October 8, 2015
I recently (finally) finished a story about Lucy Romero for the North Coast Journal. It is an important story and I am thankful to Thad Greenson, their editor, for working so long and patiently with me to get it done.
There is one point I failed to include though and so want to share it here. This is from a post I did years ago, but it is just as important to remember now…
In the western movie, Broken Trail , there is a scene where Robert Duvall struggles to learn the names of five Chinese girls under his care. They speak no English and growing frustrated, Duvall’s character points to each one in turn and names them, “One, Two, Three, Four… “. The girls accept the names, because they have no choice.
The same thing happened here. When the white settlers arrived, they re “named” the native people. Smo-Wa became Henry Capell (he was from the village of Capell). Corn-no-wish became Weichpec Oscar. Zo-wish-wish, a Wiyot woman related to Lucy’s daughter, Annie, was also known as “Rose”.
Lucy, the woman I write about, was only one of many “Lucys”.
October 6, 2009
During the gold rush in California,
There was an extreme shortage of marriageable women and there were also widespread formal prohibitions against adultery. Prostitutes were the only available sexual partners for many men whose desire was fueled by a widespread popular “volcano theory” of sexuality which held that unless men had regular sexual contact, they would explode in orgies of adultery, rape, physical violence and even homosexual embraces.” [Gold Diggers and Silver Miners, Marion S. Goldman]
I can’t speak to the validity of the volcano theory, or using it as an excuse to visit prostitutes, but I do know there were few women in this area in the early gold rush, and that native women and their families suffered horribly as a consequence [see previous post].
I’ve looked through the local 1860 censuses and can’t really find indications that there were prostitutes in early Humboldt county. There weren’t many women here, period. Many of the young miners that came out west were lonely, and in many mining towns, prostitutes provided emotional as well as physical comforts. Without this outlet, shall we say, men looked elsewhere. I can’t help but wonder if everything would have been different for native women (and likely men) if prostitution had been able to flourish here.
This is in no way intended to dismiss the hard choices and hard lives experienced by women forced to sell their bodies to survive. I just think many native women were forced to make the same choice, but the only thing they received in exchange was their lives.
October 5, 2009
Folks seem to like old photos, so I decided to dig up another one.
The last photo of downtown Eureka in 1864 got people thinking about the amount of mud that would have been flowing down those dirt streets during the rainy season. Anyone that has lived in Humboldt for even one winter can probably imagine the mess. Ugh !
This photo got me thinking about heat–or rather, lack of it. There is definite crispness in the air now and the nights are getting cooler. I could likely see my breath in the morning air if I ventured out early.
In the 1870s, Mrs. Crosby moved to Humboldt County with her new husband. They bought themselves a plot of land and set about building a house. In the mean time, there was a small cabin on the property and the Crosbys spent a couple of nights there. According to Mrs. Crosby, these were the
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