Monday, March 19, 2012

St. Joseph's Day in Capistrano

Today is St. Joseph's Day, when the cliff swallows traditionally return to Mission San Juan Capistrano. I say "traditionally," because the only swallows nests you'll find there today are the fake ones tacked in place for purposes of "historical interpretation."

It seems Capistrano isn't the cool place for swallows to hang out these days. First they moved to the Mission Viejo Mall, and the last I heard they were using the Vellano Country Club in Chino Hills and underpasses on the I-5 Freeway as their Southern California nesting places. I doubt anyone will write romantic songs about freeways and malls to update Leon René's 1940 hit, "When the Swallows Come Back to Capistrano," (sheet music shown above).

That song has been covered by a wide array of artists from the Ink Spots to Gene Autry to Bugs Bunny. Wikipedia claims, "A glassed-off room in the mission was later designated in René's honor, and displays the upright piano on which he composed the tune, the reception desk from his office, several copies of the song's sheet music and other pieces of furniture, all donated by René's family."

I have no memory of seeing this room, but it would hardly be the first time that either my memory or Wikipedia had failed me.
The Mission, of course, is celebrating St. Joseph's Day today, with bell ringing and other festivities. The city as a whole will celebrate the Fiesta de las Golondrinas on Saturday the 24th, with the traditional parade, etc.

Any guesses where the swallows will alight this year?


Anonymous said...

No guesses from me where the swallows will be this year, but I sure enjoyed reading this post! Thanks for remembering "las golondrinas" on St. Joseph's Day! :) - Daralee

Tom T said...

When we visited the mission in June of 2015 we did in fact see the glassed off room mentioned in the Wikipedia article. I was looking on line for the sheet music since I sing with a group of "senior citizens" who visit nursing homes and put on monthly programs of golden oldie music. I thought this would be a good choice for our March program. The only available copies of sheet music seem to be original editions on sites like e-bay. I need to get to the attic and see if it's in my box of old music. By the way we did see some of the then empty mud nests at the mission last June. Here in Ohio we look for the buzzards to return to Hinckley on March 15.