Mountain Views News, Combined Edition Saturday, September 28, 2019

MVNews this week:  Page 7



Mountain View News Saturday, September 28, 2019 

TABLE FOR TWO by Peter Dills


Santa Anita Park is up and running, and I have already had the pleasure to make it out a few days for this current meet. Many have tried 
to feed the masses but have come up short -- Dodger Stadium, Staples Center, the Rose Bowl – so I can honestly say that Frontrunner 
(Santa Anita Park’s restaurant and bar) offers top-notch food. Not that I don’t enjoy a $10 hot dog, but there so many levels of enjoyment 
when dining at the race track. Sure, you can go to the concession stand at get a dog and a beer ($2 on Fridays), but I recommend going to 
one of the many carving stations and getting one of arguably the best sandwiches this side of the 405 freeway. Roast Beef, Corned Beef, 
Turkey, and Ham all sliced in front of you, under $10, and you can get it your way. Rye Bread? Sure, they have it. Pickles a must? You got 
it! I got mine with just mustard. Nothing beats getting a sandwich and a beer and sitting in the Club House with an unobstructed view 
of the San Gabriel Mountains… and of course the ponies running in front of you.

Feeling like a big shot and still want the killer views? I have your answer at Front Runner. Prices here are still very reasonable for some 
top notch food. I started with the Creamy Clam Chowder (the menu said famous, so I had to have that, right?) Next was the Maryland 
Crab Cake ($31) just like I remembered from my days living in Baltimore. I had no room for dessert, but the server said that all were 
made on the premises, so next time I will try one! Tip: my hi-roller friend Carl . swears that the pepperoni pizza ($15) is one of the best 
in town.

Saving the best for last, the view from Frontrunner is a true postcard. And 
the bar, I am told, is the longest bar west of the Mississippi. There is a true 
“cool buzz” when hanging around Frontrunner. If you just want to hang 
out at the aforementioned bar with a bowl of clam chowder or dine-in 
you can’t go wrong with either pick. Keep in mind the dining room does 
get busy on special race days, so not only do I recommend an advance 
reservation, please bring a little patience with you.

Added recently are the box seats, another up close and personal view of 
the finish line. 

As always prices are subject to change, light dress code. Parking and 
admission are additional.

Santa Anita Arcadia CA



Is it possible to celebrate a pre-commercialized version?

[Nyerges is the author of several 
books including “How to 
Survive Anywhere,” “Extreme 
Simplicity,” and “Foraging 
California.” Information 
about his books and classes 
is available at www.SchoolofSelf-]

 Recently, I was part of a conversation 
where our small group wondered, How 
was this Holy Day com-memorated before 
it was all commercialized into a scary 
night? Is it possible to observe this Holy 
Day in a similar fashion today?

 We determined that we’d need to dig up 
whatever historical facts we could find 
that show how this day was commemorated 
before 1700, more or less. Though 
we couldn’t be 100% certain, we at least 
as-sumed that “commercialization” didn’t 
really exist in 1700, and all the European 
and some American commemorations 
before that year probably retained some 
semblance of what the day was all about, 

 So, first, let’s begin with the day.

 It is believed that the ancient Celts observed 
something called a “Samhain festival” 
towards the end of October. Says the 
World Book Encyclopedia. “The Celts believed 
that the dead could walk among the 
living at this time. During Samhain, the 
living could visit with the dead. Elements 
of the customs can be traced to a Druid 
ceremony in pre-Christian times. The 
Celts had festivals for two major gods—
a sun god and a god of the dead (called 
Samhain), whose festival was held on November 
1, the beginning of the Celtic New 

 This day, or period, was to mark the end 
of the harvest and the beginning of winter. 

Samhain (pronounced “sow-in,” which 
means “summer’s end,” or the name of a 
god, or both) is seen by some Wiccans as 
a time to celebrate the lives of those who 
have died, and it often involves paying re-
spect to ancestors, family members, elders 
of the faith, friends, pets and other loved 
ones who have died. In some rituals the 
spirits of the dead are invited to attend the 

 Various sorts of activities done on Samhain 
have been described over the centuries. 
In Ireland, Samhain was a time 
to take stock of the herds and food supplies. 
Cattle were brought to the winter 
pastures after six months in the higher 
summer pastures. Then, the people chose 
which animals to slaughter before the 
winter. After the slaughter of the animals, 
there would be feasting. And obviously, if 
you aren’t an animal-raising farmer, how 
would you celebrate this aspect, except for 
the feasting?

