Bob Isaacson's Blog

Welcome to this blog. It is basically a collection of stories, letters, essays, reviews, and poems that I have written over the past years, some of which were published in the Santa Barbara Independent and other local publications.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Fernando Librado, As Recollected by John Begg (Recorded on Tape by Bill Cooper III)

Fernando Librado at sheep shearing, Rancho San Julian, 1910

Fernando Librado

(As Recollected by John Begg)

"In '98 we
      met him there
down at 'Cruces
      when we went
to the school
      after my father
became foreman
      for the bank
when it took over
      Rancho San Julian.

His cave
      was a little distance
from the school--
      oh, maybe
a hundred yards.

So at noontime
      we'd go there
and see his old cave.

You see them buildings
      there now?
Well, it was just
      against the hill...
where his cave was.

Somebody told me
      it caved in...
I don't know
      how it could--
It was all rock.

That was just
he kept  his blankets,
      where he slept.
Oh, there were
      a few things--
there were books
      he had,
books he used
      to read there,
the old fellow.

Yes, he
      was educated:
you see the priests
      got him
as a little baby.

When he was
      a little baby,
you see, the Indians
      here in
      and Santa Inez
had a fight.
      His father
and mother
      was killed,
and the priests
      found the little baby,
and they took
      and raised him
and educated him.

Why he could read
French and English.

He was pretty bright--
      he was
a pretty
      bright Indian.
He didn't
      have much
in his cave.

He was generally
working somewhere.
      When he wasn't
doing something,
      why he would come
and stay at his cave--
      until somebody
gave him a job.
      He used
to shear sheep
      and cook
for roundups,
      and he used
to travel
      all up through
the hills here
      to get herbs
for medicine.

Well, there was
      one herb--
he says there
      was only
one place
      in the county
you could
      find it:
over on top of this...
      What do you call it?
      Down on
the Sudden side,
      there's a big spring
in there, and
      he said
that was
      the only place
you could
      find them herbs--
around that spring.

And there was
      another herb
he said
      he used to get
over on
      the Sisquoc River--
that was
      the only
place you
      could find
that herb.

He would use
for medicine,
      you know.
If somebody
      was sick
or something,
       he would doctor
them up....
he done
      pretty good.

Loustalots lived
      there at 'Cruces,
you know,
      and he
delivered all
      their babies,
I guess,
      kind of
a doctor, like...

Well, sometimes
      we'd find
      on the road,
and we'd
      put him on,
behind the saddle
      and give
him a ride.

Yes, he spoke
and English,
      a pretty well
      old feller.

He was quite
      a Republican.
Yeah, he used
      to say,
"Vote for
      Nat Stewart!"
he used
      to say--
Nat was
      the sheriff.
He used
      to have a ranch
down in
      La Salle Canyon.

So the old feller,
used to come over
      from 'Cruces
to San Julian,
      and then to
Nat Stewart's place
      the next day.
Then he'd go
to Tranquillon, there,
      to get that herb.
It took him
      about three days.
he'd walk,
      or somebody'd
give him
      a ride a horseback.

He just wore
      old clothes.
Used to
      have bib overalls,
like in this picture here,
      shearing sheep...
that's what
      he wore.

You know
      Cisarena Pensa?
She married
Well, she had
      a picture
of him
      that Ed Beard here
painted of him,
      my God,
a real nice one...
      He was kind
of an artist,
      and he
      a picture
of old Fernando--
      By golly,
it was real nice...
      She has it yet,
I don't know...
He bought stuff
      at 'Cruces.
Loustalots had
      kind of a little
store there,
      and they
kinda looked
      after him,
you know--
He'd help them,
      you know,
with their garden.

They always
the old feller--

They was
      all good
to the old boy."