Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Felicity - The Center of the World

People often ask what we do as we travel.  Of course, seeing friends and famous historical and natural sites is at the top of the list.  That said, we love finding places and things that are both off beat and off the beaten path.  Our friends Valerie and Richard sent us an article from the New York Times about Felicity, CA, a small "town" just west of Yuma.  The town is the creation of Jacques-André Istel, a Frenchman whose family came to the US in the 1940's to escape the Nazis.   
Felicity is the official Center of the World and the home of History in Granite.  The town has a small motel, Itsel's home, a post office, chapel and gift shop.
Since any place on Earth can be the center of the world, Istel first wrote a book, Coe the Good Dragon at the Center of the World, about a friendly dragon who loved children and lived at the center of the world in the desert.  Since it is located in the desert, his wife Felicia felt a pyramid would be the best place to mark the center.
The admission to see the History in Granite is $3.00.  But, being big spenders, we went for the extra fee of $2.00 that allowed us to stand at the center of the world and receive a certificate so we can prove to all that we have been there.  We later learned that the the certificate entitles us to unlimited visits. What a deal!
The largest and ongoing project in Felicity is the History in Granite.  The history is being engraved on granite slabs that are placed on these triangular monuments up to 100 feet long.  The history of the United States was just completed last month.
In addition to the usual textbook history, there are slabs with the history of  literature, food and beverage, music, to name a few.  The slab about slavery (right) traces the line from this terrible time in our history to the election of President Obama.
The history of Arizona was completed so recently that the sand from the sand blasting is still on the walkway. 
The history of California is written and now being sandblasted on to the stone.  The text is written by Istel and edited by Felicia many times before the text is engraved on to the stone.  Later an artist, Gene Britton, will etch the pictures.  Britton has be working on the project for 12 years.
Another row of slabs tells the history of aviation in Istel's native France. 
There are still many blank slabs awaiting future historical events.
The History of Humanity has been written and reading those panels was like reading the text books I used when I taught ancient civilizations.  This history has been translated into Ancient Greek, Ancient Egyptian and Latin and is ready to be put on the panels.
This is the Felicity Stone that Istel hopes will be the new Rosetta Stone.  As the history is translated into Chinese and Hindu those languages will be added to the Felicity Stone. 
Some of the art from the History of Humanity.
The slabs of Egyptian history.
Another row of slabs honors Marines who served in Korea and the French Foreign Legion.  Interestingly, one of the panels was about the legions service in Crimea.  I guess what goes around comes around. 
Odds and ends in Felicity.  Left the sandblaster and a replica of the Liberty Bell.  Center the town sign, a panel on evolution that shows Istel's wit with the parent yelling at the youngster, "How many times have I told you to stoop".  Bottom is a sundial with the arm of God from the painting in the Sistine Chapel.  Right are original steps from the Eiffel Tower.
While the History in Granite is a huge undertaking it is really the dream of Istel and his wife Felicia, who we had the pleasure of meeting.  How neat is that.  They have a real passion for this project and will hopefully have the time to complete this interesting, off beat project.  When you are in the Yuma area make sure you top here for a visit.  It really is quite interesting.  


Bobbie and Jim said...

Ok, Ok, I put it on our Bucket List. We have passed by that place a number of times on our way to Sidewinder Road and never stopped. Next year for sure. Thanks for stopping and for doing such a bangup narrative.

Doing It On the Road(Part II) said...

You keep finding these places, its always a pleasure to read your take and then have to add the spot to our bucket list.

Jodee Gravel said...

Great coverage of a place I've only heard of recently although I've been through that area for years. With the continued growth of the project it will be worth returning to several times. Thanks for sharing a great find.