Jessica Zaffarano and Shelly Mariposa

Recorded February 18, 2011 Archived February 18, 2011 35:35 minutes
0:00 / 0:00
Id: MBY007495


Shelly Mariposa (52) and Jessica Zaffarano (33) talk about living on a commune during Jessica’s childhood.

Subject Log / Time Code

JZ talks about the smell of hot springs and apples near their house
JZ and SM describe Butte Canyon where they lived during JZ’s childhood. They lived along the creek in a cabin without electricity. Each cabin had its own beach, theirs was called “rainbow beach”
JZ talks about how her upbringing influenced her. She has raised her children in a much more conservative home, but still wants them to appreciate the outdoors


  • Jessica Zaffarano
  • Shelly Mariposa

Recording Location

MobileBooth West

Venue / Recording Kit


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00:03 I'm Shelly Mariposa and I'm 52. Today is February 18th 2011. Where in Chico California and I am the mother here and I'm interviewing my daughter.

00:17 My name is Jessica Zafarano. And I'm 33 years old and today is February 18th, 2011 and run Chico, California. And my mom is a b.

00:30 Jessica we decided we're going to talk about you unique childhood. Of course. I came to Chico you were only two years old and I was 21. So I was really young when I had you I Was Eighteen just before my 19th birthday. And as you start to become a toddler, I really wish we were in Southern California and I really wanted to change and wanted to be somewhere where I had people that I felt just really were more spiritual and just want to live in a place where I could live a simple life and I was just ready to get out of the city. And so we had moved around a few different places. You were really young but when you were to we came to Chico we met this bad this amazing community in course met your stepdad gym here and

01:24 You were probably old enough to remember Big Ben the first place we move to was kind of like a community. It was supposed to be a nesting community and it was right on that pit River actually was there. He's really bad clean living so you probably weren't aware of that part of it. Yeah. So the essenes were supposedly Jesus was innocent. And yeah, and so they they had a vegetarian diet and they yeah it was they were just about really taken care of the body is the body is the temple so they took that really seriously they were very rigorous and so that was the philosophy that overtime that was left over that, you know room modern day was the essene Gospels.

02:11 So was just about living a good life, so that was kind of the philosophy of this community. But but it was more about you know, we were doing the garden at the time and then there was that I don't know if you remember living in the teepee on the Lander to remember that I just remember our house in that little circle little Community then we moved yet to give me the number to Big Bend get out of that little at sir. Yes soup. There was a little group of cabin. There's like a okay now, so after that we had when we left the house. No, no, I'm sorry. I do remember the TV, but I remember you guys had some separate thing.

02:52 That I was staying in member was like a camper. That was your bedroom. I member that I just wasn't sure which one was first, but then I remember that because I remember the store remember Reese's Pieces. So we went from the essene community to the Big Bend ghetto, but we did have the mayor's cabin of the Big Ben ghetto. That was the nearest Catholic and Community to loving to go to the Big Bend store and get Reese's Peanut Butter Cup in Hershey's candy you were like total was that drink?

03:32 Oh, yeah Orangina. Are we the only junk food I was exposed to

03:43 And then I remember the Hot Springs a lot to pretty vivid tell me about that. I remember going down and all that the different ones and then there was someone was really burned. Yeah, that was really distinct and they're carrying a man and he was screaming remember that remember the dried fruit. I remember just the smell and overlooking you can Overlook the bottom and I was never allowed to go to the bottom cuz I was really hot. Yes. I was the hardest to remember it was pretty intense and the guy was burned walking next to you about three years old. Maybe close by

04:28 Yeah, so maybe you had right before your full right before you cheering for Shirley cuz it's so vivid. Okay walking next and you guys carried him that right. You were carrying him. Yeah, you had to be for your right as we were you turned five. I think he was have been under the influence of something and what he did was where the hot hot water came in. It was covered with these boards and he had gone over there and jumped into he fell so we won't even go apple orchards. When I think of Big Ben. In fact, I wanted to go to the day I could smell that smell like apples and hot spring and it smells so good. They're beautiful there and then the river was at the pit River. Yes. Yeah. I actually owe you know, what were the app?

05:28 Do you remember that we hiked over there in that? We can actually cost Creek elk. I remember there was that kind of just natural where people had just made the skip the river that and just kind of gone down there. I was just like open land and went there a lot but I never with her band and is still with me like in the fall.

