Anaheim, Calif. – Nestled between busy thoroughfares dotted with low-slung motels, palm readers, and bail bondsmen, around the corner from the Taqueria and the Clinica Medica del Sagrado Corazon, one finds a few square blocks of mid-century Midwest. The names on the streets themselves—Indiana, Illinois, Ohio—announce it no less clearly than do the lamp posts and budding trees which line them.
The incongruity is one of Anaheim’s many. Home to the “Happiest Place on Earth,” and yet unaffectionately dubbed AnaCrime by locals, little remains of the small town settled by German farmers in 1857. Indeed, the nightly concert of Disneyland fireworks and hovering police helicopters can instead evoke Vietnam circa 1967.
Still, within weeks of taking up residence on our block of small craftsman and Spanish mission style homes we knew most of the neighbors, who in a steady stream stopped by with cookies, backyard limes and avocados, offers of babysitting, and invitations to the monthly neighborhood potluck. And gossip. This being California, there are of course celebrity connections. An early No Doubt video, for example, was recorded on the block where Gwen Stefani’s childhood signature can still be found scrawled in the cement.
Yet even Mickey Mouse and Gwen Stefani together can’t dampen the sort of sentiment voiced at one of those recent potlucks by a new arrival: “I love this place; it’s just like Mayberry.” “Like Mayberry,” a veteran resident quickly added, “with lots of graffiti and medicinal pot clinics.” Indeed.
— Korey Maas
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