by irene bean

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A Solid Foundation



Not Trying to be Corny

This Little Light of Mine

We Were Once Young

Veni, Vedi, Vinca

U Tube Has a New Star

Packing a 3-Iron

Getting Personal

Welcome Again

Well... Come on in

Christmas Shopping

There's no Substitute

Dressed for Success

Cancun Can-Can

Holy Guacamole

Life can be Crazy

The New Dog

Hurricane Reenie

He Delivers

No Spilt Milk

Naked Fingers


Have Ya Heard the One About?

The Great Caper


Barney's P***S

My New Security System

Holy Guacamole

I live in Fallbrook, CA - renowned as the Avocado Capital of the World. Ordinarily, I don't believe that brand of hyperbole, which is usually invented by an over-zealous Chamber of Commerce. I checked the Internet for other boastful towns, and here are some of my favorites:

"Hubcap Capital of the World" Pearsonville, CA
"Cow Chip Capital of the World" Beaver, OK
"Town without a Toothache" Herford, TX
"Cherry Pit Spitting Capital of the World" Eau Claire, MI
"Christmas Pickle Capital of the World" Berrien Springs, MI

What the heck is a Christmas Pickle, I thought. A little bit more research and I discovered it has to do with a German tradition where parents hide a pickle ornament in the Christmas tree, and whatever child finds it first on Christmas morning gets a special blessing and a little extra treat. Yup, yup, yup. Learn something new everyday.

Anyway, the list was fascinating, mostly small burgs that would be hard to find on a map, and precisely the reason for the inventive boasts - to put them on the map.

Though we are spitting distance from San Diego, and even Los Angeles, Fallbrook is a small town. When we first moved here, the most oft seen mode of transportation was pick-up trucks - or ancient Saabs and Volvos. Fallbrook's lore also quietly boasts of once being a hub for marijuana production. I've seen a few ZZ Top look-alikes cruising around town.

Much to my dismay, our small town is exploding with development. Agriculture of any ilk is vanishing with rows of houses marching across the landscape like an invading army. Mercedes, BMWs and Jaguars are starting to clog the roads. Yet, as I sit here and type, I can hear my neighbor's rooster hollering, the distant whinny of horses, and the bleat of goats. There's still a lot of small town about Fallbrook.

Big cities don't have to create kooky claims - their bigness, alone, makes them famous. Sure, we know NYC as "The Big Apple" and New Orleans as "The Big Easy," but those legendary slogans were probably created by extremely overpaid marketing people - not like the Billy Mike Crumps in this world who chew the chaw while discussing dirty politicians at the local barbershop. This is how it might go:

Billy Mike: "Hollis, I'm thinking we need to (spit-twoey)
make this here town get noticed."

Hollis: "Yes siree-Bob (spit-twoey). Hows about'in we make us a big mountain of used sparkplugs."

Billy Mike: "Naw. They already done that over in Pinesap."

Don't get me wrong. There's a certain charm about small town boasts - like the little engine that could. Or the child eager for attention, "Look at me, look at me, look at me!" Even if it takes a mountain of sparkplugs.

And ya know, these boasts often work.

Several years ago our son, David, drove from Fallbrook to Ithaca where he attends Cornell University. I shook my head as he planned his route. Could the distance from point A to point B be any farther? Two friends from Laguna Beach, where we once lived, jumped at the chance to join the cross-country odyssey. At first I was relieved David wasn't driving alone, then my creeping trepidation focused on the demographic mix in the van.

David is an unusual breed - he has been a Republican since the moment he made his happy arrival twenty years ago. If I hadn't been there myself, I'd swear he'd been adopted. He's always been like Alex Keaton on Family Ties. He slipped into the world wearing a coat and tie, carrying a briefcase. But he also has the hunky good looks of a Kennedy. He wears his hair fashionably trimmed with a side part, he's tall and fit, and owns a bedazzling smile worth every scrimped penny for orthodontic braces. Of important note, he also has Kennedy compassion when it comes to most social issues. I did something right.

Anyway, one of his passengers was of Indian descent. He wore a Sikh patka, also known as an under-turban, and had a frothy black beard - an ethnic profile that still makes people twitchy since 9-11. The other companion weighed in at about 260 and had mutton chops that grew down to his bellybutton. He'd just returned from some permissive European country and had become a smokey-smoke disciple. (David, of course, banned all illegal substances.)

They were an odd lot, yet have been best friends since elementary school. I could only imagine how they might appear to others on the freeways and byways they'd be traveling - perhaps people would even think David had been taken hostage - my imagination ran wild with potential headlines. Mothers think that way.

The "Vote Bush" decal on the back window heightened my anxiety.

In any case, I found it perfectly delightful that among the many riveting stops they made along the journey was a small town in Texas to see the "Largest Ball of Twine in the World." (Several towns lay claim to this record.) The travelers went quite the extra off-route distance to see it - a testimony to good promotion by the City Fathers. Can't you just visualize the miles of wobbly billboards with sunburned paint?

Regarding Fallbrook's claim with avocados? I believe it. They are so plentiful, I swear to you, I could set up a stand with the ones that tumble to the roadside shoulders throughout town - and retire.


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