“I’m the one who did the deeds to Pamo Valley. The ‘No Growth’ bunch in Ramona Acres, in charge of the water, historic, and sewage district would have conniption if they knew.”
Monday, November 9, 1992
“San Diego Estates,” Mama says on the phone, “was zoned for 'second housing.’ They couldn’t zone it for regular housing because of no water — it was the only way they could get it through. It was a big laugh, building those huge homes. Ray Watts would come to the drive-in. I can see him now. Daddy and Ray had an affinity. He told him the whole story, how he was going to get San Diego Estates through lobbying. The name, I always thought, was a trade-off with San Diego supervisors."
“Spiro’s Body Found.”
Coming down 67 through the line of eucalyptus is probably Ramona’s most famous trademark. “They’re going to have to do something — plant a second row. Road’s got to be widened.”
Photo by Robert Burroughs
In his car, slumped at the wheel, down in the Anza-Borrego Desert.
Seven-fifty a.m., walking by Circle K. Between the side of the building and the trash container, two deputy sheriffs on either side of the tall black woman. Talking to her in her all-red.
I meet Jerry Miller in front of Kountry Kitchen, spend the day with him.
Stokes ranch, c. 1912
San Diego Historical Society
“The land is classified as a non-producing ranch, held as a tax write-off.” In the autumn and spring his boss has people here. “They hunt, party. From L.A., from all over the world. They take their vacation here. I spend the rest of the year getting it ready for them. Great job. No one bothers me. I get all this fabulous land to myself.”
Drives me out to an oak grove to see the park he’s working on now. “Those brush piles are for quail: 100 in every covey.
“Ramona is a special place. To live here is to be actively involved with the fact, whether you like it or not. It is, simply, a factor— in the way a housing tract in San Diego cannot be.”
A roadrunner cuts in front of us. “L.A. pheasant,” he mumbles.
“Lemurian,” he gestures to the north. “All that land out there. Ward Bond, the old wagon master on Wagon Train, with lames Cagney owned some of Lemurian Fellowship.
Judy Queen. I had forgotten the story—just that image of Judy alone and pregnant in 1961 in the one-room shack on Ninth and D.
“Over there, on those rocks, lots of metates, where they ground and leached their acorns.”
We’re stopped at a gate, a fork in the dusty road.
A half-dozen enormous, incredibly red-faced creatures as big as medium-sized dogs are perched on it, lined down the fence, blue sky behind them.
“Know why their heads are rough like that, with no feathers?”
They watch us as we watch them.
“For clearing out insides.” I think he’s answering to his belief in universal female squeamishness. “They go inside organs.
“What is Ramona?” he asks, rhetorically. “A large area.”
Coming back down the twisting dirt two-lane, he suddenly spins the pickup into a high bank, so we’re looking straight into dirt and brush.
“People come here for privacy. It’s not the view. Why do they go to the ocean? Houses on either side of them, but out the front window is the privacy of the ocean. There’s a house on top of this hill, but we can’t see it, they can’t see in here from there. It’s privacy.”
Out on the Old Julian Highway he points to a ranch owned by the rich man in New York City who’s the Lemurian. The Super Ego?
He points to a metal building where Archie Moore’s son used to work out. “He’d jog down this road.”
He points out a goat farm where they are testing for AIDS. “Supposed to be quiet about that. The animal lovers might protest.”
The afternoon sun off the hills is just blazing. We take Vista Ramona Road to San Diego Estates. Pointing to a ballerina swaying wistfully in the gulch, he says, “liquid amber.” He says “spontaneous combustion, the brush, it gets so hot here.” He says twice “Joaquin Murrietta was here.”
San Diego Estates was San Vicente— the Scarberry Ranch and Ramona Oaks Resort. This awesome valley of mammoth boulder mountains towering over it. Marvina and Marylou Scarberry in high school with us, the only family out here then.
The Union Oil Company of California bought Ramona Oaks in 1962.... The San Diego County Sheriffs Association became involved with the operation and maintenance... [when] called upon to break up one of the first big pot-party, love-ins of the 1960s.... The deputies then convinced Union Oil they could do a better job of caretaking the place than those who had been in charge. (LeMenager, Strangers]
Hand-in-hand, the corps and the law, the harpies of civil power....
And it was “two major villages, about 150 people [who had] song, dance, and a highly developed moral view of community behavior.”
One...gathering station can readily be found a few yards in front of the ladies tee on the golf course. A large granite shelf containing 13 grinding holes (bedrock mortars).... Here the squaws would sit and crack nuts while no doubt carrying on some sort of social dialogue. [Charles LeMenager, Off the Main Road, San Vicente and Barona]
In 1926, under the auspices of the Haye Foundation, Museum of the American Indian, there was an important excavation of the burial ground on a knoll near the golf course....
Ochghwheel There is a curse.
Ochghwhee was the name of the village here, meaning “onion-like tuber."
When we enter the lounge I hear “Karma.” I hear “straight 4.0 student.” The man at the bar on my left is the one who pulled them from the wreck.
“Kit Carson was killed here!” Jerry says. He draws in my notebook the Apollo spacecraft, a similar drawing that George has drawn in my notebook. He worked on the escape launch in Sycamore Canyon.
“So did my first husband,” I say. “Maybe you knew each other.”
The bus has let the kids off, they’re climbing the tracks to their homes perched like the giant boulders on the mountainsides, hilltops. The pictograph of a human face can still be seen on a huge overhanging rock behind a home on Keri Lane. Making a U-turn into a steep slanted side street, a girl, seven or eight, is climbing up below us with two others. She’s staring at them, listening, hard. They’re talking about Karma and Abba and Luna and Nicole, and maybe she’s Karma’s sister, having the same dusky gold skin of the part-black. The shock in her face is as real as the boulders left in the lawns as landscape. Looking for, listening for clues that will save her.
Then down the street through tribes of climbing kids.
