Pagan Babies

Now when I was growing up I was a public school kid so I didn’t understand the concept of pagan babies. I was probably one of the only kids in my school who never had to go to church on Sunday’s even so religion was a bit of a foreign concept to me. I understood that there was this God thing that was bigger than us and loved us, but at the same time was smiting us more than giving us candy bars.

A friend who likes to get into debates with me even though I agree with him asked me the other day how many people did Satan kill in the bible. The answer is 2. God killed millions. I digress a bit, but at times religion is a funny thing to me. When a group of the old Sunset District crew started to bring up pagan babies it jarred loose a memory from my youth. My Mom always used to tell in a ironic fashion about how when she was attending Saint Bridgette’s that she used to bring in pennies to donate to the pagan babies.

What is a pagan baby exactly? Well, from what I can remember and research has given me they were African, Asian and/or Hispanic non-Christian kids that were forcibly converted over to Catholicism by missionaries that were finances by shaking down kids in Catholic schools for their pennies and/or lunch money. My Mother was one of them and so apparently were all the other Catholic school kids in the Sunset.

We aren’t talking about hippy wiccans here we’re just talking about poor, third world children that the Catholic church said, you’re hungry? here’s some food if you believe in our God and become civilized and accept the names we give you. In my search I found a guy who was remembering buying his first pagan baby at 9 years old for $5 [sounding a bit like slavery yet?]. The pagan baby he purchased was named Daniel James and his $5 gave him a  Certificate of Adoption as a Souvenir of the Ransom and Baptism of an Adopted Pagan baby named Daniel James.

DUDE! Ransom and Baptism? I think the Catholic church needed better PR people back then. You’re teaching a 9 year old about slavery and ransom. That makes the nun’s steel ruler seem a bit tame don’t it?

The best part of this is that the pagan babies fought back. This individual received one of those Nigeria bank swindle schemes in the mail wherein the pagan baby he purchased offered him $4 million dollars in exchange for $100,000 paid into a Nigerian bank. The pagan baby even mentioned his purchase by him and offered to meet with him in Nigeria to talk about the old time religion that had helped him so much that he wanted to pay him back for it.

It seems that the pagan babies have learned how to turn the scheme around. I’m wondering now if there’s a linkback to the Vatican’s records of pagan babies from Nigeria. A salam aleikum.


Sutro Baths: The Glory Days

I missed out on the Sutro Baths. A major fire in 1966 pretty much gutted the place and I was too young to have visited there let alone remember this place that through pictures was a glorious place to visit.

Opening in 1896, the Sutro Baths named after former Major Adolph Sutro who financed the build as well as the Cliff House next door created a natatorium similar to the old Roman baths, only well, bigger. We’re San Francisco and we have to one up everyone including the Holy Roman Empire. It was the largest indoor swimming pool establishment in the world at the time with one freshwater pool and six saltwater pools. You had hot pools, cool pools, tepid pools BIG pools and small pools, but it was more than just the water.

Sutro Baths was also home to the Musee Mechanique that I’ve written about before as well as a museum, concert hall that could hold up to 8000 people and an ice skating rink not to mention the obvious food vendors all around the place.

This was the type of place you would have expected to see young gentlemen in suits and hats with long mustaches and canes walking around with young ladies at their arms walking through the imported tropical palm trees gazing in amusement at the novelties that Adolph had brought back from his travels around the world. They even had their own Cliff House railroad to bring people from, “the city” to the outside lands more easily.

During high tide the pools would be refilled with roughly two million gallons of water within an hour and at low tide they would use a large centrifuge pump to do the same. It was like an 8th wonder of the world to many and it was know around the world. Sadly the operating costs got out of control and by the start of the 60’s only the skating rink remained.

[mappress mapid=”35″]Now it is a shell of what it used to be, but there is still some interesting things to find in that shell. The high tides bring up deep dwelling fish and invertebrates that get deposited in the remaining ponds. There is one specific area that you have to break the law by climbing a metal fence and walking down some rickety stairs to a small observation deck that was built on a rock that is home to thousands of sea anemones. There is a little bridge area that goes into a now sealed off cave where people where found dead inside with no apparent cause of death. In the pool on either side of the bridge at night you can see the phosphorescent flashlight fish as they are commonly know glowing in the pools. It has a very H.P. Lovecraft feel to it.

There is also the remains of the rock bridge that took you out to fisherman’s rock. It was destroyed because too many fisherman would be out there oblivious to the tides and get swept away. There is also Seal Rock which was famous for its seals and seal lions prior to their vacating for more upscale digs at Fisherman’s Wharf. It has been said that groups of Satanists and Black Magicians have even gathered in this place to hold rituals. Who knows? It would be fitting for this place.

Now if I only had the chance to go back in time to experience it in it’s heyday. Any Black Magicians out there want to lend me a hand?