The author, Sharon Edens, 14. Out onto Main Street, against the wind, walking it like I used to, in bright light and flying eucalyptus.
Monday, November 2, 1992. La Noche de las Velas. Can You Go Home Again?
I flew from Asheville, North Carolina, the town made famous by Thomas Wolfe's book You Can't Go Home Again and ancestral home of my maternal grandfather, Guy Clarke, of Scotslrish-Cherokee descent, to Los Angeles, then drove to Ramona, my hometown in northeastern San Diego County, arriving after 1:00 a.m., November 3, 1992 — Election Day!
Sharon and Ramon, Edens Drive-in, 1955. From inside the drive-in I can see Ramon weaving down Main Street through the twilight eucalyptus.
At LAX I call Michael Ventura in Hollywood. "The Santana’s here!" But first I take my first-ever rental car. a pretty shiny beet-red thing, south to ii Manhattan Beach to get a box I left at George’s, my kids’ father’s apartment this summer, where we all met, staging ground for three family weddings. He’s in the Hyperion Treatment with all the guys, Monday Night Football.
He’s nice to me — you never know — pulling the key from his shorts. “Go ahead!"
Palm fronds littering the streets, the San Diego, the Santa Monica dust in my eyes. Ventura’s third-floor apartment is in an old place a block off Sunset, his living-writing space. He says what everyone from Ramona hears all their lives. "Ramona? That’s near Hemet, right?”
Turkey Inn. The bartender, whose name is Sharon, comes over and turns up the sound, nodding at the four of us. So over the strains of "your lying eyes," Bush is making his speech.
He says, "Memory is a record not of events but of their imprint on the soul ... an imprint that may bear little relation to what really happened.” I say. “That’s where we differ as writers. My soul seeks to know what really happened.” He says, "History is the record of what happened. The recording." I say, "To record, recordari. to remember, to pass back through the heart, but is there not a word for what actually happened, recorded or not?" Neither of us can think of it.
Ramona Turkey Queen contestants, 1935.
San Diego Historical Society
He says, “There are three reasons to vote for Clinton: guaranteed health care for everyone, higher education for anyone who wants it, and neighborhood banking. Even so. as a radical. I don't think I can do it.“
Then I'm off. 11:00 p.m., high on the wind — the negative ions turn me on — down the oldest road of my life, the south-north road I've escaped by in all my nightmares since high school. San Diego Freeway, I-5, 101, 395, Highway 1, El Camino Real path of the Fathers walking the missions, path of lunipero Serra, but path, really, progenitor of the Chumash. the Maliwu. the Zuma, the Luisenos, the Gabrielenos. the Yokuts, the Mojave, the Yumans. et al., since time immemorial, roads so deep they are geology now in this cosmic land.
Now up dark twisting Clevenger Canyon, the road I learned to drive on. Daddy screaming at me.
Photo by Robert Burroughs
What did they call this hot witches' wind?
One stop: just north of Oceanside, south of the San Onofre border check. Camp Pendleton Aliso Creek Roadside Rest Area.
This being my fourth trip in less than a year, I'm prepared for the shocking, contradictory Pedestrians Crossing warning sign north and south of the 12 lanes at the border check stop — the black silhouette of the illegal family, a man, woman, and child flying from their terrorized homeland, now from La Migra — but the pleading sign on the INFORMATION board just blows me away: Por amor de Dos no cruce las autopistas. Mas de 135 han muerto.
Ralph Waldo Emerson repeatedly named Helen Hunt Jackson “the best woman poet in America."
My Asheville host, the poet Thomas Raincrowe, returned home in the late 70s from world travels, including a five-year sojourn in San Francisco, a time and place that inspired us both to be the poets that we are. Thomas wrote an essay then, which has been reprinted and quoted often. “You Must Go Home Again." I grew up hearing the story from my orphan-mother of her redheaded Irish-Cherokee father reciting Look Homeward Angel when he visited her in the school before he died. When Scribners was going to publish my first book of stories, they said I had to change the place names. I fought for Ramona because it is one of Southern California's rare literary names — there's Dana Point, but did Nathanael West or Raymond Chandler or Aldous Huxley ever name anything? And because for me it's an archetype.
El Ranchito taco shop (formerly Edens Drive-in). I walk around the west side, studying my father’s carpentry. Beneath this orange enamel crap is virgin redwood!
Photo by Robert Burroughs
The presence of "Ramona," some form — male or female, sound, sight, smell, soul or flesh, has occurred at every important intercourse of my life. My hometown is Ramona, my first love Ramon, my great soul sister there was Victoria Raymond. my second, in married life, was Ramona Marie. I first broke the chain of my destiny, that is, my traditional marriage, in the Ramona Apartments on Ramona Boulevard in LA. — etc., etc., up to the present.
Edens Drive-in flyer. Daddy designed it. The blue beauty of his blueprints laid out on the dining room table. Construction was started in the spring of 1955. All summer we made trips back and forth to L.A.. checking out the hamburger stands.
Only very recently have I “seen" that the heart of the word is in my own middle name, Lura. Luna. Moon-ray. Ramona breaks down to something like ray of earth (though it’s a town in “the Valley of the Sun”). Mon is both moon and monde. earth — the moon came out of earth’s side, is a rey, or rather reyas. Dictionaries say it means counsel-protection — no doubt from the warm rays of the sun. Obviously Ramon/Ramona is my Muse.
Sharon and George Doubiago, 1959. When George is transferred from Miramar to China Lake Naval Air Station in the Mojave Desert, 232 miles north of Ramona, he drives the 464 miles round trip every weekend he gets off.
"Words are erotic," there’s no getting around the warm moan every time you say Ramon, nor the hurrah! hurray! the whole cosmic range, moon and the sun. male and female in Ramona. Poets know the meaning of a word is carried in its sound — one’s name, for instance, is instruction from/to the soul to follow the story line in the sound. Whenever the issue of cutting California in half or quarters comes up. the name suggested for So Cal is often Ramona. Words are erotic, I argued with my publishers. To not use Ramona is to lose a true. dark, organic Southern California eroticism. But when someone’s soul and the actual facts have been at war. I have fictionalized Ramona to “Angel" — the singular out of this Land of Angelology, and an echo back to my ancestral Angel of Asheville. North Carolina.
Ramon and Sharon at Sadie Hawkins dance, 1955. He was born Raymond Rice, March 9, 1940, in San Diego, at the San Diego Naval Hospital in Balboa Park. His mother was Mojave. His father was white.
When Ramona Marie and I were neighbors in the Pomona-Ontario area, I'd bundle up my babies and drive what seemed then all night “the back way" to Ramona, but which really was only a two-and-a-half-hour nonstop journey. In those days I never stopped. In those days I was so afraid. That backcountry, through night canyons and arroyos, still so “occupied" by the spirit Mary Austin wrote of in Earth Horizon, “a lurking evasive Something — wistful, cruel, ardent, something that rustled and fled from pursuit, and when you turned from it, leaped suddenly and fastened onto your vitals."
Raquel Welch, 1959. Jim Welch quipped years later that "she never looked like that when I was married to her."
That Something the Egyptians called Ra; the Greeks called fauns, satyrs, Pan; and the French, the elan vital, and we, Spirit of Place, and I, Life Force. I didn’t know then that in the 19th Century that back road was the main road between Ramona and L.A. One trip, daytime, probably Thanksgiving or Christmas because of the clarity of the memory, as in the clarity of the air and light there in late fall, we were coming that back way, 79 through Warner’s, getting close to Santa Ysabel, when on a sharp turn, staring at us, stood an enormous white buffalo. This memory is so vivid, so fixed, that only now do I question it — a figment of my imagination? A dream image, an illusion? Or, most likely, an ordinary white cow (bull?). But when I told Danny of my Ramona project, he said right off. “Do you remember that white buffalo we saw?” This kind of thing will happen over and over while I’m there. I expect my memories, my personal myths, to prove to be just that, but amazingly, most of the “myths" will turn out to be. at the very least, verifiable.
When I loved the poet Michael Daley from Boston, he sometimes used the expression, to answer my questions that bugged him. “Go Helen Hunt it." He didn't know if it was related to the Massachusetts woman who wrote the famous novel Ramona, just that it is a common New England expression used to get around swearing. Go to hell and hunt it.
Find out who Helen Hunt Jackson really was.
Past Palomar, my alma mater, through San Marcos — following that teenage daughter of our Montiel Street Spanish land grant ancestor up the hill to her house, snarling, “I am Mexican. Not Indian " Following Ramon into the boulders, snarling, “I am Mojave. Not Mexican."
Through San Pasqual:
On November 16, 1835. Eighty-one desafiliados of the San Luis Rey Mission settled themselves in the San Pasqual valley, which was an appanage of that mission. [Helen Hunt Jackson, Glimpses of California and the Missions.]
I bet their ancestral land. And Alessandro and Ramona here in exile, Temecula having been seized by the Americans — “Thieves! Rapists! Murderers! — backed up by the guns of the sheriff of San Diego County. (San Diego County then extended to the Colorado River and included the current San Bernardino, Orange, and Riverside counties.)
Temecula is now just over the Riverside County line. San Pasqual is a long, narrow valley, “has hills all around like walls." [HHJ]. Ramona where they birthed their first daughter. Majell, now the City of San Diego where the wild animals are zooed. Past the battleground of the soldiers, the white crosses, one of them Kit Carson's — can this really be true? Past the big old barn that used to have JACK HALEY painted on it Under the eucalyptus grove that fell on that Mexican family in the high winds of 1961, the unknown-to-me dead young mother I grieved for so I thought I myself would die, over the Santa Ysabel Creek — “As Alessandro turned the horses into a faintly marked road leading in a northeasterly I direction. Ramona said with a sob. ' Where does this road lead. Alessandro*' “ [HHJ, Ramona]
Pamo. Mesa Grande.
And over there, over and beneath and through the Seventh-Day Adventist Academy, the Santa Maria Creek Canyon mouth that Carson and the US Army descended from Ramona the morning of December 6, 1846, the last important battle for the State of California — this I have seen since I was 12. Mama and I standing at the western window looking down on Montecito Ranch, seeing the army getting drunk, then Kit Carson leading them down the canyon to the Californios.
Armed with willow lancet, the horsemen who charged invading Americans at La Mesa and San Pasqual seemed to gallop out of the pages of a medieval Spanish romance... [their] clothing suggesting values quite opposite those of American black broadcloth ... knee breeches, long stockings. buckled shoes, sashes, embroidered vests, and queued hair.... Old Castilian court dress modified by association with savage life....
[Kevin Starr, America and the California Dream]
Now up dark twisting Clevenger Canyon. (Find out who Clevenger was.) “To the east and northeast lay ranges of high mountains, their tops lost in the clouds“ [HHJ, Ramona], the road I learned to drive on. Daddy screaming at me. past Judy Ferguson's — haven't seen her in 30 years — the road we saw the mountain lion on, returning from the fateful eighth-grade trip to the Ramona Pageant in Hemet, when we stopped to let Claudia off at Weekend Villa Road, this road Vicki. Daphne, and I could make in 13 minutes — can this be true?— dying every minute, every mile, guys we'd flirted with at the drive-ins in Escondido chasing us, the danger worth it not to encounter Daddy's wrath if I got home one half minute past curfew. 12:31 p.m.: grounded.
This "deserted' road hardly changed. Dark, both sides of the canyon, and on top, undeveloped still. Who owns this land? Funny, I've never thought to wonder — assuming, I guess, that it's Cleveland National Forest. Something now tells me this isn't true. Find out.
"Ramona lies in a hanging valley within a jeweled circle setting of rugged mountains.." [Ramona Fair program. 1957|
"Ramona: the geographical heart of San Diego County... on the Pacific Flyway of migratory birds.“ ["Ramona. The Valley of the Sun.” Ramona Chamber of Commerce, undated.]
Ramona. Their name: Pamo.
Ramona: land of the car wreck. I have lived in many remote small towns since, accessible only by two-lane mountain roads and occupied by wildly intense personalities — Ojai, Plainfield, Mendocino, Port Townsend, Ashland, Florence. I don’t know the statistics, but I know these towns do not have the car accidents or fatalities that Ramona has. Or had. Why?
Just thirty days after Father Serra planted the cross in front of the chapel [July 16, 1769], throngs of Indians armed with bows and arrows besieged the buildings.... During the night preceding the 4th of November. 1775. about one thousand pagans surrounded the mission They looted the sacristy and storehouse and then set fire to the buildings ... killing and mutilating Father Luis Jayme. [George Emanuels, California Indians, an Illustrated Guide]
... the rebellious neophyte, Francisco, "El Capitan de Cullamac," led the revolt. (Charles LeMenager. Ramona and Round About]
This was the only priest recorded in the history of California to be killed by Indians.... The most destructive of the tribes was the small but extremely well organized band living in what is now Pamo Valley_ During the Spanish times Pamo was refuge for Indians who feh no desire to be Christianized or Europeanized ... a hide-out seldom penetrated by travelers from the coast.
["A Short History of Valle de Pamo." Russell Bowen. Ramona Sentinel 10/15/70]
When we moved here, in 1954: the sense of moving into ruins. A silent, oppressive malaise lay over everything. Old shacks propped up against giant boulders. I was a suburban tract house kid from South Central LA. I thought it was the poverty. I thought it was the narrow-mindedness of the people. My spirit was trying to penetrate the past. William James defines religion or spirituality as "an attempt to be in harmony with an unseen order of things." But there was no past, no history to harmonize with. Now I think something awful happened here. Someone made sure this history and the unseen order of things could not be known.
Now this lit-up entrance to Ramona — containers and storage units stacked up in the Santa Maria Creek bed! — is as ugly as a computer screen.
The Santa Maria Valley is a highland basin, approximately six or seven miles in diameter, on the western slope of the Laguna Mountains in the Peninsular Ranges.... Faulting caused the southern block of the Peninsular Range to be broken into smaller blocks, tilted and uplifted Some of these blocks have been relatively depressed into valleys covered with residual soil and with granite hills rising above the surface remnants of the Quaternary peneplain. Ramona is situated on a plateau surface of this type; the surface of the Santa Maria Valley is formed by alluvium and decomposed granite, underlain by granite. [Lulu O'Neal. The History of Ramona. California and Environs]
I roll in, buy milk and pumpkin seeds at the 7-Eleven, pull the GRAN BAILE DF HALLOWEEN all in-Spanish poster from the telephone pole. Sabado 31 de octubre en Ramona, so beautiful, I hear your mission bells ringing ... cruise down my second oldest Main Street, find the old Del Nido Motel Julia Riley’s parents ran to be a complex of shops, and then the Ramona Hotel, an art gallery. Give up, check into the "new" Ramona Valley Inn.
Falling asleep, thinking of the men and women making love for eons, of the women giving birth, their babies crawling over the land, the unknown language spoken over it. Hearing the birds, the wildcats, the crazy blowing wind....
"Is there really a river that flows under Ramona?" the writer Victor Perera asked me in Virginia after reading my story “Ramon/Ramona." Find out. Find Ramon.
(In 1500 the world population is approximately 400 million, of whom 80 million inhabit the Americas. By the middle of the sixteenth century, out of these 80 million. there remain ten ...
If the word genocide has ever been applied to a situation with some accuracy, this is here the case. It constitutes a record not only in relative terms (a destruction on the order of 90 percent or more), but also in absolute terms, since we are speaking of a population diminution estimated at 70 million human lives.
None of the great massacres of the twentieth century can be compared to this hecatomb. [Tzvetan Todorov, The Conguest of America]
During the Mission period, from 1769 to 1854, about 80.000 Indians were baptized out of an estimated population of 350,000. More than half the converts died of European diseases that ravaged the native population.
