Masks Have a Rich, Deep History Tailor-Made for Californians

The State’s Highly Polarized Debate Over Face Masks Is Dumb and Dull, and Forgets That Masquerade Is About ‘Fun and Finding Light in Darkness’

Agoston Haraszthy didn’t hesitate to wear masks. A Hungarian immigrant, he became San Diego’s first sheriff by portraying himself as a military colonel. Then, he sold himself as a metallurgist to win the post of assayer of San Francisco’s first U.S. Mint office (where he was later accused of embezzlement). And he was billed as royalty—Count Haraszthy—when he bought Sonoma grape-growing land, established the Buena Vista Winery, and made himself a historic figure in California viticulture.

But by 1864, things were falling apart for “the Count.” The Civil War and …