A Twitter friend asked the question: If you could live in any state in America, which one would you choose?
I’m assuming she figured that her audience all lived in the United States, or else she might have asked “where in the world would you choose to live?”
I was born in California and have lived my entire life here and would continue to do so, no matter where else I could choose. I would always choose California because that is what my family did almost 85 years ago.
My parents came with two small children, with all of their belongings packed into a Model A Ford, from Arkansas. They had buried a baby boy who died of diphtheria, before there was a vaccine. They left family, friends, and a job my dad had with Welch Grape Farm. Neither of my parents were well educated. My dad could not read or write. And yet, they packed up and drove across country to California to start over.
It amazes me to think of doing something like this. My sister, 17 years older than me, would tell me stories of how hard it was when they first arrived. They camped under trees. They worked wherever they could find a job. My dad, a trained vine pruner, sought work in the grape fields and was able make a living.
It was only during the Franklin Roosevelt presidency, when work programs were instigated, that he got a well-paying job breaking up old, and installing new sidewalks in Fresno. He not only made a living but also saved enough to buy his own vineyard, and from there, their life in California became successful.
By the time I was born, they had sold the vineyard and bought open land so as to farm other crops. My dad became a successful cotton farmer as well as built the house they lived in, and where I lived until I was 18. The man who couldn’t read or write, but who could do plumbing, electrical, construction, and grow crops.
California provided a free education for me from kindergarten to twelfth grade. I applied for and received a California State Scholarship which paid for my four years of college at Fresno State University. After working 13 years in industry, I went back to that college and got a teaching credential and worked in a state-funded high school for the next 22 years. I owe my success and prosperity to California, just as my parents before me did. Why would I ever leave.