[Kevin Leary, San Francisco Chronicle, 9/19/88]
[There were] ... more than eighty villages in prehistoric times throughout [present-day] San Diego County. .. [Then] ... eradication under the guise of democracy—
Pamo, as it was called by the Indians, found its name changed by the Spaniards to Valley de Pamo Santa Maria. meaning warm valley of St. Mary. Santa Maria was named after a woman whose reclining image the Spaniards thought they saw in the outline of two mountain peaks at the west end of the valley. The settlers of 1875 shortened the name to Santa Maria and gave the name of Nuevo, meaning new. to the small town that emerged in the middle of the valley. Nuevo was used until 1884 when a land speculator, Milton Santee, purchased 7000 acres in the southwestern area of the valley and changed the name to Ramona....
[Ramona Pioneer Historical Society brochure]
The Indian population in the state had declined from approximately 150,000 in 1845 to a low of 30,000 in 1870. According to an 1852 government report, the Mission Indians living in Tulare, Santa Barbara, Los Angeles, and San Diego Counties were estimated at about 15,000. Twenty years later their numbers had dropped to about 5,000. and in his 1881 annual report to the Indian Commissioner, Mission Agent S.S. Lawson estimated that the Indians under his charge numbered only 3010. [Mathes]
California was under Spanish rule 55 years, under Mexican rule 24.
Helen Maria Vinal Fiske Hunt Jackson was the first surviving child born to the Bostonian Deborah Vinal and the Calvinist theology and language professor Nathan Welby Fiske, in Amherst, Massachusetts, October 14, 1830 — the same small town and less than two months before the now most famous 19th-century American poet Emily Dickinson. Helen and Emily knew each other all their lives. Helen was a difficult — creative, rebellious nonconforming — child from birth. Her parents died of tuberculosis — her mother when she was 13, her father when she was 19. By her early 30s Helen had lost both her sons to illnesses. and her husband, the renowned Army physicist Edward Bissel Hunt (brother of the governor of New York when they married) to a freak accident (he suffocated in his invention, a submarine). It was the third death, her nine-year-old son Rennie (the day before Abraham Lincoln was assassinated), that catapulted her into something close to insane grief, and then, to writing.
She became associated with the intellectual/artist community of Newport, Rhode Island, then at the heart of 19th-century American letters. Through the influence and inspiration of this group — Emerson, Hawthorne, Longfellow, Harriet Beecher Stowe. Julia Ward Howe, Henry James, Edgar Allan Poe, William Cullen Bryant, John Greenleaf Whittier, Oliver Wendell Holmes, George Bancroft, Margaret Fuller, Sarah Woolsey, to name just a few — she began publishing poetry, stories, novels, essays, and travel articles and quickly became one of the best known American writers of her time.
Ralph Waldo Emerson repeatedly named Helen Hunt (who published as H.H., Saxe Holms, and other pen names until A Century of Dishonor) “the best woman poet in America"; a collection of her poems was known to always be in his breast pocket. As a fiction writer she used the only publishable form, now labeled “Women s Fiction." ("stories for young girls." one critic puts it). The extent of her travels and the quality of that writing — free of prescribed form — are impressive by today’s severest standards.
Daughters of Amherst College professors, Emily and Helen shared the Brahmin, high-puritanical, near-gothic, religious/intellectual air of Amherst; later they shared the same literary mentor and agent, the famous abolitionist and promoter of women writers, Thomas Wentworth Higginson. (Contrary to popular thought, it was Helen, not Higginson. who was responsible for the reclusive Dickinson’s first publication, one of seven in her life.)
(There is the controversial theory that it was Helen's husband. Edward Hunt, who was Dickinson's secret lover, her “mysterious renounced love.")
In 1879. at the age of 49, Jackson attended a talk in Boston by two Poncas, Chief Standing Bear and the young woman Bright Eyes, who were pleading for their tribe’s lost ancestral land and other sufferings. All her writing life Helen had declared that women-with-a-cause were "droll." As is evident in her early writing, she — the widow of an army man — was an educated racist and classist. She was even against the suffrage movement! But this night, she “was fired with the indignation that was to he the motivating factor in everything she did or said or thought or wrote for the rest of her life." [Ruth Odell, Helen Hunt Jackson] This instant transformation — conversion, really — has baffled the form-retarded critics ever since.
She researched, wrote, and published A Century of Dishonor, a detailed history of seven tribes, the Delaware, the Cheyenne, the Nez Perce, the Sioux, the Ponca, the Winnebago, the Cherokee. with focus on the broken U.S. treaties. In later editions her report on the San Diego Mission Indians is included. A Century of Dishonor is a study still regarded by Native American scholars “as one of the soundest and most exhaustive works on the subject." [Odell]
Upon publication, which she had bound in red to represent spilt blood and embossed with Benjamin Franklin's words "Look upon your hands! They are stained with the blood of your relations!" she sent copies, at her own expense, to each member of Congress, assuming it was innocent ignorance by the leaders of America that had allowed “plunderers, drifters, and murderers" to destroy Native American cultures. Her shock at their collective dismissal of the book became the motive and inspiration for writing the novel Ramona. To call immediate national and international attention to the destitution of Southern California Indians — specifically to tell what happened in Temecula and San Pasqual in hopes of preventing the same thing from happening in Soboba — she felt she had to write a book like her friend Harriet Beecher Stowe's Uncle Tom's Cabin: a love story.
“There is a grave danger of continued Indian massacres. If the U.S. Government does not take steps to avert this danger, the chapter of the Mission Indians will be the blackest one in the record of our dealings with the Indian race." [HHJ quoted in Evelyn Banning, Helen Hunt Jackson]
HHJ’s first visit to California was in 1872 with the writer Sarah Woolsey, culminating in an arduous month-long journey through the Sierras, mainly Yosemite and Lake Tahoe. They were lost and guideless part of the time. In 1881 Jackson was appointed “Special Commissioner of Indian Affairs to investigate the condition and needs of the California Mission Indians.. and what, if any, lands should be purchased for their use" — one of the tangible results of A Century of Dishonor. despite her despair that Congress “failed to pay any attention to the book...." [Odell]
She then made two extended journeys through California, researching and writing her “Report to the Commissioner of Indian Affairs" and taking notes for the visionary novel. (Ramona is visionary in its themes of the West, gender, mixed races, multicultures.) She visited both times the Indian villages (or former sites) of San Pasqual, Temecula, Cahuilla, Warner's Ranch, San Ysidro, Los Coyotes (Jackson was the first Indian commissioner to visit Los Coyotes), Santa Ysabel, Mesa Grande, Capitan Grande, Sycuan. Conejos, Pala, Pachanga, Paunia, Soboba, and others. Her extraordinary accounts of these visits — the second accompanied by her young secretary Abbot Kinney, who later founded, among other Southern California significances, the canal-artist city of Venice — will someday be regarded as California classics, required reading of every Southern California student.
Jackson wrote Ramona from December 1, 1883, to March 9, 1881 at “lightning white speed" in the Berkeley Hotel in New York City, “keeping up the whole time a militant correspondence on behalf of the Saboba Indians" and others, collapsing twice from the effort. “It racks me like a struggle with an outside power,"she wrote Higginson about the experience. [Banning]
Ramona was an instant success. First serialized in the Christian Union beginning in May 1884, it appeared in book form in November 1884 and sold 15,000 copies in the first year. Within months, the town of Nuevo was changed to Ramona.
Helen Hunt Jackson, then a resident of Colorado Springs, died of stomach cancer August 12, 1885, in San Francisco, nine months after Ramona's appearance. The great Sierra writer John Muir was at her door. Emily Dickinson wrote, “Helen of Troy will die, but Helen of Colorado, never. Dear Friend, can you walk, were the last words that I wrote her. Dear Friend, I can fly— her immortal (soaring) reply. One day more I am deified, was the only impression she ever left on any Heart (House) she entered. “ [Rosemary Whitaker, Helen Hunt Jackson]
Tuesday, November 3, 1992. The Elections of Our Lives.
In the a.m.. an old guy digging in the trash behind my room. I stand up out of the shower on the bathtub rim to watch him. Find Karoll.
In the motel office, coffee and “Free Papers." And a sealed mayonnaise jar with a black spider. No air holes. I pick it up.
"Oh." she says, blond. 30ish. “That’s left over from Halloween. Black widow."
It's small for a black widow. I don't see the red hourglass. Perhaps a male? Or a baby. Its long legs rearrange themselves. "Is that thing alive?" she asks.
“Yes. And that's a terrible way to die."
“Gotta get David to kill it."
“Please hurry," I say, feeling confused — do not black widows have a right to live? — and grab my free papers, two cups of coffee, plunge out into the incredible Grandmother of Jesus early morning winds, the incredible November light.
Reading last Thursday’s Ramona Sentinel, Serving the Valley of the Sun for 105 Years. Some things don't change — it 's still a quarter. “Santa Ana Means Fire Season!" "The Ramona Water Board ..." just like always, a controversy — Ramona became a town when the Santa Maria Land & Water Company was formed and they sold off lots. "Water Off For Man In Arrears* — he owes $100,000 on his water bill! (Let the avocados die, but send armed U.S. Marines into Somalia with food.)
Photo of Ian Page, from my sister’s class. I960: “Ramona High School Assistant Principal." “Sheriff Roache All But Deputizes Citizens For A Fight Against Crime" (turn the haves against the have-nots). “The El Cajon Border Patrol Station covers a 2,200 square-mile area and cannot always have as many officers in Ramona as needed." On nearly every page of the San Vicente News: ‘PLEASE DON’T HIRE MIGRANTS OFF COUNTRY ESTATES STREETS!" and “Border Patrol Warns: ‘Hire immigrants; lose your car.’"
Two of my nieces, my daughter, mi nieto, y mi sister, Donna, in her car outside the Escondido Mall in September, two days before the third family wedding: Donna running in. From the car they watch the guy approach her for money, watch her as she digs in her purse for it. My two beloved nieces, in their 20s. still mostly supported by their families, go crazy in protest. When Donna returns, they confront her. and she, wonderfully, explodes. "I WILL ALWAYS GIVE MONEY TO ANYONE WHO ASKS ME FOR IT!"
“Election News and Pitches": “There is a 21% registration advantage of Republicans over Democrats in the 75th Assembly District."... “It’s been fifty years since a resident of the unincorporated area of the County has represented the 2nd District on the County Board of Supervisors....
Taxes and fees keep going up. services and accountability keep going down....’
“Afternoon At The Castle — a pleasant place for society gatherings." The Castle, a major Ramona landmark, built into the boulder base of Mt. Woodson, was the home of my classmate, Pam Tippet. Her father had his dentist office there. "The Zodiac is painted on its ceiling ..." Amazing, that means I encountered astrology while still in high school!
“Whoooo Was — Or Will Be — In The McWhorter House?!?" A long Halloween feature on Jim and Margaret McWhorter’s house being haunted. Slowly as I read I realize I know the house and I know who!
“First day that it rained when we moved in here in ’62. the roof was leaking.* Iim said. “I went up in the attic. I had a flashlight and I was crawling along the floor. I found a hunch of rags that were real stiff." The rap were bloodstained.... (later.) “a young woman knocked on the door and asked if the could sec the house. She told me she used to live here. She went into the boys' bedroom, sat down on the bed and started crying. When she was a teenager, she disobeyed her father and went out to a dance When she came back, he’d had a heart attack and died in that bedroom." Jim didn't ask the woman's name, and she never returned to the house.
“FLORENE COLERICK!“ I shout to my motel walls. DECEASED it says now by her name on the reunion lists. Find out what happened to Florene.
But the story that gets me is the main headline of the Sentinel: “Endangered Oaks In Ramona Have Emotional Roots. Olive Pierce Middle School students planted three endangered oak trees last week as a living memorial to Cara Knott, who was found strangled by a California Highway patrolman in a canyon off Mercy Road three days after Christmas in 1986...."
Last year, as we pulled under the I-15 bypass, Kathi going into graphic detail how he pulled her off the freeway then strangled her.
"About 90 percent of the world's few surviving Engelmanns are in San Diego County, and many of them are in Ramona... A canopy grove of Engelmanns on Black Mountain is one of only two such areas in the world "
“Law enforcement is the occupation of sadomasochists," I said to my Mormon friend. Now from the TV: “Dodds in Washington State wants to be hung, because, he says, he hung the four-year-old boy." ‘Course no one's going to point but what we all know; hanging is sexually exciting for sadomasochists.
"This is the time of year that the Indians would normally gather acorns. .. *
Joe Sciarretta returns my call.
“Didn’t you think I’d know who Sharon Doubiago is? Have you gone back to Edens? Actually. I'd recognize Doubiago more than Edens."
Joe, from my class, is a lawyer in town. I tell him my project, “Ramona Now and Then."
“Are you going to mention Hemet, what happened to us in the eighth grade, when we went to the Ramona Pageant?"
- This is the primal story of my class!
Every Ramona eighth grade travels the 80 miles to Hemet on a Saturday in spring to view the outdoor Ramona Pageant in the Ramona Bowl. When our class went, a large percentage of the “Fifty-two" collectively shoplifted from the downtown stores. By the following Monday, most of the popular kids had been returned to Hemet with their stolen goods to face the merchants and to apologize. Though I didn't know the thievery was happening, a mortification in itself and confirmation that I was not one of the popular kids. I suffered the shock, the shame, the confusion of trying to understand how we could have done this.
“When I think of the old days, I think of Edens' Drive-In. Our social gathering place. For you. too? Not only because you met George Doubiago there, but. well, it wasn't exactly like pulling into Jack in the Box or McDonald's. There was a mystique connected to Edens', maybe you could say it was a little more spiritual."
I am both delighted and paranoid with this talk. Spiritual?— doesn’t seem like the Joe I know — though admittedly, I've never really known Joe. Now he's even remembering the Miramar sailors who were in the car with George the night we met our sophomore year! I'm sure he's heard how pissed I am at him.
That he wrote DECEASED by Ramon's name on the reunion list and then said he “just assumed it.”
That Ramon's name had never been on the list before.
It felt kind of like an old high school prank, the old Joe from high school. I changed my plans, didn’t go to the reunion. Always the stories that Ramon's dead. Find out. once and for all.
And the phone rings again. My good poet friend, Judith Roche in Seattle.
“Ramona?" she says. “Is it about the legend?"
“It's the source of the legend!"
Ramona. I Hear Your Mission Bells Ringing
"I saw Loretta Young in Ramona when I was 15 or 16 in Virginia. We sang the song in school. I always wanted to live there." [Mama]
It was 121 miles from 5903 Roosevelt. Hollydale (now South Gate, CA), to Ramona. February 13, 1954, by the old road, 101, El Camino Real, that first time we drove it in response to a want ad Mama found in the L.A. Times: 2 Bedroom House For Sale On 14 Acres. Sunporch. View. $11,500.
“I had always wanted to move, where I could see the sky. the mountains. Your dad thought we had the best of all worlds in Hollydale. But after his mother died in November, he went rabbit hunting out by Lake Elsinore with a couple of men from Douglas. He got lost, separated, spent the whole night in this canyon by himself. Walking, wandering around looking at the stars. He couldn‘t believe the stars, he had time to think, to reflect. He realized he wanted to see the stars. As soon as he said that. I jumped on it."
We drove up the hill from Olive Street, a blaze of color, California poppies, “a native acacia tree in yellow bloom, like fruit, so beautiful I couldn't believe it." A barn-red house, old but built in modern lines into the slanted hillside and boulders, windows all sides, a 365-degree view!
