The Community of San Lorenzo, California

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By Doris Marciel 
What's in a name then? Specifically, what's within the name, SAN LORENZO? 

Saint Lorenzo was no doubt the patron saint of Don Guillermo Castro, Spanish owner of the grand Rancho San Lorenzo from 1837 to 1864. Europeans, many peoples of the world, have a double calendar, each day of the year being named for a saint. They put great stock in the influence of the saint who happens to be the benevolent influence of the day of their birth.

Thus San Lorenzo!

But within San Lorenzo Village are all those names of "Via's" meaning Way or Street, obviously. Via Amigos we understand: "The Street of Friends," of course, with a warm glow around the thought. And Via Primero and Segundo are pointedly numerical - First and Second, but Via Viento, sounding numerical, is actually the Street of Wind, Vanity or Petty Prides.

Then there is the celebration of 12 beautiful girls: Vias Annette, Carmen, Catherine, Coralla, Frances, Harriet, Julia, Margarita, Rosas, Sonya, Susana, Teresa - what could flow more musically off the tongue? And to match them in the quadrille of streets, 12 males, four of whom are even sainted: Vias Eduardo, Enrico, Hermana, Jose, Lucas, Owen, Martin, Walter, San Ardo, San Carlos, San Juan and San Marino! Herman(a), by the way, means 'fraternity or brotherly love."

The series of streets referring to Via Del Prado, Via Del Rey, Via Corona all hark back to past grandeur: Street of the Parade, Street of the King, Street of the Crown.

Via Del Sol, Via El Monte, Via Vista all refer to a more basic grandeur, embracing the Sun, the Mount and the visual scene.

All San Lorenzo streets are lined with magnificent sycamores or plane trees. The names Via Del Robles (Street of the Oaks), Via Alamo (Street of Poplars), Via Encinas (The Street of a group of live oaks or tanoaks), Via Palma (The Street of Palms) have no bearing on reality. The street namer and the subdivision gardener failed to get together, or the landscaper couldn't read Spanish, or conformity was the "in" thing in the late 1940's, regardless of accuracy.

Via Lupine (lupine), Via Mariposa (butterfly), Via Rosas (roses), Via Margarita (common daisy), and Via Verde (green) all make for springtime garden color, but why did Via Lobos (street of the wolves), or Via Hornitos (Street of the Mud Volcanoes), or Via Pecora (Street of The Head of a Sheep) find a place in this remarkable lexicon of place names?

And one wonders, why would a man suggest Via Media, meaning Street of the Stocking or Hose? Why, indeed, Via Perdido, Street of 'I missed the train'?

How full of intrigue that innuendo - Via Escondido, (Street of Secretly or Hiddenly)! or the practical Via Bolsa (Street of the Purse)! Via Chorro is, as you know, Street of the Cactus, and some early squatter's cacti might have remained in spite of bulldozers. But Via Milos, Street of the Earthworm? That does seem a far-fetched conundrum.

Why, one wonders, the Via Poudre? What has 'powder' to do with a street, unless it be remarkably dusty, which is never true of the trim little Village of San Lorenzo. Any why a French noun among all that Spanish?

Via Rincon means corner, angle, nook, cozy corner or lurking place! Via Ventana means Street of Windows, is most applicable for a town featuring picture windows; and maybe Via Rodriguez, Street of one who props up vines, is apropos for a garden-filled suburb. But Via Seco right-angling it, meaning dry, juiceless, arid? That does puzzle the thinking man.

Via Sonya might have its derivation in sonar - to dream, thus A Street of Dreams - highly provocative.

Whoever the namer of streets, he was much preoccupied with 'brook, creek, stream' for Via Rivera and Via Arroyo both co-exist. Via Conejo (Street of the Rabbit) and Via La Paloma (Street of the Dove) and Via Faisan (Street of the Pheasant) and Via Toledo (Street of the Songbird) all harried by Via Honda (Street of the Sling For Hurling Stones)!

Via Dolorosa refers to the Sorrowing Mary, while Via Descanso delineates 'rest, repose, sleep, (even) parade rest!'

On the other hand, Via Elevado concerns itself with the elevated, high, lofty or exalted.

Many street names are impossible corruptions of words, untraceable in any language. Via Melina is perhaps just a sound meant to be pleasant to the ear, but were it Melena, it would mean "long hair in man, loose hair in women, or an animal mane" or perhaps all three together in baroque adjunction.

Via Nube is Street of the Cloud and Via Piedras, Street of Cobblestones, but Via Mirabel makes it the Street of A Beautiful Sight!

Were it not so deliriously confusing, all of the streets in the whole great Village de San Lorenzo could be named Mirabel. 

Doris Marciel's great-grandfather purchased property and a house in 1875 from San Lorenzo pioneer John Lewelling. Her grandfather was born in San Lorenzo in 1877, her mother in 1906. She is a third-generation San Lorenzo native, still owns the house and property, and teaches and writes the history of San Lorenzo.
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