1920–1965 (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2002), 26–38; see also Olivier Zunz, The Changing

Face of Inequality: Urbanization, Industrial Development, and Immigrants in Detroit, 1880–1920 (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1982).

3. Harris, “Family’s Saga”; City of Santa Fe Springs, “Residential Rehabilitation in the Flood Ranch: Urban Renewal Project, California R-­71,”

box 2, folder “Flood Ranch Redevelopment Project,” Chester l Papers, Department of Special Collections, University of Southern California (hereafter Holified Papers).

4. Harris, “Family’s Saga.”

5. See Dana Cuff, The Provisional City: Los Angeles Stories of Architecture and Urbanism (Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 2000), 272–309; Eric Avila, Popular Culture in the Age of White Flight: Fear and Fantasy in

Suburban Los Angeles (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2004),

145–184; Lilia Fernandez, Brown in the Windy City: Mexicans and Puerto Notes to pp. 101–104  181

Ricans in Postwar Chicago (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2012), 91–129; Lydia R. Otero, La Calle: Spatial Conflicts and Urban Renewal

in a Southwest City (Tucson: University of Arizona Press, 2010); Robert B. Fairbanks, The War on Slums in the Southwest: Public Housing and

Slums Clearance in Texas, Arizona, and New Mexico, 1935–1965 (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 2014); and David Montejano, Quixote’s

Soldiers: A Local History of the Chicano Movement (Austin: University of

Texas Press, 2010), 84–86; and Rodolfo Rosales, The Illusion of Inclusion: The Untold Political Story of San Antonio (Austin: University of Texas Press, 2000).

6. Cuff, The Provisional City, 302–303.

7. Ibid., 303. For works that highlight the impact of downtown slum

clearance on the working class and communities of color, see Her-

bert Gans, The Urban Villagers: Group and Class in the Life of Italian-­ Americans (New York: Free Press, 1962), 281–335; John R. Logan and Harvey L. Molotch, Urban Fortunes: The Political Economy of Place

(Berkeley: University of California Press, 1987); Thomas J. Sugrue,

The Origins of the Urban Crisis: Race and Inequality in Postwar Detroit (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1996), 48–49; Robert

O. Self, American Babylon: Race and the Struggle for Postwar Oakland

(Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 2003), 139–144; Eric Avila, Popular Culture in the Age of White Flight: Fear and Fantasy in Suburban Los Angeles (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2004), 145–184; David R. Diaz, Barrio Urbanism: Chicanos, Planning, and American

Cities (New York: Routledge, 2005), 161–188; and Leland T. Saito, The

Politics of Exclusion: The Failure of Race-­Neutral Policies in Urban America (Stanford, Calif.: Stanford University Press, 2009), 32–67.

8. Civic elites sought to whitewash, or obscure, the Mexican past of

Los Angeles in order to build a more perfect “city of the future.” If the legacies of that racialized past bled into the future, influential

members of the Los Angeles elite like John McGroarty and the Fiesta Planning Committee repackaged them as remnants of the supposedly quaint and idyllic Spanish past. For the construction of the Spanish

fantasy past, see William Deverell, Whitewashed Adobe: The Rise of Los Angeles and the Remaking of Its Mexican Past (Berkeley: University of

182  Notes to p. 105

California Press, 2004); and Phoebe S. Kropp, California Vieja: Culture and Memory in a Modern American Place (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2006).

9. Matthew J. García, “Requiem for a Barrio: Race, Space, and Gentrification in Southern California,” in Making Cities Global: The Transna-

tional Turn in Urban History, ed. Andrew Sandoval-­Strausz and Nancy

Haekyung Kwak (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2017).

10. Cuff, The Provisional City, 241.

11. See Geraldo L. Cadava’s examination of the Jácome family’s influence on the development of Tucson and the transborder Arizona region in

Standing on Common Ground: The Making of a Sunbelt Borderland (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 2013); and Nathan Connolly’s analysis of black suburban homeowners in Dade County, Florida, in A World More Concrete: Real Estate and the Remaking of Jim Crow South Florida (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2014).

12. Historian Andrew Wiese coined the term suburban renewal to frame

the impact of federal redevelopment policy on suburban African American communities in the South. Central to Wiese’s understanding of

suburban renewal is the fact that urban renewal policy enabled private

developers and municipal officials to displace undesirable homeowners legally and at low cost by capitalizing on available federal funds. The

idea has since caught on in urban studies, as suburban renewal is seen as an equally pernicious mechanism by which people of color have

been abused by the state, as well as an important site through which

they have participated in the destruction of such neighborhoods, albeit

often with altruistic intentions. See Andrew Wiese, Places of Their Own: African American Suburbanization in the Twentieth Century (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2004), 104–109; Connolly, A World More

Concrete, 239–275; and Andrew R. Highsmith, Demolition Means Progress: Flint, Michigan and the Fate of the American Metropolis (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2015), 103–120.

13. Logan and Molotch argue that civic officials welcomed urban renewal funds for slum clearance because federal government subsidization

enabled city leaders to eliminate communities that did not generate

high amounts of tax revenue and also to buttress the economic interests

Notes to pp. 106–107  183

of corporate tenants and individual property owners, because urban

renewal dollars could be reallocated from slum clearance to projects that generated revenue for the city. See Logan and Molotch, Urban Fortunes, 166–169.

14. Cuff, The Provisional City, 181–183.

15. Rodolfo Acuña, A Community Under Siege: A Chronicle of Chicanos East of the Los Angeles River, 1945–1975, Chicano Studies Research Center

Publications, Monograph no. 11 (Los Angeles: University of California, 1984), 34.

16. Cuff, The Provisional City, 297; Avila, Popular Culture in the Age of White Flight, 162–163.

17. Avila, Popular Culture in the Age of White Flight, 166–170.

18. Frank Moreno Sifuentes, “Urban Renewal,” La Raza 2, no. 2 (December 1968): 2.

19. In 1965 the author’s grandparents, Olivia and Pablo Rivas, moved with

their five children to Pico Rivera after the Los Angeles Unified School District bought the deeds to all property surrounding the Garfield

High School athletic fields. Homeowners were given eviction notices and six months to find alternative housing. Garfield High School

expanded its running track and boys’ baseball field on the former properties of the Rivas family and their neighbors and propelled them into the suburban fold. Olivia Rivas, interview by author, 13 March 2003, Pico Rivera, Calif.

20. Raúl Homero Villa, Barrio-­Logos: Space and Place in Urban Chicano

Literature and Culture (Austin: University of Texas Press, 2000), 145.

21. US Bureau of the Census, Sixteenth Census of the United States: 1940, Population, Vol. 1, Number of Inhabitants (Washington, D.C.: US

Government Printing Office, 1942); US Bureau of the Census, U.S.

Census of Population: 1950, Vol. II, Characteristics of the Population, Part 5, California (Washington, D.C.: US Government Printing Office, 1952); US Bureau of the Census, U.S. Censuses of Population and Housing:

1960 Census Tracts, Final Report PHC(1)-­82 (Washington, D.C.: US Government Printing Office, 1962).

22. City of Santa Fe Springs Historical Society, The History of Santa Fe

Springs (Santa Fe Springs, Calif.: Santa Fe Springs Historical Committee, 1979), 13.

