It was supposed to be a special graduation treat: for their last two weeks of middle school, Artemio’s class would be the model classroom for the Huerta’s Twenty-First Town, part of the show for all the other kids whose teachers were no more excited about being in school in the final weeks of May than their students were.
Artemio’s parents thought it was going to be great. His dad had loved the Huerta when he was a kid, and his mom, who had grown up in Oregon, had been charmed by the Huerta when she moved to LA for grad school. There hadn’t been a Twenty-First Town back then, only the Tongva village, the Mission, the pioneer town, the Gold Rush town, the FEMA camp. It was still enough for the Huerta to claim to be “the world’s largest open-air museum,” though much of its land was raw San Fernando Valley grit and scrub, with each little village connected to the other by a fleet of lovingly maintained antique vehicles from every era of California history: Redcar trams, omnibuses, horse-drawn carriages, Model Ts, a pod of hand-rubbed convertibles and muscle-cars that still ran on gasoline.
Artemio didn’t think it was going to be great. His grandparents had told him enough stories of their childhoods to convince him that Old Timey People were fucking idiots (Artemio’s parents said he could swear, so long as he did it well). It wasn’t just the stupidity of sending tons of CO2 into the atmosphere: it was the reason for all that CO2, which was the production, distribution and elimination of some really terrible stuff.