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Preface

 
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Joined: 27 Nov 2007
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Location: Monterey County, California

PostPosted: Mon Apr 14, 2008 2:34 pm    Post subject: Preface Reply with quote

Just a happy coincidence, OLD MONTEREY—CALIFORNIA'S ADOBE CAPITAL emerges at the beginning of the Junipero Serra Year—so designated by the California Legislature of 1933, in commemoration of the Sesqui-Centennial of the death, at Carmel Mission, of the Franciscan Founder of California. His weary body rests in the spot he loved above any other on this earth, unless it be that Petra, his boyhood home in fair Mallorca, contested for his affections. But, articulately, it was Old Monterey unto the end—'his Mission by El Carmelo and the Sea.

The story of Monterey and California is unpaintable, even ununderstandable, without the story of Fray Junipero. He it was who planted civilization—a simple, beautiful civilization—upon the half-legendary frontier of New Spain.

The Cross and the Hispanic civilization—its speech, and many of its laws, arts and customs—have survived. And thousands from the ends of the earth yearly essay a pilgrim-age to his sepulcher and those of his comrade-pioneers in the wilderness—Fray Juan Crespi and Fray Fermin Lasuen.

The great Franciscan's story is best understood as the history of Old Monterey—and Old California—unfolds. Like President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Serra appears upon the canvas as an idealistic realist. He fitted his idealism to the needs of his time; and to be balked by obstacles was merely to delay his project; but not too long. "He had founded a civilization," said Dr. Charles Lummis, "the like of which the world had never seen, nor will again." But Greed soon elbowed in. Then Peace, Plenty, and Beauty vanished from the land.

OLD MONTEREY might have gone forth as "Monterey in Five Centuries" but for its mathematical austerity. No romanticism in figures.

If it be thought that a disproportionate amount of space is devoted to the Mexican period, it is because the Mexican period is the most persistently misrepresented, and therefore misunderstood, period of California history. And it has been misrepresented by many who knew better, having the records before them. Then theie are the "historical novelists" —Heaven help us!—who followed them, making heroes of California's First Racketeers. A graduate student of history at the University of California could have set them right, if the truth were wanted, over a week-end.

Preparation for OLD MONTEREY has covered sporadic years that lay between the issuance of "The Story of the Old Missions" in 1893, and 1934, with voluminous magazine and newspaper stuff in the interregnum. The last seven years have been gloriously spent unearthing material in and around the Old Capital; two years before that, browsing around seductive Santa Barbara, where it was my privilege to sit at the feet of that great source historian, Father Zephyrin Engelhardt, at Santa Barbara Mission. From his "Missions and Missionaries in California" and from his volumes on individual Missions, I have freely quoted. To him, still gallantly at his desk, though weighted down with the weariness of years, I wish to acknowledge my deep indebtedness, and to attest to my appreciation of a treasured friendship.

To Dr. Herbert Eugene Bolton, international authority on the Hispanic history of the Americas, who, notwithstanding his eighteen-hour day, in college and out, generously offered to write the foreword for OLD MONTEREY —and did—my salute! For his invaluable suggestions and corrections, my gratitude. Dr. Boltonrs publications, upon which I have so heavily drawn, appear in the bibliography. How warming his friendly attitude toward lesser workers in his field! Truly, the measure of a man.

To Hubert Howe Bancroft, a life-long appreciation. The historian threw open his priceless library to me, then housed in an old brick building on Valencia Street, in San Francisco, in the spring of 1893. Here, under the guidance of Mr. Thomas Savage—he who had collected much of the material in the library, and who knew many of the actors and the circumstances of the closing historical drama—I worked for several months. A precious spring!

A magnanimous act of the famous historian—'turning a young writer loose among such priceless treasure, much of it under foot—forsooth, over a foot deep—over which we had to walk, to reach the stairway in the rear, that led to the Mission material on the second floor. Properly dusted, most of the treasure is now housed in the Library building of the University of California, the property of the State of California, Dr. Bolton, its director.

Others to whom I owe much include Miss Mabel Gillis, State Librarian, Sacramento; Mr. John Howell, San Francisco, publisher of "Seventy-Five Years in California," by William Heath Davis—from which I have freely quoted —for assistance generously given, including the delightful portrait of Robert Louis Stevenson by Peter Van Valkenburgh, and for prints from Forbes' "History of California/' the work of Captain William Smyth, R.N., in 1823; Mrs. Isabel D. Morris, Paul Elder's, San Francisco, who has been of invaluable assistance in difficult moments—and they do arrive; Mr. Louis S. Slevin, pioneer photographer of Carmel, photographs; Mr. J. K. Oliver, Monterey, items from his famous collection of photographs of Old Monterey; Mr. Joseph Silva, photographs; Mr. Daniel Freeman, Monterey, photographs; the Rev. James Culleton, D.D., Fresno, data from Church records; Gwendolyn Powers Applegarth, my daughter and best friend, who not only read proofs with a noble courage, but kept me at my task when the hills were green, and the surf was calling at the "Point"; also, Mr. George Adrian Applegarth, San Francisco architect, who drew up the plan for the preservation of Old Monterey that appears as end papers—the only plan ever to have been prepared to point the way for the Old Capital, indicating the existing adobes and stone houses of a century ago that must be saved; restoration of the Old Plaza (now occupied by a Standard Oil station) ; and the First American Capitol —El Cuartel—all occupying lands deeded to the City of Monterey, by Congress, in 1906.

Here's hoping that the progress made during the last five years toward the preservation of the precious landmarks of the Old Pacific Capital—scenes of many dramatic episodes recorded in this volume—may proceed toward a definite objective—the Monterey History and Art Association a guiding influence. And it is not too much to hope that in the near future some great American, or some great American institution, may come forward to safeguard for all time America's most dramatic museum-piece among its famous Old Towns. Most dramatic, because it cannot be duplicated,
East or West, North or South—historically, artistically, nor architecturally—the contributions of three civilizations.

LAURA BRIDE POWERS
February, 1934
Serra Year
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