184  Notes to pp. 108–111

23. Victor M. Valle and Rodolfo D. Torres, Latino Metropolis (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2000), 153.

24. See “San Gabriel River Freeway Route Proposed,” Los Angeles Times, 19 November 1954, A2.

25. See Gerald Horne, Fire This Time: The Watts Uprising and the 1960s

(Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia, 1995); Sugrue, The Origins of the Urban Crisis.

26. Dial Torgerson, “Urban Renewal Stirs Both Fear, Favor in Southland,” Los Angeles Times, 16 April 1967, F1.

27. Flores quoted in ibid.

28. “Improvement District or Urban Renewal Project Decision Slated,” Los Angeles Times, 21 February 1960, SC2 (emphasis added).

29. “Zone Relief Denied in Santa Fe Springs,” Los Angeles Times, 14 October 1960, A7.

30. City of Santa Fe Springs, Progress Report, 1961–1963 (Santa Fe Springs, Calif.: City of Santa Fe Springs, n.d.), 15.

31. For studies on policing barrios and ghettoes, see Edward J. Escobar,

Race, Police, and the Making of A Political Identity: Mexican Americans

and the Los Angeles Police Department, 1900–1945 (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1999).

32. David R. Diaz, Barrio Urbanism: Chicanos, Planning, and American Cities (New York: Routledge, 2005), 163.

33. The ironic humor found in the council’s attempt to bring Newport

Beach, to this day a predominantly white, upper-­income enclave in south Orange County, to Flood Ranch amused homeowners and

renters, who contended that “Flood Ranch is no Newport Beach.”

See “Latin Group Battles Urban Renewal Plan,” Los Angeles Times, 28 March 1967, A8.

34. Self, American Babylon, 139–144.

35. Ruben Salazar, “Mexican Americans Protest Santa Fe Springs Project: Say Urban Renewal Plan Aims at Ousting Them from All America City,” Los Angeles Times, 7 September 1964, A1.

36. Lisa McGirr, Suburban Warriors: The Origins of the New American Right (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 2001); Matthew D. Las-

siter, The Silent Majority: Suburban Politics in the Sunbelt South (Prince-

ton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 2006); and Kevin M. Kruse, White Notes to pp. 112–117  185

Flight: Atlanta and the Making of Modern Conservatism (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 2005.

37. “Renewal Asked for Flood Ranch Area,” Los Angeles Times, 28 July 1962, B2.

38. “Renewal Plan Wins OK at Santa Fe Springs,” Los Angeles Times, 9 October 1964, 26.

39. Salazar, “Mexican-­Americans Protest.”

40. City of Santa Fe Springs, Progress Report, 1961–1963, 15. 41. Salazar, “Mexican-­Americans Protest.”

42. Hicks Camp, Jimtown, Rivera, Pico Viejo, Los Nietos, and Rocktown are among the few large colonias that faced redevelopment pressure from their respective cities.

43. “Santa Fe Springs Will Seat New Councilman,” Los Angeles Times, 19

January 1964, R4; President Harry Truman created the Sister City Program as a means to foster citizen diplomacy during the height of the

Cold War. Santa Fe Springs was not unique in its efforts as a suburban municipality to adopt a larger and more populous city from Mexico as its “sister” city. The neighboring city of Downey adopted Guadalajara in Mexico as its sister city and regularly engaged in friendly soccer matches and exchanges of gifts, until the city of San Diego out-­

muscled Downey for the rights to Guadalajara. See “Proposed Sister City Already ‘Adopted,’ ” Los Angeles Times, 15 February 1962, B9.

44. “Flood Ranch Project Draws Residents’ Ire,” Los Angeles Times, 30 May 1964, A3.

45. Magaña quoted in Salazar, “Mexican-­Americans Protest,” A1. 46. Alvarado quoted in Salazar, “Mexican-­Americans Protest.” 47. Ibid.

48. Salazar, “Mexican-­Americans Protest.”

49. Rick Holguin, “A Career in Office: Anti-­Incumbent Mood? Don’t Tell 30-­Year Council Veteran,” Los Angeles Times, 19 April 1992, accessed 22 June 2017, http://​articles​.latimes​.com​/1992​-04​-19​/news​/hl​-­­1037​_1​_city​


50. “Court Order Halts Urban Developing: Rights Act Used in Santa Fe Project,” Los Angeles Times, 18 December 1964, A1; and “Judge Halts

Urban Renewal Project,” Los Angeles Sentinel, 24 December 1964, A3.

186  Notes to pp. 117–121

51. “Discrimination is Denied in Springs,” Whittier Daily News, 29 March 1967, B1.

52. City of Santa Fe Springs, Progress Report, 1961–1963, 10.

53. “Renewal Chief Quits in Santa Fe Springs,” Los Angeles Times, 28 February 1964, 26. For the genesis of Santa Fe Springs political

machinery, see John G. Swain, ed., The Historical Volume and Reference Works Covering Bassett, City of Industry, La Habra, La Mirada, La

Puente, Pico Rivera, Santa Fe Springs, Walnut, and Whittier (Whittier,

Calif.: Historical Publishers, 1963); for a glimpse of Mexican American politics on the suburban fringe, see Kenneth C. Burt, The Search for a

Civic Voice: California Latino Politics (Claremont, Calif.: Regina Books, 2007), 207–209.

54. See Lorena Oropeza, ¡Raza Si! ¡Guerra No! Chicano Protest and Patriotism during the Viet Nam War Era (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2005); Laura Pulido, Black, Brown, Yellow & Left: Radical

Activism in Los Angeles (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2006); and Ernesto Chavez, ¡Mi Raza Primero! Nationalism, Identity, and

Insurgency in the Chicano Movement in Los Angeles, 1966–1978 (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2002).

55. Cadava, Standing on Common Ground, 118–124.

56. Ruben Salazar, “Goldwater Forces Woo Problem-­Beset Latins:

Barbeque Held for Mexican-­Americans in Throes of Urban Renewal Controversy,” Los Angeles Times, 26 October 1964, A8.

57. “Watch It, Democrats . . . ,” Carta Editorial: For the Informed—Interested in Mexican American Affairs II, no. 10 (29 October 1965): 3–4; and Eduardo Quevedo Papers, M0349, box 9, folder 20, Department of Special Collections, Stanford University Libraries.

58. “Renewal Plan Wins OK at Santa Fe Springs.” 59. Salazar, “Mexican-­Americans Protest.”

60. Matthew Lassiter argues that taxpayers, homeowners, and school parents constituted the “Silent Majority.” See Lassiter, The Silent Majority.

61. Rev. Manuel Magaña to Chester Holifield, 10 September 1966, box 2, folder “Flood Ranch Redevelopment Project,” Holifield Papers, (emphasis added).