 The Catholic Church was aware of all the 
so-called “pagan” observances, and had 
their own day to com-memorate the dead, 
May 13. This began in 609 or 610 A.D., 
when Pope Boniface the 4th dedicated the 
Pantheon— the Roman temple of all the 
gods—to Mary and all the martyrs. Later 
that date was changed by Pope Gregory III 
(731-741 A.D.), who dedicated a chapel 
in Rome to all the saints and ordered that 
they be honored on November 1. This was 
done, in part, to overshadow the pre-existing 
Samhain com-memorations.

 In the 11th century, November 2nd was 
assigned as "All Souls’ Day" in commemoration 
of the dead. So this began the use 
of the term Hallow’s Eve, or Hallowe’en for 
October 31.

Hallowe’en customs are similar to the observance 
of Dia de los Muertos or Day of 
the Dead, commonly practiced in Mexico 
and which can be traced to early Aztec 
times. Apparently, this “day of the dead” 
was originally commemorated in Mexico 
in May, and was changed to November 2 
sometime after Span-ish contact to correspond 
with the Christian tradition.


Trick or treating in modern times goes 
back to leaving food and wine for roaming 
dead spirits and ghosts. The custom 
was referred to as "going a-souling" and 
was eventually practiced only by the chil-
dren who would visit the houses in their 
neighborhoods and be given gifts of ale, 
food and money. It was believed the spirits 
of the dead returned to visit their old 
homes during this time, so in ancient 
times, people left food out for them and 
arranged chairs so that the dead would be 
able to rest. 

Treats called “soul cakes” were given out in 
memory of the departed. The Middle Age 
practice of souling — going door to door 
begging for food in return for prayers — 
became popular and is even referenced 
by William Shakespeare in 1593. This is 
obviously the root of the modern “trick or 
treating” for mini Snickers bars, a practice 
no doubt loved by every dentist.

Seasonal foods such as apples and nuts 
were often used in the Samhain rituals. 
Apples were peeled, the peel tossed over 
the shoulder, and its shape examined to 
see if it formed the first letter of the future 
spouse's name. Nuts were roasted on the 
hearth and then interpreted – if the nuts 
stayed together, so would the couple. Egg 
whites were dropped in water, and the 
shapes foretold the number of future chil-
dren. Children would also chase crows 
and divine some of these things from the 
number of birds or the direction they flew. 


Celts would wear masks when they left 
their homes during the night hours during 
Samhain days, because they hoped 
they would avoid being recognized by the 
ghosts and be mistaken merely for fellow 

“Mumming” and “Guising” were a part of 
Samhain from at least the 16th century and 
was recorded in parts of Ireland, Scotland, 
Mann and Wales. It involved people going 
from house to house in costume (or in disguise), 
usually reciting songs or verses in 
exchange for food. It is suggested that it 
evolved from a tradition whereby people 
impersonated the aos sí, or the souls of the 
dead, and received offer-ings on their behalf. 
Impersonating these spirits or souls 
was also believed to protect oneself from 
them. One researcher suggests that the 
ancient festival included people in masks 
or costumes repre-senting these spirits, 
and that the modern custom came from 


Pagan Celtic priestesses and their followers 
would roam the countryside, chanting 
songs in order to frighten away the evil 
spirits thought to be out on Halloween 
night. I wonder how that could be practiced 
in your neighborhood?


Bonfires were a big part of the festival in 
many areas of western Europe. Bonfires 
were typically lit on hilltops at Samhain 
where everyone could see them, and there 
were rituals involving them.

Bonfires comes from the root, “bone-fires” 
because the priests sacrificed animals and 
supposedly even people in an attempt to 
appease the sun god, while also looking 
for future omens. The fire was said to be a 
type of sympathetic magic, where the fire 
mimicked the sun, which has the power to 
hold back the darkness of winter. Burning 
the fires was also believed to be a way of 
banishing evil, at least symboli-cally.


Divination has likely been a part of the 
festival since ancient times, and it has survived 
in some rural are-as. In part, this 
meant that the spirits, the aos sí., could 
enter your world. Many of the food offerings 
and fires were directed to the aos 
sí. Or perhaps, some of the crops might 
also be left in the ground for them the aos 
sí. The aos sí.were addressed in various 
ways, with food offerings, with walks into 
the ocean, with the idea to hold off any 
mischief, and perhaps to learn the future.

