Category Archives: Halls of History

I’m worried about his followers

Out & About

Yesterday I went to Salvation Mountain.

Salvation Mountain

Salvation Mountain location

This was my sixth or seventh trip to Salvation Mountain since 1993, but I was always alone, so I never exited the car and walked around.

I did not feel safe.

Yesterday I was with a group of seventeen photographers…. There’s power in numbers.

I felt safe.

Not completely safe.

But safe enough to get out of my car and take pictures.

Salvation Mountain

Salvation Mountain

Is it odd that I don’t feel safe in the midst of Bible Thumpers, especially those spouting “God Is Love?” On the surface, yes, I think it is odd. The underlying reality, I believe—

—and as my wise old grandmother told me,
“You can’t argue with someone’s beliefs
because their beliefs are not always based in reality.”—

—is that these people will do just about anything to protect their beliefs, and they often are not sane, sober, or interested in other beliefs, not to mention opinions, facts, science, truth….

Armed & bitter libertarian drunkards live here

Salvation Mountain is a “hillside visionary environment” created by Leonard Knight (1931–2014) in the California Desert area of Imperial County. Knight started it in 1984 when he was 53. Although there are many Bible verses painted on Salvation Mountain, its main philosophy is the Sinner’s Prayer. Knight’s version of the Sinner’s Prayer seemed to be the following because it was everywhere!

Jesus, I’m a sinner.
Please come upon my body
and into my heart.

Sinner's Prayer

What little research I could tolerate doing this morning on the Sinner’s Prayer indicates that it’s just another of those beliefs. In this case, even the Bible does not contain any reference to the Sinner’s Prayer. It’s all made up gobbledygook even beyond the fairy tales in the Bible.

Salvation Mountain is the “showpiece” of Slab City. Other parts of Slab City include the “neighborhoods” of East Jesus and West Satan. I’m pretty sure I would  be living in West Satan.

We didn’t make it to West Satan yesterday. Seems the West Satan folks and the East Jesus folks weren’t getting along…. Where’s God’s love?

All residents of Slab City are “squatters” and seem to be paranoid about government, technology, and science. However, if you want to donate to their paranoia, they have an email address and they do take PayPal. They also have a Facebook page. Am I the only one who sees the irony here?

East Jesus PayPal

I do find it interesting that for a “city” propounding God’s love, there was a lot of non-love exhibited throughout Salvation Mountain, Slab City, and East Jesus.

Slow the fuck down

I'll have them all shot

More irony (my belief)
No stupid people

No fucking parking

In 2000, The Folk Art Society of America declared Salvation Mountain

a folk art site worthy of preservation and protection.

In an address to the United States Congress on May 15, 2002, California Senator Barbara Boxer described Salvation Mountain

as a unique and visionary sculpture… a national treasure… profoundly strange and beautifully accessible, and worthy of the international acclaim it receives.

In December 2011, the 80-year-old Knight, suffering from dementia,
was placed in a long-term care facility in El Cajon.
He died on February 10, 2014.

In 2012, a public charity, Salvation Mountain, Inc., was established to support and maintain Salvation Mountain.

I found the question mark in this little section of Salvation Mountain to be quite interesting:

Bible Jesus Loves ? You

I’m not worried about whether or not Bible Jesus loves me. I’m worried about the followers of Bible Jesus….

Wow, oh wow. Hidden San Diego.

Halls of History

In my never-ending exploration of all things San Diego, I found a plaque along a walkway in Balboa Park. Looks like this:

Agaston Haraszthy

I have walked this path hundreds of times yet never saw this plaque even though it is on a good-sized rock. However, as you can see in the picture, it looks like the vegetation that once covered it has been pruned back.

Or maybe, just maybe, it has been in storage from when the walkway was expanded a couple of decades ago and now has been returned to its original location. I know the City of San Diego often does that. Sadly, sometimes things never get returned to the original location…..