Notes to pp. 121–123  187

62. Frank M. Jordan, Supplement to Statement of the Vote: State of California

General Election, November 3, 1964 (Sacramento: California Secretary of State, 1964), 69.

63. I discuss the Mexican American community’s interactions with Prop-

osition 14 in greater detail in chapter 3 of this book. For other scholarly examinations of Proposition 14 and the repeal of the Rumford Act, see

Thomas W. Casstevens, Politics, Housing, and Race Relations: California’s Rumford Act and Proposition 14 (Berkeley: Institute of Governmental

Studies, University of California, 1967); and Daniel Martinez Hosang,

Racial Propositions: Ballot Initiatives and the Making of Postwar California (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2010), 53–90.

64. “Brown Appeals to U.S. to Free Urban Funds: Renewal Work Stalled

by Federal Freeze Pending Decision on Validity of Prop. 14,” Los Angeles Times, 18 February 1966, 30; “U.S. Won’t Free Urban Funds, Brown

Says: Weaver Tells Governor His Agency Still Feels Prop. 14 Blocks Any Negotiations,” Los Angeles Times, 4 March 1966, 4; and Salazar, “Mexican-­Americans Protest.”

65. Flores to Holifield, 10 January 1967, box 2, folder “Flood Ranch—Santa Fe Springs,” Holifield Papers.

66. Dick Singer, “Federal Loan Grant Holds Up Flood Ranch Renewal Program,” Whittier Daily News, 24 November 1966, 15.

67. Dick Singer, “Flood Ranch Renewal Program Merely a Fact Now— Not a Battle,” Whittier Daily News, 25 November 1966, 13.

68. “Santa Fe Springs Row: Flood Ranch Group Protests on Renewal,” Los Angeles Herald Examiner, 28 March 1967, box 2, folder “Flood Ranch— Santa Fe Springs,” Holifield Papers.

69. Massey Herrera to Chester Holifield, 18 December 1967, box 2, folder “Flood Ranch—Santa Fe Springs,” Holifield Papers.

70. Herrera to Holifield, 18 December 1967, box 2, folder “Flood Ranch— Santa Fe Springs,” Holifield Papers.

71. Ibid.

72. Diaz, Barrio Urbanism, 173.

73. “Santa Fe Springs, Calif., Receives All-­American Cities Award for the

Second Time,” 118 Cong. Rec. 39 (March 1972); Archie Beasor to Holifield, 26 January 1968, box 2, folder “Santa Fe Springs,” Holifield Papers;

188  Notes to pp. 123–127

and “Suit to Block Urban Renewal Plan Fails,” Los Angeles Times, 8 December 1967, 3.

74. Richard Singer, A City in Transition: Santa Fe Springs, California, brochure, box 2, folder “Santa Fe Springs,” Holifield Papers.

75. “The City of Santa Fe Springs: Residential Rehabilitation in the Flood Ranch Urban Renewal Project, California R-­7 1” (report prepared by

Santa Fe Springs Redevelopment Agency), box 2, folder “Flood Ranch Redevelopment Project,” Holifield Papers.

Epilogue 1. Dave Reyes and Tom Waldman, Land of a Thousand Dances: Chicano

Rock ’n’ Roll from Southern California (Albuquerque: University of New

Mexico Press, 1998); Anthony Macías, Mexican American Mojo: Popular Music, Dance, and Urban Culture in Los Angeles, 1935–1968 (Durham, N.C.: Duke University Press, 2008), 193.

2. For historical studies of Chicano youth culture, see Mauricio Mazón, The Zoot-­Suit Riots: The Psychology of Symbolic Annihilation (Austin:

University of Texas Press, 1984); Macías, Mexican American Mojo; and

Luis Alvarez, The Power of the Zoot: Youth Culture and Resistance During World War II (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2008).

3. Matt García, A World of Its Own: Race, Labor, and Citrus in the Making of Greater Los Angeles, 1900–1970 (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2001), 200–201. See also Macías, Mexican American

Mojo; George Lipsitz, “Cruising Around the Historical Bloc: Postmodernism and Popular Music in East Los Angeles,” in “Modernity and

Modernism, Postmodernity and Postmodernism,” special issue, Cultural Critique 5 (Winter 1986–1987): 157–77. Lipsitz’s body of scholarship

includes an impressive list of publications that place popular music at the center of resistance across the “long fetch of history.” See Lipsitz,

Time Passages: Collective Memory and American Popular Culture (Min-

neapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2002); and Lipsitz, Footsteps in

the Dark: The Hidden Histories of Popular Music (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2007).

4. “Sheriffs [sic] Riot on Whittier Blvd.,” La Raza 1, no. 2 ([1969]): 7–8.

Notes to pp. 128–133  189

5. US Bureau of the Census, Census of Population and Housing: 1970 Census Tracts, Final Report PHC(1)-­117. Los Angeles-­Long Beach, Calif.,

SMSA Part 1 (Washington, D.C.: US Government Printing Office, 1972), 670.

6. Police harassment was a regular complaint of cruisers, many of whom pointed out that it was the gang members who caused all the trouble

on the boulevard. See, for example, Keith Takahashi, “Youths Organize

Group to Protect Cruisers’ Rights,” Los Angeles Times, 5 August 1976, SE1.

7. Joy Horowitz, “Whittier Cruising: A Tradition Gone Sour,” Los Angeles Times, 8 August 1979, E1.

8. Takahashi, “Youths Organize Group to Protect Cruisers’ Rights,” SE1. The City of Whittier responded by forming a social services panel to

discuss the “cruising problem.” See Takahashi, “Social Services Panel to Work on Cruising Problem,” Los Angeles Times, 12 August 1976, SE1.

9. Marcida Dodson, “Barriers Make Boulevard Night an Empty One,” Los Angeles Times, 2 September 1979, A3.

10. Ibid.

11. Blake Gumprecht, “Cruisers Win Boulevard, but Montebello Finds Peace,” Los Angeles Times, 20 July 1980, SE1_B1.

12. Rebecca Trounson, “City to Proceed with Barricade,” Los Angeles Times, 12 February 1981, SE1.

13. See Greg Hise, Magnetic Los Angeles: Planning the Twentieth Century Metropolis (Baltimore, Md.: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1997);

García, A World of Its Own; and Becky Nicolaides and Andrew Wiese, eds., The Suburb Reader (New York: Routledge, 2006).

14. For representative examples, see Thomas J. Sugrue, The Origins of the

Urban Crisis: Race and Inequality in Postwar Detroit (Princeton, N.J.:

Princeton University Press, 1996); and Eric Avila, Popular Culture in the

Age of White Flight: Fear and Fantasy in Suburban Los Angeles (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2004).

15. See Elaine Tyler May, Homeward Bound: American Families in the Cold

War Era (1988; New York: Basic Books, 1999); and Joanne Meyerowitz, ed., Not June Cleaver: Women and Gender in Postwar America, 1945–1960 (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1994).

