October 29, 2012

31 Trips in Cali, Day 20: Mission San Fernando

Sure as the sun shines, if you're a kid attending public school in California, you're going to study the history of the missions and be required to write a mission report in the 4th grade.  (Chances are also good that you'll have to create a model of your chosen mission as part of your report.)

And so it was that in February of this year, we drove across the freeways to pay a visit to Lily's mission of choice: Mission San Fernando. (Officially, it's "Mission San Fernando Rey de Espana.")   Learn something new every day: I never even knew there was a mission there. (Personally, I was gunning for her to report on Mission San Gabriel, the one closest to where I grew up, but have never visited.)

Surrounded by city streets and strip malls, the grounds of the mission were quiet on this Saturday, with just a few folks walking about --- including at least one other family with a 4th grader in tow, dutifully taking notes.
The church continues to hold mass each Sunday:
Learn yet another new thing every day: Bob Hope and his wife Dolores are buried on the grounds, in the quiet garden at the rear of the property. (According to the mission pamphlet, supposedly Mr. Hope said, "Surprise me," when asked where he wanted to be buried.
Lily had no idea who "Bob Hope" was. But she took notes on it all, just the same:
Inside was a display providing more clues for her:
Whether or not you have a 4th grader in your life, if you live in California, you should get thee to a mission.  There are 21 of them going up the state, from San Diego in the south to San Francisco up north. They're a fascinating glimpse into some very old history in a state that's often dismissed as having not very much of a past.  The indoctrination of the natives by the Spanish Catholics is a story that makes us squirm nowadays (as it should), but it also proves how far back our history goes, and how our culture became so rich.
By the way, Lily got an "A" on her report. And thank goodness, her teacher didn't require the class to make cardboard and/or sugar-cube replicas of the missions. (I probably won't be so lucky when Tucker's in 4th grade.)
Thanks for coming along! Come back for Day 21 of my 31 Trips in California series, when we'll continue our 4th grade studies with a trip to the state capitol.

Don't miss a single trip: Head over to Day 1 for all the links, or Like me on Facebook. 

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