Tuesday, November 10, 2009

More On Little Known History

We live in a town which notoriously disdains its history. There are a few museums, here and there, but most are sparsely attended and stocked. Maybe it has something to do with earthquakes destroying everything every few years, or something.

I've been interested in Santa Cruz history ever since I've moved here, but even more keenly so since this is where I'm raising my children. I've looked for good history materials, but have never found anything more than a few pages, until my husband came home with Santa Cruz County: Parade of the Past written by Margaret Koch. It's an older book, published in 1973, but is by far the most thorough I've ever seen.

A couple of my favorite characters so far include Adna Hecox and Elihu Anthony. They moved to Santa Cruz County back in the 1840s, and both were Methodist ministers. Hecox preached a sermon while he was camped in Sacramento, on the trail, which was the first Protestant sermon ever preached in California. He and Anthony moved their families to Santa Cruz where they started agricultural businesses. Hecox was also elected mayor (a position of considerable importance under Mexican rule), and was the county's supreme court justice--and at a time with no written law code to go by, he had to weigh each case with what he knew of Biblical justice. He was later appointed by the U.S. federal government to man the lighthouse that was built at Steamer's Lane (the lighthouse that stands there now is a replica of the older one). His daughter tended the lighthouse after he passed away.

By this time the Santa Cruz Mission had been nearly abandoned, or taken over by secular government offices. When the Mexicans took over California, all the missions were secularized and given out to regional governments. Hecox and Anthony began Methodist church services in a home and Hecox donated some of his land to build the church on his property--the first Protestant church building in California!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

On Kids and Dogs

For those who don't know yet, we got a dog, her name is Dax, about two weeks ago. When I was a kid lots of kids got dogs, and got them for free, or captured one that was wandering down an alley somewhere. They slept outside in a plastic house (or were let into the garage when the temperature plunged sub-zero), and ate the cheapest bulk food we could find. We took them to the vet for rabies shots and (...ahem...) to have certain reproductive tools removed, and that was it.

Now that I have a dog in Santa Cruz County, it's a totally different world. We have a sweet blue heeler/pointer mix who follows us around and is very obedient (except for digging holes). I enjoy taking her places, because she's well behaved and likes to ride in the car, but I've realized I don't like the attention she gets. There was a certain type of person who used to always come up and coo over my newborn baby (when I had one), who was usually very kind and thoughtful, and was usually a grandmother. Now I meet the certain type of person who comes up and coos over my dog...like it is a newborn...and this weirds me out. Not normal, friendly people, or little kids who ask permission to pet her, but the weird ones. Like the lady at the pound who asked me why I would feel the need to separate the dog from our family because I said on the adoption application that our dog could sleep outside if it felt like it.

For example, yesterday at the beach I was interviewed by the local news channel what I would do if my dog contracted H3N8. I didn't know what that was, and had to be informed that it's like swine flu for dogs. WEIRD ALERT! No, I hadn't actually heard of it, and yes, if my dog got it we'd probably let her sleep around the house until she felt better. No, I'm not worried. As you can probably tell, my bit got cut at production.

Secondly, we met an older couple with a newly adopted "newborn" puppy. They were carrying around this giant lab puppy like a baby and talking to it in squeaking voices...yes, both the man and his wife were. When their puppy said hello to our dog, Dax jumped away and nearly knocked me over. The man pointed at the dogs and yelled at me, "You'd better stay out of their way!" WEIRD ALERT! Sorry, sir, but I'm going to try and stay out of your way.

We explain this phenomenon to our kids by explaining that some people here are confused. They treat their dogs like kids and their kids like dogs. It makes sense to them, and they think it's weird too. To reform our culture maybe I'll start using the term "animal tool" instead of "animal companion."