Quantcast
4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs

Ramona Then, Ramona Now, part 5

North County native brings Helen Hunt Jackson to her hometown

The prejudice against Ramona and the bad energies of the place stem from the attempted Native repulsions of the invaders of 1769. - Image by Robert Burroughs
The prejudice against Ramona and the bad energies of the place stem from the attempted Native repulsions of the invaders of 1769.

Saturday, November 14, 1992. Mi hija Shawn’s 29th birthday.

[Ramon] traces for me the course of the underground river. It flows directly under your house he says. How can you tell? He becomes fierce like I've insulted him. I know! I know this land. I’ve slept over it. The river is enormous. I can hear water falling through granite hundreds of feet below. They shouldn’t bring water from the Colorado. It's wrong.

Sharon Edens, 1957. Some visiting guy in the chow line was telling everybody about this blonde, Sharon Edens up in Ramona, at the drive-in.

Waking to my daughter coming on the underground river of life. (To Crystal returning inside the matrix.)

Calling her in Paris. Happy Birthday, baby.

Sharon Doubiago, 1993. Sunday evening Joe hosts an open house for me of former high school friends.

Waking to the news, “Ian Spiro Body Held Cyanide, Tests Show, family not sedated when fatally shot.”

Family members and friends say...he was threatened during the week before the slayings and that all five members of the family were killed by hired assassins or terrorists. [San Diego Union, 11/14/92]

Waking to an answer to Victor Perera’s question, to Old Jim’s out-of-town newspaper theory. To Ramon’s.

Does Water Run Deep In Nevada? Portland, Ore. — An engineer says he’s found a huge underground river beneath Nevada's high desert.... Wally Spencer...says he was using satellite maps to look for ancient riverbeds that might lead him to oil. “We thought we found a big pocket of oil but further studies showed it was moving.... It was so much water — it was a huge amount of water...." Spencer believes more water is flowing under the desert than above ground in the entire Colorado River. [San Diego Union, 11/14/92]

The honor camp truck wrapped around the oak, 17 sprawled bodies.

11:30 a.m. Red Betty

Walking to the post office, really hot, then cold in the shade. Around Carrizosa’s. In the yearbook, the Ano, Arnold’s twice the size of everyone.

Luiseno leader Olegario was described as “very stout, rather tall, erect in bearing, and has a good-natured and intelligent countenance.” [Richard Carrico, Strangers in a Stolen Land]

IN MEMORY OF AMERICANS WHO DIED IN VIETNAM FROM RAMONA.

Past the newsstands with Larry’s colored photos, FATAL BUS CRASH NEAR RAMONA, the honor camp truck wrapped around the oak, 17 sprawled bodies. The daughters following Job up the long road.

Long line at the post office. Turn around, she’s standing there, looking off. Then, she kicks the air, curses, moves away from the swinging glass door.

Then she’s leaning her forehead into the narrow aluminum strip that frames it, looking wistfully into the lobby.

How does she keep so clean? Why do we hate her?

I’m at the outside lobby table, going through my mail, facing the periwinkle-and-buff hills, when I hear the man. “I will NOT have you! There is NOTHING here! There’s not been ANYTHING FOR YOU here all along.”

The shaming in his voice that comes next is nearly unbearable. “Everyone’s looked for your check.” And she’s gone.

Out the back door. Nothing. But shade. (Amazing shade, lifesaving, soul-rendering shade. In my crib trying to hide in the shade of the slats.)

Down the alley behind the theater owned by Hugh Heffner in the 1950s when he started Playboy magazine in Escondido.

Halfway down, her long arm raised, clutching the chicken wire over the dumpsters, her head buried under the arm. “Your mail didn’t come?”

“No. My check didn’t come.”

There’s this sky beyond her so blue you could cry.

‘Today’s my daughter’s 29th birthday. She’s in Paris con mi nieto. She didn’t have a good time here.”

“You didn’t get your check either?"

“No. What are you going to do?”

Shrug of shoulders, blank-sky look.

She counts on her fingers how long she’s been here. October 9, the last check from La Mesa.

“Where are you from?”

“Ahhh.... From way down there.” Sweetest accent from way down there. “I’ve been in California since 1965.”

“Do you have kids too?”

“Yes.”

She is absolutely coherent. Classically beautiful. We stand in the alley maybe ten minutes. Me in my $3.98 Ramona Circle K sunglasses, she in her wraparounds. Raises her arms again above her elegant head, her poofed-up hair in its glittery red rubber band, her eyes flashing to the male driver passing in his car, so breath-takingly... erotic.

Finally, I too can’t take it. Leave, touching her just barely on the arm. “Bye, Betty.”

Betty: from Elizabeth, “oath of God," St. Elizabeth of Hungary remembered for her daily care of the poor, made the name popular in medieval Europe. May also be from the Hebrew Beth: “house.” Not homeless.

In Rexall two teenage girls talking about the prison crew wreck while I’m copying the book Mesa Grande Country.

“Something’s wrong with Ramona. I mean, I know the deaths hit because we know everybody, but....”

“Better get out!” the other shakes her head.

Ramona Now and Then: The Ramona Cleaners, November 14, 1992

“In a healthy family, conflict leads to conversation. In a dysfunctional one, to silence." [Source unknown.)

I have felt as ostracized, wrongly blamed, hurt, and as proud, almost — well, not quite — as Betty. But, finally, I go in.

Erinn Edens is my brother Clarke’s son, 22, the youngest of his three children with Beverly, from whom he’s been divorced since Erinn was three. For several years my brother was suicidal, and it’s generally agreed that he’s never fully recovered from the loss of his family. Erinn and Karen, married last December — the first of the three family weddings — are now living in the Clevenger Canyon house Clarke and the family lived in when Erinn was born.

Karen is 8 months pregnant, and beautiful! And friendly and open to me. This takes me by surprise. She’s been so reserved with me.

"l saw you walking by a few times,” Erinn laughs. “That’s got to be an Edens, all that blond hair.”

“I didn’t know if anyone would speak to me.”

“The only trouble with you. Aunt Sharon, is you have a big mouth, you say too much.”

I guess this refers to the letter I wrote Christy. Refers to my books, too. I actually gave him, for his high school graduation, one of the first of my books. The Book of Seeing with One’s Own Eyes!

He even knows what I’m doing here.

“This is Ramona!” he says in explanation. Since he was 12 or so, Erinn has worked for Beverly’s parents, who own the Ramona Cleaners.

“Jim Meador has been his father the most,” Mama says. “Jim has given him love and a job.”

And so, formally, impressively, he gives me a tour of the plant in terms of my theme Ramona Now and Then. We started the business in 1952. Forty-three years later we still use some of the same machines. In her black-and-white sneaker hightops, braces, and

ponytail, Karen seems like a little girl, except for the big oblong belly. (I’m pregnant with Shawn, reading Crime and Punishment, when Clarke brings Beverly to the Escondido apartment to meet me. Beverly is a small, undeveloped 15, a sophomore, Clarke, a senior. In a year they will be married, the parents of Chelli, living on an Army base in Germany, Beverly still growing.) Karen’s telling me she was raised by her German father on U.S. Army bases in Alaska and Texas before moving to Ramona.

“I was 14 when I moved here. I thought it was a pretty rowdy town. I was pretty rowdy.” She met her mother at her wedding, whom she had always thought was Filipino but who turned out to be Oaxacan, from Mexico. Neither of these two have difficulty expressing their resentment at the parents who didn’t raise them.

“All these recent family feuds, Grandma’s afraid we’ll never speak again, that we’ll all just drift further and further apart.”

“No,” he says, so firmly, wonderfully. “This is just for now.”

I feel the baby’s presence, more than “pregnancy” — its personality.

“My father says he will have nothing to do with his grandchild until it’s four,” Karen says.

“Men, how strange they are.”

“Yes. It’s the theme of all my writing. To explain to my kids their father.”

Leaving, I dare to touch her belly. I bless it, bless them both. “I love you three."

Erinn was conceived the week I aborted a child, probably the same day. He’s never known this, it’s against his religion to know or think such a thing, but he’s always carried for me the love out of that great loss, the child I would have had if the father had wanted us. I first held him in my arms on a night beach in Pacific Beach when he was a week old.

Dedicate this story to my grand nephew coming! Hokan! Grand Son.

El Nopal, Noon

Christy! Walking up the alley behind El Nopal. I’ve come to the back looking for the restroom, and there she is, walking a big puppy on this her cousin’s 29th birthday. She’s so beautiful at 24 — the whitest of the Connemara (Ireland) hair. Cutoffs and a white print blouse and coaxing the puppy that pulls gagging on the leash. Big dogs are causing a ruckus behind the fence she’s walking by. Barry probably got her the dog while he’s gone on his seven-month tour of Southeast Asia. She seems self-conscious as if she knows I’m watching.

Maybe she’s even looking for me. Maybe Erinn called her. But something awful has me, something so unlike my Self. I can’t walk out to her. She could never imagine, no one in the family could ever imagine, that she has hurt me. (It’s always been my fault, the Family Myth from Day One: everything would have been just fine but for Sharon.)

I must learn the lesson that Erinn spoke of in terms of his father. My love for you is unconditional, but my hurt is important too, must be dealt with too.

And, this is just for now. I walk all the way to Montecito to sneak back my library book, discovering for the first time in the cement in front of Texaco: G.M.F. Beck, ’59.

Gary Mayer and Frank Beck of my class!

Afternoon, D’Carlo’s

“Anza, right now, near Warner’s, is the hottest place in the U.S. for UFO sightings.”

A guy named Pat is saying this after telling me all about the Boojie Caves out on Old Julian Highway he played in as a kid. “Three levels. When the ponds dry up, there are crystals lying around on the bottoms. Ramona’s a great place to grow up.”

The Anza-Borrego Desert is where Ian Spiro’s body was found. “That’s a fault line,” he says of the Poway Road and 67 intersection. “We’re witnessing here in these mountains extreme shifts. The San Jacintos are picking up the stress of the San Andreas fault system, and on down to here. Big earthquake activity, everything’s shifting from the east to the west. One side uplifted, the over side bowed down. One side has quartz crystals, the other doesn’t.”

“I saw a UFO in Wynola in 1957,” I offer. Being pulled from my bed in my aunt and uncle’s house, to the south window, watching it land, luminous crystal light, clarity like the soul, like a baby from outer space birthing onto the slanting meadow.

“Saw Elvis, too, in San Diego in 1956.”

He draws in my journal his UFO. (“I don’t care if they’re real or they’re pseudo.... The speed they are traveling. They are the only thing.”) [Frank Black, “Ramona”]

“Flashing colored lights out the side here, sucking up water, letting out dirt here. Taking off, right over the San Pasqual Academy, straight up over the hill. It lit up my car. I turned off my lights.

“It was 1980, the ten-year flood. We came around the monument to it.”

“That’s a power spot for me too. It’s where Ramona and Alessandro’s baby was born.”

“I always wanted to be abducted,” he says. Someone at the other end of the bar is yelling, “Go down to Market Street, yell nigger! That’ll do it real quick! Ha! Ha! Ha!”

The San Pasqual Academy is where I met my first John Bircher.

“Why is this place so conservative?” I sigh, not saying “racist.”

“Rednecks. Male chauvinist pigs,” Jackie the bartender snarls. “The women too.”

Jung says that whether UFOs exist or not, the fact that so many people believe they see them proves that humanity subconsciously prays for a better, peaceful world. The atom bombs are the symbol of man’s omnipotence, and nothing is more dangerous than man’s thinking he is omnipotent. It jeopardizes his mental balance. His intellectual capacities are enormous, but his psychological development has not kept pace. That explains the current epidemic of neurosis. “Unidentified flying objects are ‘archetypes.’ Flying saucers represent modern man’s savior myth, the soul’s longing for a remedy it believes can come only from a divine universe.” [Jung, quoted in the San Francisco Chronicle, 7/60]

“Sharon Edens?” From guy at other end of the bar. Behind his head, Israeli settlers in Palestine are repeating the oldest crime.

A handsome, pleasant face I do not recognize.

“Fred Pratt. I was a friend of your brother’s, class of ’61, between Donna and Clarke.” We talk across the long way for a long time, me asking questions, he answering, wonderfully articulate. A Ramona sports hero, hard to go anywhere after that. He “admits” to being “very conservative, a Republican. Actually, it’s why I quit teaching. I couldn't stand the Democrats, the teachers I worked with in Poway." Voted for Ross. Has grown kids, how he watched Lin and Carl go through it with their children. “I thought no way would I be able to handle that when my kids hit the teens. But I did.” His son comes from the kitchen, just off work. He’s 20, long, thick hair down his back. To dread your teenager — the clear tragedy of this is at the heart of my whole radical history. The belief that at heart, the human is evil, the child must be civilized. That good parenting is discipline. Dr. Spock says in the book given to me at my Ramona baby shower, “There is nothing more selfish than a newborn infant.”

Twenty-five years later his wife said he was insanely jealous of her attention to their children.

I walk down the bar to shake Fred’s hand before he leaves.

“What happened with you and George?” he asks, truly startling me. I can only shrug my shoulders. The hate on the Israeli’s face is sinking me.

“We have to be very strict with the Arabs so they know whose country this is. ” So as never to admit the reality of the Other.

