Sunday, November 25, 2007

Phantoms of the Southern California Past

This is the Little Landers Colony in San Ysidro, during the 1910s. It was a utopian agricultural colony inspired by the back to the land movement and the ideas of William Smythe, an advocate of irrigation in the arid West. Basically it was an experiment in intensive cultivation techniques and specialty crops that had been pioneered by Japanese Californian farmers. True to the times, it was also racially exclusive and closed to all nonwhites, like many utopian schemes in early twentieth century California.

The gardens at the Little Landers Colony. Today this area is heavily built up all long the border.

Pueblo men from San Illdefonso on the grounds at the Panama-California Exposition in 1914. I wrote about these men in my book. Second from the left is Julian Martinez, the husband of the potter Maria Martinez. During the fair, the men donned "Indian" attire at the Painted Desert exhibition to play to tourist stereotypes of native peoples. The photograph is by Martinez's friend Jesse Nusbaum.

San Diego Pageant of 1911. The pageant celebrated the groundbreaking for the Panama-California Exposition after the federal government officially recognized the fair. This is the pageant of the missions created by the poet John Steven McGroarty. Shortly after the event, The Mission Play would be performed by Mission San Gabriel in Los Angeles.

The New Mexico State Building at the fair, designed by Rapp, Rapp, and Hendrickson of Santa Fe. The building is the prototype for the Museum of New Mexico and signaled the flourishing of the Santa Fe cultural revivial. Those interested in the Santa Fe cultural revival should read Chris Wilson's The Myth of Santa Fe: Creating a Modern Regional Tradition (UNM Press, 1997).

Map of Balboa Park and the PCE.

Model Farm at the Panama California Exposition. I wrote about the exhibition of agriculture in the Journal of San Diego History,

Stereocard of Mission San Diego de Alcala.

When me and Tabby lived in Stillwater, we used to go to Guthrie, Enid, and other small towns to rummage through junk stores. I found alot of postcards of San Diego and California, since likely wealthy and modest Oklahomans visited Southern California on a regular basis. I found treasure troves of California postcards. These postcard images created romantic visions of Southern California for those back home and unable to travel. The cards were just one ephemeral item to sell the California Dream to those outside the state. This is the new campus of San Diego State College.

Postcard of the Spreckels Mansion in Coronado. John D. Spreckels at one time owned virtually every major industry in San Diego. He was San Diego's original robber baron. You can read more about him in Mike Davis, Jim Miller, and Kelly Mayhew, Under the Perfect Sun: The San Diego Tourists Never See (The New Press, 2003).

Postcard of Olvera Street in the 1930s. The L.A. boosters who turned the old plaza into a tourist mecca of fantasy heritage claimed the place was more Mexican than Mexico itself. Nonetheless, it is quite interesting that Olvera Street was Mexican rather than Spanish, especially the 1930s during the campaigns of Mexican repatriation in California, where an estimated one million Mexican immigrants and Mexican Americans were forcibly repatriated or voluntarily repatriated themselves due to racism and intolerance. The history of Olvera Street can be found in Phoebe Kropp's compelling California Vieja: Culture and Memory in a Modern American Place (UC Press, 2006). It received honorable mention for the Gustavas Myers Book Prize.

Postcard of the Sunset Cliffs near Ocean Beach in San Diego.

Postcard of Lafayette Park in Los Angeles.

Postcard of view overlooking Mission Valley in San Diego. Now the retail malls dominate the valley.

Postcard of Ramona's Marriage Place in Old Town, San Diego. The site was owned by John D. Spreckels and managed by Tommy Getz for tourist entertainment. It is just one of many sites to promote the romance of Helen Hunt Jackson's novel Ramona.

Postcard of Ramona's Marriage Place.

Postcard of Junipero Serra statue, San Fernando Mission. Depending on who you are and your politics, Serra is either a symbol of progress or represents oppression. In 1988, his beatification elicited much protest from California's native peoples and it was interesting to see the California historians devouring each other during the controversy. This could be a book all in itself.