05:51 You smell that smell but yeah, that was an interesting place for sure. Yeah, that was a Trippy place cuz we were like the alternative hippies and then there's a lot of real friends. And so there was definitely not prejudiced. It was the Sienna remember being treated pretty good. That's good. We're going to school at the Indian Springs School I've ever the carnival.

06:14 That's the only thing that they had to pull an indoor pool beautiful school because all the money at that time PG&E was doing the geothermal for their energy and the money they had to leave their tax money all went to that school is beautiful had an olympic size heated swimming pool. I don't remember actual things like in the classroom. You don't remember mrs. Aaron know I don't know her patients are being so that's why the top number and all that crazy stuff and they're their living situation and stuff. But and looser than Montara you were thinking of Paula, but yeah, really strongly and her children. Yeah, Lubin. Yeah.

07:05 He was fine. I remember all that stuff. I can remember pretty good. I come over her house yet. I really need house wasn't kind of old actually lit. They were living on one of the oldest far of homesteads in Big Bend really beautiful in that area. You know, I know I've been told me already making yet. You're making the wheel again down in the Willow and strong like just like I said the smells and the feeling it was a neat place.

07:51 I liked it. Why did he leave so we left because Chance unemployment ran out and we can't find a job. We were living on the hot springs and kind of being taken care of there. Once we laughed, you know, they're just really weren't any jobs there. So I'm Jim got a job driving the bus and he's so he went back to Butte County and I stayed a little bit while he was getting settled and then we kind of had a little separation there. And then Nancy said why don't you come and I wanted to come back but he really didn't have a place. So she said why don't you live on my property and that's what I want the TV.

08:39 That was really awesome. And that's where we had our first cat. You died. Pretty pretty young team ever leaked summer the leakage and I don't remember too much about it. So we could have been there that long cuz I remember being in it was just a summer. Yeah, and then when the fall came that cabin open. It was the first school with it and I loved it. I had my loft upstairs. That was awesome with all the windows that open. I hadn't made it over the little lost in all my little character in Brawl my strawberry shortcake stand there and I'm over there is a wasp nest in there.

09:27 Is Asgard destroyed job? But yeah, I remember all that but you know, you had an imagination because you've got time to have imaginary outside and then I go straight. Yeah, but yeah, I know. That was just like the ultimate that was really the ultimate. So just for our family I said sit here this where it where we move to with an Old Hippie Community. This was a community. It was started in the early 70s by some people. You know, that one Community they didn't have any electricity and they all bought this land together and they built cabins and then then they kind of got a little more affluent and moved on and so some of this so the cabins were so we were the new tenants that was in the Batman that was so I think 83 landed on the Friday.

10:25 Right there actually real and boxes. So yes, and then some of them divided up. Yeah and decided what we want to own it separately. And so some of the land was subdivided. Yeah, but it was all connected by Trails all of the all of the houses and cabins and I'm and then it was right along the creek. So I mean we had this little shoe. We called the shoe. How's the weather is shaped like a shoe and it was right along with seasonal Creek remember frog green and I'd go back there and catch the salamanders. I'm at Lowe's right there at the window and it was perfect size and I'll be all sorts of things living in it and it was alive not like we are now it was frogs and salamanders and and poison oak last

11:25 We all have our own creep 2.

11:27 Member ours is Rainbow Beach Little Beach along this big Butte Creek. There was all these different beaches and so it was so great. And then you could just go and you could just be totally alone or yeah, you never know who you find there. And yeah wonderful little amazing spots in this Butte Creek Canyon was kind of like like a mini Grand Canyon size. I mean, it would always it's good either flooded there or was the Raging Fire and I remember watching looking up a canyon or is it big canyon wall and watching come down. I really got the Rogers with such a bad fire. And what do you remember about that? I remember to see I believe in let's go throw in the photo album. Yeah, it's going but it was just I don't know. It's just amazing that we all had our own peaches.

12:27 And so Kyler Sheila's was shayla's Beach. Janice's grandfather hole.

12:34 And mine was rainbow.

12:37 So we all owned and then what neemors andrada was theirs kid beach in Boca. I mean, it's almost ridiculous. I know like and I just stayed on the phone for me. I know and it was so neat because you know all the kids there were so many kids the same age. And I know now when I think of it, I mean we would never let our kids just go we're going to go down to the creek mom and you know, I don't think about him because I was going to go shop that has log and I flipped back underneath it and I thought would have had to try to get me out or jump off cliffs, you know and there but it's amazing Like We call we catch like the boys are Catholics sucker fish. And I mean, I don't know this pretty amazing.

