Monday, March 23, 2015

A stroll underneath the cherry trees: Images from Sister City Cherry Blossom Festival 2015

Cherry blossoms in bloom at the Huntington Beach Central Park in time for the second annual Cherry Blossom Festival.  The cherry trees are a gift from Huntington Beach Sister City, Anjo, Japan. (Photo, M. Urashima, March 22, 2015) © All rights reserved.

LEFT: Consul-General Harry Hidehisa Horinouchi speaks with Huntington Beach high school students who will travel to Japan as part of the Sister City exchange program with Anjo.  The Sister City relationship with Anjo began in 1982. (Photo, M. Urashima, March 22, 2015)
© All rights reserved.

RIGHT: An official planting of a new cherry tree in Central Park, with representatives from Anjo, Japan, Consul-General Horinouchi, Huntington Beach Mayor Jill Hardy, and Huntington Beach Sister City president Carmen Erber.  Cherry trees are planted in the park area behind the Huntington Beach Central Library, near a pathway that leads to the Secret Garden. (Photo, M. Urashima, March 22, 2015)
© All rights reserved.

LEFT: Cherry blossoms at peak bloom, the Huntington Beach Central Library in the background.  (Photo, Gregory Robertson, March 22, 2015) © All rights reserved. 

LEFT: A model poses in the Secret Garden, in Huntington Beach Central Park.  Improvements were made to the garden in time for the Cherry Blossom Festival. (Photo, M. Urashima, March 22, 2015) © All rights reserved.

RIGHT: A taiko performance, one of the many performances by musicians, dancers and Noh theater artists at the day-long Cherry Blossom Festival.  The art of taiko in Japan is known to date at least to the 6th century CE. (Photo, Gregory Robertson, March 22, 2015) © All rights reserved.

LEFT: Noh performers on their way to the Central Park stage. A classical musical theater art dating back to the 14th Century, it is considered one of the oldest extant theatrical arts in the world.  Of the seven-century history of Noh, the Encyclopaedia Britannica reports, "two factors have allowed the transmission of Noh from generation to generation: first, the preservation of texts containing detailed prescriptions of recitation, dance, mime, and music, and second, the direct and fairly exact transmission of performing skills." (Photo, Gregory Robertson, March 22, 2015) © All rights reserved.

RIGHT: One of the many food vendors at the Cherry Blossom Festival, TaNota, offering takoyaki, a ball-shaped fried-batter snack often filled with minced octopus, green onion and ginger, but with many variations. (Photo, M. Urashima, March 22, 2015) © All rights reserved.

LEFT: Takoyaki being prepared on the unique cast iron grill.  There is an art to turning the batter into a crispy snack.  Food items at the Festival included shave ice with azuki beans, Japanese fusion foods, and traditional favorites like sushi and okonomiyaki, a savory Japanese pancake. (Photo, Gregory Roberston, March 22, 2015) © All rights reserved.

RIGHT: Performers waiting to be introduced to a large crowd in Central Park.  An estimated 3,000 to 4,000 visited the Cherry Blossom Festival over the day, many bringing blankets to picnic around Central Park and under the cherry trees. (Photo, M. Urashima, March 22, 2015) © All rights reserved.

LEFT: Opening the Cherry Blossom Festival, Assemblyman Matthew Harper and Mayor Jill Hardy are joined by Consul-General Horinouchi, officials from Sister City Anjo, Japan, Councilman Jim Katapodis, Sister City president Carmen Erber, and Huntington Beach high school students who will travel to Japan as part of the Sister City exchange program. Students from Anjo will visit Huntington Beach later this year.  (Photo, Gregory Robertson, March 22, 2015) © All rights reserved.

LEFT: The Historic Wintersburg Preservation Task Force was at the Cherry Blossom Festival with an information booth, sharing the Japanese pioneer history of Wintersburg Village, now part of north Huntington Beach.  The Historic Wintersburg mileage sign went pink in honor of the cherry blossoms. (Photo, M. Urashima, March 22, 2015) © All rights reserved. 

RIGHT: Visitors to the Cherry Blossom Festival stroll near the lake in Central Park.  The park is approximately 350 acres, the cherry trees located in the area behind the Richard and Dion Neutra-designed Central Library. (Photo, Gregory Robertson, March 22, 2015) © All rights reserved.

LEFT: Cherry Blossom Festival visitors stroll a cherry tree-lined pathway that leads to the Secret Garden.  In Japan, the tradition of viewing sakura (cherry trees), is known as hanami, or "flower viewing."  (Photo, Gregory Robertson, March 22, 2015)
© All rights reserved.

RIGHT: A dance group enters the Park, heading toward the stage for their performance. (Photo, Gregory Robertson, March 22, 2015) © All rights reserved.