As they’re going out the door, Fred turns back and asks, seriously, if a little exasperated, “Was there anything you loved about Ramona, Sharon Edens?”

(There were moments in the night, it was all right. There were moments in the night I heard Ramona sing. And I heard everything...) [Black]

After they’re gone, Dick Cessna, of the plane company, tells me his wife Norma, “the blonde who was in here the other night,” used to be married to Ostrander, who bought the drive-in from my parents! The Ranch Burger! He urges me to call her.

“That building should have historical status," I say.

“It should be planed down, or sandblasted, that orange enamel gotten off. That’s virgin redwood under there."

“Be beautiful.”

“A classic,” someone else says.

Walking, 5:30, dark. Back toward the drive-in.

“What Happened with You and George?”

Doubi comes home on the USS Hornet, July 25, 1957.

We fall in love.

About a month or so later, he pulls into the drive-in in his canary-yellow ’56 Chevy pickup. A very busy late-summer Saturday morning. Says through the window, “I have to break up with you.”

All day he sits outside in the hot sun in his truck, unmoving, just staring, while I work my eight-hour shift. I wrack my brain for all that’s gone on between us but cannot fathom what's wrong. What’s happened. I love you. I could not love you more.

Up on Alice Street at sunset in the cab of the yellow pickup he tells me. Some visiting guy in the chow line was telling everybody about this blonde, Sharon Edens up in Ramona, at the drive-in.

Ray Rice. A frequent visitor to the base.

Doubi punched him in the mouth but stayed awake all night realizing the specific details are me, realizing he can never “respect” me again.

“I have never had sexual intercourse, Ray is lying about that.” We talk in those few hours as we never have before or ever do again. He lost his virginity in a whorehouse in Juarez just out of boot camp crossing the country for Miramar. The whorehouses he visited regularly in Japan, the long rows of pallets on the floor, the drunken U.S. sailor boys fucking the young and old Japanese women, you Just don’t know how devastating boot camp is, worse even than Yonkers School my mother left me in as a boy after my father deserted us and she had a nervous breakdown. The vulnerableness of wanting your mother, the homesickness, the humiliation of being a virgin, of needing women, of being so horny, of wanting love. “You think your girlfriend’s being faithful to you? Sucker!

“I’m going to tell you something not many people understand. The military’s greatest enemy is women. A woman could have more influence on a guy than it. The whole point of boot camp is to break you of this — except sexually. Sexually, the military wants you to be promiscuous — it’s part of the programming — to break the potential power of any single woman. To separate sex from love. To make you crave the female body but to hate the person in it, to make you hate your own mother.

“I understand all this as brainwashing, but it’s still very hard to withstand it."

That I’ve been slandered and he’s been screwed in the oldest, cheapest, most common ruse.

“All you want to do when you get out of boot camp is to get laid, and not by your girlfriend!”

We never speak of the incident again, but the stories he tells burn into my brain, the flaming tentacles of sun going down behind the eucalyptus, the psychosexual training of the military, the psychological destruction of young men, how it is that teenage boys are the main killers through all history; the Fathers shaming them to prove they are not mamas ’ boys.

So that I know forever, male horniness, supposedly that most innate of conditions, beyond and before all social and moral codes, before heart and love, is a socially induced, socially exploited “mental’’ condition.

“Don’t ever forget this, Sharon Lura," he whispers, pulling me to him.

“PULL AROUND THE CORNER...!" Highway Patrol to a vehicle as I turn down 11th. Really dark.

It’s the tone of voice that gives it away, the bottom-line contempt, the shaming father: you-know-you-deserve-this-ass-hole, you-know-damn-well-you-can’t-get-away-from-me! Why-have-you-even-tried?

And because: this is the way I was treated and look how great I turned out.

See, my parents loved me after all.

212 11th Street. A place I loved in Ramona.

Two dark young men at a black-and-white TV screaming Spanish.

Suddenly I’m afraid. The same eucalyptus. Pecos Pete, our parakeet he taught to talk, though he wouldn’t talk to me, flying out the door. My fault. Talking to us for days from those high limbs but never flying back.

After the football game, the night Danny was born, we came home to this house, the silent couple, and soon behind us, Ramon, Kenny, and Karoll.

They played poker past midnight, George talking, laughing, joking.

Ramon’s laugh behind my husband’s, who hasn’t spoken to me since the wedding. That familiar bonhomie canned laughter. My water broke. Standing in the shower while it pours out, not knowing what it is, what to do.

Writing is like interpreting your dreams. The undelivered images just float around in you until you string them together. George and Ramon hung out together in the time we were not allowed to see each other, and even later, after we were married.

I never thought of this before. I thought this was good.

This summer at the third of our family weddings, I mentioned Ramon to my long-ago husband.

“Ray Rice?” he enthused.

It was the tone of his voice that was interesting: He was claiming him, over me, over the memory, over everything. Ray Rice was his friend.

What was Ramon doing at Miramar?

“A frequent visitor to the base.” Sharon Rollins said he had two separate bank accounts. He’s not dead; he has an assumed identity, works in some clandestine way for the Army in Asia. Not even his wife knows him by the name we know him. Did she say “Ray Rice” was killed in Vietnam?

Bringing my baby boy home to here. Knowing love like I’d never known.

To imagine speaking to him in that cop tone. To hit him. To imagine that God would hold him a sinner.

“If that is true, ” I said in this house the first time, “I spit in God’s face. Hell is preferable to such blackmailing evil."

Why do I keep seeing Ian Spiro slumped over his wheel in Anza-Borrego? Bottom of the world. Could Ramon have become a Spiro? An agent, a double/triple spy, informer to whoever pays him? The assassin?

Who would Ramon be loyal to?

Could that have happened to the 18-month-old in my photo? The one who knew the largest American river flowing under Ramona?

The boy who discovered my sad, saddest body? Brought me to the greatest joy, knowledge of love? Knowledge of our body’s purpose? Knowledge of my breasts, his hands, tenderest flesh through the windows, sweetest connection, to all of the Universe. To holy sacred life.

Back down Main. Why do I keep seeing Gayla?

June 1959, the week after we graduate, the week before George and I marry, Gayla to marry Gary Mayer tonight, Ramona’s greatest athlete ever, she’s walking into the Olive Hill house. I’m sitting on the couch sewing my wedding dress, everyone else out by the pool. She’s had her California-required doctor’s examination. He's given her these new pills that will trick her ovaries into believing she's always pregnant. “That way I can't get pregnant." My 18-year-old ovaries shudder, how many million years old are we? Who IS God? My needle pierces the white satin, I will never take such pills no matter how much they “perfect" them, which Gayla, already glistening in every cell, enthusiastically anticipates, faith as she has in Modern Medicine.

I will come to see that glisten in most of my girlfriends, estrogen is so sexy, their breasts wonderfully perfected — enlarged — for their men, their cells in the deep-fry. Slim and beautiful Gayla, one of Edens’ Heavenly Hamburgers’ greatest waitresses and the Class of’57’s brightest star, gains 100 pounds the first year of her marriage. “Something went wrong with her glands.’’

1960s: diaphragms disappear off the market. My mother gets uterine cancer from the estrogen shots her Ramona doctor gives her monthly to keep her young. And now we fall off like flies from breast cancer, one in seven! An epidemic that makes the AIDS one minuscule — but...it’s only a woman’s disease.

Early ’60s: Leading cause of death in U.S.: iatrogenic diseases.

1992: 36 percent of all deaths in the U.S. are caused by prescribed AMA medicines.

Back down Main. Unocal 76: Twirling the baton to attract folks into the Sophomore Class Car Wash. I don’t think it was Unocal then, just the same-o capitalism, same-o whoredom.

George sucked up to the guy who was saying those things about his fiancee all over San Diego County: I am not a sucker!

Denial. The way it works The rectal exam through this door so as not to tear my hymen

o, to untwirl

Red Betty walking by

The Ramona Cleaners

My grand nephew coming a Oaxacan, a

Hokan, a Lewis and Clark on the oldest route

Puchipa

Iron Rose Welding. Once upon a time, (not long ago.

I was married to a welder, bronze sculptor, rose maker. Second husband. A gifted young sculptor, Pygmalion, of Cyprus, was a woman-hater. Detesting the faults beyond measure that nature has given to women...he resolved to make the perfect woman. Mr. and Mrs. Anonymous knocking their kid upside the head at the dinner table in front of company, your sculpture, the human from his blows, the father’s fire in competition with the mother, the mother from her father. The parental task, Dr. Spock, to make the child your creation. Into your Image.

So you might see yourself. The self they made of you.

The Teepee: “Twirling, The Physical Parallel of Revelation”

All night, dancing, I watch an Indian couple, very quiet, very married. Drink a Tecate.

The sinister guy from Cheers, Thursday night, dancing on the same small floor. We do not look at each other.

Dance twice with a small, thin, really out-there Mexican Indian, how many disappeared into Mexico? He’s a great dancer, but I hold back, the confused, concerned eyes watching us, dance cautiously around his black beady maniacal edge. But toward the end of the second tune, with the music and little knowledge I’ve learned of him, I let the music sweep away the paranoia, meet him, his brilliant, breathtaking moves.

Ipai-Tipai: that my dance rhythm, that my poetics stem from baton twirling in Ramona, mostly the four cardinal points, the four rivers of the Flow, the 8s my hips make. The poem I keep writing, “Untwirl.”

To untwirl the curse, four times the double Cross, that gossip. Water Beyond or Rain Behind? Flying blue morning glory datura, Karoll, burning crystal bullets to heaven, Ramon: your mama your grandma your great grandpa. Crystal Matrix, new child, Alima my spirit and steel on fire, Sharon Lura, doing triplets through the Eye of the needle, San Luis Rey, the spinning Linga Sharira

  • I loved the land the boulders, the veins
  • of gold, silver, quartz, sand, smokey crystal, the valley
  • of burning fire, my
  • Tourmaline
  • and the Big One
  • that will jump from fault to fault across the full Zone
  • I loved, I love
  • “the people of Ramona ”
  • the way
  • my father said that.
  • Happy Birthday, Baby

Sunday, November 15, 1992. Stoked

“Did you know that the Tozers are Stokes?” Mama’s phone call blows my mind. “That Sam Tozer in your class is a Stokes, of the original Ramona family? Remember, the Stokes’ Courts, Bessie Stokes, didn’t she go on your honeymoon? Isn’t that how Chuck got that special appointment to Annapolis — because he was a Stokes?”

No. I didn’t know this. Or, maybe I did, but it was meaningless to me then.

My honeymoon. Across America.

I went on my honeymoon with a carload of Stokeses.

Spiro: ’napped by a UFO?

“It’s the only theory I haven’t heard,” the Rancho Santa Fe police officer said today.

HHJ-Olegario Mystery Solved?

On the day we were [at Pala] a memorial service for the dead was going on in the chapel.... This mass was for the soul of an old Indian woman named Margarita, sister of Manuelito, a somewhat famous chief of several bands of the San Luisenos. Her home was at the Potrero — a mountain meadow, or pasture, as the word signifies — about ten miles from Pala, high up the mountainside, and reached by an almost impassable road. This farm...was given to Margarita by the friars; and by some exceptional good fortune she had a title which, it is said, can be maintained by her heirs. In 1871, in a revolt of some of Manuelito’s bands, Margarita was hung up by her wrists till she was near dying but was cut down at the last minute and saved.

One of her daughters...asked us to come up to the Potrero and pass the night. [Helen Hunt Jackson, Glimpses of California]

Jackson was a guest of the Cota family! The account that follows of the night and the family’s hospitality is one of the most moving portrayals of all Jackson’s many extraordinary accounts. The experience is clearly where she got the details — and the authority to describe it — of Alessandro and Ramona’s San Pasqual home.

Carrico mentions the wrist-hanging incident. “Cota’s sister, Margarita, was captured by Olegario’s warriors and hung by her wrist until sympathetic elders forced her release.” [Carrico]

Without knowing the full Olegario-Cota story, an assessment cannot be made. But on the surface of it, stringing up the sister of your enemy is classic patriarchy and not something a developing feminist like HHJ is likely to forgive—especially after finding herself the guest of the family the night they are celebrating a mass for her soul. Jackson’s goal was to obtain more property for Indians, not to endanger existing ones, which she might have feared for the Cotas and finally for everyone if she “furthered” the complicated Civil War story.

Still, she should have told of Olegario in her report to the Indian commissioner. Politics change, truth doesn’t.

Hemet:

“Swedish for ‘in the home.’ However, according to Kroeber, it sounds as if it might be Luiseno Shoshonean.” [Erwin Gudde, California Place Names]

“Find out, would you, why the Ramona Pageant is in Hemet?” (Chelli Edens, Bride #3, 10/92)

Sunday evening Joe hosts an open house for me of former high school friends. My most important friend from then, Vicki Raymond Ford, celebrating the fifth cancer-free year since her mastectomy, drives up from Pacific Beach. How I became who I am out of Ramona! This woman is at the heart. But all of that, all of them, are of the other book. For now, just this:

I asked Frank Beck about his older brother Darrel, the right-winger. In a gesture of dismissal, he says, “He came very close to joining the John Birch Society. I pretty much had it the Christmas I drove up with my family and the whole place was locked up tight, behind chainlink fences. Not a sign of life.