13:35 Then we go down to its proper, you know, eat the grapes help me when watermelon just my big sister is all the Watermelons. We take the Watermelons down at the beach and see the watermelon climb trees. I have scars on my leg. Just I'm in those trees like good trees to we could just climb to the top.

13:56 They're the perfect in the beaches and you know, I'm a drama to you know, like what it was like so even though we're in a sort of urban area. I know. The parks constantly, I'm always thinking about camp and where was she go camping or was she go hiking in or constantly Outdoors go to Turtle Bay, which is in writing because I want them to know what it is. Cuz I mean, I would find them in our area. It's really hard to even find a frog or just even though there's tons of water you were so physical. I remember even more than some of the kids who like their lives and Kyle that time we went down and it was early still I'm Civic re-amp really high and there wasn't a lot of bee.

14:56 Can you just had like Shimmy Ya Trail no problem, and they were like crying. Love you ever so cute.

15:13 Yeah, I was pretty Polly Wolly. I mean like I was going to say about the meadow and we have that Meadow. I mean so we have this Meadow that in so I must have been winter time in Spring it would fill up with water and we would just go Poliwag catching. I mean you just get a net or your fingers and you could probably walk. I have never I sent seen that.

15:34 And I've been all over remember the Easter's on a nice tirs and then it would turn into spring and we have these incredible artist the great thing about having all these expensive people was they would decorate these eggs that were like ridiculous. I mean just takes one egg that he had hidden it was with a goose egg and it was like a mint green and how to Easter Bunny on a white Easter Bunny at the picket fence and I wanted a take before I can be sure and I found it I found it was in Irene's Garden by her tulips and I know it's really imprinted on my brain. I know what I did with that are, you know from short rodded, but but I remember I was just so ecstatic to find the egg in that was really need of him you no children, but he really took the time to do that for us kids. He is a big head and big impact on me to we would go visit him all the time. He was kind of a mixed bag with me. He was a character.

16:34 He was he was really neat. We would go as girls or boys harass him we go over one time we stuck to rocks.

16:45 Do you notice anything different? I mean the format I don't know he was so terrible and he would give us like walnuts and he was awesome and he would talk to us and spend time with us cuz we were running wild and he was yeah, I really yeah, he's okay. He was really good.

17:18 Talk about some of the character. So that's kind of interesting cuz we had all these trails and all these cabins connected. We just me under Rome and so tell about some of the different people you would visit or the ones you would have let everybody was totally different. So each home we were at or spend the night or hung out with totally different. Nobody was the same which is great the girl he's ever mom's. The one thing I have to say there was not a lot of fathers which was fine for me for me cuz I didn't really have that kind of upbringing it was just he knows me and you and so have to say it interesting for my children because we know their dad is so involved in on my husband and it's so important to me but I didn't grow up like that mean the medical assistant interesting.

18:12 That wasn't a big part was the women. Yeah, because even some of the people that we've been married. I mean like no, I mean even though Jim was in your life and wasn't playing that role in even out Janet and you know, he was gone Richard without he really Nancy was The Matriarch and really help single. So it's kind of a lot of real strong single mother Community to conservative be no opinion for my kids. But yeah, we we just did it but there was none of that mail, you know is so great. That's probably why us girls

19:01 Because he was a masculine influence. He really cared about, you know, being an influence and get you nowhere cared about the kids and wanted to be someone who you know how it's guide in a good moral way, you know, so that was interesting like I think about that now it was just it was women right to remember the Centerville potluck. Oh gosh. Yeah, I love them and then never the little Museum and I mean it was I don't know that was it was really like to me what really stands out about that place and people that would visit us they would say we feel like we're in a Time Warp like this is out of time and it's like I need to think about it was in the 80s.

19:57 And yeah, it was so remote at that time because the Belltown Road and they're still it wasn't it wasn't the Boom in the population hadn't hit Chico yet. And so it really was just like, you know what the monthly potlucks at the Centerville School the historical school house and living so alternative later on we got to tell the Little House on the Prairie. So here's all these hippies. Right and we none of us have electricity and I'm the first one to get a battery powered black and white TV. It was little

20:37 These are kids that didn't grow up with DV and the we only got one channel. I think I'll 12th and they have Little House on the Prairie at 3 in the afternoon early. Yeah, it wasn't in the night. It was in the afternoon. Everyone would come to my house at 3 and whatever day and we just be sitting and it would be kind of snowy, you know, we have to kind of mess with the antenna and we have to be glued to this are you doing?

