Antelope Valley Press - AV Living (Antelope Valley)

History repeats or sometimes stays alive for more than a centur y

- WRITTEN BY Vern Lawson | Special to the Valley Press

Over the past two years, America has been struggling with both survival of historic monuments or the removal of towering, statuesque reminders of the past.

Antelope Valley was home to one chapter of the Llano del Rio, a socialist colony, that was founded in May 1914, by eager settlers. By 1915, there were about 500 people living in Llano.

They used local adobe clay as the building block for the socialist colony. This article is in praise of the fact that many of those building monuments are still on view, just a few hundred feet north of Highway 138, east of Palmdale.

Providing a solid descriptio­n of the colony in its infancy was a writer named Hadley Meares, who published these polished, sturdy words in 2017:

“Deep in the Antelope Valley in northern Los Angeles County, directly off of State Route 138, are the forlorn ruins of a sunbaked, desert ghost town. Large stone chimneys, once the focal point of a cozy hotel, rise into the dry, clear blue sky, almost seeming to touch the snow-capped San Gabriel Mountains in the distance.”

Socialism is still saluted by many and scorned by others, even in the 2020 political arena. Bernie Sanders has long identified himself as a democratic socialist. It may have helped or may have caused some stumbles in his campaigns.

In 1917, 200 settlers from California chartered a train to the abandoned mill town of Stables, La., where they became proud owners of approximat­ely 20,000 acres of land in the heart of Vernon Parish.

According to a Country Roads magazine article written by Julia Gauthier, the Deep South colony — was named Llano del Rio Cooperativ­e Colony.

When the article appeared on Sept. 23, 2019, the New Llano had about 2,400 residents living not far from Fort Polk — a community demonstrat­ing civic longevity.

The Museum of the New Llano Colony was establishe­d in 2013.

Now, back to the story about how the California colony came about:

Job Harriman — handsome, earnest and charismati­c — was the face of socialism in California around the turn of the 20th century. A perpetual candidate, he mounted unsuccessf­ul candidacie­s for governorsh­ip in 1898 and the vice presidency of the U.S. in 1900.

Harrison, in his 50s, ran twice for the mayor of Los Angeles and almost would have won in 1911, if the men accused of bombing the Los Angeles Times

— a group he had supported and represente­d — had not pleaded guilty days before the election.

He dreamed of a socialist colony, where cooperativ­e living could thrive and serve as an example to others while still staying within the bounds of capitalist norms.

Harriman formed a plan for the colony. Each new resident of the community would be required to buy $2,000 worth of shares.

Ten thousand acres in the Antelope Valley could be purchased for $1 per acre.

By May 1914, excited colonists began to move to the isolated new settlement, 90 miles from Los Angeles over rough, treacherou­s roads.

By October 1915, there were 500 people living in Llano, mostly in makeshift tents.

By 1917, more than 60 department­s functioned under division managers.

The local adobe clay formed the basic building block of Llano’s earliest residentia­l architectu­re and some of those pillars and monuments still stand.

The Llano site was remarkably stony. This detriment was turned around by the colonists who built many foundation­s of stone, since it could be used at no further cost on the site.

One arrival owned a complete sawmill outfit, which was pulled by four yokes of oxen. His equipment started producing lumber for the colony’s constructi­on.

Fresh fruits and vegetables were often scarce and the long work hours were punishing in the relentless desert sun.

The community had 800 residents by the time of the move to Louisiana in 1917.

The story of civilizati­on combines tales of projects that often repeated their developmen­t or sometimes continued viable life tales for decades into the future.

possibilit­ies for layers of toppings include mayonnaise (yes, atop the butter), mustard (same), cream cheese, herbed ricotta, other cheese, ham, roast beef, cornichon/pickles, slices of hard-boiled egg, sardines/ other tinned fish, salmon in any form, any type of caviar, potato salad, tuna salad, tuna-and-potato salad, radish, apple, tomato, olives, capers, chives, dill, parsley, basil, pesto … A suite of around six ingredient­s may be combined in so many pleasing configurat­ions! Slice your toppings thinly, then take your time and arrange them so they look very pretty, like old-timey canapés, which, hey, they pretty much are.

One Seattle chef who’s exceptiona­lly adept at T.O.F.S. is David Gurewitz of newish La Dive on Capitol Hill. His résumé includes Lark, Spinasse, Mamnoon, Little Uncle, Chicago’s Blackbird and Michelin-starred Guy Savoy in Paris, and he set up the very good bar food at local Standard Brewing, too. Having grown up in Minneapoli­s in a Jewish household, with grandparen­ts from Belarus, Lithuania and Poland, he loves the food and drink traditions of Eastern Europe, so alongside the extremely tasty dumplings on La Dive’s menu came some really lovely T.O.F.S. One of his interestin­g and exceptiona­lly well-built initial combinatio­ns: Olympic Provisions kielbasa with slices of cucumber, strips of onion, a confetti of chopped chive and dots of horseradis­h dyed bright pink with beet juice, just for added prettiness. Another: split pea hummus, miso, walnut, pickled beet and dill.

Asked now to help us end the tyranny of the unnecessar­y upper slice of bread in the cutest, most fun and maximally delicious way, Gurewitz sent the recipes below. Onward, topless!

“Traditiona­lly, these are eaten with a fork and knife, but I’ve been known to forego cutlery like a brute, and I think it’s convenient to be able to pick them up if they, say, accompany a beverage. And note: A slice of ripe tomato makes an excellent addition or a great substituti­on for the shrimp as a vegetarian option.” — David Gurewitz

1. Split the hard-boiled eggs in half lengthwise and carefully scoop the yolks into a bowl, reserving the whites. Mash the yolks with a fork.

2. In a separate bowl, combine the mustard powder, turmeric, salt and water. Stir to mix evenly and rehydrate the mustard powder. Add the mayonnaise, and mix well.

3. Combine the seasoned mayonnaise with the mashed yolks, and mix and mash until the resulting filling is as smooth as you prefer. Spoon or pipe the yolk filling back into the whites, and set aside.

4. Smear butter on the bread as generously as you dare — there’s a Danish term for spreading the butter thickly enough that you can see your teeth marks when you bite it. Top each buttered bread with two halves of deviled egg, and season each with a generous twist of black pepper and a few wisps of grated lemon zest. Top each egg with shrimp, taking care not to fully obstruct the beautiful bright-yellow yolk. Add as many shrimp as you wish — the main thing is to not appear chintzy. Some say you shouldn’t be able to see the bread under the toppings, but do whatever makes you happy. Anyway, add a few sprigs of watercress (or dill or chives), marvel at how delightful your smørrebrød are and eat!

“Perfect in its simplicity and a great start to any smørrebrød feast. Optional additions may include a dollop of sour cream or some chopped herbs, like chives or dill. And a shot of frozen vodka or aquavit.” — David Gurewitz

1 slice dark rye, spread thick with salted butter

1 fillet herring, either pickled or in oil, cut into 2-inch lengths 1/4-inch slice of red or white onion

1. Place 1 or 2 pieces of herring on bread, and top each with a slice of onion.

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