Scenes from Silver Creek: Sister Cities
When it comes to historical importance, Silver Creek has none. We couldn’t even borrow any glory.
For a while in the 70s and 80s it was a big thing to become a sister city with someplace distant and/or impressive. Santa Pura, which is just to the south of Silver Creek, is sister city with some ancient village in China. In their central park they have a red pagoda as a sort of gazebo. It’s painted with fierce gold dragons and fat chrysanthemum blooms. Rather lovely, really, especially in the spring when the area around it is rich with irises and tulips.
To the north we have Lombards, which has as its sister city a distinguished Flemish town with an unpronounceable name. To show its fondness, the village gave to the town a gorgeous suit of armor worn by some medieval soldier with a truly historic codpiece. The armor is a marvelous piece of workmanship with bronzed vines and a truly panic-inducing helmet with tiny eye slits. There’s even a shield with a strutting red rooster prancing on a field of blue and white chevrons. The armor has pride of place in Lombards library and is actually something of a tourist attraction, being one of the finest pieces of Flemish armory in the U.S.
And then there’s Silver Creek and its sister city…Hoboken, New Jersey. God help us. Yup, that’s the best we could do. The gift from our sister city? A framed black and white photograph of three members of the Hoboken City Council shaking hands with three members of the Silver Creek City Council. Two of the three New Jerseyians later disappeared under mysterious circumstances and one was associated with that grim phrase, “dental records.”
We also had an autographed photo of Frank Sinatra inscribed “to the Hoboken of California.” God, what a phrase! An we had Sinatra’s movie camera. Or at least what purported to be. We knew because there was a blue and white Dyno label with “Sinatra” on it. There was no film, just an old Super 8 camera and case with his name. I always loved the label….like if he didn’t put his name on it, Joey Bishop would steal it without permission.
Hoboken…we couldn’t do better than Hoboken?
The only even vaguely historical item we had in town was three old bells that hung in an 8-foot high mock church steeple. The bells were said to commemorate Father Junipero Serra’s journey to bring smallpox and Catholicism to the pagans.
With typical modern scorn for anything worthwhile, this fake steeple, ended up in the parking lot of the Silver Creek McDonald’s. The McDonald’s people got tired of drunken kids trying to ring the bells, so they put a chain link fence around it, which looked incredibly hideous. So they asked the city to move it to the park.
And, in the half mile between McDonald’s and the park, the bells disappeared. That pretty much sums up Silver Creek. It’s the kind of place where three 100 lb bells can vanish in an afternoon and nobody thinks to notice until a year later when someone actually asks in a City Council meeting “hey, whatever happened to those bells?”