Wednesday, August 15

Hometown Culture

Salinas Valley

I’m not much of traveler, and I’m still a resident of my hometown.

But one thing I’ve always felt was that my hometown has always been rich with Culture and History.

I live in Salinas, CA where the agriculture is one of California’s richest farming towns. We have fields galore with a strong Mexican culture from families who settled here to work in the fields, and now some own their own patch of land.

My mother and father were both born and raised here as well with their 12 siblings, during a time of prejudices where my father couldn’t take a girl to a dance because he was dark and she was light. Our town today is so diverse I couldn’t imagine how it was years ago.

Come every July, the town fills for four days with cowboy culture for the California Rodeo. With parades, chili cook-offs, competitions, and cowboy poetry.

And if you are updated to in your literary history, you’ll know Salinas is the birthplace of Nobel prize laureate, John Steinbeck. His novel East of Eden was primarily set in the Salinas Valley. (My mother’s friend is actually the girl in the field in the opening of the film as the train passes by.) Steinbeck’s childhood Victorian home has been restored and we also have a wonderful Steinbeck Center filled with memorabilia such as the notes he actually wrote with his own hand.

Salinas is far from perfect, especially with its high cost of living and the tension of gang violence, but it’s my hometown with so much history intertwined with my own memories and experiences.

One day we may leave, but it’s hard to imagine living anywhere else.


TinaFerraro said...

Kelly, this was a beautiful tribute to Salinas. And you know, I've long been envious of the close ties to you have to your hometown, with your extended family so close, and friends you've known all your life. Plus, hometown culture can't help but become a part of you.

I was lucky enough to visit my hometown a few weeks ago, and marveled at how the only changes seemed to be for the better, and idly wondered if some day, I might return for good...

Alyson Noel said...

Wow, I've been looking for "home" my whole life-- the location keeps changing! Salinas is a beautiful place, you're so fortunate to have those sort of roots.

bevrosenbaum said...

Back in junior high, I went through a major Steinbeck phase, so would love to come visit one day!

Kelly Parra said...

Hi Tina, thanks! Yeah, I am grateful of having this strong connection. Sometimes I take it for granted!

And I did move away for a bit of time, but ended up returning!

Kelly Parra said...

Hey Alyson, it's really great to have the roots. It's great to be able to see family whenever we need too! :)
Bev, that would be fun for you!

Sara Hantz said...

Wow, what a fabulous place. And it's a great feeling to know you belong!

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