16. See Gilbert G. González, Labor and Community: Mexican Citrus Worker Villages in a Southern California County, 1900–1950 (Urbana: University

190  Notes to pp. 133–135

of Illinois Press, 1994); García, A World of Its Own (2001); and José M. Alamillo, Making Lemonade Out of Lemons: Mexican American Labor and Leisure in a California Town, 1880–1960 (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2006).

17. See George J. Sánchez, “Disposable People, Expendable Neighbor-

hoods,” in William Deverell and Greg Hise, eds., A Companion to Los Angeles (Malden, Mass.: Wiley-­Blackwell, 2010).

18. See Natalia Molina, Fit to Be Citizens? Public Health and Race in Los Angeles, 1879–1939 (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2006).

19. The Eastside of Los Angeles was a multiracial place before World War II, but the flight of Jews and other white ethnics from the neighborhoods, combined with increases in the Mexican birthrate and

in-­migration from other parts of the Southwest, transformed the neighborhoods into nearly homogenous Mexican settlements. See George

J. Sánchez, Becoming Mexican American: Ethnicity, Culture, and Identity in Chicano Los Angeles, 1900–1945 (New York: Oxford University Press,

1993); and George J. Sánchez, “ ‘ What’s Good for Boyle Heights is Good for the Jews’: Creating Multiracialism on the Eastside during the 1950s,”

in Los Angeles and the Future of Urban Cultures: A Special Issue of American Quarterly, ed. Raúl Homero Villa and George J. Sánchez (Baltimore,

Md.: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2005), 135–159. For the consolida-

tion of the black ghetto in Los Angeles, see Lawrence B. DeGraaf, “City of Black Angels: The Evolution of the Los Angeles Ghetto, 1890–1930,”

Pacific Historical Review 39, no. 3 (August 1970): 323–352; Josh Sides, L.A. City Limits: African American Los Angeles from the Great Depression to the Present (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2004); and Douglas Flamming, Bound for Freedom: Black Los Angeles in Jim Crow America (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2005).

20. The population of Spanish-­surnamed residents in East Los Angeles

alone rose from 43,473 in 1950 to 70,802 in 1960, according to the US Census. Much of this growth is attributable to the out-­migration

of white ethnics and Japanese Americans from neighborhoods like

Boyle Heights, combined with a steady stream of immigration from

Mexico. US Bureau of the Census, U.S. Census of Population: 1950, vol.

III, Census Tract Statistics, Chapter 28 (Washington, D.C.: US Government Printing Office, 1952); US Bureau of the Census, U.S. Censuses of

Notes to p. 136  191

Population and Housing: 1960 Census Tracts, Final Report PHC(1)-­82

(Washington, D.C.: US Government Printing Office, 1962). For demographic transitions in Boyle Heights see Sánchez, “What’s Good for Boyle Heights,” 135–159.

21. See García, A World of Its Own (2001); and Alamillo, Making Lem-

onade Out of Lemons, which help to shift the lens on ethnic Mexican settlement and life away from East Los Angeles but do not address

questions about the connective tissues between the historic Eastside and Mexican American suburban settlement.

22. “Of Real Estate and People,” Los Angeles Times, 18 January 1970, J22.

192  Notes to p. 136


Ad Hoc Committee of Mexican Americans for Better Schools, 97 African Americans: black freedom struggle, 33; in Boyle Heights, 57; labor, 22; and LA city elections, 78; and Okies, 20, 30; and Operation Windowshop, 88–­89; and Proposition 14 (1964), 90; and relative to Asian Americans and Mexican Americans, 9; and restrictive covenants, 51–­52, 154n5; and segregation, 4, 7, 44, 112; and Shelley v. Kraemer (1948), 54; and suburban renewal, 107, 183n12; and suburbanization, 151n31; tensions with ethnic Mexicans, 67–­69; and Zoot Suit Riots, 35 Aguilar Burke, Maria, 96–­98 Aguilar, Manuel, 62, 71 Aguirre, Lujan v. Pico Rivera (1965), 87 Aguirre, Maria, 87, 94, 98 Alexandria Hotel, 91 Alhambra: discrimination in, 64, 72–­73, 92; Japanese American resettlement in, 7, 57; postwar destination for ethnic Mexican home seekers, 48, 69 Alien Land Law, 23, 157n35 Aliso Village, 47, 163n4 Alonzo, Henry, 94 Alvarado, John, 120 Alviso, Calif., 44, 162n102 American Civil Liberties Union, 134 American GI Forum, 1, 82, 85, 92, 97, 118

American Southwest, 22 Andrix Street, 64 Arden Village, 40, 41, 45 Arechiga family (Chavez Ravine), 109 Army Intelligence Department, 119 Asian Americans: discourses of disease, 42; and housing finance discrimination, 51; and Latinos, 8, 9, 54, 92, 93; and Okies, 20; and Operation Windowshop, 88; and race restrictive covenants, 52; in suburban LA, 7 Avila, Jose, 40 Avila, Maria, 64–­65, 68 Azusa, 10, 39, 40, 161 Baja California, 25 Baldwin, Anita, 158n47 Baldwin, Elias Jackson “Lucky,” 14 Baldwin Park, 37, 39, 69 barrio: as anchors of community identity, 6, 47, 49, 82, 86, 120; challenges associated with, 10, 37, 60, 62, 71, 76, 112; and community leadership, 85, 99, 102, 127; and cruising, 132;definition of 5; and Proposition 14 (1964), 94; and redevelopment, 12, 46, 104–­109; as segregated spaces, 64, 116; in suburbs, 2, 11, 119; as way-­stations to suburban homeownership, 1, 57–­58, 69, 73–­74; and Zoot Suit Riots, 35–­36 Beals, Ralph Leon, 158n47 Belvedere, 64


Bell, 48, 78, 169n59 Bellflower, 88, 171n80 Bell Gardens, 19, 21, 51, 169n59, 171n80 Beverly Hills, 9, 60 Beyer, Forest, 65 Blake, Aldrich, 77 Black/White dichotomy, 93, 106, 137 Blow Outs (Eastside high schools), 100, 180n101 Bowron, Fletcher, 108 Boyle Heights (Los Angeles), 2, 12, 55, 73, 78, 136, 137, 166n35; diversity in, 57–­58, 191n20; and freeway construction, 59; and LA city elections, 79; movement to suburbs from, 62–­63, 81, 83; and Proposition 14, 91–­92; and “redlining,” 5 Brown, Edmund “Pat,” 78, 94, 124 Buddhist temple. See Wat Thai Bunker Hill, 78, 108 Burbank, 19, 30 Burns, Fritz, 109 Burt, Kenneth C., 79 Campos, Ben, 37, 69 California, 1, 14–­15, 32, 50, 51, 54, 65, 66, 77, 79, 81, 83, 97, 116; Dust Bowl migration to, 19; ethnic Mexican population of, 6, 90; labor activism during Great Depression, 24–­26; Northern California, 44, 56, 86, 162n102; Southern California, 2, 3, 9, 75, 88, 101, 131, 135; Southwestern politics, 82, 173n4; and urban redevelopment; 114; World War II, 7 California Apartment Owners Association, 89 California Democratic Council (CDC), 76–­78 California Department of Transportation, 63 California Fruit Growers Exchange, 26 California Highway Commission, 112 California Real Estate Association, 89, 177n70