LEFT: Dolls line the table of one of the arts booths at the Cherry Blossom Festival. Visitors lined up to get their name in Japanese in brush calligraphy, try their hand at origami, or purchase books and bonsai trees among the many items for sale at the Festival. (Photo, M. Urashima, March 22, 2015) © All rights reserved.

RIGHT: A small feathered visitor joined the day's hanami, making a feast of the blossoms.  The date for the Huntington Beach Sister City's Cherry Blossom Festival for next year will be announced, expected for late March when the cherry trees are in peak blooming season. (Photo, Gregory Robertson, March 22, 2015) © All rights reserved.

© All rights reserved.  No part of the Historic Wintersburg blog may be reproduced or duplicated without prior written permission from the author and publisher, M. Adams Urashima

Monday, March 16, 2015

Hanami: Cherry Blossom Festival in Huntington Beach on Sunday, March 22, in Central Park

SAKURA: A gift from Sister City Anjo,Japan, the cherry trees are now blossoming in Huntington Beach Central Park. (Photograph by M. Urashima, March 9, 2015) © All rights reserved. 

    It's time for the second annual Cherry Blossom Festival, hosted by the Huntington Beach Sister City Association!  Go to our sister blog, Historic Huntington Beach, for more information about this year's hanami on Sunday, March 22, at

Sunday, March 8, 2015

The McIntosh family of Wintersburg Village

The McIntosh family had a meat processing and packing facility in Wintersburg Village, on the west side of Nichols Lane a short distance from the Wintersburg Mission and Furuta farm, as well as a butcher shop on Main Street in downtown Huntington Beach. (Photograph courtesy of Douglas McIntosh.) © All rights reserved. 

"She bought Japanese food from (Tashima market)...there was a meat market owned by a hakujin, MacIntosh Meats.  So, she bought meat from them. Those were the only stores around here. There were no other stores."
               ~Yukiko Yajima Furuta, Issei Experience in Orange County, California, California State University Fullerton Japanese American Project, Arthur A. Hansen and Yasko Gama, 1982.

   Wintersburg Village wasn't just a farming town.  It was also a cow town.  

Right: This is what Wintersburg Village looked like in the late 1920s, a place where one might get to know the neighbor's cows while walking to school.  The McIntosh family, Furuta family, and others in Wintersburg Village walked the fields and country roads to the Ocean View Grammar School, once at the corner of Beach Boulevard and Wintersburg (Warner) Avenue. (Photograph courtesy of Douglas McIntosh.) © All rights reserved. 

   Once part of the Rancho la Bolsa Chica, cattle had grazed the fields and "little pockets" of grass in the wetlands for generations.  When French aviator Hubert Latham made his infamous duck hunt by plane over the Bolsa Chica wetlands in 1910, farmers complained the cows spooked and scattered in the fields. With the railroad, the countryside in and around Wintersburg Village was a perfect place for an enterprising business focused on beef and dairy cattle.

   John William "J.W." McIntosh made his journey to California from his birthplace in Prince Edward Island in eastern Canada in the early 1900s.  A century before, the "MackIntosh" family crossed the Atlantic from the Isle of Skye, Scotland.  Like many families who put down roots in Orange County, the McIntosh family was looking for open land, opportunity, and a place to create a promising life for their children.

Left: The McIntosh brothers emigrated from Prince Edward Island, Canada, to California.  J.W. McIntosh is far left in this 1929 photograph, captioned "brothers five are we." (Photograph courtesy of Douglas McIntosh.) © All rights reserved.   

   By 1909---the same year Huntington Beach incorporated as a city and the same year construction started on the Wintersburg Mission---J.W. McIntosh was running a butcher shop in Bishop, California.  It was there he met Californian Eunice May Adell Baldwin.  A 1975 McIntosh family history reports J.W. McIntosh gave Pasadena-born Eunice an "ultimatum: that he must be married by his 33rd birthday, or he would never marry."  They married in 1912, the same year Charles Furuta met and married Yukiko Yajima.

   After a brief period running another butcher shop in Santa Monica, California, J.W. and Eunice McIntosh made the move to a growing Wintersburg Village in 1922, where they would raise their family.  

   In the 1920s, Wintersburg Village boasted two churches, an armory, a railroad siding, blacksmith, the Tashima Market, a sandlot baseball field for Orange County's first Japanese baseball team, and lots of open farm and grazing land.  Charles Furuta had already tested out goldfish farming and the glittering fish were beginning to cover the five-acre Furuta farm in neatly organized ponds.

Left: Was there room for goldfish?  The McIntosh children found a fish pond handy as "the way they keep cool in summer, three at a time in the fish pond."  Huntington Beach boasted a saltwater plunge near the pier, but in Wintersburg Village, a backyard pond was a perfect solution to warm weather. (Photograph courtesy of Douglas McIntosh.) © All rights reserved. 

