I’m a New Mexican now, fully, but I remain a Californian by birth, family history, upbringing and nostalgia. That is where my family’s history comes together. My mother’s parents were part of California’s first great invention of itself in the early 20th century. My father came west after the Second World War to become part of California’s second great invention of itself. And it is that fundamental process, the self-invention, that so attracts me to California’s history and substance, even as I have fled California in actual fact.
The other night, hunting for a California picture for a blog post, I ran across the University of California’s Calisphere project, a remarkable web collection of pictures and texts about my roots. I had good reasons for leaving, but looking at the old pictures I got all nostalgic. They’re largely pictures of a thing that no longer exists, but it’s my foundation.
Thanks for the link to Calisphere. I share your nostalgia about the California “that no longer exists,” although my connection is more vicarious than yours. Mine is from my late father’s vivid stories about his teenage years (1928 thru 1933). He delivered ice to Basque field workers, threw newspapers at Jean Harlow’s front door, danced with lonely rich ladies on Catalina Island. The Calisphere site brings many of those stories back to life. Thanks again.