southern california history

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“When a girl was born in 1910, her mother sighed…”

Women’s History Month kicks off today, so we’re highlighting a former Angeleno who was once hailed as “a living symbol of the new Chinese woman”: journalist Betty Wang, who arrived in L.A. in 1934 to study at USC.

You might think 2000 was ancient – think “Oops! … I Did It Again” and clunky CD players – but try going eight decades back.

Chinese women were once “something to be owned” – first by her parents, then her husband, Wang wrote in an article published in 1934 in the L.A. Times.

“Tradition bound our feet. Home was our world. We had a dozen men to rule us.”

And what did Chinese women do, other than homemaking? “She tottered around, embroidered, read poems if she was educated, and sat.”

So it’s easy to see how Betty was a symbol of modernity in 1934. She majored in sociology and graduated from the University of Shanghai. Then she worked as a reporter for the China Press in Shanghai before coming to Los Angeles to study at USC. 

“Now, the world is our home. Thank god – for your Western World. Chinese women have changed.”

Sure, there’s still progress to be made – in California, women make 84 cents for every man’s dollar – but women have made amazing strides toward equality since then. Women are CEOs. Women lead countries. Women head school districts, create businesses and spearhead humanitarian efforts around the world. Next year, a woman might even become the next president of the United States. 

@anniezyu

Know about an interesting Angeleno (or place in Los Angeles) we should highlight for Women’s History Month? Tag us with #WeAreLA or tweet us @latimes.

SP 4412 GS-2 Daylight, SLO-Horseshoe Curve 
July 4th, 1937

The curve near Cuesta has just been reballasted. As the new Daylight tried to round the upgrade curve the locomotive drivers could not gain traction. Finally a 2-10-2 was called out from San Luis Obispo to add a little tractive effort.

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SP 3194 with Train 122 an eastbound commute arriving at San Jose, CA in July 1979 by Marty Bernard
Via Flickr:
A Roger Puta Photograph

latimes.com
Why erasing California's anti-Semitic, racist history from public display is the wrong move
By Los Angeles Times

When members of Southern California’s German community chose to name a park for Hindenburg after his death in 1934, they had many famous Germans to choose from — Beethoven the composer; Goethe the poet; or even Remarque, the bestselling author of the pacifist novel “All Quiet on the Western Front.” Instead, they chose a militaristic authoritarian who aimed to restore “German greatness.” These were the same values held by the pro-Nazi Bund movement, America’s own anti-Semitic fascist movement that rose in the 1930s — including here in Southern California. It was no coincidence that the Bund held rallies at Hindenburg Park in the mid-1930s.

The decision to name the park after Hindenburg was as misguided back in the 1930s as it is today. Yes, it was a product of its time, but the 1930s were problematic times, when a tendency to be swept away by pageantry, rallies and calls to restore national greatness led ordinary people to ignore the dangers of racial bigotry.

German Americans were not the only ones swept away by these attitudes.  As an undergraduate at UC Berkeley in the early 1990s, I stumbled across a collection of old Cal yearbooks in the library and pulled the 1936 volume off the shelf.  Its pages were full of swastikas celebrating the new and exciting movement in Nazi Germany, host of the Olympic games that year. Racial exclusion, moreover, was not the monopoly of Nazi Germany in the 1930s and 1940s. Californians too lived in a world of anti-Semitism, restrictive racial covenants and redlining.  While Americans fought bravely to defeat Nazi Germany, we cannot forget that Southern California has a long history of racism whose legacies persist today.

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SP 9346 with Amtrak Train 5, the San Francisco Zephyr, coming into Colfax, CA. Shot from HWY 174 bridge. The dirt road in the lower right is the ROW of the Nevada Co. Narrow Guage, in August 1980 by Marty Bernard
Via Flickr:
A Roger Puta Photograph

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2 Amtraks Coming Off Donner the Same Sunday – 2 Photos by Marty Bernard
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These are Roger Puta’s taken at Yuba Pass, CA in March 1980. This is SP 9157 with Amtrak Train 5, the San Francisco Zephyr, just before the train got Superliners and still sometime before the train got back its real name, California Zephyr.

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Caltrain/Southern Pacific Commuter Trains by Roger Puta by Marty Bernard
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SP 3207 with Train 43 in Millbrae, CA in June 1985.

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Caltrain/Southern Pacific Commuter Trains by Roger Puta by Marty Bernard
Via Flickr:
SP 3188 with an eastbound entering the curve at Sierra Point in Brisbane, CA in June 1985.