Thursday, August 18, 2011

Ramona Epic #21: La Casa De Estudillo (Part 3)

(AKA The Marriage Place of Ramona and Alessandro)

"'Majella, the chapel is lighted; but that is good!' exclaimed
Alessandro, as they rode into the silent plaza. "Father Gaspara
must be there;" and jumping off his horse, he peered in at the
uncurtained window. 'A marriage, Majella, -- a marriage!' he
cried, hastily returning. "This, too, is good fortune. We need not to
wait long."

The place of marriage can be narrowed down to Old Town San Diego because that is the only historical place for that time that would have matched the short description in the book. To identify the Estudillo home as the place is a stretch, but is the one place in the plaza that had a chapel.

Continuing from the last blog, I walked toward the other side of the U-shaped casa to view the rooms on that side.There is a workroom and a few other bedrooms on that side.The dining room. That piece of art is supposed to be of Jose Maria Estudillo, the original owner and creator of the casa.Now going back to the other side we have the chapel. From what I can tell, this room changed completely over the years. Some old pictures I have seen do not look like this room at all. In any case, for our purposes, this is where Ramona and Alessandro exchanged vows with Father Gaspara.
Now in the book, what really happens is Father Gaspara writes their names down in a marriage registry where he lives, that would be here, then they cross the plaza to the chapel. But, for the Ramona tourist back in time, this would have been the room they were married in.Behind me is where the priest's room was:
There is an odd history for this site. By the time Ramona was written and being read, it was already in a state of ruins. In more time, the remains on the site would have probably been bulldozed and completely built over with something else. So, its continued existence depended on a work of fiction that probably had nothing to do with it.

"AFTER leaving Father Gaspara's door, Alessandro and Ramona
rode slowly through the now deserted plaza, and turned northward,
on the river road, leaving the old Presidio walls on their right. The
river was low, and they forded it without difficulty."

There's really nothing left of the Presido, but the description above matches up with how they would have had to leave the Old Town San Diego plaza.

A few side notes as I wrap this one up:

Over ten years ago, I remember actually walking around at this casa when I visited the Whaley House in Old Town San Diego. I specifically remember not caring about its Ramona history because I was more concerned about the actual history of the place. If I remember correctly, it had a little more publicity about being the "Marriage place of Ramona" at the time. In the past 40 years or so, it has gradually lost some of it identification as part of the Ramona history. In the pamphlet you get there I think there is a sentence or two mentioning that it was connected with the novel. The funny thing is my attitude toward the casa and the Whaley House has totally flip-flopped in that time; my interest in one is more than the other these days.

I actually had to visit this place twice last year. When I originally went there the first time I was excited only to find out that the chapel room was closed and being worked on! I just about wanted to slam my head into the ground. I got there early in the morning to picture and video the outside, but the whole reason I went there was to get pictures and video of that room. I asked when it would open up again, I was told they just had a meeting about this, and within a few weeks by July 4th or later in the summer. I could not get a direct answer so I had it my mind I would have to come back by around Labor Day. On the day I went back I probably spent five minutes parking, walking to the casa, then going into the chapel room. I was so glad I did that I verified all footage to make sure I got everything before I went home. That room was important for this project, and for a while I was trying to come up with alternate plans for how to present this if that room was going to stay closed. I was told that the casa is in a continual state of being repaired and updated so other rooms of it are often closed for a time.

Ramona Epic #21: The Marriage Place of Ramona (Youtube Version)

Ramona Epic #21: The Marriage Place of Ramona (Vimeo Version)

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Ramona Epic #21: La Casa De Estudillo (Part 2)

(AKA The Marriage Place of Ramona and Alessandro)

"The road on which they must go
into old San Diego, where Father Gaspara lived, was the public
road from San Diego to San Luis Rey, and they were almost sure
to meet travellers on it."

