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A Brief History of Tassajara


TITLE: A Brief History of Tassajara
SUBTITLE: From Native American Sweat Lodges to Pioneering Zen Monastery
AUTHOR: Marilyn McDonald   FOREWORD (and Afterword): David Chadwick
PUBLISHER: Cuke Press  
DISTRIBUTOR: Itasca Books  PRINTED BY: Bookmobile in Minneapolis on 80# paper
ISBN: 978-1-7322877-0-9   LCCN: 2018945607 PCIP included
FORMAT: 6" x 9" Trade Paperback - 194 pages
INDEX: includes every person mentioned in text or image, many place names.
For teens and up interested in California history, Zen, wilderness, and those who love Tassajara.

Tassajara Hot Springs is located in the Ventana Wilderness of Monterey County, an inholding in the Los Padres National Forest nine miles inland from Big Sur. For millennia it was used by Native Americans, chiefly the Esselen, who went there to cure their ills. In the 1700s the Spanish came, then trappers and homesteaders. First accessible only by foot or horse, a road was cut through the mountains by Chinese laborers so that horse-drawn wagons could make the treacherous trip. With photos and stories of those times up to the mid-1980s: tents, log cabins, fish and game, the early cars, the people and their attire, the sandstone hotel and the fire that destroyed it, the succession of characters who held it including an illiterate bear hunter who'd camp there and Hollywood actor Phillip Terry, ex-husband of Joan Crawford. This famed resort in the mid-1960s become the site of the Western world's first Zen Buddhist monastery founded by Shunryu Suzuki, founder also of the San Francisco Zen Center and author of the classic Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind. Out of the kitchen sprang the influential Tassajara Bread Book and other Tassajara cook books.

 Marilyn McDonald initially came to Tassajara as a guest in 1974. Her first meal there was a lunch sitting across from a raconteur named Jack Novcich who'd lost an arm and a leg early in the century and had been coming to Tassajara for a few weeks in the summer ever since. Over the next ten years Marilyn spent many hours researching Tassajara history, interviewing, and combing through old newspaper articles. In 1985 she put the results of this passion into a scrapbook and gave it to Tassajara where it sat in the office for a few decades. This is Marilyn's scrapbook, cleaned up a little, yet sticking closely to and retaining the funky charm of the original.  A bio of her and others involved is at the link listed below.

 David Chadwick, who wrote Crooked Cucumber, the Life and Zen Teaching of Shunryu Suzuki, was head monk at Tassajara when Marilyn McDonald arrived. He met her at the lunch referred to. More on how this book came about is told in his Forward which can be read on his website along with Marilyn McDonald's Introduction and Acknowledgments, and a brief piece called On Producing This Book. Chadwick's ever-evolving web presence provides a door at for further elaboration and exploration, including the books index in expanded and searchable form.

Cuke Press, LLC, PO Box 151471, San Rafael, CA