We’re coming out San Vicente Road and I’m asking him about car accidents and I’m noticing that phenomenon again: boulders on one side of the creek, none on the other — is it outcropping because of sun, the way the water runs?
“Can’t believe there are more here than other places,” he says. I’m thinking it’s chemical, something I can feel in the air. On our bodies, minds. “People in San Diego are uptight. There they are, coming out of there, it’s only 37 miles, but a million years a zillion time zones, only ten minutes from Poway, but you are in a different world.” Ions in the air, iron in the boulders. “It’s freaky if you’re not prepared. They come out in their man-made things, from their man-made world, to this wild wilderness.”
Coming down 67 through the line of eucalyptus, probably Ramona’s most famous trademark, certainly one of the more beautiful of its civic offerings, amazing they’re still here, find out who planted them, he says, “They’re going to have to do something — plant a second row. Road’s got to be widened.”
the spinning, streaming, exploding car
shatters him into Eucalyptus
repeated and repeated
as he steps on a mine
as he’s shot from the ambush
as he’s pushed from the copter
More Sexism as Literary Criticism
This is from the entry on Helen Hunt in American Authors, 1600-1900, edited by the highly esteemed American poet Stanley Kunitz:
She was no beauty, with her heavy chin, her snub nose, and her narrow grey eyes, but her winning smile made up for her lack of regular features, and this heavy, faded blonde woman evoked the ardent affection of nearly all, men or women, who came under her spell.
Has Stanley Kunitz ever been subjected to such “criticism”? Could I muster the objectivity to do so — that is, the killing-spirit to describe the physical Stanley Kunitz at the ages I have personally encountered him — 67,72, and 82? (Ages Helen missed by long years for giving her life to helping Southern California Indians.) What “objective" bearing would that have on which poem of his, which class taught, which lecture presented?
(Kunitz’s encyclopedia account no doubt is of the much-reproduced photograph in Ruth Odell’s 1939 book, Helen Hunt Jackson. For what it matters, a quality reproduction of the same photograph in Valerie Sherer Mathes’s 1990 book, Helen Hunt Jackson and Her Indian Reform Legacy, shows lackson’s eyes wide-set, her nose long and straight, little if any evidence of a heavy chin, and nothing of drabness. In fact, her flamboyant clothing was part of her public-relations problem.)
Here is how a man, in this case probably a killer, is treated by scholars. From Richard Carrico, Strangers in a Stolen Land, American Indians in San Diego, 1850-1880:
Couts, a federally appointed official, was an honorable man and served local Indians generally well, although he apparently physically abused some of his Indian workers. A letter to the San Diego Herald in 1855 suggests that Couts had been guilty of killing several Indians by using harsh and inhumane methods of punishment....
Many persons knew of Couts’ harsh discipline and considered him guilty of killing two Indians in July 1855, although he was never formally charged....
In a recent study of Couts, a biographer defended him against the charges of whipping Indians to death and notes that even if this one case [plus a new one in 1865] was valid, it remains an isolated blemish on an otherwise distinguished public record.
Excessive “masculine” traits are not deplorable as are excessive “feminine” ones. He's “honorable” and “distinguished,” she’s “sentimental." With only minimal research, evidence pops up everywhere that Cave J. Couts “flogged or dragged to death” a real-life Alessandro.
Tuesday, November 10, 1992
For the rest of her life she will not know where he went or why the others did not see him.
Waking from the dream image of a boulder falling on Daddy.
I spend the morning on the phone with the Veteran’s Administration, Balboa Hospital, the Red Cross, and other places.
“I have ten Raymond Rices in the system,” the guy at the V.A. says, “but right now, none of these fit March 9, 1940.”
He advises me to contact the Salvation Army. “They assist in finding missing persons.”
I call the high school. “Is Helen Hunt Jackson taught at Ramona High? Is the history of Ramona Indians?”
“No,” to the latter question. “Local history is not part of the California state education framework.” They will call me back to answer the first.
Why does the term “local history” sound so... uninteresting?
All the nonwhite minorities in American California suffered from various kinds of unjust discrimination, but the mistreatment of the Indians began earliest and was by far the worst." [Walter Bean and James J. Rawls, California, an Interpretative History]
In the beginning they weren’t minorities.
And they are still the most despised, the most threatening because their bodies bear, to our eyes, the true history — the story we’re denying. All the guns of California’s educational system are denying. They are living, breathing testimony that we are liars.
(To get this psychological reversal law—in my personal life — when lam accused of the things the accuser is guilty of....)
“We’ve called several retired teachers,” Ramona High School kindly informs me, naming them off, “the ones who’ve been here practically the entire history of the school and know everything. To the best of anyone's knowledge, Helen Hunt Jackson never taught at Ramona High School. ”
“It is all done by the American law," said Ramona, “all these things; no body can help himself; for if anybody goes against the law he has to be killed or put in prison." [Helen Hunt Jackson, Ramona]
At Ramona High School we ridiculed the Russians on learning that 98 percent of the people weren’t Communist Party members. How could they be so passive as to let so few folks rule them? The same scorn I’ve heard all my life about the Jews climbing aboard the boxcars.
But the same thing happened here. Is happening. The willing submission to and mindless acceptance of authority over you. To thought control.
“Inalienable Rights” include knowing one’s self. In a “democracy” the self is even more threatening than in a dictatorship. Censorship becomes dictates of opinion, belief, aesthetics, taste, fashion, vocation, lifestyle, party politics, church. The true self is always dangerous, always suspect. Censorship becomes the taboo of knowing — most of all, of knowing oneself.
Walking. There’s an energy that comes off these rocks that creates a certain personality. Sometimes something like paranoia seems to hover from them, I’m afraid of being killed. Sometimes, middle of nowhere, you just get these waves — literally — just waves of well-being.
Ramona is so conservative because it was founded by Indian killers and “harpies of civil power.”