In the real world, the comandante of the nearby San Diego Presidio, Jose Maria Estudillo retired in 1827 and was given this land to build his home on. He died in 1830 and his son, Jose Antonio Estudillo, continued building the home. By 1887 the family moved to Los Angeles and the home was left with a caretaker. By 1906 the place was almost in ruins, it was purchased by Nat Titus. It was eventually sold again. By 1908, the place was restored by architect Hazel Waterman and converted into the "Marriage Place of Ramona" tourist spot. By 1968 the home was restored as a museum in the California State Park system.

When the museum opens up there are a couple of ways to enter it. I entered it from the front. In this next picture I went into the midde of the casa and turned around to where I came in from. Just imagine there are two sides: one on my left and one on my right. The chapel we will get to in the next blog just happens to be the first room on the right side. You can barely see the door entrance in this picture.
For this blog, I am skipping the chapel for now, but will show you some of the rooms on the right side (from the perspective of the above picture) of the casa. The room in the above picture is the storage room. If you turn to your left there is a short entrance to the guest bedroom:
Another room on that side is the dining room which I will skipping here, but the next room down is a bedroom:
The next room down is the kitchen. And, just looking over to the right side of the kitchen:
Outside there is an oven next to the kitchen. Keep in mind that a lot of the items you see in these pictures are there just to keep the feel of the old California days and not items that go back to those times.

Back to our historical fiction and this place. While there is nothing in the book to indicate that this is the spot Helen Hunt Jackson had in mind for Ramona and Alessandro's wedding place, it would make since for someone to think it was nearby. First, we know that they end up in San Diego. Second, the only place of significance for that time would have been what is known as Old Town San Diego. This area that the casa is contained in.

Once we start talking talking about where Father Gaspara wrote down their names in the marriage book and where they were actually married it gets a little more problematic. I'll finish this one up next time.

Ramona Epic #21: The Marriage Place of Ramona (Youtube Version)

Ramona Epic #21: The Marriage Place of Ramona (Vimeo Version)

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Ramona Epic #21: La Casa de Estudillo (Part 1)

(GPS: N32 45.265 W117 11.810)
(AKA The Marriage Place of Ramona and Alessandro)

"Alessandro had explained to her his plan, which
was to go by way of Temecula to San Diego, to be married there
by Father Gaspara, the priest of that parish, and then go to the
village or pueblo of San Pasquale, about fifteen miles northwest of
San Diego."

In chapter 18 of Ramona, as Alessandro and Ramona are traveling, there is a lot of talk about the California Missions. The talk of it is not always good about the priests and some of the Indians that inhabited them. One of the persons spoken of is Father Gaspara, one of the good ones, in San Diego. That is where they go after Temecula in order to be married.

This will be the first of three blogs on this site in Old Town San Diego. The Estudillo home (La Casa de Estudillo) became known as the marriage place of Ramona. I will cover some of the real history in the next blog, but for this one will focus on the fictional history involved.

In the Ramona book, Helen Hunt Jackson has her main characters go to San Diego to be married. There are a few brief descriptions of the place where they were married, but nothing to the extent of some of the other places mentioned in the book. However, this site had been a major Ramona tourist destination from the late 1880's as pointed out in the chapter dedicated to it in Dydia Delyser's Ramona Memories book.

From the very beginning, the site became a major point for Ramona merchandising. All sorts of trinkets could be found to be sold here. These days you probably will not find Ramona goods at this place, but if you go on e-bay you still might find old postcards like the following:
From somewhere very close I got this:
Another postcard one can find shows the entrance from the other side.The little bell tower you see was added later.The entrance. The adobe originally started out as L-shaped, but then was developed into a U-shape as many of these old adobe homes tend to be..So, this is one of those places that, although had a history of its own, was developed into a Ramona tourist site for the public as a money making venture. No one knows if Helen Hunt Jackson visited this place, and there really is nothing in the book to indicate that this was where Ramona and Alessandro were married.

With that said, it was not a total stretch for one to come to the conclusion from reading the book that this was close to where the event took place. I will mention a few items in the next two blogs about this.

Ramona Epic #21: The Marriage Place of Ramona (Youtube Version)

Ramona Epic #21: The Marriage Place of Ramona (Vimeo Version)

Monday, August 15, 2011

Hoppy Rocks! (The Alabama Hills Series)

(GPS: N36 36.260 W118 07.060)

Here is one that I should have had taken care of when I began the blog. In fact, for quite some time I thought I had already had something about it, but one day I was going back over some of the early blog entries and realized I never did. Then over the past few years I just delayed doing it because I always wanted to get better video footage of it than what I originally had. So without further ado, let's talk about the Hoppy Rocks.

In the Hopalong Cassidy movie Silent Conflict, Hoppy and California are being chased through Lone Ranger Canyon. They hide behind some rocks as the men who are chasing them go by.Lots of b-movies used this area for horse chases. It would be too difficult to mention them all.As the men chasing them go by, Hoppy and California are hiding behind two big rocks in what is known today as the Hoppy Rocks.Tim Holt and Gene Autry used them too in their own movies.Now, just take a few steps to the left and rotate toward your right you get this...which was used in a gunfight in Hoppy's Secret of the Wasteland.A lot of these old b-westerns just filmed in the same areas, but filmed different angles to create a "new location" for each movie. All it takes is a few steps, or a slight change of camera angle, to do this. Hoppy actually used this trick of having someone chase him and then hiding behind a rock in Lone Ranger Canyon many times. It was not always at these rocks.

Silent Conflict (Youtube Version)

Silent Conflict (Vimeo Version)

Friday, August 12, 2011

The Gun Smugglers Rock (The Alabama Hills Series)

Here is one that is in Lone Ranger Canyon on the way to Gene Autry Rock, but is very easy to miss. If you are where the Lone Ranger Ambush scene was then you just go a little further east on the road and just off trail to your left.

There is a rock that is cutout rather nicely. Actually, there is another rock like this one too nearby, so it is nice to have a picture from the movie to tell which one is which. When I originally looked for this one years back, I did not have any pictures with me. I knew the approximate site due to knowing how Lone Ranger Canyon is used in Tim Holt's Gun Smugglers. I ended up taking pictures and old camcorder footage of both spots. I then had to verify it at home.

In this scene the army is ambushed in Lone Ranger Canyon. Martha Hyer pulls the Sergeant into the cutout rock.Here is that rock. Notice the little hole in the rock?
Martha Hyer then defends herself behind the rock. Tim Holt and Chito eventually show up to help out.Here is a different look from some years back. The clouds were covering the mountains that day making it overcast.The L.P. Film Festival has a sign out for this one in October. It is one you could easily walk past, but during that weekend you can't miss it if you look for the signs. Edit note: I am told this has changed in the past few years. Since I have not been to one of the recent festivals I do not know how they do this now, but from the recent comment I received they do not have the signs out at the sites anymore. :(

Saturday, August 06, 2011

Ramona Epic #20: The King of Temecula

(GPS: N 33° 27.845 W 117° 07.200)

In finishing up my short series in the town of Temecula I thought I would connect the last blog about the store to this one. The last place I visited was the store of Louis Wolf. Louis Wolf was a European immigrant who arrived in Temecula in 1857. Since he not only developed the store I mentioned in the last blog, but helped develop and influence the early town of Temecula in such a way that he was known as the King of Temecula.

One thing he had done was to have his gravesite overlooking the town of Temecula. So, off I went driving through a residential area of Temecula. Through twisting and turning streets, I finally found the Cul-de-sac it is on. The gravesite is literally right next to some homes behind a locked gate.
There is a small plaque that shows a picture of him, names, dates, and the people that helped contribute to the restoration of the site. From around 2002-2007, the site was restored since the sarcophagus had been sicking into the ground and was damaged.At this point I was getting used to taking pictures over fences and gates. It was good enough for what I wanted to do anyways.I zoomed in on the sarcophagus.
In Helen Hunt Jackson's book, Ramona, the character who owns the store and is the main business man of the community in Temecula is Mr. Hartsel. So, the connection between Louis Wolf and Mr. Hartsel is a simple logical one. On the other hand, Mrs. Hartsel is the one that communicates with Alessandro while he was there. The Mrs. Hartsel connection would have been Wolf's wife, Ramona Place Wolf.

