I have been asked to make another contribution to Tohei's Home Page.
So I thought I would give you a little thumbnail sketch of what life is
like here in My Town.
My Town, Kerman
Kerman is a small (less than 7000 population) rural community. It is
centered in a farming area that produces mostly grapes (for raisins,
wine and table), almonds, cotton and alfalfa hay (cattle feed). There
are also many other crops produced in lesser quantities, peaches,
apples, beans, vegetables, etc.
Geographical Center of
Kerman is located in what can be defined as nearly the geographical
center of California, just 15 miles west of Fresno (population -
400,000), in the large, flat, San Joaquin (a Spanish word pronounced
waakeen) Valley. We are bordered on the east by the Sierra Nevada
mountains (which gives the valley, through its large annual snow pack,
the water to support its huge agricultural production), and the coastal
range on the west. Nearby (90 miles) is the famous natural wonder,
Yosemite National Park to the north-east and to the east is Sequoia
National Park, home to the largest of the giant redwoods. Three and a
half hours away to the north-west is San Francisco, and four hours away
to the south-south-east is Los Angeles.
Yosemite National Park
Here and there, scattered in all directions are many other
attractions, such as the world famous Monterey Aquarium and Carmel with
its golf courses about two and a half hours due west and the California
Gold country to the north-north-east. All of these along with the ocean,
skiing, boating and water sports, fishing and hunting can be reached in
well under a half day. Golf is readily available and cheap. Some greens
fees run as little as $12 (less for seniors). And these are nice
courses. The course where I played before my illness cut me off, had one
hole rated among the top ones in California, and I played for $5 a round
plus $10 per month (as a senior).
We have a typical small city government, consisting of five elected
officials (four council members and a mayor, sitting together as a
council to perform the necessary duties of representative government.
The council hires a full time city manager to oversee the day to day
responsibilities of government, a police chief to direct police work (we
have 13 officers), a public works director to oversee water, sewer,
roads, etc., a financial officer to take care of city finances and a
city clerk who is responsible for keeping official city records,
recording council meetings.
This is not a perfect system, but it does seem to work pretty well.
Council meetings are all open to the public who are allowed to make any
input they desire. The law in California does not allow secret meetings
except in certain very narrowly defined areas. Consequently government
is very open here.
Kerman has a relatively short history, being little more than 100
years old as a community. The only thing of any significance to happen
here was at its very beginning. In the old west there were many train
robberies, with bandits stopping trains to rob them. The last of these
great train robberies occurred right here in Kerman just about the time
it was becoming a community. Joaquin Murrietta, a notorious California
bandit of the late 1800s was known to pass through here often on his way
to his "hide-out" in the western hills.
Kerman actually started out as a train watering stop and a place
where a wealthy oil magnate kept his private railroad car. This man
owned all the land between Fresno and Kerman and it is said that he,
himself, planted all the trees along the 15 mile road (which was his
private drive) between the two cities. His mansion and large estate
grounds of about 160 acres, located about half way along this road, is
now Kearney Park, named for him.
When my family moved here 39 years ago, there were less than 2500
people living here. Most of the growth, as shown by the current
population noted above, has occurred in the last 15 years. Twelve years
ago we had only about 3500 residents. It was incorporated as a city in
1946 with about 1200 residents.
Weather and Outdoor Living
Kerman summers are very hot and dry. I have experienced temperatures
as high as 45 degrees C. But normally it does not get over 41 or 42
(which is quite hot enough). It will often times go 10 or more days with
daytime highs over 38 degrees (100 degrees F). There are two things
which make this bearable. Humidity is very low (usually less than 25%)
and it generally cools off at night so that it is very comfortable for
outdoor living in the evenings. Night-time lows are rarely over 21
Winter is the least pleasant of our seasons. We are generally plagued
with very unpleasant and often dangerous fog. Unless we have storms
moving through to stir up the air, which don't usually come often, this
fog can settle in for days and sometimes even weeks at a time. This
makes for very cold and unpleasant weather.
On the other hand, our spring and fall are usually quite beautiful.
Spring, starting in about mid February with the lovely bloom of the
almond trees, is mostly very pleasant and worth the wait. By mid March
almost everything is beginning to bloom and the gardens of Kerman turn
into a riot of colors. Fall is also quite nice, with little rain and the
fall colors beginning to appear in October, until the fog begins to show
up around the middle of November.
Outdoor living is an important part of our culture here in Kerman. We
have Bar-B-Qs six months out of the year along with swimming, boating,
water skiing, picnicking, garden parties.
Ethnic Diversity and the American
Greater Kerman is a very ethnically mixed. We have a very large
percentage (now over 1/2) of Hispanics (mostly Mexican), a large
population of Punjabis, plus Portuguese, Russians, Swedes, Italians, and
a few blacks, Chinese and Japanese, as well as other Europeans. This
makes for a wide diversity of thinking and values. For instance, the
Punjabis have come to Kerman only in the last 20 years. Although they
are outnumbered by the Hispanic population by probably six to one, they
own more homes. Most of the Hispanics are more mobile, moving from place
to place because of the kind of work they do. The Punjabis work together
saving their money to buy businesses and homes to become permanently
settled. They do this more than anyone I have ever
I am sure there are many exceptions, but I believe the "American
Dream" for most Kerman citizens is the same as for Americans in general.
I believe they want to live comfortably in a home they own, with a nice
car and a pick-up truck, with maybe a boat or recreational vehicle and a
business or job they like that earns enough money to do the things they
want to do.
As a former high school agricultural mechanics teacher, retired the
past 14 years, I believe we have some real problems in our schools. And
they are not of the schools making. The teachers have lost control of
the students because of laws and court actions which have gone overboard
protecting their 'rights'. In addition, the parents have looked to the
schools more and more to do the jobs that they themselves should be
doing. Then they complain bitterly about the poor job the schools are
doing raising their children.
Considering these circumstances, plus the ethnic diversity and
mobility of a large part of our population, I believe the Kerman schools
are doing a very good job. They maintain a fairly calm and collected
atmosphere and do very well in various inter-school academic
competitions. Our community has reason to be proud of the job being
done. Unfortunately, there is a large vocal group who are unaware of
these accomplishments and take every opportunity to complain about the
poor job being done. I would find it very hard to be a teacher
In conclusion I think Kerman is a very nice place to live. It has the
lowest cost of living of most anyplace in California, with housing, food
and other necessities being relatively inexpensive, all kinds of
recreational opportunities nearby, and perhaps most of all, friendly