194 Index

California Reconstruction and Reemployment Commission, 16 Calfornia Republican Party, 122 Californians Against Proposition 14 (CAP-­14), 92, 93 California State Supreme Court, 94 Canta Ranas, 21, 37 Cardiel, Danny, 25 Carmenita, 21 Carta Editorial, 86, 87, 90, 123 Castro, Alex, 53 Charter Oak, 6, 87, 167n38 Catholic Church, 29, 33–­34, 37–­38, 160n69 Chavarría, Jesús, 91 Chavez, Cesar, 33 Chavez Ravine, 12, 46, 78, 108–­109, 118, 120, 129, 173n2 Chicago, 9, 114 chicanismo, 120 “Chicano Removal Association” (CRA): acronym for LA Community Redevelopment Association, 110 Chinese Americans, 7, 15, 161n94 Chino Camp, 21 Civil Rights Act (1964), 121 Claremont, 10, 105, 166, 173, 187 Clements, George P., 25 Club Cultural Mexicano, 70, 127 Coffield, John V., 28, 33–­38, 40–­42 Colonias: akin to other rural settlements, 14–­17, 116, 146n12; definition of, 4–­5, 146n11, 153n2; homeownership in, 10–­ 11; in midst of suburbia, 8, 48–­49, 73, 87; and redevelopment, 39–­45, 103–­106, 118–­120; and “redlining,” 20–­21; seen as premodern, 14; as working-­class suburbs, 14–­17, 116, 146n12; Zoot Suit Riots in, 35–­36 Colorado, 3, 47 Colored Town (Miami, Florida), 44 Commerce, 3, 25, 48, 73, 80, 90–­91, 169n59 Committee for Home Protection, 89 Community Service Organization (CSO): and Bert Corona, 99; and

Edward Roybal, 55, 76, 78; fair housing, 52; and MAPA, 83; against Proposition 14 (1964), 92 Confederación de Uniones de Campesinos y Obreros Mexicanos (CUCOM), 23–­26 Congress of Racial Equality (CORE), 88–­89, 123 Corona, 10 Corona, Bert, 79–­80, 98–­99 Corral, Candelaria, 127 Council of Mexican American Affairs (CMAA), 62–­63, 72, 85, 88–­89, 92 Covina, 10, 70, 74 Crabb, Henry, 26 cruising: lowriding, 131–­135 Cub Scouts, 70 Cudahy, 21 Culp, Orlyn, 87 Curtis, Maurice, 53 Dallas (Texas), 9 Dalsimer, Vincent S., 88 Davila, Frank, 77 Debs, Ernest, 77–­78 Delgadillo, Ronnie, 134 Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), 105, 118, 124, 127 Detroit, 113 Diamond Walnut plant, 32 Diaz, Louis R., 12, 81, 83, 85–­86 Dodgers Stadium, 12, 129 Donlevy, John, 134 Downey, 9, 48, 69, 128, 149n25, 186n43 Dust Bowl, 19 East Los Angeles, 90, 109, 112, 167 n42, 169n59,181n2, 189n3, 191n20, 192n21; Chicano Moratorium march, 101; East Los Angeles College, 63, 70; expansion of barrios on, 2, 6, 136, 137; expansion of schools in, 109; Robert Kennedy motorcade route to, 100; Mexican Americans from 45, 77; movement to suburbs from, 1, 5, 58, 61, 62, 71; racial

incidents in, 36, 73; Roosevelt High School, 47; Spanish-­surnamed population in, 6; surveillance and repressive measures in, 132, 133; Thee Midniters, 131; Whittier Boulevard and, 99, 131 Eastside, 70, 147n15, 167n35, 174n23, 191n19, 192n21; American population and, 6, 10, 58; barrios, 35, 47, 57, 58, 136, 137; Blow Outs, 100, 132; cruising scene, 131; freeway construction and, 58; Mexican Americans from, 70; Mexican American homeowners on, 11,48; Mexican independence parade, 92; migration out of, 109; neighborhoods comprising, 2; proximity to, 59; corridor, 59; as racialized space, 57; urban renewal and, 71, 79; Whittier Boulevard and, 131 El Congreso de Los Pueblos Que Hablan Español, 52, 76, 165n19 El Espectador, 57, 98 El Monte, 34, 39, 48, 73, 81, 82, 90, 158n44, 159n62, 169n59; baseball league, 37; black and Mexican American residents of, 68; in Chicano history, 26; citrus communities, 10; class character of, 73; colonia complex, 11, 21, 22, 32, 157n30; Coordinating Council of, 40; DuPont Paint factory, 32; Dust Bowl communities,19; freeway construction, 112; Gutierrez, Ernie and Olga, 36, 140; Hicks Camp, 5, 14, 20, 28, 29, 30, 32, 36, 38, 44, 53; El Monte High School, 24, 41; housing discrimination in, 52, 53, 54, 64; La Historia Society, 140, 158n51; La Misión evictions, 40; labor struggles, 23, 24, 26, 157n30, 157n36, 157n37, 158n45; Lakewood community, 38; Legion Stadium, 132; Mexican communities in, 28; as Mexican American suburb, 2, 10; redevelopment, 114; religion and segregation, 33; rental homes, 29; school district, 41, 43, 70; transformation of, 2; Zoot Suit Riots and 35

Index 195

El Monte Berry Strike (1933), 23, 26, 30, 44 El Monte Union School District, 70 El Paso, 9, 27, 83,156n26 El Rancho High School, 62, 66, 84 El Rancho Unified School District, 94–­98 Emmens, A.J., 123 España, Fernando, 25 Eyers, William, 40 fair housing: decline of, 6, 58; and ethnic Mexicans, 72, 82, 88–­91; and redevelopment, 124; social justice advocacy for, 52, 75 Fair Employment Practices Commission, 86 Federal Housing Administration (FHA): 220 Program, 105, 126; adoption of HOLC appraisal methods, 17; and creation of suburban slums, 106; and suburban expansion, 40, 49–­50, 135; and structural inequality, 16 Federal National Mortgage Association (Fannie Mae), 126, 127 Fierro de Bright, Josefina, 77, 165n19 Flood Ranch, 113: colonias, 5, 15, 21, 103, 110, 111; Federal National Mortgage Association (Fannie Mae), 126; and flooding, 110; freeway construction, 112; homeowners, 110; neighborhood service center; political diversity of ethnic Mexican communities, 107; redevelopment and resistance, 104, 107, 110, 111, 114–­125, 127–­129, 137, 185n33; and Santa Fe Springs, 15; zoning and slum clearance, 115, 116, 128 Flood Ranch Redevelopment Project, 104, 117, 121, 124, 128 Flores, Ernest, 118–­119, 121, 124 Flores, Louisa, 114 Flores, Lucy, 22 Ford, John Anson, 36, 77–­79 Ford-­Mercury Motor Company assembly plant, 3, 60