“Those furthest mountains, the purple ones, that’s Mexico." Mrs. Whitmore said. “And out this west window the Montecito Ranch, the old winery where Kit Carson and General Kearny's army camped and got drunk the night before descending the canyon to lose the battle to the Californios. The officers stayed at the Stokes place, but the bulk of the army was right here. The Lemurians live there now. They believe that Ramona is the surviving fragment of lost Lemuria. the continent of Muthat sank in the Pacific a million years ago with its advanced civilization. They believe that Ramona will be the last place on earth, the only place to survive the next apocalypse."
I'm in the seventh grade, my sister is in the sixth, my brother in the fourth. In two and a half months I will turn 13.
The first night in Ramona, six weeks later, a nightmare: my head fails off. rolls down the Hollydale dime store aisle between the legs of my mother, sister, and brother. Then I’m across the street watching the four of us come out of the store. Me walking headless in the loving arms of my family.
To move here is to forget, is to become a silent, headless ruin.
“The sign said Ramona, population 1159. Must have been the 1950 census — 1164. I always added the five of us whenever I drove past it. There were 158 kids in the high school, almost 500 in the grade school."
Last night, by freeway, it was approximately 130 miles, deducting my two side trips to Manhattan Reach and Hollywood. The Chamber of Commerce Fact Sheet. 2/20/92. says Population: 55,000.
Dust in the eyes, dust in the teeth, decomposed granite all over my little red car. So much light. And Daddy in the geraniums by the pool. Mama and Daddy to be ash in this wind. That woman who jumped to her death out of the helicopter over Ramona in the ’70s, Daddy and I both rushing to tell each other. Waving goodbye to her shocked pilot as she steps out, her birthday. Carrisozas across the street. Find out about Karoll's life and death. Who was Carrisoza? The Italian-Indian heritage of Southern California?
Past Iron Rose Welding, once I was married to a welder, bronze sculptor, rose maker. Second husband. A gifted young sculptor named Pygmalion was a woman-hater; he resolved to make the perfect woman. Past the Ramona Cleaners, where Erinn works, maybe looking up to see his Aunt Sharon passing by.
At the post office a black woman in front of me. Tall — taller than my five-feet-seven — classically beautiful, but obviously — I’m not sure why it’s obvious — a street person. She’s clean, looks almost scrubbed, wears all red — red sweatpants, red sweatshirt, red tennies. black wraparound sunglasses like I first wore when I last lived here, early ’60s.
"Your check from La Mesa has not come in," the woman clerk says, sternly.
She leaves. They laugh. “I told her yesterday, the day before and the day before that, it’s not here."
“It’s never coming," a man's voice in deepest scorn from the back. They sell me stamps of the homeless Mary and baby Jesus.
Out onto Main Street, against the wind, walking it like I used to, in bright light and flying eucalyptus, strands of the Grateful Dead from somewhere, “don't tell me this town ain’t got no heart." That’s right! "just got to poke around...." I marched it too, in blue sequins, white tasseled boots, twirled the baton and led the girls in the Ramona Turkey Day Parades.
The chartreuse Gran Baile and Ross Perot Wanted posters on every telephone pole — bet this town goes heavy for Perot. Conservative mavericks. Nothing quite like a Southern California redneck, so hip on the one hand, so ignorant on the other. Why? Past the Ramona Council of the Arts Unlimited — they run the Miss Ramona beauty contest! Past the window I painted the witch and black cat-on-her-broom flying past the moon in the eighth grade, para super noche de Halloween. Past the Democratic headquarters, the Republican headquarters, the Ross Perot headquarters, on this day, finally here, for which they all have worked so hard.
Past Riley's Cafe, or used to be. knotty pine lined with large black-and-white photos of the Ramona Pageant in Hemet, the long-haired Alessandro, the half-white Ramona, in their Indian costumes from the ‘20s, the ’30s, the ‘40s, the '50s. (“The Ramona Pageant has been staged annually 65 of the last 70 years in Hemet, ‘featuring a cast of 350.' [Los Angeles Times, 4/3/93.]
In 1910, Mary Pickford starred in D.W. Griffith's film, shot on location. Eighteen years later Dolores Del Rio portrayed Ramona with Warner Baxter as Alessandro. The movie also featured the 1927 hit song "Ramona *
The last adaptation of Jackson's novel was the 1936 Darryl Zanuck movie with Loretta Young and Don Ameche. [Mathes]
Past the hotel, now The Gallery.
Fourteen! My blue rhinestone choker Ramon gave me from Hemet, the coupon from the Sentinel: 99 cents. I walk from the drive-in down to the dilapidated, booze-smelling place, go up the flight of stairs, go into his little room. Sit on the bed before his camera.
Past Dr. de Cock's, his outrageous name no longer on the door. Past the barber shop — the sheared gold, brown, and black curls on the floor, Daddy, brother, boyfriends, husband, baby son. They look up. watch me stroll by, the barber, his customer, his waiting customer, just like always.
And at this corner, to the right, in a watchtower above the volunteer fire department, my little sister and Dorothy Hargraves watched for Russian planes carrying the nuclear bomb every Tuesday from 4:30 to 6.-00 p.m. for two years for the Civil Air PatroL And to the left, we both did Job's Daughters! And down there, one block, comer of 9th and D, remodeled but still there, then in a eucalyptus grove, Judy Ferguson did her nine months in 1961 alone. I'd drive past the one-room apartment at night, my baby boy in the seat beside me, my husband at his secret missile job in Sycamore Canyon and die die die for her. The only thing I could imagine worse than my situation was to be pregnant with no husband at all.
And here too: On the car hood with Shirlee. I am Homecoming Queen, so amazed they elected me, girl pariah of the class. We’re approaching Main, under the eucalyptus, when something happens, the warm engine purring beneath me. like approaching a stage, that opens me. Suddenly I feel the power. I am their Queen. The Queen of Home, Ramona, and all Returning, all the exiles who'er gone from here. (I can’t wait to go myself.)
I ride this feeling through the right-hand turn, onto Main Street, and down the field that night to the crowning when we beat Mountain Empire 95-0, and sporadically, in flashes, for a month or so later. A sense of responsibility. Shirlee has the flu. Puke-faced ash beneath her short red hair, sullen, not speaking to me. In the spring she becomes Miss Ramona. Miss Fairest of the Fair, and then, fourth runner-up in the Miss California contest. Then disappears for almost 30 years.
This last block of old town's been cleaned up. The apartments where Betty Hotbox lived, whose name is whispered among us in the showers and hissed by you when we hide in the hills, this town's heart was not always here. The Stokes Courts are completely gone, where Gae and Tiny first fucked. It went on for weeks, she told me every detail, my first learning of what goes on in marathon marital sex. I couldn't wait. But then our honeymoon drive across the country to New York in three days with 80-year-old Bessie Stokes and the three Tozers, my groom not even talking to me.
And then at 10th, the intersection of 78 and 67, look up and see the astonishing buff-white, ancient-rust hills of Olive Street — "now I understand your blondness,“ Celo said when I brought him here, "you are the color of Ramona."
This intersection where — I can't remember which boy’s mother — was decapitated that noon day we were in school. Riding the bus home past the stains. Stigmata.
Ha! In the newsstand in front of Woodward’s Market: The Ramona Sentinel: 50 cents This Issue! “Due to increased cost of production our single copy rate has been increased...."
El Ranchito Taco Shop
I sit here. 10th and Main, intersection of highways 67 and 78, like a dethroned queen: My father built this place! No one here knows or cares. I eat my burrito reading the newspaper Hispanos Unidos — Inmigre A Su Familia Hoy! — try to read the essay, “El mexicano, entre la vida y la muerte," with an epigraph from Nezahualcoyotl. 1472. Across the patio from me — did Daddy build this cement block wall? I think so — are gathered young Hispanic men — Indians. One is startlingly beautiful with very dark skin and sky-blue eyes, about 15. Hearing suddenly a Ramona niece's racist slur from years ago. Then seeing these guys going berserk as she walks by....
The view from this spot, all those years. From inside the drive-in I can see Ramon weaving down Main Street through the twilight eucalyptus. The same eucalyptus, but so many more people. The same three roads in and out of the valley, hut a zillion more cars.
Men's hands coming through the window. Long, big knuckled, hairy, beautiful fingers wrapping around a Pepsi, handing me money.
That first summer Doubi back from Japan, we're with Gae and Tiny in Tiny's ’54 Ford. Tiny! He was bigger than Doubi! Late Sunday night. High school boys start bombarding us with their hamburgers, malts, and fries, cursing, “Whores!“ “Sailors’" At first it's teasing, but then....
Peeling out of here. Terrified. No one's ever mentioned this since. I walk around the west side, studying my father’s carpentry. Beneath this orange enamel crap is virgin redwood! Discover his plywood storage box along the side. Amazing! In the Northwest it would be long gone, as he is.
The Reeds' house back here is — gone. And the pepper tree, so large: gone. Eucalyptus, oak. the Reeds, those little boys scampering everywhere under the windows, Nathan and Colin and Timothy and ...? Karoll, his 14-year-old hands through the service window, breaking and entering, Juvenile Hall tattoos up the left arm, copper flesh and muscle, telling me exactly how, with his right hand, he cut, jab by jab, the cross into the thin whitish pouch between the forefinger and thumb, with lines vibrating out.
Later, showing me the white scars of their removal, his probation woman trying to help him go straight, how he loved her, how much hope he had. He was so beautiful, the wounds subsumed into his beauty.
His white father around all the time, career Navy, his mother, always pregnant, Catholic. full-blooded Santa Ysabel — maybe Inaja? “The grandparents lived behind Brown Chevrolet when I was in high school. They were old. She talked the Inaja language. "Once I saw them together as sisters. Noreen Reed and Grace Carrisoza, at a baseball game on the Barona Reservation. Ooh-whoooh! Big faces like the granite boulders everywhere leaning against the glary car in shorts and halter tops, guzzling beer, laughing, so sensuous, so intently watching me walking up.
I was always careful not to look at Karoll. I would not aggress upon one so aggressed upon. I just expected him to be there, at the windows, sauntering down the alleys, always I was looking for him. I thought we would meet again. My brother through the years bringing me the news of him, you wouldn't recognize Karoll now, his hair is long, headband, thin gold-rimmed glasses. “Gone Indian."
Karoll's mother sitting under her big oak that time I pulled up in the late ‘70s. determined to overcome my passivity, find him. Propped in a chair, old blind fat Indian I don’t recognize her, I can‘t believe what's happening, so classically mystical. Indian medicine, as if she's been waiting for me these 20 years. A million lifetimes. “Sharon Edens,“ she says, in the clearest tone, staring at me. as I come from my car, the way the light flickers through the pointed leaves, swarm of photons through space, like a spell she's putting on me. “Karoll lives on the reservation now, he just got fed up. He can hunt year-round up there.“
And then, Paris, during the Gulf War. after Ryan was home. Karoll came to me so strong I cried and cried a flood of water all that day, realizing only then, only there, that Karoll and I missed each other in this life.
My fidelity to Ramon, then George, to anyone so aggressed upon. I’ve not cried since.
Edens' Heavenly Hamburgers
It was Paul Weldon's brilliant idea that we should open a hamburger stand. But Ramonans freaked when they got wind of our plans. Businesses do not last here. But. if you insist, rent one of the shacks between 9th and 10th. “That was the atmosphere, the mood of the town." Mama says. “Failure." We knew the folly of this, we intended a new building, a drive-in. Daddy designed it. The blue beauty of his blueprints laid out on the dining room table. He built it of redwood (the bluest of trees). Construction was started in the spring of 1955. All summer we made trips back and forth to L.A.. checking out the hamburger stands. McDonald's, on Florence and Lakewood, in Downey near his parents' graves. I sat in the back of our ’53 Ford pondering what golden arches have to do with hamburgers, and who counted each one.
“It was Mary's, a little hole-in-the-wall in Escondido, that we got our recipe from. She made the best hamburgers of all the places we tried. She grilled the onions. After flipping the patty over, pile high with raw onions, then steam with top of bun box. This is the reason you could smell us all over town: and why my parents quit going to church — they couldn’t get the smell of grilled onions out of their clothes, hair, pores of their skin.
We opened on a Saturday. August 5, 1955. The family joke has been ever since that I was worried no one would show up.
The jukebox! There’s not one here now. Saved my life, then, forever, working to all the great '50s tunes, sha-doubie doub.... Music so new. so real, it knocked your breath out.
Which is, literally, what happened to my mother. "Little Richard gave me TB." she used to say. Screaming "Tutti Frutti!" Which is how Edens' Heavenly Hamburgers ended.“ 'Keep aknockin, butcha can't come in!" I’ve never eaten a hamburger since.” Whap bob a doo lop, Li’l Richard was the most played record on the jukebox. (They stayed on the box by the number of times they were played.) Six years later Li'l Richard was still screaming out to the terminus of Highway 67 wop bop a loom wa! Belop bam boom! And a great giggle in his ooohh! Flying to the eucalyptus, 78 to Julian.
4:15: Walking back from the library against the wind through the huge luminous white trunks and traffic, stepping over the downed branches and leaves and caps and shredded bark. Porky Carrisoza hit one of these eucalyptus so hard “there was nothing left of him."
Typically, I couldn’t stay in the library, I don’t know why. Claustrophobia. But there’s a purple-and white Ramona crystal in there on display that measures two feet across and 18 inches up, a foot-deep hollow inside. Find out about it! Crystals preserve a history of how everything is connected.
But now walking in this wind. I fear Christy driving by, seeing me.
His name was Arnold. Germanic for “eagle power.“
Instead of Voting I Write a Story
If the polls are right and we elect Bill Clinton, it will be because Americans don’t think they're making enough money.... Bill Clinton knows this, they say, and he's going to try to fix it to more people make more money.
What does this mean at this moment in world history? It means that now the liberals join the conservatives in a re-dedication to retaining our grasp on a standard of living that dooms the rest of the world to drastic imbalances. North Americans are less than 6 percent of the world's population, and we consume more than 90 percent of the world’s resources — roughly 10 times more per person than is fair. When you factor Europe and Japan into this, you have roughly 15 percent of the population consuming roughly 90 percent of the resources. This imbalance causes chaos and suffering in the Third World beyond our capacity to imagine.
Drastically imbalanced, threatened peoples always overpopulate — Africa, the Americas and most of Asia did not have overpopulation before contact with the West. CNN reports that, at the present rate, world population will have doubled by 2090. That means 10 billion people, most of them grotesquely poor, drowning in their own waste: and it means the end of wilderness and wild creatures everywhere....
Nothing can alter this but a fair distribution of bask resources. And that cannot be accomplished while the United States keeps its present standard of living — or keeps even half its present standard of living.
The difference between a liberal and a radical is this: a liberal wants American civilization to continue at least at its present level, no matter what the cost to the rest of the world.... A radical doesn't. A radical can't vote for Bill Clinton....
If I vote tor Clinton. I'll be ashamed before the world If I don’t. I’ll be ashamed before my country....
[Michael Ventura, L.A. Weekly, 10/30/92]
The first and last time I ever voted mainstream was in 1964. Washing dishes in the Pomona apartment, tears of rage as Goldwater gives his racist acceptance speech at the Republican National (Convention. (In 1960 I was too young to vote, but like Jacqueline Kennedv. I was pregnant.) In 1968 I voted for Eldridge Cleaver, Reiz Tijerina, and the new Peace and Freedom Party I helped to organize. I was going to vote for Carter in 1976 just because he was from the South, that defeated, despised, depressed nation of my parents, and because he'd quoted Bob Dylan in his acceptance speech at the convention — I was by then far beyond taking the American elections seriously — but I got waylaid on my way to the polls in Mendocino.
