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The Californiacs   By: (1873-1970)

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By Inez Haynes Irwin

California, which produces the maximum of scenery and the minimum of weather; California, which grows the biggest men, trees, vegetables and fleas in the world, and the most beautiful women, babies, flowers and fruits; California, which, on the side, delivers a yearly crop of athletes, boxers, tennis players, swimmers, runners and a yearly crop of geniuses, painters, sculptors, architects, authors, musicians, actors, producers and photographers; California, where every business man writes novels, or plays, or poetry, or all three; California, which has spawned the Coppa, Carmel and San Quentin schools of literature; California, where all the ex pugs become statesmen and all the ex cons become literateurs; California, the home of the movie, the Spanish mission, the golden poppy, the militant labor leader, the turkey trot, the grizzly bear, the bunny hug, progressive politics and most American slang; California, which can at a moment's notice produce an earthquake, a volcano, a geyser; California, where the spring comes in the fall and the fall comes in the summer and the summer comes in the winter and the winter never comes at all; California, where everybody is born beautiful and nobody grows old that California is populated mainly with Californiacs.

California, I repeat, is populated mainly with Californiacs; but the Californiacs are by no means confined to California. They have, indeed, wandered far afield. New York, for instance, has a colony so large that the average New Yorker is well acquainted with the symptoms of California. The Californiac is unable to talk about anything but California, except when he interrupts himself to knock every other place on the face of the earth. He looks with pity on anybody born outside of California and he believes that no one who has ever seen California willingly lives elsewhere. He himself often lives elsewhere, but he never admits that it is from choice. He refers to California always as "God's country", and if you permit him to start his God's country line of talk, it is all up with intelligent conversation for the rest of the day. He will discourse on California scenery, climate, crops, athletes, women, art sense, etc., ad libitum, ad infinitum and ad nauseum. He is a walking compendium of those Who's Whosers who were born in California. He can reel off statistics which flatter California, not by the yard, but by the mile. And although he is proud enough of the ease and abundance with which things grow in California, he is even more proud of the size to which they attain. Gibes do not stop the Californiac, nor jeers give him pause. He believes that he was appointed to talk about California. And Heaven knows, he does. He has plenty of sense of humor otherwise, but mention California and it is as though he were conducting a revival meeting.

Once a party which included a Californiac were taking an evening stroll. Presently a huge full moon cut loose from the horizon and began a tour of the sky. Admiring comments were made. "I suppose you have them bigger in California," a young woman observed slyly to the Californiac. He did not smile; he only looked serious. Again, a Californiac mentioned to me that he had married an eastern woman. "Any eastern woman who marries a Californian," I observed in the spirit of badinage, "really takes a very great risk. Her husband must always be comparing her with the beautiful women of his native state." "Yes," he answered, "I've often said to my wife, 'Lucy, you're a very pretty woman, but you ought to see some of our San Francisco girls.'" "I hope," I replied, "that she boxed your ears." He did not smile; he only looked pained. Once only have I seen the Californiac silenced. A dinner party which included a globe trotter, were listening to a victim of an advanced stage of Californoia. He had just disposed of the East, South and Middle West with a few caustic phrases and had started on his favorite subject... Continue reading book >>

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