“There are people up here who’ve built a life of complete independence. They have no understanding of working with others. Remember Jan Clark [of our class], the guns stockpiled at his father’s place?”

And this: “In the seventh grade, remember?”

Richard offers. “Forsythe said to Karoll, 'Don't be juvenile. ’ He’d just come back from a year in juvenile hall. Karoll thought he was calling him a juvenile delinquent.

“He exploded from his chair and put his fist through that small thick glass window of the door, breaking it and his hand. Forsythe just stood there.”

“Karoll was a real waste,” Vicki sighs. “He could have been great.”

I’m deeply appreciative of this now, here with them who knew him, but I went crazy on Suzi when she said the same thing after I told her he’d died. “His life was as rich, as unwasted as yours!” Gonna lose my loves, yet, over Karoll Reed.

And the phone ringing. Joe saying, “Judy Ferguson can’t come. Her son is dying of leukemia, she has to visit him.”

She didn’t tell that.

And, as always: “Are you going to mention Hemet, what happened to us in the eighth grade when we went to the Ramona Pageant?”

On the long night bus ride back, making out with Ramon, really in love, he presents me with a rhinestone necklace, the one in the photograph of me at 14. Same trip, the mountain lion crossed in front of the bus when we stopped to let Claudia off in Clevenger Canyon. It will be years before it occurs to me that he probably stole the necklace. It does not occur to me when on Monday, nearly all of the most popular kids have been taken back to Hemet to return their stolen goods, to apologize to the merchants, but I will be forever stunned, mortified, by my own blind innocence, that I could have been in the middle of such a drama and not been aware of it.

And stunned too by the mortification my guilty classmates suffered. The shock, the shame, the confusion of trying to understand how our brilliant class could have done this.

Now in Joe and Candy’s home. I’m thinking maybe it happened and is still happening in our tribal psyche because we felt Ramona was ours, not Hemet’s. Our rip-off of Hemet was in response to their rip-off of Ramona, and deeper, to the rip-off of the Natives.

If the Indians are dispensable, so are we. No matter how “special” we were, as Richard Smith puts it now. (Every child in capitalism knows it’s for sale.)

'Though this was an educational field trip, no one explained to us the reason Ramona is in Hemet — that Jackson was tracing the diaspora of the San Luis Rey Indians— the Ramona fifth grade traditionally made field trips to the mission, too, no doubt for the same historical but now forgotten reason — that, while writing the book, she was waging a personal campaign to save the Soboba people, that Ramona begins in Temecula, moves to San Diego, then San Pasqual, up the Mesa Grande and ends near Hemet.

This is how denial works. This is the play we watched, our land, our names, our history — I with a boy like Alessandro — there’s a photo of us watching it, Arnold Carrizosa and Claudia Till in the front row— but we “watched it” as “make-believe,” as entertainment, as “trash.” Then our souls, which always know what is really going on, that are here to interchange with the Story one way or another, to be in harmony with the unseen order of things, reacted.

Ripping off the white merchants, the real thieves, is the direct, righteous response to the play Ramona.

“The things people stole was horseshit,” lawyer Sciarretta says.

“People had to volunteer to come forward.” Ramon didn’t.

“Remember the fink? I do. Claudia, someone said. Someone told their parents. I don’t remember who finked. It was handled differently in those days.”

Yes, in those days you apologized, kids will be kids. They let it slide. No one got in legal trouble.

“These days they’d let it go.”

Monday, November 16, 1992, the 157th anniversary of the “desafiliados” return to San Pasqual

The Times Advocate: “SPIRO POSED THREAT TO BRITAIN? A purported British spy likely was murdered because he threatened to reveal details of the British government’s secret deals to secure the release of Beirut hostages, the Sunday Telegraph reported yesterday.

“Ian Stuart Spiro...also had vital information about the 1988 bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland, which killed 270 people...including the CIA team aboard.”

2:00 p.m.

Standing on the corner of Seventh and Main, in front of Circle K, Betty is addressing herself to us, “a large crowd," gesticulating to one side of the “bandstand,” then to the other.

The woman from whom everyone has cut. So she’s telling us we are her relations; we will see and hear her out.

I’m running errands before I can get to San Pasqual, Mesa Grande, and Julian, this my last day here. In my mail a note from a 20-year friend trying to read my latest book. “How hard it is to understand you.”

Betty, again. Up ahead, crossing Tenth, jumps up on the sidewalk curb, balances herself down it, so tall, so beautiful, her squirrel’s tail bobbing down through the line of liminal eucalypti to the drive-in.

“I guess my men are afraid of me,” I answered Ronnie Rodolph when he kept asking what happened to my husbands.

Descending Clevenger Canyon, past Weekend Villa Road, Erinn and Karen and baby on its way, Bruce Cockburn singing “Kit Carson was a hero to some/ With his poison and his flame/ Will there never be an end to the Indian Wars?”

In the winter of 1882 I visited this San Pasqual valley. I drove over from San Diego with the Catholic priest, who goes there three or four Sundays in a year, to hold service in a little adobe chapel built by the Indians in the days of their prosperity. This beautiful valley is from 1 to 3 miles wide, and perhaps 12 long. It is walled by high-rolling, soft-contoured hills, which are now one continuous wheat-field. There are, in sight of the chapel, a dozen or so adobe houses, many of which were built by the Indians; in all of them except one are now living the robber whites, who have driven the Indians out...|now) hidden away in the cartons and rifts of the near hills.... They have sought the most inaccessible spots, reached often by miles of difficult trail.

They have fled into secret lairs like hunted wild beasts.... [HHJ, Glimpses]

The Sentimental Historical Society’s Lying

The wording on the 1925 monument is responsible forgiving the impression that Kit Carson died in the battle of San Pasqual. The problem is the stone carver’s missing comma:

The State of Calif Honors with this Monument The American Soldiers, who, under the Leadership of Brig. Gen. Stephen W. Kearny, Capt. Abraham R. Johnson, Capt Benjamen Lee More, Edward F. Beale, U.S.N. & Kit Carson, the Scout gave their lives in the Battle of San Pasqual Between the Americans and the Mexicans Dec 6-10 1846.

And another gravestone miswording at San Pasqual.

The Indian Princess Felicita La Chappa was buried here October 28, 1916. Her grave was marked with a wooden cross with a red heart on it. In January 1921 it was replaced with a cement cross engraved Enero 1921.

Spirit Paintings. The Desafiliados

(Catch/ a fracture of light off the crystal/ the luck of disappearing up the canyons/ under the brush forever.)

Returning up Clevenger— what is their name, the true name, for this canyon? It must be beautiful— tired and saddened that I’m not going to make it to Mesa Grande, this my last day here, the boulders with the class years of the San Pasqual Academy painted in white up there just like always, the classes of ’60, ’62, ’71, and ’70 still up there! This place always of the painted rocks.

“The Legend of Rockwood Canyon” [the next one north of Clevenger] tells of a large boulder bearing a spirit painting.... The painting depicts a Kumeyaay chief's son, Que-ahl, about to kill his wife. Rehare, daughter of Keleet, Paltho’s grandson of the Pamo tribe, for infidelity. The wondrous appearance of the spirit painting prevented the tragedy from taking place.... [Mary Reiser, The Spirit of San Pasqual]

The poor orphans came, had to deal with the psychic consequences of their deeds. They painted the rocks with their own spirit paintings, with the name of their only tribe, their little team spirit, the apocalyptic be-all-and-end-all: the year they graduate.

Halfway up, I experience the malaise very physically. It’s been a long time since I had a vaginal-bladder infection, but that’s what it feels like. By the time I’m coming parallel to Erinn and Karen’s, I’m so struck down, sick in the deepest female core of myself, I wonder what I’ve encountered, so out of the blue. “Aaran!”

I shout the executed Pamo warrior’s name over Bruce’s “it’s not breech-loading rifles and wholesale slaughter/ It's kickbacks and thugs and diverted water. ”

This canyon must have its true name restored!

I head directly to 7-Eleven for cranberry juice, which cures my strange ailment within five minutes.

Then over to Hair Boulevard to find out about Judy’s son.

Desafiliado. That in Your Lifetime Your Babies.

She’s in the chair, doing her own hair. Towel around her shoulder, red goop inching down her forehead, the short hair sticking up like fright. She doesn’t let on that catching her this way bothers her.

“That was Ray Uphouse, Judy, not Ray Rice!”

I tell her of finding Karoll’s grave. Then I ask about her son.

“Kenny Christman, Jr. He has leukemia. He’s had it a long time. Now it’s all inside, everywhere. Started in his lungs. Getting cobalt treatment now. He has the black patches on his arms.” She gestures to hers. “His fingernails have turned black, are falling out....”

Then she’s crying.

“What caused it?” I ask, helpless. I will keep asking my question till the grave.

But she’s really crying.

The chemicals of her profession.

In his playpen under these leukemia-causing fluorescent lights while she works.

Seeing his father Ittaja, beat her, despised flesh of this land.

“Excuse me, Sharon.”

“I’m going to get Ray’s photo on my book, Judy, I’ll be right back.”

She’s still in the back when I return.

“Now I remember him. He ran with Karoll and Kenny.”

What HHJ Accomplished

[I]f she and Kinney accomplished nothing more than the saving of San Ysidro and the Los Coyotes, she felt rewarded, but she was expecting much more from the final report.... [Valerie Sherer Mathes, HHJ and Her Indian Reform legacy]

Though the reservations had been signed into act five years earlier, due mainly to the efforts of Luiseno leader Olegario, confusion and chaos reigned in the North County when HHJ arrived the second time. She and Kinney visited and revisited the backcountry villages. “Such heart sickening fraud, violence, [and] cruelty as we have unearthed here — I did not believe could exist in civilized communities.” It was her intent to write a report that would result in the passage of a bill “so to cover the ground once for all and leave that fragment of the Indian race safe for all time from the avarice of white men.” [Mathes]

In this she succeeded extraordinarily.

To contest a white settler or to apply for land under the 1875 Indian Homestead Act required severing tribal affiliation. She vehemently opposed this aspect of the Allotment Act, in contrast to the later church missionaries who swarmed in with their programs for domesticating and civilizing the Indians. Jackson was remarkably free of this kind of bias.

The final report numbered 56 pages, 18 chapters of eloquent, historically invaluable writing: Saboba, Cahuilla, Warners, San Ysidros, Los Coyotes, Santa Ysabel (including San Felipe, San Jose, Inaja, Laguna), Mesa Grande, Capitan Grande, Sequan, the Conejos, Pala (including Rincon, Pauma, and La Jolla), Pachanga, the Desert Indians, San Gorgonio, plus additional chapters on the special complexities of Pauma, San Felipe, San Pasqual, and Santa Ysabel. Specific recommendations were detailed, basically “determining, resurveying, rounding out and distinctly marking, their reservations....”

All the reservations made in 1875...were laid out by guess by the surveyor in San Diego, on an imperfect county map. When the actual survey came to be made, it was discovered that the majority of...Indian villages intended to be provided for were outside the reservation lines and that the greater part of the lands set apart were wholly worthless. [HHJ, Century of Dishonor]

The bill, submitted along with a printed copy of the Jackson/Kinney report, passed the Senate on July 3,1884, but then failed in the House. HHJ died August 12, 1885.

It wasn’t until 1887, two years after her death, that the Dawes Act (also known as the General Allotment Act), based entirely on her report, was passed, “the first comprehensive piece of legislation intended to establish protective Indian policy.” [Rosemary Whitaker, Helen Hunt Jackson] This act was viewed by many as “the closing of the ‘Century of Dishonor.’” [Mathes] But despite HHJ’s intent, aspects of the Dawes Act were not satisfactory. Through the efforts of activists who carried on the fight in her behalf, the Indian office persistently presented the bill yearly until January 2, 1891, when the “Act for the Relief of the Mission Indians in the State of California” finally passed both houses. “Although Jackson had been dead for six years...[it was noted that] the bill was based on her recommendations with only a few modifications.... It was called “Mrs. Jackson’s bill.” [Mathes]

Twenty-six reservations totaling approximately 136,000 acres in Southern California were permanently established...including “the little reservation of Ramona...for three families who lived in a canyon with good water and valuable grazing lands three miles north of Cahuilla.” (Mathes]

Twenty-six reservations!

Los Coyotes and San Ysidro exist solely because of Helen Hunt Jackson. [Mathes]

As does Indian Canyon of Palm Springs, which she “discovered." One day she came around a desert mountain and saw, up the canyon, the village, the people, the ferns and palms, the water gushing down. Knowing of the white land-grabbing scheme for the area, she rushed to request that it “be set aside immediately by executive order. (Within two weeks] President Arthur complied." [Mathes]

The 20th-century people (second half, anyway) of Indian Canyon have always been called “the richest Indians in the world.”

With her personal savings, “her hand-picked lawyers,” and her “furious exchange of letters,” while writing Ramona, she “saved Capitan Grande” [Mathes], which, after being dammed, results in the reservations Barona and Viejas Ranch. [Charles LeMenager, Off the Main Road] She requested that Stephano Domo’s land on Mesa Crande be protected by executive order.

