Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Breaking and Entering: French Camp

Welcome to French Camp!

French Camp, CA (not to be confused with French Camp, Miss., population 393) is an unincorporated area north of Manteca and south of Stockton. About 4,000 people lived there at the last census, almost twice as many men as women.

Wikipedia tells me that French Camp is the oldest community in San Joaquin County,
the end of the line for French-Canadian fur trappers working for Hudson's Bay Company from 1832 to 1845. Yup, French Camp was where they dumped those bags-o-beaver, put their feet up and slammed some brewskis before getting back to the grind.

Today, French Camp is full of orchards and quaint farmhouses, a beautiful old brick school surrounded by a crapload of portables - and a lot of smokestacks. Dog food factories, chicken farms, "food processing" plants ... If you don't want to think about where something you're eating came from, it might have come from French Camp.

And chances are it was cheap because of the migrant laborers that helped make it. I've never been able to find the camps where migrants live in French Camp, but they're there - the school is on a special calendar to accommodate all the kids who are dragged around as their parents follow, not beaver, but produce.

But on to the first in what will hopefully be a long, fruitful, arrest-free series: Breaking and Entering.

Right in the middle of French Camp, on a stretch of farmland nothingness, is this great old boarded-up house. It's surrounded by acres of gone-to-seed farmland, a falling-down outhouse and plenty of broken glass from people prying their way in.

It's called the "Dutch Point House," per a bronze memorial sign out front. Here's what some book author had to say about it:

"On French Camp Road near Union Road stands the Dutch Point house, commemorated by a plaque placed by the Native Daughters of the Golden West. A public house was built here in 1849 and was well situated on a roadway with sandy soil that made travel possible in the winter. The two-story brick house is privately owned."

Clearly this house has had its heyday, although there's another sort of flurry of activity within its walls these days. A Vagabond Renaissance, if you will.

Now I'm no artist, but I think there's real talent in whoever turned this big old paint-chipped portion of wall into a doobie-smoking bad-lookin' dude with hair (?) growing out of his ears (?).

For this green fellow below, if you took pause and connected tags "Fag Mob" and "Scared Ass Hoes" with my last post, two points to you! And bonus if you noted that I am standing in the path of that rather well-depicted spray paint ejaculation.

Lastly, can anyone tell me what this thing is? The cross between a clothespin and a vagina with a straw? Because I thought I was relatively knowledgeable about drug paraphernalia, but this one escapes me.

Well, there you have it. Breaking and Entering, French Camp style. Except for the nagging feeling that a tweaker was going to leap out and beat me to death with a broomstick, it was a great time.


Tanya said...

It's a tooth with a penis on its head. Duh.

Eden From Sweden said...

Sarah, if you ever have questions about exurbia art, trust that you can go to Tanya for a poetic explanation. SFMOMA has called her "the Clement Greenberg of the spray can."

Nicholas Lopez said...

No, this is what it's come to:


As I watched the walls crumble, taking with them the lines of urban pictographs that one day could have led archaeologists to believe some crazy theory that they were made by shamans in some altered state of consciousness, I realized nothing will last forever.
And I also met Glenn Kahl.

Anonymous said...

My Grandmother lived in this house as a child. Very Sad,, who are the owners now?

Anonymous said...

Does the house still stand? I have looked for it using Google street view but cannot find it.