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Ojai Orange | The Column of Lasting Insignificance | Books | Wait-A-Minute

December 13, 2008
John Wilcock - January 5, 2008

 

  The column of lasting insignificance
     


also posted:



2011
November 26 2011
November 19, 2011
November 12, 2011
November 5, 2011
October 29, 2011
October 22, 2011
October 15, 2011
October 8, 2011
October 1, 2011
September 24, 2011
September 17, 2011
September 10, 2011
September 4, 2011
August 27, 2011
August 20, 2011
August 13, 2011
August 6, 2011
July 30, 2011
July 23, 2011
July 16, 2011
July 9, 2011
July 2, 2011
June 25, 2011
June 18, 2011
June 11, 2011
June 4, 2011
May 28, 2011
May 21, 2011
May 14, 2011
May 7, 2011
April 30, 2011
April 23, 2011
April 16, 2011
April 9, 2011
April 2, 2011
March 26, 2011
March 19, 2011
March 12, 2011
March 5, 2011
February 26, 2011
February 19, 2011
February 12, 2011
February 5, 2011
February 5, 2011
January 29, 2011
January 22, 2011
January 15, 2011
January 6, 2011

2010
December 25, 2010
December 18, 2010
December 11, 2010
December 4, 2010
November 27, 2010
November 20, 2010
November 13, 2010
November 6, 2010
October 30, 2010
October 23, 2010
October 16, 2010
October 9, 2010
October 2, 2010
September 25, 2010
September 18, 2010
September 11, 2010
September 4, 2010
August 28, 2010
August 21, 2010
August 14, 2010
August 7, 2010
July 31, 2010
July 24, 2010
July 17, 2010
July 10, 2010
July 3, 2010
June 26, 2010
June 19, 2010
June 12, 2010
June 5, 2010
May 29, 2010
May 22, 2010
May 15, 2010
May 8, 2010
May 1, 2010
April 24, 2010
April 17, 2010
April 10, 2010
April 3, 2010
March 27, 2010
March 20, 2010
March 13, 2010
March 6, 2010
February 27, 2010
February 20, 2010
February 13, 2010
February 6, 2010
January 30, 2010
January 23, 2010
January 16, 2010
January 9, 2010
January 2, 2010

2009
December 26, 2009
December 19, 2009
December 12, 2009
December 5, 2009
November 28, 2009
November 21, 2009
November 14, 2009
November 7, 2009
October 31, 2009
October 24, 2009
October 17, 2009
October 10, 2009
October 3, 2009
September 26, 2009
September 19, 2009
September 12, 2009
September 5, 2009
August 29, 2009
August 22, 2009
August 15, 2009
August 8, 2009
August 1, 2009
July 25, 2009
July 18, 2009
July 11, 2009
July 4, 2009
June 27, 2009
June 20, 2009
June 13, 2009
June 6, 2009
May 30, 2009
May 23, 2009
May 16, 2009
May 9, 2009
May 2, 2009
April 25, 2009
April 18, 2009
April 11, 2009
April 4, 2009
March 28, 2009
March 21, 2009
March 14, 2009
March 7, 2009
February 28, 2009
February 21, 2009
February 14, 2009
February 7, 2009
January 31, 2009
January 24, 2009
January 17, 2009
January 3, 2009

2008
December 27, 2008
December 20, 2008
December 13, 2008
December 6, 2008
November 29, 2008
November 22, 2008
November 15, 2008
November 8, 2008
November 5, 2008
November 1, 2008
October 25, 2008
October 18, 2008
October 11, 2008
October 4, 2008
September 27, 2008
September 20, 2008
September 13, 2008
September 6, 2008
August 30, 2008
August 23, 2008
August 16, 2008
August 9, 2008
August 2, 2008
July 26, 2008
July 19, 2008
July 12, 2008
July 5, 2008
June 28, 2008
June 21, 2008
June 14, 2008
June 7, 2008
May 31, 2008
May 24, 2008
May 17, 2008
May 10, 2008
May 3, 2008
April 26, 2008
April 19, 2008
April 12, 2008
April 5, 2008
March 29, 2008
March 22, 2008
March 15, 2008
March 8, 2008
March 1, 2008
February 23, 2008
February 16, 2008
February 9, 2008
February 2, 2008
January 26, 2008
January 19, 2008
January 12, 2008
January 5, 2008

2007
December 29, 2007
December 22, 2007
December 15, 2007
December 8, 2007
December 1, 2007
November 24, 2007
November 17, 2007
November 10, 2007
November 3, 2007
October 27, 2007
October 20, 2007
October 13, 2007
October 6, 2007
September 29, 2007
September 22, 2007
September 15, 2007
September 8, 2007
September 1, 2007
August 25, 2007
August 18, 2007
August 11, 2007
August 4, 2007
July 28, 2007
July 21, 2007
July 14, 2007
July 7, 2007
June 30, 2007
June 23, 2007
June 16, 2007
June 9, 2007
June 2, 2007
May 19, 2007
May 12, 2007
May 5, 2007
April 28, 2007
April 21, 2007
April 14, 2007
April 7, 2007
March 31, 2007
March 24, 2007
March 17, 2007
March 10, 2007
March 3, 2007
February 24, 2007
February 17, 2007
February 10, 2007
February 3, 2007
January 20, 2007
January 13, 2007
January 6, 2007

