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March 30, 1861: Santa Barbara

March 30, 2011

Santa Barbara

Santa Barbara; by Daniel Imfeld, on Flickr

Camp 19

[Today] I attended Mass in the morning. The curtains were removed from the altar, and more ceremonies were gone through with than I can detail, but they differed very materially from the ceremonies at Munich on a similar occasion. The music was the best I have heard in California. It began with an instrumental gallopade (I think from Norma), decidedly lively and un devotional in its effect and associations. But other parts were more appropriate. As the priests chanted the long list of saints in order, the response, “Ora pro nobis,” by the audience (I can hardly say congregation) and choir was very pretty indeed. At the unveiling of the altar, two lovely little girls dressed as angels, with large white swan wings upon their shoulders, one on each side of the altar, looked most lovely. They stood there as watching angels during the ceremonies.

Blue Eyed Grass 03

Sisyrinchium bellum; by Tom Hilton, on Flickr

Not the least interesting to me were the costumes. Standing, kneeling, sitting over the floor were the people of many races. Here is a genuine American; in that aisle kneels a genuine Irishman, his wife by his side; near him some Germans; in the short pew by the wall I recognize some acquaintances, French Catholics, also an Italian. But the majority of the congregation are Spanish Californians. Black eyes twinkle beneath the shawls drawn over the heads of the females, and glossy hair peeps out also, and the responses show sets of pearly teeth that would make an American belle die with envy should she see them. A few bonnets and “flats” tell of American or foreign women mingled with the crowd. Here is a group of Indians, the women nearly conforming to the Spanish dress, only their calico dresses are of even brighter colors—all are dressed in holiday clothes. Here is a man with Parisian rig; there one with the regular Mexican costume, buttons down the sides of his pants; beside him is an Indian with fancy moccasins and gay leggins; behind me, in the vestibule, looking on with curiosity, are two Chinamen. No place but California can produce such groups.

In the afternoon there were horse races, etc., but I did not attend them. Thereby hangs a tale, but of that more anon.

[This] evening I was in town again. A gay, jolly crowd were in the streets, the buccaros on their horses, and such horsemen as only Mexico or similar countries can show! Such feats of horsemanship one cannot see in a circus—trying to throw each other from their horses, or throw their horses—it looked as if somebody must be killed, but of course nobody was seriously hurt in their rough sport. I will tell another time of the horsemanship here. Now for less poetry.

Tidytips 05

Layia platyglossa; by Tom Hilton, on Flickr

[This] afternoon I was busy at camp, but the men were in town. Peter returned—said one was “jolly,” and the two others getting decidedly “mellow.” Soon they returned, minus Mike, one of them decidedly “over the bay”; Mike had got in the jail. He had not been drunk before with us, but perfectly sober and steady. He is a zealous Catholic, and today celebrated too hard—got pugnacious like all drunken Irishmen, pitched into everybody, whipped and rolled ignominiously in the dust the fat Dutch justice of the peace who came to arrest him, much to the amusement of the crowd, but was finally overpowered, bound, and taken off to jail. Now this excited one of the other men. He was cool at first, but seeing Mike tied, he took out his knife, cut him loose, and was about to take him to camp when the sheriff came and carried Mike to jail. The others then came to camp.

I was decidedly annoyed by this turn of affairs, and while ruminating on this new episode in my company, I was waited on by the sheriff and a deputy who came to arrest the other man on charge of “assault and battery, aiding in escape, prevention of arrest, etc.” I kept him out of the lock-up after much palaver by going his bonds for appearance. I tried to get Michael, but did not get him out on bail…

Specimens collected: Calochortus catalinae; Medicago polymorpha; Lotus wrangelianus; Sisyrinchium bellum; Layia platyglossa.

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