Saturday, January 22, 2011

Ramona Epic #2: Ramona's Birth Place

(GPS: N34 05. 860 W118 06.510)

Ramona's family origin is very clearly told to the reader in chapter 3 of the book. However, Ramona does not know her true origin at this point of the story. Here is the little section relevant to what I am going to show today:

"Finally Angus disappeared, and after a time the news came up
from Los Angeles that he was there, had gone out to the San
Gabriel Mission, and was living with the Indians. Some years later
came the still more surprising news that he had married a squaw,--
a squaw with several Indian children, -- had been legally married
by the priest in the San Gabriel Mission Church."

That is what the book states about where Ramona's father was and where he had married. A little later it mentions that an Indian messenger came from San Gabriel to bring news about Ramona's father when Ramona was just less than a year old. So, from this it was inferred that Ramona was born in San Gabriel and lived there for the first few months of her life.

San Gabriel was the first place I went to about a year ago when I came up with the idea I would do this. The book does not give very much about Ramona's actual "fictional" birthplace. This is one of those areas that was created for the tourists. Today, one can still see a few traces of the Ramona influence on the area. In the following picture, I was just outside the San Gabriel Mission looking at the traffic light. I actually used Ramona St. on the way out and drove it as far as I could back to the freeway. For our purposes, I headed to the right to get to the birth place.
The adobe building that was created for Ramona's birth place no longer exists. This is what is said to be that house according to the postcard. One could go here and purchase gifts.
Now another postcard has this.
While I am not entirely sure where the original adobe building was my guess is was very close to the left side of the postcard. I can show where the Grapevine building was and still is today:
The grapevine is said to have been planted in the early 1860's. Apparently, it covered around 10,000 square feet. I did not look inside since the gate to the Grapevine building was closed, but part of that grapevine is said to still be inside it. Today, the building structure to the left is connected to the recreation department. Another postcard has a different angle of the Grapevine structure.
In each postcard you can see something in the background that is overarching the Grapevine. That is the Mission Playhouse that still stands today:
It was used for the play that told the story of the California Missions and the people connected with them. A cast of 150 people with a 4 1/2 hour production. Today it is still used by musicians and fine art performance groups.

While many tourists did come here to see where Ramona was born. This site was never considered as important as some of the other sites I will be showing this year. In DeLyser's Ramona Memories book she only dedicates three pages to this where most of the others have about ten to twenty pages. Still, like I said above, you can see some traces of Ramona around. In the video I point out one more nearby.