2006
December 30, 2006
December 23, 2006
December 16, 2006
December 9, 2006
December 2, 2006
November 25, 2006
November 18, 2006
November 11, 2006
November 4, 2006
October 28, 2006
October 21, 2006
October 14, 2006
October 7, 2006
September 30, 2006
September 23, 2006
September 16, 2006
September 9, 2006
September 2, 2006
August 26, 2006
August 19, 2006
August 12, 2006
August 5, 2006
July 29, 2006
July 22, 2006
July 15, 2006

 

 



December 13, 2008

Although Helen Hunt Jackson’s book was fiction, there actually was a real Ramona, whose story was tracked down by historian Phil Brigandi who, until earlier this year, worked for the Orange County Archives. He uncovered the 1853 birth of Ramona Lubo, in the Coahuilla village of Sahatapa in San Timoteo Canyon. In her teens, she married Juan Diego who was later described as a little crazy, loco, and in one of his moods took a horse from a local rancher, who forthwith shot him dead in the doorway of his home.

Meanwhile, Mrs. Jackson had been doing her research. After traveling with Father Anthony Ubach, into the San Diego back country, visiting San Pasqual and Temecula, places where the "robber whites" (as she called them) had recently evicted the inhabitants, Jackson fired off letters to Secretary of the Interior Henry Teller and Commissioner of Indian Affairs Hiram Price, pleading for government action on behalf of the Sobobas and all the other Mission Indians. It resulted in her appointment as a government commissioner to report on the conditions and needs of the Mission Indians.

When she heard of Diego’s death she became outraged after learning that killing Indians without penalty was not unusual. Although there is no record of her making any personal contact with the principals, her novel sprang from the incident. She had been told by the coroner that

“no jury in that part of the country would convict a white man of the murder of an Indian, if only Indian testimony as to the facts were to be had."

 
The original Ramona
The Original Ramona

 

After Diego’s murder, her children also having died while still young, Ramona moved back to the Cahuilla Reservation but naturally the tourists came looking for her —although mysteriously they kept calling her late husband Alessandro. She was pleased to note, though, that the visitors often became customers for her excellent woven baskets and would sometimes give her a dollar or two to pose for a picture. She was even hired to attend a couple of California Fairs to tell her story, but sadly died, aged about 70, a year before the first Ramona Pageant was staged. It did not stop imitators filching her name and passing themselves off as the original.

Picture postcards were sold by the tens of thousands depicting Ramona’s school, her wedding site, two different ranches and countless other sites. Baskets, plaques, pincushions, pillows and every type of souvenir imaginable filled the curio shops. Overnight, wrote Carey McWilliams, California became “passionately Ramona-conscious” hosting “a Ramona promotion of fantastic proportions”. Four additional books by different authors appeared with Ramona in the title.

Next came the movies, the first in 1910 starring Mary Pickford followed by Dolores Del Rio (complete with theme song) in 1928, Loretta Young and Don Ameche in 1936 and—in recent years—a Mexican-made telenova adaptation.

When McWilliams recounted the Ramona legend in his Southern California: Island on the Land, Jackson’s novel had sold more than 600,000 copies and in Los Angeles alone at least 50 businesses had incorporated Ramona into its name.

Rancho Camulos near Piru was an early target of the tourists, followed by Rancho Guajome near Vista, both resembling descriptive details from the book and with the former claiming to be the ‘House of Ramona’. Then an adobe in San Gabriel, boasting of possessing “the world’s largest grapevine”, called itself Ramona’s Birthplace. San Diego’s Old Town complex already had an adobe and quickly added a new attraction: Ramona’s Marriage Place. Even Los Angeles got into the act when a promoter opened the Ramona Indian Village which was still attracting tourists in the 1960s.

 
The Village Square
Julian, California
photo credit Carol Kinney

There was even for a while a town named Alessandro in Riverside County and, 20 miles to the south, the little town of Ramona itself, attractive though it is, merely appropriated the name. Near to Ramona and everybody’s favorite, in this region is the historic gold mining town of Julian (pop: 300 ) famous for its romantic B&Bs, Victorian buildings and delicious apple pies. For such a small place, Julian keeps pretty busy at this time of the year. It stages both a Bluegrass Festival and a Wine Festival in September, a gathering of the Laguna Mountain Men (“tomahawk tosses”) in October and a Craft Show and Harvest Hoedown on November. The annual Apple Days just ended, during which visitors were invited to check the stores in search of a Golden Apple, the spotting of which earned a reward.

In December the planting takes place of thousands of daffodils which in February and March lure thousands of visitors “to marvel at the first sniff of spring” as the local guide puts it.

In this orchard-filled area are two especially interesting attractions. The first is open to the public only one day each year, Father’s Day, but it is well worth adding to your schedule. It is the Ilan-Lael Foundation, home and workplace of the polymath James Hubbell and his wife Anne, a series of Gaudi-like buildings set amidst lovely scenery and replete with sculptures, paintings and scores of windows and panels of gorgeous stained glass.

Hubbell has led the building of parks in China, Mexico and Canada as well as California and you can see him and some of his work at the website www.ilanlaelfoundation.org

Four miles south of Julian is a very different venue, the California Wolf Center (call 619/234-WOLF to make a reservation) where this endangered species is studied, bred and oriented before being released back into the wild.

12/6/08

 

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