Ramona is so conservative because it has so much to hide, the citizens’ frozen souls in the rocks of denial.
There wasn’t a Ramona High School until nine years after Jackson died! Shout it.
My Peeping Tom
Down the alley, past 318 Sixth Street: Dicky.
He was in the 5th grade when I was in the 11th and his class’s student helper. Mr. Goldman’s yardstick was I.Q. tests. He harassed, abused, tormented, openly hated the lower-scored. My “helping" became a shielding of them without his seeing that I was doing this, I, whom he so admired for being the sister of one of his all-time most brilliant students, Donna Edens. But by the end of the first quarter I was cracking under the double bind (the same quarter Daddy and Sam caught us). I didn’t know how to fight for the kids, I couldn’t bear to hurt Mr. Goldman’s feelings. I made up an excuse, a lie, and quit.
Knelt down to Dicky’s desk my last day, the last desk on the last row, the least scored, the baddest boy, the black circles of the malnourished, desk of our little brother when in this class, a disappointment Goldman could never get over after Donna so gloriously enthroned in desk number one. Huge splotches are watering his blank, blue-lined paper.
“I love you, Dicky. ”
I have always known that my saying those words precipitated the events four years later, the next time I saw Dicky.
Washing my hair in the kitchen sink, 318 Sixth Street, my ten-month-old baby boy asleep in the back room.
“Don’t move, you bastard, or I’ll shoot. ”
Scuffling sounds, hard to believe. Dismiss it (deny it). Five minutes later banging at the back door.
Ramona’s beloved cop has little Dicky by the scruff of the neck, enormous water streaming the black circles of his face, his thin arms yanked behind him, cuffed. The cop gloating, exclaiming, look what I’ve caught!
I have never hated anyone so much as that cop. “Dicky” was the first story I wrote as an adult.
I visit Nada Pantovitch, my mother’s good friend, in Travel Travel. “We now have a Miss Hispanic Ramona,” she says proudly, “to represent the Hispanic community.”
She hands me a flyer on Sabah Farhat, 1991-92, born in Peru, whose father was born in Jerusalem, moved to Peru and then Ramona, and now owns Ramona Old Time Country Store, at Tenth and Main. Mi hija’s addresses.
“The Mexican spokeswoman of the town is Irene Jauregui. Did you know Tecate is Ramona’s sister city now?"
 Near the international border at Jacumba, a pitched battle between occupants of a Tipai village and local ranchers left fifteen native men and women dead. Now known as the McCain Massacre, the brief skirmish led to Native Americans’ abandonment of the Jacumba area and migration to Mexico. [Carrico]
“The Foster Ranch across 78 will become Lake Pamo — this was stopped before because of Indian artifacts found.
“Check out the witch covens at Witch Creek. Ask at Pages’ Bookstore about them.” legend has it that Witch Creek could not be crossed after dark because it was bewitched. [Ruth S. Meyer, Historic Buildings of the Ramona Area] “There are several schools in Ramona for disturbed girls. One had to shut down; their tough love philosophy got out of hand, sexual molestations or murder or something typical, and now there’s effort to turn it into California’s largest homeless shelter.”
Three p.m., outside Travel Travel, on the plaza, clusters of bronze-skinned small young men sitting on the benches. They don’t understand “plaza" is a U.S. architectural term, not a sociological fact. “Both Lucky and Sun Market got rid of their benches....”
I sit down on the rock planter wall in front of Lucky to drink my coffee, read Nada’s literature.
A woman and her nine-year-old deaf Down syndrome son, Brandon, are here. They live across the street in the apartments (low-income).
“He likes to come here and watch people.” She tells me how wonderful the Ramona School District is. “They integrate them right into the system now.”
A mother and a teenage daughter are walking up to the door from their glaring car as we watch the extraordinary Brandon navigate the six-foot planter wall, signing to us. Both are very attractive, but the daughter is a little awesome. And terribly hurt.
That sulky look we love as sexy: abused. Betrayed. Dying.
“Grief of heart is proof of love, of good”
Denial because you want to believe the world is good Denial because you are”
First I stand by the giant crystal. Crystals are powerful tools that can assist in balancing the electromagnetic energy field inside and outside of the physical body. Seeking compassion, I read the notices again about how the libraries are in danger of being closed. In the bathroom I do my antidyslexia, anti-overwhelm exercises. Then I work at the card catalog index.
I donated my first book. Hard Country, to the Ramona library a few years ago, but it is not listed. The Book of Seeing with One’s Own Eyes is available from the main San Diego library through interlibrary loan. My other books: nowhere. I sort of get lost in Crazy Weather! The Mojave River, “its ancient valley, its paradoxical nature....”
Finally, I brave the desk.
I am a graduate of Ramona High School, a writer. I’ve published five books (actually eight), all of which have Ramona mentioned in them. I’m writing an article now about Ramona. I can’t help but think that this will be of interest to you, the Ramona librarian.
She is offended.
For all my bracing, I become disoriented, start to bolt, anything for fresh air.
Then I get it. “The librarian seems unhappy when I walk in. She sneers like I’m a whore or something. ” [The Book of Seeing with One’s Own Eyes] It’s the identical rejection, the door shut to learning, as when I was a teenage girl here and the library was in the Town Hall. You...are not wanted here, there is nothing here that you, the likes of you could possibly want, your presence is a drag, please, for the peace of all, get out of my library.
With great begrudgment she counts out 12 books on Ramona from behind her desk. Reference Only. When I’m done, having spent a quarter for each page copied — at Rexall, it’s five cents! — I count again, and again: 13 books! Crystal, give me strength to do the right thing. I put Mesa Grande Country in my bag. I’ll return it.
As I walk back up 67 I’m expecting the sirens, the fucking cops. How many other women, the likes of me, have been bad-vibed out of this world?
Maybe she read Hard Country and banned it!