196 Index

Garcia, Frank, 62 García, Matt, 10, 132 Garcia, Nellie, 52 Garcia, Rose, 62 Gardena, 7, 19, 23, 171n80 Garfield High School, 63, 83, 184n19 GI Bill: ethnic Mexicans and, 46, 48, 55, 63, 119; and suburban homeownership, 1, 3, 49–­50, 154n8 Gilbert, Roy, 42 Gingras, Mary, 127 Glendale, 19 Goldwater, Barry, 122, 123 Gonzales, Manuel, 46–­47 Gonzales, Victor, 66 Great Depression, 16, 44, 52; effect on ethnic Mexican adaptation, 3, 8, 11, 19, 20, 169n60; federal housing policy during, 17, 154n8; labor struggles during, 23, 29. See also Repatriation Griffith, Beatrice: American Me (1948), 27, 158n48 Guerrero, Vera, 35 Gutierrez, Ernie, 36 Hawthorn, 171n80 Hernandez, Cecilia “Kinko,” 24, 32, 38 Hernandez, Raphael, 30, 31 Herrera, Massey, 117, 121, 124, 126 Hicks Camp: at center of El Monte Berry Strike (1933), 23–­26, 157n30; within colonia complex, 21; and community memory, 158n51; difference with Flood Ranch, 107; featured in Los Angeles Times, 14; movement to suburbs from, 70; and Okie resentment, 20; origins of, 26–­27, 158n47; as segregated space, 53; similar to company town, 5; social conditions of, 28–­44, and Zoot Suit Riots, 35–­36 Hicks, Robert, 27, 158n47 Hicks, Stanley, 27–­30, 39–­40 Hidalgo, Manuel, 92 Holifield, Chester “Chet”, 62, 101, 123, 126, 127, 169n59

Home Owner’s Loan Corporation (HOLC): appraisal methods 17, 49–­50; “redlining,” 18, 20, 163n4; and structural inequality, 16; and suburban expansion, 154n8; survey maps, 5, 147n13 Homeownership: attained by claiming Spanish identity, 66; for benefit of children, 60–­61; and conservatism, 101; efforts to deny to ethnic Mexicans, 15, 46, 55; facilitated by federal government, 50; and GI Bill, 3; increasing rate of ethnic Mexican, 48–­49; as permanency for ethnic Mexicans, 10–­11; and Proposition 14 (1964), 89, 92; struggle for, 72–­73, 87; symbolic and material value of, 47; as upward mobility, 7–­8, 59, 71, 75, 136 Hoover, Herbert, 83 Hunt, Everett, 123 Inland Empire, 15 Irwindale, 21, 22, 39, 53, 86 Jackson, Kenneth T., 49, 151n31 Japanese Americans: in El Monte Berry Strike (1933), 23–­25; and ethnic Mexicans, 148n23, 162n102; and farm labor, 32, 157n35; outmigration from Eastside, 6, 57–­58, 191n20; replaced by ethnic Mexican labor, 15; resettlement after internment, 7, 78 Japanese American National Museum (Los Angeles), 166n35 Jews: in Boyle Heights, 57; outmigration from Eastside, 6, 58, 79, 167n38, 191n19; and race restrictive covenants, 52 Jimtown, 5, 20, 36, 112, 155n19, 186n42 John Birch Society, 123 Johnson, Frita Shaw, 67 Johnson, Lyndon Baines (LBJ), 127, 178n76 Jordan, Frank, 79 Kalsman Builders (Beverly Hills), 60 Kennedy, Harold, 42

Kennedy, John F., 81–­82 Kennedy, Robert F. (Bobby), 99–­100 La Granada, 21, La Mirada, 21, 169n59, 187n53 La Misión, 21, 32, 40 La Puente, 10, 21, 39, 70, 86, 90, 169, 187 La Raza (magazine), 109, 132 La Raza Unida Party, 12 La Sección, 21 La Verne, 10, 140 Las Flores, 21, 22 Lakewood: and black exclusion 171n80; ethnic Mexicans in, 66, 69; and highway connections, 112; as model for postwar suburbanization, 38–­39, 50; and Pico Rivera, 80 Lara, Frank, 32 Latin Americans for Goldwater, 122 League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC), 92 Legg, Herbert, 42–­43 Levering, L. Gird, 54 Levittown, New York, 50 Lincoln Heights, 2, 33, 136, 137, 139 Lindsay, Gilbert, 78–­79 Long Beach, 19, 38, 118, 146n5, 168n42, 178n77, 190n5 Longshore, K. Wallace, 77 López, Ignacio L., 57, 98 López, Henry “Hank,” 77–­79, 82–­83, 98 Los Angeles: county population, 110; decentralization of, 7–­8, 11, 14, 23, 30, 38, 45, 57–­60, 73–­74, 122, 135–­137; declared off-­limits during Zoot Suit Riots, 35; discrimination in, 63, 64, 88; downtown, 2, 4; during Great Depression, 52; housing shortage in, 16; Latino population in metropolitan area, 3, 6, 9, 12, 19, 21, 22, 46, 48, 69–­70, 102, 149n26, 153n2, 163n4, 170n72; owner-­builders in suburbs of, 156n23; race and labor in, 15, 26, 28, 41–­42; racialized quarantine in, 161n94; redevelopment in, 104–­110, 128–­129,

Index 197

Los Angeles (continued ) 184n19; Repatriation in, 25; South Central, 58, 167n38; “Spanish fantasy” past, 182n8; Spanish-­language media in, 93; Suburban education in, 97–­99; typicality, 145n4; uprising in, 113 Los Angeles Archidiocese, 33 Los Angeles City Council, 55, 81, 108 Los Angeles County Committee on Human Relations, 41, 42 Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors, 40 Los Angeles County Health Department, 115 Los Angeles County Sheriff ’s Department, 84–­85 Los Angeles County Welfare Department, 25, 43 Los Angeles Mexican Chamber of Commerce, 90–­91 Los Angeles Times: feature on Flood Ranch,120; feature on Hicks Camp, 14, 37, 43, 152n1; focus on housing stock, 56, 64; pro-­growth stance of, 108; and Ruben Salazar, 72; and Whittier Boulevard, 134 Los Nietos, 21, 35, 70, 110, 186n42 Lozano, Ophelia, 100 Lozano, Susana C., 1 Lozano, Sylvia, 1 Lujan, Matilde C., 97. See also Aguirre, Lujan v. Pico Rivera (1965), 87 Lynwood, 19, 51, 171n80 Macías, Anthony, 58 Macías, Frank, 73, 85 Magaña, Manuel, 119–­123, 128 Magnolia Ranch, 60 Martin, Stanley, 42 Martinez, A.V., 25 Mattoon Act, 51 Maullin, Richard, 91 McCarran-­Walter Immigration Act (1952), 76 McWilliams, Carey, 37, 153n2, 158n47

