John Boston | On Mormons, Families and Werewolves

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Truly, I tried mightily to get out of speaking at the recent SCV Latter-Day Saints Family Genealogy Fair. I’ve nothing against the dear Josephites. I was worried about the time change — mine and theirs.

You see, when they call themselves “Latter-Day,” I fretted they didn’t understand the meaning of that term because, frankly, I’m nocturnal. Later in the day to them, I’m guessing, is like, 8:30 a.m.

Later in the day to me is 3:18 in the morning.

That’s when werewolves battle the milk men for world domination.

It’s quite the sight and if you’re ever up at that hour, I highly recommend it.

The church folk were lovingly accommodating. I was to take the podium at the crack of noon, which would allow me to speak in my pajamas. Cue the coronavirus, and all hugging, headbutts and plain hanging around gets cancelled.

Which may not be all a bad thing.

In these hepcat daddy modern times, we sometimes subcontract when it comes to raising a family. Alarms go off. Grown-ups rush to skyscrapers and muffler shops, kids head to school, which can be a bona fide assault on the senses.

Family. How we’ve changed. How we haven’t.

Families have been here in the SCV some 5,000 years, possibly as long as 48,000. It rained about four times as much as today and the SCV was filled with conifers, not condos. The nameless ancient ones called Anasazi disappeared right around the same time (450 A.D.) that a band of Amerindians migrated from the Plains and settled here. Those Shoshone became Tataviam.

Can you possibly imagine? A life with no modern conveniences? The Tataviam had no police. No teachers. No stores. You know what they had?

Family.

In the 19th century, a neighboring Chumash man once spoke of this fundamental and holy unit:

“What is a man? A man is nothing. Without family he is of less importance than that bug crossing the trail. A man must be with his family to amount to anything with us. A man with no family would be poorer than a newborn child… poorer than a worm.”

Today, we have the unthinkable.

A Presbyterian can marry a Baptist, a Thai can wed a Swede. 

The Tataviams? They had two strict sects — Coyotes and Mountain Lions. Marriages within these two groups were strictly forbidden.

Here’s something I’m in favor of in 2020. Tataviam in-laws were forbidden to make direct eye contact with one another.

I’ve so many stories about SCV families. Always loved talking about the Sloans, after whom Sloan Canyon is named. During the Depression, Ma and Pa (no kidding! That’s what everyone called them!) took in about 40 orphans. Forty. Fed them. Clothed them. Taught them. Loved them. Grew them up proper. Times were so tough during the 1930s in America. Some people here were working full days just for a single meal and called it a blessing. I marvel sometimes to the point of cursing that the history books are filled with accounts of puffed-up, inept jackasses or the date something was cemented. But how rare is it to celebrate the family?

Well.

The good family.

There are such things as cannibals.

Years ago, when times were tough for me, I was painting houses. During this two-year parenthesis, I painted seven houses. Hated it. Still. Did a darn good job. You know what was the Sisyphusian tragedy? 

Every. Darn. Homeowner — from upper Bouquet to Beverly Hills — wanted their house painted white.

Not Navajo White.

Not Eggshell White.

Not Ghost White.

Not Seashell, Vanilla, Ivory, Baby Powder, Floral, Cornsilk, Old Lace or Bone.

White. Just white.

What are the odds?

Drove me nuts. White. I think God was having a chuckle, trying to teach me a lesson in purity of mind and deed. 

You know who helped me on many of those projects? My dad. My 60-something dad. He said he didn’t have much to do and thought it would be a great way to spend time together. Wouldn’t take any money.

He wanted to help me out.

What profoundly beautiful six words are these?

You love somebody so darn much that you’ll spend your free time standing on ladders in the hot sun just to make their burden lighter.

May I some day be that loving.

I’ve written before on the concept of America Singing. It’s a most beautiful song. We may not know it, but we’re singing it now in Santa Clarita. The lyrics are as simple as opening the door for someone — not just a stranger but for your sibling. (Just think of the joy you’ll receive as they walk by, suspiciously looking backward, to see if you’re going to kick them in the butt.) It’s bouncing a baby while dinner is being prepped. It’s taking a moment to gather yourself and smile and mean it after you’ve been cooped up all day and teetering on bankruptcy and ruin when all you really want to do is yell at a son or daughter. 

You know. 

The one you’d gladly give your life for?

John Boston is a local writer.

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