Monday, March 23, 2009

The swallows of Capistrano

Father Junipero Serra started a mission here around 1775. He convinced a Spanish Captain that a settlement was needed between the long journeys from San Diego to San Gabriel. Father Serra named his new mission after Saint John of Capistrano, Italy. Shortly after, local Indians attacked the nearby settlement of San Diego. Father Serra quickly buried the Mission’s bells to secure them from an anticipated Indian attack. A year later, Father Serra dug up the bells and friendly Indians helped build his church and other buildings for the community. San Juan Capistrano is famous for the annual return of swallows. Legend has it, that the swallows were scared off by an innkeeper who hated these birds. The swallows were known for building muddy nests. The innkeeper destroyed all of their nests and the swallows took refuge in the mission. October 23rd is San Juan Day. This is a holiday where the citizens celebrate the leaving of the swallows. The swallows return around March 19th. During this time the mission rings its bells and many visitors and local residents gather to celebrate their return.
Photo courtesy of Library of Congress

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Savage, Minnesota - WHERE IS HOLLYWOOD?

The town of Savage, Minnesota was named in honor of Marion Savage. Who was Marion Savage? Marion Savage was a great horse breeder and acquired a promising harness racing horse by the name of Dan Patch in the late 1800’s. Marion loved this horse and experienced great success in one of America’s most popular sports at the time, harness racing. Dan Patch was never defeated in any of his races. During the 1906 Minnesota State Fair, Dan Patch broke the world record of 1:56. There were over 90,000 spectators in the grandstand that day! Savage was a great promoter and the horse became a legend. Savage was one of the first people to promote an animal with consumer and livestock products. In the early 1900’s you could find Dan Patch pocket watches, tobacco and livestock products everywhere. Savage and his great horse went on to become American idols long before other race horses like Man O War or Sea Biscuit. In 1916, Dan Patch’s heart stopped suddenly and the horse died. Thirty two hours later after his favorite horse had expired, Marion Savage died from a heart attack. Where is Hollywood?