readilearn: Writing in the lower primary classroom – a guest post by Marsha Ingrao – Readilearn

My Blogging friend, Norah Colvin invited me to write a guest post for her two education blogs.  What a thrill. Thanks, Norah. via readilearn: Writing in the lower primary classroom – a guest post by Marsha Ingrao – Readilearn

A Bevy of Bambino Book Reviews

Great Bambino Books

What I learned from a writer’s class is that children’s picture books are harder to write than it seems like they should be!

The Kissing Hand

bambino books
The Kissing Hand by Audrey Penn


The classic, A Kissing Hand, was the most touching of the books I found when I researched prize-winning picture books for a class assignment. It is a classic, published in 1993 about Chester Raccoon who did not want to start school. His mother gave him the most unusual going away memento that any loving mother could give.

Continue reading “A Bevy of Bambino Book Reviews”

Grand Opening for a New Museum

I stepped out of the museum yesterday with Mr. Tom Sweeney, a Woodlaker whose family has been in Woodlake since the 1870s, who had come in so I could record his oral interview for any future books and for the museum archives. We struggled to get the chain strung across the new driveway.

A stranger drove by, rolled down his window, and asked, “Are you ever going to open the museum.”

“Tomorrow,” I told him, “is our grand opening from 12:00-4:00.”

“It’s a date!” he called back smiling as he waved then rolled his window back up.

I love Ben Reynoso's hat. He monitored everything at the VIP opening.
I love Ben Reynoso’s hat. He monitored everything at the VIP opening.

Few people have any idea how much time it takes to gather artifacts and pictures, sort them into some kind of an order so that together they tell a story, and then arrange them in the space provided.

Marcy Miller explains to the donors the work involved. They will soon understand why it took two years to open the museum.
Marcy Miller explains to the donors the work involved. They will soon understand why it took two years to open the museum.

Trust me it is a momentous task. Marcy Miller, almost single-handedly, set out to do this work to honor her parents and the other families that had come to Woodlake to make this a community. She had the help of one friend,Debbie Eckenfel. I went in to help once or twice, but I was clumsy, and was just in the way more than I helped. They were precise, and my eyes prevent me from doing anything exact – even with glasses.

Each case represents hours of thought and work.
Each case represents hours of thought and work.

They trimmed pictures, mounted them, put them in frames, arranged tables, brought in the big displays, went to Woodlake Hardware and picked up more antiques that had hung on the walls for probably fifty years.

Where did they ever skate in Woodlake?
Where did they ever skate in Woodlake?

Morris Bennett, owner of the store for over fifty years, retired from Woodlake Hardware at age 92 and donated them to the museum. Marcy and Debbie rearranged them on large display boards. They set a pair of skates on a pupil’s wooden desk from the same time period. They stacked and separated, stood back and examined, and rearranged. They recorded each item in a spreadsheet, first writing each entry by hand as they handled it.

Rudy Garcia could hardly contain his excitement. His enthusiasm is so contageous.
Rudy Garcia could hardly contain his excitement. His enthusiasm is so contagious.

It has taken two years after the museum building was completed before it was ready to open. People got impatient. They wanted to see inside. Marcy and Debbie kept working. Rudy Garcia, President of the Woodlake Valley Chamber of Commerce, added some farm equipment he had received from folks in Red Banks. Agriculture is the major industry of our county, but in Woodlake, “We R Agriculture,” my own new name of us. We grow oranges and raise cattle. Our major claim to fame is the Woodlake Rodeo, which is famous nation-wide. Slowly people donated money to build the building and items to display inside.

Cool cars admired the beautiful new Woodlake Valley Cultural Museum.
Cool cars admired the beautiful new Woodlake Valley Cultural Museum.

Monrovia Nursery donated all the plants outside the building. There was no fence around the building and kids skate boarded over the plants destroying all of them. Cruz-ta-Welding donated a beautiful fence around the building so kids couldn’t do that anymore.

Andrew Glazier and his wife admire the inside of the museum too.
Andrew Glazier and his wife admire the inside of the museum too.

Andrew Glazier doesn’t have a lot of money, but he loves Woodlake. He is a local landscaper who believes in using native materials. He donated all the materials to redo the landscaping. He comes when no one is looking and puts in more bark, and evens out the land. He sweeps the new parking lot so not a single piece of bark remains, then he locks the chain so cars can’t drive and leave dirty marks on the new cement. He gets everything ready for the Grand Opening.

Carl Peden, so vibrant at the Museum VIP opening, passed away two days later on President's Day. We all mourn his passing.
Carl Peden, so vibrant at the Museum VIP opening, passed away two days later on President’s Day. We all mourn his passing.

The museum was not alarmed. Some people, like me, were afraid to bring items of value to put in the building.  Now the building is safe and alarmed. Mr. Peden donated the jacket he wore to pilot Air Force #1. Took it off right after he spoke at the VIP donor opening event.

Carl Peden talks to John Wood, the builder of the Museum.
Carl Peden talks to John Wood, the builder of the Museum.

Marcy and Debbie want everything to look just right for the Grand Opening. They come and mop all the floors and dust all the displays.

Native basket weaving won't become a lost art. Jennifer will be teaching classes to preserve it.
Native basket weaving won’t become a lost art. Jennifer will be teaching classes to preserve it.

Jennifer Malone comes with her family to lovingly place baskets, valuable as collectables, into the glass cases so the public can see the amazing designs from the Yokuts Indians who lived in Woodlake for centuries before American and Mexican people ever saw it. I heard laughing across the hall coming from the basket room.  After most of the guests had gone,  I had to go investigate to see what had been so much fun.

Everyone crowds around the basket room door to play Marie Wilcox's dice game.
Everyone crowds around the basket room door to play Marie Wilcox’s dice game.

