Much LAZIER than your average blogger  
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8.24.2008 - 27 comments 

This was not our first visit to either San Diego nor was it our first visit to Old Town in that city. We used to visit here a couple of times a year while we lived in Southern California. But frankly, I had never given it as much attention as it had probably always deserved. One reason may have been that I never really knew that as part of the the Founding of California Old Town San Diego is actually considered the "birthplace" of California.

San Diego is the site of the first permanent Spanish settlement in California. It was here in 1769, that Father Junipero Serra came to establish the very first mission in a chain of 21 missions that were to be the cornerstone of California’s colonization. Father Serra’s mission and Presidio were built on a hillside overlooking what is currently known as Old Town San Diego. At the base of the hill in 1820’s, a small Mexican community of adobe buildings was formed and by 1835 had attained the status of El Pueblo de San Diego. In 1846, a U.S. Navy Lieutenant and a Marine Lieutenant, raised the American flag in the Old Town San Diego Plaza.

In 1968, the State of California Department of Parks and Recreation established Old Town State Historic Park to preserve the rich heritage that characterized San Diego during the 1821 to 1872 period. The park includes a main plaza, exhibits, museums and living history demonstrations.

Historic buildings include La Casa de Estudillo, La Casa de Bandini, La Casa de Altamirno Pedrorena and the Mason Street School, San Diego’s first one room schoolhouse. Just up the hill from Old Town San Diego Historic State Park, you’ll find Heritage Park where several of San Diego’s most notable Victorian homes have been relocated and authentically restored to their original splendor. Just a short walk down San Diego Avenue is the Whaley House, an officially designated haunted house, the Little Adobe Chapel on Conde Street, the first Church in Old Town San Diego and El Campo Santo on San Diego Avenue, a 1850 Catholic Cemetery.

But let me tell what I do know and love about "Old Town" San Diego, that being the food that you can find there that to me if the best Mexican Food North of the Mexico border. For that reason alone, it was our first stop after leaving San Diego's Lindbergh. One such place is called "Old Town Mexican Cafe Cantina" where we not only saw the ladies hand-making the tortillas, but also the pleasure of Mrs. LZ and I eating those same tortillas. But for me, the best part of this place was finding the best Chile Relleno I have had since moving to the Midwest from Southern California several years ago. We even ate there another time prior to leaving San Diego, just to insure that they had not played a trick on me. But it was just as good as it was the first time I had it there.

There was also the visit to the first one room School House in San Diego (that I mentioned above) and the charming stories about its first young single schoolmarm who came by boat from the East Coast down to South America and then she took a train across the isthmus of Panama (prior to the Panama Canal being built) and then of her taking another ship from that point to San Diego for her new job (there in this school house) that she secured as it teacher from the next some 38 years.

My suggestion is that if you ever get a chance to visit San Diego, you should really visit Old Town San Diego, to get a perspective of how California really started. And by the way... don't forget to have dinner "Old Town Mexican Cafe Cantina" and tell them that LZ said; "you NEED to try their Chile Rellenos!" And... if you look closely at that last shot... you'll see Mrs. LZ reminiscing of the "olden days" before I bought her that new washer and dyer a couple of years ago.

“Buck did not read the newspapers, or he would have known that trouble was brewing, not alone for himself, but for every tide-water dog, strong of muscle and with warm, long hair, from Puget Sound to San Diego” ~ Jack London

8.10.2008 - 28 comments 

This is really not a very uplifting post, but perhaps it will in some ways help us to remember some of the worst things done to man by other men just because of some religious prejudice. Mrs. LZ and I visited this place while on vacation in Miami, and it was something that not only was I not expecting, but also that was extremely moving to walk through an view. But before I tell you about that, here is a little history about how the Memorial got built in the first place.

In the fall of 1984, a small group of Holocaust survivors formed a committee dedicated to building a permanent memorial to the memory of the six million Jewish victims of the Holocaust.

The Holocaust Memorial Committee was formally established a year later as a private non-profit organization. Its objective was to organize a permanent committee, locate a potential site, develop ideas for the scope and design of the Memorial, and determine ways and means of financial support for the project.

With full cooperation from the City of Miami Beach Commission, the present site at Meridian Avenue and Dade Blvd. was designated to receive the Memorial. Kenneth Treister, architect and sculptor, was entrusted with interpreting the Holocaust into a structure which would memorialize its victims, serve as solace to its survivors, and also inform with factual representations in pictures and words of this century's greatest human crime.

The Holocaust Memorial on Miami Beach was dedicated and opened to the public in February 1990. Since then, the committee is devoted not only to maintaining the memorial, but to developing cultural and educational programs for the community. The committee invites you to join the effort to make a lasting impact on future generations.

The Holocaust Memorial took over four years to be built, reaching its final stage at dedication ceremonies on Sunday February 4, 1990, with Elie Wiesel, Nobel laureate as guest speaker.

Visitors to the Memorial will at first be met by a visual sensation of contrasting elements: the brightness of the luminous Jerusalem stone, which represents the basic building material for the Memorial, and the stark, somber black granite, which lines the walls; another contrast is offered by the stillness of water in the reflecting pool with its majestic lily pads of uncommon dimension, and the azure sky reflecting its patterns in the water, almost competing with the somber reminder of the site's purpose - the reflecting shapes provided by the Memorial's sculpture.

Two parts of a semicircular black granite wall provide two important components of the memorial: on the visitor's right begins the journey into the universe of the Holocaust. In the first three panels of the granite wall, I presented a short but concise history of the event, from 1933 through 1945 and followed it up with a chronological pictorial depiction of Holocaust events and experiences, accompanied by textual explanations and maps.

From almost the moment that Mrs. LZ and I walked into this place, there was a sense of both sadness and of peace, almost the same feeling that most people have as they visit the grave of a dear loved one who has parted from us and this world. As I looked at these walls and saw all of the names of all of the people that we are aware were taken in the Holocaust, it is truly hard to believe that people could ever treat other human being in this manner.

This kind of thing can only happen when good people let evil people walk all over OTHERS and then "DO NOTHING". But so it was with Hitler and the Nazis. I am not Jewish, but this was not only about the Jewish people being made a scapegoat for what Hitler thought was wrong with the world and wanted to change it into what he thought was his image of a superior race as he viewed it, but it was really nothing more than pure evil putting itself higher than God and His rules for life. It took a long time before someone stood up to this evil and beat it. But it takes courage and as Winston Churchill said... "Courage is the first virtue, without it, none of the others matter!"

As for evil in the world that was done to the Jewish people by Hitler and the Nazis, the Jewish people say... "Never Again!"

Mrs. LZ and I are flying off to San Diego, California this week... I'll be reading all of your blogs on our return!

"I want to go on living even after my death! And therefore I am grateful to God for giving me this gift, this possibility of developing myself and of writing, of expressing all that is in me. I can shake off everything if I write; my sorrows disappear, my courage is reborn." ~ From the Diary of Anne Frank dated Tuesday, 4 April, 1944