Thursday, January 22, 2015

Talk Like A Grizzled Prospector Day, Jan. 24, 2015

This Saturday, Jan. 24, is Talk Like A Grizzled Prospector Day! It’ll be perzactly 167 years since the day when gold(!) was discovered at Sutter’s Mill, settin’ off Californee’s big Gold Rush! And all ye gotta do t’ celebrate this historical day appropriate-like is to talk like a dag-nabbed grizzled prospector!

This year, purt near everybody's talking about TLAGPD, including such high-falutin' publications as Uncle John's Bathroom Reader and the Heritage Hill Assisted Living Newsletter (Caro, MI).
An’ this year I figger ye ain’t got no excuse no-how fer not talkin’ like a dad-gummed grizzled prospector, since she falls on a Saturday. Yer bosses, grubstakers, ‘n’ whatnot cain’t rightly put up a fuss, seein’ as yer talkin’ like a grizzled prospector on yer own durn time.
So, tell yer friends, mark your calendar, and be ready to talk like a grizzled prospector, consarn it! Here’s some Interwebby-type link fer sharin’ with yer amigos:
Now, I'd best skedaddle back to my claim afore some hornswogglin', bushwhackin' sidewinder jumps it. Have a good 'un!

(Thanks to Heather David an’ Kevin Kidney fer the purty pitchurs in t'day's post!)

Friday, January 16, 2015

Unknotting The Treehouse Legend

I've written an article for Werner Weiss' wonderful Yesterland website about the connection between Disneyland's Swiss Family Treehouse attraction and the enormous (and real, and historic,) Moreton Bay Fig Tree at Founders Park in Anaheim. Hope you enjoy it. (LINK)

Friday, January 02, 2015

David Belardes (1947-2014)

Steve Adamson, David Belardes, Chris Jepsen & Don Dobmeier at the Orange County Historical Society, 2011.
"If somebody remembers the Juanenos, or if my children and grandchildren remember who they are and where they came from, then my efforts have been worthwhile." --David Belardes
Another respected member of Orange County's historical community has passed away. David's obituary, headed, "Chief, Chairman, Tribal Scholar, Historian, Genealogist and Teacher," appeared Jan. 1 and 2 in the Orange County Register. I'm reprinting it here,...
David Lee Belardes, born to Frances and Matias Belardes on March 8, 1947, Chief and Chairman of the Juaneno Band of Mission Indians, Acjachemen Nation, and lifelong resident of San Juan Capistrano, passed away surrounded by loved ones on Monday, December 29, 2014. He is survived by his sons, Matias and Domingo Belardes, grandchildren, Matias, Ciara, Marcella, Wyatt, Antonio and Andres Belardes; his sister, Donna Murphey, husband Butch, three children, five grandchildren and two great grandchildren; brother-in-law, Rueben Paramo, wife Debbie, six children and sixteen grandchildren.

Raised with a deep sense of community and an understanding of the ways of his ancestors and Old Time families of San Juan Capistrano, David remained committed to honoring the traditions of his people. With quiet dignity and often behind the scenes, David devoted his life to supporting the community. He was always there to lend a hand without ever seeking recognition. He helped community members with burial services, taking care of Elders, providing wood for ceremonies, supporting young peoples' search for family histories, and in many other ways. David was recognized across the state as a scholar amongst the scientific and archaeological communities for his expansive knowledge of San Juan Capistrano and tribal history. Throughout his life he advocated on behalf of the Juaneno people throughout Orange County, the state and the nation. In 1993, under his leadership, the Juaneno Band of Mission Indians, Acjachemen Nation received the honor of being the first state recognized tribe in California. A man of vision and conviction, David was always willing to take a strong stand on behalf of the Native Americans of San Juan Capistrano, even when such positions were not politically popular.

Over the course of his life-long dedication to raising cultural and historic awareness about San Juan's first people, the Juaneno Indians, Mr. Belardes was deeply involved in many local and state preservation organizations and received numerous awards in recognition of his work. He was a founding Board Member of the California Mission Studies Association and the California Mission Foundation, Founding Board Member and President of the Blas Aguilar Adobe Foundation, served on the Board of the Orange County, Saddleback Valley, and San Juan Capistrano Historical Societies, served as a member of the City of San Juan Capistrano Cultural Heritage Commission for many years, helped establish the Capistrano Indian Council and was instrumental in bringing Indian Education to Capistrano Unified School District where he worked for over thirty years. He was a recipient of the San Juan Capistrano Cultural Heritage Award, an honoree for the City of San Juan Capistrano Wall of Recognition, and a recipient of the Father Fermin Francisco de Lasuen Award for superior contributions in furthering the preservation and protection of California Missions. David's legacy of cultural and historic preservation lives on through his family.