Disappointed that the Mission Indian relief bill had not included the recommendation of the purchase of the Pauma Ranch, she requested that such a recommendation be added.... She also suggested that the government purchase the lands of the Rincon, Pala, and La Jolla Indians. [Mathes]

To the credit of the crusading Mrs. Jackson, we have the reservations of Santa Ysabel, Mesa Grande, Warners, Sequans, Conejos, and the desert Aqua Caliente. [Mathes]

She saved her beloved Saboba. “Helen’s chief concern was to avert from the Saboba Indians the fate which had befallen those at Temecula and San Pasqual.” Again — shout it!— this is why the novel climaxes there, why the pageant occurs there, why to this day there is confusion about where Ramona is. The Luisenos fled east in all directions from San Luis Rey.

The personal efforts of other activists and reformers must be credited — Abbot Kinney, Osia J. Hiles, Amelia S. Quinton, Charles C. Painter, Albert K. Smiley, Frank D. Lewis, C.E. Kelsey, and others, as well as the organizational efforts of the Women’s National Indian Association, the Indian Rights Association, and, especially, the martyr Olegario, with his life-threatening efforts not only in Los Angeles, San Diego, San Francisco, and Washington but within the Luiseno communities — but Helen Hunt Jackson is the main person responsible for the present-day, “permanently set aside” reservations of the invaluable real estate that is Southern California.

And then there’s the novel, Ramona.

The book has survived through around 300 printings and has been made into a stage play several times, three movies, and a pageant [first performed in 1926] which was for many years so elaborate that it was compared to the Passion Play at Oberammergau. [Whitaker]

A kind of Ramona-mania took hold to the country during the 1890s that went a very long way toward giving the region an aura of storied loveliness, which until then had enjoyed only the most limited tourist and commercial appeal, influencing the course of history in Southern California. [Roger Anderson, Reader, 9/29/88]

Ramona is available in your local Safeway today.

Despite this century’s critical onslaught, extreme changes in literary (and all other but monetary/greed) values, despite, the critics’ hundred years of ridicule, Ramona holds up. As the killing century ends — five centuries: the Apocalypse happened, untold billions in Alessandro and Ramona’s homeless delirium — we see how metaphoric the novel is, how prophetic, visionary. The girl is of all three “indigenous" California cultures. Thus, she is our future, as Jackson says in the novel itself, and this is Ramona’s deep appeal, the sacred, genetic Alima/Rainbow future, the karma of the invading rapists since the 1400s. Ramona is the Chalice, Camelot, Crystal Matrix, the gene pool from the Old World, the Treasure of the New One, the Unseen Order of Things, the only Bridge. The 30,000 unwanted Bosnian babies birthing now onto us.

D’Carlo’s

Five miles up from the head of the San Ysidro Canon, to be reached only by a steep and narrow trail, lies a small valley on the desert side of the mountains. It is little more than a pocket on a ledge. From its rim one looks down directly into the desert. Few white men have ever penetrated to it...no agent has ever visited them; they have supported themselves by keeping stock and cultivating their few acres of land....

The Indians of this band are robust, active, and finely made, more nearly in the native health and strength of the race than any other band in the country.... Their houses were good, built of hewn pine timber with thatched roofs made from some taut fibrous plant, probably the yucca. Each house had a thatched bower in front of it and stood in a fenced enclosure. These Indians raise beans, pumpkins, wheat, barley and corn. They have 25 head of cattle and more horses. They say they have lived in this valley always and never desire to leave it.

[H]ere is a village of 84 souls living in a mountain fastness which they so love they would rather die than leave it, but here the ordinary agencies and influences of civilization will never reach, no matter how thickly settled the regions below may come. [HHJ, A Century of Dishonor]

Pug— Janet’s husband, Frank Taylor — grabs his beer, comes over to sit with me.

“Danny and I saw a white buffalo on the road from Warner’s to Santa Ysabel in the early ’60s. Was someone raising white cattle?”

“In high school,” he smiles, still so finely made. “I didn’t know about people’s families. I didn’t think about their parents, where they came from, where they were going, if they had money, or what.

“Now I read the Borrego paper, and I see the names, I remember them. I realize them now in terms of where they came from. I just didn’t think that way then.

“Yes, my father was born there, Los Coyotes. My mother is full-blooded Indian. My father is Italian, Mexican, and Indian. My grandfather was Italian. That’s who settled Santa Ysabel Ranch — Swiss-ltalians. They all met on the boat coming over.”

Then he’s telling me of his four daughters. “Debby [Stevenson Taylor Moretti] is expecting any minute.”

“So is Karen Edens.”

I tap my wine to his beer, to our Rainbow grandkids.

“After I retired from the county, it was hard. Ha! I went crazy, ha! For about two weeks! Now I run cattle. My brother’s cattle, my father’s. I ride my horse or my three-wheeler all over that land. I take care of the house in the morning, then I go check on cattle. I love it. I don’t answer to anyone, I don’t think, I am just there.

“There are grinding holes everywhere.

“One day I was driving cattle. Driving cattle is like a ritual. The cows were always going into this one canyon. I’ve been up it a hundred times, I never seen anything. This time I saw this big olla. My father always said. Stop! Get it! You’ll never find it again. So I let the cattle go. I was shaking. I dug it out. Big. Round. I took off my red shirt, hung it on a bush above it, but even so, it was very, very hard to find that spot again. Twenty-eight thousand acres.

“ ‘It is, then it disappears,’ my father always said. Now, I don’t know if I should tell I found it."

I don’t know either. Pug.

After a while, he speaks again.

“During the eclipse, June 15, Janet and I went up behind the house. It was clouded over so we couldn’t see the moon, but we could see the skyscrapers of San Diego and the shine off the Salton Sea.”

Tuesday, November 17, 1992, Moon in Leo

Her measured words make us think of the majesty of a prophetess and dread the curse of heaven upon the spoilers of the helpless.

[The New York Daily Tribune review of Ramona, 12/1884]

The Roman Catholic Church released today its new catechism — the first full revision in 426 years — which “addresses the 21st Century: white-collar crimes, mistreatment of the environment, mistreatment of illegal immigrants, genetic engineering.”

“Research indicates correlation between electric razors and leukemia.”

Will I Be Able to Go Home Again?

I grew up hearing how Asheville, North Carolina, loathed Thomas Wolfe. Too many people recognized themselves, my mother always said. They had to die before he could be appreciated. (Now he’s their biggest tourist attraction.)

And even now John Steinbeck's famous books are not allowed in many of the public libraries and schools of Salinas, Kern County, and the Central Valley.

Imagine growing up in Steinbeck Country and not knowing what all the world knows of you.

Driving Out

The memorial is in the vineyard, among massive golden boulders and grape vines over my head. “El Rancho Wino” swinging over the entrance. A tall clanging flagless flagpole. Sweet dark grapes, yellow bees, red ants in and out of their holes. “Tcaipakomat, seeing the vast watery desolation, created land out of the bodies of many red ants. ” [Ruth Meyers, Some Highlights of the Natural History of San Diego County]

IN MEMORY OF AMERICANS WHO DIED IN VIETNAM FROM RAMONA Thomas F. Green, 19. Duane C. Bowen, 20. Tanner M. Brown, 20. Marvin C. White, 21. Roger V. Kelly, 21. James H. Smith, 21. Eureka L. Schmittou, 38. An Army strap, “LEE,” draped over it. Maybe I should drape RAMON over it. Maybe he’s Eureka L. Schmittou.

Never have I lived anywhere with so many red ants! The battles out the kitchen window on Olive Hill, the reds against the blacks. “Worthy of Homer,” Daddy always pointed out.

Tippet's Castle. “With the flip of a switch, 13,000 white lights will help signal the holidays at the 27-room rock mansion at the foot of Mt. Woodson."

Past the Lemurians. Past Tippet’s Castle. “With the flip of a switch, 13,000 white lights will help signal the holidays at the 27-room rock mansion at the foot of Mt. Woodson." (With just a switch, Ramona now and then, Pam’s son, eight years old, just walking on the road outside, BAM! is hit. She’s never been the same. The last time I saw her, she was the most beautiful, most classic Bride flowing in the stone of this Castle.) Past Palomar’s Majella-dove Eye flash from behind. Past Poway, “it is finished"; “the end of the mountains. ” [Gudde] Past Sycamore Canyon’s most sinister secrets.

Seeing them swarm out of these mountains, down through Mission Gorge. The Incas from Machu Picchu onto Spanish-captured Cuzco.

Reality is a conjunctive perception of matter and spirit.

The psyche is an alchemical, in-flux “state" with the environment and self.

Degradation of the other is degradation of the self.

Suppression of the facts, of the story you’re living, retards you.

Boredom is a veil for depression, the state of “knowing” while paralyzed.

A denied story becomes a haunt. The Stokes' syndrome, feeling like a prisoner of the place.

You cannot see the inside harbor from here. It is the most beautiful water I have ever seen, Majella. The two high lands come out like two arms to hold it and keep it safe, as if they loved it. [HHJ, Ramona]

Ramon’s hands through the window.

And Karoll’s.

We are psychic beings. We live inside the bodies of our mothers for nine months, before that inside the bodies of both our parents from Eternity. Stardust, earth rock, river water, ocean air. We receive their biases, prejudices, fears, traumas, instructions, hopes, and wishes — their psyches and their culture — long before we can consider them “objectively,” to decide for ourselves. In this sense it is impossible to be free.

Freedom is a visionary state that requires enormous and continuous psychic work, not one of rejection of one’s heritage, but of the ability (the freedom) to take all of it in, to weigh it on the scale of everything.

When we are kept from knowing what happened, while living and suffering the “sins of the fathers,” freedom is absolutely impossible.

The Truth

The prejudice against Ramona and the bad energies of the place stem from the attempted Native repulsions of the invaders of 1769, “the most hostile Indians of California,” and the subsequent attempted genocide of them by the Catholic Church, the Spanish-Mexican militaries, and the white Protestant San Diegans during the 19th Century.

The confusion about Ramona stems from the continuing suppression of these facts and the denial of Helen Hunt Jackson’s vast literary, sociological, and historical impact, a conscious and unconscious cover-up that continues today.

You understand, it’s a fiction book. Their grandmother told them get rid of that trash.... ’Course there are no true Indians now.

Sexism, racism, classism were and are the weapons used to discourage and prejudice inquirers, to maintain the denial — for example, the inevitable qualifying adjective “romantic” to discredit Jackson — and the outright, blatant lie that she “failed to cause Indian reform.”

The denial thrives in the faulty analysis of historians, scholars, clergy, critics, and most devastatingly, in the everyday lives of the people, in their being prevented from “knowing” the circumstances that profoundly affect them — all to the benefit of the “harpies of civil power,” the San Diego fathers who continue the prejudice against Ramona and “who usually end,” as Richard Dana noted in San Diego in 1836, “by making themselves fortunes, and leaving their stewardships worse than they found them.” “True peace is not merely the absence of tension, it is the presence of justice." [Martin Luther King]

There has to be a memorial acknowledging the Pamo. (As in Germany of the Jews.)

There has to be a monument acknowledging Helen Maria Vinal Fiske Hunt Jackson, her profound historical importance to this area — to all of Southern California.

Mt. Woodson and Clevenger Canyon must be given back their true names.

The story is carried in the name, in the sound. “Love?”

“Here.”

“Love?”

“Here.”

The Linga Sharira, 1992: CAZ A.C. EDENS. Love? Here

Mama picks me up at the Medford Oregon Airport.

“Yesterday, 9:30 a.m., Karen’s water broke. They didn’t know what it was. No one told them of this possibility. But she couldn’t have gone another week — he’s got the Edens’ big head — Connemara blond curls. He was born that night, 9:20 p.m." They were in labor when I drove by their house in Clevenger Canyon, was hit by that sudden “infection'!

He was coming.

Hokan!

On the Puchipa.

Maya Angelou, Arkansas poet, will read January 17 at the inaugural. “I disagree with Thomas Wolfe, who said you can’t go home. In fact, you can never leave home. Its truth is in your cells, under your fingernails. ”

I never heard another word about Ian Spiro. Nor of Ramon.

BAM!

Here's something you might be interested in.
Submit a free classified
or view all

Previous article

Bounce and Twerk: common moves for Megan Thee Stallion and Danyelle “Sweet Dee” Solana

“I use Megan’s music when teaching my classes.”
The prejudice against Ramona and the bad energies of the place stem from the attempted Native repulsions of the invaders of 1769. - Image by Robert Burroughs
The prejudice against Ramona and the bad energies of the place stem from the attempted Native repulsions of the invaders of 1769.

Saturday, November 14, 1992. Mi hija Shawn’s 29th birthday.

[Ramon] traces for me the course of the underground river. It flows directly under your house he says. How can you tell? He becomes fierce like I've insulted him. I know! I know this land. I’ve slept over it. The river is enormous. I can hear water falling through granite hundreds of feet below. They shouldn’t bring water from the Colorado. It's wrong.

Sharon Edens, 1957. Some visiting guy in the chow line was telling everybody about this blonde, Sharon Edens up in Ramona, at the drive-in.

Waking to my daughter coming on the underground river of life. (To Crystal returning inside the matrix.)

Calling her in Paris. Happy Birthday, baby.