The belief that the souls of the dead return 
home on one night of the year seems to 
have ancient origins and is found in many 
cultures throughout the world.


So what do you conclude from all this? Is 
there an ideal way to commemorate this 
ancient day, and still avoid the trappings 
of commercialization? Is it even possible?

I like the way that the Day of the Dead is 
commemorated. There are altars with pictures 
of the dearly de-parted, and plates 
of good food. Candles are lit, rather than 
a big bonfire which the local fire depart-
ment would frown upon. Families gather, 
and talk in respectful tones about their 
departed rela-tives. Yes, of course, even 
the Day of the Dead has turned into wild 
partying in some quarters, but if you 
seek a return to roots of the ancient commemoration 
of the dead, perhaps begin 
here. Begin with family or neighborhood 
gatherings. Prepare a good meal, and keep 
in the mind the foods that your be-loved 
departeds enjoyed. This is not necessarily 
because you think their spirits will come 
to eat (last I checked, ghosts don’t need to 
eat), but because having, for example, your 
mother’s favorite dish will give you another 
reason to talk about your mother, and 
to remember all the good things she did. 

This is at least a start, and it elevates our 
day of ghoulish and pointless fear-mongering 
into one that re-connects us with 
our roots. 

Jeff’s Book Pics By Jeff Brown

FIGHT HITLER by Bruce Henderson 

They were young Jewish boys 
who escaped from Nazi-occupied 
Europe and resettled 
in America. After the United 
States entered the war, they 
returned to fight for their adopted 
homeland and for the 
families they had left behind. 
Their stories tell the tale of 
one of the U.S. Army’s greatest 
secret weapon.The book 
begins during the menac-ing 
rise of Hitler’s Nazi party, 
as Jewish families were trying 
desperately to get out of 
Europe. The author captures 
the heartbreaking stories of 
parents choosing to send 
their young sons away to uncertain 
futures in America, 
perhaps never to see them 
again. As these boys became 
young men, they were determined 
to join the fight in Europe. Henderson describes how they 
were recruited into the U.S. Army and how their unique mastery 
of the German language and psychology was put to use to inter-
rogate German prisoners of war. These young men—known as the 
Ritchie Boys, after the Maryland camp where they trained—knew 
what the Nazis would do to them if they were captured. Yet they 
leapt at the opportunity to be sent in small, elite teams to join every 
major combat unit in Europe, where they collected key tactical 
intelli-gence on enemy strength, troop, armored movements, 
and defensive positions that saved American lives and helped win 
the war. A postwar army report found that near-ly 60 percent of 
the credible intelligence gathered in Europe came from the Ritchie 
Boys. Sons and Soldiers draws on original interviews and extensive 
archival research to vividly re-create the stories of six of these men, 
tracing their journeys from child-hood through their escapes from 
Europe, their feats and sacrifices during the war, and finally their 
desperate attempts to find their missing loved ones. Sons and Sol-
diers is an epic story of heroism, courage, and patriotism that will 
not soon be for-gotten.The review is from Amazon.coms



Sierra Madre Civic Club is calling all Sierra Madre 9 to 17-year-olds to sign up for the 2019 
Halloween Window Painting contest. The Halloween Window Painting contest is free to 
participants. The contest is by age group with one member being a Sierra Madre resident on 
a team of up to 4 students painting one window per team. 

Painting begins on October 25th at 2:30 p.m. and will wrap up October 26th at 10 a.m. 
Judging will begin at 10 a.m. October 26th. Teams will be judged on Cleanliness, Color Use, 
Halloween Theme and Creativity. Once the judging is complete awards will be given around 
noon October 26th in Kersting Court. Winning is not the main objective, but having fun and showing off your talent is! 

Rules and Applications are now available at local schools, Sierra Madre City Hall, Sierra Madre Library as well as Facebook, (click on ‘Upcoming Events’), (click on ‘Residents, Special Events, 
Halloween Happenings, 2019 Halloween Window Painting Application’). The deadline to turn in your drawing and 
Application is October 7. 

For more information contact Sierra Madre Civic Club Halloween Window Painting Chair: Virginia Mullaney at virgirl2006@ or see our website:

Mountain Views News 80 W Sierra Madre Blvd. No. 327 Sierra Madre, Ca. 91024 Office: 626.355.2737 Fax: 626.609.3285 Email: Website: