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The Patriot by the Park

Chico is a collapsed hybrid of a place. It’s too big to be a town and too small to be a city. It sports a standard California college with the standard complement of insane “Studies” professors, Chemtrails conspiracy whack jobs, gays, lugs, thugs bugs, and befuddled and brain-clouded students. Chico is also at the top of the vast central valley’s limitless riches of rice, almonds, olives and other global commodities that express themselves in town in hidden centimillionaires behind the orchard screens and billionaire rice families’ Haciendas hidden somewhere out in the inland sea of rice paddies.

The result is that there is a chain of in-town islands to be found out in the countryside (A Jamaican Jerk restaurant in a sea of Walnut orchards? Ya mon) and many outposts of the country inside the wire of the town. (Hay and feed store right on the main drag in downtown still thriving nicely thank you.) At the core of this odd place, running right through its middle,  is One-Mile.

One-Mile is the town swimming hole; or rather the town swimming creek. One-Mile is where Butte Creek was diverted decades ago so a concrete pen about twenty yards across and a hundred yards long was laid and a dam built at the downstream end. Then Butte Creek was un-diverted and, presto, a community swimming creek. The town/city grew up around it and around the vast land of Bidwell Park which currently comprises some 3,600 acres and is more than 11 miles long.

A vast park but the one part used most and seen most by most people living in and visiting Chico is One-Mile. If you’ve got a message you want to get to the most people in town, print flyers and distribute them at One-Mile. And across the street from One-Mile is where the Patriot has his home.

The Patriot has lived in his home for decades as the town grew up around it. The Patriot loves his home but even more than his home the Patriot loves his country. And the Patriot does not care who in the town, state, nation, or world knows it. The Patriot does not just wear his love for America on his sleeve, he wears it on his house.

In the many years I came to Chico before living here I’d note, from time to time, that the Patriot’s house was becoming more baroque. From a single flag pole with roses twined around the base, the Patriots’ American flags grew to multiple flag poles. As the Patriot became older lights were shown on the flags at night so he did not have to lower them.

At first, he’d cut out sections from the Declaration and the Constitution and laminate them and hang them from his fence as a kind of pedestrian tour of these documents. Then there were large quotes added from the heroes of America in war and peace; in poetry and song. All laminated to resist the rain and left to fade from the sun.

Over time the documents were joined by pictures of places like Mt. Rushmore and Gettysburg and Iwo Jima. These were joined by statues of heroes found in thrift shops. And then somehow the flags and the documents and the statues and pictures became some many and so varied that they all seemed to merge into one huge hymn from one man to his nation; one structure like Simon Rodia’s Watts Towers that revealed, unlike the blank everyday facades of the houses around him, the inner heart of this one man.

I saw the Patriot yesterday while walking in the park across from his home. He’s quite old now and in a walker attended by a companion. He came out of a side-door stooped over wearing one of those caps that show you the ship he served on. I think it was a submarine. He’s a small man made smaller now by age. He held a laminated sheet and made his way out of his yard and along his fence. To find a spot he had to make his slow way almost to end of his fence. Then he put it up and fastened it with wires and pliers to the chain link. Then he turned around and made his way back with his companion walking beside him.

In his yard, just before he went inside,  he paused at his first and still tallest flagpole to adjust the lights at its base so that even at night his flag would never be in darkness.

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • DAN January 21, 2020, 4:44 PM

    YEP remember 1 mile & 5 mile parks. the family reunion used to take place yearly @ 1 mile, kinda took over the park with all the relatives that i’d never heard of or seen as a kid, but in the middle of summer the water was cold & the food was good. back in the 50s.

  • Dave January 21, 2020, 6:12 PM

    You need to talk to your IT department about how it presents your site. Almost every time I come here, something gets into my eyes and they mist over. Dunno what it could be. Although I did appreciate your post about The Patriot and his yard. And flags. Long may they wave.
    Damn mist. It’s getting hard to see again.

  • WiscoDave January 22, 2020, 1:38 AM

    “…his flag would never be in darkness.”

  • ghostsniper January 22, 2020, 4:43 AM

    No patriot, a gaudy spectacle indicating dementia.

  • John Venlet January 22, 2020, 5:30 AM

    No patriot, a gaudy spectacle indicating dementia.