Sharon Doubiago, 1993. Sunday evening Joe hosts an open house for me of former high school friends.

Waking to the news, “Ian Spiro Body Held Cyanide, Tests Show, family not sedated when fatally shot.”

Family members and friends say...he was threatened during the week before the slayings and that all five members of the family were killed by hired assassins or terrorists. [San Diego Union, 11/14/92]

Waking to an answer to Victor Perera’s question, to Old Jim’s out-of-town newspaper theory. To Ramon’s.

Does Water Run Deep In Nevada? Portland, Ore. — An engineer says he’s found a huge underground river beneath Nevada's high desert.... Wally Spencer...says he was using satellite maps to look for ancient riverbeds that might lead him to oil. “We thought we found a big pocket of oil but further studies showed it was moving.... It was so much water — it was a huge amount of water...." Spencer believes more water is flowing under the desert than above ground in the entire Colorado River. [San Diego Union, 11/14/92]

The honor camp truck wrapped around the oak, 17 sprawled bodies.

11:30 a.m. Red Betty

Walking to the post office, really hot, then cold in the shade. Around Carrizosa’s. In the yearbook, the Ano, Arnold’s twice the size of everyone.

Luiseno leader Olegario was described as “very stout, rather tall, erect in bearing, and has a good-natured and intelligent countenance.” [Richard Carrico, Strangers in a Stolen Land]

IN MEMORY OF AMERICANS WHO DIED IN VIETNAM FROM RAMONA.

Past the newsstands with Larry’s colored photos, FATAL BUS CRASH NEAR RAMONA, the honor camp truck wrapped around the oak, 17 sprawled bodies. The daughters following Job up the long road.

Long line at the post office. Turn around, she’s standing there, looking off. Then, she kicks the air, curses, moves away from the swinging glass door.

Then she’s leaning her forehead into the narrow aluminum strip that frames it, looking wistfully into the lobby.

How does she keep so clean? Why do we hate her?

I’m at the outside lobby table, going through my mail, facing the periwinkle-and-buff hills, when I hear the man. “I will NOT have you! There is NOTHING here! There’s not been ANYTHING FOR YOU here all along.”

The shaming in his voice that comes next is nearly unbearable. “Everyone’s looked for your check.” And she’s gone.

Out the back door. Nothing. But shade. (Amazing shade, lifesaving, soul-rendering shade. In my crib trying to hide in the shade of the slats.)

Down the alley behind the theater owned by Hugh Heffner in the 1950s when he started Playboy magazine in Escondido.

Halfway down, her long arm raised, clutching the chicken wire over the dumpsters, her head buried under the arm. “Your mail didn’t come?”

“No. My check didn’t come.”

There’s this sky beyond her so blue you could cry.

‘Today’s my daughter’s 29th birthday. She’s in Paris con mi nieto. She didn’t have a good time here.”

“You didn’t get your check either?"

“No. What are you going to do?”

Shrug of shoulders, blank-sky look.

She counts on her fingers how long she’s been here. October 9, the last check from La Mesa.

“Where are you from?”

“Ahhh.... From way down there.” Sweetest accent from way down there. “I’ve been in California since 1965.”

“Do you have kids too?”

“Yes.”

She is absolutely coherent. Classically beautiful. We stand in the alley maybe ten minutes. Me in my $3.98 Ramona Circle K sunglasses, she in her wraparounds. Raises her arms again above her elegant head, her poofed-up hair in its glittery red rubber band, her eyes flashing to the male driver passing in his car, so breath-takingly... erotic.

Finally, I too can’t take it. Leave, touching her just barely on the arm. “Bye, Betty.”

Betty: from Elizabeth, “oath of God," St. Elizabeth of Hungary remembered for her daily care of the poor, made the name popular in medieval Europe. May also be from the Hebrew Beth: “house.” Not homeless.

In Rexall two teenage girls talking about the prison crew wreck while I’m copying the book Mesa Grande Country.

“Something’s wrong with Ramona. I mean, I know the deaths hit because we know everybody, but....”

“Better get out!” the other shakes her head.

Ramona Now and Then: The Ramona Cleaners, November 14, 1992

“In a healthy family, conflict leads to conversation. In a dysfunctional one, to silence." [Source unknown.)

I have felt as ostracized, wrongly blamed, hurt, and as proud, almost — well, not quite — as Betty. But, finally, I go in.

Erinn Edens is my brother Clarke’s son, 22, the youngest of his three children with Beverly, from whom he’s been divorced since Erinn was three. For several years my brother was suicidal, and it’s generally agreed that he’s never fully recovered from the loss of his family. Erinn and Karen, married last December — the first of the three family weddings — are now living in the Clevenger Canyon house Clarke and the family lived in when Erinn was born.

Karen is 8 months pregnant, and beautiful! And friendly and open to me. This takes me by surprise. She’s been so reserved with me.

"l saw you walking by a few times,” Erinn laughs. “That’s got to be an Edens, all that blond hair.”

“I didn’t know if anyone would speak to me.”

“The only trouble with you. Aunt Sharon, is you have a big mouth, you say too much.”

I guess this refers to the letter I wrote Christy. Refers to my books, too. I actually gave him, for his high school graduation, one of the first of my books. The Book of Seeing with One’s Own Eyes!

He even knows what I’m doing here.

“This is Ramona!” he says in explanation. Since he was 12 or so, Erinn has worked for Beverly’s parents, who own the Ramona Cleaners.

“Jim Meador has been his father the most,” Mama says. “Jim has given him love and a job.”

And so, formally, impressively, he gives me a tour of the plant in terms of my theme Ramona Now and Then. We started the business in 1952. Forty-three years later we still use some of the same machines. In her black-and-white sneaker hightops, braces, and

ponytail, Karen seems like a little girl, except for the big oblong belly. (I’m pregnant with Shawn, reading Crime and Punishment, when Clarke brings Beverly to the Escondido apartment to meet me. Beverly is a small, undeveloped 15, a sophomore, Clarke, a senior. In a year they will be married, the parents of Chelli, living on an Army base in Germany, Beverly still growing.) Karen’s telling me she was raised by her German father on U.S. Army bases in Alaska and Texas before moving to Ramona.

“I was 14 when I moved here. I thought it was a pretty rowdy town. I was pretty rowdy.” She met her mother at her wedding, whom she had always thought was Filipino but who turned out to be Oaxacan, from Mexico. Neither of these two have difficulty expressing their resentment at the parents who didn’t raise them.

“All these recent family feuds, Grandma’s afraid we’ll never speak again, that we’ll all just drift further and further apart.”

“No,” he says, so firmly, wonderfully. “This is just for now.”

I feel the baby’s presence, more than “pregnancy” — its personality.

“My father says he will have nothing to do with his grandchild until it’s four,” Karen says.

“Men, how strange they are.”

“Yes. It’s the theme of all my writing. To explain to my kids their father.”

Leaving, I dare to touch her belly. I bless it, bless them both. “I love you three."

Erinn was conceived the week I aborted a child, probably the same day. He’s never known this, it’s against his religion to know or think such a thing, but he’s always carried for me the love out of that great loss, the child I would have had if the father had wanted us. I first held him in my arms on a night beach in Pacific Beach when he was a week old.

Dedicate this story to my grand nephew coming! Hokan! Grand Son.

El Nopal, Noon

Christy! Walking up the alley behind El Nopal. I’ve come to the back looking for the restroom, and there she is, walking a big puppy on this her cousin’s 29th birthday. She’s so beautiful at 24 — the whitest of the Connemara (Ireland) hair. Cutoffs and a white print blouse and coaxing the puppy that pulls gagging on the leash. Big dogs are causing a ruckus behind the fence she’s walking by. Barry probably got her the dog while he’s gone on his seven-month tour of Southeast Asia. She seems self-conscious as if she knows I’m watching.

Maybe she’s even looking for me. Maybe Erinn called her. But something awful has me, something so unlike my Self. I can’t walk out to her. She could never imagine, no one in the family could ever imagine, that she has hurt me. (It’s always been my fault, the Family Myth from Day One: everything would have been just fine but for Sharon.)

I must learn the lesson that Erinn spoke of in terms of his father. My love for you is unconditional, but my hurt is important too, must be dealt with too.

And, this is just for now. I walk all the way to Montecito to sneak back my library book, discovering for the first time in the cement in front of Texaco: G.M.F. Beck, ’59.

Gary Mayer and Frank Beck of my class!

Afternoon, D’Carlo’s

“Anza, right now, near Warner’s, is the hottest place in the U.S. for UFO sightings.”

A guy named Pat is saying this after telling me all about the Boojie Caves out on Old Julian Highway he played in as a kid. “Three levels. When the ponds dry up, there are crystals lying around on the bottoms. Ramona’s a great place to grow up.”

The Anza-Borrego Desert is where Ian Spiro’s body was found. “That’s a fault line,” he says of the Poway Road and 67 intersection. “We’re witnessing here in these mountains extreme shifts. The San Jacintos are picking up the stress of the San Andreas fault system, and on down to here. Big earthquake activity, everything’s shifting from the east to the west. One side uplifted, the over side bowed down. One side has quartz crystals, the other doesn’t.”

“I saw a UFO in Wynola in 1957,” I offer. Being pulled from my bed in my aunt and uncle’s house, to the south window, watching it land, luminous crystal light, clarity like the soul, like a baby from outer space birthing onto the slanting meadow.

“Saw Elvis, too, in San Diego in 1956.”

He draws in my journal his UFO. (“I don’t care if they’re real or they’re pseudo.... The speed they are traveling. They are the only thing.”) [Frank Black, “Ramona”]

“Flashing colored lights out the side here, sucking up water, letting out dirt here. Taking off, right over the San Pasqual Academy, straight up over the hill. It lit up my car. I turned off my lights.

“It was 1980, the ten-year flood. We came around the monument to it.”

“That’s a power spot for me too. It’s where Ramona and Alessandro’s baby was born.”

“I always wanted to be abducted,” he says. Someone at the other end of the bar is yelling, “Go down to Market Street, yell nigger! That’ll do it real quick! Ha! Ha! Ha!”

The San Pasqual Academy is where I met my first John Bircher.

“Why is this place so conservative?” I sigh, not saying “racist.”

“Rednecks. Male chauvinist pigs,” Jackie the bartender snarls. “The women too.”

Jung says that whether UFOs exist or not, the fact that so many people believe they see them proves that humanity subconsciously prays for a better, peaceful world. The atom bombs are the symbol of man’s omnipotence, and nothing is more dangerous than man’s thinking he is omnipotent. It jeopardizes his mental balance. His intellectual capacities are enormous, but his psychological development has not kept pace. That explains the current epidemic of neurosis. “Unidentified flying objects are ‘archetypes.’ Flying saucers represent modern man’s savior myth, the soul’s longing for a remedy it believes can come only from a divine universe.” [Jung, quoted in the San Francisco Chronicle, 7/60]

“Sharon Edens?” From guy at other end of the bar. Behind his head, Israeli settlers in Palestine are repeating the oldest crime.

A handsome, pleasant face I do not recognize.

“Fred Pratt. I was a friend of your brother’s, class of ’61, between Donna and Clarke.” We talk across the long way for a long time, me asking questions, he answering, wonderfully articulate. A Ramona sports hero, hard to go anywhere after that. He “admits” to being “very conservative, a Republican. Actually, it’s why I quit teaching. I couldn't stand the Democrats, the teachers I worked with in Poway." Voted for Ross. Has grown kids, how he watched Lin and Carl go through it with their children. “I thought no way would I be able to handle that when my kids hit the teens. But I did.” His son comes from the kitchen, just off work. He’s 20, long, thick hair down his back. To dread your teenager — the clear tragedy of this is at the heart of my whole radical history. The belief that at heart, the human is evil, the child must be civilized. That good parenting is discipline. Dr. Spock says in the book given to me at my Ramona baby shower, “There is nothing more selfish than a newborn infant.”

Twenty-five years later his wife said he was insanely jealous of her attention to their children.

I walk down the bar to shake Fred’s hand before he leaves.

“What happened with you and George?” he asks, truly startling me. I can only shrug my shoulders. The hate on the Israeli’s face is sinking me.

“We have to be very strict with the Arabs so they know whose country this is. ” So as never to admit the reality of the Other.

As they’re going out the door, Fred turns back and asks, seriously, if a little exasperated, “Was there anything you loved about Ramona, Sharon Edens?”

(There were moments in the night, it was all right. There were moments in the night I heard Ramona sing. And I heard everything...) [Black]

After they’re gone, Dick Cessna, of the plane company, tells me his wife Norma, “the blonde who was in here the other night,” used to be married to Ostrander, who bought the drive-in from my parents! The Ranch Burger! He urges me to call her.

“That building should have historical status," I say.

“It should be planed down, or sandblasted, that orange enamel gotten off. That’s virgin redwood under there."

“Be beautiful.”

“A classic,” someone else says.

Walking, 5:30, dark. Back toward the drive-in.

“What Happened with You and George?”

Doubi comes home on the USS Hornet, July 25, 1957.

We fall in love.

About a month or so later, he pulls into the drive-in in his canary-yellow ’56 Chevy pickup. A very busy late-summer Saturday morning. Says through the window, “I have to break up with you.”