I was going to vote in 1980, the idea of California's Ronald Reagan that horrifyingly serious to me, but Carter ceded to him three hours before the polls closed in Washington. What did we matter, we Westerners? At the Sea Galley where I worked in Port Townsend, the on-duty bartender kept switching from the returns to the movie The Deer Hunter, one of the hippest choreographies I’ve ever experienced. Vietnam and our screwed-up. immigrant hunter values. We cried in our beer trying to imagine what President Reagan was going to mean. We did not cry hard enough.
In 1984 I was considering the compromise again, was on my way to vote at 5:00 p.m. — they’d promised not to announce the winners this time until the polls closed in the West — when I encountered a sobbing friend. “I can’t believe it, Reagan s been re-elected!" Her sobs were from having to swallow that Americans are greedy, blind, hateful, stupid, selfish, racist, and sexist — hard for a working-class girl who loves the people. I went back to my trailer parked behind her house, and as the Chinook wind raged through the tall firs, wrote the story “Soon I Shall Be Released," about how I got waylaid by tears of rage on the way to the polls in Mendocino the Bicentennial year.
Every election year I have to fight the prejudice that I’m a bad American for not voting. “Democracy?" I say. “The only choice I have ever been given is to vote for the lesser of two evils — a betrayal of my country. I write a story instead, for a book in progress. The Elections of Our Lives. This is how I vote."
But this year, 1992, I voted, by absentee ballot, and voted mainstream, even though Iast spring I swore I would never, not ever vote for Bill Clinton. But by fall, with all my travels across the country, seeing how bad things really are. when Jann Wenner of Rolling Stone said vote for the kids, otherwise a whole generation is down the tubes, I said, yeah, that's true, that's my kids, I voted for the kids.
The Election of 1992: Bar-hopping in Ramona — D’ Carlo’s
D' Carlo’s is owned and managed by Carl and Lin Carnevalle. RHS, 1960. Carl and Lin stranded out in his car in the cold dark winter nights of '58-’S9 while I run the drive-in because Mama's in the TB sanitarium. They are only juniors and she is pregnant, but they are surprisingly open about it. They sit out there hour after hour till closing trying to figure out what to do. Or, maybe, they can't go home. I haven’t seen them since then.
4:30: Two screens, a small one over the bar, a big one behind us. Rodeo stars smiling and broncoing from the walls, mainly Casey Tibbs, with whom President Ford's son pal’d when he had horses out at Country Estates. Every stool is taken by mostly tired, burnt, beer-drinking men of my generation. Workers. The returns are beginning to come in. Clinton's taken New Hampshire, Vermont, and a third state I don’t get. Bush is ahead in Indiana.
A sudden gust slams into D'Carlo's, but there's a sudden stillness in here. As if we know from this first news who's our next president. They are not happy about it. They’re pulling their prescription bottles from their pockets, offering to exchange with each other, francs, uppers, downers, explaining the side effects. There's nothing like a Southern CaIifornia redneck, so hip, so screwed. The bartender switches to Oprah!
Now as the news returns — there'll be no escaping this story tonight — their little bottles are neatly lined up on the bar. unmistakably an altar.
"At 5:00 p.m., unusual turnout. The polls have closed back east. With 25 states reporting. Clinton has 25 electoral votes. Bush has 12. The magic 270 could be reached before California closes."
“Roosevelt. 1944, was the last Democrat to carry San Diego County."
“Why?" I mumble, emphatically.
“In 1988. 60 percent of San Diego voted for George Bush."
"Why?" I sip my wine. Why is Ramona so rightist? “Don’t you remember, Sharon, you were the only Democrat in your class?" my mother said recently. I couldn't have been the only one — that was true of my second-grade class — but her words were a revelation. As politically conscious as I am, I had never "gotten" my hometown and my painful past in terms of politics.
Surely Vicki Raymond was a Democrat. The O’Doul's-drinking, bearded, long-hair sitting absolutely still on my left asks me if I’m a writer. He's a writer, too, for the Naval Janitorial Service Organization. “It’s jobs," he says. “Everyone in San Diego is dependent on the military, one way or another."
The five prescription-carriers on my right voted Perot.
“See my hat?" The one on the comer gestures to me. then it. VIETNAM VETERAN, I'M PROUD OF IT. And stuck in it. the button: I VOTED.
“I have three Purple Hearts, one Bronze Star, and I served four years, 1974 to 1978, in the Iowa state legislature as a Democrat But even so, I could not vote for Clinton. I like Clinton, but still, I could not vote for him. Nor could I vote for Bush because of Quayle, who also didn’t go. I have 17-, 18-year-old kids. I’m military.
I don't even care for the military, but I am. So are all of us sitting here. And so how could I vote for a president in charge of the troops who wouldn’t serve in the troops?"
I ask him his name. “Terence Clancy. Irish, you can tell. My first cousin is — you're a writer, you should know — Tom Clancy, who wrote The Hunt for Red October." He explains that he got into the legislature as a pawn of the Republicans, who backed him knowing that after Watergate they'd come bounding back.
“Stockdale." he says, “may be dyslexic, but he addressed the one issue better than any other candidate, a woman's body is her decision. He said, 'We can’t get into this, let’s go on.' "
The writer on my left says, “It doesn't matter who wins, nothing's really gonna change. I wouldn't mind Perot, but, Jesus, he might get mad, change his mind again."
He gets up to leave. "Line-dancing lessons at the Teepee. Interested?"
“Yeah, maybe. In a while."
In June, after Christy and Barry's wedding in El Cajon, I came up here, came in here. In her wedding gown (in his Marine uniform) she is telling me how to take the Barona Indian Reservation road out of Lakeside, the only way she comes. I used to take it from San Diego State in the '60s, but it'd been so long and there are so many new roads and freeways and towns on that end, she had to direct me.
Perot had withdrawn from the race, meaningless to me since I hadn't tuned in to the circus yet. But there was a silver-haired man sitting at the opposite end of the bar. hand to his mouth, heavy-lidded, looking very dejected, in a deep sorrowing trance. A typical Ramonan, I thought, a total kinesthetic. The only other person in here was a glass blower with whom I had a great conversation. "There's more gold and precious jewels mined between Ramona and Julian than anywhere south of the Mother Lode. Now you tell me why."
Then. nodding down the bar. he says, “That's the guy who would have been Perot’s running mare if he hadn't quit. "
So I tell this story now, how I saw Stockdale in here in June. How I've been all over the country since, seeing him everywhere in the media, but it was only after the debates in Virginia. where, to me, he spoke beautifully, poetically, that I realized that it was the guy drinking in D' Cario’s.
“Really? He was in here?" “Yeah, it was in the Sentinel. ‘Retired Vice Admiral James Stockdale In Town,' speaking to some group or other."
But. like always, like the myths I'm here to run down. I doubt myself. At first I didn't recognize him in the Richmond debates, which I saw with a bunch of high-class, articulate, intellectual artists. New York Jews mostly, in Lynchburg, Virginia, but I loved him, through their hee-hawing. I mean I'm not talking about good politics or voting for him. I'm talking about soul. The guy has it. Yes, they said, it's because he was tortured as a P.O.W.
“Gore voted in Carthage, Tennessee. Quayle voted in Bloomington" — the guy says Idaho, but it has to be Indiana — "Bush in Houston. Clinton took his daughter into the booth with him in Little Rock." (Is this legal?) — Little Rock. Fall 1958, my senior year in Ramona High School. Federal troops brought in to desegregate the schools. The girl escorted through faces and guns of hate— "Perot in Dallas, and Stockdale voted in Coronado."
“Yeah, he lives here."
"Well, then that's why he can't talk. Most Southern Californians, especially San Diegans, especially Ramonans, are nonverbal. It's a statistical fact, there are more dyslexics here than anywhere on the planet. No one knows why. The Santana blowing the words back down our throats, all those boulders, negative ions? All the precious jewels, crystal overdose, chemical erosion, the earth moving under our feet."
"The weather hasn't held the voters back." the TV stops me.
Is there a more ignorant prejudice than the one against those who aren't facile-talking? The Indians say the white man talks crooked. I could teach Stockdale some very simple exercises and he'd talk straight, but not lose contact with his soul. “The Santa Ana, or the Santana, if you prefer...." Wow! this is the first time I've ever heard that correction, officially. “These hot desert winds out of Four Corners — today is the first day of skiing at Colorado resorts. The temperature in San Diego at 5:30 is 79 degrees. ”
The five Perot voters on my right are paying up. pocketing their drugs.
“Room 209, Ramona Valley Inn," Clancy announces. Then to me. “Come on by. A few beers, watch the suckers come in. The Turkey? Don’t go in there. Trouble for sure."
Now, the inevitable: I’m feeling sorry for Bush, the man for whom I have least feeling (except negative) of any human on earth. He who caused the Gulf War, killing 200,000 young men in the final 48 hours and untold Iraqis since. He who hypnotized the world: this is good. A lot of shrugs, low eyes, the anchormen. A loss of energy in the voice of Peter Jennings. In all of them. Showing their colors. Or maybe like me. just simple human compassion. I feel for the loser, no matter who.
“He's in his room," Ted Koppel is saying from Little Rock.
He keeps coming on to me. Tall. dark, maybe 30. my son's age. a truck driver. He doesn't take no for an answer. Do I party? He knows I do. Says something about my making money on the side. I begin to feel the mean edge.
6:00 p.m.: On the big screen. Clinton up close, bigger than I've ever seen him. C.an see his disease. I can almost name his medication.
“The Turkey?" the bartender says to me. concerned. “Look. There’s a Cheers bar two miles out of town, on 67. Better to go there." She sort of glares this at me.
“If I voted." guy on the last stool is saying paradoxically as I leave. “I sure would have voted for Perot before Bush."
“Me, too!" I laugh. To the north. Mesa Grande, Palomar Mountain. Cuyamaca under starlight rinsing off the raw. the burnt, the hurt, the cynicism, that creep’s plan to buy me. Then, remembering. I did vote. I’m a '60s radical come home!
I walk the line of blowing eucalypti blue gum. the blinding car lights coming at me on 67, trying to figure how I became a radical and a poet from this town. Trying to remember the 1948 election of the second grade in Hollydale, the extreme weirdness in discovering “you’re the only one for Truman. Sharon Lura Edens." They already had the newspaper printed: DEWEY WINS!
The Naval Janitorial Services writer is here, one of the few in this place painted institutional green that's seen better days. "They’ve canceled the line-dance lesson. Only two showed."
Ross Perot is partying, "doing the right thing.“
"Alabama. 9 for Bush! Perot holding at 17 percent."
"There's a reason," the writer says, “he still has zillions of dollars."
The guy two stools down my other side says, "During the time I went from $30,000 a year to $5000, Perot made two million. I don't know how he can brag about it. I don't know why he's such a hero to the working man."
“He is 'known to tell the truth always,' but even some of his own reporters say he’s not the right person to be president. “ “He’s just delivering a message. “ "That’s all I'm doin'." “An electrifying presence."
"Yeah, he ran credit checks on all the other people, fuck him."
" He said terrorists were running across his lawn."
“There'll be no slow dancing here tonight." the little man who’s all ears gloats. “Now. for you!" He points to us: “ ‘When the Saints Co Marching In!’ This is just what you want! Play our campaign song Sam! Willie Nelson wrote it. ’I’m Crazy. ‘" Dancing with his women — wife, sisters, mothers, daughters. The cock crows. “We’ll keep going as long as you want to." It's not me that's running this. It's you. I'm just a helpless kitten in your hands. “I've still got time to kill, so how about 'Way Down Yonder in New Orleans,' that's where voodoo comes from! I’ve been your grain of sand in the oyster. The Ahmerican people have spoke. They have chosen Governor Clinton!"
Wow. I look around. No one seems to take notice. Ross Perot has said it.
As I leave, a woman at the end of the bar. bitter into her bitters, “I'll tell you, if I hadn't voted. I wouldn’t have."
Walking in the dark east wind — Truman! Three years after he dropped the Bombs. And this was called good — down the alley past Christy, my brother's beautiful daughter. I think Barry has left on his seven-month tour, sweet girl bride who took my letter of love, that I was going to get her the new book Feminism for Military Wives, as a curse on her wedding. "Why do you think they showed the fliers S&M porn films, Crystal, before they took off on the bombing raids!" Brad crawling across the Kuwait oil fields defusing the bombs so the troops could follow.
PEROT on the bumper sticker of his car!
A blessing, again, sweetheart, on you, your husband, your marriage.
Down Main Street, against the hot blasts. How painful the disillusionments that lead to third-party voting.
Then the losing, always losing.
A Daughter of Job
Approaching 9th. I see a light on in the Masonic Temple, the Star of David over the side door. Lodge #530. Daring myself. I climb the stairs, the same I climbed every other Tuesday for two, three years back then, up to the level where the queens still reign, their photos lining the wall since 1948. The drone of Eastern Stars carrying on the ritual in the inner sanctum comes through the walls.
The daughters of Job. Sadomasochism. Trying to prove under the pepper tree that we have no Catholics in our family tree. Getting in because our uncle in Tennessee. a man we'd met once, is a Mason. We were recruited — by who? Judy McDonald? I dug the mystery and music, getting out of the house at night, the sexy, silky white gowns — the cord twisted three times between the breasts (each twist symbolic for something), then back around the waist to dangle on the belly, between the thighs when you walked to the East, to the West, to the North, to the South, the piano playing, fulfilling the symbols, seeking the mysteries.
After a year or so I was voted as Honored Guard of the Door, meaning I was on the automatic two-year track to becoming Honored Queen. I quit then. I'd made the point, the rest just boring form. The pitch of the Eastern Stars suddenly rises. America and her cults! Job’s Daughters is a cult! (Which was why I dug it! Once the mystery was gone ....)
I find my sister in the row of queens, her photo the only one with a black background — leave it to us to do something oddball — her 16-year-old feet too spread out in front of her. And the time I fainted in there; oh. was there ever a more unhappy teenage girl than I?
I pick up a newsletter. WHO WERE THE FREEMASONS?
Flying back down the stairs to the dark windy 42nd Election of the American Night. I read aloud like ritual up Main Street the 14 presidents of the United States who were Freemasons.
The Turkey Inn
Crowded. Really packed. I take a seat on the bar corner between a black guy. an Indian, and a long-haired (to his waist) hippie. Some shuffling around the video game machine to make room for me. “Who ordered this turkey taco?“ the bartender screams.
8:10 p.m.: “San Diego-wide, with 13 percent reporting. Bush: 46 percent; Clinton: 31 percent; Perot: 20 percent."
Barbara and George come out. No one in here — maybe 70 people — could give a shit. The bartender turns the sound off. Just the Eagles standing on the comer in Winslow, Arizona.
The long-hair on my right is a Berkeley psych graduate who voted for Bush! “We're jumping out of the frying pan into the fire,” he says, shaking his mane. “Perot might have, could have, saved us."
The bartender, whose name is Sharon, comes over and turns up the sound, nodding at the four of us. So over the strains of "your lying eyes," Bush is making his speech. "I just called Clinton. We'll get behind this new president, we'll start up America. This is the majesty of the democratic system."
“Are you doing a paper on this?" the black guy asks me.
“Unprecedented." Bush is saying, if I read his lips correctly. “I'm talking of course about Jim Baker and ... with special emphasis on a woman named Barbara."
The young Indian — he looks about 15 — is very drunk. His face is classic, wrapped in a blue and white bandana head-band. His body is diminutive. Maybe five-two, maybe 90 pounds.
