Who Was John Hays McLaren?

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Who Was John Hays McLaren?

It was a while since I shared with you some of my discoveries in our great city of San Francisco. I heard about John McLaren Park from a friend. She recently got a puppy from a shelter and takes him there for walks, which is close to where she lives. In spite of the fact that it is the second largest park (or third, if counting Presidio Park) in San Francisco and is located only 2.5 miles from our house, which is closer than Golden Gate Park, and which was developed by the John McLaren, we never visited the park which carries his name.

Online I learned some very interesting history about the park, and why it is less known and not as popular as other parks in San Francisco – One reason perhaps is its location. The park is surrounded by the Excelsior, Crocker-Amazon, Visitacion Valley and Portola. These are mostly blue collar neighborhoods.

When I drove through it, we ended up in the Projects, and I was not surprised to find out that McLaren Park had a checkered reputation as a dumping ground for bodies and generally, it was a dangerous place in the 1980’s and 1990’s, with numerous crimes threatening visitors safety. I suspect that conditions in the park improved, perhaps because of the discouragement of visitors, the park boosts the largest grasslands left in San Francisco. This is not the only thing that makes this place unique. Even in San Francisco, a city considered hilly, McLaren Park stands out with some of the hilliest terrain in the city, which naturally lends to incredible views of the entire city.

Driving through it in every direction in the early afternoon, I was thinking that I should return before sunrise and at sunset to photograph the beautiful vistas.

Every park has a story and the people who created them. Though Dr. John Hays McLaren was not directly involved with the park, which carries his name, his contribution for our city is immeasurable.

He emigrated from Scotland, where he became a horticulturist to the United States in 1870,. He used his skills and tenacity and for 53years served as Superintendent of Golden Gate Park. Together with his friend John Muir, he dedicated his life to rigorous advocacy and development of one of the largest public parks in the world. One of John McLaren’s stipulations before his Superintendent job in 1887 was, there would be no “Keep off the Grass” signs. He built two windmills (which are familiar to anyone who has visited the park) to pump water into the park. He is also credited with planting two million trees during his lifetime. He did not only contribute to the park designs in San Francisco.

One of them is Lithia Park in Ashland, Oregon, which we enjoy every time we travel there for the Oregon – Shakespeare Festival – John McLaren died at the age of 96 in 1943. During his life, he was honored and many places in San Francisco city carry his name. However, in spite of his great contribution, I suspect not many people know who he was. It is about time we visit his small statue in Golden Gate Park to express our gratitude.

P.S – When we visited John McLaren Park we stumbled into a small man made body of water, which turned out to be a popular place for dogs, like Labradors who like to swim. Though Max is a Labradoodle, he only came close enough to the water to drink it. These four images only tell a small story, the rest is up to you to discover.

I just received first printed copies of my book. Here is one of the first reviews.

“I enjoyed every story and every photo. The first forty-two days of Max’s puppyhood with Manny Kagan and his wife, told in short essays opposite real life photos of dogs with dogs lovers, gives 42 Encounters with Dog Lovers the authentic expression of the love of dogs. Manny Kagan’s 42 Encounters with Lovers is uplifting, touching, and fun to read. I give it the highest rating of five stars”

The book is going to be available for sale in a month.
Please pre-order through www.encounterspublishing.com.

Thanks,
Enjoy and Share

 

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History Does Matter

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History Does Matter

On our trip to Montana which I have written about over the last three weeks, I watched a TV documentary about an African American family whose parents were from Jamaica. While the father was of African descent, the mother was Chinese. However, because their children have dark skin, and the family grew up in Harlem, they were considered Black not Chinese. In the Jewish Orthodox tradition, if the mother is Jewish, regardless of the color of her skin, the children are considered Jewish (some Jews follow the tradition where religion or race is defined by the father’s lineage.

I am bringing this up because we made some friends in Montana, who have an interesting racial mix. The wife is of Scandinavian descent, while her husband is the product of a mixed marriage, with twist on his heritage.

His father came from Estonia, a small country on the Baltic coast bordering Latvia, where I was born. His mother was born in Turkey, from Jewish parents. Jews are divided into two ethnic groups – Ashkenazi who are usually of northern and eastern European descent and Sephardim, who are originally from Sepharad-Spain.

In 1942, the Jews who were not forcefully converted into Christianity were expelled from Spain. Many of them ended up in Portugal, only to be expelled again five years later. Some travelled to Turkey, which in the 15thCentury was part of the Ottoman Empire.

This information has a direct connection with today’s world and our friends. 500 years after the expulsion, Spain and Portugal offered citizenship to the descendants of the Sephardic Jews, which included our friend’s mother, her son and her grand-daughter. This in turn offers an opportunity for one to get Spanish or Portuguese citizenship (The U.S allows dual citizenship), and since those countries are part of the European Union (The E.U.), their daughter, who likes to travel, can get a free college education in any of the European countries in the European Union, after receiving her Spanish citizenship.