All day he sits outside in the hot sun in his truck, unmoving, just staring, while I work my eight-hour shift. I wrack my brain for all that’s gone on between us but cannot fathom what's wrong. What’s happened. I love you. I could not love you more.

Up on Alice Street at sunset in the cab of the yellow pickup he tells me. Some visiting guy in the chow line was telling everybody about this blonde, Sharon Edens up in Ramona, at the drive-in.

Ray Rice. A frequent visitor to the base.

Doubi punched him in the mouth but stayed awake all night realizing the specific details are me, realizing he can never “respect” me again.

“I have never had sexual intercourse, Ray is lying about that.” We talk in those few hours as we never have before or ever do again. He lost his virginity in a whorehouse in Juarez just out of boot camp crossing the country for Miramar. The whorehouses he visited regularly in Japan, the long rows of pallets on the floor, the drunken U.S. sailor boys fucking the young and old Japanese women, you Just don’t know how devastating boot camp is, worse even than Yonkers School my mother left me in as a boy after my father deserted us and she had a nervous breakdown. The vulnerableness of wanting your mother, the homesickness, the humiliation of being a virgin, of needing women, of being so horny, of wanting love. “You think your girlfriend’s being faithful to you? Sucker!

“I’m going to tell you something not many people understand. The military’s greatest enemy is women. A woman could have more influence on a guy than it. The whole point of boot camp is to break you of this — except sexually. Sexually, the military wants you to be promiscuous — it’s part of the programming — to break the potential power of any single woman. To separate sex from love. To make you crave the female body but to hate the person in it, to make you hate your own mother.

“I understand all this as brainwashing, but it’s still very hard to withstand it."

That I’ve been slandered and he’s been screwed in the oldest, cheapest, most common ruse.

“All you want to do when you get out of boot camp is to get laid, and not by your girlfriend!”

We never speak of the incident again, but the stories he tells burn into my brain, the flaming tentacles of sun going down behind the eucalyptus, the psychosexual training of the military, the psychological destruction of young men, how it is that teenage boys are the main killers through all history; the Fathers shaming them to prove they are not mamas ’ boys.

So that I know forever, male horniness, supposedly that most innate of conditions, beyond and before all social and moral codes, before heart and love, is a socially induced, socially exploited “mental’’ condition.

“Don’t ever forget this, Sharon Lura," he whispers, pulling me to him.

“PULL AROUND THE CORNER...!" Highway Patrol to a vehicle as I turn down 11th. Really dark.

It’s the tone of voice that gives it away, the bottom-line contempt, the shaming father: you-know-you-deserve-this-ass-hole, you-know-damn-well-you-can’t-get-away-from-me! Why-have-you-even-tried?

And because: this is the way I was treated and look how great I turned out.

See, my parents loved me after all.

212 11th Street. A place I loved in Ramona.

Two dark young men at a black-and-white TV screaming Spanish.

Suddenly I’m afraid. The same eucalyptus. Pecos Pete, our parakeet he taught to talk, though he wouldn’t talk to me, flying out the door. My fault. Talking to us for days from those high limbs but never flying back.

After the football game, the night Danny was born, we came home to this house, the silent couple, and soon behind us, Ramon, Kenny, and Karoll.

They played poker past midnight, George talking, laughing, joking.

Ramon’s laugh behind my husband’s, who hasn’t spoken to me since the wedding. That familiar bonhomie canned laughter. My water broke. Standing in the shower while it pours out, not knowing what it is, what to do.

Writing is like interpreting your dreams. The undelivered images just float around in you until you string them together. George and Ramon hung out together in the time we were not allowed to see each other, and even later, after we were married.

I never thought of this before. I thought this was good.

This summer at the third of our family weddings, I mentioned Ramon to my long-ago husband.

“Ray Rice?” he enthused.

It was the tone of his voice that was interesting: He was claiming him, over me, over the memory, over everything. Ray Rice was his friend.

What was Ramon doing at Miramar?

“A frequent visitor to the base.” Sharon Rollins said he had two separate bank accounts. He’s not dead; he has an assumed identity, works in some clandestine way for the Army in Asia. Not even his wife knows him by the name we know him. Did she say “Ray Rice” was killed in Vietnam?

Bringing my baby boy home to here. Knowing love like I’d never known.

To imagine speaking to him in that cop tone. To hit him. To imagine that God would hold him a sinner.

“If that is true, ” I said in this house the first time, “I spit in God’s face. Hell is preferable to such blackmailing evil."

Why do I keep seeing Ian Spiro slumped over his wheel in Anza-Borrego? Bottom of the world. Could Ramon have become a Spiro? An agent, a double/triple spy, informer to whoever pays him? The assassin?

Who would Ramon be loyal to?

Could that have happened to the 18-month-old in my photo? The one who knew the largest American river flowing under Ramona?

The boy who discovered my sad, saddest body? Brought me to the greatest joy, knowledge of love? Knowledge of our body’s purpose? Knowledge of my breasts, his hands, tenderest flesh through the windows, sweetest connection, to all of the Universe. To holy sacred life.

Back down Main. Why do I keep seeing Gayla?

June 1959, the week after we graduate, the week before George and I marry, Gayla to marry Gary Mayer tonight, Ramona’s greatest athlete ever, she’s walking into the Olive Hill house. I’m sitting on the couch sewing my wedding dress, everyone else out by the pool. She’s had her California-required doctor’s examination. He's given her these new pills that will trick her ovaries into believing she's always pregnant. “That way I can't get pregnant." My 18-year-old ovaries shudder, how many million years old are we? Who IS God? My needle pierces the white satin, I will never take such pills no matter how much they “perfect" them, which Gayla, already glistening in every cell, enthusiastically anticipates, faith as she has in Modern Medicine.

I will come to see that glisten in most of my girlfriends, estrogen is so sexy, their breasts wonderfully perfected — enlarged — for their men, their cells in the deep-fry. Slim and beautiful Gayla, one of Edens’ Heavenly Hamburgers’ greatest waitresses and the Class of’57’s brightest star, gains 100 pounds the first year of her marriage. “Something went wrong with her glands.’’

1960s: diaphragms disappear off the market. My mother gets uterine cancer from the estrogen shots her Ramona doctor gives her monthly to keep her young. And now we fall off like flies from breast cancer, one in seven! An epidemic that makes the AIDS one minuscule — but...it’s only a woman’s disease.

Early ’60s: Leading cause of death in U.S.: iatrogenic diseases.

1992: 36 percent of all deaths in the U.S. are caused by prescribed AMA medicines.

Back down Main. Unocal 76: Twirling the baton to attract folks into the Sophomore Class Car Wash. I don’t think it was Unocal then, just the same-o capitalism, same-o whoredom.

George sucked up to the guy who was saying those things about his fiancee all over San Diego County: I am not a sucker!

Denial. The way it works The rectal exam through this door so as not to tear my hymen

o, to untwirl

Red Betty walking by

The Ramona Cleaners

My grand nephew coming a Oaxacan, a

Hokan, a Lewis and Clark on the oldest route

Puchipa

Iron Rose Welding. Once upon a time, (not long ago.

I was married to a welder, bronze sculptor, rose maker. Second husband. A gifted young sculptor, Pygmalion, of Cyprus, was a woman-hater. Detesting the faults beyond measure that nature has given to women...he resolved to make the perfect woman. Mr. and Mrs. Anonymous knocking their kid upside the head at the dinner table in front of company, your sculpture, the human from his blows, the father’s fire in competition with the mother, the mother from her father. The parental task, Dr. Spock, to make the child your creation. Into your Image.

So you might see yourself. The self they made of you.

The Teepee: “Twirling, The Physical Parallel of Revelation”

All night, dancing, I watch an Indian couple, very quiet, very married. Drink a Tecate.

The sinister guy from Cheers, Thursday night, dancing on the same small floor. We do not look at each other.

Dance twice with a small, thin, really out-there Mexican Indian, how many disappeared into Mexico? He’s a great dancer, but I hold back, the confused, concerned eyes watching us, dance cautiously around his black beady maniacal edge. But toward the end of the second tune, with the music and little knowledge I’ve learned of him, I let the music sweep away the paranoia, meet him, his brilliant, breathtaking moves.

Ipai-Tipai: that my dance rhythm, that my poetics stem from baton twirling in Ramona, mostly the four cardinal points, the four rivers of the Flow, the 8s my hips make. The poem I keep writing, “Untwirl.”

To untwirl the curse, four times the double Cross, that gossip. Water Beyond or Rain Behind? Flying blue morning glory datura, Karoll, burning crystal bullets to heaven, Ramon: your mama your grandma your great grandpa. Crystal Matrix, new child, Alima my spirit and steel on fire, Sharon Lura, doing triplets through the Eye of the needle, San Luis Rey, the spinning Linga Sharira

  • I loved the land the boulders, the veins
  • of gold, silver, quartz, sand, smokey crystal, the valley
  • of burning fire, my
  • Tourmaline
  • and the Big One
  • that will jump from fault to fault across the full Zone
  • I loved, I love
  • “the people of Ramona ”
  • the way
  • my father said that.
  • Happy Birthday, Baby

Sunday, November 15, 1992. Stoked

“Did you know that the Tozers are Stokes?” Mama’s phone call blows my mind. “That Sam Tozer in your class is a Stokes, of the original Ramona family? Remember, the Stokes’ Courts, Bessie Stokes, didn’t she go on your honeymoon? Isn’t that how Chuck got that special appointment to Annapolis — because he was a Stokes?”

No. I didn’t know this. Or, maybe I did, but it was meaningless to me then.

My honeymoon. Across America.

I went on my honeymoon with a carload of Stokeses.

Spiro: ’napped by a UFO?

“It’s the only theory I haven’t heard,” the Rancho Santa Fe police officer said today.

HHJ-Olegario Mystery Solved?

On the day we were [at Pala] a memorial service for the dead was going on in the chapel.... This mass was for the soul of an old Indian woman named Margarita, sister of Manuelito, a somewhat famous chief of several bands of the San Luisenos. Her home was at the Potrero — a mountain meadow, or pasture, as the word signifies — about ten miles from Pala, high up the mountainside, and reached by an almost impassable road. This farm...was given to Margarita by the friars; and by some exceptional good fortune she had a title which, it is said, can be maintained by her heirs. In 1871, in a revolt of some of Manuelito’s bands, Margarita was hung up by her wrists till she was near dying but was cut down at the last minute and saved.

One of her daughters...asked us to come up to the Potrero and pass the night. [Helen Hunt Jackson, Glimpses of California]

Jackson was a guest of the Cota family! The account that follows of the night and the family’s hospitality is one of the most moving portrayals of all Jackson’s many extraordinary accounts. The experience is clearly where she got the details — and the authority to describe it — of Alessandro and Ramona’s San Pasqual home.

Carrico mentions the wrist-hanging incident. “Cota’s sister, Margarita, was captured by Olegario’s warriors and hung by her wrist until sympathetic elders forced her release.” [Carrico]

Without knowing the full Olegario-Cota story, an assessment cannot be made. But on the surface of it, stringing up the sister of your enemy is classic patriarchy and not something a developing feminist like HHJ is likely to forgive—especially after finding herself the guest of the family the night they are celebrating a mass for her soul. Jackson’s goal was to obtain more property for Indians, not to endanger existing ones, which she might have feared for the Cotas and finally for everyone if she “furthered” the complicated Civil War story.

Still, she should have told of Olegario in her report to the Indian commissioner. Politics change, truth doesn’t.

Hemet:

“Swedish for ‘in the home.’ However, according to Kroeber, it sounds as if it might be Luiseno Shoshonean.” [Erwin Gudde, California Place Names]

“Find out, would you, why the Ramona Pageant is in Hemet?” (Chelli Edens, Bride #3, 10/92)

Sunday evening Joe hosts an open house for me of former high school friends. My most important friend from then, Vicki Raymond Ford, celebrating the fifth cancer-free year since her mastectomy, drives up from Pacific Beach. How I became who I am out of Ramona! This woman is at the heart. But all of that, all of them, are of the other book. For now, just this:

I asked Frank Beck about his older brother Darrel, the right-winger. In a gesture of dismissal, he says, “He came very close to joining the John Birch Society. I pretty much had it the Christmas I drove up with my family and the whole place was locked up tight, behind chainlink fences. Not a sign of life.

“There are people up here who’ve built a life of complete independence. They have no understanding of working with others. Remember Jan Clark [of our class], the guns stockpiled at his father’s place?”

And this: “In the seventh grade, remember?”

Richard offers. “Forsythe said to Karoll, 'Don't be juvenile. ’ He’d just come back from a year in juvenile hall. Karoll thought he was calling him a juvenile delinquent.

“He exploded from his chair and put his fist through that small thick glass window of the door, breaking it and his hand. Forsythe just stood there.”

“Karoll was a real waste,” Vicki sighs. “He could have been great.”

I’m deeply appreciative of this now, here with them who knew him, but I went crazy on Suzi when she said the same thing after I told her he’d died. “His life was as rich, as unwasted as yours!” Gonna lose my loves, yet, over Karoll Reed.

And the phone ringing. Joe saying, “Judy Ferguson can’t come. Her son is dying of leukemia, she has to visit him.”

She didn’t tell that.