So, of course, I had to jump on the research wagon to find out more.

Research Wagon

Agoston HaraszthyWe know from the plaque that Agoston Haraszthy was born in 1812, was the first Sheriff of San Diego, and died in 1869….

I was sure that my 762-page book, San Diego Trivia 2 by Evelyn Kooperman, would provide quite a bit of information. I mean, after all, he was San Diego’s first Sheriff!

I was excited when the index said that Agoston Haraszthy was on page 6. A full page all to himself!

Sadly, the entry’s not even about Agoston Haraszthy. It’s about Roy Bean. Yes, Judge Roy Bean. Haraszthy is casually mentioned. Here is the entry:

Roy Bean. Around the mid-1800s, San Diegans decided to be truly civilized, they needed a jail. Bids went out, and Agoston Haraszthy, who was sheriff and town marshal, was picked to do the job. He hired someone to build a 20-by-50-foot room of cobblestones, which wee set in mortar that contained no cement. According to legend, the first prisoner in the 1852 cell was Roy Bean, nephew of Mayor Joshua Bean. This was the same Roy Bean who was later known as “Judge” Roy Bean, famous for his “Law West of the Pecos.” No soon was Roy incarcerated than he began digging in the soft mortar with either a jackknife or a spoon, and quickly made his way out.

I wondered what a Google search might provide. I was not hopeful.

Surprise!

A Google search took me to the greatest encyclopedia in the history of the world: Wikipedia (where I happen to be an editor who can make edits stick permanently). Following are highlights of his life, and the link to his Wikipedia page follows this list.

      1. August 30, 1812—Born to a Hungarian noble family in Pest, Kingdom of Hungary, Austrian Empire. Pest has been part of Budapest since 1873.
      2. January 6, 1833—Married Eleonóra Dedinszky in Bács-Bodrog County, Hungary. The Dedinszkys were a Polish family but had lived in Hungary for many centuries, being accepted into Hungarian nobility in 1272. Agoston and Eleonora had six children.
      3. March 1840—Traveled to the United States with a cousin, making their way through Austria, Germany, and England, crossed the Atlantic Ocean to New York, and made their way to Wisconsin via the Hudson River, the Erie Canal, and the Great Lakes.
      4. 1840—Founded the town of Széptáj, now knosheim winery
      5. roxbury winwn as Sauk City, which was the first incorporated village in the State of Wisconsin.
      6. 1842—Returned to Hungary to bring his parents, wife, and children to Wisconsin as permanent residents of the United States.
      7. 1842-1849—Built mills, raised corn and other grains, and kept sheep, pigs, and horses. Kept a store and opened a brickyard. Many of the oldest houses still standing in Sauk City were built with bricks from Haraszthy’s brickyard. Owned and operated a the first commercial steamboat to carry passengers and freight on the Mississippi River. Donated land on which the first Roman Catholic church and school in Sauk City were built. Planted grapes and dug wine cellars on the east side of the Wisconsin River in what became the Town of Roxbury. The cellars and slopes are today home to the Lake Wisconsin AVA and the Wollersheim Winery, the second oldest winery in the United States.
        Wollersheim Winery
      8. March 1849—He and his family left for California, not for the gold rush, but to settle in San Diego and plant a vineyard. Elected captain of the wagon train that traveled the Santa Fe Trail, arriving in San Diego in December 1849.
      9. 1850-1868—Formed a partnership with Juan Bandini, a prominent Spanish-Californian in San Diego (see my blog post about Casa de Bandini). Planted fruit orchards, operated a livery stable and stagecoach line, built a state hospital, and opened a butcher shop. Organized a syndicate to subdivide a large section of the San Diego Bay shore into streets, parks, and building lots, called Middletown. Planted a vineyard on a tract of land near the San Diego River. Led an unsuccessful movement to divide California into two states.
      10. April 1, 1850, elected Sheriff of San Diego County. Also served as city marshal. In his capacity as a private contractor, built a jail for the city of San Diego, which was completed in 1851.
      11. September 1851—Elected to the California State Assembly from San Diego, serving from January 5 to May 4, 1852.
      12. March 25, 1852—Bought land in San Francisco near Mission Dolores and near Crystal Springs and planted vineyards. Found the climate too foggy to ripen the grades.
      13. April 1854—Haraszthy became the first U.S. assayer at tne newly opened San Francisco Mint.
      14. 1856—Bought a small vineyard northeast of Sonoma.
      15. 1857—Founded Buena Vista Winery, the oldest commercial winery in California.
        Buena Vista Winery
      16. 1858—Wrote a 19-page “Report on Grapes and Wine of California,” published by the California State Agricultural Society. Now recognized as the first treatise on winemaking written and published in California, and praised as the “first American explication of traditional European winemaking practices.”
      17. April 23, 1862—Elected President of State Agricultural Society. Contributed articles to newspapers and made speeches to gatherings of agriculturalists. Entered his wines in the competition of the California State Fair and received the highest awards.
      18. 1863—Incorporated the Buena Vista Vinicultural Society, the first large corporation in California (perhaps in the United States) organized for the express purpose of engaging in agriculture.
      19. 1864—Harper’s Magazine proclaimed that Buena Vista was “the largest establishment of the kind in the world.
      20. 1861—Appointed by California Governor John G. Downey as a commissioner to report to the Legislature on the “ways and means best adapted to promote the improvement and growth of the grape-vine in California.” Traveled through France, Germany, Switzerland, Spain, and Hungary before returning to California in December 1861 with more than 100,000 cuttings of more than 350 different varieties of vines. It is a disputed claim that Haraszthy brought the first Zinfandel vines to California.
      21. 1868—Left California for Nicaragua. He formed a partnership with a German-born physician and surgeon named Theodore Wassmer and began to develop a large sugar plantation near the seaside port of Corinto, Nicaragua, where he planned to produce rum and sell it in American markets.
      22. July 6, 1869—Haraszthy disappeared. His body was never found, and it is unknown whether he fell into a river on his property and was washed out to sea, or was dragged under the water by alligators which infested the area.
      23. March 2007—Inducted into the Vintners Hall of Fame by the Culinary Institute of America.