“I’m just a drunk Indian who can't read. So I don't vote. I’m sorry." He's a firefighter, just out of jail, never went to school. “A Mesa Grande Indian. I had to work for my grandmother."
I recognize the last name. 1880s: the children of this family were indentured slaves. I ask him about several families. “Their son got shot in the head. BAM! In Escondido for shooting up." He pushes the needle into the crook of his arm. "I'm sorry I can't read or write. I’m just a drunk Indian. Timmy Reed. Nathan? They all died in a car accident. Flew off Clevenger Canyon. BAM! Both their parents are still alive, though."
Beyond him a young woman, maybe Indian, is quietly sobbing.
I never find out who the black guy voted for — I’m afraid to ask and he doesn't offer — but he’s not drunk, he’s friendly and generous. "You notice not only am I the only black person in here but I’m the only person wearing a tie." He’s in finance, “grew up in Pebble Beach. California."
"What does that mean, finance. I mean, how do you spend your days?"
"I go into restaurants, K-marts, I tell them what they're doing wrong in terms of their profit. I tell them what to do."
"Are there many blacks in Ramona now?" Seeing the one family of the '50s. Bill Bower in Donna's class. She asked him to the Sadie Hawkins Day dance, the whole town flipped out. Daddy wouldn't let her go. His mother, the tennis teacher, I can see now was Indian too. There was also Archie Moore, the light-heavyweight champion of the world, with his training camp out by the Castle, but he was hardly a typical citizen.
"Oh," he says nonchalantly, chuckling deep in his chest, "there are a few." Then he is telling me about his $200,000 home on Ramona Street, his five-month old daughter who has changed his life.
I'm growing alarmed about the prospects of her growing up in racist Ramona — guy’s in bad denial. I think. Makes money , yeah, the means by which anyone can obtain class in America, and so money, in itself, seems moral, good. but.... What of knowing yourself in the mirror as the reflection of their hate?
But he is saying. "I'm already worried about how to teach my daughter how to have compassion for those less well-off than her. Her name is Reina.”
“That's hardly the problem." I start to object. But then I remember my nieces in the car at the Escondido Mall. And last August in Pacific Beach, before the first wedding, when that homeless guy tapped me on the shoulder for some money and I gave him a dollar and they all came down on me like buzzards, and as I'm screaming. “I WILL ALWAYS GIVE MONEY TO WHOEVER ASKS ME FOR IT, if I have it." somehow knowing in their collective jump that they've been TAUGHT this is the right way to handle the homeless problem, even as Robin starts to tell me do you know he's only going to buy booze with it? And I’m saying have a good one on me, even as the cops behind us are busting the guy for panhandling, putting him in the back seat, and I'm holding it to keep from screaming at them and bang arrested myself in front of my nieces and nephews and ruining the wedding — even then, really. I don't understand, and really, my disappointment. my despair is too great, my own flesh and blood brainwashed to fascism! Christians, all!
So then I'm grateful for this man, Ivan, for his wisdom, for being concerned, informing me, yes, I guess its true, you have to teach compassion for those less well-off than you. Though really I know it’s the other way around. You have to teach children to hate, to not feel compassion. It takes a lot to make a human being racist, sexist, fascist.
The TV is summing it up. "California appears to have two female senators Feinstein and Boxer."
I'm watching Clinton and Hillary, Gore and Tipper, and all of Arkansas going crazy. So many blonds, so many short skirts. Tipper, no doubt, would get hit on as a prostitute too in D'Carlo’s.
Has there ever been a bleached blond in the White House?
At the Ramona Valley Inn, the door to 209 is ajar, pickups pulled up. Inside 221 I grab my Gideon: “And in all the land were no women found as fair as the I daughters of Job. and their Father gave them inheritance among their brethren.”
I consider my voting for Clinton just about the most conservative thing I've done in my adult life. But here in Ramona. I‘m still a radical.
Arkansas, 1959: our honeymoon across the country with the Tozers and their old grandma, so alien, think I'll die for the heat and crickets, my heart that’s breaking for my groom who hasn't spoken to me since the wedding, his jokes and laughs, his carrying on with them, the dark swampy airs rising from every dismal crick, raped girls, hung black men....
Mississippi. 1964: the three Civil Rights guys missing. They drag the lake, pull up parts of 16 different female bodies, who are not "political,'' not important to the Cause, the three missing males.
San Diego, 1775: during this night, a thousand swarmed down out of here to repulse the Spaniards.
The Church, the Military, the landed Aristocracy/ “the harpies of civil power"
Francisco Ortega, a Spanish military officer, accompanied Junipero Serra and Caspar Portola to Monterey in 1769 — the expedition responsible for coastal California's Santa names — and is credited with being the European who discovered San Francisco Bay.
In March 1778 ... it was reported the people of Pamo were gating ready to attack the Spanish again, lose Francisco Ortega, commandant at the San Diego Presidio. sent a warning lo the Pamo rancheria. This message was met with contempt by their chief, Aaran.
Ortega followed by sending eight leather-jacketed soldiers under Sergeant Guillermo Carrillo, to enforce his warning. The Pamos had the help of four neighboring bands.
But the Indians were surprised by the soldiers, who killed two and burned several who refused to come out of a hut. The rest were flogged while 80 bows, 1500 arrows and a large number of clubs were confiscated.
The chiefs — Aaran, Aachil, Aalcuirin, and Taguagui — were convicted of having plotted to kill Christians and condemned to death by Ortega... [LeManager]
Bancroft [in History of California] says this is the first execution in California [O‘Neal]
His grandson, Don Joaquin Ortega, was born and raised at El Refugio, 20 miles north of Santa Barbara — the land granted to his grandfather by the king of Spain. In 1821, at the age of 20, he was married at Mission San Diego to Maria Pico, sister to Pio Pico, the last Mexican governor of California, and Andreas Pico, the future victorious leader of the Californios at San Pasqual.
Joaquin Ortega not only played a significant role as the first San Diego Mission administrator during the traumatic period [that followed Secularization Act of 1834) but was a major player in the territorial politics leading to it. From 1834 lo 1839, he was a member of the elite Alta California Disputacion. a seven member junta charged by Mexico City with legislative authority for the territory.... Like most political bodies, the Disputacion conducted much of its business in private. Joaquin served on such committees as Vacant lands, Colonization, and Industry and Agriculture....
Richard Henry Dana observed in 1836 that: “The priests have now no power ... and the great possessions of the missions are given over to be preyed upon by harpies of civil power, who are sent there in the capacity of administradores, to settle up the concerns; and who usually end, in a few years, by making themselves fortunes, and leaving their stewardships worse than they found them [LeMenager]
In 1839 Ortega was fired "as part of a sweeping reform effort by Governor Alvarado, who was moved by the many Indian complaints about conditions at the missions." But then in 1843 and 1844 he was granted, along with his son-in-law, Edward Stokes, Rancho Santa Ysabel and the Rancho Valle de Pamo, later renamed Valle de Santa Maria, by Governor Micheltorena. Ortega “served as major domo of the Mission San Luis Rey, 1843-5 [and] appropriated to himself nearly all the mission cattle ... left the Mission stripped bare, making an end of everything, even to the plates and cups." Eight years after California became a state, with San Diego as its first county, he served as a county supervisor for two one-year terms (1858-1860).
“During their sunset years. Don Joaquin and Dona Maria Casimira resided on the Rancho Santa Margarita and helped manage it for her brothers. Pio and Andres Pico. This rancho is now Camp Pendleton.- [LeMenager]
Edward Stokes, a British merchant sea captain, married into a Californio family by way of Joaquin Ortega and Maria Pico's eldest daughter, 19-year-old Maria de Refugio at San Diego Mission June 12, 1840. Then, as Don Eduardo, with Maria in tow, he took up residence in what is today Ramona and Santa Ysabel. developing vineyards, grazing horses, cattle, and sheep, maintaining his wife, birthing babies, and in more ways than one becoming the Euro-American Ramona prototype. “Stokes complained about his confinement on the ranch and referred to himself as a prisoner."
When Kearny’s army came through late 1846, Edward Stokes was living in the Santa Ysabel Asistencia chapel. He proclaimed himself a neutral, giving all the information he had — “rendering aid to the Americans," LeMenager puts it — on the military situation in San Diego, despite the fact that the very man who commanded the Mexican forces was no other than his wife's uncle, Andres Pico. Race, the pure blood, no doubt, is thicker than marriage, even land grants.
Stokes died suddenly of unknown causes two weeks after the Battle of San Pasqual. at a banquet table in Los Angeles. In June 1852 his widow, Refugio Stokes, age 31, with her three Santa Maria-Pamo-born sons, Alfredo (1840). Adolfo (1843), and Eduardo (1846), was remarried to the widower Agustin Olvera, Los Angeles County judge and grantee of Rancho Cuyamaca. which adjoined the Santa Maria and the Santa Ysabel. Refugio and her new husband, Don Agustin. raised their family, including the Stokes boys and Olvera’s three daughters from his former marriage, at the Olvera Street home in Los Angeles. Augustin Olvera is the man for whom the famous Olvera Street in Los Angeles is named.
For at least the first two decades of statehood, land titles and established rights to property throughout California were in chaos. Stokes's heirs were required to spend vast sums of money for Yankee lawyers and witnesses and for travel expenses to attend commission hearings in Sacramento. In the end — an exception to the rule for the original Spanish land grantees — Refugio Pico Ortega Stokes Olvera managed to preserve for her children the land rights in Ramona.
Wednesday, November 4, 1992, 7:30 a.m., Ramona Valley Inn, "For the first time since the ‘70s," Judith delights on the the phone, “there’s going to be sex in the White House." For the first time since 1964, California Democrats helped their party reclaim the White House by delivering California's electoral votes to Democratic Bill Clinton.
How contrary this is to the liberal California myth.
“There will be six women in the Senate."
Oh, brother, papa Job, what a landslide.
Getting my coffee, the spider undoing her legs. “David! you’re going to have to do something about this black widow!"
Do it yourself, lady. Out the door do it yourself, Sharon.
"Massive Setbacks In County Jolt GOP." For the first time since World War II, the county went Democratic in a presidential election. However “Ramona voters bucked the national trend by helping to elect Republicans to several local offices."
HOW DID RAMONA VOTE PRESIDENTlALLY?
Mama calls, tells me what I've heard since the early '70s, when Pete Wilson, now governor of California, was mayor of San Diego. “The county flooded Ramona with low-income properties. But the thing is, there's no work there and it's too far from San Diego to travel to work. The low-income people have to stay on welfare. The biggest mistake Ramona ever made was not incorporating. Your father worked so hard on that."
“Why didn't Ramona incorporate?"
"The old-timers, the ranchers, didn't want to lose their influence. It would have meant more taxes. Everyone thought Pete Wilson was a crook. Californians in Oregon of all persuasions are amazed he’s the governor."
Back in the office, black widow is gone. I get another cup of hot black water, drink to her.
Eleventh and E, the Ramona Baptist Church. Visiting there once with Mark and my kids, late ’60s. horrified by what they were teaching my brother's little kids. So, all these years later, in attendance every Sunday, what did I expect? Love. Not hate.
Past the old high school. Mission Revival, the architectural style credited to Helen Hunt Jackson, diagonal to the town because it was built by the WPA, to true north and south. You never get over high school, someone said.
I joined the Class of 1959 in April of the seventh grade. It already had the reputation of being the smartest, the hippest, most talented, athletic, good-looking, and wildest class of the entire school system. Three of the guys were said to have tested in the highest IQ range in California, not to mention outshining everyone in the five grades ahead of us. It seemed to me that many were also juvenile delinquents, alcoholics, and sex fiends.
“I’m surprised about the wound." Neil Walters wrote me last year, “that you call high school."
Well, they are my family, painfully dysfunctional, my tribe I’m exiled from, my lovers I'm separated from. For years they appeared in my dreams so regularly I finally understood them as archetypes: Mary Anne is the Virgin, "beautiful but frigid," it was always said; Chuck Tozer is early sudden death. Class of ‘56 — taking his family on our honeymoon to his Annapolis graduation, then disappearing as a first-year flier off North Island, his mother at the end of the pier for days, staring out to sea, waiting for him to return. Sometimes in the dreams I'm there too, waiting for my old friends to return. I've always wanted to write the psychic biography of the 52 of us.
High wide pepper trees, cacti higher and wider than the rock houses, boulder outcroppings— outrageous cacti. The Santa Maria empties, at San Pasqual, into the Santa Ysabel. which comes from a spring on Volcan Mountain, “one of the largest distinctive land masses in the County ... extending in a north-west direction from Banner Grade to the Santa Ysabel Valley" [LeMenager, Julian City and Cuyamaca County], becomes then, though dammed at Lake Hodges, the San Dieguito. The main places they lived, along its shores, on the natural climbs and descents of the canyons, why they’re called the San Dieguito Indians.
Sometimes I can only remember the heat — “In August 1955. there was one day when the needle went off the edge of the graph at 120 degrees at Horton Plaza and stayed off for several hours! ... A noteworthy drought. 1946-1973. “[Ruth Meyer, Some Highlights of the Natural History of San Diego]
And the grinding holes in the rock out the kitchen window.
I fell in love with Ramon that first summer between the seventh and eighth grades, a party at Florene Colerick’s house. The first story in my second book is of our two-year relationship. But though that writing feels a calling to the universe for him. I've not found out anything definite about him since the late ’70s. It's as if he's disappeared off the face of the earth.
Perhaps he has. But though I’ve heard a number of stories of his death, always by guns, none of them have proven true.
He was born Raymond Rice, March 9, 1940, in San Diego, at the San Diego Naval Hospital in Balboa Park. His mother was Mojave. His father was white — a sailor, I have to assume.
To the Mojaves, “half-breeds" were the greatest evil, worse than even whites. Ethnic purity, we rave now. From the perspective of a small desert tribe encountering the invading, raping whites, this is not hard to understand.
Ramon’s mother gave him up for adoption. But then five years later, at the end of the war, she had another son, Leon. Could she have raised him those five years? In my freshman scrapbook there are baby pictures — he gave me his baby pictures! In this one, he’s about 18 months, his legs spread, holding on tight to a white puppy with a black ear, in the back yard of what is surely a North Park, San Diego, California bungalow. Shadow of the top of a woman’s head, taking the picture. This one. taken that summer we met, is with his brother, who was living on the Santa Ysabel Reservation.
He was Ray Holt in Ramona. He's announcing he's going back to or will become, Ray Rice in the picture at Sharon Geck's party on Walnut Street in our freshman El Ano. Bonhomie! Cutting up. hysterical, but why is his foot in a cast?
Who was Holt? Who was Rice? What was his mother's name? On the map two small towns in the Mojave Desert, Holtville and Rice.
He moved to Ramona when he was seven, a foster child of the Reeves family. It was the Reeves policy to get rid of their foster kids when they turned 16. before they graduated — a remnant of the indentured slave system of Indian children. He always said they had him only for the farm work and the money the county paid them to keep him. He moved to San Diego at the end of our freshman year.
But he's in the class photo taken at the beginning of our junior year, standing next to Arnold. I had forgotten this. Where did he live?
Santa Ysabel Reservation with his brother and Ray Uphouse.
How do I know this?
He became a career army man.
How do I know this?
How could his mother give him up ...?