Dinner with Nada, D’Carlo’s
Nada is 60, powerfully girl-like. Very tall, dark blonde, virginal. Michael Ventura says in one of his books that women who stay young are waiting to be seen. She grew up in Detroit, of the first wave of immigrants from Yugoslavia. “The second group was different. The community became divided.
“I saw a photo of decapitated heads with castrated penises in their mouths.” She is referring to the current Bosnian war. The wild light of trying to grasp this is in her — to not close down, no matter her Serbian female heritage.
“What is that?” she gasps.
I first saw this image in German-Jewish concentration camp footage from World War II, and then again from the French-Algerian War. And then the civil rights movement: black men hanging from our holy trees, their penises stuffed in their mouths.
When the stories of her tribe as rapists — of 10,000 women, then 30,000, then 100,000, then virtually every woman — start coming in, I will hear Nada's gasp over and over, “What is that?"
To say hatred of the body, profound hatred of God’s bodies, is inadequate. We go gladly to war. Genocide of 200,000 young male Iraqis in a 48-hour period, and call this good.
What is obscene?
Thousands of unwanted children being born of these rapes.
Tough Love or Something Typical (The Sado-Masochism of the American Psyche)
And is there not shame at the core of all one learns as one teams propriety? [Susan Griffin, A Chorus of Stones]
Inside, I turn on the TV for the special on the Santa Ysabel Mission she’s urged me to watch. I can’t find Santa Ysabel, see instead a news story on Filipino-San Diego gang initiation rites.
Six guys beating up one. Kicking him down a beach, stomping on him.
The interviewer is a young Asian woman.
“You know how your parents whip you for your own good? It’s love. Each of us has gone through it. It’s worth it because forever now you hair someone to back you up, to cover your back.”
“I was beaten by this guy. He’s my best friend. It’s love.”
Denial because you need love
Denial because you love
HHJ’s Child-Raising Philosophy
She could never forget the time her father called her “stupid child” in front of strangers when she brought him a wrong book from his study. [Evelyn Banning, Helen Hunt Jackson]
In Los Angeles she “assailed editorially a Presbyterian minister who whipped a child.” [Odell]
“She had trouble with the manager of the Horton House in San Diego, after returning
from the back country, because she interfered with his discipline of his child.”
Her book The Training of Children is published, 1882. It expresses her strong disapproval of corporal punishment and her sympathy for the punished child. “I myself was whipped...but I never lacked anything but the power to kill every human being that struck me.” [Banning]
Consider her children’s stories, “A Christmas Tree for Cats,” “The Naughtiest Day in My Life,” and “The First Time.” All these proclaimed her the rebel and nonconformist she always was at heart. [Odell]
Her child-rearing philosophy was no doubt strengthened by her contact with Native practices.
In late August [1893, Agua Caliente — Warners’ — Missionary Field Matron Julia M.] French’s watch had been stolen by an Indian boy. When the agent threatened to have the child punished, the villagers became angry, complaining that the incident occurred only because the [woman] invited the children into (her) house. |Mathes|
Unfortunately,...Jackson (did] not live long enough...to carry out her next project, which was to have been a child’s story on Indians for the Youth’s Companion. She wanted to educate children to grow up ready to be just. [Mathes]
The biographies are replete with stories of Helen being a difficult child — her soul’s struggle to stay true to itself. “Birthright,” she called it. Her parents’ fear and frustration coupled with the severe puritanical environment of Amherst, Massachusetts, no doubt cost her a lot. It’s a little miracle that by life’s end she begins to find it — herself — again.
She wrote, “Love of a child is greater than love of a husband. ”
This is truly radical, a profound counter to the “too romantic” charge against her.
How did they “allow" the child to grow up whole, sane, in love with itself and life — that is “romantic”? Has anyone studied this?
[The Southern California Indians’] restraint in eating, rapport with climate, deep slow breathing and steady pulse rate.... Their lack of shame regarding the body, their natural dignity in mating. Reality for the Indian is a conjunctive perception of matter and spirit...their ability to harmonize the elements of living into a unified consciousness. [George Wharton James. The Indian Secrets of Health]
Most studies of Native Americans describe a similar “philosophy" of life. How do we learn to read this as not too romantic?
The Cops. The Corps. The Courts. The Churches. The Critics.
How shame drives this unbending structure to which we must mold ourselves. [Griffin]
“The Nation condemned every one of her books, which shocked and devastated her." [Mathes]
But the radical magazine has a history of being against radical lit, has always been rightist, reactionary— “traditional,” that is, masculine— in its “aesthetic” tastes.
The human psyche produced of the dominance-submission paradigm is structured in negativity and fear, in the abuse of child-raising practices that “correct” the natural self, the unsaved soul. The spare-the-rod-and-spoil-the-child principle becomes the domestic violence, psychological destruction, and the seed of waring that is our hideous “history.”
We are from infancy taught “No!” Even in “loving" households we grow in the constant paranoid state of shame learning to be “civilized" by the giant, all-powerful adults in control of us. This early corrective atmosphere corrupts in the primal crisis of survival, the integral self, so that though it does survive —the soul is eternal — it does so obsessively, defensively, criminally, by any means necessary, is demonically dwarfed and deformed into the strait-jacket perversions we call personality, civilization. The “successful” of us have been shamed out of our true selves into the impersonal robot world, while the “failed” sleep in the gutters of all that’s been discarded.
Radicals are no less immune to this unexamined psychological war on our true natures than reactionaries, though this contradicts — is a true failing of the root meaning of “radical.” The history of 20th-century Communism destroyed by patriarchal authoritarianism — so-called radicalism “led” by men who are notorious haters of their emotions, their boyhoods, their mothers, their fathers, their siblings, their wives, their children, nature, of all that’s naturally human, (“romantic”) of all “sentimental” vestiges like love— is the epitome, is one with the ruthless “modern” takeover by the anti-romantics, the scientists and technicians (the Corps), the cops, and churches, the generals and doctors, whose main weapon is the ridicule, hence censorship, of heart emotions, natural forces like the seed and egg of the body; the family, the tribes we come from, and the lands. The paranoia of being romantic, a sissy, a fool, of not laying the newborn down, is the characteristic of dominance-submission cultures, and certainly the fear that betrays, destroys the Left, all such movements, like Jesus’.
