OCAR: Turning Sixty and Still Looking Good

On June 10, 1953, the South Orange County Association of REALTORS® was chartered by the National Association of REALTORS®, and it is to this event that the Orange County Association of REALTORS® (OCAR) traces its beginnings. Thus in 2013, OCAR is turning sixty and, says President Len Herman, “still looking good.”

In 1953, Dwight D. Eisenhower was inaugurated president of the United States, a truce ended the Korean War, Walt Disney released Peter Pan, the Academy Awards ceremony was televised for the first time, Douglas Aircraft Company introduced the DC-7, and Howard Hughes gave all his stock in Hughes Aircraft Company to the newly formed Howard Hughes Medical Institute, thereby turning that aerospace and defense contractor into a tax-exempt charitable organization.

In this Cold War era, aerospace and defense contracting was important to the nation and to Southern California. Representatives from companies like Douglas, Hughes, and Lockheed Martin visited university campuses throughout the country to recruit graduates to plants in Culver City, El Segundo, Palmdale, and Santa Monica.

A growing freeway system made it possible for these young engineers and their families to live in places like Costa Mesa, Fountain Valley, Huntington Beach, Irvine, and Mission Viejo and to commute to work. Tracts of houses appeared on land that had once been bean fields, orange groves, and pastures. Throughout this period of rapid growth and development, REALTORS® played an important role in helping young families find first homes and helping older families move up.

Less recognized, perhaps, is the vital role REALTORS® often played in turning disconnected residents into interconnected neighbors. REALTORS® made available floor plans and area maps. They pointed out the locations of hospitals and shopping centers and explained the intricate workings of school and water districts. They sponsored get-acquainted events and garage sales.

As REALTORS® farmed their areas, they spread the word about women’s club meetings and neighbors in need. In a time before personal computers, smartphones, or websites, their mimeographed newsletters often were the most effective way for neighbors to share good news, discover common interests, extend invitations, offer services, or exchange recipes.

By meeting the needs of clients for both home and community, the real estate industry grew, and OCAR grew with it. In 1989, OCAR had 1,200 REALTOR® members; today, that number is more than 10,000. To learn more about the road over which OCAR has traveled in the past sixty years and about the Association’s recent accomplishments, read Len Herman’s message titled “Celebrating Sixty” on page 4 in the July issue of the Orange County REALTOR®and peruse the sixteen-page Annual Report on pages 23–38 in that same issue.

By Sherri Butterfield

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