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Japanese Costa Mesans, 1920-1942
Detail from a 1938 photo of students and parents at the Japanese school in Costa Mesa. L-to-R: B. Omori, M. Inokuchi, S. Kanno, Kaz Kuirhara, S. Kurihara, K. Shigaki, Unknown.

Japanese Costa Mesans, 1920-1942

You may have heard of the postwar Japanese-Costa Mesans like the Sakiokas and the Iwamotos. But how much do you know about the Japanese families who lived here before World War II – the Hiratas, Yamamis, Omoris, Ikedas, and Kuriharas?

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2018’s Artistic License Fair Draws on Success

Thank you to everyone who joined us at the annual Artistic License Fair in Estancia Park. Makers and buyers alike praised this year’s event featuring the work of dozens of Southern California artisans. The event was great for Costa Mesa history, too. Volunteers at the Diego Sepulveda Adobe introduced a steady stream of visitors to local history.  Thank you to all who participated for helping to make this event a success!

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Happy Birthday, Gladys! Longtime Society Volunteer Turns 100

Happy birthday to Gladys Refakes, the longtime society volunteer who turned 100 this past October! On October 25, representatives from OneOC hand-delivered a bouquet of flowers to Gladys while she was hard at work. Fresh fruit was served over lunch — this healthy lady doesn’t eat cake.

A couple days later, family, friends, and colleagues gathered at Zov’s in Tustin for more festivities. Gladys has volunteered for the society since the early 1980s. In that time the South Dakota native has held a number of titles, including Secretary, office manager, and newsletter editor.

Besides the historical society, Gladys has been active in the Women’s Club, the Senior Club, the Freedom Committee, the Cancer Society, and more. Happy birthday, Gladys!

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Our Past Deserves a Future

This fall, society archivist Mary Ellen Goddard led a four-part seminar on archival practices. In addition to its wealth of practical information, the seminar helped answer the question, “What does the society do?” Read on to learn the answer.

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Adobe Plaque Dedication

Join us as Orange County Historical Commission dedicates a new plaque at the Diego Sepulveda Adobe on January 12. The restored adobe is the second oldest building still standing in Orange County.

The plaque will recognize the adobe and the surrounding Native American site. As part of this free event, the adobe will be open for tours.

So come on down to Estancia Park and celebrate the recognition of one of Orange County’s — and Costa Mesa’s — gems.

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2018 Year in Review
Photo by NordWood Themes on Unsplash

2018 Year in Review

Wow, hard to believe, but yes, another year just flew by! And what a year it was!

Our accomplishments include:

  • The opening of The Hull Story. Curated by society volunteer Nancy Pedersen, this exhibit honors the wood and fiberglass boat builders and manufacturers that transformed Costa Mesa from an agricultural-based town into “the Hub of the Harbor” from the 1950s-80s.
  • Applying through the Orange County Historical Commission’s historic plaque program to receive county recognition for the Diego Sepulveda Adobe and surrounding Native American site.
  • Debut of the society’s enhanced website with expanded features. To go with this new look, we are re-designing our logo, letterhead and brochures.
  • Participating in community events including booths at the 71st Annual Fish Fry, Concerts in the Park, and Orange County Archives in Action.
  • Hosting successful speaker events which attracted new members to the Society including January’s installation dinner with Orange County Register columnist David Whiting; February’s Bring A Friend event; author Craig MacDonald and the amazing story of Charley in March; journalist Chris Epting and the “Camping Trip that changed America” in April; our annual Early California Days in May at Estancia Park featuring cultural anthropologist Stephen O’Neil; Jeff Rountree and the History of John Wayne Airport in June; author Tony Burica and his story Seeking Freedom: A Five Year Odyssey in October; and Fred MacDowell and A Salute to Veterans program in November.

In 2018, society volunteers surpassed 6,000 hours of service. Thank you to our dedicated members including:

  • Board officers & directors: 1st VP Terry Shaw, 2nd VP Tess Bernstein, recording secretary Estelle Hughes, treasurer Susan Weeks, head archivist Mary Ellen Goddard, Dave Rusher, Bob Palazzola, Cynthia Humphreys;
  • Lead volunteer Art Goddard;
  • Docents Kathy Bequette, Alex Golson, Vicki Alcala Kelley, Lynn Alcala;
  • Volunteers Nancy Pedersen, Karl VonHerzen, Hope VonHerzen, Sid Hallburn, Jean & Craig Nomura, Sharon & Dan Dearing, Jan Rovan, Dolores Minerich, Ursula Hartunian, Beth Refakes, Mona & George Hill, Rob Braun, Wanda Garro, Helen Humphreys, costume designer Cynthia Corley, and intern Agustin Espinoza.

Lastly, thank you to centenarian Gladys Refakes for her 38 years of very active service to the society. 

Best wishes and enjoy the holidays. We’ll see you next year!

Dave Gardner
President, Costa Mesa Historical Society

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