But energy, psychic or mechanical, once created cannot be destroyed — this understanding is Freud’s great contribution. Suppressed, like the Eastern European countries under totalitarian rule, it will explode.
In the ancient matriarchal civilizations, violence was nonexistent because they were structured on partnership-communal principles, not on domination and submission principles as in patriarchies. In the Mediterranean (“the Garden”), ancient cultures are being excavated without a single weapon, without an incident recorded in the arts or in the psychology of the artists of violence, of the “typical" abuse of authoritarianism — without a single body exhumed as victim, other than accidental, of violent death.
Matriarchy is not the same thing as patriarchy with just a gender switch of the rulers. (The Right and the Left are not the same thing, nor is being “in the middle" the healthy, “correct” state.) The real polarities are dominator and partner, hierarchical and egalitarian, ranking and linking, linear and web, profit and sharing, communal and private (and all those vast realities hard for us to verbalize in the king’s English).
But since “-archy” means “rule,” “matriarchy” is not the correct word. “-Ship,” as in “partnership," means “to create,” and so: matriship.
Wednesday, November 11: Ramona Marie’s 47th Birthday, Traditional Veteran’s Day
“Daddy got on the zoning board, attended every planning meeting in Ramona. Oh, he hated the elitism, government for the rich. But one person can’t change things — he almost got arrested.
“This was early ’70s, one of the zoning hearings in San Diego, when they first were going to put the freeway in, which will be west of Ramona. A polluter. This is what we testified against.
“He was so mad, he accused this planner of taking bribes. The supervisor called the police. I calmed Fred down, I had to calm the planner down.
“You have to be against industry west of any city. Denver was ruined for putting industry west of their town. It will kill Ramona’s air.
“Pete Wilson was the assemblyman then. Then became mayor. Even Republicans, even Eunice didn’t like him."
Driving down Main, looking over at the Red Cross building, behind the Fast Bus, a face smiling at me. Ramon.
His blond flannel pegged trousers, a one-button rolled lapel suit with pink-and-black tie.
Veteran’s Day. If I went to the Wall in D.C., would I find him there?
Jim McWhorter is proud of his historical participation in the development of Ramona — he uses the phrases “reasonable growth,” “remarkable growth,” over and over.
Noon: Old Jim McWhorter’s
Pulling up to Horene Colerick’s big old farmhouse, the same eucalyptus, the same peacocks!
The breeze swishing the leaves above us; Ramon, drunk, his arm raised against the thick white trunk, vomiting. Then his sweaty head lunged into my chest. I hold him. Then his fist plunges again and again into the trunk, making his knuckles bleed. I don't know how I've come to be with him or why he's so upset, so crazed and furious. “Alcohol and Indian blood. ” I want to give myself to him to soothe the hideous pain of his life. “Earth Angel” is playing over and over, and when he kisses me I'm afraid of the Mojave in his face, the ancient paradoxical river.
“Alessandro’s Reason Is Affected.”
The critics say things like “character development is slight as is often true in novels with a social purpose, and certainly true in women’s fiction.” [Rosemary Whitaker, Helen Hunt Jackson] But Alessandro’s change from that of a powerful, intelligent 21-year-old mission-educated son of a chief to one of the “locoed” is painfully believable and disturbing. Alessandro is the destroyed personality so familiar to us from the streets.
In the beginning, Alessandro’s love of Ramona is as intense, deep, and pure — romantic— as hers of him. And then, so believably, the groom loses it, he changes the instant they are married. Winning the absolutely forbidden and “unobtainable” Ramona, consummating their love, making humans — is not enough. Or is too much.
Their marriage comes simultaneously with the destruction of his village, Temecula, and the ignominious/martyred death of his father, Chief Pablo. This is the end of the world, the simultaneous death of God, of one’s people, of all values, of hope. Love and marriage cannot last outside the gates. Even the incredible Crazy Horse loses it at the end, whoring and drinking on the res when he fully gets it — when he’s finally deprogrammed of the “romantic." Until then he had withstood intense conspiratorial efforts to make him unfaithful to his wife. Black Buffalo Woman.
Alessandro’s developing “dementia” is a correct, true metaphor for what happens to people, in dia. And for what happens to husbands in the patriarchal-capitalist world.
The front porch now is the McWhorters’ real-estate office. The living room is the production office for Ransom Hill Press. Margaret McWhorter is a published poet. “Young Jim McWhorter," about 40, a recent Chamber of Commerce president, and a sister are working here at marketing still another sister’s book, MLM Magic, How I Made $100,000 in lust 10 Months! You Can, Too! by Venus Andrecht.
The McWhorter family doesn’t just dig its eccentricities — it publicizes them, it markets them. In Ramona, scorpion in its surface social correctness, its deep secret perversities, this is so refreshing as to be heroic.
“That was Florene Colerick, who came back crying. I remember that night her father died.” She had a baby at 14, the first one of us. Her blue bulging veined 14-year-old breasts nursing her baby girl in the rocker in here.... How could I have forgotten this great rock fireplace in my story? “I had my first kiss right here," I tell them. A little white lie, shorthand to communicate the importance of this room, the long and complicated story.
He apologizes about himself. “Went down to the Board of Supervisors, lost my temper. Went Wind — a stroke, they said. Your daddy would appreciate that!”