All I have to say is, Wow! I have read so many books on San Diego history, and this is the first I ever have heard of Agoston Haraszthy, his relationship with San Diego, his entrepreneurship, and his significant vintner history. Wow, oh wow. Immigrants…. Thank goodness Twitler wasn’t around then.

Here is the link to his Wikipedia page.

Agaston Haraszthy

If you get lost in Beverly Hills

If you ever get lost in Beverly Hills, get lost at Camden Dr & N Santa Monica Blvd to visit the awesome historic cactus garden.

Location of the Beverly Hills Historic Cactus Garden

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And there you have it

This beautiful Gingko biloba and its sidekick bench caught my eye a few weeks ago in San Diego’s historic Presidio City Park:

Tommy Geta Memorial

After taking the picture, I went over to the bench. Here’s what I found:

Tommy Getz Memorial bench

Since I always have been a fan of history, a memorial created in 1935 really piqued my interest.

I found a newspaper clipping from The Press Democrat of Santa Rosa, California, published on Wednesday, October 30, 1935.

The Press Democrat, Santa Rosa CA, October 30, 1935

I also found this from the book, San Diego in the 1930s: The WPA Guide to America’s Finest City:

Tommy Getz

I’m quite familiar with the Estudillo House since I did a blog post on it back on February 13, 2015: San Diego Historical Landmarks—#14: Casa de Estudillo.

Casa de Estudillo Museum in Old Town San Diego State Historic Park

And there you have it.

Rockin’ down the highway

I love it when I’m out and about and come across something that is featured in a song that I’ve been singing for several decades.