And, as always: “Are you going to mention Hemet, what happened to us in the eighth grade when we went to the Ramona Pageant?”

On the long night bus ride back, making out with Ramon, really in love, he presents me with a rhinestone necklace, the one in the photograph of me at 14. Same trip, the mountain lion crossed in front of the bus when we stopped to let Claudia off in Clevenger Canyon. It will be years before it occurs to me that he probably stole the necklace. It does not occur to me when on Monday, nearly all of the most popular kids have been taken back to Hemet to return their stolen goods, to apologize to the merchants, but I will be forever stunned, mortified, by my own blind innocence, that I could have been in the middle of such a drama and not been aware of it.

And stunned too by the mortification my guilty classmates suffered. The shock, the shame, the confusion of trying to understand how our brilliant class could have done this.

Now in Joe and Candy’s home. I’m thinking maybe it happened and is still happening in our tribal psyche because we felt Ramona was ours, not Hemet’s. Our rip-off of Hemet was in response to their rip-off of Ramona, and deeper, to the rip-off of the Natives.

If the Indians are dispensable, so are we. No matter how “special” we were, as Richard Smith puts it now. (Every child in capitalism knows it’s for sale.)

'Though this was an educational field trip, no one explained to us the reason Ramona is in Hemet — that Jackson was tracing the diaspora of the San Luis Rey Indians— the Ramona fifth grade traditionally made field trips to the mission, too, no doubt for the same historical but now forgotten reason — that, while writing the book, she was waging a personal campaign to save the Soboba people, that Ramona begins in Temecula, moves to San Diego, then San Pasqual, up the Mesa Grande and ends near Hemet.

This is how denial works. This is the play we watched, our land, our names, our history — I with a boy like Alessandro — there’s a photo of us watching it, Arnold Carrizosa and Claudia Till in the front row— but we “watched it” as “make-believe,” as entertainment, as “trash.” Then our souls, which always know what is really going on, that are here to interchange with the Story one way or another, to be in harmony with the unseen order of things, reacted.

Ripping off the white merchants, the real thieves, is the direct, righteous response to the play Ramona.

“The things people stole was horseshit,” lawyer Sciarretta says.

“People had to volunteer to come forward.” Ramon didn’t.

“Remember the fink? I do. Claudia, someone said. Someone told their parents. I don’t remember who finked. It was handled differently in those days.”

Yes, in those days you apologized, kids will be kids. They let it slide. No one got in legal trouble.

“These days they’d let it go.”

Monday, November 16, 1992, the 157th anniversary of the “desafiliados” return to San Pasqual

The Times Advocate: “SPIRO POSED THREAT TO BRITAIN? A purported British spy likely was murdered because he threatened to reveal details of the British government’s secret deals to secure the release of Beirut hostages, the Sunday Telegraph reported yesterday.

“Ian Stuart Spiro...also had vital information about the 1988 bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland, which killed 270 people...including the CIA team aboard.”

2:00 p.m.

Standing on the corner of Seventh and Main, in front of Circle K, Betty is addressing herself to us, “a large crowd," gesticulating to one side of the “bandstand,” then to the other.

The woman from whom everyone has cut. So she’s telling us we are her relations; we will see and hear her out.

I’m running errands before I can get to San Pasqual, Mesa Grande, and Julian, this my last day here. In my mail a note from a 20-year friend trying to read my latest book. “How hard it is to understand you.”

Betty, again. Up ahead, crossing Tenth, jumps up on the sidewalk curb, balances herself down it, so tall, so beautiful, her squirrel’s tail bobbing down through the line of liminal eucalypti to the drive-in.

“I guess my men are afraid of me,” I answered Ronnie Rodolph when he kept asking what happened to my husbands.

Descending Clevenger Canyon, past Weekend Villa Road, Erinn and Karen and baby on its way, Bruce Cockburn singing “Kit Carson was a hero to some/ With his poison and his flame/ Will there never be an end to the Indian Wars?”

In the winter of 1882 I visited this San Pasqual valley. I drove over from San Diego with the Catholic priest, who goes there three or four Sundays in a year, to hold service in a little adobe chapel built by the Indians in the days of their prosperity. This beautiful valley is from 1 to 3 miles wide, and perhaps 12 long. It is walled by high-rolling, soft-contoured hills, which are now one continuous wheat-field. There are, in sight of the chapel, a dozen or so adobe houses, many of which were built by the Indians; in all of them except one are now living the robber whites, who have driven the Indians out...|now) hidden away in the cartons and rifts of the near hills.... They have sought the most inaccessible spots, reached often by miles of difficult trail.

They have fled into secret lairs like hunted wild beasts.... [HHJ, Glimpses]

The Sentimental Historical Society’s Lying

The wording on the 1925 monument is responsible forgiving the impression that Kit Carson died in the battle of San Pasqual. The problem is the stone carver’s missing comma:

The State of Calif Honors with this Monument The American Soldiers, who, under the Leadership of Brig. Gen. Stephen W. Kearny, Capt. Abraham R. Johnson, Capt Benjamen Lee More, Edward F. Beale, U.S.N. & Kit Carson, the Scout gave their lives in the Battle of San Pasqual Between the Americans and the Mexicans Dec 6-10 1846.

And another gravestone miswording at San Pasqual.

The Indian Princess Felicita La Chappa was buried here October 28, 1916. Her grave was marked with a wooden cross with a red heart on it. In January 1921 it was replaced with a cement cross engraved Enero 1921.

Spirit Paintings. The Desafiliados

(Catch/ a fracture of light off the crystal/ the luck of disappearing up the canyons/ under the brush forever.)

Returning up Clevenger— what is their name, the true name, for this canyon? It must be beautiful— tired and saddened that I’m not going to make it to Mesa Grande, this my last day here, the boulders with the class years of the San Pasqual Academy painted in white up there just like always, the classes of ’60, ’62, ’71, and ’70 still up there! This place always of the painted rocks.

“The Legend of Rockwood Canyon” [the next one north of Clevenger] tells of a large boulder bearing a spirit painting.... The painting depicts a Kumeyaay chief's son, Que-ahl, about to kill his wife. Rehare, daughter of Keleet, Paltho’s grandson of the Pamo tribe, for infidelity. The wondrous appearance of the spirit painting prevented the tragedy from taking place.... [Mary Reiser, The Spirit of San Pasqual]

The poor orphans came, had to deal with the psychic consequences of their deeds. They painted the rocks with their own spirit paintings, with the name of their only tribe, their little team spirit, the apocalyptic be-all-and-end-all: the year they graduate.

Halfway up, I experience the malaise very physically. It’s been a long time since I had a vaginal-bladder infection, but that’s what it feels like. By the time I’m coming parallel to Erinn and Karen’s, I’m so struck down, sick in the deepest female core of myself, I wonder what I’ve encountered, so out of the blue. “Aaran!”

I shout the executed Pamo warrior’s name over Bruce’s “it’s not breech-loading rifles and wholesale slaughter/ It's kickbacks and thugs and diverted water. ”

This canyon must have its true name restored!

I head directly to 7-Eleven for cranberry juice, which cures my strange ailment within five minutes.

Then over to Hair Boulevard to find out about Judy’s son.

Desafiliado. That in Your Lifetime Your Babies.

She’s in the chair, doing her own hair. Towel around her shoulder, red goop inching down her forehead, the short hair sticking up like fright. She doesn’t let on that catching her this way bothers her.

“That was Ray Uphouse, Judy, not Ray Rice!”

I tell her of finding Karoll’s grave. Then I ask about her son.

“Kenny Christman, Jr. He has leukemia. He’s had it a long time. Now it’s all inside, everywhere. Started in his lungs. Getting cobalt treatment now. He has the black patches on his arms.” She gestures to hers. “His fingernails have turned black, are falling out....”

Then she’s crying.

“What caused it?” I ask, helpless. I will keep asking my question till the grave.

But she’s really crying.

The chemicals of her profession.

In his playpen under these leukemia-causing fluorescent lights while she works.

Seeing his father Ittaja, beat her, despised flesh of this land.

“Excuse me, Sharon.”

“I’m going to get Ray’s photo on my book, Judy, I’ll be right back.”

She’s still in the back when I return.

“Now I remember him. He ran with Karoll and Kenny.”

What HHJ Accomplished

[I]f she and Kinney accomplished nothing more than the saving of San Ysidro and the Los Coyotes, she felt rewarded, but she was expecting much more from the final report.... [Valerie Sherer Mathes, HHJ and Her Indian Reform legacy]

Though the reservations had been signed into act five years earlier, due mainly to the efforts of Luiseno leader Olegario, confusion and chaos reigned in the North County when HHJ arrived the second time. She and Kinney visited and revisited the backcountry villages. “Such heart sickening fraud, violence, [and] cruelty as we have unearthed here — I did not believe could exist in civilized communities.” It was her intent to write a report that would result in the passage of a bill “so to cover the ground once for all and leave that fragment of the Indian race safe for all time from the avarice of white men.” [Mathes]

In this she succeeded extraordinarily.

To contest a white settler or to apply for land under the 1875 Indian Homestead Act required severing tribal affiliation. She vehemently opposed this aspect of the Allotment Act, in contrast to the later church missionaries who swarmed in with their programs for domesticating and civilizing the Indians. Jackson was remarkably free of this kind of bias.

The final report numbered 56 pages, 18 chapters of eloquent, historically invaluable writing: Saboba, Cahuilla, Warners, San Ysidros, Los Coyotes, Santa Ysabel (including San Felipe, San Jose, Inaja, Laguna), Mesa Grande, Capitan Grande, Sequan, the Conejos, Pala (including Rincon, Pauma, and La Jolla), Pachanga, the Desert Indians, San Gorgonio, plus additional chapters on the special complexities of Pauma, San Felipe, San Pasqual, and Santa Ysabel. Specific recommendations were detailed, basically “determining, resurveying, rounding out and distinctly marking, their reservations....”

All the reservations made in 1875...were laid out by guess by the surveyor in San Diego, on an imperfect county map. When the actual survey came to be made, it was discovered that the majority of...Indian villages intended to be provided for were outside the reservation lines and that the greater part of the lands set apart were wholly worthless. [HHJ, Century of Dishonor]

The bill, submitted along with a printed copy of the Jackson/Kinney report, passed the Senate on July 3,1884, but then failed in the House. HHJ died August 12, 1885.

It wasn’t until 1887, two years after her death, that the Dawes Act (also known as the General Allotment Act), based entirely on her report, was passed, “the first comprehensive piece of legislation intended to establish protective Indian policy.” [Rosemary Whitaker, Helen Hunt Jackson] This act was viewed by many as “the closing of the ‘Century of Dishonor.’” [Mathes] But despite HHJ’s intent, aspects of the Dawes Act were not satisfactory. Through the efforts of activists who carried on the fight in her behalf, the Indian office persistently presented the bill yearly until January 2, 1891, when the “Act for the Relief of the Mission Indians in the State of California” finally passed both houses. “Although Jackson had been dead for six years...[it was noted that] the bill was based on her recommendations with only a few modifications.... It was called “Mrs. Jackson’s bill.” [Mathes]

Twenty-six reservations totaling approximately 136,000 acres in Southern California were permanently established...including “the little reservation of Ramona...for three families who lived in a canyon with good water and valuable grazing lands three miles north of Cahuilla.” (Mathes]

Twenty-six reservations!

Los Coyotes and San Ysidro exist solely because of Helen Hunt Jackson. [Mathes]

As does Indian Canyon of Palm Springs, which she “discovered." One day she came around a desert mountain and saw, up the canyon, the village, the people, the ferns and palms, the water gushing down. Knowing of the white land-grabbing scheme for the area, she rushed to request that it “be set aside immediately by executive order. (Within two weeks] President Arthur complied." [Mathes]

The 20th-century people (second half, anyway) of Indian Canyon have always been called “the richest Indians in the world.”

With her personal savings, “her hand-picked lawyers,” and her “furious exchange of letters,” while writing Ramona, she “saved Capitan Grande” [Mathes], which, after being dammed, results in the reservations Barona and Viejas Ranch. [Charles LeMenager, Off the Main Road] She requested that Stephano Domo’s land on Mesa Crande be protected by executive order.

Disappointed that the Mission Indian relief bill had not included the recommendation of the purchase of the Pauma Ranch, she requested that such a recommendation be added.... She also suggested that the government purchase the lands of the Rincon, Pala, and La Jolla Indians. [Mathes]

To the credit of the crusading Mrs. Jackson, we have the reservations of Santa Ysabel, Mesa Grande, Warners, Sequans, Conejos, and the desert Aqua Caliente. [Mathes]

She saved her beloved Saboba. “Helen’s chief concern was to avert from the Saboba Indians the fate which had befallen those at Temecula and San Pasqual.” Again — shout it!— this is why the novel climaxes there, why the pageant occurs there, why to this day there is confusion about where Ramona is. The Luisenos fled east in all directions from San Luis Rey.

The personal efforts of other activists and reformers must be credited — Abbot Kinney, Osia J. Hiles, Amelia S. Quinton, Charles C. Painter, Albert K. Smiley, Frank D. Lewis, C.E. Kelsey, and others, as well as the organizational efforts of the Women’s National Indian Association, the Indian Rights Association, and, especially, the martyr Olegario, with his life-threatening efforts not only in Los Angeles, San Diego, San Francisco, and Washington but within the Luiseno communities — but Helen Hunt Jackson is the main person responsible for the present-day, “permanently set aside” reservations of the invaluable real estate that is Southern California.

