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July 6, 2022

Funny Papers Again Column | Disunion, Union and Serenity

For the past few weeks I have been telling everyone I think cares to hear it that if they want to enjoy the Arroyo Seco River, they needed to do it posthaste, as that particular stream is going to die before the Fourth of July. But until today, I had not taken my own advice and I can state that, hopefully, my calculation is off the mark, but the river is very low, and we aren’t yet into the month of June. And need I say it, but there is no rain on the horizon, at least not any horizon close by.

So, as I write this, I am drying off from a splash in the river in my friend’s cabin at Jorgenson Flat. As I sit here sheltered from any sudden little gusts of wind, and out of the sun, which is bringing a heat that has the needle on the thermometer just touching the 89-degree mark, it is a very serene and relaxing atmosphere.

For me it was one of those long weekends, a span of three days one looks back upon with a great deal of satisfaction because of the positive nature of events. I can’t comment on Friday without explaining Thursday, because it was on Thursday morning I met Abraham Lincoln, more on this later.

With Honest Abe was his wife, and when I mentioned I wrote a column for the local papers, she obviously thought I was going to do an article on the event, which brought them to San Lorenzo Park. (Thursday 9-11 a.m. is MCARLM Workday, and while Jim and Dave and Carroll and I were working, the Lincolns pulled onto the grounds; if you are interested in the last names of those above, make your way down to the Museum tomorrow morning and check it out.)

Abe is in reality Wayne L. Scott, who hails from Fresno and has been portraying our 16th president for over two decades. He was in town with wife, Kay, who portrays Mrs. Lincoln, setting up for Civil War Re-Enactment Day scheduled for the next day.

Now, I don’t really know the exact name of last Friday’s event, but I do know it was an annual event for eighth graders from here in King City for some years but was shut down for the past two years and you all know why. (If you are wondering why I don’t have more accurate and comprehensive information, such as teacher and student names and quotes, it is because, as I explained more than a few times that day, I am a columnist, I opine; I am not a reporter who must have facts and figures and leaves opinion up to the reader.) But I can tell of some of the re-enactors who participated in the event, many bringing their own period dress and accoutrement, all historically correct.

Besides the Lincolns, some very notable people could be found near the battleground in the persons of two giants in the abolitionist movement, Harriet Tubman and Sojourner Truth, portrayed by Marie Sims and Nancy Idlet-Whittle, respectively, and Mary Todd Lincoln’s seamstress and confidant Elizabeth Hobbs Keckley portrayed by Evelin Grimaldi. Like most of the re-enactors, these ladies, also from Fresno, travel throughout the state at Civil War era events bringing to life those women who were so important to that time in American history.

Across the grounds Paul Lavrischeff, in Union sergeant uniform, had on display myriad weaponry and personal effects of a soldier of the period. I didn’t catch the full name of the fraternal order to which Paul belonged, but he was a member of the Phil Sheridan Camp No. 4, San Jose. He is a direct descendent of men who fought for the Union, one his great-great-great-grandfather who rode with Sheridan’s army. He made use of one weapon from his arsenal as he fired his pistol at Rebel soldiers during the re-enactment of the First Battle of Bull Run/Manassas.

Larger weaponry could also be found, and heard, on the field of battle in the form of two cannons, one a Mountain Howitzer manned by members of the American Civil War Association. Barbara Warner, Ginger Bye and Anna Quealey were joined by Randy Hawkinson in keeping the cannon loaded and firing as required by the ebb and flow of battle. For injured soldiers, Frank Avila from San Jose was in place as surgeon in the field hospital tent (where real-life school nurse Raye-Ann Houx was on real duty). Spectators also were witness to the Battle of Gettysburg and the ill-fated Pickett’s Charge.

Prior to meeting on fields of battle (interrupted for a barbecue chicken lunch) Union and Confederate soldiers met to honor two veterans of the Civil War interned in the King City Cemetery, Cpl. William H. White, Company A, 8th California Infantry and Sgt. Clinton A. Burke, Company A, 19th Indiana Infantry. And here we will have to leave the battle and go to something far more peaceful.

A wonderful young couple were joined in wedded bliss this past Saturday, and it was a pleasure to be in attendance at the ceremony; mostly because at my station of life I don’t attend many weddings — funerals are more common — so this was special because the young man getting hitched is about as fine a man as I have ever met. Talented actor, too.

I do not know the bride, Lilliana called Lilly, but I know in Andrew she has found a fine man so she must be a fine young lady. All in attendance were blessed to witness this event, and we wish them all the luck in the world.

And that brings us to this afternoon and the Arroyo Seco River. I really don’t consider it a complete year if I don’t get in the river at least a few times, and given the present meteorological outlook, the last time to be able to really enjoy the river is fast approaching.

Take care. Peace.

Steve Wilson
King City and Greenfield Columnist
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