 J.W. and Ray McIntosh established themselves in downtown Huntington Beach, with a meat department in the Standard Market at 126 Main Street.  Unique for its time, the Standard Market was an open air building, with state-of-the-art refrigeration, the popular Rainbow lunch counter, and the Harris homemade candy store.  

Right: The Standard Market can be seen in this 1935 photograph, across from McCoy Drugs, on the right side of Main Street. (Photograph, City of Huntington Beach archives, July 4 parade, 1935).

Right: The McIntosh brothers provided fresh-off-the-farm meats at the Standard Market in downtown Huntington Beach, circa 1927. (Photograph courtesy of Douglas McIntosh.) © All rights reserved.

J.W. McIntosh also bought land in Wintersburg Village, off Nichols Lane, for a beef slaughter house and the Beach Packing Company facility next to the Southern Pacific Railroad.  The McIntosh home and cattle yards were within easy walking distance from the Furuta farm and Wintersburg Mission.  

Left: A letterhead image from correspondence in 1935 from J.W. McIntosh to the Bolsa Chica Land Company regarding grazing fees.  McIntosh was negotiating grazing for the period of one year for a fee of $300.  (Image courtesy of Douglas McIntosh.) © All rights reserved. 

   It was at the Wintersburg packing plant that the McIntosh family sold meat to their farm neighbors, as remembered in the 1982 oral history of Yukiko Furuta.  Descendent Norman Furuta recalls beef was often on the menu at home, as both his grandfather, Charles, and his father, Raymond preferred it.  

   Buying beef for the evening meal would have been a few minutes walk along the farm fields on Nichols Lane for Yukiko.  With cattle lots out back, it didn't get any fresher.

Left: An aerial image of Wintersburg Village from The Alpha Beta Story. Douglas McIntosh circled in red his family's home, right center, and the Furuta farm and Wintersburg Mission, upper left. The McIntosh meat packing facility would later become part of the Alpha Beta markets chain. (Photograph, The Alpha Beta Story, Esther R. Cramer, Alpha Beta Acme Markets, 1973)

Right: At the McIntosh family packing company off Nichols Lane in Wintersburg Village.  Sited next to the Southern Pacific Railroad, this site is now occupied by Rainbow Environmental Services.  In this circa 1940s photograph is Genevieve Straw McIntosh, center, with her children, and her brother, Archie Straw. (Photograph courtesy of Douglas McIntosh.) © All rights reserved.

Left: Images from the McIntosh family album, circa 1920s, give a glimpse into Wintersburg Village farm country life from a child's perspective. Open places to play and baby farm animals to watch over. (Photograph courtesy of Douglas McIntosh.) © All rights reserved.

   Near the McIntosh family ranch and home, were the Nichols family at Wintersburg (Warner) Avenue and what is now Nichols Lane, the Furuta family, and a host of neighbors from Mexico, Japan, Iowa, Georgia, and Kansas, according to 1940 data for their census tract.  J.W. and Eunice McIntosh raised eight children at their home in Wintersburg Village.   In the 1960s, when Alpha Beta decided to open on Sundays, J.W. McIntosh, a religious man, retired.

   McIntosh family descendent Douglas McIntosh has remarked on the influence of their Japanese neighbors on his family.

   "My family has personal ties to the Historic Wintersburg community," wrote Douglas McIntosh in his 2013 letter to the Huntington Beach planning commission, noting his great grandfather J.W. McIntosh also was an immigrant.  "Members of my family had extremely positive memories of the Japanese community at Wintersburg.  One of my great uncles learned to speak Japanese from members of the Wintersburg community during his youth, and later went on to become a linguist."

Left: The 1927 sixth grade class at the Ocean View Grammar School, with both McIntosh and Furuta families. Some of the notations on the back of the photograph: 2) Nellie McIntosh, 5) Juanita Gothard, 7) Fred McIntosh, 10) Harley Asari, 25) Sumi Akiyama, 31) Toshiko Furuta, 33) Lily Kikuchi.  Fred McIntosh was killed during World War II, shot down in a plane over Germany in September, 1944.  Nellie McIntosh married Robert Hoisington of Huntington Beach, although originally not impressed with him when he was expelled briefly from Huntington Beach High School for "turning butterflies loose in history class." (Photograph courtesy of Douglas McIntosh.) © All rights reserved.

   John Baldwin McIntosh, the great uncle of Douglas McIntosh, took an interest in Japanese culture and language, credited to his childhood in Wintersburg.  He later attended the Los Angeles Baptist Theological Seminary, afterwards continuing to work at the packing facility  in the 1930s with his family in Wintersburg Village.  The packing facility and cattle lots by then had become part of the Alpha Beta chain.  