It is often said that Ramona Place, who was part Indian, was an influence on the main character of the book. It has been reported that Helen Hunt Jackson interviewed her about the Indian situation in Temecula. I am sure there were a variety of influences on the Ramona character, and this will come up again later near the end of this series.

As an aside, Ramona Place Wolf was supposedly buried at the San Luis Rey Mission cemetery, and not with her husband.

Some of the links I provided in the last blog are connected to this one, but I will add a few more:

When I get back to this series I will show the next stop Ramona and Alessandro made..."where they were married."

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

Ramona Epic #19: The Wolf Store

(GPS: N33 28.750 W117 05.995)

"Hartsel's was one of those mongrel establishments to be seen
nowhere except in Southern California. Half shop, half farm, half
tavern, it gathered up to itself all the threads of the life of the
whole region. Indians, ranchmen, travellers of all sorts, traded at
Hartsel's, drank at Hartsel's, slept at Hartsel's. It was the only place
of its kind within a radius of twenty miles; and it was the least bad
place of its kind within a much wider radius."

While Ramona is at the cemetery, Alessandro is trying to sell his violin at the Hartsel store. Alessandro had lived nearby and does sneak by his home that is now occupied by new residents. He gets to the store and talks to Mrs. Hartsel since Mr. Hartsel cannot speak with him. She ends up loaning him some money and tells Alessandro to come back the next day to sell his violin.

The only store that fits the description and would have been the place in old Temecula for commerce like this is the Wolf Store. This store is still around, but is currently fenced off along with a bunch of other buildings in the area. The area is currently listed as being in the process of being restored. All I could do with look over a fence to view the buildings. The Wolf Store is the one on the right.

Louis Wolf had his store built sometime in the 1860's and was the main place for commerce in Temecula until 1905. The following picture was taken around 1890.This is what it looks like today. It is the oldest building in Temecula that is still around.One thing I was puzzled by was the landmark sign on the building. That is what a California historical landmark (CHL) would look like. On zooming in I saw that it said, "Treaty of Temecula." I was puzzled by this since I did not know of any CHL around here. From what I remembered from reading, the treaty was not signed at this store, but across the way in a place no longer around. I'll come back to this down below.I do not know anything more about the other structures in the area. Whether they go back as far as the Wolf Store I do not know.At some point in the future, this area is supposed to open up to the general public. I hope they can get the resources to get this done.This is another area that the modern shopping stores have built around. Although enough area has been separated to make this look like part of the old world.

The Wolf Store (Youtube Version)

The Wolf Store (Vimeo Version)

A few links you can check out:

The Wolf Store (and restoration) mentioned on the Vail Ranch site

The Wolf Store (Wikimapia): this shows you where it is at

Louis Wolf and His Store

When I got home I did a few searches on that Treaty of Temecula plaque I saw. The only thing I could find was an old Desert Magazine (January, 1966) article that shows it.
Like I said earlier, from what I have read, this treaty was not signed at the Wolf Store, but some other nearby place. It was a treaty signed by a few of the local tribes, but rejected by the U.S. Senate. I am sure you can search "Treaty of Temecula" to find out more of the history on this one.

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

Ramona Epic #18: The Old Cemetery

"His silence was more than silent; it was taciturn. Yet she always felt herself
answered. A monosyllable of Alessandro's, nay, a look, told what
other men took long sentences to say, and said less eloquently.

After long thinking over this, she exclaimed, 'You speak as the
trees speak, and like the rock yonder, and the flowers, without
saying anything!'

This delighted Alessandro's very heart. 'And you, Majella,' he
exclaimed; "when you say that, you speak in the language of our
people; you are as we are.'"