Go to Hell and Hunt It
"As early as 1772. Father Luis Jayme [the only California priest killed] bemoaned a series of rapes that took place in nearby coastal and inland villages. Jayme wrote that rapes and sexual abuse of native women was commonplace, although soldiers were repeatedly warned and punished. [Carrico]
"Acts of violence against Indians in San Diego took many forms... |T|he most violent ... and .. with the farthest reaching implications, was the rape of Indian girls and women. [Carrico]
"At San Pasqual. one Indian agent noted 'the practice of selling young girls to while men prevailed to an alarming extent at the Rancheria. [Carrico]
"The effects of sexual abuse through rape, prostitution, and short-term marriages [a common way for a white settler to acquire a tribe’s land, as happened in the case of Rancho Buena Vista, today’s Vista, California] are very difficult lo assess. American Indian cultures were devastated by venereal diseases, population decline, and the loss of self esteem. Competition among Indian males for the limited number of women caused jealousy, violence.... [Carrico]
"Section 3 of the 1850 statutes legalized the already widespread practice of whites assuming custody of Indian children." [Carrico]
Oh. just to know his mother’s name.
My parents came to California in a getaway car. Five men and Mama, the driver having shot and killed a friend in a prearranged midnight duel on the McCaysville bridge over the Ocoee River, the border between Tennessee and Georgia. They chewed bubblegum all the way / to plug the holes in the radiator. / to quiet the hunger pains.
Cecil Frederick Edens and Audrey Garnet Clarke shared one profound fact in common: both were from English and Scots-Irish families who came to America more than a hundred years before the Revolution, some members on both sides arriving as early as the 1620s. The Clarke men tended to marry Cherokee, Choctaw, Shawnee, and Seminole women, thus rooting the family in the most ancient American tree. Mama's grandfather’s great-grandfather was William Rogers Clark of the Lewis and Clark expedition and brother of George Rogers Clark, "Revolutionary general and conqueror of old Northwest." Daddy's seventh great-grandfather was John Hancock, the first signer of the Declaration of Independence.
The Civil War brought untold loss, infamy, and disintegration to these Southern families, and by the '20s, when Mama was a child, most of the surviving Clarkes and Simmonses were dead from the 1918 flu and the subsequent tuberculosis epidemic. The escape to California for her was the enormous escape from disease, from the class consciousness of Danville. Virginia, and from the grief of her orphanage. For Daddy, the baby of his large family, it was from starvation, the Ducktown copper miners having lost the strikes that lasted all of the '30s. They lost the strike. / When the killing was over / Grandpa/ was too old to work. / the hope of a pension gone.
It could be said, as they have always said, that the love of freedom (desperate), independence, and exploration was in their blood — that I, born in Long Beach, California, a year to the day they left Ducktown, Tennessee, was born to drive.
With their horses, they bridged unbelievable miles in their endless search for amusement. For the horse was a part of their lives. Children learned to ride as soon as they could walk, and from that time on spent most of their waking hours in the saddle. Walking was unheard of; a Californian’s first act in the morning was to saddle a horse which stood the day long at his front door, ready to be mounted even for a visit to a friend a few doors away. Everything was done on horseback: if a Mexican had to bring in firewood, he lassoed a bundle lo drag to his door, if he was driven to murder (a rare occurrence), he shunned knife or gun but would rope his victim and drag him to his death.
And what horsemen they were! They rode always at full gallop, no matter how short the distance, and if necessary could keep that speed up all day long.
A Californian thought nothing of riding 60 miles in a day. pausing every few miles to catch a fresh mount in some neighbor's field, releasing his worn beast to find its way back to its owner; gay young blades might ride all day at such a pace, dance all that night and day and through the next night, then ride home again at a furious gallop on the day following. [Ray Allen Hillington, The Far Western Frontier, 1830-1860]
For Mama, being able to drive was the essential key to a woman's freedom; nothing could match her incensed indignation, her loss of respect upon encountering a woman who didn’t have her license.
Daddy taught me, an emotionally blackmailing ordeal. No one ever needed to learn more than I.
I can't coordinate quickly enough the shifting of the gears with the footwork of the clutch — that precise place where it engages without jerking or revving — while simultaneously steering the hairpin curves up or down Clevenger Canyon, the hilly dirt Olive with its 90-degree turns at the tops, while he rages at me from the side that I want to drop the transmission just to get back at him. It's our most volatile, violent period. I am 12, 13 years old. The torturous lessons seem his main opportunity to pick a fight with me, they go on for years, 14. 15, until I get my license on my 16th birthday.
When they buy the new '57 two-tone sea-green Ford, they arrange for me to buy the old one. I make payments of $38 a month on the newly repainted two-tone baby-blue '53 four-door V-8 with dual pipes — cherrier than any car the boys have — until I sell it to Richard Smith the week before I marry.
And I’m off! “All you wanna do is drive around, drive. Sally, drive!" Flying out of the front door of the high school, engaging the clutch and gear in the acceleration to salvation, rapping my pipes and peeling out, leaving them in my dust, their puny rules, their obscene codes, their withered souls, Ritchie Valens screaming back at me. only the music saving my soul, only the road powerful enough to meet me, the tears blinding at high speed so that I learn to drive kinesthetically. feeling the asphalt, the dirt, the mountain, the canyon, only the speed clearing my eyes of the water that pours out, only the rock 'n' roll, only that flying down in the valleys, around the cliffs fast enough on the wind to catch the thing they are killing all the world in their evil they call good, to the places no one can see me, accuse me of the infinite things I have always been accused of, or think their nasty thoughts, or fudge me their condemnations, or tell me for my own good what I ought to do, what I am doing wrong, ha! If they could see me now taking this blind curve on the wrong side of the road and if I die I could care less, at least things will change, though I care about killing someone else enough to swerve out of their path in time and come to my senses about that. It is Dick Bray, my sailor friend from Indianapolis who teaches me how the Indie drivers take the curves — by speeding up when you're halfway into them.
When George is transferred from Miramar to “sea duty" at China Lake Naval Air Station in the Mojave Desert, 232 miles north of Ramona, he drives the 464 miles round trip every weekend he gets off, a testimony of his great love for me he writes in his long beautiful daily letters — our correspondence the origins of my writing — but developing in those almost two years when we are not allowed to see each other his own relationship to Ramona that by the wedding takes precedence over me.
Several times, when he has duty, I dare to secretly drive to dry China Lake by myself, steep convoluted 395 north out of Escondido, where, in three years, another (former) Sharon Edens of San Diego will drive off and be killed on her honeymoon, through Temecula, beneath Mt. San Jacinto, Riverside, San Bernardino, high over Cajon Pass, down into the Mojave, turning northwest at the bottom, having convinced my parents that I'm overnight at a girlfriend's. Finding him on the base, coming and coming for a half-hour, sea duty — orgasm will always seem a breakout from the prisons women are put in — then racing back, the second half of the eight-hour night journey to heat the sun. driving at high speeds alone into time warps, parallel worlds, the endless line of Giants marching the power lines across to civilization, to George's and Edwards Air Force bases, the rock and roll from Tijuana and Salt Lake City, 100,000 watts of power, the happiest, the highest, the most spiritual, the most meaningful all-night flying across the earth where no one (but my Love) has the slightest idea where I am and I drive beyond their junk, their small minds and big laws until I can think for myself. Sharon Lura Edens. Until I encounter my Self before and beyond all names.
And arrive back, up and across 395 to the sun rising over the Fault of San Andreas. 78 to Ramona, into Valle de Pamo into the Santa Maria Valley into the Valley of the Sun.
Out 67, past Stephen Leulf's, his mother advising me not to tell anyone "Doubiago" is Russian. Now, he’s a Republican representative in ... Arkansas!
Up Mt. Woodson. Rockhouse Road. The purple land. Flashes of old domestic violence in those houses, guys in my class, somehow I knew it even back then, their fathers beat them. though you couldn't say such words, one didn't violate the privacy of a man's home, though his brutal energy lingers still.
One night I'm stopped on my way to China Lake, just three miles out of Ramona, approaching Clevenger Canyon going 90 mph.
"Instead of a ticket, Sharon Edens, I am going back to Edens’ right now and report you to your father."
I creep down to Judy Ferguson's, where I've told them I’m staying, hopeful for at least the night's reprieve.
My mother has always said teenagers are crazy; it must be hormonal; she can't believe now some of the things she did as a teenager.
Teenagers are “crazy," but not because of hormones. They are crazy for the heinous task of becoming “adult," of having to fit themselves into the evil of society.
The blackmailing parental rules set up the dangerous scenario; the child must disobey. This is the most simple of wisdoms; and parent who denies it is lying.
POWAY CITY LIMITS. Way up here? No way!
In the 40s San Diego needed more water. San Vicente dam was built where Fosters use to be. San Diego joined the Metropolitan Water District, which has immense aqueducts from Havasu Lake on the Colorado River. San Diego aqueducts were built by MWD, emptying into San Vicente. The San Diego ducts pass through Poway. In '58 the Ramona Municipal Water District was formed; it joined the San Diego County Water Authority and the MWD. A reservoir was built at Mount Woodson; a pipeline from Poway to lift the water to higher elevation and distribution lines over an extended area were installed. [Bowen]
How well I remember that. There are movies Sam made of the dam. the first water pouring in. There are pictures of us up there while they're building it, in El Ano.
Incredible expanse of ocean! The entire San Diego County coastline!
Beyond that ridge. Sycamore Canyon where my young husband worked on the Apollo. And couldn't speak.
Miramar October 4. 1957: Driving back from San Diego where we've secretly bought our wedding rings, 395 past his base, the news breaks the rock and roll: The Soviet Union has sent Sputnik into space.
San Diego, 1966: Lanny's husband — Bill Fouch? — is San Diego’s premier six o’clock news anchorman. My sister brings me to their apartment, and Richard Smith's here, four people that I lost, but I am dysfunctioning forever in the carnage running across the screen of my mind and his body and soul in whom I am knowing evil, like Germany's. “The news comes in on the wires from Vietnam. My station censors it.”
"I thought this country was based on freedom of the press."
"So did I."
Mix of that innocence the child brings to the world, then what "the world" teaches it. “You want to eat?" So you cave in — as we cave in to speaking correctly. To learning our manners. To controlling our body functions.
Coming back, the Poway Road sign on 15, old 395, doesn’t even say Ramona. There's still prejudice against Ramona. Why?
Friday night in November 1957. Sputnik II carrying a Iive dog launched and George transferring to China Lake to work on the Sidewinder. Daddy and Sam catch us making out on the living room floor. Did he come, Sharon, did he come?" Daddy screaming at me locked in the bathroom where I’ve barely escaped. “Did he come inside you?” The first time I hear that term, as sickening as my terror and humiliation and not knowing where my Love has fled. It's still the most painful memory; l've never been able to speak of it. I'm grounded for months; for months my parents confronting me about it. We are forbidden to ever see each other again.
And so until I graduate we have to do so secretly, parked in our cars out in the hills and boulders.
Now the setting sun on the eastern hills turns them gold and pink — the boulders pink, the sage a rosy brown. Traffic! The boulders on Mt. Woodson are really ... awesome. They must have had a whole mythology about the rocks. Do they contain their souls like the stacks on the coast? Now stopped at Poway Road and 67: the two sides right in front of me are almost opposites. On the right side: long low slung granite slabs, as if volcanic, poured out. On the left: huge round boulders. As if risen up.
San Diego State. 1965. my geology professor: “To tell the truth, no one really understands the boulders in the Ramona area. ”
1992, still: “the least known and the most poorly understood of... rocks...” [Meyer]
"The rock Indians," some still call them.
“The girl up in the rocks, ” the sailors used to call me.
The Garden of Edens' Boulders. my parents' real estate company was known as in LA. Daddy's stories of being lost out in the rocks trying to find the survey lines.
What is their name for Mount Woodson? Oh. find it. I bet it's worthy of it!
The Santana clearness of the mountains, range behind range.
The Lemurian Fellowship Closed to Visitors. But Mark and I visited. mid-70s, given the tour. Sixty acres, a correspondence school, mainly black students in Africa — “they need to learn."
Past EI Rancho Wino. the memorial IN MEMORY OF AMERICANS WHO DIED IN VIETNAM FROM RAMONA. ("Contact John Schwaesdall. he saw Platoon and was so affected he built the memorial himself.")
Descend into the Santa Maria Valley, all the world aglow with the gold and red sunset, past old Bulldog Hall where we danced every Friday and Saturday, the Quonset hut now Piston Hay & Grain.
Couts kept a thorough diary describing the Santa Maria Valley in 1849 when he led the military escort protecting the party of the U.S. Boundary Commission. “From Santa Monica (El Cajon today) to this place, Santa Maria, about 14 miles, the rood is very bad for wagons, and we have been four days of hard work getting through." [LeMenager]
No wonder I became a poet. I grew up expecting such sunsets daily!
From a Classmate Who Wishes to Remain Anonymous
People come up here for a lifestyle change. They don’t want to go to meetings. They want to build their own little castles. They don’t want to be bothered about incorporating "Ramona is unincorporated, so the ultimate destiny of the community is controlled by the San Diego County Board of Supervisors. It’s the best of a bad situation, to be unincorporated. If Ramona was incorporated, things you take for granted - road maintenance, police protection, planning and building permits, et cetera — we’d be responsible for. The thing is, there’s no tax base in Ramona, not a large enough one. If we incorporated we’d have to pay higher taxes. A bedroom community like Ramona can’t support itself. Ramona has not wanted to develop an industry, which you need.
"Poway, for instance, is incorporated. They have an entire mountain zoned industrial. San Marcos, when it incorporated, developed several large manufacturing companies, furniture, vending machines, et cetera. Ramona could attract clean industries, electronic firms, computer firms like Silicon Valley, but now, Sony isn’t going to come in here because the access is too hard. If Ramona never attracts industry, it won’t be able to incorporate.
"The unincorporated areas of San Diego County are Fall -brook, Pauma, Borrego, Julian, Warner Springs, Alpine, Ramona, and Valley Center.
"The only governing body we have is the Ramona Water District. It’s Ramona’s largest political entity. Under it. you have paramedics, ambulance service, water, parks and recreation, fire fighting — remember we used to have a volunteer fire department? - RWD, the Ramona Water District, is the only existing organization capable of managing this power.
"Low-income housing — it's subsidized, so those people gravitate here. This is how it works: the federal government gives local government money — funds — to establish low-income housing. If the local government doesn't use it. they lose it.
"The low-income housing properties are developed by private developers. Then the county gets property taxes from this housing they’ve constructed. So they need places, unincorporated areas like Ramona, to construct them. A significant portion of the rent comes from the county. say the county pays $250. the tenant $150. This means the developer-owner-landowner has a fixed cash income, he knows it won’t be late. So he’ll tend to keep lowering rents to fill the vacancies, there has to be a tenant in the facility for the landlord to get the money. All of this is good for the developer — there’s always a carrot, of course — Because after they’ve fulfilled their obligations to the county, they can sell for profit. The buildings revert back to the private sector.
“The low-income housing business doesn't go to Rancho Santa Fe because they have money to fight it. they have extreme wealth, they have clout, Joan Kroc. who owns McDonalds she’ll call her local congressman. 'We've donated this much to you, to here and here, to stop this....’ No one in Ramona has political clout.”
"These people get up here." his wife interjects, bitterly. “Then have no way of getting off welfare." Her bitterness is against the poor, not the political clout of the rich or the machinations of San Diego County.
"The low-housing population impacts the school system. Free lunches, free buses, free Head Start, free schools in summer. If the kids of the immigrant community are born here, they’re bilingual, but the parents don’t speak English. so of course they can’t work with them or the schools.
"They go to Palomar Hospital to have their babies. Drug babies. They don’t see a doctor till seven months, then all sorts of problems. They overburden Palomar. They go to North County Health Services for their health needs, to get their birth control."
"Throw it in the trash." his Catholic wife harrumphs.
"There’s been a large influx from Guatemala, they’re all related. We’re in a recession here, there’s a lot of empty low-income apartments...."
