I remember very little about even going through this town …
Population 15,503 (2000 census); founded 1871 by the Stockton & Visalia Railroad Company; main attractions Hershey Foods Corporation and Oakdale Cowboy Museum.
We came in along Highway 120 and passed through town in less than five minutes—it’s a small town. But this Stanislaus County town 90 miles from Yosemite was the first place I knew that I was out of the Bay Area for good. There were American flags everywhere, big and small. (In the Bay Area, American flags made a surge right after 9/11/01 and disappeared just as quickly two or three months later.) There was a huge “SUPPORT OUR TROOPS” sign painted on the door of a hardware store. There was an abundance of hand-lettered signs. People on the street stared at the Jeep. I felt like a fish out of the liberal pond. I was a fish out of the liberal pond.
Keep in mind, those of you who don’t know me, that I am a Californian through and through—not in the stereotypical “hey dude, whassup” sense, which you can already ascertain because of my tortured, vaguely pre-Raphaelite writing style, but in the sense that other than a period of nine months in which I lived in Great Britain during my junior year, and other than a few trips in recent years with Steve to Colorado and Michigan and Oregon, and a few odd forays during my highly random childhood to places like Mexicali and Yuma, AZ, I have never been outside the borders of the Golden State.
Everything you read henceforth in my hand bears the imprint of that condition. That means good and bad. If I stereotype a place, if I make an unwarranted assumption, if I fall flat on my face in characterizing a region or a state of mind or a point of history, I will beg your forgiveness and your forbearance, because this Californian, you must realize, hasn’t gotten around a hell of a lot.
—Posted by Frank at 12:00:00 | 14-Aug-03