Throughout history people have moved from country to country and by intermarrying, created new pools of DNA. This in turn can help to establish historical relevance for many families and perhaps a better understanding and tolerance of each other. Among dogs, mixed breeds are called mutts. Some consider mutts to be smarter than pure breeds. How about people?

P.S – Next week I will write about a dog shelter in San Francisco for senior dogs, called Matville. Meanwhile, enjoy these four images of mutts, and pre-order “42 Encounters for Dog Lovers” from www.encounterspublishing.com. Money back guaranteed.

 

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How Often Do You Play Golf?

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How Often Do You Play Golf?

As I wrote in the previous week, we were on vacation at the Meadow Lake Resort – located in Columbia Falls, in the Northwestern part of Montana. Our timeshare condominium was on the ground floor, facing a beautiful golf course.

I do not play golf, but I enjoy walking on golf courses.

I usually like to go early in the morning, at about 7 am, when there is not a soul around, and there is no danger of getting hit by a flying golf ball. Most golf courses are developed in a natural setting or are man-made, with rolling hills, trees and ponds – which attract different kinds of birds who fly or jump from branch to branch; singing their morning songs. Listening to them, I was reminded of my morning commute to work. After I take our puppy Max to his doggy day care sitter, at about 9 am I usually turn on the public radio station to listen to the short program called “Birds Notes”. Every time I listen, there are very interesting stories about birds as well as recordings of them chirping and singing.

One advantage of being on a golf course is that, I can listen to the birds directly from the source, and if I am lucky, to photograph them flying.

The air was crisp, with a little bit of the morning’s chill. Since the tourist season usually starts there in June, and it was too early for the players to be out anyway; I had the whole course to myself, except for a few maintenance workers, who were getting the course ready for the few expected golfers.

Golf is a remarkable sport. It is very costly to build a course and to maintain it. As a result, only those, who have significant financial means can afford to play the game regularly and to belong to exclusive golf country clubs. In spite of that, according to www.statistics.com, the number of people who played golf over 12 months in 2017, numbered close to 26 million players. Were you among those millions? I was not, nevertheless I am glad that the sport exists and that I can enjoy my morning walks.

P.S: The golf course was surrounded by large private vacant homes, that will presumably be filled in the summer.

I met only one woman who was walking her dog. There was nothing whimsical about her, to bring your attention to my photo-story book “42 Encounters with Dog Lovers”, which you can pre-order on www.encounterspublishing.com.

I am expecting to receive my first copy next week and the rest of the books will be available in the middle of July. Meanwhile, enjoy these four of images that I took at the golf course.

 

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When to Visit Montana

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When to Visit Montana

When we were planning our trip to Montana, which I wrote about last week, we forgot to research when the Waterston-Glacier International Peace Park is open for visits. The long name for the park is because it is actually two combined parks; one in Canada and one in the United States.

In 1932, the parks were designated the World’s First International Peace Park to commensurate friendship between the two nations. When we drove through the park at one point, there was a sign that read 22 miles to Canada. But we needed our US passports to cross the border. We arrived two weeks too early to have access to all of the peaks and valleys, many lakes, rivers and trails. Nevertheless, what we experienced this time probably would not be available later; the awakening of the nature in the early spring. The first leaves started opening on the trees, there was still snow on the ground in the higher elevation areas, water gushed forcefully in the Flathead River, and the majestic mountains with their white peaks surrounded us everywhere, while the young trees that covered the mountains were bursting through the ground to replace the old ones that burned in a recent fire. Seeing this brought to mind one of my favorite stories.

In the old forest one tree grew taller than others. The other trees did not like it and complained through the noise of their leaves. “Who does he think he is sticking his head above us?”But the big tree did not care and grew taller and taller until one day during a storm, lightning struck the tall tree and the sparks started the fire, during which all of the old forest burnt down. It was a sad moment, but as it often happens in nature, the ashes from the burned trees had become fertilizer for the seeds in the ground, of all the trees that had fallen over many years. It did not take long for the young beautiful forest to grow from the ashes while old burned trunks were still there to serve as a reminder of the perpetual forces of nature.

What we have seen in the park was enough for us to experience the area. We visited a place called Polebridge, where we met some very interesting people and enjoyed a slice of delicious huckleberry pie with ice cream. In the afternoon we drove to Lake McDonald, which was surrounded by snow covered mountains. Since we drove less due to the park’s closure, it gave us the opportunity to relax and to rest more, and time for me to keep writing my next book “Retirement Solutions for Smart People.”

While there, we met quite a few retirees who have chosen to move to Montana to experience the next chapter of their lives.

P.S. To get your attention back to my photo story book “42 Encounters with Dog Lovers”, I am sharing with you two images I took while there of dog lovers, and the other two which I took at Lake McDonald.

I was informed that the first batch of 25 books went into printing. Once completed, I will inspect the results, and the whole order of 2500 books will be available the first week of July.

Meanwhile, please pre-order at www.encounterspublishing.com. Money back guaranteed.

 

Do Not Keep Me As A Secret!
Smile And Please SHARE It With A Friend!

Cheers,

Manny<br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /> Signature