Again I think I have to be prudent. I assume that anyone who knows the “conspiracy”— Chevron’s plans for Ramona — would be paranoid and sworn to secrecy. But Old McWhorter doesn’t acknowledge any conspiracy in his manner. He’s proud, in fact, of his historical participation in the development of Ramona — he uses the phrases “reasonable growth,” “remarkable growth,” over and over — and is pissed at the environmentalists, the ones who would stop progress in Ramona, specifically on the Guejito and in Pamo. “The City of San Diego plans a reservoir there, if the environmentalists don’t ka-poot the whole thing.”
He rants on, their cockeyed plans to save polywogs. “We are in a depression!"
“Will Clinton’s election help?” I ask.
“Clinton says he’ll put in roads.”
“Well, what about the road problem? There’s still only the same three two-lane roads into this valley. How many more people can you drive in here?”
“SA-603!” he exclaims, jumping up to the wall map. “It comes west from I-5 off Lake Hodges, through Highland Valley, then dips down into Ramona, right here, changes to Dye Road. The county picked it up. The route’s already there. That signal out there is six weeks old. Highland Valley to San Diego by Dye Road. SA-603, to the Grant Land 1374 to Eagle Ranch. Supposed to be Cedar Street, but could be Ash.”
Cedar Street! West side of Ramona! That’s 100 yards behind where I lay my head all my teenage years! Ash! I see the contours, what they’ll have to do to bring it in there. I remember my father showing me SA-603 on his geological survey maps on the walls of his real-estate office in the mid ’60s. The rich have such patience the poor can’t imagine.
“The airport area’s been zoned industrial. The airport department since 1988 has been hung up on 19 acres. Finally took it. Now enough’s been purchased this year to extend the present runway.
“It’ll rival Lindbergh Field. Zoned industrial around the airport, it will change Ramona. Now, our industrialized zone is in the creek! If it gets washed away....” he gestures to the heavens.
“Ka-poot," I offer.
“Eagle Ranch, Montecito, 900-plus acres, Cagney’s 1000 acres, added to the present one,” he’s gesturing wildly to the heart of the valley, around the airport, “Chevron didn’t buy it for nothing. They’re working on development now.”
“Someone told me they are going to fill up Clevenger Canyon.”
“Our well water, "he slows down to explain to me, “plain run out, mid-’50s. I was on the school board, the wells went dry. The kids couldn’t get a drink or take a shower. We imported water.
“Pamo? Don’t even try to get off the road. Foster, he has men who’ll damage your car. He turned me in one time. I told him what? Foster sold his land to the City of San Diego for a billion bucks, then became an environmentalist.”
He sits back down.
“I’m the one who did the deeds to Pamo Valley. I saw that San Diego didn’t have the bulk of the water rights in San Pasqual. The ‘No Growth’ bunch in Ramona Acres, in charge of the water, historic, and sewage district would have conniption if they knew.”
The City of San Diego came to own most of the San Pasqual Valley by building Sutherland Dam in Ramona in 1954. The dam cut off San Pasqual's water supply. Prior to Sutherland Dam, Santa Ysabel Creek ran year round. The valley farmers and dairymen sued the city in 1956. In 1957, the City of San Diego lost the suit and bought most of the valley floor. [Mary Reiser, The Spirit of San Pasqual]
“Yes, the Lemurians are still there on Montecito. For the most part they’re extremely rich people.” He says this meaning Good People, that is, the Best. He says this meaning they are not a cult, not questionable people — after all he has a family of nine to support. “Only one bad guy from Europe and they kicked him out. I know Al Gmur would talk to you if I told him to. Swiss, an industrialist, part of the church workshops. He’s very wealthy. And Matt Udov, very likable Lemurian, he’s head of them." The Advanced Ego!
Then he’s grumbling about the environmentalists again. “The irony is, they come up here, then don’t want anyone else here.”
“What ever happened to the turkey industry?”
“ ‘Ramona, The Turkey Capital of the World.’ Used to be stamped on every Thanksgiving hen and rooster the world consumed. Remember? Turkey Days? Well, as a turkey farmer myself. I’ll tell you. It wasn’t economical. I raised 5000 each year. The climate was — unpredictable. One year we had 100 percent mortality. That doesn’t happen now. You can raise them 24 hours a day now. You can raise them in lights, heated, with antibiotics. You can raise turkeys environmentally now.”
Summer 1961: Clarke working at a turkey ranch brought us four huge turkeys that had died in the heat. We ate turkey for months.
Then he’s talking about Kinzer’s turkey ranch out Highland Valley. “He was vice president of Quaker Oaks, a lawyer, his father was head of Carnation corporation. Everyone agreed he was a mess, tried to go to college, his father put him on this turkey ranch, kind of pathetic.”
The phone rings.
“You won’t believe who’s standing here in my office. Do you remember the Edens? Fred Edens built the first fast-food place in Ramona. And then he was in real estate — a competitor, but a friend. Sharon Edens. And he hung around with a gangster bank robber.”
I can’t believe my ears! Sam! To hear a reference to him is like someone referring to a dream you had years ago. That this old story still trails us!
“The FBI guy who arrested Sam liked it so much here he moved here. I was his agent, chauffeuring him around for days, ostensibly for real estate. He was really looking for Sam. But later, he came back.”
Out under the eucalyptus he’s leaning in my car window. “Ask your sister about Perry Morris. She made me promise never to tell your father. Make sure you tell her I never did.”
Our Bank Robber
Sam Gardiner was the only 'family friend’ we ever had. In the eighth grade he left for Utah to hunt uranium. He returned with money — a new pickup, a pink Cadillac, a movie camera, etc. He built Ramona’s first medical center, the cement block building on Tenth and D, and became active in town politics. “Every single woman in this town was after Sam,” as McWhorter just put it. Then, the July before my senior year, he was arrested in Escondido by the FBI for bank robbery. It was devastating, the betrayal — our house and drive-in were staked out — a long story perhaps I will write someday.
