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Doug Gamble- Contributor

Doug Gamble is a former writer for President Ronald Reagan and resides in Carmel. [go to Gamble index]

The Most Promised Land Of All
After 25 years living in the Golden State, it's obvious there's nowhere better
[Doug Gamble] 11/10/04

Dear California,

It has been 25 years since you welcomed me from the suffocating grip of Canadian socialism, and this is a long overdue letter to tell you how grateful I am.

Like millions of others, I arrived here looking for a fresh start, lured not only by your climate and natural beauty but also by your golden glow of opportunity and unlimited promise. You haven't disappointed.

But my California dream was almost dissolved before it began when you threw me a curve. On a pre-move visit to L.A. to scout career opportunities and housing possibilities, my rental car was stolen, unbeknownst to me, from a line of vehicles waiting to be valet-parked in front of a West End hotel. It was used a little later in the armed robbery of a parking lot attendant at a nearby lot, and as the car exited she wrote down the license number, which was traced to the car rental office in the lobby of my hotel and hence to my room.

A SWAT team arrived at my door, weapons at the ready, thinking I may have been the perpetrator. Once the matter was straightened out, with the lead officer apologizing for the unfortunate but understandable mistake, he said, "Welcome to L.A."

I decided you were trying to tell me one of two things: Either not to move to California or to consider that this brush with danger reduced the odds that crime would cross my path again. I decided to conclude the latter, and so far so good.

If anyone wonders what makes you special, all they have to do is listen to the voices of the people. I doubt there is any other state in the country where residents routinely comment to each other on how lucky they are to live where they do. But it happens in California, where I have heard expressions of such gratitude again and again. I once remarked about the weather to someone on a particularly glorious December day. "And to realize we live here," he replied. I can't imagine a reaction like that in New Jersey.

Some may think the sentiment that California gets into a person's blood is a cliché. It isn't. I know more than one political professional who, lured to Washington for high-profile consulting jobs or even a position in a president's administration, returned West within a year because they just could not bear life without you. You are, as President Ronald Reagan once observed, not so much a place as a state of mind.

You are unique in your variety, offering ocean, mountain and desert vistas all within the boundaries of a single state. But you are so much more. You are America's front porch, the place where innovation both cultural and technological shows up, before going into the house that is the rest of America.

Easterners delight in your reputation as a haven for weirdos, finding it easier to see you as an amusing stereotype rather than admit their envy of your tolerance, vitality and far-reaching cultural influence.

One of your quirks is a split personality, with the northern and southern parts of the state as different as two separate countries both in geography and mindset. But while northerners view the south with a curious resentment that is not reciprocated, it serves to highlight a stimulating diversity no other state can claim.

We hear much about your deficits and deterioration and how you aren't whatyou used to be. Few of us are, my dear. But you remain the most promised land in a country built on promise, the one state where dreams are still most likely to come true. After 25 years under your spell I am, more than ever, proud to be a Californian. CRO

California-based Doug Gamble contributed speech material to Presidents Reagan and George H.W. Bush, and writes a twice-monthly column for the Orange County Register and

Copyright 2004 Doug Gamble




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