Enjoy, Honor and Celebrate This Memorial Weekend
May 25, 2012
When I was a child we lived on a small farm at the foot of Bear Mountain, southeast of Bakersfield, California, near the town of Arvin. I walked, hiked, hunted and explored the mountains, hills, valleys and streams of the area. There were two major landmarks in the area. The Cross and the Eleven Mile “Y.” The Cross was an old steel pipe cross covered with wood, painted white, sticking out of the top of a pile of rocks with a view of the entire San Joaquin Valley. Sunrise services were held there every Easter. It was about 7 miles up the Bear Mountain grade on the way to the Eleven Mile “Y” where county road 223 (Main Street in Arvin) connected with state highway 58.
On this last trip to Bakersfield, Donna and I decided to take my mother for a ride. We decided to make the loop out and around Arvin. We slow dragged Main Street thinking how many times we had done it as kids stopping at the local drive-in to get a cherry coke, a green river or a pine float. The local Circle Dot, as it was called, was gone, but there was a McDonalds in town. We didn’t stop. We drove by our old house in town, the high school and then headed out of town up the grade, passed the farm where we had lived and my dad managed for the owner. No, we didn’t own it. The farm was gone too, it was now part of giant water storage project.
The town was about the same as when I was growing up except then it was about 96% farm laborers from Oklahoma, Texas, Arkansas and Missouri – all called “Okies.” Today, according the local chamber, the town is still about 96% farm labors but today they are of Mexico descent.
Soon we spotted the Cross and slowed down in reverence as we passed it by on our way to the “Y.” Memories came rushing back as I remembered riding, mostly walking my bike up the grade on many occasions and then coasting back down at break-neck speeds. As I remember it, it would take a couple of hours to get up the grade but only about 10 minutes to come flying back down. Pure adrenaline rush. It is a wonder I didn’t kill myself. There wasn’t much traffic in those days and there still isn’t. Just for clarification it is eleven miles from Arvin to the Y.
As one approaches the top of the grade you enter a golden valley studded with beautiful old oak trees and natural grasses. When I was a kid, this is where the cows roamed; part of the giant Tejon Ranch Company. Bear Mountain has it seasons, starting with snow white caps in winter, lush green grasses in early spring changing to rainbows of wildflowers, golden poppies, purple lupines and yellow daisies, but by summer it is bone dry and golden brown. Always an awesome site. We had many a picnic (baloney sandwiches) while resting under one of the old oak trees. Note: That is the Okie spelling of bologna.
On this day as we entered the valley we saw something new…a sign, it was Bakersfield National Cemetery. My mother had told us it was up here but Donna and I had not seen it before. We pull in for a visit. It was beautiful, it had this wonderful peaceful feeling, it felt like home. What a wonderful place for a Cemetery, so quiet, so peaceful and so beautiful. The Cemetery is situated on 500 acres of rolling hills and was donated by the Tejon Ranch Company. It was dedicated December 7, 2008. Bakersfield National Cemetery will provide burial space for eligible California veterans and spouses for at least the next 50 years according to their brochure. The cemetery serves an estimated 187,000 veterans in California. The National Cemetery Administration honors veterans with final resting places in national shrines and with lasting tributes that commemorate their service to our nation. What does it cost? It is free for those that served with honor. http://www.cem.va.gov/
On this Memorial day let us also give thanks to those that have served our country. Not just those that have died in its honor but all those that have served. May we suggest if you know someone that is serving or has served that you give them a call or send them and email and let them know how much you appreciate their service, for if it was not for them, you would not have the freedom you have today.
Enjoy, Honor and Celebrate this Memorial Weekend.
Carlos, Donna and Austin
We want to give a BIG SHOUT OUT and THANK YOU to our granddaughter Ashley’s husband, Spencer Harris and his buddies currently serving in Afghanistan.
Other Goodies (Father’s Day is coming up June 17th)
Have you ordered your personal copies of the Molly Songs? If not be sure to check them out on iTunes.
Photo of McGee by Carlos Royal http://www.cafepress.com/mollytheowl.628020845
Molly Watchers E-Cookbook http://mollytheowlbooks.com/store/books-bookmarks/molly-watchers-e-cookbook.html
2012 Calendar www.cafepress.com/mollytheowl
Austin’s Designs (Your purchases help him pay for his schooling) http://www.cafepress.com/austin4media