   In a 1975 family history, John Baldwin McIntosh recalls his wife, Genevieve, "liked to garden and I liked to continue my study of Japanese."  He and Genevieve later went on to do mission and linguistics work with Huntington Beach's Wycliffe Bible Translators, including remote work with the Huichol Indians in Zacatecas, Mexico.

   Like his great uncle, Douglas McIntosh, an archaeologist, also was influenced by growing up with the Japanese community.  

Right: A 1927  image of the Nihongo Gakuen, or Garden Grove Language School, 10771 Sherman Avenue, one of four language schools supported by the Wintersburg Mission.  Although deemed eligible for the National Register of Historic Places, this building was demolished by the Garden Grove Redevelopment Agency in the early 1990s and is now the site of a Costco shopping center.  The Language School building architecture is almost identical to the 1910 Wintersburg Mission building, which remains standing at Historic Wintersburg.  (Photograph, Orange County Register, December 24, 1991, originally from the Garden Grove Historical Society)

    Doug McIntosh's branch of the family had moved to nearby Garden Grove, California.  He was familiar with the Garden Grove Language School supported by the Wintersburg Mission as well as the Kikumatsu Ida tofu-making shop on the Language School property.  Doug attended school with an Ida family descendant, whose ancestors had delivered tofu by horse and wagon in north Orange County as early as 1914.   

Left: The 1915 Garden Grove Language School, supported by the Wintersburg Mission, March 1991, prior to its demolition in December 1991.  This building was noted as historically significant on the 1986 Historic Building Survey conducted by the Japanese American Council of the the Bowers Museum in Orange County, California.  It had been designated as an Orange County landmark by the Orange County Historical Commission and recommended for the National Register of Historic Places by a Comprehensive Historic and Architectural Resources Inventory conducted for the City of Garden Grove. (Photograph courtesy of Douglas McIntosh.) © All rights reserved.

   An Orange County Register article in 1991 quotes Phyllis Nakagawa whose children attended the school describing the school's historical presence, the wooden desks with iron legs.  Kumiko Swearingen described the loss of heritage.  To her, the pioneer school had "a sense of the new place we cannot touch anything.  It's not our classrooms."  

Left: Demolition of a McIntosh family house off Wintersburg (Warner) Avenue in Talbert (now Fountain Valley), circa 1964. (Photograph courtesy of the Orange County Archives)

   Built by Japanese pioneer farmers, the Garden Grove Language School organized in 1905 and graduated its first class in 1914.  The Los Angeles Times in 1991 described the Nihongo Gakuen as "one of the nation's oldest Japanese-language schools." It represented both the County's cultural heritage and an achievement as the first Japanese language school project in Orange County and most of the nation.

   When the Garden Grove Language School was threatened with demolition for redevelopment, Doug McIntosh was a voice for its preservation, as was the Garden Grove Historical Society.  The school's demolition by the City of Garden Grove in December 1991---counter to the pleas by the Garden Grove and County historical societies, and the Orange County Historical Commission---is something he doesn't forget.

 Right: The McIntosh house in Wintersburg Village can be seen circled in red in this World War II photograph from The Alpha Beta Story, which explains "much of the Alpha Beta beef was purchased by the armed services during the war." Ration stamps were issued to families for products like meat and butter.  At the time this photograph was taken, the Furuta family and other Japanese American families from Orange County were confined at War Relocation Centers, and the Wintersburg Mission was shuttered.  (Photograph, The Alpha Beta Story, Esther R. Cramer, Alpha Beta Acme Markets, 1973)

   Among the letters to Huntington Beach officials advocating preservation for Historic Wintersburg, are letters from Doug McIntosh.  He speaks as an expert on California history and archaeology, and also as a member of one of Orange County's pioneer families with ties to Historic Wintersburg.

Left: Doug McIntosh (at left), a California archaeologist, at a family homestead site, Live Oak Canyon, Orange County, California.  His family arrived in Wintersburg Village over nine decades ago. (Photograph by Chris Jepsen, courtesy of Doug McIntosh.) © All rights reserved.

   " nearly thirty years of doing professional archaeological work at several hundred archaeological sites throughout the state of California, I consider the Japanese Mission Complex and Furuta Site to retain a high level of integrity and to be extremely significant on a local, state and national level," states Doug McIntosh in his 2013 correspondence to the City of Huntington Beach.  

   "Because of the overall urbanization of southern California no other sites such as this remain," explains Doug McIntosh. "(It has) great historical value for not only members of the Japanese American community, but for researchers and general public of early California pioneer history."
© All rights reserved.  No part of the Historic Wintersburg blog may be reproduced or duplicated without prior written permission from the author and publisher, M. Adams Urashima