    C’mon, Ghostsniper, The Patriot is not displaying a gaudy spectacle indicative of dementia. I think The Patriot is displaying his love of America consistent with the time he was raised and served in the military (the military being an actual role the government should play), prior to the American flag and America being saddled with the opprobrium the Left heaps upon it still, and a lie which many conservative folks swallow without actual proper consideration or understanding. The Patriot’s display shows he is not ashamed of America, and neither am I. I am only ashamed of the politicians who were supposedly elected to maintain the republic America was incorporated as.

  • Dan Patterson January 22, 2020, 6:13 AM

    Perhaps he was a small man, in his youth a little less tall and a little less brawny than others his age. In photos of young men of that time you see them, peering over the shoulders of schoolmates, happily tumbling around as the runt of a litter playing football, sliding in to third base, posing barefoot with the catch of the day.
    But very soon fate would open a door, one with a yawning pit into which many of his buddies would fall. Small men found themselves in ball turrets, their spilled blood frozen to it’s sides; sweaty hands on M4 steering levers dueling with beasts spitting armor-piercing steel; sharing space on a Gato-class boat with a Fairbanks-Morse Diesel and 60 other small men. They came back, those who could, and melted back in the stream of American life with as little disruption as they could manage. I remember seeing them, older and with ghosts all around them, many had un-tellable tales locked in their heads with scars and missing limbs payment for survival.
    Pay close attention to these men, small men of a past generation and men of our current time. They were flung into nest they had no part in stirring and it does not matter where we fall on the political arguments that did stir those nests. What matters is letting them honor their mission, the men that served with them, and heal their wounds as best as they can.
    Bless the Patriot and his service to a country he clearly loves.

  • orcadrvr January 22, 2020, 6:27 AM

    Dan Patterson:
    Well done, sir.

  • tim January 22, 2020, 9:05 AM

    Yes, well done Mr. Patterson.
    Some of us obviously needed that more than others.

  • Sam L. January 22, 2020, 9:17 AM

    I often wear a cap with my first missile squadron patch. It was originally a B-17 squadron patch.
    I have another with my second missile squadron patch (also previously a B-17 squadron patch),
    I have another cap honoring the WWII cruiser that was sunk before I was born that was named for the town I retired to.

  • H January 22, 2020, 10:10 AM

    Years ago, Chris Mathews had some luminary on his Hardball program, I forget just who, and something about patriotism came up. Mathews reported that after he came back from “serving” two years in the Peace Corps someplace in Africa (during Viet Nam, of course, and we’ll reserve commentary on that for another time), he got a job toting a pistol for the the Capitol Po-lease in Washington, D.C.. He said his boss at the Capitol Po-lease explained patriotism to him as “the little guy loves his country, because that’s all he has”.

    As in, only the “little guy” would express love for country, and the elite need not be bothered with understanding it.

    Mathews, of course, has either sucked at the public teat or run the “journalism” scam his whole life long. That’s his family business, you might could say.

    And that just kinda explains why we see what we see coming out of politics, government and journalism these days, don’t it?

  • captflee January 22, 2020, 1:31 PM

    Dan Matthews: Sir, your comment touched me deeply, succinctly crystallizing into a coherent whole some of the many inchoate thoughts rattling about in my noggin regarding the true nature of service, and of patriotism, far better than I could even aspire to. Well done!

    I am shocked that the local powers that be have not long ago shut him down; I live in what should be a comparatively conservative area, and the realtors here would immediately sic the full force of the bureaucracy on the Patriot, lest theoretical sales to carpetbaggers, scalawags, and cultural enrichers from south of the border be endangered.

    Possessing as I do a literal pile of blue and gold ship ball caps garnered from my four decades of bouncing around the maritime world, I am oft seen sporting one when out and about. This has afforded me the privilege of conversing with many older gents (and the occasional lady) and hearing amazing, sometimes poignant, stories that would have, if not for the cap, gone unheard.

    God Bless the Patriot.

  • Hotep Maqqebet January 22, 2020, 1:32 PM

    You live in Chico?
    I thought you lived in that town that burned.

  • Vanderleun January 22, 2020, 2:34 PM

    That would be Paradise twenty miles up the hill. If I lived there now I’d live in a pit of ash.

  • Boat Guy January 24, 2020, 10:23 AM

    If that be a ” gaudy spectacle indicating dementia” as someone small in every respect remarked; then I applaud it. We need more of such from the generations who have benefited from the Patriot and his shipmates, especially those who didn’t return.