This month, the topic of Senior Book Break was "California History."
The Senior Book Break met on Tuesday, February 11th for a lively discussion of California History. The books were:
Zorro by Isabel Allende
A writer of great repute, she described a person born in May, 1795 at the San Gabriel Mission in Alta, California. Raised with a wet nurse and her son, he learned the differences of position. At some point he was sent to Spain for education and stayed an indeterminate length of time. Back in California the legend began. Our discussion concerned whether there was a real Zorro (Spanish for fox) or if he was a compilation of several people, or simply a legend. Allende does not say. Surely, some of his exploits seem very extraordinary.
**This book was generously donated to the Grover Beach Community Library and will soon be on our shelves.
The Face of the Clam by Luther Whiteman
A book about the Dunites who lived in the Oceano dunes, a hobo element who formed an informal community. The population grew larger in winter, which is milder in this area. Fish, clams and other small game were available along with vegetables that were ‘freed’ from the local Japanese farmers helped them to survive. Some were starving artists and others simply did not conform to the norms of the era.
The Dunites by Norm Hammond
Also spoke of the fact that it was a good place to hole up in the winter. The homeless formed a community of poets, writers, free thinkers and followers of ‘Lumeria’. All were welcome.
Our discussion led to recollections of people we had met that are still in the area. Most, often seen fishing off the pier or surf fishing, are an interesting element in our area. At one time they had their own Dunite doctor, and made semi-permanent or permanent huts and homes. They tended to be more individualistic than the current homeless. The differences between the two was discussed.
**Both books are in the Local History section of the Grover Beach Community Library.
Desperate Passage by Ethan Rarick
This book was about the well-known, ill-fated Donner Party. Much of the book was taken from diaries that were found or from survivors themselves. They started their trip over the mountains late in the year, took the wrong advice, which made the trip longer and led to their desperate situation. There were many things that happened that were very ugly that did not get out. One fact in their favor was that no one was killed to become sustenance for the others. They only consumed those already deceased. How many survived was unexplainable.
Our discussion mainly consisted of thankfulness that we, ourselves, had never been in such a desperate situation. That we had all said “I wish I had never done that” at sometime in our lives.
***This book is in the non fiction area of the Grover Beach Community Library.
This Is Our Valley by Vada Carlson
This is a history of the Santa Maria Valley. It starts with a geologic description of the rivers and streams that formed the area and made it a great place to develop a community. It started in what is now Foxen Canyon with a Spanish Land Grant. Families were large and it took many people to clear and farm the area.
Parts of the book are simply genealogies of pioneer families. The first actual settlement was La Graciosa which is now Orcutt. After stores, a post office, law and order and a township map began, another Land Grant was given to H.M.Newhall who then filed notice of ‘ejectment’ requiring all to leave, homes included, and claimed $40,000 in damages. With no choice, the people left, many going to Guadalupe. I do not believe he got any of his “damages.” The book contains many names remembered in Santa Maria by street names. It described how other towns were started taking in everything from Point Sal to parts of San Luis Obispo. Interspersed with facts are rollicking stories of many of the characters who were our predecessors.
Other books discussed were about people going to other lands and how they lived. They included:
Icon by Bodie & Brock Thorne: Writing about water rights in the California Valley area.
Fire Is Nice by Rolynn Anderson
North to The Orient by Anne Morrow Lindbergh
A Passage to India by E. M. Forster
Next month’s Senior Book Break is March 10th at 10:30 a.m. We will talk about first novels by the author of your choice. It can be that author’s first book printed or the first book in a series.
As usual, coffee and munchies will be supplied. Hope to see you there.
Book Break notes were submitted by Fran Strauser