"Isn't that a contradiction?" I interrupt.
“No. They are privately owned, subsidized by the federal government. So they will allow two or three families in one apartment. landlords, because they can’t get the high rent now, would rather charge $800 a month with three families — rather than $500 a month for a single family.
“When we were in high school." he sighs — his parents immigrated here from Southern Europe in the ’40s — "the Mexicans were happy as blazes to be here. Now they're not so. You can see Mexicans congregating in large groups. If you ask the average Ramona citizen, they’ll say they resent them now. They’ll tell you they are here to sponge off the system. They’ll say this in much stronger terms. Both Lucky’s and Sun Valley Market got rid of their benches because of immigrant loitering. To survive, these people have to either suck the system or commit crimes.
"Contact the police department. San Diego County, they will tell you that over 50 percent of the crimes are committed by the immigrant community. They’d give you the statistics."
“So," I interject, "back to the incorporation issue. Ramona’s like a ward of the county." Like a great big welfare baby. I think to myself.
“Yes." he says, evidently not seeing his glaring contradiction in his argument that Ramona should continue to sponge off the county and his disdain for low-income people who sponge off the county. “You would have more control over your destiny. Now. people in San Diego are calling the shots on the way you live. But it doesn't make sense to incorporate if you don’t have the wherewithal to pay for services."
I ask about the undeveloped land on either side of Clevenger Canyon.
"Most of the undeveloped land mass is not owned by private owners, but corporations. Between here and the airport, all of Montecito, that area, James Cagney owned — the movie star. He sold it to Chevron. In all. there are four to five large-land-mass owners. Someday they hope to develop it. Drive out Highland Valley Road, the largest development of undeveloped land in Ramona — only two entities own it. Mirasol — massive land owned by one company. In a way. they were here in the ’50s, but they’ve become larger and larger. Go to Jim McWhorter. He was instrumental in the Cagney property. He had carte blanche in developing the acreage — he’d buy 20-. 30-acre parcels. Chevron has had a program for buying all of it. They were willing to buy 10 acres, if it fit into their program. It might be interesting follow one deal. Old McWhorter might be willing to tell all the inside scoop on how these things were done.
“Few people realize Chevron has a real estate department. And what’s scarier, someday they will develop it all. I have always felt that the Corps would rather see Ramona stay unincorporated. where they can pull their political clout with the San Diego Board of Supervisors rather than with a small, independent city. Take Miramar. The City of San Diego allowed them to put in those houses without schools, the amenities needed. The county is inclined to give greater density to an unincorporated area, because they don’t have to live here and because the more households the more money they get. Though now Ramona drains them a lot. and they’d just soon we incorporated."
You mean, get off welfare. While we talk, his wife looms dark and hostile over us and through the large house, taking care of the three children, sending him extremely pointed, menacing looks.
After a period of sexual abstinence, the American sailor came into a society where women as a matter of culture were uninhibited in language and manner and where all classes and types associated democratically with a sparse population. As a matter of class and race. American bourgeois travelers resented such mixing. Sexually anxious themselves, they resentfully called all California women whores. Significantly, they likened this alleged lack of virtue to bad politics. The California female, like California herself, was a tarnished prize, awaiting the saving grace of American possession.... [Starr]
In The Emigrant's Guide Lansford Hastings, who later served the Confederate government, indulged in ferocious racist abuse of California. Settlers guiding themselves overland with Hastings' book arrived inculcated with a racist mythology with which to justify hatred of the rightful owners of the lovely land they desired for their own. [Starr]
D’Carlo’s, 8:40 p.m.
The bartender’s brother is on a Greenpeace boat, the Solo, that’s trying to stop the 180,000 pounds of plutonium being shipped from Japan to France. The people in the town it’s to be dumped in contacted Greenpeace.
"What if it sinks?" she shrieks.
No one talks about the election results. So it goes in America. its media dramas. On to the next one.
Three fliers from Miramar come in. their T-shirts announcing who they are. So young, their brows so furrowed.
Glass of white wine instantly in front of me. "Bought for you by Mr. Cessna." Of the famous Cessna aircraft. He lives in Country Estates.
“There's a lot of money- in low-income housing," a guy named Ringcamp. whose son plays for the Texas Rangers organization, is saying. "A couple of my friends in Fallbrook made a fortune. There’s more money in it per square foot than private home building."
“No. I mean who? What are the names?"
"Stockholders. No one person benefits singly. Lots of people do," Mr. Cessna explains.
"But who’s the president of Chevron? Why is he not 'famous' for this? In People magazine*"
"I understand it." the guy on my right says. "But it’s not in my speech pattern yet."
“The Brown family money is Chevron." Ringcamp offers. After Pat retired as governor, he became an executive for Chevron."
"There’s a board of ten people. The corporate heads all are paid, say. $20,000 a meeting to meet eight times a year. All are employed by other corporations."
“La Costa, for instance, is Mafia, the land itself is owned by Chevron. La Costa itself was built on retirement funds from the AFL-CIO. which is Mafia. All those suckers' retirement funds."
"You mean, the workers who died didn't collect?"
“Was there ever a suit?"
"No. It's not called La Costa for nothing."
“Was Cagney Mafia?"
"Dunno, but those pretty flower nurseries in Leucadia, next to La Costa? All that's his."
Behind their heads the bronco champ Casey Tibbs tips his hat.
“Lemurian, too." someone from the other end says, "Isn't this what you all hate about communism? No central person, but vast secret powers, censorship, and riches?"
Before I leave I’ve told them what I'm writing. "Ramona. Now and Then." I can't deceive them, though I know this will change their openness to me.
“You're a bulldog!" Mr. Cessna gasps.
Midnight. Lucky Market
I get dressed, go back to the market for something, fragile from sleep, the lingering dream images.
A woman is sitting out front at a card table taking signatures for a petition to save the forests.
"We need some wilderness!" she snaps.
"Yes. I agree. Do you have any literature? I’m writing an article about the area."
She jerks from my eyes, turns halfway from me. starts counting aloud something on her petition.
“Well, could you tell me which forest it is?"
"Loo-ook!" Most angry, most hostile sigh. "I am very busy. The deadline is tomorrow. If you wanted to write an article about it, you should have done to earlier."
As I’m hurrying across the parking lot. trying to keep it together against the rejection and humiliation — several people standing around witnessed our exchange — she's shouting at my back, curses I feel raining off it.
I have sat at many petition tables outside of markets. I am giving my life to saving the forests and other endangered species. Right now, I could not possibly be mistaken for a prostitute or a floozy — my face devoid, like hers, of all makeup or day pretense. What is it that has so turned her off to me?
This kind of thing happened to me over and over when I was a young woman here. This kind of thing does not happen to me in other places. not even in L.A. At least not commonly.
Maybe she was a Lemurian.
Maybe I am.
At night from my bed I Looked down on their little cluster of lights. The Gateway. Always I could see Kit Carson leading his men through it.
The long-submerged continent of Mu occupied what is now the Pacific Ocean. Its northeast coast was North America's Continental Divide, including Baja California and Alaska. Its southwest coast is Australia's west coast today, its northwest all of the east coast of Asia. On this continent. 78,000 years go. thrived the Mukulian (Lemurian) Empire, the greatest civilization ever known. The great city of Hamakulia was its capital. Christ in his first incarnation as Melchisedek. was its centuries-long emperor. ’ Crime was a great rarity, 12,000 years passing before the first theft. The one problem that was never resolved was that of crimes of passion between men and women. Then, as today, the maturity of crimes against society were based upon the desire of men and women to appear masculinely or femininely great in the eyes of one another. Punishment for criminal behavior was harsh: the offender's family and neighbors were exiled with him to the outer limits of the continent, such as the Rhu Hut Plains of Incalia. now California. (Family left behind would naturally be resentful of the State.) After eons — this was the big mistake of Mu — the plains were greatly populated by the exiles, who warred on the Empire, corrupting the Lemurians. With the aid of the lords of Mercury and Venus the elders managed to move all their priceless records to prepared, solid granite archives under the Asiatic mainland. Then the Motherland of Mu succumbed to a series of terrible cataclysms and the vast continent submerged beneath the ocean.
Fifty thousand years later, a similar pattern manifested within the Atlantean Civilization. This time the Great Archangel Christ ruled Atlantis as Poseidonis.
September 16, 1936, is inscribed at the entrance to the King's Chamber within the Great Pyramid of Gizeh. where the Master Plan for the coming New Order of the Ages was concealed for centuries by the Elder Brothers, the Advanced Egos w ho have been with the Great One since the beginning. On this date the Lemurian Fellowship was inaugurated. The Lemurian Brotherhood. the oldest of the Mystery Schools, was commissioned by unanimous consent of all the Brotherhoods, each with its own unique task, to compile from the vast reservoir of data — the Akashic Record is the complete history of human events — the in format ion essential for the integration of a New Age civilization.
the establishment of the Lemurian Fellowship, the one and only mundane channel of the Lemurian Brotherhood, was entrusted to one who then as well as now guides the Work, serving as the Direct Emissary of the Lemurian Brotherhood. He is a highly advanced Ego whose preparation and training have been conducted through many incarnations.
Guidance of Fellowship activity emanates from two higher sources: 1) from a council of Elder Brothers representing the Lemurian and other world brotherhoods, and 2) from the advanced Ego who has been designated by these Great Ones to act as their Direct Emissary. It is to this authority that the Fellowship defers and often turns for advice and counsel.
Hie forthcoming New Order will not fail, for citizenship will be granted only to those who are properly trained and prepared.... There will be no lesser segment of the population to disrupt the progress of the New Age society such as there was in the Mukulian and Atlantean times. Every factor which contributed to the decline and downfall of all previous civilizations will have its checkmate, and any who seek to disrupt ... the handiwork of God and noble men will find all doors closed to the New Order. Citizenship will not be inherited. it will have to he earned. .. | Into the Sun. the Lemurian fellowship!
The coming New Order is at hand. The cataclysm will be thorough this time. The Advanced Egos who have been with the Great One since the Beginning are now available as teachers to the genuine seeker. The Study with the Lemurian Fellowship is of Reincarnation — find out who you have been through Time, a non-conformist or one of the Followers — and enables one the opportunity for the one chance, the only chance, to be a part of the New World Order.
"Is it not significant today that the words Novus Ordo Seculorum, which mean New Order for All. is [sic] incorporated into the Great Seal of the United States of America?“ [Into the Sun]
The Gateway? Kit Carson became an Advanced Ego when he went through. September 16, 1936? Isn't this part of Hitler's rise to power? The New Order? Is George Bush a Lemurian?
Thursday, November 5, 1992
Tragic Crash leaves Community In Shock: Four Ramona High School female track stars returning from a county meet in which they took most of the honors hit an oak on San Vicente Road last Friday. The driver, 16-year-old Karma McCalister. the school's lop female athlete, was killed, her sister Abba, 13, is in critical condition. Two other girls, Luna DeYoung and Nicole Moore, were seriously injured.
The Ramona Sentinel coverage and photos are done by Larry Littlefield, "sports writer." He has a column too, “Behind the Front Page," in which I learn that Raquel Welch was back in town last week making a movie for TV called Tainted Wood, "about the sins of the fathers visited upon the children."
It’s been a while since l‘ve seen her. The first time was on the sands of Windansea in La Jolla, the last probably when she was on the arm of Don Diego (Tommy Hernandez) in Del Mar when she was Fairest of the Fair.
We’re talkin’ late ’50s here. She was Raquel Tejada of La Jolla then, and I was a Pacific Beach friend of Jim Welch, who quipped years later that "she never looked like that when I was married to her."
The last time I saw her was right here in Ramona, She was a judge in the Miss Ramona contest in which I came in last place. It’s a toss-up whether "Ramon" or “Raquel" is my best-known story, but it’s a little unnerving to drive back into town 35 years later and pick up the same story, just a chapter or so missing.
Raquel played Ramona in the Hemet Pageant in 1959. ["Ramona, A Story of Passion and Protest," Los Angeles Historical Project video]
Ramona: the Story
Pity me.... I have finished Ramona. Would that like Shakespeare, it were just published. [Emily Dickinson, quoted in Whitaker]
Angus Phail. Ramona’s father, was a wealthy Scottish captain of whaling and merchant ships, who like other men of his country plied the Pacific rim for his trade and the California coast for the daughter of a rich Spanish land grant family. Angus Phail had the unfortunate luck of falling in love with Ramona Gonzaga, whom he first saw at the Presidio in San Francisco, who though she clearly did not reciprocate his feelings, "after his stormy and ceaseless entreaties ... did finally promise to become his wife."
Before the marriage he was obliged to set sail for San Blas. Returning eight months later he found that his betrothed had married Francis Ortega just the day before at the Presidio. Angus Phail fell off the deep end, from San Francisco, to Monterey, to Santa Barbara, to Los Angeles, “reeling about, tipsy, coarse, loud, profane, dangerous," “ship after ship sold for a song, and the proceeds squandered in drinking or worse," and, finally the ultimate degradation.going “out to the San Gabriel Mission ... living with the Indians, “ “marrying a squaw with several Indian children. “
Twenty-five years after his heartbreak, the new Ramona is born to the Gabrieleno woman. Angus Phail presents the infant to his old love, the barren Ramona Ortega, “partly in vengeance. “ evidently having stolen it from her mother, never named. “[She] is nothing. She has other children, of her own blood. This is mine, my only one. my daughter. I wish her to be yours; otherwise, she will be taken by the Church.“
The well-known Francis Ortega has never loved his wife, has never given her children, is infamous far and wide for his dissipated ways. He now curses the Indian infant. Ramona.
Angus Phail disappears, soon dying, as does Senora Ortega. At the age of four, Ramona, along with her father's treasure chest — “the jewels Angus had bought for his bride“— is delivered to Ramona Ortega's sister. Senora Moreno, last holder of the remains of the once almost incalculable Moreno Ranch. General Moreno was “killed in the last fight the Mexican forces made."
The senora raises the girl, despite her abominable “alien and mongrel blood" in high Castilian aristocracy with her birth son, Felipe, sparing the child nothing — but her love. “If the child were pure Indian, I would like it better, " she said. “I like not these crosses. It is the worst, and not the best of each, that remains. “
The treasure is hidden in a secret panel of the hacienda walls, to be saved for Ramona on the condition she marry a worthy white man approved by Senora Moreno — the father's efforts to correct the racial deviation he's made.
Ramona, with her “olive tint... her hair ... like her Indian mother's, heavy and black ... her eyes like her father's, steel-blue, “ grows up pondering not racial issues, but like girls everywhere, gender ones, why her brother, any son, “is more than a daughter."
Ramona is 19 when the 21-year-old Temecula, Alessandro Assisi, arrives at the Morenos' hacienda with his band of herders for the sheep-shearing season. The Temeculas had been of the San Luis Rey Mission; Alessandro's father, Pablo Assisi, is their beloved chief. Alessandro's natural nobility and beauty is like Ramona's, and soon the two have fallen in love. Unlike Ramona. Alessandro is hip to the immense taboo this love entails, until the hacienda foreman reveals to him what Ramona herself does not know: she too is Indian. Senora Moreno, in an effort to thwart the romance, reveals to Ramona her treasure if she marries a proper man. But, in love, money is meaningless to Ramona. She gives up everything to go with Alessandro, who then informs her of her maternal heritage.
At the exact moment they are pledging their love to each other, Alessandro's village, Temecula, is destroyed by the San Diego sheriff — a “fair," “kind ma,." who “knew all about us." who “said he'd rather die. almost, than have had it to do; but if we resisted, he would have to order his men to shoot"— and his father, Chief Pablo, dies of heartbreak. Besides the shock, fear, and grief — he is now chief of a homeless, disinherited people — Alessandro has no home to take his bride.
