Friday, October 24, 2014

Our Opportunity to Honor Veterans

Veterans Day will be next month - November 11th.  We have several different days designated for honoring our military veterans and active duty personnel - Memorial Day, Pearl Harbor Day, Armistice Day, Spirit of '45, etc.  It can get confusing for those like me who don't grow up around military family members so I looked up the history of 'Veterans Day'.  What I found was:  World War I – known at the time as “The Great War” - officially ended when the Treaty of Versailles was signed on June 28, 1919, in the Palace of Versailles outside the town of Versailles, France. However, fighting ceased seven months earlier when an armistice, or temporary cessation of hostilities, between the Allied nations and Germany went into effect on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month. For that reason, November 11, 1918, is generally regarded as the end of “the war to end all wars.”  Veterans Day continues to be observed on November 11, regardless of what day of the week on which it falls.  November 11 not only preserves the historical significance of the date, but helps focus attention on the important purpose of Veterans Day: A celebration to honor America's veterans for their patriotism, love of country, and willingness to serve and sacrifice for the common good.

The San Lorenzo Valley Museum noticed that there was no planned activity in our community to honor and thank our local veterans for their sacrifices.  Parades and cemetery visits were planned in other Santa Cruz County communities, but not here.  The Museum believes in collaboration and partnership so an evening with dinner, celebratory atmosphere, and  camaraderie with our local veterans was planned by local veterans and museum volunteers five years ago.  From that first event the feeling of appreciation, pride, and heart-felt thankfulness was felt by everyone and has continued each year up to this year's dinner.  The collaboration of veterans and museum volunteers has shown the community that this is a special evening for everyone to enjoy and share their memories, mementos, and themselves with each other.  We hope that our community joins us for this wonderful opportunity to say 'Thank You'.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Locals interested in local history

A few days ago I asked some of the SLV Museum's members and supporters to meet with me and have an open discussion about their community museum.   It was very heartwarming to hear how special they felt their valley was with history still alive and existing all around them.  They talked about how some communities have paved over their history with, many times, only 1 historic house being saved as an example of their history.   I hear over and over from people who live in SLV how they feel an ownership of the historic buildings and community and want to learn about their history, the ebb and flow of industries, individual businesses, and people who helped build the towns and valley into what it is today.  Lastly, the people meeting with me, and so many others who visit the museum, share that they are very interested in the history of their own homes and property - who lived there? how did those early owners use their property? how did they make a living?  how involved were they in their community?  How many people have lived there between the first and the current occupant?  So many intriguing questions and ones that the vast majority of homeowners never ask because they don't live in a community that has so much history surrounding them. 

If you are interested in the history of your property, there are some simple steps you can take to get started:
1.  Start with your property title deed.  Mine lists all the owners chronologically, any mineral rights sold to someone else, and right-a ways granted
2.  If your deed of title doesn't go back very far you can take the APN # and go to the Santa Cruz County Planning Dept and see if they have more information
3.  If you have the name(s) of early property owners you can check the archives of newspapers.  The Santa Cruz Public Library main branch downtown has copies of most of the early newspapers besides just the Santa Cruz Sentinel, such as the Santa Cruz Surf.
4.  Boulder Creek had a newspaper, The Mountain Echo, published from 1898 to 1916.  The main library has a subject index for The Mountain Echo that will give you information to save time in looking specific articles.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Getting Ready for Fall

Our summer was very busy at the SLV Museum with our Evening Lecture by historian Dr. Traci Bliss in May, our Annual June Fundraising Dinner & Auction, and ending with our Annual Community BBQ in July.  I want to thank the many volunteers who pitched in with all the details that make each of these events special, help each event operate so smoothly, and make it look easy.  Thank you!

Our Collections Manager Lisa Robinson designed another interesting and colorful artwork exhibition on the Community Wall at the Santa Cruz County Government Building for the month of August.  The artwork is from local artists and includes several different mediums, which adds to the 'feast for the eyes' in texture, color, size, subject, and interpretation of this year's theme, 'Valley of Vitality'.  If you missed it, it is on our website.

I am very excited to be announcing a new historical walk being lead by local historian Frank Perry along the old Rincon Road.  The walk will be along the old wagon road and Frank will be sharing many 'before and after' photos of areas along the walk.  This walk will be on Sun, Oct 5 and will be limited to 25 people so prior sign-ups are encouraged.  Call the museum at 831-338-8382 if interested.

As the Exec Director I either supervise, directly take care of, share duties with, or am keep in the loop of all day-to-day operations of the San Lorenzo Valley Museum.  This is a large and very broad area of responsibility and one that I could definitely use a volunteer to assist me with some of the tasks.  I am looking for someone who has some knowledge of Excel and Word, could commit to a minimum of 4 hours per week (W, Th, F) for several months to make training worthwhile, and is interested in supporting our mission.  Several previous volunteers have used their volunteer time on a job resume.  Please call the museum if you are interested. 