198 Index

Medina Court, 21, 22, 32, 33, 35–­37, 40 Medina, George, 101 Mesa, Isaías “Cy,” 103–­104, 115, 127, 128 Mexican American Opportunity Foundation (MAOF), 73, 119 Mexican American Political Association (MAPA), 12, 79–­80, 82–­83, 86–­99, 137 Mexican American Study Project, 6 “Mexican Beverly Hills,” 9, 71, 149n25, 149n26 Mexican Revolution, 15, 27, 145n3 Mexico, 3, 119 Miami (Florida): 106; Colored Town 44 Misión Vieja, 32 Monrovia, 4, 22, 36 Montebello: Robert Kennedy motorcade through, 99; colonias in, 5, 15; conservative women in, 101; discrimination in, 64; industrial expansion in, 3, 60; Japanese American movement to, 7; as Latino suburb, 2, 11, 48, 59, 62, 69, 73, 79; and metropolitan politics, 78; as Mexican Beverly Hills, 9; and Proposition 14 (1964), 94; and Whittier Boulevard, 131–­134 Montebello High School, 47 Montenegro, Salvador, 72–­73, 90, 92, 94 Monterey Park: discrimination in, 63–­64, 72; Japanese American movement to, 7, 57; as Latino suburb, 2, 11, 48, 73, 178n77; and Proposition 14 (1964), 89, 91, 94 Moore, John E., 96 Mora, Armando J., 70–­7 1 Morales, Dionicio, 62, 65, 73, 88, 119 Moreno, John “King,” 86, 121 Moreno, Luisa, 77 Moreno Sifuentes, Frank, 109 Muñoz, Frank, 89–­90 National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), 52, 89 National Organization for Women (NOW), 98 Nava, Julian, 98

New Deal, 7, 172n1 New Mexico, 3, 119 New York, 50, 83, 113 Nicolaides, Becky, 10, 151n31, 156n23, 172n92, 181n2 Ninth District, 55 Nixon, Richard M., 82, 99 North Hollywood, 8 Oklahoma: “Okies,” 19–­20 O’Malley, Walter, 109 Ontario, 59, 168n47 Operation Wetback, 76, 77 Orange County (California), 10, 15, 30, 59, 69, 117, 185n33 Palo Verde, 108 Palomares, Francisco, 25 Paonessa, Alfred E., 52 Parker, William H., 81 Pasadena, 4, 10, 89 Pearl Harbor, 46 Perez, Georgia, 61–­62 Perez, Joe, 61–­62 Perez, Mary, 22 Philadelphia, 113 Pico Rivera: black exclusion in, 68; city governance, 80; colonias in, 11, 36, 53; conservative women in, 101; discrimination in, 64; education in, 61, 66, 94–­98; incorporation of, 39; industrialization in, 60; as Latino suburb, 1–­3, 47–­48, 59, 62, 65, 69, 73, 74, 79, 102, 136; Mexican American leadership in, 81, 83; as Mexican Beverly Hills, 9, 71; Proposition 14 (1964), 94; racial tensions in, 83–­86; resistance to redevelopment, 87; redevelopment politics, 114, 128; Robert Kennedy motorcade, 99–­ 100; and Whittier Boulevard, 131–­135 Pico Rivera City Council, 83, 85, 87 Pico Viejo, 48, 53, 69, 87 Pico Vista Park, 64 Pío Pico 36, 95, 96 Pioneer High School, 84

police brutality, 84–­85 Pomona, 10, 59, 87, 89 Poulson, Norris, 108–­109 Prado, Cheno, 27–­28 Prado, Lupe, 28 Prado, Polo, 27–­28 Prado, Romeo, 131. See also Thee Midniters Proposition 14 (1964), 12, 72, 89–­90 Quevedo, Eduardo, 76, 79, 93 Quonset huts, 108 race-­restrictive covenants, 3, 5, 15, 19, 51–­52, 54, 154n5 Ramirez, Joe, 118, 121 Ramirez, Vince, 63 Rancho Santa Gertrudes, 70 Rendon, Arthur, 62 redevelopment. See urban renewal Repatriation: as marker of non-­ whiteness, 20, 155n11, 161n94; Mexican American complicity in, 25; as response to poverty and disease, 42; resulting in native-­born community, 3, 19; supported by John Anson Ford, 78, 173n10. See also Great Depression Republican Party, 117, 122, 173n4 Rio Hondo, 14, 15, 27, 80 Rivas, Olivia, 48, 184n19 Rivera, 21, 48, 56, 61, 64, 80, 101, 112, 186n42 Roosevelt, Franklin Delano (FDR), 17, 75 Roosevelt High School, 47, 70 Roybal, Edward R., 55–­56, 58–­59, 65, 76–­ 79, 81, 83, 88, 108 Ruedas, Bernie, 136 Ruíz, Manuel, 76 Rumford, Byron, 89 Rumford Fair Housing Act (1963), 12, 72, 89–­91, 94, 124, 177n70 San Antonio, 104 San Dimas, 10 San Fernando Valley, 3, 7, 8, 15, 59, 86

Index 199

San Gabriel, 2, 7, 8, 24, 26, 32, 69, 74, 92, 114, 132 San Gabriel River, 15, 28, 80, 84, 103, 110–­113 San Gabriel Valley, 7, 29, 37, 53, 156n22; bedroom communities, 14; berry patches in, 26; Charter Oak neighborhood, 70; Citizen’s League, 24; city incorporations, 39; colonias and metropolitan space, 14–­15, 149n26, 156n22; comparison between Mexican Americans and Asian Americans, 149n27; El Espectador newspaper, 57; ethnic Mexicans and, 6, 40; freeway construction, 58; housing and education rights, 75; MAPA, 86; Mexican homeownership, 10; Mexican Americans and community redevelopment, 106; Mexican American political representation, 82, 102; multiracial spaces in, 7; rental homes, 29; segregation in, 37, 53; Robert Kennedy motorcade tour, 100; as suburban commuter region, 39; suburbanization of, 39; tensions w/ African Americans, 68; Whittier boulevard, 131; and Zoot Suit Riots, 36 San Gabriel Mission, 33, 34, San Joaquin Valley, 25 Sandoval, Anthony, 92 Sandoval, Larry, 98 Salazar, Ruben, 72–­73 Salgado, Alberto, 40 Salgado, Celia, 39–­40 Sánchez, George J., 8, 169n60 Sánchez, Tony, 94 Santa Fe Springs, 169n59, 186n43; annexation of Flood Ranch, 107; colonia complex, 11, 15; conservative women in, 101; and Cy Mesa, 103–­104; ethnic Mexican leadership in, 86; as Latino suburb, 69–­71; redevelopment in, 110–­28 Santa Fe Springs City Council, 107, 114, 121 Santa Fe Springs City Planning Commission, 115

