Sunday, October 30, 2011

California and the Southwest III

I've been lost in a cornfield maze for the last three days. We picked up the great-grandsons from school and zipped out to Tolmachoff Farm to pay homage to the Great Pumpkin and went into the corn maze. Nothing like a good corn maze to put you in the mood for more California and the Southwest.

The header image is a pile of rock near Monument Valley with a light dusting of snow.

We'll now relate the life in California as it pertains to the West and come to a conclusion about whether or not California is part of the Southwest under Western traditions.

I must rely on David Starr Jordan for some more bullets to throw at you. In his book California and the Californians he writes: "A Western man," says Doctor Amos Griswold Warner, "is an Eastern man who has had some additional experiences." The Californian is a man from anywhere in America or Europe, typically from New England, perhaps, who has learned a thing or two he did not know in the East" [like gold mining, running cattle, holding up stages, robbing banks, etc. Blogger's note.] "and, perhaps has forgotten some things it may have been well to remember. The things he has learned relate mostly to elbow room, nature at first hand, and the "unearned increment." [What the hell ever that is. BN] [Oh, it's GOLD! What else? Just laying around on the ground for anyone to take. BN]

The things he has forgotten relate mostly to the law: "When men come into contact with men instead of the forces of nature, they mistake their own conventionalities for the facts of existence. It is not what life is, but what "the singular mess we agree to call life" is what interests them. In this fashion, they lose their real understanding of affairs, become the toys of their environment"......."The young man who is decent only because he things that someone is looking, would do well to stay away. The stern law of individual responsibility turns the fool over to the fool-killer without a preliminary trial."....."In short, California is a man's land, with male standards of action--a land where one must give and take, stand and fall, as a man."

Just like the rest of the West and Southwest, where men were men, survival of the fittest, as Darwin put it. "He can cinch his own saddle, harness his own team, bud his own grapevines, cook his own breakfast, paint his own house {whoever heard of painting a house, in those days? BN] ......."Following them [the gold hunters, BN] came a miscellaneous array of parasites and plunderers; dive-keepers and saloon-keepers, who fed fat on the oil of the Argonauts. Every Roaring Camp had its Jack Hamlin as well as its Flynn of Virginia, John Oakhurst came with Yuba Bill,.........and keepers of establishments far worse [than saloons, BN], toward which the saloon is the first step downwards; a class of so-called lawyers, politicians and agents of bribery and blackmail; a long line of soothsayers. clairvoyants, lottery agents and joint keepers, besides gamblers, sweaters, .........and other types of unhanged, but more or less pendable, scoundrels that feed on the life-blood of the weak and foolish." [I think he means the Criminal Element. BN] 

Who were these characters? Well, Jack Hamlin was Bret Harte's protagonist in his tales of early California, a very modest portion of which is quoted here from the California Digital Library: "There's an entire stranger downstairs, ez hez a lame hoss, and wants to borry a fresh one." "We have none, you know," said Mrs. Rylands, a little impatiently."

Now, that way of talkin' is exactly like other parts of the West. Whether or not the "entire stranger" was Jack Hamlin or someone else, I know not.

Yuba Bill was a characater in a movie entitled Salomy Jane, of 1914, written by Paul Armstrong and played by Andrew Robson. It was a WESTERN feature film based on the novella of the same name by Bret Harte.

And there were outlaws just like in the Old West like Joaquin Murietta and others. I refer you to William B. Secrest's book, California Desperados: Stories of Early California Outlaws in their Own Words, available from

So, there you have it, and why I came to the conclusion that California is part of the Southwest, a moot argument to begin with.


  1. Oscar...first whenever I find me self missing good o' Calli, Nevada or Az I come visit your blog and look at your wouldn't believe how many times in a day I visit you and I ain't confessing... ;-) *it's way too often to admit too*
    Second...this post had me smiling and thinking a lot....awesome post sweetie!


  2. Thanksalot, Hawk, it gladdens me heart to read your comment.

  3. Hey Sweetie,

    Just dropping in to see what's up ....and look at that header for about the twentith time today....yap, I'm missing the west a lot today!

  4. A late reply: The West is always here, Hawk.

  5. Thank the Gods for the West!

    Did you see my shoot out over on the porch today?

    ;-) teach that woman to mess with me and my cowboy!