This morning I went to Albertsons, our local grocery store. Sitting in the middle of the parking lot was a Chevelle SS 396:

SS 396

SS 396

SS 396

That had me singing “SS 396” by Paul Revere & The Raiders from 1966:

The Chevelle SS 396 was in production from 1964 through 1973. I do not know what year model the one I saw was; the best I can determine is that it might be a 1964 or 1965. The highest-rated horsepower SS 396 was the 1970 model with 375 horsepower.

My first car was a 1976 Chevrolet Impala with a 400 cubic inch engine. Theoretically it should have been able to keep up with the Chevelle since it had a bigger engine. However, I think the Impala was a few million pounds heavier. So much for speed. So much for gas mileage, too. I always have tracked gas mileage, and that Impala on a good day gave me just over 7 miles per gallon. Eventually, I bought a cruise control system from Sears and installed it, increasing my mileage to 11 miles per gallon!

My next car was a 1976 Chevy Nova, also with a 400 cubic inch engine. After downsizing to a 1970 Datsum B210 station wagon (don’t ask), I went full on into the muscle car program: Mustang, Camaro, Firebird, Trans Am, Porsche. If you had told me back then that in 40 years I would be driving Toyota Avalon & Camry & Corolla, Honda Civic & Accord, Nissan Altima & Maxima, and—gasp!—a Honda Insight hybrid, I might have gone over to my uncle’s house, borrowed one of his 500 shotguns, and come after you. Sacrilege. Yet here I am:

2019 Honda Insight

I like to tell people that I officially am out of the horsepower phase of
my life and into the gas mileage phase. My 2019 Honda Insight is rated
at 55 city/49 highway. At first I thought the numbers were reversed,
but they are not. Out on the freeway, most of the driving is under gas power. In the city, sitting at traffic signals and such, most of the driving
is under electric power.

The best I have done in the five months I have had the car is 51.1 mpg on the highway and 53.8 mpg in the city. The good highway driving on that one tank was the result of stop & go traffic for two round trips of 290 miles between San Diego and the Los Angeles County Arboretum over two consecutive days. I was quite happy

With electric power and 4TB of my music in the car, I don’t even mind stop & go traffic anymore. I just sit back, cruise on electric, and rock on down the highway.

SNIPPETS (11/22/2019)

Snippets

SNIPPET 1

How come WordPress does not yet have an icon for changing text size? I still have to go into the HTML code and change the text size manually. Every other program I use has an easy way to change text size….

SNIPPET 2

When I was a sophomore at Texas A&M University in 1974, I was enthralled by the Nixon impeachment. The only other impeached president was Andrew Johnson in 1868. It had been over 100 years.

Although Nixon resigned rather than being impeached, I found the workings of the United States government under its Constitution to be fascinating. Never in my wildest dreams did I think that, within a mere 45 years, two more presidents, Clinton and the current president would be impeached.

Granted, the current president, whose name I have not uttered since November 9, 2016—I call him Twitler because he likes to destroy people using Twitter; Hitler on Twitter—has not yet been impeached, but considering all I have read and heard about the impeachment hearings, I believe he will be impeached before Christmas Day. It might even be faster because the people in charge of impeaching him—the House of Representatives—have to get home for Christmas. Actually, when I think about that, impeachment might happen before Thanksgiving!

Of course, impeachment simply means that the Grand Jury—the House of Representatives in this case—believes there is enough evidence to impeach (indict) him. The trial occurs in the Senate, and at this point I cannot see Twitler being convicted.

SNIPPET 3

I legally changed my name in 2004, dropping my last name and taking my middle name as my last name. I’m about convinced to change my name again, this time to Doctor Doctor so that I’ll know that Robert Palmer really is singing about me.

Previously, the only group to ever sing about me was the Bee Gees with “How Can You Mend A Broken Heart”:

Did you hear it? Right at the 1:43 mark: “I can still feel the breeze that russels through the trees.”

