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January 23
1882 - Author Helen Hunt Jackson arrives at Rancho Camulos; inspiration for "Ramona" novel [story]


Now and Then in the SCV | Commentary by Darryl Manzer
| Sunday, Nov 3, 2013
Darryl Manzer

Darryl Manzer

I wonder how much more productive I could be if there weren’t a thing called Facebook?

I’m a Facebook user. I used to write long rants on many subjects about which I knew little. Those rants didn’t solve many problems, but once in a while folks who read those rants could comment and maybe take some action to change things. At least I could hope they did.

Of late, I’ve been sitting in the background just reading and offering terse little comments. I have withheld my barbed pen, too. Better to be thought a fool … you know the rest.

Now I find humor in those rants. Sort of like speakers at Santa Clarita City Council meetings. You know the ones who complain about everything and offer no viable solution. But every week, there they are, exercising their right of free speech.

I love the one gentleman on Facebook who can find Satan in just about anything happening in the SCV. Haunted houses = work of Satan. Teachers dancing as a flash mob while dressed as zombies to entertain the kids for Halloween is inappropriate and un-Christian. In fact, according to the gentleman, Halloween isn’t Christian.

Tell that to the millions of Roman, Orthodox and Coptic Christians who celebrate for two days, Oct. 31 and Nov. 1, as All Saints and All Souls days. Shall we have a history lesson?

I posted a report of my status on Facebook the other day when the “storm” was coming into SoCal. I wrote of high winds and gathering clouds. So the comments came back: “It was a dark and stormy night…” followed by, “…and the young girl….” I wanted to follow up on that, but until now, I just didn’t take the time. So here goes:

“It was a dark and stormy night and the old gentleman, seeing the storm was coming, shut himself in his abode and read rants on Facebook until at long last he was so tired, he and his trusted dog, Mr. Renly, retreated from the storm by slipping under the bedclothes and fell fast asleep.” The End.

Trust me, I shall never do that again. (Or at least until the next time I do it.)

peachlandelementary1I don’t know if I’ve ever told the story about how I came to love to write. It happened at Peachland Elementary, and I was in the fourth or fifth grade. Bunches of us kids were playing with a large ball in the southeast corner of the playground. There was, and still is, a rather large California live oak tree. Just over the fence. The branches of that tree hung over and came close to the ground.

Well, the ball was kicked or thrown or hit into the tree, where it stuck in the branches. Feeling the ball needed rescue, I climbed on the branch and was able to assist the ball in gaining escape from that limb.

As I was climbing down, my teacher, Mrs. Danner, spied my efforts and called me over for a discussion about how I had committed a grievous breach of playground rules and regulations. Instead of sending me to the office – a place with which I was more than a little acquainted – she did something new. She assigned me the task of writing an essay. A 500-word essay. Subject: “Why birds are better adapted to trees than boys.”

peachlandelementary3Never one to leave without having the last word, I commented that 500 words might not be enough. She retorted, “1,000,” and I said, “maybe 5,000.” To my astonishment, she agreed. So I was tasked with writing a 5,000-word essay as punishment for my rescuing the ball.

By the time I completed the assignment, I knew more about bird feet and bird nesting and bird beaks and … I loved it. I loved putting the words on paper using an old, manual typewriter. (Much later, I got an electric typewriter.) I loved telling the story of the ball and the birds. I loved comparing boys with monkeys that have thumbs that grip the limb better.

I got an extra-credit “A-plus.” I loved that, too.

When you get tired of what I write, you can blame Mrs. Danner and that “kick ball,” some birds, and that old oak tree. I’m not to blame. Couldn’t have been. I’m the hero. I rescued that errant ball.

Today I could blame it on Bush. The current president taught me to do that. Only this story is real. Period.

 

Darryl Manzer grew up in the Pico Canyon oil town of Mentryville in the 1960s and attended Hart High School. After a career in the U.S. Navy he returned to live in the Santa Clarita Valley. He can be reached at dmanzer@scvhistory.com and his commentaries, published on Tuesdays and Sundays, are archived at DManzer.com. Watch his walking tour of Mentryville [here].

 

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