21:27 But those are awesome memories and yeah, it was a positive place to be and I know there was drama and I remember some adults and some fight, you know, but overall it was a great place. Nothing scary happen. I think of it all the adventuring me did I know what are my sight in a grocery store? But let alone thinking about I let you kids wander along the creek, you know without adult supervision jumping off a rocks and cliffs and no swimming to do you have to go under and you know challenge each other and

22:12 But I have to say I mean, but I never heard it just seen if you'd be like well and is much more now. I mean think I can go on internet for the computer. It was still yeah, you heard things, but I know you don't have a TV so bored that we have to Oregon sticker. But yeah, it's I think it's impact on me. I was thinking about going away here. Like you know, how is it affected me raise my children, I think.

22:50 They were pretty conservative. Like if you were to look at us, you never know. You know that I grew up in a TV, but we are also very like the books we read and the information I get my children or what we study or what we listen to Ganahl play bluegrass on or we'll listen to our Irish or Celtic and the kids are really into it and and you know classical and and and reggae and I try to put all sorts of stuff, you know in there a certain music that break cuz that was in at least, you know, it's all these gatherings with you kids were all these musicians and yeah, is there is there ever like something that can I trigger definitely O'Hare live music and thank all you know, sometimes I think I'd love to take the kids here there or you know, we need to take him to reggae concert or you know, we have their little later but oh, yeah Bluegrass brings back so many memories and you know it take him to a rainbow gathering.

23:49 My fate, but I would love to take them to more stuff. And of course, he knows staying with such a big part of my life. So anytime I hear him or the police, you know my Young Horses Dooney actually got some I think that was America. I was in the desert on a horse with no name.

24:26 All those memories. Yeah, I have affected my life.

24:34 And different ways so not I didn't turn out alternative because of that though. I turned out more I think sounds like you took kind of the best of it exactly. I took the stuff that there's so much out there. There's so much culture. Let's learn about it. Let's learn about Indians with slurring, you know, my kids have a pretty broad mind of what to learn about and but I wouldn't say that it's made me alternative know it doesn't think in a way maybe that alternative made to move away from it because of certain things that you didn't really agree with her.

25:16 I wouldn't say that I said that in my mind like I will be different than this upbringing but I would say that I did want you know, a father and a mother, you know, and I didn't I didn't want to have no electricity. So yeah, I like to turn the light switch on and off. So yeah, I guess in those ways I said, I don't want have propane. I don't want to have to have the wood stove to remember that kind of being a hunter was really rough. I'm repeating the propane and remember thinking that this is hard. This is a hard way to live. So yeah, I guess so.

25:50 I definitely wasn't like I mean of this is awesome. I want to do this but I have respect for it. And I know what it's like and I'm like well if I had to do something like that, I can go get a propane tank filled or I can light the pilot or you know, I mean I can I know how to build a fire so it's great that I experienced that so with the kids I talked about that like okay. This is how you do this or you know that solar power or this is how they have batteries and has juice or you know, we talked about different ways of living so that they always know that name is not physically, but they know about it not like what was that? You know Cole said the other day he was reading a book.

26:28 Hook up with it.

26:30 I need a pirate book or something. And you said you know what Mom Grandma and Grandpa Miller and Olive. They live kind of like these people live in his people.

26:42 He figured out so he's starting to really you know, that Kylie's I moved on but he's starting to really yeah, look at your guys's lifestyle and be like while they really live, you know, if only he knew what it is, but he's starting to yeah, my kids are starting to recognize like how it's different up there and he just laughed people accept something pretty like wild, you know, cuz he's reading so much, you know, and he's hearing about these things and you never tell them that you lived in a TPS I do. Yeah, but the sky look like that too. So, you know my husband so we get to talk about both are you know, they know it's there. I don't know how real it is to them. Like when we were talking about he was telling Indians in one of his books. I said, you know, mommy did that and so did Dad and but I don't know that it's really you know what I mean, do they really get what that's like

27:42 I can't even say I think like I said if I expose them enough for things don't really come out for not like me or what are you talkin mean? They know what's out there. I'm pretty open.

27:54 So that was those are the best dear. Those are my best childhood memories.

28:01 The canyon I mean if I could I would move back there.