Viewing will be on Friday, January 2, 2015, from 6:00 p.m.-7:00 p.m., followed by the Rosary from 7:00 p.m.-9:00 p.m. in Serra Chapel, San Juan Capistrano. Services will take place in the Mission Basilica on Saturday, January 3, 2015, beginning at 12:00 p.m., reception to follow. In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations be made to the Blas Aguilar Adobe Foundation.
 In another Register article, San Juan Capistrano Historical Society President Tom Ostensen called David an "encyclopedia of local history, folklore and cultural resources,” Ilse Byrnes called him an "enormous source and resource for historic preservation,” and David's cousin, Jerry Nieblas, likened his death to the closing of a history book that we'll "never be able to take off the shelf" again.

I understand how Jerry feels, but I think in time we'll see just how much knowledge David Belardes shared with other people, and will see that many of them will pass along what they learned.

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Santa Ana Rings in 1915

Celebrating the arrival of the new year a century ago would, in some ways, be familiar to many of us. Most folks spent the evening at home with family and friend or perhaps at a small party. The Santa Ana Register reported one such party "at the cozy new home" of H. F. Hayward, 734 Cypress Ave.: "The self-invited guests brought refreshments and had arranged a program of games, and the evening sped along with much merriment. As the clock struck twelve, one guest came in dressed all in white, with a badge across the breast on which was printed the words, 'January 1st, 1915.'"

Of course, some prefer larger gatherings: "The masque carnival at the Armory skating rink on New Year's eve was socially a big success. [The Armory Building near 4th and Birch St. was turned into a skating rink for special events.] Two hundred and seventy-five enjoyed the rollers during the evening, which ended with a confetti battle. The committee of five chosen from the spectators in the balcony, which was packed the entire evening, acted as judges for the prize costumes. Awards were made as follows: Ladies' first prize, Miss Leora Peters (a typical cow girl), gold bracelet; gentlemen's first prize (cowboy), solid gold cuff buttons'; ladies' second prize (comic), Miss Margaraet Wilson, Yama Yama girl [a character from a popular 1908 musical], cut glass nappy [candy dish]; gentlemen's second prize (comic), Dutchman, gold watch-chain."

New Year's day itself "was celebrated quietly in Santa Ana, the attractions of the opening of the San Diego Exposition and the Rose Tournament drawing hundreds of people away from the city. Cars were crowded yesterday with local people going to the Crown City, but the San Diego pilgrims largely left by train on Wednesday afternoon and evening. Family dinners and dinner parties were much in evidence, no so largely as at Christmas time, but still enough of these to make the day bright with the social spirit."

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Merry Christmas

The Great Stone Church, Mission San Juan Capistrano, Christmas 2011
With the majority of my gift-wrapping now done, I'm taking a moment to post a few photos I took at Christmastime 2011 at Mission San Juan Capistrano.  The image above is from the ruins of "the Great Stone Church" which was destroyed in an earthquake 202 years ago.
Soldiers' barracks, Mission San Juan Capistrano, Christmas 2011
 The soldiers' barracks building is now used to show films about the Mission's story and also as meeting space. At the holidays, it usually features a beautiful Christmas tree.
Serra Chapel, Mission San Juan Capistrano, Christmas 2011
And where better to tell the story of Christmas than in Serra Chapel (1782), the oldest church in California, and the only remaining church where Fr. Junípero Serra himself celebrated Mass.

A visit to the Mission is always worthwhile, but this seems an especially appropriate time of the year to do so.

Merry Christmas to you all.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Marion Knott Montapert (1922-2014)

Marion Knott at 75th anniversary of her mother's restaurant, 6-13-2009.
Marion Knott Montapert, the last of Walter and Cordelia Knott's children  -- and the only one of their children to be born on their famous berry farm -- died  November 13.  Over the years, she went from selling rhubarb on street corners, to waiting tables in her mother's tea room, to managing Marion & Toni's Dress Shop with her sister, to being a key player in the planning and operations for one of the world's best-known theme parks. She put a fence around the park, added the Fiesta Village and Roaring 20s areas, and introduced rollercoasters. 

An obituary for her appears in the Orange County Register, and a shorter blurb about her passing appeared in the L.A. Times. I won't rehash them here, but I will share a few additional comments...
Marion Knott on "Boomerang" rollercoaster at Knott's Berry Farm, 1990.
When Phil Brigandi and I were bringing the enormous Knott's Berry Farm historical collection over to the Orange County Archives and were trying to organize and make sense of it all,  Marion Knott was a great resource. She not only answered a bunch of Phil's questions, but we also got the chance to scan some of her personal scrapbooks of the farm.

I did not meet her in person until 2009. She had not visited Knott's Berry Farm since the family sold it to Cedar Fair, and had sworn she'd never return. But for the 75th anniversary of  her mother's restaurant (Mrs. Knott's Chicken Dinner Restaurant), she made an exception. She was very much afraid of what she would find. What would the new people have done to the place she and her parents and her siblings had built?

To her surprise, she was very pleased with what she found, and she said so publicly. She was very gracious and patient with all the people who wanted to meet her that day, including me.

Of course, I wasn't going to write about Marion Knott today, until I heard about her passing. I was going to write about the good news that has added a large portion of the old Santa Ana Register to their searchable database. One of my first searches after getting access to a account was to find the Register's earliest references to the Knott family after their arrival in Orange County.

The earliest Knott references, in the mid-1920s, are surprisingly not about the soon-to-be-famous berry farmer, Walter. Rather, they are about Cordelia Knott attending the Jolly Stitchers club of Buena Park, with baby Marion in tow. Today, of course, hardly a day goes by when the Knott name fails to appear in the paper. About 4,000 people a day enjoy the theme park that bears their name, and -- at least for now -- even more enjoy the line of jams and preserves they created. And the philanthropic work the Knott family continues to do in Orange County has had an enormous impact.
The Knott children: Toni, Russell, Virginia and little Marion, circa 1925.

At the time of her death, Marion Knott was next on the list of people to be approached for an interview for the Orange County Historical Society's oral history project. Let this be a lesson to all of us who do local history work: Always interview the older generation NOW, not later.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Election Day and Halloween are coming soon

Election Day has long had the indignity of falling soon after Halloween, providing obvious opportunities to recast political hobgoblins as "real" ones and to make comparisons between politicians and other unholy creatures. In this political cartoon from the Nov. 1, 1914 Los Angeles Times, California's reform-minded governor, Hiram Johnson, is bedeviled by a host of issues. Despite the frightening cast of characters around him here, Johnson easily won re-election two days later, getting nearly twice as many votes as the next runner-up.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

A couple more scenes from O.C.'s 125th birthday

Fairgrounds, Aug. 1: Giant walking "fair foods" add gravitas to the national anthem.
In addition to the aforementioned museum exhibit, the well-attended birthday party/dinner, and the presentations before the Board of Supervisors, Orange County's quasquicentennial (125th birthday) has also been celebrated in a number of other ways. There was a day-long shin-dig in San Juan Capistrano (big on fun, short on history), a special program at the O.C. Fairgrounds on the County's actual birthday (Aug. 1st), a lecture before the Old Courthouse Museum Society, an article by Erika Ritchie in the Register, an event at Irvine Park sponsored by the O.C. Historical Commission, and (it would now appear) a forthcoming new edition of the book Visiting Orange County's Past.
Fairgrounds, Aug. 1: Jim Washburn celebrates with a little flag waving.
 I did not make it to all the events, but I was disappointed to see that a number of events with lots of potential ended up not being promoted. It's hard to have a party without people. Oh, well,... We'll have all our ducks in a row for O.C. 150th birthday, in 2039.

A few OC125 tchotchkes have emerged from this year's celebrations, including two very-limited-edition pins, official OC125 mason jars(!?) from OC Parks, and some OC125-branded postcards and bookmarks from the Orange County Archives. I think everyone who came up with stuff like this was essentially working with no budget, so this is pretty good for an off-beat anniversary like 125. Centennials and sesquicentennials are easier sells.
Phil Brigandi discusses O.C.'s 125th birthday at the Old Courthouse., 7-17-2014.