There are dozens of his films — of us, of life in Ramona “then," of the football and basketball games, parades, the construction of the dam, the Colorado first pouring in, the sunsets from Olive Hill. The FBI said, after selling the medical center and paying off everything, Sam was the first bank robber in FBI history to have made a profit. One film, long in possession of my sister and her daughters, appears to be directions to his buried treasure. Recently, this film has “disappeared.”
Julia Riley Dunkailo: “Karoll delivered us wood just before he died.”
In the afternoon, a gentle Santa Ana blowing, I go with Julie to Nuevo Gardens Cemetery in search of Ramon and others — Florene, Judy McDonald, Arnold Carrizosa, Karoll Reed — none of whom we find. At her son’s grave I literally fall to my knees in recognizing the little boy in the picture of the 20-year-old. Arthur “Allen" Dunkailo is buried just above Sylvia Smyth’s parents, who I last saw at my 1959 wedding, next to Rowen Ryker from our class, and near Dean “Weegie” Carrizosa, Arnold’s younger brother and one of my brother’s best friends. It’s sort of astounding to meet people here you haven’t seen and/or heard of in 30 years.
Julie points to the bottom of the hill, to the rose garden, where they have a bush in Allen’s name. Mama and Daddy visited here mid-’80s. “We know more people in Ramona,” Daddy said, “lying down than standing up.” That was when they told us their plan to be cremated, for us to spread their ashes from a plane above the valley, and then plant a rose for them in Nuevo Rose Gardens, along with everyone else. I was so relieved of some plan to plant them here.
But this patch looks so inconsequential, so fragile, even unhealthy. We walk among the roses, names of the dearest, the hardly known, names from your weekly newspaper, your gossip, to Allen’s bush.
Allen’s bush is dead.
Julia never loses it.
“I’ll have to tell Tony to get another one.”
“How short life is,” I say, as we drive down the far side of the horseshoe drive.
“We are sent here for a mission. That’s it, that’s all."
“What’s that?” I ask, pointing beyond her head, to rows of stacked white boxes.
“Sealers,” she says. “When they’re buried on the low part of the hill, you need them, so water won’t seep in.”
“Sealers!” I burst. She’s saying, “Tony said it’s just another way to get money out of us,” but I’m ranting, “What the fuck for? So Earth can't receive us! So Earth is denied our flesh and blood, our soul to her soil. Julia! I don’t even want a coffin. I want to dissolve back to earth. Earth needs us, we need the earth. Earth is human flesh and guts. The reason people want to be cremated is because they’re appalled at the idea of being embalmed, imprisoned, held prisoner for eternity in a fucking sealer!”
“Well,” she says, in her infinite wisdom, “you’re just going to have to get a piece of land.” We’re silent as I turn out of the Nuevo Memory Rose Gardens, then onto Magnolia, back toward town.
“What’s it like for you, all these years, being married?”
“He has his moods,” she says, very far away. “All men do."
I’ve never been good at seeing the future, it’s the past coming into the present that so rivets me, but once in my junior year I flashed into it.
I’m with my mother, she stops at Ramson’s Hardware on Sixth and B. I wait in the car beneath the pepper trees that span the whole sky.
A boy and a girl, about 11 and 8, come walking down the sidewalk. Danny and Shawn. I know them, our children, George, I know what they look like, I see who they are. I see that they are here now.
“That’s where I first saw Danny and Shawn,” I say now to Julia, gesturing down B from Seventh, telling her of it.
“I can understand that,” she says.
It’s only a little after five, but very dark. The light, yes, the light of the movies, but the dark, that there’s so much more here than places north and east. Is the night, that there’s so much night in Southern California, ever taken into account when trying to understand it?
We find Hair Cut Boulevard, in the Kmart shopping center.
“There’s Judy Ferguson now,” Julia says. I recognize her walk!
I’m looking into her mother’s face, a woman I hardly knew, a woman I couldn’t have remembered. It’s not that Judy’s aged — she’s dressed more punk than I — but that she’s changed.
I had forgotten the story—just that image of Judy alone and pregnant in 1961 in the one-room shack on Ninth and D. I had forgotten that she and Mickie Queen were married, that he was the father. He went into the Air Force, it wasn’t working out, she was two months pregnant. No, they didn’t know. She had DeAnda, now 31 years old. She got with Kenny Christman soon afterwards and had four more kids. For the 1990 reunion she called Mickie, retired from the Air Force in New Mexico. “DeAnda wanted to meet him, show him his grandkids.” So Mickie came to the reunion, met his grandkids. And his first wife again, after all these years. They remarried.
“I have the whole story framed on my wall, the first marriage certificate, ‘Judy Ferguson and Mickie Queen, February 5, 1961,’ and the second one, ‘September 5, 1991, Ensenada, Mexico.’ ”
“It’s funny but I can’t remember Mickie from the first time. I’ve been going all over town looking for a 1959 El Ano for photos of us. It’s really amazing though how we like the same things. Garage sales in 1960? No way! We both like to shoot guns, we have a target range at the trailer, we like to boogie board, things neither of us did then or even knew about. Now we go to the places we went then, like down to the Escondido Drive-In, try and remember.”
“Do you know what happened to Ramon?” “Ray Rice died in a shootout in Santa Ysabel.”
“The Indians were having one of their powwows in Santa Ysabel. They had guns.” She says this sarcastically. “Ray was a Santa Ysabel Indian, did you know that? They were drinking at that old bar in Santa Ysabel at the intersection there, where they hung out. A big shootout upstairs. They didn’t mean to shoot him. but he got it.”
“Wasn’t he in a phone booth?” Julie says, remembering, “and they shot him as they drove by?”
I too am almost remembering — I’ve heard this before....
“He’d be buried at Santa Ysabel — all the Indians are. It don’t cost anything.” She says this in sarcasm. “Go to the mission, ask them. Or Janet Stevenson, she’d know.”
