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Saturday, June 26, 2010

Kids on Leashes?

By Silvia Uribe
Jun 26, 2010

As someone who was raised in a Latino household, there are some things that I cannot completely understand in the American culture. Parents who gear their child up with "body harnesses" is one of them. Why would they want to have their kid on a leash?

I have raised my two daughters, who were like any other children - active, busy little children who were always discovering new things - interested in everything. As most parents, I too had the fear of them stepping off the curb, or getting lost in the middle of a busy street or in a crowded store. I can understand that part, but the leash part is too extreme.

Humans, no matter their size, should not be chained, nor leashed. I find this humiliating.

The fact that children are little should not translate into the assumption that they cannot understand what we tell them. They might be little, but they're not stupid. Actually, they are far smarter than we believe.

It seems like leash-ready parents have missed a very important point: Children can learn whatever we teach them. It gets better. The younger they are, the more they can learn. It simply takes for adults to put in the time and the effort in teaching them in a way they can understand.

The problem of children getting inadvertently away from their parents is one that my family solved several generations ago. Since my great grandma's time, children have been taught to be safe on the streets or anywhere where crowds were present - which in my over-populated Mexico City this means everywhere.

Here lies the secret. They make the little ones watch for the adults, as opposed to expecting adults to watch out for them. Simple tactic. Basically, by switching roles, they got rid of the problem.

My mother, for example, would say something like, "We're going shopping (or any other activity) so I'm not going to be watching you. You can move around as long as you don't lose sight of me. I'll be moving around too, so you have to pay close attention. If we get separated, I won't know where to find you, and I will have to go home by myself." I totally believed her.

And, she would always close with, "This is mommy's time, you need to behave, watch me and don't interrupt unless it is something very important."

And, so I did, and I never felt unloved or traumatized by this.

I did the same thing with my children, and I was usually able to shop peacefully, to talk to people, or to simply take a nice stroll without either having to constantly run after or be interrupted by my children. It was not that difficult to make them understand that their safety was very important to me, but that it should be more important to them.

With that approach, they also learned that when we were out and about as a family, we all had the same right to enjoy our outing, and that having to run after them all the time was not fun for us parents. They learned to think about others and not only about themselves.

Of course, we made sure that our family activities included things they liked, like running in the park, and playing on the swings. My husband and I fully participated with them. Likewise, when we were doing more ‘adult' activities like visiting with friends or having a cup of coffee downtown, we made sure to explain to them that the expectation was for them to also participate with us.

Today, my children would tell when asked that they were always happy, normal kids who enjoyed being active. They would also tell how they were constantly looking back to see what their parents were doing, and where they were going.

We were always vigilant, but they were mostly able to control themselves … no leash was necessary.

Talking to children, and teaching them reasoning skills, should start from day one. As parents, we should be the ones who guide, set clear boundaries and impose loving discipline. It is our responsibility to teach them leadership by example.

Of course, parents have to invest more time than they would by placing their children on a leash. But, by doing so, they will learn communication skills, respect for authority, and ultimately, a positive and respectful family dynamic will be created.

Silvia Uribe is a freelance writer with a Latino perspective.

Cross-published on

Monday, June 21, 2010

Familiar Names at Cieneguitas Cemetery in "Noleta"

By Silvia Uribe

Sunday, June 20, 2010

A reader sent me a great study by Neal P. Graffy, written in March 2001, called “The History of the Cieneguitas Cemetery.” The burial ground is also known as La Patera Cemetery, due to its location (but not to be confused with the current La Patera Cemetery), and "Old Catholic Cemetery" due to its administration by the Franciscan fathers.

According to Graffy, the graveyard in the Santa Barbara area following the arrival of the Spanish was located at El Presidio, founded in 1782, followed by the Riviera Cemetery, on the lower Eastside of the city, in or about 1846. Then, in 1870, a Catholic cemetery was established on the edge of the foothills above the town, where the St. Francis Hospital was later built. The Cieneguitas Cemetery followed in 1875, and Calvary, the one on Hope Avenue, in 1896. Cavalry is the only one that's still open.

Cieneguitas in Spanish means little swamps, and Graffy described the area as “an impenetrable jungle of small trees, brush, vines, ooze, flags, and swamp grass.” Way different than what it is now. Many of those interred at Cieneguitas were transferred to Calvary. It wasn’t until I had lived in Goleta for several years that I even became aware of Cieneguitas Cemetery, located in what’s commonly known now as Noleta, near the 4400 block of Hollister Avenue, right behind the County Coroner’s Office.

The particularly interesting thing about it is that it is one of the locations where veterans of the Mexican War and Civil War were buried.

It is important to mention that a study done by Edson T. Strobridge says that “the State of California, being located so far away from the more active scenes of the Civil War, was not called on to furnish troops for immediate service against Confederate soldiers, and no quota was assigned to it ... Nonetheless, war calls were eventually made upon the state for several regiments and battalions which totaled more than 16,000 men (plus the 500 men who enlisted in 1862 and became a part of the quota for the state of Massachusetts) and ultimately became a part of the Second Massachusetts Cavalry. With the exception of those who enlisted for Massachusetts, the California forces took no part in any of the great battles of the Civil War.”

Some of the names—most of which belonged to members of the First Battalion Native California Cavalry Company C—that you’ll see in the following list, compiled by Strobridge, who is from San Luis Obispo, on December 8, 1998, may also belong to ancestors of present residents whose families have been in the area for more than a century.

The following entries were originally made in Spanish. I’ve included the page number where they can be found in the Death Book, to make it easier for you to look them up for yourself.

