- September 2014
- August 2014
- July 2014
- June 2014
- May 2014
- April 2014
- March 2014
- February 2014
- January 2014
- December 2013
- November 2013
- October 2013
- September 2013
- August 2013
- July 2013
- June 2013
- May 2013
- April 2013
- March 2013
- February 2013
- January 2013
- December 2012
- November 2012
- October 2012
- September 2012
- August 2012
- July 2012
- June 2012
- May 2012
- April 2012
- March 2012
- February 2012
All in all, 2014 has been a good year for me. I received two awards for editorial cartooning, was recognized by my peers for promoting my Cornish heritage, and I published a 192 page book that I started twenty-odd years ago.
I attribute some of my success to longevity. Just surviving the slings and arrows of life’s misfortunes is quite an accomplishment. So many of my talented friends cashed their chips too early to make much of an impression on the world. I’m still amazed that I’ve somehow managed to stay alive this long, given the abuse I’ve subjected my mind and body to in sixty-four years.
In some people’s eyes, that makes me a wise village elder, while in others I’m just another Good Ol’ Boy who’s past his prime and should just shut his yap and shuffle off to the Soylent Greens Retirement Village.
And some folks think I have already left this earthly existence. Just recently, I was made aware of the following passage on an internet site called “Nevada County Scooper”….
Patron Saint: The late R.L.(Bob) Crabb, RIP, a genius among all the grumpy old men. We miss him dearly.
As if I didn’t have enough responsibility, now I have to act like a saint. I decided that I should bone up on sainthood, so I started off with Saint Genesius, patron saint of actors, clowns, comedians, and stenographers (?) among other dubious professions. Genesius himself was an actor who liked to ridicule Christianity. While performing for the Roman emperor Diocletian, he acted out a fake baptism, which backfired on him when an angel appeared (presumably, only to him) and convinced him to convert. Diocletian was not amused, and sent him off to the torture chambers where he was eventually beheaded.
And unfortunately, losing one’s head seems to be a common fate for saintliness, along with burning at the stake, hot pokers in the eyes, being eaten alive by wild animals, and other bodily violations. When Saint Pete remarked that he didn’t deserve to be crucified like Jesus, the Romans accommodated his wishes by nailing him upside down. Those Romans had a wicked sense of humor.
I’ve already got a good head start on martyrdom. My decidedly unorthodox political beliefs put me at odds with both progressives and conservatives. One of these days, I’ll no doubt enrage one or both of them to the point of violence, or banishment to a cave on an island where I can spend the rest of my life working on a sequel to the Book of Revelations.
In the meantime, I’ll just continue doing what I’ve always been doing; writing and illustrating blasphemy for the enjoyment of the masses. Don’t expect any miracles or healings or world peace. Hell, I can’t even pick any good lottery numbers.
There’s a big controversy brewing in Nevada County over a fellow who builds furniture in his garage and donates it to veterans. The homeowner’s association says he is violating the CC&R’s, which all residents agree to when they move into the neighborhood. Technically, they are right, but sometimes it feels like we are painting ourselves into smaller and smaller corners.
When I was growing up in Grass Valley during the sixties, I was aware of my family’s Cornish roots, but it was never a big part of our lives. We ate a lot of pasties and my dad was a big tea drinker, but other than my grandmother’s English accent, there was little evidence of our European heritage.
Dad was not a joiner. He belonged to no civic groups and never ran for office. Unlike most of the local Cornish, he didn’t have a religious bone in his body. I knew this from the arguments he used to get into with my aunt, a prim and proper Sunday school teacher. It got so bad that she would sit in the car when dad’s brother would visit, rather than set foot in the house of the heathen Crabbs.
Only once did my father show any interest in his family tree. It was at his sixtieth birthday dinner in 1978. He was a little tipsy, the only time I can ever remember him being anything close to drunk. He suggested that he and I fly over to England and tour the old homeland. I never heard him mention it again. Maybe he didn’t remember, but more likely he thought about how much it would cost.
For the most part, he stayed out of the local limelight, and valued his self-sufficiency and privacy. He never asked anyone for help and never talked about any connection to his Cornish heritage, although he was somewhat scornful of the “Cousin Jack” chuminess that excluded those who weren’t related by blood or territory. It could be that he didn’t know much himself, since his miner father died when he was three years old.
I’ve been laid up with a cracked kneecap for the last two weeks, which has given me the opportunity to catch up on some long overdue reading. One of the unfinished books was Highly Respectable Families: The Cornish of Grass Valley, California 1854 – 1954 by Shirley Ewart. It covers the pilgrimage of some of the better known families across the Atlantic and through the jungles of Panama or around the Cape to get to the goldfields.
One of those names was Bennallack, a name familiar to me, although I had never been friends with any of that clan growing up. As far as I knew, there wasn’t any connection between our families, until I read the following passage about Sibley Bennallack Hansen…
According to Sibley, the most important Cornish value was concern for other people. The Cornish of Grass Valley cared about people and looked after each other. Stories of old James Bennallack describe his compassion and concern for anyone injured under his supervision; when Minnie Chinn Farley’s father was ill, she remembers that James Henry Bennallack ( son of “Old James” ) always came to their home to see if anything was needed. The tradition is a fine legacy; one that, it seems, the people of Grass Valley have kept alive.
I had to smile when I read that. Back in 2003, my father began his slow decline and had to spend some time at a local convalescent home until he was strong enough to come home. One day when I came in to visit him, I was surprised to see an elderly woman sitting at his bedside.
“Bob,” he said, “this is Sibley Hansen.”
I knew who she was, but had never known she was a friend of my father’s. And I still don’t know how she knew he was in the convalescent home. Somehow, she answered the call, and only now, all these years later, did I discover the reason for her visit.
Both Sibley and dad are gone now, but it’s nice to know they left us such a rich legacy. A fine tradition, indeed.
Nina Paley is one of my favorite cartoonist/artists. We met many moons ago when she was doing a weekly comic strip in Santa Cruz, complaining about overzealous police and unfaithful boyfriends. Since then, she has gone on to bigger things….
Scablands is actually two stories. My part of the story takes place along the same paths traveled by the dreamers of the Wanapum tribe one hundred years before me. The two stories weave in and out until they come together in the book’s conclusion.
I’ll be selling and signing copies of Scablands this Sunday, July 27, at McGee’s Annex in Nevada City. Hope to see you there!