A Rare Visit to the Hearst Family’s Wyntoon Estate

In response to Joe Mathew’s article on Wyntoon: I have been there! In 1964 I was working for a consulting forestry firm in Oakland that had Sunical Corporation as a client. Sunical was the division of the Hearst Corporation that was responsible for the Hearst forest lands in California. I was sent in 1964 to McCloud to scale the timber coming off of the property on the McCloud River. PG&E was building the dam to create Lake McCloud, which was to flood some of the Hearst property. We were in the process of logging the reservoir site which was to be flooded. While I was there, I became acquainted with one of the caretakers at Wyntoon, and one afternoon he invited me to visit the property. He showed me the Bavarian Village, but we could not go near the buildings, possibly because family members were there (it was August, I think). He did take me into what he called the castle, a large stone structure, that had been under construction when William Randolph Hearst died. It was said that all worked stopped the day of his death and had never been resumed. It was a magnificent structure and appeared to me that it was near completion, but the water had never been turned on. I also remember that the other caretaker was on a trip to Fort Bragg on the coast. The reason for his visit was that the Hearsts had a warehouse there of antiques or art objects that had been purchased for Wyntoon and that the caretaker went there to check on it periodically.

Leif C. Hatlen

Speaking for the Unhoused

It was an absolute pleasure and a privilege to be part of this event. I value the recovery of my life dearly and wish to help as many as possible find the same satisfaction that I have. This overwhelming desire has guided me and given me new purpose. I would never in a million years have thought I would be the voice of Homelessness, but now I speak for them/us proudly!

—Shawn Eric Pleasants

Academic Freedom Is a Fundamental Building Block of the Public Square

The University of Toronto is on the wrong side of history and, I’m afraid, so is Michael Ignatieff. The growing movement in support of CAUT’s censure should be a clear indication to the U of T administration that it ought to resist any attempt at interference in academic freedom. The reputation of this great university is at stake. Ignatieff’s decision to break ranks with those who are trying to get the University to reverse course is based on a spurious argument about the public square that does not stand up to scrutiny. There is no public square when basic fundamental building blocks of that square are being eroded.

W. Andy Knight, FRSC
Distinguished Professor
University of Alberta

Sorry Joe Mathews, I Want Wonder Woman in the Senate

Joe –

With all due respect regarding your suggestion to Governor Newsom that he appoint you to fill Kamala Harris’ newly vacated Senate seat, I think Gal Gadot, the embodiment of Wonder Woman, should replace you on his list of possibilities.

You offered up yourself as an absurd choice in a time of absurdity. Well, a Wonder Woman appointment touches upon the edge of absurdity. But, consider what this powerful, strong willed, unapologetic Amazon would bring to D.C. (Jeff Bezos – I’d like to give you credit for naming your company after this feminist and warrior; but if you didn’t, please replace your logo with hers.)

Wonder Woman has an impeccable record of absorbing the impact of incoming attacks, and she never backs down from a fight. So, look out Mitch McConnell and company. She wears those indestructible steel bracelets that block ill deeds. What do you have? And, who needs all those fights about the filibuster when there’s Wonder Woman on the scene?

In case you think she is a one-woman show, Wonder Woman has worked for centuries with her male superhero colleagues who comprise the Justice League, where it is recognized that only by working together and pooling superpower resources can menaces be successfully confronted. So, with Wonder Woman joining forces with the other super women that populate the Senate, will there be a new day of nonpartisanship or will self-interest continue to prevail? Consider that DC Comics and Warner Bros. have recognized and celebrated the power of Wonder Woman and her championing of fairness and integrity since she hit the scene in early 1940s. So, I wouldn’t bet against the comics and a major film company’s faith in her superpowers.

Joe – you are a journalist who tells the truth as best you can, with some satire thrown in. But you can’t really compete with Wonder Woman because she is forever twirling the Lasso of Truth which compels the captive to tell the truth. At long last, goodbye fake news!

Lastly. You are a man. We need to add women to the Senate, not subtract one. So please let the Governor know you’ve changed your mind. Wonder Woman, please!

Best regards,

—Billie Greer

A Lifelong Nurse Troubled by How Nursing Has Changed

As a nurse of 35 years, a person who dedicated my entire life from the age of 20 to the medical profession, I believe that not only should low-income students be given free education for medical fields—all people should be given free tuition. I do not believe that nursing is for everybody. I believe it is a calling, not a chosen profession, and a lot of the nurses you see having difficulty dealing with this job are nurses that got into it for the wrong reason.

We are held as heroes every day we put on that uniform, but some wear that uniform for how they are seen in it, not to take care of others. We do not want to be called heroes; we just want to do the job that we are called to do. We want to have the equipment we need. We want to stop having these high nurse-to-patient ratios that cause us not to be able to care for our patients which lead us to mental health problems which lead us to difficulty dealing with the decisions we have to make.

It is not feasible in any nurse’s mind that you can take seven patients to care for in a shift but that is acceptable to a hospital. Regardless of how nurses try to fight back we are not heard. I feel like the people that run and own these large health organizations or hospitals have sold their soul for a price and they are attempting to make the nurses sell theirs.