Manuel German, 45 years of age, buried February 18, 1874 (p. 3)
Felipe Badillo, 56, buried July 23, 1884 (p. 8)
Vicente Ordaz, 52, buried May 21, 1879 (p. 39)
Antonio Maria de la Guerra, 66, buried January 29, 1881 (p. 53)
Bernardino Lopez, 65, buried January 10, 1884 (p. 65)
Antonio Rodriguez, 70, buried January 4, 1887 (p. 82)
Jesus Soto, 43, buried February 19, 1887 (p. 83)
Lino Ruiz, 40, buried November 8, 1887 (reinterred at Cavalry) (p. 88)
Clemente Espinosa, 42, buried January 16, 1888 (reinterred at Cavalry) (p. 90)
Francisco Cordero, 78, buried January 6, 1889 (p. 96)
Miguel Pico, 48, buried January 21, 1890 (p. 103)
Pablo Valencia, 68, buried July 13, 1891 (p. 112)
Jose de Jesus Cordero, about 60, buried December 14, 1891 (p. 113)
Jose Maria Ayala, 61, buried January 22, 1892 (p. 114)
Jose Maria Garcia, 57, buried August 3, 1892 (p. 117)
Juan Scolan (John Scollan) , 72, buried August 25, 1892 (p. 118)
Jose Rufino Leiva, 62, buried May 22, 1893 (p. 112)
Narciso Valencia, 48, buried November 3, 1893 (p. 124)
Jose Maria Valenzuela, 70, buried February 6, 1894 (p. 125)
Ismael Soto, 53, buried February 10, 1895 (p. 133)
Juan Ygnacio Valencia, 72, buried September 26, 1895 (p. 138)

It was not until October 23, 1895, in Death Book #2, that the entries are made in English rather than Spanish:

Jose Salvador Valdez, 70, buried November 17, 1895 (“in Catholic Cemetery”) (p. 139)
Nicolos Orellana, about 76, buried February 6, 1896 (“native of Chile, interred in Catholic Cemetery") (p. 141)

And the following entry marks the first burial in the new Calvary Cemetery, at 199 North Hope Avenue:

John C. Kays, 83, buried September 2, 1896 (“native of Ireland”) (p. 144)

The Cieneguitas Cemetery is definitely a trip back into our history. If you decide to visit, you’ll see pieces of sandstone that once made up a base for a headstone, or, perhaps, curbed the edge of a single or family plot.

I encourage everyone to contact me at with any topics about which you would like me to write in the future.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Unfriendly Sidewalks

By Silvia Uribe

Last week I was in pain, and perturbed by the clickety-clack sound coming from my knees after falling hard on them. It was one of those, not only painful, but embarrassing moments. The kind we inevitably go through when tripping or twisting an ankle, and after making all sorts of unnatural, ungracious, and in the end, unsuccessful maneuvers in an effort to avoid the fall.

This time, the culprit was one of the many poorly maintained sidewalks of our city. I tripped, and like a dart, my body propelled itself a few feet ahead.

I landed next to a long line of cars waiting for a green light. As they slowly moved forward, several drivers stopped briefly and, through their windows, nicely asked if I was ok. (So much for my wish to be invisible, but it is very comforting to know that caring people surround us.)

Much to my disbelief, physically, I was ok. Saving face a little, I waved at them, signaling that I had no broken bones, and no acute pain. Then, I started the recovery operation - all the stuff that came out of my purse. It had opened at the time it hit the ground, allowing for my makeup, pens, phone, and other items to be dispersed all over the place. Nice.

My ego was a different story. It was badly bruised after the awkward moment. First, I was lying on the sidewalk; face down, for a few (very long) seconds. It felt weird, to say the least. Then, I sat (still on the ground) trying to clean some of the dirt from my new pants, and at the same time, feel my body discretely and assess for possible damages. Then, I came to the realization that I needed to get up. OMG! (Sorry, I'm getting used to texting.) That moment was the scariest of all.

There was nothing close to me that I could've used as a resting/pulling/supporting device. I knew I had to come up with the necessary strength in my legs and knees, and trust that they would push me up.

"I can do it, I can do it", I kept repeating to myself out loud, but I was secretly hoping for some invisible hands to lift me up. I counted "one, two, three, and…." I regained verticality. I was so proud of my accomplishment, I could have given myself a round of applause, but I refrained, since the whole scene was already odd enough. The show was over…. Finally.

Is it only me, or is our city in a major need for timely curb, and street repairs? During the time that I spend downtown every weekend, I see many people tripping, not because they're clumsy or distracted, but because more and more curbs are uneven, broken, or because the bricks are loose (as the picture shows) making them dangerous; particularly, and interestingly enough, for those who wear either high heels, or flip-flops.

And, what about our streets? The wear and tear of our cars gets incrementally accentuated with so many little, medium and big potholes (like the one at the off ramp of the 101 at Carrillo.) These take forever to be fixed, and when they are, the solution is deficient, and sometimes as bad as the problem itself.

Why wait so long? Or, even worse, why wait until something really bad happens in which the City may be found liable? They say in Spanish, "Mas vale tarde que nunca", which equivalent in English is, "Better late than never." I don't agree with that philosophy. In certain instances, it might just be too late.

As for me, I followed my own advice and took matters (my noisy knees, and my all aching body) into my own hands quickly. I immediately scheduled a visit to the chiropractor and to the masseuse, to fix and pamper myself a little.

Now, I'm ready for another walk.

Silvia Uribe is a freelance writer with a Latino Perspective.
Cross-posted at