The two flee, eventually making it to San Diego, where they are married by Father Gaspara. Then they journey to the San Pasqual Valley, where Ysidro, "a cousin of Alessandro's, was the head man. "They build a house, Alessandro farms, they have a daughter. Majella, sometimes Majel — Alessandro’s name for his wife — he refuses to call her Ramona!— meaning “Love?" “Here." "Love?" “Here." which is the call of the majell. Cahuilla for dove. Which of course is the Judaic-Christian symbol of peace. (When he is angry at her. he says, "Majella talks like a dove, and not like a woman.")
In time, the worst happens. A white man Dr. Morong, appears with his “legal" court-provided papers and claims their land. Alessandro, who suffers "mental spells" dating from the destruction of Temecula and who has withdrawn from Ramona emotionally, gives up without a struggle. They flee north, first to Soboba where the little Majella dies because the government physician won’t come to the house to attend her, then up the highest mountain of Southern California, the 10,805-foot Mt. San Jacinto, where they set up house again. Far below all the Indian villages are undergoing the genocidal terror that he experienced firsthand in Temecula and San Pasqual. “There is no other but the black side, Majella. Strain my eyes as I may. on all sides all is black. "
Another daughter, Ramona, is born. Alessandro's mental condition continues to deteriorate. The villagers, typical of such people from time immemorial, are wise and protective of him when he descends; but one day, he mistakes the wrong horse for his own, rides it home. The white owner tracks Alessandro to the remote mountain cabin and kills him.
Ramona witnesses the murder of her husband, manages to get down to the village with the body and her baby before collapsing. In extreme shock, unable to eat, she is not expected to live.
Meanwhile. Senora Moreno has died, and Felipe, suffering the guilt of having allowed his mother to turn the couple out, has been combing the state in search of them. In his visit to San Pasqual, we learn of the destruction that's followed the family's departure.
He found the village in disorder, the fields neglected, many houses deserted, the remainder of the people preparing to move away. In the house of Ysidro, Alessandro's kinsman, was living a white family — the family of a man who had pre-empted the greater pari of the land on which the village stood. Ysidro ... had set off, with all his goods and chattels, for Mesa Grande.
Felipe eventually finds Ramona in the San Jacinto village hut near death. He carries her and "Alessandro’s daughter" — the two Ramonas — back to the hacienda where Ramona is restored to health, and evidently, "sanity" — that is, resignation to her intended destiny. She marries the proper, brotherly Felipe. They travel to Mexico City where they have many children, and Alessandro's daughter, Ramona, now "the beautiful young Senora Moreno [becomes] the theme of the city."
"There's Prejudice Against Ramona”
Getting dark, on my way to Julia Riley's, "Hell Is for Children" on the radio. Three-quarter moon rising still in Pisces, pomegranates heavy on the trees, like Christmas bulbs, the sweet smell of chicken shit as I turn around in the white road: sheep in that pasture, eucalyptus and lemon groves vibrating on my right. Three days before I came here, Karma died. The oldest question: How does a parent survive the death of a child?
Up and down Ramona Street, looking for the numbers. “Across from the grade school" — the new grade school to me.
Her husband flagging me down.
"Julia said go out there and flag Sharon down. She can't find us."
“ 'Wife,' I said, ‘it's been 22 years. How do you know that's Sharon?’ "
" ‘Oh.’ she said, 'I'd recognize that big hair any day. anywheres.' "
And like it was yesterday, we flow into each's arms. "God, Julie, you haven't changed at all.*'
She hasn't. Not a gray hair, not dyed — (“the Indian. My dad's mother came in off the reservation, French Canada") — not a wrinkle. “Well, I was overweight for a while."
And I'm startled again by how easy it is to he with her. How much we seem to understand (and forgive) and enjoy each other. How much she just grooves with me. like always. Mormon and all (I'd forgotten that), nothing fazing her. Nothing passing her by.
“My eyes are fine," she says. Her eyes "exploded" almost 30 years ago due to the experimental high dosages of cortisone UCLA gave her for eczema. “From being allergic to her first husband," my mother remembers. One of my first poems was about her eye transplants. I spent a weekend with her waiting for someone to die for the first one. which turned out to be a woman in a 2:00 a.m. collision outside of Las Vegas.
She catches me up on the stories, the births, the marriages. Who's still alive, still in town, and the grand plans. "Clevenger Canyon is going to he filled up with water."
"Pam Tippet’s son was killed when he was eight, just walking on the road outside going home for lunch. She's never been the same. Ramona now and then? The best story I know about that is Mickie Queen and Judy Ferguson! Do you remember she got pregnant in 1961, but he joined the Air Force. They never saw each other again until the 1989 reunion. Deanne wanted to meet her father, wanted him to meet his grandkids, talked Judy into calling him in New Mexico, his address was on the list, got him to come to the reunion. They were remarried six months later!"
"I sure miss your dad." Tony says, startling me. “We played poker together. Me and him and Ronnie Rodolf, Fred Hansler, and George Gardner, Judv's father. Down in the basement of your house. We played once a month."
Tony ran a P.O.W. school at Warner’s during the Vietnam War. “I was the bad guy. The students were the prisoners. One guy escaped 12 times, then went to Vietnam, escaped. Stockdale went through my school.
"Yeah," he responds to my question. “We had to be checked out every six months by the psychs. You understand." He is standing across the room, leaning against the kitchen counter, addressing me, it seems, in direct acknowledgment of who I am. “Right or wrong, that wasn't where we were at. We had this job to do."
Julia's 29-year-old daughter. Carolyn, arrives.
“Do you know who this is?"
She stares a minute. “Sharon Edens." Then adds, “You were a free spirit."
Looking into her face, I remember her as seven. She took Red Cross swimming lessons in my parents' pool. Children learn from their parents; her Ramona, Mormon, Navy, blinded mother has taught her respect for me. She works in the auto service industry in El Cajon, is proud and hopeful for her future. She is the age her mother was the last time I saw her. And she has a daughter and son as Julia did then. As I did.
"There's prejudice against Ramona," she laughs, a little. "People don't know what to think of the place. No one knows where it is. Is that the place on the way to the apple stand? People know San Diego Estates, they know where the Castle is with its two-, three-million-dollar homes and golf courses. Rut Ramona? Do you have electricity? Oh, that's where you still have outhouses, right?"
(“The Board of Supervisors." my father snarls. “made Ramona the county dump.")
"And your little boy?"
"Allen died eight years ago. A drunk driver in a big truck on the wrong side of the Poway Grade hit him in the Datsun. Tony had just retired one month after 20 years in the Navy, he had a hard time because he'd told Allen to take the Datsun to save on money. Went down to the beach on a date. Went out the door, roller skates over his shoulders. ‘Don't wait up for me.' The next morning the coroner pulled up. Allen’s wallet and jewelry in his hands.
“ 'Are these your son’s?’
“ ‘He’s dead, isn’t he.' "
Returning to town, late and hungry, I go El Nopal, one of seven Mexican food places. I want to name a quality in my old high school friend that I remember now from before but had forgotten. Openness. Non-judgment. Despite so much of her painful story, an adjective she would not use, she’s seems to me a miracle. She, in the school maintenance department, has “watched our kids go through the schools and now I'm watching our grandkids." (Tony’s a custodian for all the churches in the area.)
Gossip meant gossamer, god spell, good story. In Julia gossip serves the same function poetry and story does in me; it weaves the spell, or rather acknowledges the Godspell-weaving. “Story’’ is an organic, functional need. It’s why we dream, and why we lie, to fulfill the need to tell a story. I'm a storyteller in part because I grew up here, gossip the ethic, the norm, and initially, holy. "Marilyn Hither, 47, died of an aneurysm this summer on second base doing what she loved best." Julia repeated this three times, in love with it somehow. She knew about my cousin, his destitute family, how they can't control his 16-year-old daughter. “Can't control" were the exact words used this summer in Julian about them.
John Berger says, “The village's knowledge of an individual is not much less than God's — though its judgment may be different." I once met a 20-year-old Balinese man getting off the plane in Portland, Oregon. “In my village they know how you will die 500 years before you are born." But the Puritan’s interpretation of this is not the only one: “In Bali children are loved, never reprimanded. They’re considered gifts straight from God. They’re not laid down, anywhere, for a certain period of time. Someone is always holding them. The whole community is a part of this holding. Because they are from God."
It’s the murderous judgment that gives small towns bad reputations, but in the artist/counterculture Third World-influenced towns I've lived in since Ramona, there is not this inhumanity. The citizens strive to be protective of each other’s privacy. which is known as each's freedom. The Sacred.
What happens here has to do with the hegemony of the imposed codes and lies of the social “order." "I'm military. I don't even care for the military, but I am," and the innate truths known inside. I watch old friends come undone effortlessly from their rigid notions to relate to me. "You understand, right or wrong was not where we were at. " This is stunning in its sophistication, its intuitive understanding. But to act from this understanding is nearly impossible because the old forms have them. Southern California rednecks: so hip. so screwed.
HHJ: The Real (Estate)
I want an accurate account of two things that have happened in San Diego County— I think the legal records of both cases [Temecula and San Pasqual] are in San Diego, and if I am not mistaken Sheriff Hunsacher [Rothsaker] was engaged in both matters.... [Odell]
The novel Ramona is exquisite in its details of California life of the 19th Century. Despite the critics' blanket dismissal of the book as "sentimental," the realism “always threatens to dominate the romance," which, according to Jackson, “was the last part of the story added."
Everyday rancho life — the complex details of shearng sheep, making lace, and other labors and pleasures of mid-19th-century California; historical facts — the fall of Mexico and the missions from the point of view of the Californios and Indians, the fall of Temecula, San Pasqual, et al., from the point of view of the Indians; intimate, personal stories and other information — architectural, economic, social, political, religious, botanical, geographical — are recorded for posterity. “For many of her facts she searched faithfully through the Equalization Board of Statistics and presented details on the production of citrus fruits, olives, walnuts, grapes, wine, honey, cattle and sheep in five counties properly comprising Southern California." [Odell] The botanical and geographical details of California are often breathtaking. as is the writing itself.
All the incidents and settings and persons in Ramona are based on actual ones Jackson researched or encountered personally on her visits to the haciendas and Indian villages; all are documented and most of the incidents are in her government report. Most notable of these are the destructions of San Pasqual and Temecula, the ongoing threat to Soboba and all the other Indian villages, the death of the baby due to the government physician's refusal to go to an Indian home, the murder of the “locoed" Cahuilla whose wife's name was Ramona (coincidence, as Jackson did not know this when she wrote the book), the Soboban woman who was raised "with a Castilian family of gracious manners and great hospitality" — Ramona herself was founded on several women "woven into one" — and most importantly. the Bandini-Couts family and their Guajome Rancho near San Luis Rey as the model for the Morenos, and the marriage of the runaway couple.
Ysabel Couts was the daughter of Don Juan Bandini. so colorfully portrayed in Dana's Two Years before the Mast. After a three-week stay at Guajome, Jackson was kicked out by Mrs. Couts when it became clear that she was taking notes for a novel about a mixed-race "elopement in the neighborhood," with sympathies toward the Indians. Subsequently, to obtain architectural details for her novel, Jackson visited Camulos Rancho near Piru, north of Los Angeles, for “two hours," with only servants present. “and never before or afterward did Mrs. Jackson see Camulos Ranch [or meet the owners] made famous on two continents ... as 'Home of Ramona.'“ [Odell]
The minimal truth is Camulos commercially exploited the thin connection, and San Diego County was let off the hook. (The hypocrisy of the superstar critics Carey McWilliams and Kevin Starr gleefully "blaming" the real estate development of Southern California on Jackson is classic patriarchal reversal. Starr's continuing projection, particularly in his influential Inventing the Dream: California through the Progressive Era and as historical consultant in the 1993 Los Angeles Historical Project "Ramona A Story of Passion and Protest," which portrays, without qualification. Camulos as the model for the Morenos and their rancho, is especially reprehensible since serious researchers have always debunked the Camulos “myth.")
Father Ubach's repeated assertion that the marriage described in Ramona took place ... is unheeded. The fact that the author of Ramona corroborated his assertion makes no difference either.... She suppressed the names of their families (a precaution she did not always lake) in order to avoid unpleasant notoriety.
This veiled allusion to a mysterious elopement bobs up again and again in various succeeding accounts.... The persons involved were the beautiful high born daughter of a proud old Spanish -American family and an Indian herder In most variants the lovers were apprehended, brought hack, and the Indian brutally flogged or dragged to death. The young woman was later happily married off to a worthy member of her own race and class and fulfilled her manifest destiny of providing him with numerous progeny.... [Odell]
Jackson wrote Ramona so realistically that ever since, readers have been searching for the real town, hacienda, grave, trail, marriage place, Alessandro. Ramona, padre, baby, tribe, the real estate.
But the critics collectively dismiss Ramona as "romantic," “sentimental," "mythical." They collectively gloat Ramona failed in causing Indian reform — an outright, enormous lie — and instead was used to sell Southern California real estate.
They assume this attitude because of the enforced lies of the reigning social order. (They lie to be one with the liars over them.)
They promote this attitude because they are the realtors. (They lie to redeem the ones who lied to them, to deny they were lied to — obedient children of abusive parents desperate to redeem them.)
They assume a similar dismissive attitude toward Ramona, the town. The political and social malaise Ramona has always suffered is the direct result of this "prejudice."
There was, and continues to be, a massive cover-up of the true story of Ramona.
More Ramona notes
When Columbus was in the Caribbean he was not looking for a country called India. Europeans were calling that country Hindustan in 1492. Columbus called the tribal people he met “Indio," from the Italian "in dio." meaning "in God" [Russell Means, in Hard Country, Sharon Doubiago]
The history of American Indians living in San Diego County has virtually been ignored by historians. The reasons are clear. As many residents of the county have shunned the Indians, so have historians. [Richard I. Carrico. Strangers in a Stolen Land, American Indians in San Diego, 1850-1880]
Few people today have ever heard of Jackson, let alone her historical novel, Ramona. This became painfully apparent during a trip to San Diego and its environs to photograph and follow in her footsteps. People in the very same places that she had traveled a century ago were totally unaware of her historical existence or importance. [Valerie Sherer Mathes, Helen Hunt Jackson and Her Indian Reform Legacy]
Alima: (Cayuse and French) An Umatilla (eastern Oregon) Reservation word: “a breed"; "mixed-blooded Indians; mixed with white blood"; "the people in between." (Elima: A Sufi word meaning “secret knowledge in the heart.")
All that I was taught at home or in school was colored by denial, and thus it became so familiar to me that I did not see it. [Susan Griffin, A Chorus of Stones: The Private Life of War]
"Ramona, I heard your mission bells ringing." (From the 1927 movie Ramona, starring Dolores Del Rio and Warner Baxter.)
I heard Ramona sing
And I heard everything
The speed they're traveling
They are the only thing Ramona.
[Frank Black. Elektra Entertainment, 1993]
Jackson's arrival in Los Angeles in the winter of 1881 profoundly affected the lives of the defendants of former Mission Indians from the Franciscan missions of San Diego de Alcala [established 1769], San Gabriel Arcangel . San luan Capistrano , and San Luis Rey de Francia . Named by the Spaniards after the missions in which they had once lived, the Diegueno, Gabrieleno Juaneno, and Luiseno Indians became beneficiaries of her reforming activities, as would other nearby groups including the Cupeno, Serrano. Ipai, and Cahuilla. [Mathes]
[This is part one of a five-part story. Conitnue to part 2.]