28:05 It was just incredible stuff for the poison out. But if you didn't say I didn't really get a member to take the medication and I remember coming home in the hot summer from Chico and me before I even got home we jump in remember that we jump into a different spots before we come from Chico and Louis doing stopping at the creek member the Flies member has a couldn't get into the flooding and it would snow a little bit to a couple times but we did yeah. Yeah. Yeah, I mean it like I said, what was it like for you though? Because I have all these great memories and everything seemed better there, but we left the started to fall apart, huh?

29:05 Well, what happened was they were going to sell the land and so we were like, oh my gosh where we going to go? And so there was a whole group of us at the time where we were ready to buy a piece of property. Remember the land buying group. It was like go to Forest Ranch. It was like five families. It was Kenny and Joanne Ruth and her Aunt Ruth and Chris and Ernie and common Lutheran Jenny and Lyon was even involved in it. So we we thought there was a place in Forest Ranch called the Dodge Ranch and we were all going to buy it together and then some realtor got wind of Dino quote-unquote a bunch of hippies were going to buy the Dodge Ranch. So you like he made an offer and he bought it and resold it. But but yeah, I'm so Summit Canyon Joellen end up finding a place. We looked and looked so it just kind of ended up where

30:01 We were ready to buy in that place in Cohasset came up, but for me living in the canyon it was definitely a healing place because I needed it was like a I don't know if recoveries the word but you know just being married to Joey no having the first marriage in the whole all the issues with that and the trauma and just you know, whatever for my family childhood that I was still trying to heal from a nose just a really safe place to be in a really like you said, it was just so beautiful and gentle and supportive like we're all these at the time we were there. I had a really good support system for the kids.

30:48 You know like you were always you're somebody was always at our house or you are always at their you know, somebody was always cooking a meal like everything like I don't I don't know if you remember like there was that little sauna and member Karen and I mean she was single at that time to Yeah Yeahs with her with Luis and Cally so there was so much of that and people would come and visit to like Ona with you know, she would do a lot of women with common coming even people that didn't live on the land. They were coming it was it was a very strong Community you can always get food get rides just share social. You know, we were always doing something fun creative thinking of I mean, do you remember birthdays Nancy was so cheap to make the costume Halloween costumes. She was really a good support for me cuz she was such a good mom. Yeah, and she was so into it.

31:45 You know, and I remember that one birthday is that it was going to be was Janice birthday and was Teddy Bears Picnic the old chicken coop and everybody brought a teddy bear. She had the teddy bear hospital and she had like we had gummy bear candy.

32:05 Overhanging some kind of yeah, I know I've always want to do that Teddy Bears Picnic birthday for Claire when she's like three or four cuz it's stuck in my mind. I wasn't quite as creative. My birthday is were I mean you are states were all out of the troll birthday. And that was at her house in the canyon and I one of those baby Troll and you had the puppet puppet theater we painted and I had the pumpkin. Oh, no, you always were just go off presents the number to seven tons of presents. So birthdays were a big deal.

32:43 So that was really nurturing cuz I never really had that for myself. So just need to have that my Matt's not not exactly like that. But yeah, I know I know what you mean. He need mother support.

33:01 You really do need to know I'm married and I have a great, you know, I still need women that you know.

33:07 We laughed and did you guys like it better when you have your there? I really missed the friends, but you guys seem to just really well. We had a lot of people. I mean we were more hooking friend wise than you were I think that we are really hard for you but I don't think you know some of those yeah that will they were already connected? Yeah. Yeah. Yeah, so that might have that special magic even if you did meet somebody with the same cuz I even the children, you know that I from there are still like you see him and it's like sound like they're always be special like, oh my gosh, it's like time Mina Citadel. We have a bond you can't make that.

34:03 So

34:04 Work out though. We survived.

34:08 Thank you, Jessica. Thank you for making time to come here. No break away from the family room and talk with you and I really have that special bond. Yeah, it's true because it was us about that cuz I know I feel pretty close to my kids to the I'm pretty much like, you know, I will because of you.

34:35 Mom back off. But yeah, I probably because I had that you know, so I don't force your clothes to kids.

34:45 You know, I don't know anything else don't know how to be stranger to my kids. So yeah, it was it was a neat. I don't regret any of it all I'm really glad we live in the canyon.

34:56 That was you know.

34:59 I mean just like I said picking grapes and thus I mean just the memories I can feel the sun. I can feel the creek. I can remember the house miner's lettuce to remember. The miners is just amazing how it's so fresh and we park up top sometimes.

35:20 But least I have those memories.

35:26 Yep memories for a lifetime. Thank you.