In chapter 17 of the story Alessandro takes Ramona with him to Temecula so he can sell his violin in order for them to have some money so they can be married. There is some concern that they could be caught by those sent from the rancho to find them. So, Ramona agrees to stay at the cemetery while Alessandro attempts to find out what is going on in Temecula and sell his violin. There she meets Carmena who is grieving over the loss of her husband. Carmena does not speak, but she is glad Ramona is there and they hold hands.

Visiting this particular cemetery is somewhat disappointing. I knew this would be the case even before going to it. There is really nothing there these days. In fact, unless someone told you, you would probably have no clue it was a cemetery.

The modern world has been completely built around it. A shopping center with many modern chain stores has taken over. What separates it from the modern world is a big wall around it.Looking over the wall is a big square flat dirt field. How many times have I seen something like this elsewhere and not thought anything about it? However, in this case, it was a historical cemetery.The real historical basis for this cemetery took place during the Mexican War. While a few battles were taking place in California, the Battle of San Pasqual near Escondito was won by the Californios (the Mexican side) around December 6, 1846. After the battle 11 Californios went to an adobe in Pauma Valley. There a bunch of Luiseno killed them in what is known as the Pauma Massacre. It was said that they were tortured and killed in a way to brutal to describe.

No one knows really why this group of Indians did this. There is some thought that the recent Battle of San Pasqual had something to do with this and thinking of the Americans as their friends. Or, some of their horses has been stolen by the Californios. In any case, they were avenging something.

Jose Del Carmen Lugo was ordered to avenge the massacre. In December, 1846 (and January, 1847) he took the men he could get and got the help of Juan Antonio, leader of the Cahuilla Indians, with his men. With a combined force of Californios and Cahuilla Indians, Lugo led them to the mouth of a Canyon near Vail Lake. As an aside, when I was younger I often fished at Vail Lake.

There they hid, setting up the ambush, and sent some of their men into the canyon. A few of he men went into the canyon to trick the Luisenos they were after to chase after them. The trick worked, and as they came out the Temecula Massacre was on.

No one knows how many Luisenos were killed. Estimates are between 40-120. The dead were gathered and buried at this spot in Temecula. This is the origin of the cemetery.

A couple of my own thoughts on this:

One thing that is hard to describe in a quick historical summary like this is overgeneralizing a group of people. Sometimes we talk about the Californios, the Americans, the Indians, etc. as if they were unified group of people. When reading Horace Parker's small book (listed below) I kept trying to figure out why some of the Californios were not really following orders of the Mexican side, why groups of Indians were attacking each other, etc. In the case of the Californios they were on the Mexican side of the war, but did not think of themselves as Mexicans. So, their immediate concerns came first over whatever General was ordering them to do. In the case of the Cahuilla Indians going against the Temecula/Luiseno Indians, that appears to be retaliation for a battle lost by the Cahuilla Indians years earlier that had nothing to do with any sides of the Mexican War.

So, the historical reality of the cemetery has nothing to do with Helen Hunt Jackson's version of why it was there in the fictional Ramona book. In fact, had she actually mentioned the historical reality behind the cemetery it would have undermined the premise behind her book. War and politics are usually really messy when comes to this.

The Old Cemetery (Youtube Version)

The Old Cemetery (Vimeo Version)

The following links are old pictures off the USC Digital Library of the cemetery:

An old picture of the cemetery

Another old picture of a grave in the cemetery

For my quick summary of the events involved, I used the following book which I found at a local library:

Parker, Horace. The Historic Valley of Temecula: The Temecula Massacre. Balboa Island: Paisano Press, 1971.

The following links should be helpful:

Temecula Massacre (Old Town Temecula article)

Temecula Massacre (Wikimapia): this shows you where it is at

Temecula Massacre (Wikipedia article)

Whizzing Past the Graveyard (North County Times)

A Look Back: The Temecula Massacre (Press-Enterprise)