A Visit To Placerita Canyon State Park

Last Friday, Glenn Malapit and I took a trip to lower Placerita Canyon State Park.  This is the area of the nature center that offers a series of short hikes around the canyon.  Placerita Canyon was the site of the first California Gold Rush in 1842 when a hired hand, Francisco Lopez of the Rancho San Francisco, discovered flakes of gold.  But today, that memory has faded, and the canyon is known for its branching trees, boulder formations and creek beds.  Scrub oak, and huge sprawling oak trees abound, with sycamore and willow where the shade is plentiful.  What struck me were the magnificent patterns of dark branches against a blue sky.  The rocks, mostly quartz, feldspar, and gneiss, with gleaming biotite mica, provided their own wondrous forms.  The area is quite dry and exposed, so a coolish day is recommended for extensive walking.

When Glenn and I arrived, there were bus loads of children with teachers ready to introduce the kids to the natural world.  Most of the children walked around in the nature center to view samples of natural phenomena and to hear talks on the special features of the park.  It was not quiet, but children add their own qualities to the park experience.  The photos below reveal some aspects of Placerita Canyon, but one needs to go there to appreciate its bounties.IMG_6252IMG_6257IMG_6258IMG_6261IMG_6264IMG_6267 IMG_6272IMG_6280 IMG_6283IMG_6291IMG_6300

A Digression: The Dark Side Of My Childhood, Part 1.


Oh, it is dark in the schoolyard!

The walls are stained with young blood.

How many innocent souls enter here

only to end up writhing in pain.

For this institution chokes its victims,

and leaves them as broken toys.

This was one of my earliest poems(The earliest poem was a love poem to a girl in the 5th grade.) and expresses my feelings toward incarcerated education.  The story probably began long ago when the Los Angeles Board of Education had to come up with a plan to keep thousands of children occupied and entertained for six hours, five days a week.  It seemed like an impossible task.  But after countless meetings, suddenly Dr. Doctor stood up, and shouted:  “I have it!  We’ll create teachers!”  And so it was.  At first, teachers were scattered sparsely across the LA basin.  But hormonal impulses took over, and soon teachers were begetting other teachers, who beget others.  For, as Leonard Bernstein pointed out in his Mass, “God said that sex should repulse, unless it leads to results.  And so we crowd the world full of consenting adults.”  Eventually, there were enough teachers to take care of the thousands of children and schools were created to take care of both teachers and children with police guarding the gates to prevent possible escapes.

Don’t feed the birds, feed your own little selves!”

The schools were run on the Soviet plan;  strong centralization with a small group at the top making decisions for all, virtually no freedom in expressing ideas that weren’t sanctioned from above.  However, the Board did keep its promise; the teachers were entertaining, although not a lot of fun.  My 6th grade teacher was a true servant of the system.  He even taught us The Communist Manifesto.  This man wore thick, dark glasses and we assumed he had problems with his vision.  That this wasn’t the case, was proven many years later when he was arrested for making pornographic films of children.  My 2nd grade teacher was a heavy, strong, obese woman, who shook you if you misbehaved.  She would shake a child so hard that her cheeks would turn red and she would end up gasping for breath.  The only reason we could think of for her unduly exertions was she suspected a child might have money in his/her pockets.  But the California Gold Rush ended at her door.  Her career came to an abrupt end when she locked a child in a closet and forgot about it.  My 3rd grade teacher used to rap a child’s knuckles with a thimble or ruler, cawing:  “Take your medicine!  Take your medicine!”  She was a wiry old lady with crow’s eyes and a suspicious disposition.  When she went to the great beyond the following year, not one child shed one tear.