Saturday, August 09, 2008


We could have chosen not to hire a car: there is a surprising number of cyclists on the road, and public transport from our house to the library is reasonable. But a car makes it much easier to go to the beach and Pasadena and other places after work. It's a strange experience: I've hardly driven in the past six years.

One of things I noticed first was the Valero gas-stations. I immediately thought of Valero I know from Jerusalem, the rich Sephardi banker who had offices near Jaffa gate around 1900. The great charity of Mr. Valero is often mentioned in contemporary accounts, as well as the fact that had a black slave, who converted to Judaism (the writers saw no contradiction between these two facts). I wondered if the Valeros hit the big times in California.

Well, I followed this up and found that no, there is no relation between the two Valeros - except for their Spanish roots, and the early modern history of Spanish religious persecution and colonialism. The gas station corporation is named after Mission San Antonio de Valero (known better as "the Alamo") in Texas. I found a Valero village in Spain south of Salamanca; perhaps the Jerusalem Valeros and San Antonio used to be neighbours.

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