I ask her about Kenny Christman, about the robbery with Karoll, early ’60s, their time in prison, Suzi and I wrote to them, and if they were cousins, but my mind is blown. Ramon died in that shootout, he’s lying in the graveyard at Santa Ysabel.
“No relation to Karoll. Kenny was Inaja, did you know that? Raised in El Cajon. Years ago the Christmans had to sign papers. The great fire destroyed those papers. Now there’s no one living on that reservation — there used to be a little church and a few houses — and no way to prove my kids are Inaja.
“Kenny beat me. He was so jealous I couldn’t go to the same gas station twice. He’s a year older than me, so he’s 51, 52 now.”
Of course Ramon died of bullets. I’ve heard so many versions — “shot on Main Street in Julian, ” “shot in a bar over a girl, ’’dead in Vietnam, a CIA assassination. After what Sharon Rollins told me, I guess I just dismissed the Santa Ysabel story with the rest.
“Karoll delivered us wood just before he died,” Julia says.
“I got tired of the hair business," Judy says, “was working at 7-Eleven. Karoll came in, skinny. I knew he must be on crystal or something — though who knows, really. And then the next time I saw him he was fat. Things started going wrong with his insides. He told me he hadn’t thought about things going wrong inside. He died a couple of months later of a heart attack.
“Karoll had two wives, and he has a daughter. His mother Noreen is still alive. She’s on the reservation, you should go see her."
They both agree “she’s a real character.” I’m coming from my car again to her under the tree that day. “Sharon Lura Edens. ”
“There was a bad accident though. Two of the brothers went off Clevenger Canyon, Nathan was killed. Timothy was brain damaged. He’s real slow now. Little Jerry is alive, he and his wife live up there too, I think.”
“Do you realize, Judy,” copping out on the intensity, changing the subject involuntarily, “our fathers were poker players together, along with Tony and Ronnie Rodolf?”
We sort of gasp and laugh at the same time.
“Wonder if they ever talked about us.” “You look so much like your mother!” “Yeah, people tell me that all the time. My mother died when Christina, my baby, was two months old.”
Then I ask her about her childhood place above Clevenger Canyon.
“Oh, my brother got all that.”
Ramon died in that shootout.
She reaches for a photo album on her counter, tells us what each of her five kids are doing. I remember Mickie Queen in DeAnda’s 30-year-old face. I remember Kenny Christman in Kenny Christman Jr.’s face, a face I had forgotten, except for its profound beauty, gorgeous in the way the rainbow children are, the ancient rivers so paradoxical in their faces even as you look at them, Judy’s redhead Scotch-lrish, Dutch-French face with the Inaja of his father. Alima: the people in between with secret knowledge in the heart. The rainbow children arc the future of the world.
BAM! Ramon’s dead.
A very hip, funny-odd guy comes in for a haircut. I ask the most stupid question. “Are you happy, Judy?" I guess it slipped from the symbol she’s always been for me, the abandoned, pregnant girl.
Her eyes roll back, slightly, considering the question. Then, very carefully, almost beneath her breath, she says, “Yes. I’m a hard person to live with. I raised five kids by myself. Been here, Ramona, the whole time. Never left. Mickie doesn’t beat me, he isn’t jealous. We like the same things, things neither of us did then or knew about...."
“Like sex,” the funny hip guy chimes in.
She grins, and nods very slightly, in pure dignity, yes.
Out in the lot an exotic silver car is next to my rental. The funny hip guy’s.
“He owns half of Ramona.” Julia explains as we walk around it. She’s saying again I should get ahold of the Lemurian, John Sandor, and about the fire that went all the way to Miramar, but I’m thinking Ramon, Ramon.
Rolling down into the windy heart of Ramona. “Dr. de Kock,” she says as we pass the office I was anally examined in at 14 for the excruciating pain in my lower right side, rather than vaginally, my mother in the room to preserve my hymen. One’s name is aural instructions.... “He recently killed himself. He was molesting his grandson. His son-in-law reported him. They were going to trial...."
I’m letting it out about Ramon, telling her all the dead stories I’ve heard of him through time, but how the one Sharon Rollins Warnock told me in 1977 has forever grounded me to not believe he’s dead, and how she was generous to me for the first time ever. She was recovering from a suicide attempt; her 16-year-old son Sean — I got my daughter’s name from him — had left with his father, Bill Warnock, of the pioneer family, the first white Ramonans.
“She was heartbroken, in therapy maybe.... I don’t know, but she was — open — generous with me, even to the point of being able to share with me the pain of being a Bank of America employee and people like me trying to bomb the Isla Vista bank. You know?” and I feel that little terror of saying something never voiced before. “Sharon Rollins, Joanne Pratt, and Barbara Gilmore made life miserable for me in high school.”
“Sharon Rollins was extremely jealous of you.”
We roll from Eighth to Seventh.
“I didn’t have a concept of jealousy back then.”
The fact is, I hardly do now.
But how good her acknowledgment feels. Of what I always experienced without words, explanation.
Out front of the Ramona Valley Inn, sitting in my snazzy rental, Jesus’s grandmother, Saint Ann, whipping the trees, the miraculous Julia Riley Dunkailo finally blows it — though I admit a little pleasure in this, since I’m the scandalous one in the family, my sister so beloved. I speak of her, mi hermana, the great healer.
“Donna Edens? I heard your sister joined a cult.”
Circle K, Midnightish
“How is it working here?”
Something in the fluorescent blood veins beneath the dissolving cell tissue of her face causes me ask.
“Since April,” she says, “the new boss is hard. He grabbed me by the shoulders, shoved me up against the wall. I’m thinking of reporting him to Phoenix. I shouldn't lose my job for that, should I?"
Driving back up the hill against the wind, going behind Main Street, looking for the Carrizosa grandma, the white, deeply rutted dirt road just like Mexico.
Ramona’s always been a lot like Mexico.