By Allen David
It’s the first day after the holiday season, which was not just another holiday season in Chino Hills. In a contemporary take on the “no room at the inn” story of the first Christmas, Chino Hills city officials spent the month of December working the system to evict the pregnant Chinese residents of a so-called “maternity hotel” and shut it down. Their tactics provide an inkling of the obstacles Mary and Joseph might face in a modern-days search for a place she could give birth to The Prince of Peace. And if, in desperation, they happened to duck into a barn, push aside the livestock, push out the kid, wrap him in swaddling clothes and lay him in the manger? Right there you’ve got trespassing, cruelty to animals, child endangerment and violations of zoning laws and the health code. Oh, and if that little drummer boy would happen to take his show even a minute past 10 p.m., you can bet his RUM-pum-pum-PUM they’d add breaking curfew and disturbing the peace. Jeezus!
THURSDAY, JANUARY 3
Construction of the $339-million dollar courthouse that will rise 11 stories above downtown San Bernardino is cruising along toward a completion target of spring 2014, at which point . . . well . . . um . . . of course, the original idea was to use it to conduct legal business—trials and lawsuits and stuff—and who knows, maybe by then there will be enough money for that in the state budget.
FRIDAY, JANUARY 4
Back up a second: a Chinese maternity hotel in Chino Hills? Yup. It’s for parents who want United States citizenship for their newborns. The facility’s website notes that American citizenship comes with all kinds of opportunities for a better life, including free public schools, the right to vote, medical care and low-interest student loans. Yeah, something about all this bugs me, too.
SATURDAY, JANUARY 5
Oh, holy night! I know what it is: the people who have been protesting that “maternity hotel.” After originally complaining about the extra traffic, they moved on to the objectionable sight of pregnant women taking daily walks and finally got around to mentioning that these women were Asian—which, of course, was the major focus when they organized a demonstration. The sight of dozens of protesters in front of the so-called hotel carrying signs that bore slogans such as “No birth tourism” and “No More Anchor Babies” was ugly. But a demonstration against pregnant Chinese women by residents of Chino Hills is also pretty ironic—inasmuch as “Chino” is the Spanish word for “China.”
SATURDAY, JANUARY 5
Some will call it a miracle, but the astonishing forces that recovered and returned hundreds of Lloyd Michael’s long-lost, World War II-era love letters to his wife have the supernatural all over them. It happened because of a difficult and time-consuming favor performed by a complete stranger for no personal benefit. Now that’s a feel-good, especially since Michael and his wife, Marian, got those letters back after 40 years—just in time to celebrate their 70th wedding anniversary. Fortunately, nothing about this out-of-nowhere blessing requires Michael to give up every old man’s death rite—his grudge against the neighbor kids. All this time, based mostly on suspicion, Michael has been blaming the kids in the neighborhoods around his Alta Loma ranch for stealing his letters. “When I moved here, it was nothing but a grape vineyard north of us, and one of the first developments of homes was right up against my grove,” Michael growled. “These kids lived in the homes up there and on the side of us. Just typical boys. I was sure it must have been the neighborhood kids.” Michael had taken precautions, storing the letters inside a shed on his ranch, packed in a large, locked steamer trunk “to keep the kids out.” But it wasn’t enough, and Michael is still shaking his head. “I couldn’t believe anyone would break in.”
SUNDAY, JANUARY 6
Hey, I just had an epiphany!
MONDAY, JANUARY 7
Is it racist to call a team the “Fighting Irish?”
TUESDAY, JANUARY 8
Back up again: Those old love letters? After 40 years, Lloyd Michael got a call in November. A Moreno Valley man with a son serving in Afghanistan said he’d found them. “The gentlemen had traced me down through my military service number,” Michael said. “He told me, ‘There are a hell of a lot of Lloyd Michaels in the service—you’re the only one with a wife named Marian.”