Friday, October 23, 2009

Golf, H.B., Woodimals, and the Santa Ana winds

Today's photo shows Coach Lloyd H. Hamren (1886-1975) and the Huntington Beach High School Golf Team on May 2, 1951. Coach Hamren looks like he must have been quite a character. The municipal golf course -- which was adjacent to the High School -- is all condos now. But what isn't?
Ken at OutsideTheBerm just posted a nice piece on Forrest Morrow and his "Woodimals," which once resided on Knott's Berry Farm's Jungle Island.
The recent mild Santa Ana wind conditions have stirred the pot again on the perennial argument over spelling and pronunciation: "Santa Ana winds" (like the city) or "santana winds" (possibly a reference to the devil). The Register ran an article about this last year, which generated quite a few comments on their website. (Who knows why they closed down the comments on this article.)
Jim Sleeper gives about the best accounting of "Santa Ana wind" history I've seen, in pages 71-79 of his first Orange County Almanac:

"...'Devil Wind,' a label inspired no doubt, by the hellish nature of these zephyrs. To support this, the Indian word zanta (possibly Swahili) was dredged up and translated 'devil.' As explained in the Santa Ana Register, 'Santana, of course, was merely a corruption of that well known Indian word,' a theory that holds up about as well as would a snowball in the subject under discussion...

"However, on the authority of John P. Harrington, a research assistant of the Smithsonian Institute, there is a grain of support for the old Devil theory, if not the name that goes with it.

"'Years ago [wrote Harrington], I had a unique experience. I drove with an old Indian from Olive up the Santa Ana River Canyon. Pretty soon after leaving Olive we seem to have been on the north side of the Santa Ana River. We went through a big kind of low place. The Indian said that that was the devil's house, that the devil lived there in the form of a whirlwind, and that a whirlwind is often seen there...'"
Jim also cites Fr. St. John O'Sullivan's interview with Dona Magdalena Murillo (who was born on the Rancho Las Bolsas in 1848), in which she explains that the wind got its name because it "came down the Santa Ana Canyon."
Also, Jim points out that the first instance of the term "Santa Ana winds" in print, was in the April 12, 1873 Anaheim Gazette.
So I'm voting for "Santa Ana winds," even if the Santa Ana Chamber of Commerce doesn't like it much.


Gustavo Arellano said...

This "debate" again! Simple Spanish cancels folk etymologies easily, as Jim hinted at in his Almanac. "Santana" is merely "Santa Ana" combined, a result from the process of elision, nearly mandatory in Spanish whenever a word ends in a vowel and the following word starts with the same one--for instance, us less-assimilated Mexicans will say "pa'tras" instead of "para atrás" (toward the back).

Also, if the Spaniards really wanted to call the Santa Ana winds the devil winds, why didn't they? Chris: You would know better than anyone--is there any record the Spaniards or Californios called them "los vientos del diablo" (the devil winds)? And they would've used the term diablo instead of Satanás (Satan), as Beezelbub's name is one not really used in the language of Cervantes.

Chris Jepsen said...

Thanks for the Spanish language perspective. (I know just enough to get myself in a lot of trouble.)

I'm unaware of any record of the Spaniards or Californios using terms like "diablo" in reference to these winds. However, I have seen some references to names dealing with the direction the winds came from. (e.g. "El viento del norte.")

Personally, I'd *like* them to be known as "devil winds" -- Both because I hate them, and because the it's a more colorful name. But I'm afraid it comes down to them being named for Santa Ana Canyon.

CoxPilot said...

Growing up in Santa Ana in the '50s, we always called them the "Santa Ana" winds. However; I went to school with a lot of Spanish speaking peoples, many of which were friends, and they always said "Vientos de Santana". We all knew that it was the same.

Chris Jepsen said...

Whatever you call them, they trigger my allergies and make me miserable. There are reasons we Orange Countians chose not to live in the desert. It's not fair for the desert to come find us.

Gustavo Arellano said...

Chris: If all you know is enough Spanish to get you in trouble, then you know the right words ;-)!