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June 15, 2021

Funny Papers Again Column | A Closed Park Has No Spark

This week’s headline is bit light-hearted, I thought it would help ease you folks into helping out with a situation here in Salinas Valley that for many is not a light subject at all. I am talking about the long closure of San Lorenzo Park in King City, a beautiful park situated along the banks of the Salinas River where nature and civilization come together in a complimentary way.

While the park itself has all the amenities one would expect from a park — children’s play areas, picnic tables, barbecue pits, restrooms and ample parking — there are also buildings suitable for event gatherings and recreational vehicle parking in the far northern section complete with hook-ups and restroom/shower facilities. It is a genuinely nice park.

But San Lorenzo Park doesn’t sit alone along the river, the land is also home to the Monterey County Agricultural and Rural Life Museum (MCARLM); which means of course the closure of the park has significant impact on the “Jewel of South County.”

It is not always the case where a park, operated by any municipality, has an added attraction within its borders, but here in King City that is the case and as such MCARLM events have been either canceled or greatly curtailed. I won’t take the space here to enumerate all the efforts put forth by museum staff and interns to keep pace with the mission of the museum to make history real and accessible to students, but I would like to address the reason for the park closure and then ask some questions I would hope those readers who are concerned would then ask of their elected officials.

Since early last year, the RV section of San Lorenzo Park has been home to, correct me if I’m wrong, 15 trailers that are for those either with Covid-19 or are quarantined due to some contact or possible contact, with those who have or may have Covid-19 or symptoms of the virus. Did that make sense? That is the gist of why the remainder of the park and the museum buildings are closed to the public. But given the present state of things regarding the spread of and containment of the virus, many in the community question whether the closure is still necessary.

One would have to read volumes of information put out by the county to understand all the particulars, but basically we have moved into a “tier” allowing larger numbers when gathering, relaxed facemask requirements for those vaccinated, more indoor dining, pared down school classes and sports are again happening — and many, many thousands of residents have been vaccinated. So here are some questions we should all ask of those in charge of the situation:

At the present time, how many of the trailers are occupied, either by those quarantine mandated or staff? How many staff, including medical and security, are needed to operate the facility? Has the past 60 days seen a dramatic drop in quarantine mandated numbers? Do the numbers justify the present number of trailers? Do those using the trailers provide their own food and, if so, who provides the propane for cooking? If catered, who provides the meals; one vendor or many? Are either of the two other county-owned properties in town suitable for a down-sized quarantine area? And finally: How much does it cost Monterey County to operate the quarantine trailers at San Lorenzo Park and how are those costs met?

I suppose there are factual errors somewhere above and, if so, I’ll hear about it; but it seems to me these questions should be asked and those best to do the asking are any of you who once again want to experience all that San Lorenzo Park and MCARLM have to offer.

BITS & PIECES

A former workmate found some humor in my long-ago writings and so I thought I would dredge one up for her. Now, I’ll use only her first name as her maiden and full name now would only draw attention to her and she is the quiet type, so anonymity is the thing here. I know she’ll enjoy reading the following on her patio while basqueing in the sun because Julie digs my off-kilter sense of humor.

It was the days of youthful flowering, so the poet would say, and I was 19 going on 20 and employed at the old Safeway on Broadway, at that time located across the street from the high school. I was on my own, so to speak, because my parents had left the Valley after 19 years and I stayed behind and was living in a small house with a couple of friends here in King City; the Safeway job was the first of many. I disremember the season, schools were in session and the weather was warm, but one day while attending to the duties of a “courtesy clerk,” unionspeak for “bag boy,” I noticed a school bus pull into the westernmost part of the front parking lot, not a usual occurrence.

So, in order to investigate, I went on a cart-gathering mission, one of my duties, and discovered the bus was from Carmel High School and it was a sports team. Now, I don’t recall what the sport was, tennis I think, but I do remember the bus was full of girls. Carmel girls, a whole bus load of ‘em. I first gathered a dozen or so carts and pushed the train they made past the bus, showing how strong virile I was in all my 6-foot, blond hair, blue-eyed glory. I left one cart, far out near the street, so that I could make one final pass by the bus, but this time I would show my athletic prowess by jogging past the windows, now filled with female faces.

As I passed by, I picked up a little more speed, then a little more: “Look at me now, girls, aren’t I just the epitome of male …”; and that is when the manure hit the rotating blades. In order to understand what happened next, one must consider the construction of the modern shopping cart. They are essentially boxes on wheels, one large items box and one small items box mounted above next to the push handle. For space saving purposes, the back “wall” of the large section of the cart is detached at the bottom so when the tapered front of another cart is pushed into it, the wall raises and the two carts are condensed into one.

But it is with the performance of the wheels that we are now concerned as that was the cause of my downfall, literal downfall. The rear wheels of the cart are fixed, just as with an automobile, while the front wheels rotate so facilitate turning. If you have ever noticed the front wheels when rolling across a smooth surface, they run steadily, but if on a rough surface, say an asphalt parking lot, they will begin to wobble back and forth.

And if one hits too rough a surface, say a small pothole in the parking lot, then those wheels can, and will, turn sideways and bring the cart to an abrupt halt. Too late I realized this because when the cart I was showing off with hit such a pothole, the front end of the cart came to a dead stop but the rear of the cart, the part I was still attached to, kept going and of course I kept going with it. Then gravity took over and as the cart began to tumble onto its nose, the rear wall naturally opened and the object nearest the opening, which was me, continued with the momentum and before I knew it my torso was inside the cart, legs dangling in mid-air, as the cart continued its merry way to a full rollover.

It came down with a crash and I was sure I had brained myself because there were tremendous noises inside my head; but other than a banged up arm and ego I was physically OK. The noises I heard, and still hear in my worst dreams, were the screams, howls and gales of laughter coming from that bus. I have never run with a shopping cart since and strongly suggest others also avoid doing so.

Stay safe. Peace.

Steve Wilson
King City and Greenfield Columnist

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