And then there’s the novel, Ramona.

The book has survived through around 300 printings and has been made into a stage play several times, three movies, and a pageant [first performed in 1926] which was for many years so elaborate that it was compared to the Passion Play at Oberammergau. [Whitaker]

A kind of Ramona-mania took hold to the country during the 1890s that went a very long way toward giving the region an aura of storied loveliness, which until then had enjoyed only the most limited tourist and commercial appeal, influencing the course of history in Southern California. [Roger Anderson, Reader, 9/29/88]

Ramona is available in your local Safeway today.

Despite this century’s critical onslaught, extreme changes in literary (and all other but monetary/greed) values, despite, the critics’ hundred years of ridicule, Ramona holds up. As the killing century ends — five centuries: the Apocalypse happened, untold billions in Alessandro and Ramona’s homeless delirium — we see how metaphoric the novel is, how prophetic, visionary. The girl is of all three “indigenous" California cultures. Thus, she is our future, as Jackson says in the novel itself, and this is Ramona’s deep appeal, the sacred, genetic Alima/Rainbow future, the karma of the invading rapists since the 1400s. Ramona is the Chalice, Camelot, Crystal Matrix, the gene pool from the Old World, the Treasure of the New One, the Unseen Order of Things, the only Bridge. The 30,000 unwanted Bosnian babies birthing now onto us.

D’Carlo’s

Five miles up from the head of the San Ysidro Canon, to be reached only by a steep and narrow trail, lies a small valley on the desert side of the mountains. It is little more than a pocket on a ledge. From its rim one looks down directly into the desert. Few white men have ever penetrated to it...no agent has ever visited them; they have supported themselves by keeping stock and cultivating their few acres of land....

The Indians of this band are robust, active, and finely made, more nearly in the native health and strength of the race than any other band in the country.... Their houses were good, built of hewn pine timber with thatched roofs made from some taut fibrous plant, probably the yucca. Each house had a thatched bower in front of it and stood in a fenced enclosure. These Indians raise beans, pumpkins, wheat, barley and corn. They have 25 head of cattle and more horses. They say they have lived in this valley always and never desire to leave it.

[H]ere is a village of 84 souls living in a mountain fastness which they so love they would rather die than leave it, but here the ordinary agencies and influences of civilization will never reach, no matter how thickly settled the regions below may come. [HHJ, A Century of Dishonor]

Pug— Janet’s husband, Frank Taylor — grabs his beer, comes over to sit with me.

“Danny and I saw a white buffalo on the road from Warner’s to Santa Ysabel in the early ’60s. Was someone raising white cattle?”

“In high school,” he smiles, still so finely made. “I didn’t know about people’s families. I didn’t think about their parents, where they came from, where they were going, if they had money, or what.

“Now I read the Borrego paper, and I see the names, I remember them. I realize them now in terms of where they came from. I just didn’t think that way then.

“Yes, my father was born there, Los Coyotes. My mother is full-blooded Indian. My father is Italian, Mexican, and Indian. My grandfather was Italian. That’s who settled Santa Ysabel Ranch — Swiss-ltalians. They all met on the boat coming over.”

Then he’s telling me of his four daughters. “Debby [Stevenson Taylor Moretti] is expecting any minute.”

“So is Karen Edens.”

I tap my wine to his beer, to our Rainbow grandkids.

“After I retired from the county, it was hard. Ha! I went crazy, ha! For about two weeks! Now I run cattle. My brother’s cattle, my father’s. I ride my horse or my three-wheeler all over that land. I take care of the house in the morning, then I go check on cattle. I love it. I don’t answer to anyone, I don’t think, I am just there.

“There are grinding holes everywhere.

“One day I was driving cattle. Driving cattle is like a ritual. The cows were always going into this one canyon. I’ve been up it a hundred times, I never seen anything. This time I saw this big olla. My father always said. Stop! Get it! You’ll never find it again. So I let the cattle go. I was shaking. I dug it out. Big. Round. I took off my red shirt, hung it on a bush above it, but even so, it was very, very hard to find that spot again. Twenty-eight thousand acres.

“ ‘It is, then it disappears,’ my father always said. Now, I don’t know if I should tell I found it."

I don’t know either. Pug.

After a while, he speaks again.

“During the eclipse, June 15, Janet and I went up behind the house. It was clouded over so we couldn’t see the moon, but we could see the skyscrapers of San Diego and the shine off the Salton Sea.”

Tuesday, November 17, 1992, Moon in Leo

Her measured words make us think of the majesty of a prophetess and dread the curse of heaven upon the spoilers of the helpless.

[The New York Daily Tribune review of Ramona, 12/1884]

The Roman Catholic Church released today its new catechism — the first full revision in 426 years — which “addresses the 21st Century: white-collar crimes, mistreatment of the environment, mistreatment of illegal immigrants, genetic engineering.”

“Research indicates correlation between electric razors and leukemia.”

Will I Be Able to Go Home Again?

I grew up hearing how Asheville, North Carolina, loathed Thomas Wolfe. Too many people recognized themselves, my mother always said. They had to die before he could be appreciated. (Now he’s their biggest tourist attraction.)

And even now John Steinbeck's famous books are not allowed in many of the public libraries and schools of Salinas, Kern County, and the Central Valley.

Imagine growing up in Steinbeck Country and not knowing what all the world knows of you.

Driving Out

The memorial is in the vineyard, among massive golden boulders and grape vines over my head. “El Rancho Wino” swinging over the entrance. A tall clanging flagless flagpole. Sweet dark grapes, yellow bees, red ants in and out of their holes. “Tcaipakomat, seeing the vast watery desolation, created land out of the bodies of many red ants. ” [Ruth Meyers, Some Highlights of the Natural History of San Diego County]

IN MEMORY OF AMERICANS WHO DIED IN VIETNAM FROM RAMONA Thomas F. Green, 19. Duane C. Bowen, 20. Tanner M. Brown, 20. Marvin C. White, 21. Roger V. Kelly, 21. James H. Smith, 21. Eureka L. Schmittou, 38. An Army strap, “LEE,” draped over it. Maybe I should drape RAMON over it. Maybe he’s Eureka L. Schmittou.

Never have I lived anywhere with so many red ants! The battles out the kitchen window on Olive Hill, the reds against the blacks. “Worthy of Homer,” Daddy always pointed out.

Tippet's Castle. “With the flip of a switch, 13,000 white lights will help signal the holidays at the 27-room rock mansion at the foot of Mt. Woodson."

Past the Lemurians. Past Tippet’s Castle. “With the flip of a switch, 13,000 white lights will help signal the holidays at the 27-room rock mansion at the foot of Mt. Woodson." (With just a switch, Ramona now and then, Pam’s son, eight years old, just walking on the road outside, BAM! is hit. She’s never been the same. The last time I saw her, she was the most beautiful, most classic Bride flowing in the stone of this Castle.) Past Palomar’s Majella-dove Eye flash from behind. Past Poway, “it is finished"; “the end of the mountains. ” [Gudde] Past Sycamore Canyon’s most sinister secrets.

Seeing them swarm out of these mountains, down through Mission Gorge. The Incas from Machu Picchu onto Spanish-captured Cuzco.

Reality is a conjunctive perception of matter and spirit.

The psyche is an alchemical, in-flux “state" with the environment and self.

Degradation of the other is degradation of the self.

Suppression of the facts, of the story you’re living, retards you.

Boredom is a veil for depression, the state of “knowing” while paralyzed.

A denied story becomes a haunt. The Stokes' syndrome, feeling like a prisoner of the place.

You cannot see the inside harbor from here. It is the most beautiful water I have ever seen, Majella. The two high lands come out like two arms to hold it and keep it safe, as if they loved it. [HHJ, Ramona]

Ramon’s hands through the window.

And Karoll’s.

We are psychic beings. We live inside the bodies of our mothers for nine months, before that inside the bodies of both our parents from Eternity. Stardust, earth rock, river water, ocean air. We receive their biases, prejudices, fears, traumas, instructions, hopes, and wishes — their psyches and their culture — long before we can consider them “objectively,” to decide for ourselves. In this sense it is impossible to be free.

Freedom is a visionary state that requires enormous and continuous psychic work, not one of rejection of one’s heritage, but of the ability (the freedom) to take all of it in, to weigh it on the scale of everything.

When we are kept from knowing what happened, while living and suffering the “sins of the fathers,” freedom is absolutely impossible.

The Truth

The prejudice against Ramona and the bad energies of the place stem from the attempted Native repulsions of the invaders of 1769, “the most hostile Indians of California,” and the subsequent attempted genocide of them by the Catholic Church, the Spanish-Mexican militaries, and the white Protestant San Diegans during the 19th Century.

The confusion about Ramona stems from the continuing suppression of these facts and the denial of Helen Hunt Jackson’s vast literary, sociological, and historical impact, a conscious and unconscious cover-up that continues today.

You understand, it’s a fiction book. Their grandmother told them get rid of that trash.... ’Course there are no true Indians now.

Sexism, racism, classism were and are the weapons used to discourage and prejudice inquirers, to maintain the denial — for example, the inevitable qualifying adjective “romantic” to discredit Jackson — and the outright, blatant lie that she “failed to cause Indian reform.”

The denial thrives in the faulty analysis of historians, scholars, clergy, critics, and most devastatingly, in the everyday lives of the people, in their being prevented from “knowing” the circumstances that profoundly affect them — all to the benefit of the “harpies of civil power,” the San Diego fathers who continue the prejudice against Ramona and “who usually end,” as Richard Dana noted in San Diego in 1836, “by making themselves fortunes, and leaving their stewardships worse than they found them.” “True peace is not merely the absence of tension, it is the presence of justice." [Martin Luther King]

There has to be a memorial acknowledging the Pamo. (As in Germany of the Jews.)

There has to be a monument acknowledging Helen Maria Vinal Fiske Hunt Jackson, her profound historical importance to this area — to all of Southern California.

Mt. Woodson and Clevenger Canyon must be given back their true names.

The story is carried in the name, in the sound. “Love?”

“Here.”

“Love?”

“Here.”

The Linga Sharira, 1992: CAZ A.C. EDENS. Love? Here

Mama picks me up at the Medford Oregon Airport.

“Yesterday, 9:30 a.m., Karen’s water broke. They didn’t know what it was. No one told them of this possibility. But she couldn’t have gone another week — he’s got the Edens’ big head — Connemara blond curls. He was born that night, 9:20 p.m." They were in labor when I drove by their house in Clevenger Canyon, was hit by that sudden “infection'!

He was coming.

Hokan!

On the Puchipa.

Maya Angelou, Arkansas poet, will read January 17 at the inaugural. “I disagree with Thomas Wolfe, who said you can’t go home. In fact, you can never leave home. Its truth is in your cells, under your fingernails. ”

I never heard another word about Ian Spiro. Nor of Ramon.

BAM!

Sponsored
Here's something you might be interested in.
Submit a free classified
or view all
Previous article

Tennis with François Truffaut and Donal Logue

The film is helped immensely by casting four leads to play their own tennis
Next Article

Poppin’ Padres petition for permanent props in stands

The Crowd Goes Mild!
Comments
0

Be the first to leave a comment.

Sign in to comment

Sign in

Art Reviews — W.S. Di Piero's eye on exhibits Ask a Hipster — Advice you didn't know you needed Best Buys — San Diego shopping Big Screen — Movie commentary Blurt — Music's inside track Booze News — San Diego spirits City Lights — News and politics Classical Music — Immortal beauty Classifieds — Free and easy Cover Stories — Front-page features Excerpts — Literary and spiritual excerpts Famous Former Neighbors — Next-door celebs Feast! — Food & drink reviews Feature Stories — Local news & stories From the Archives — Spotlight on the past Golden Dreams — Talk of the town Here's the Deal — Chad Deal's watering holes Just Announced — The scoop on shows Letters — Our inbox [email protected] — Local movie buffs share favorites Movie Reviews — Our critics' picks and pans Musician Interviews — Up close with local artists Neighborhood News from Stringers — Hyperlocal news News Ticker — News & politics Obermeyer — San Diego politics illustrated Of Note — Concert picks Out & About — What's Happening Overheard in San Diego — Eavesdropping illustrated Poetry — The old and the new Pour Over — Grab a cup Reader Travel — Travel section built by travelers Reading — The hunt for intellectuals Roam-O-Rama — SoCal's best hiking/biking trails San Diego Beer News — Inside San Diego suds SD on the QT — Almost factual news Set 'em Up Joe — Bartenders' drink recipes Sheep and Goats — Places of worship Special Issues — The best of Sports — Athletics without gush Street Style — San Diego streets have style Suit Up — Fashion tips for dudes Theater Reviews — Local productions Theater antireviews — Narrow your search Tin Fork — Silver spoon alternative Under the Radar — Matt Potter's undercover work Unforgettable — Long-ago San Diego Unreal Estate — San Diego's priciest pads Waterfront — All things ocean Your Week — Daily event picks
4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
Close