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Journal of No. 118

February 15th, 2010

Skimming through the old California history book @ 09:18 am

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The capital at the time of publication was Benicia, which held that distinction from February 11, 1853 to February 25, 1854.

Santa Barbara. This is also an old town, and has been long celebrated for its wealthy Dons and beautiful Senoritas. ... They are also celebrated for hospitality and fandangos.

The great valley or plain stretching between [Los Angeles] and the bay, is remarkably fertile; ... The facilities for irrigation are abundant ... Large tracts of land are devoted to the culture of the grape, which, in this genial climate, produces abundantly -- affording several thousand barrels of wine and brandy for annual exportation. [population of LA about 2,800]

In Los Angeles country are one hundred and five vineyards, all but twenty of which are in the city. Its vintage, in the season of 1852, was 2,250,000 pounds of grapes ... 1,000,000 of pounds were sold in the markets of San Francisco, and the remainder were manufactured into wine and a brandy, called, in the country, Aquadiente.

San Francisco is the place for the naturalist to study the history of the Pouched Rat. That city swarms with them. They are of mammoth size and very bold.

No city on this continent has equalled San Francisco in the prevalence of gambling, intemperance, licentiousness, and kindred evils.

[He is quite exercised by the fact that horse-racing takes place on the Sabbath, on the very grounds of the Mission!]

Many of these [drinking-houses] are attended, and frequented, by women, often luxuriously attired, who chat, and smoke, and smile, over the convivial glass, with as much zest and indifference as they would exhibit in the observance of any modest ceremony. ... and the walls of many of these rooms are adorned in a manner which our puritan mothers would not have approved.
[from a different section, but it follows on well here]: It would seem that the designer of such pictures must have burned the 'midnight oil' long over the pages of Horace and Ovid; and that the man who can display them, and the female especially who can tolerate the act by her presence, must have strangely forgotten, if, indeed, they ever learned, the distinctions between virtue and vice.

A faithful recital of the prevalent licentiousness of this city cannot with propriety be placed on the pages of any book.
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Date:February 16th, 2010 08:28 pm (UTC)

Pouched Rats

As you may be aware, most of the criminal element in San Francisco during the early 1850s was thought to be (and probably was) Australian, dubbed the 'Sydney Ducks'. I have a copy here of Herbert Asbury's _The Barbary Coast: An Informal History of the San Francisco Underworld_ (copyright 1933), and it has a number of depressing-yet-amusing anecdotes about these characters.

Journal of No. 118