Nursing is a field that has evolved and continues to grow over the years. So has my education about nursing. I see a large number of older nurses leaving the field because it has become something we want no part of. It stands out very clearly in my mind when I was told at a hospital orientation that our patients were to be referred to as our clients. In that moment I felt like nursing was being set back 50 years. A client was something that a prostitute would call somebody that paid them for a service. It was one of the lowest points in my career because I never until that moment felt like I was providing a service that could be paid for. What I was doing for another human being was something I did because I cared.

—Barbara Moss

Reflecting on a Solitary Life Compounded by COVID-19 

As I sit on my patio at 7 a.m., sipping an Americano, my plants anxiously await being fed, groomed, and watered. They are oblivious to the fact that it is day 66 of lockdown due to COVID-19. Sounds like prison. Feels like prison. My 300-square-foot studio apartment in Montrose, California—a far cry from the 3,800-square-foot condo I shared with Carl Peter, my boyfriend of seven years, in Michigan, my birthplace—isn’t much larger than a prison cell.

I wish I was a plant.

Talking to my plants are the only conversations I have had in public without wearing a mask once it became mandatory. I don’t have any children, pets, or a significant other to hunker down with. Feels like solitary confinement. Thank God for my 19” TV (not a typo), Facetime, and Wi-Fi.

Montrose, California is a quaint town housing bars, restaurants, unique shops, Starbucks, Trader Joe’s, a bank, a post office, and the Montrose Bowl built in 1940 (used exclusively for private bowling parties). Honolulu Avenue, the main street, has been hosting the Montrose Harvest Market every Sunday since 2002. The avenue is lined with tents filled with produce, hot ethnic foods, yogurts, homemade jams, French baked goods, plants, and arts and crafts. Bands take turns serenading patrons with rhythm and blues, rock, and country music. The banner suspended above the road, for 18 years, reads “SUNDAYS 9 AM TO 2 PM RAIN OR SHINE.” Who would have ever thought to add the words, “EXCEPT FOR A PANDEMIC”?

Not until March 19, 2020.

On August 8, 2018, Carl Peter died suddenly. I was distraught. Our romance was unmatched. We met at a Starbucks. I was the barista and he was the customer. Sparks ignited like Fourth of July fireworks. He was a majestic German man with gorgeous locks of white hair who had played soccer for 52 years. He was my European heartthrob. One of the regulars at Starbucks would say, when Carl Peter wasn’t there, “Hey Blondie, where’s Dagwood?” and painted a watercolor of Blondie and Dagwood and gave it to me. It now adorns my vanity table. Carl Peter and I were inseparable.

Since I had lived in Los Angeles in the 80s and 90s, I decided to rediscover the land of milk and honey. I never lost touch with my California friends, but a twenty-five-year absence was a shock to my system. Rent, insurance, and gas were twice that of Michigan prices. But the cold, snow, and ice storms had become my enemy. I’d had enough, even though leaving my family and friends made me second guess my decision. If it wasn’t for the loss of Carl Peter, I would still be living in Michigan, going through the quarantine with him, tolerating the cold, snow, and ice storms.

And not alone.

Dazed and confused, I packed up all my cares and woes, boxes upon boxes, researching moving companies and auto transporters. I headed west like a madwoman on a mission, in search of my “new” normal, with a thousand questions dancing in my head. Am I crazy? Am I too old for this? What about a job? Can I afford California?

Before leaving LA in 1994, shortly after the Northridge earthquake, I was working in the film industry. Ironically, I was the costume designer on a Disney period film, Goodbye Miss Liberty (based on a true story). It was about the 1918 Spanish Influenza. Some of the sets were dressed with antique medical equipment, while actors portraying doctors, nurses, and patients donned vintage hospital uniforms and gowns. And here it is 100 years later and our world is reliving it … all over again. Daunting. What does that say for 2120?

California is entering Stage 2 now, with 90,000 + cases of Coronavirus and 3,600 deaths to date (approximately 220 cases and 9 deaths per 100,000 residents). Parks, beaches, and some retail businesses are reopening with restrictions. Even casinos and pet salons. Scary. Some say it is too soon while others are elated. I am concerned that people will jump out of the frying pan into the fire.

Montrose Harvest Market partially re-opened on Sunday, May 17. A large sign with guidelines was posted at the entrance. I walked there wearing my mask and glove ensemble. For the most part, people followed the guidelines, with one or two exceptions. The market was half the size of the “old” normal. Chalk lines were drawn at 6-foot distances. Produce, French baked goods, yogurts, and homemade jams occupied the tables. The missing links were hot ethnic foods (I miss the tempura shrimp sticks from the Tornado Potato vender), plants, arts and crafts, and bands, all to return as part of Stage 3.

As I sit on my patio at 4 p.m., sipping a glass of Pinot Noir, my plants fed, groomed, and watered, I hear a bird splashing in my birdbath behind me, oblivious to the fact that it is day 66 of lockdown. I remain still. I don’t dare turn around for fear I will scare him off. I don’t want him to leave. I enjoy his company. I call him Carl Peter.

I wish I was a bird.

—Barbara Anderson


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