200 Index

Santa Fe Springs Coordinating Council, 70 Santa Fe Springs Redevelopment Agency, 117, 121, 126 Santa Monica, 19 Sanz, Manuel, 91 Satow, Toshito, 25 Self, Robert O., 56, 176n58 Shelley v. Kraemer (1948), 54, 55, 64 Signal Hill, 19 Simon’s Brickyard, 5, 15, 21, 154n5 Simmons, Mary, 80 Singer, Dick, 124–­125 skin color: basis of discrimination, 64–­66; light skin passing as Spanish, 66–­67 Smith, Alfred E., 83 Smith, William A., 41 Soto, Phil, 86 Sousa, William, 122 South Bay, 7, 57, 148n23 South El Monte, 39, 48, 81–­82, 90, 169n59, 178n70 South Gate, 16, 21, 51, 60, 68–­69, 156n23, 172n92, 181n2 South Los Angeles, 6, 109 Southeast, 6, 15, 58, 65, 70, 75, 102, 106, 111–­112, 131, 181n2 Southland, 4, 42, 62, 65, 132, 185n26 Southeast Realty Board, 65 Stafford, Jim, 96 suburban ideal: as basis for racial restrictions, 21, 64; defined, 2, 7; Mexican American conceptions of, 6, 12, 48 suburbanization: colonias as way-­stations to, 5; definition of 2–­3; and discrimination, 48, 137; from Eastside, 134–­136; ethnic Mexican participation in, 8–­9, 47; flood control and, 112; meanings for Cold War era America, 7; postwar, 6–­8, 135; in San Gabriel Valley, 39 Sunbelt, 9, 117 Tafoya, Richard, 79 taxpayers: as code for white conservatives, 187n60; Mexican American

appropriation of, 123–­124, 128; victimization rhetoric of, 5, 101 Taylor, Paul, 10 Terrazas, Frank, 81, 83–­86, 99, 180n92 Thee Midniters, 131 Todd, John, 80 Torrance, 30 Torres, Eddie, 131. See also Thee Midniters Trujillo, Arsie, 46–­47 Tucson (Arizona), 9, 104, 106, 122, 183n11 United States Army Corps of Engineers, 110 United States Consitution: Fourteenth Amendment, 94 United States Supreme Court, 94 Upland, 10 urban renewal: Bunker Hill, 78; Chavez Ravine, 78, 107–­110; contributing to suburban migration, 3, 59, 79; and eminent domain, 104, 116, 118; impact on Eastside, 71; resistance to, 87; as slum clearance, 41, 45; and suburban development, 12–­13; as suburban renewal, 102, 104–­107; 114–­29, 182n12 Urban Renewal Administration, 114, 116, 117 Vargas, Joseph “Joe,” 25, 81, 90, 92–­93, 100, 177n70 veterans: difficulty finding housing, 108; discrimination of, 62–­63; use of GI Bill, 48, 49, 56, 63–­64; homeownership targeted at, 3; of World War II, 46, 57, 169n60 Viva Kennedy Clubs, 12, 81–­83 Waco (Texas), 30 Waldie, D.J., 66 War on Poverty, 96, 127 Washington, D.C., 18, 31, 62, 122 Wat Thai (Los Angeles), 8, 23 Watts, 6, 35, 58, 64, 67–­68, 136, 185n25

Weaver, Dick, 115 West Coast, 58, 163n2 West Covina, 66, 69, 169n59 Westside, 57 Whelan, Francis, 125 Whittier, 9, 65, 101, 128, 155n19; annexation, 146n4; colonias in, 11, 21; comparison to Beverly Hills, 9; cruising, 133,134; demographic shifts, 135; East Whittier, 5; ethnic Mexican communities in, 20; homeowners, 72; Mexican American population, 133; Mexican American veterans, 56; race riot, 84; racial geography of L.A. County, 69, 79; redevelopment, 114; West Whittier, 36 Whittier Boulevard, 5, 11, 99, 100; as a site of struggle 131–­134 Whittier Boulevard Rights Committee, 133 Whittier Daily News, 124 Wiese, Andrew, 10, 107, 151n31, 183n12 Wiggins Camp, 21, 158n47 Wilmington, 30 Works Progress Administration (WPA), 20, 21 World War II: African American migration to Los Angeles during, 68; attract industry and labor, 16; and colonias, 10, 110, 153n2; discrimination during, 53; effect on Mexican American cultural adaptation, 8, 11, 169n60; ethnic Mexican veterans of, 46, 55, 57, 63, 70, 118–­ 119, 121; and fair housing, 52; housing shortage during, 108; impact on Boyle Heights, 58; impact on growth, 2, 7, 30; influence on notions of family, 1 Yorty, Sam, 79 Younger, Evelle J., 87 Zenaida “Sadie,” 24 Zoot Suit Riots, 34–­36, 110, 174n23 Zuniga, Pedro, 25

Index 201

About the Author

Jerry González is associate professor of history at the University of Texas at San Antonio. He is currently researching a new project on the emergence of metropolitan San Antonio as a Sunbelt borderland in the twentieth century.

Available titles in the Latinidad: Transnational Cultures in the United States series: María Acosta Cruz, Dream Nation: Puerto Rican Culture and the Fictions of Independence Rodolfo F. Acuña, The Making of Chicana/o Studies: In the Trenches of Academe Xóchitl Bada, Mexican Hometown Associations in Chicagoacán: From Local to Transnational Civic Engagement Adriana Cruz-­Manjarrez, Zapotecs on the Move: Cultural, Social, and Political Processes in Transnational Perspective Marivel T. Danielson, Homecoming Queers: Desire and Difference in Chicana Latina Cultural Production Allison E. Fagan, From the Edge: Chicana/o Border Literature and the Politics of Print Rudy P. Guevarra Jr., Becoming Mexipino: Multiethnic Identities and Communities in San Diego Colin Gunckel, Mexico on Main Street: Transnational Film Culture in Los Angeles before World War II Marie-­Theresa Hernández, The Virgin of Guadalupe and the Conversos: Uncovering Hidden Influences from Spain to Mexico Lisa Jarvinen, The Rise of Spanish-­Language Filmmaking: Out from Hollywood’s Shadow, 1929–1939 Regina M. Marchi, Day of the Dead in the USA: The Migration and Transformation of a Cultural Phenomenon Desirée A. Martín, Borderlands Saints: Secular Sanctity in Chicano/a and Mexican Culture Marci R. McMahon, Domestic Negotiations: Gender, Nation, and Self-­Fashioning in US Mexicana and Chicana Literature and Art

A. Gabriel Meléndez, Hidden Chicano Cinema: Film Dramas in the Borderlands Priscilla Peña Ovalle, Dance and the Hollywood Latina: Race, Sex, and Stardom Amalia Pallares, Family Activism: Immigrant Struggles and the Politics of Noncitizenship Luis F. B. Plascencia, Disenchanting Citizenship: Mexican Migrants and the Boundaries of Belonging Cecilia M. Rivas, Salvadoran Imaginaries: Mediated Identities and Cultures of Consumption Jayson Gonzales Sae-­Saue, Southwest Asia: The Transpacific Geographies of Chicana/o Literature Mario Jimenez Sifuentez, Of Forest and Fields: Mexican Labor in the Pacific Northwest Maya Socolovsky, Troubling Nationhood in U.S. Latina Literature: Explorations of Place and Belonging