I think this is the Santa Barbara mission courtyard. Tabby, Spencer, and me stopped in Santa Barbara during the holidays as we drove from San Diego to San Francisco. It is a beautiful downtown and a nice area of coastal California, but it was a little too shi-shi for us.
Postcard of Mission San Juan Capistrano.
This is Mission San Gabriel, where John Steven McGroarty first staged the famous "The Mission Play." For those interested in the play, I highly recommend William Deverell's Whitewashed Adobe: The Rise of Los Angeles and the Remaking of the Its Mexican Past (UC Press, 2004).

This is called Tropical Southern California Garden. I found it in an antique store in Guthrie, Oklahoma.

Good Times in the Big Easy-October 2002

The wedding party dinner at the restaurant Feelings (the name was corny, but the food was excellent). We had to postpone this dinner until after the wedding because of Hurricane Lilly. With everyone's flights being delayed the night before the wedding, we had to wait for everyone to arrive! This is a rare unblemished photograph of Tabby.

My dad Ron Bokovoy took all these photographs. As usual, five years later we are still waiting for all those photographs and video footage of our wedding. So whenever you're ready, send it in.

Our niece Kaya and Phil with kazooes at Cafe Sfbisa.

The best man Paul Dellavigne and us at Cafe Sfbisa. Paul was a very good best man. When I forgot my cash at the court house to pay for the marriage certificate (since before the wedding we were searching for a lost pearl earring and waiting for Al Hewitt to show up), he lent me the money. I think I paid him back, but if not, hopefully he'll leave a message here!

The Moms photograph. Barbara Simon, Tabby, me, and Pat at the courthouse.

Kasey Kolassa, my childhood friend, aunt Linda, and Alan Hewitt and Chris Ogilve at Cafe Sfbisa, where we had the reception. Tabby's pastry mentor from Le Bec Fin, Bobby, recommended the local eatery to us and even placed a personal call to arrange contact. The food and atmosphere was memorable.

We got married at the City Hall in downtown New Orleans by a justice of the peace. Given all the bizarre "super-wedding" stuff in the media, like the show at the time called "Bridezilla," we figured that we'd keep the wedding simple and have the reception at a very fine restaurant. Who needs all the frills of a wedding ceremony when fine dinning is probably the most important part of the day?

My sister Melissa, her daughter Kate, and Sherry Bokovoy.

My brother Phil and Jim and Linda Bokovoy, my uncle and aunt, at the Olde Town Inn.

Erin Einhorn and Dave Lorenz at the Olde Town Inn.

Michael and Mary Kay Willard, with their daughter Sofie and my niece Katie (with the bib). The Willards had a hard time driving down as Lilly began to bear down on Baton Rouge and tear through Louisiana. At the last moment, the hurricane slowed down to a category two, made a left (west) turn and hit its bullseye at Baton Rouge. The Willards snaked past it by going east, and coming down through Mississippi. Three months after the photo was taken, Mary Kay and Mike celebrated the birth of their son Sam.

Tabby and her mom Pat Tomaselli at the hotel. We had most of the guests stay at this rooming house hotel called the Olde Town Inn. It's located in the Marigny District and was an old bordello that's been converted into rooms. It had an internal courtyard and garden that was perfect for people to just hang out.

On our way down to New Orleans from Stillwater, Tabby and me drove down the Indian Nation turnpike into the Red River Valley of East Texas. We went through Paris and Texarkana, then took this spooky road south of Shreveport to connect with the main highway. As we drove down, tropical storm Lilly turned into a category 4 Hurricane. We saw lots of Louisiana evacuees driving north into East Texas to escape the oncoming storm with their vehicles loaded down with personal belongings.

So, Tabby and me said "Ah, let's just keep going!" We were getting married and since the Olde Town Inn had been at its location for 150 years, we figured everything would be fine.

In October 2002, my wife Tabby and me got married in New Orleans. With family on the East and West Coasts, we figured New Orleans would be a place where everyone invited would have something to do. It was quite an interesting time before the wedding. Tabby cracked her tooth and the seamstress messed up the alterations on her wedding dress. I had a bike crash where my handlebars pulled out of the headtube and scratched my face. Then I broke my wrist at the skate park in Stillwater, when a bmx biker kid dropped in on top of me while I was skating the half-pipe. All of this happened about one week before the wedding on October 4th!