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

After our Annual Community BBQ

Our 11th Annual Community BBQ was last Sunday (July 20th).  This event is special because it was really begun close to 30 years ago when the original neighbors, friends, and families had the vision to start collecting Boulder Creek history at first, then expanded to all San Lorenzo Valley history.  They created the original Boulder Creek Historical Society and after much trial and error, finally opened the Boulder Creek Museum in a second-floor office space next to the Foster  Freeze.  I still have visitors who remember visiting that museum when they attended Boulder Creek Elementary.  As the years went by their Annual Oldtimers Picnic held in Bea Bushnell's shady front yard a block off Highway 9 was a chance for everyone to catch up, bring a dish to share, and have a few raffle items, like a sandwich at the Redwood Keg. 

Now the picnic is an all-valley BBQ with a historical presentation about our local history, horseshoes, sometimes music, but still some type of raising funds to keep the museum open and paying the recurring monthly bills.  Unfortunately many of those 'old-timers' are in assisted living or nursing facilities or have passed away, but still missed.  Is it time to change the type of activities held at this event?  and if so, in what ways?  Should there be a family-focused event instead?  If so, what would be the format that would also help raise funds to pay for our monthly operating expenses?  Should the horseshoes be their own separate activity? and a different event held at another time? 

I would like to get feedback from our community, from our event attendees and volunteers.  What would YOU like to see happening at the San Lorenzo Valley Museum? 

Monday, June 9, 2014

2014 Oral History Essay Contest Awards

I have just gotten back from the San Lorenzo Valley Middle School where an all-school assembly was held to recognize students' achievements.  I was so pleased to not only be included in this end-of-the-year school assembly, but I was first on the program.  I gave out two cash awards, both to 6th graders, who wrote on the theme of local people who either work or have a business in SLV as an extension of our Smithsonian exhibit, 'The Way We Worked'.  As part of my presentation I read a synopsis of each essay in front of the school student body, then called each winner up front to receive their check.  I was told that the presentation would be a surprise to the winners, who certainly received loud and long applause from their fellow students.  I also took the opportunity at the end of the presentation to encourage participation next year.   I really enjoyed being a part of one of our local school's activities and to recognize our youth's interest in the museum and preserving our local history.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Crystals, Caves, & Kilns exhibit

I always look forward to learning something new about our San Lorenzo Valley.  Sometimes when you hear a certain story repeated often, a certain historical person is discussed frequently, you wonder - - what is new to add to our local history?  Our current exhibit, 'Crystals, Caves, and Kilns', is bringing new history out into the open and our visitors are excited about that.  This exhibit not only has a video showing cavers going down into a local cave (yes, we do have several caves in the area) and the animals that live in them, but also some before and after photos of local lime producing areas.  I didn't realize what I was driving by on a weekly basis, but will pay attention now.   There is a hands-on area for children to study, handle, and learn about the different types of rocks and boy! do they have fun weighting the rocks, looking at them through magnifying glasses, and just feeling the differences.  This is a very complete, comprehensive, and enjoyable display of our local limestone and marble industry.   I'm glad to see such a rewarding partnership between museums and business.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Good - by 'The Way We Worked' exhibit

I have to confess that I wasn't quite sure what to expect with an exhibit coming from the Smithsonian Museum in Washington DC!  I have visited their museums not to long ago and left overwhelmed, impressed, thoroughly enjoyed every minute, and with a lifetime of memories.  But I could NOT wrap my head around how we would fit an impressive big impact exhibit into our intimate museum while also giving our visitors the feeling of a big museum exhibit that they would expect from the Smithsonian.  Well - this exhibit was not only big impact in what it delivered, but also compact, tons of photos, content everywhere - even under hats, visual & audio components to enjoy, but it also brought back many memories for our visitors of the types of work they have done in their lives.  Even I was surprised to see photo that brought back an early memory for me - a photo of a large mainframe computer room writing / reading data on large reels of magnetic tape.  It reminded me of one of my early jobs and the beginning of a 32-year career at one company.  We posed the question, 'What was your first job?' and had many dozens of answers.  Some were what many young kids did; delivering newspapers, babysitting, dog walking, but some were surprising, like selling newspapers on the beach.  So Good-by 'The Way We Worked' and Hello to our new exhibit, 'Crystals, Caves, and Kilns'.  Stop by and visit this exhibit.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Smithsonian exhibit, 'The Way We Worked'

We are now in the last two weeks of this fabulous exhibit.  I feel excited about the increased visitation we have welcomed to the museum and appreciative of the positive praise we have received.  Our community have let us know how proud they are to have an exhibit of this  high caliber here locally to visit and enjoy.  I was visiting with one visitor who was telling me that she was telling all her neighbors and friends that 'they just had to come visit the museum and experience this exhibit'.  Another visitor walked past us so I turned to welcome her and I heard, 'and here is one of my neighbors that I told to come visit!'.   Many of us 'baby boomers' can related to many of the photos and their captions describing the work we did and are surprised to see it thought of as 'history'.  For me it was the large mainframe computer rooms that ran large magnetic tape reels of embedded information.   The memories that were brought back to me.