The House Was A
Place For Storing Food And Keeping One's Belongings From The Wet.
hide in it from the weather is to abuse the normal function.
The climate of California is especially kind to childhood and old age.
Men live longer there, and, if unwasted by dissipation, strength of body
is better conserved. To children the conditions of life are particularly
favorable. California could have no better advertisement at some world's
fair than a visible demonstration of this fact. A series of measurements
of the children of Oakland has recently been taken, in the interest of
comparative child study; and should the average of these from different
ages be worked into a series of models from Eastern cities, the result
would surprise. The children of California, other things being equal,
are larger, stronger and better formed than their Eastern cousins of the
same age. This advantage of development lasts, unless cigarettes, late
hours, or grosser forms of dissipation come in to destroy it. A
wholesome, sober, out-of-door life in California invariably means a
A third element of charm in California is that of personal freedom. The
dominant note in the social development of the state is individualism,
with all that it implies of good or evil. Man is man in California: he
exists for his own sake, not as part of a social organism. He is, in a
sense, superior to society. In the first place, it is not his society;
he came from some other region on his own business. Most likely, he did
not intend to stay; but, having summered and wintered in California, he
has become a Californian, and now he is not contented anywhere else.
Life on the coast has, for him, something of the joyous irresponsibility
of a picnic. The feeling of children released from school remains with
the grown people.
'A Western man," says Dr. Amos Griswold Warner, "is an Eastern man who
has had some additional experiences." The Californian is a man from
anywhere in America or Europe, typically from New England, perhaps, who
has learned a thing or two he did not know in the East, and perhaps, has
forgotten some things it would have been as well to remember. The things
he has learned relate chiefly to elbow room, nature at first hand and
"the unearned increment." The thing that he is most likely to forget is
that the escape from public opinion is not escape from the consequences
of wrong action.
Of elbow room California offers abundance. In an old civilization men
grow like trees in a close-set forest. Individual growth and symmetry
give way to the necessity of crowding. Every man spends some large part
of his strength in being not himself, but what some dozens of other
people expect him to be. There is no room for spreading branches, and
the characteristic qualities and fruitage develop only at the top. On
the frontier men grow as the California white oak, which, in the open
field, sends its branches far and wide.
With plenty of elbow-room the Californian works out his own inborn
character. If he is greedy, malicious, intemperate, by nature, his bad
qualities rise to the second degree in California, and sometimes to the
third. The whole responsibility rests on himself. Society has no part of
it, and he does not pretend to be what he is not, out of deference to
society. "Hypocrisy is the homage vice pays to virtue," but in
California no such homage is demanded or accepted. In like manner, the
virtues become intensified in freedom. Nowhere in the world can one find
men and women more hospitable, more refined, more charming than in the
homes of prosperous California. And these homes, whether in the pine
forests of the Sierras, in the orange groves of the south, in the peach
orchards of the Coast range, or on the great stock ranches, are the
delight of all visitors who enter their open doors. To be sure, the
bewildering hospitality of the great financiers and greater gamblers of
the sixties and seventies is a thing of the past. We shall never again
see such prodigal entertainment as that which Ralston, bankrupt,
cynical, and magnificent, once dispensed in Belmont Caņon. Nor do we
find, nowadays, such lavish outgiving of fruit and wine, or such rushing
of tally-hos, as once preceded the auction sale of town lots in paper
cities. These gorgeous "spreads" were not hospitality, and disappeared
when the traveler had learned his lesson. Their avowed purpose was "the
sale of worthless land to old duffers from the East." But real
hospitality is characteristic of all parts of California where men and
women have an income beyond the needs of the day.
To a very unusual degree the Californian forms his own opinions on
matters of politics, religion, and human life, and these views he
expresses without reserve. His own head he "carries under his own hat,"
and whether this be silk or a sombrero is a matter of his own choosing.
The dictates of church and party have no binding force on him. The
Californian does not confine his views to abstractions. He has his own
opinions of individual men and women. If need be, he will analyze the
character, motives and actions of his neighbor in a way which will
horrify the traveler who has grown up in the shadow of the libel law.
The Californian is peculiarly sensitive as to his own personal freedom
of action. Toward public rights or duties, he is correspondingly
indifferent. In the times of national stress, he paid his debts in gold
and asked the same of his creditors, regardless of the laws or customs
of the rest of the United States. To him gold is still money and a
national promise to pay is not. The general welfare is not a catchword
with him. His affairs are individual. But he is not stingy for all this.
It is rather a form of largeness, of tolerance.
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