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Chautauqua Wrap-up

By Beth Montes

SOHO's first Chautauqua performances were a wonderful success. Thanks to all members who attended one or both of the performances. For the March performance, José Rivera, as Antonio Garra, was wonderful. He not only taught us about Antonio Garra and other Cupeno Indians from the past, but also about them as a tribe still living in San Diego County. He demonstrated how much of our cowboy culture came from the natives, since they had a very evolved method of keeping cattle prior to the arrival of the North Americans from the East. Words like corral, lariat, rodeo, and many others worked their way into our vocabulary as we learned cattle husbandry from the Native Americans. Los Californios performed beautifully before and after each Chautauqua. Thanks to them for donating their time and talents to add to the early California ambiance. Besides the band, there were various other characters wandering the grounds in period costumes. Coupled with the lovely grounds and architecture of the Whaley House, it was truly like stepping back in time.

In April, Governor Pio Pico came to town. Roberto Garza, as Don Pico looking back on his life, presented interesting commentary on Pico as a young man in San Diego, and as an adult in Los Angeles. From learning to play monte, a gambling game, from a priest to his life-long gambling proclivity to being cheated out of his land by his sister's husband, Pio Pico's colorful life played like something out of today's headlines. A favorable article in The Reader brought out many interested attendees, and a lively discussion ensued after the monologue portion of the performance.

The California Council for the Humanities sponsored this series of Chautauqua performances. Due to strong interest in more events of this type, SOHO looks forward to working with CCH again to bring other living history performances to the Whaley House Museum.

2001 - Volume 32, Issue 2

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