SNIPPET 4

Over on Facebook there’s a meme trending that has a woman screaming at a white cat. I find the cat’s response each time to be quite funny, so I decided to make a contribution:

White cat meme

SNIPPET 5

Since I’m now making a concerted effort to do things with my photography using three business names—Russel Ray Photos, Photographic Art, and Double R Creations—I’m being more active on Instagram and with my Russel Ray Photos page on Facebook. You can follow me on those two platforms.

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/russel_ray_photos/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/russelrayphotos/

I’m very political, but not on Instagram or that Facebook page. I do have a personal Facebook page where I am very political. ALL. DAY. LONG.

SNIPPET 6

I should have another calendar at my Etsy shop by the end of 11/22/2019, this one on birds. This picture of a peacock and a white-faced whistling duck will be my cover photo:

2020 Birds calendar, front cover

I put that picture on Facebook and those commenting were only too ready to provide captions. Two of my favorites:

    • Misplaced flirting
    • “Can’t whistle? Not interested.”

I have so many great bird pictures that I’m pretty sure I’m going to do at least two bird calendars. Possibly even three.

SNIPPET 7

The rainy season arrived on 11/19/2019. So far there has been 5.25 inches of rain in three days. When I went to the garage yesterday morning in the wind & rain, a rabbit took off in front of me. It was slipping and sliding as it tried desperately to get away from me as quickly as possible. Poor thing. I looked at where it had been and found a big pile of poop. Upon closer examination, turns out it’s not poop. Just the ugliest mushrooms ever have I seen.

Ugly mushrooms

SNIPPET 8

I like to go into the gardens right after it’s rained and take macro pictures of raindrops on plants. Key phrase in that sentence is AFTER IT’S RAINED.

The rain just won’t stop, and I’m not willing to trod around in the water and mud with my expensive Canon 760d and expensive macro lens. So here’s one of my favorite macro raindrops on cactus photos. Taken on 3/23/2018 at 7:55 a.m., so it must have rained the previous day and/or night.

Raindrops on cactus macro picture

As I was focusing on that picture, I initially had wanted every to be in focus, but then I saw that first rain drop twinkling at me (just barely visible at WordPress resolutions), so I decided to focus on it and let everything else be a little less sharp.

I’m pretty sure I’m going to have a calendar featuring macro pictures.

SNIPPET 9

Another bird from my 2020 Birds calendar. Who knew that some birds were flashers?

Great blue heron flashing

SNIPPET 10

The resolution of the following picture isn’t good enough for my calendar at 12″x8″, but at a smaller size it’s fine.

Condor

Once again, Facebook users came through with captions:

    • And the great bird said, “Come unto me. Kneel, all ye who gaze upon my face.”
    • “Common, ladies. Look at this plumage! This wing span! Let’s do this!”

SNIPPET 11

After I graduated from high school in May 1973, I quit celebrating holidays. I never liked them, finding them too artificial. With that said, though, Thanksgiving (when we celebrate the beginning of one of the great genocides in human history) is next week. I do believe I shall have some turkey wine for Thanksgiving this year.

Turkey wine and feeling fine

SNIPPET 12

My retirement years are allowing me to catch up on movies and television shows that I have missed since 1973. For both my train friends and my history friends, I can highly recommend the TV series, “Hell On Wheels.” It’s about the building of the transcontinental railroad in 1869. People and events are historical facts with only the unknown added or minute details changed. A very intriguing series. Available on Netflix.

Hell On Wheels

Probably not as comfortable as Amtrak

Railroads & Trains logo

A Southern Pacific Railroad wooden passenger coach car built around 1875 in Sacramento, California.

Southern Pacific Railroad wooden passenger coach car

It was converted to a railroad maintenance car in 1913 and used until 1938 when it was abandoned on tracks near Yuma, Arizona.

After deteriorating for 53 years, Don Trigg of Yuma acquired it in 1991 and donated it to the Yuma Crossing State Historic Park where it resides.

I visited on August 21, 2019.