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June 7, 2013
From journal California's Central Coast
by smmmarti guide
October 28, 2003
In the 1850s, a group of Chinese pioneer families settled at the appropriately referenced "China Point," where for over 50 years they lived in relative isolation in a thriving community supported by the area's abundant marine resources. In 1896, Otosaburo Noda, a Japanese entrepreneur who had been working in local farms, contacted the Japanese government, reporting on the huge population of abalone in the area's waters. This began a historical export opportunity. In 1902, Noda established a rudimentary canning operation on the coastline that would soon come be to known as "The Sardine Capital of the World." Portuguese and Italian fisherman followed to cash in on the ocean's silver mines, drawing an almost unprecedented bounty of sardines from the prosperous seas.
Following the San Francisco earthquake in 1906, the formerly peaceful little China Point village was flooded with refugees from the city's devastation. It wasn't long before a fire of "suspicious origins" leveled the community, forcing the Chinese from the commerce of fishing. Most retreated to other areas of the county or San Francisco.
The old, familiar sight of Chinese pitch-wood fires dotting the bay as the fishermen pulled in squid were soon replaced by the picture of Sicilian lampara nets hauling in a billion sardines per season (August-February) in preparation for either French frying or to be ground into meal. The thriving business soon lured workers from the Philippines, Mexico, and Spain, while fortunes were made at their hands.
This mix of international cultures and seafaring men created quite a colorful community in Monterey. Soon enough, all sorts of intriguing, curious people were attracted to the place, including Ed "Doc" Ricketts, a larger-than-life character who was John Steinbeck's best friend and constant inspiration.
Hailing from Chicago, Ricketts came to Pacific Grove to set up a biological supply business, fueled by an inspirational association with the brilliant ecologist, W.C. Allee, of the University of Chicago. "Doc" didn't have a formal biology degree, yet worked incessantly at his laboratory in Monterey. He and Steinbeck took a notorious trip to the Baja to study marine biology. Steinbeck's description of Doc reveals his affection toward the unique fellow, which is easy to understand after the reading.
Just as Doc had warned, the sardines eventually died out, aided by over-fishing and, ironically, the flourishing of the voracious sea otters after a float of 60 thought-to-be-extinct creatures were found in 1930. In 1972, the last cannery was closed forever.
A touristy stroll through Cannery Row is highly entertaining, but realizing the history revealed in buildings that currently house enticing restaurants, unique shops, and the fabulous Monterey Aquarium makes it that much more significant.
From journal The Enchantments of the Monterey Peninsula
Los Angeles, California
June 26, 2002
From journal Do you know the way to Monterey?
Bayside, New York
August 18, 2001
Another shop that we stopped at, and browsed for at least one hour, was an import warehouse that had some of their goods displayed on the steps leading to the entrance. It was easy to tell that most of it came from Southeast Asia, and Chuck and I immediately headed there. We found and recognized some treasures from Bali; there were some new things as well we hadn't seen before. The prices are excellent as you are buying direct from the importer. Unopened boxes are stacked on the floor behind displays of the same merchandise. There are wonderful vases, animal sculptures, baskets of all kinds, huge colored fish plaques which you can hang on the wall, candles, candle holders, miniature wrought iron furniture and masks. You need an entire suitcase just to be able to bring some of this stuff home.
We also spotted a boutique which had saris in the window, and of course, stopped there as well. Balinese imports must be doing extremely well. Everything was very tastefully arranged and the proprietor was extremely welcoming and proud of her shop. The most avant garde shop we saw was something called "Let it Bead". It looks like some sort of black magic store, but in reality, they mostly sell beads. Lights are very low, and there's a kind of fisherman's net on the ceiling with woven branches. And trays of beads ad infinitum. We did not linger here. Also went into Candle & Clay, as we are incense and candle addicts. Smelled good, but nothing novel. The Garlic Shoppe is still tugging at my heart and it's not the garlic either; they displayed the most beautiful and originally painted plates with matching ewers and glassware. I could have bought all of them. They have an extensive collection of cookbooks, gourmet oils and vinegars, teas, and wines of which I know very little.
At Sculptures by the Sea, you can purchase artwork for $6,000 and up apiece. Couldn't resist going into the sock shop just to see how wild they can get with hosiery design. It does get a bit racy. You can spend an entire afternoon weaving in and out of these shops. We topped the visit to the Cannery with caramel popcorn for Chuck.
From journal Monterey Peninsula