REUNION SUNDAY DAY 3 AUGUST 11, 2014
We’re coming down to the finish line of the big FORSTER 200TH ANNIVERSARY OF DON JUAN FORSTER’S BIRTHDAY, and I may make this short because I am getting tired. Last week’s confusion with “Juan” nearly sent me over brink and into the canyon with all the crazies. I feel like I am not quite making the elevator get to the top.
After the night before at the wonderful party at El Adobe Restaurant, several of the 230, or so, revelers didn’t feel like making the trip down the Coast Hwy., a distance of about 30 miles, to the Main Gate for Camp Pendleton Marine Base. Their loss. Come hell or high water, I was not going to miss it because it had been several years since I had gone there with the San Juan Capistrano Historical Society. They take a busload every year around Christmas time. I love to go because I have been visiting the Ranch over the past 90 years, at least. There are several stories I can regale you with later, but will try to keep this story on track — and you know how far afield I can go when I’m on a roll. (It’s no doubt due to the fact that when I start a sentence I may not remember where I was going with it.)
We carpooled as much as possible so it wouldn’t give the Marines a scare with a big bunch of autos approaching their stronghold, and the Warden and I joined in with niece Roberta because her auto can handle 7. Our friend Laura drove (good driver – I didn’t once put on the brakes,) Michael Forster (head honcho of the Reunion organizers,) in the front, then Alba and I with Little Josh sandwiched in between us, then Michelle (Josh’s mom) and Roberta.
To get through the Main Gate, all the drivers had to have driver’s license, current registration, and proof of insurance, as well as a copy of the letter from the Base. To be sure, I took my Passport, just in case. After being checked, and allowed to enter, it is quite a drive through the Base to reach the Ranch House. It is located on a big knoll, and now sitting with the Air Station quite close as you look from the Home out on the valley towards the ocean.
No cattle in sight, nor Vaqueros either for that matter — like in the days of the Dons before Alta California, a part of Mexico, was claimed by the US of A.
The Rancho Santa Margarita ranch house has been designated RANCH HOUSE NATIONAL HISTORIC SITE.
We were divided into 3 or 4 groups to make it easier for the docents to do their thing. I first went to the south side main entrance because there was always a date in the cement just inside the walk-in gate which had the date – 1828 and an arrow pointing North. But this time I was shook up. No longer there. Instead someone did a mess of a job, and had changed the slab with what looked to be a Cattle Brand. Whatever it portrayed was a poor rendition, so there I was all upset right off the bat before I even get into the home. As we went in, though, I calmed down. (I thought you would want to know.) The adobe walls of this home are 3 and 4 feet thick. It was built to last, to say the least.
The Marine’s Museums and Archives section taking care of this place are doing a nice job with the interior. When the Military took over the Commanding General used it for his living quarters as well as Headquarters. Presidents visited, and military parties were given there so they added on a large room on the north side for these affairs. Very elegantly decorated with period furnishings of a bygone era, plush white carpeting, huge paintings. Very tasteful. The home is rectangular in shape with 20 rooms. In the center is a large open air patio, always with lush flowers and landscaping. My Great grandmother, Ysidora Melitas Pico’s quarters are roomy compared to others in the home, after all she was the hospitable Doña of the house.
Our group moseyed around throughout, ending up in the patio where we could catch up with more family talk, and learning more about where they have come from now. I am not going to get into it again about all those Juans, but let me tell you right now, I intend to do some more research with some of my cousins. I’ve also got to look into more goings on with my nieces and nephews. I don’t know what a lot of them have been up to.
Will close for now, but I imagine I will narrate stories that were awakened in the depths of my memory. It will be fun for me to put it all into words, and hope it will be enjoyable for my readers.
Hey, Readers, are you out there?
MELITAS FORSTER MONDAYS WITH MELITAS