Jennifer’s mother, Marie Wilcox, brings her walnut dice with sparkly shells embedded in the center so we can play Wukchumni games. If you roll five with the center up, you get two sticks. If you roll seven, you luck has changed and you have to give up sticks. When all the sticks are gone, you take your opponents sticks, and they take yours. It’s a do or die game. I won!  I jumped up and down and cheered. Everyone looked happy for me. No one brushed all the sticks and walnuts off the table. We laughed and laughed and hugged and hugged.

It looks heavenly, doesn't it?
It looks heavenly, doesn’t it?

Our Grand Opening is today. I can’t wait to see who will come.

 

Woodlake Valley Cultural Museum Has First Event

# WoodlakeValleyCulturalMuseum

February thirteenth dawned as beautiful and gentle as a kitten sleeping on a satin pillow, promising a perfect VIP ribbon cutting ceremony for the new museum in Woodlake, CA.
Woodlake Museum 2

A major project, nearly three years in the making, Woodlake Valley Cultural Museum, opened to VIP donors on February 13, 2016. Woodlake, a town of nearly 8,000, now has its first museum. Until now people have kept their memorabilia to themselves, some with lots of valuable documents, photos and artifacts from the last 150 years, and some with just a few. Now those treasures are out where the public can enjoy them and remember. It brought tears to my eyes as I watched the slideshow of the pictures imported from my camera. I love seeing the expressions on each face as they saw the exhibits for the first time. I thought Ramona’s was particularly endearing.

Lupercios

Rudy Garcia, the Chamber of Commerce President made sure that the event was well planned.  Chamber Board members took on various jobs to make sure that all the details ran smoothly.

2015-2017 Woodlake Chamber of Commerce Board
2015-2017 Volunteer Woodlake Chamber of Commerce Board  minus three members.

Marie and Debbie prepare for registration check in. Debbie did much of the design work in the museum. Do you know how much she charged us?  Probably about -$1,500 considering all the materials she threw in, which doesn’t account for her hours.

Maria & Debby

We are all astounded that Marcy, Debby and Jennifer could put together a beautiful museum with no museum experience, and not much help.

Museum 4

We sailed through the day as Rudy planned. For the first half hour while people arrived the Four Directions Native-American drumming quartet, the Four Directions played and sang.

Woodlake Chamber Board member, Jennifer Malone introduced another member of her tribe, Delbert Davis, to invoke a blessing on the museum. I wish I had video taped it for you, but I was in the wrong place, and it was a solemn occasion, and you’ve already experienced my skill as a videographer.

Delbert Davis Blessing

The 2015-2016 Miss Woodlake Court, Briana Marie Holt, Sonni Hacobian, and Erica Diaz Rodriguez kept busy escorting VIPs to their seats and taking pictures. Most of these pictures are Briana’s, standing above her name.

Woodlake Museum 3For me, one of the highlights was the presentation by Carl Peden. Carl graduated in 1947 from Woodlake High School. He went on to become a pilot. Little did his teachers dream that one day he would pilot several United States’ presidents and their families around the world in Air Force One.

You made it through that without getting dizzy, I hope. My video skills aren’t improving much, but in my defense, you are seeing a raw unedited amateur recording.

Some asked me what Air Force One had to do with Woodlake, and had Carl Peden not been the pilot I could have answered, “nothing.” But this man showed me that Woodlake, small agricultural town in the rural outskirts of the San Joaquin Valley, reaches and influences far beyond Woodlake.

At the end of his speech, he took off his jacket and handed it to Rudy Garcia to put in the museum. His action inspired many others to come forward with ideas of things they could donate to the museum which will keep it fresh for many years to come. Carl stands in front of the list of the many community members who joined to make this project a possibility. I thank each one.

Woodlake Museum iPhone photos
Carl Peden

Rudy Garcia recruited these generous contributors to follow the dream of building a museum in Woodlake. One man, John Wood,  fell in head over heels in love with the vision, and gave it his all, building the edifice to house the dream.  He reminded me in many ways of my former boss, Jim Vidak. Very shy, not bringing attention to himself, he worked for reasons other than bringing honor to himself. Nonetheless Rudy wanted everyone to know how grateful the Chamber is for his hard work.

Wood's Award
Marcy Miller, Rudy Garcia, John Wood, and Bertha Hernandez watching on.

Finally, no building would be complete without a plaque. This one was ordered and had not arrived by Thursday before the big ceremony on Saturday. My nails would be bitten to the quick, but Rudy remained calm and collected. He made the phone call and Phil drove it up from Tulare on Friday. Soon it will hang on by the front door, next to my new office.

Plaque

I will be in the office for the next two Fridays recording oral interviews of Woodlakers who want to share their memories. Email me at tchistorygal@gmail.com if you’d like to make an appointment.

Maui-Donation Ticket-Proof

I’ll also be selling donation tickets to anyone who wants to win a trip for two to Hawaii February 10-17, 2017. The trip features a beachfront resort suite at Ka’anapali Beach in Maui, HI. This suite includes one bedroom, one bath, a full kitchen, living room, dining room, lanai, and laundry. Included in the trip is a stipend for round trip tickets for two from LA to Maui, and car rental. The package is valued at $4,000. Suggested donation is $10.00 per ticket. The drawing will be held at the Chamber of Commerce meeting on October 11, 2016.

 

 

 

 

 

Rather Than Out with the Old, Keep History Alive

For Cee’s Oddball Challenge, Out With the Old,  I wanted to tell you briefly about an important company in Woodlake, CA whose history spans the century.  You can read more about it in posts listed at the end of this post.

old-hotel8

Founded in 1904 Redbanks Orchard Company shipped trainloads of fruit around the country on the Electric Railroad in the early 1900s, “The Hotel,”near Woodlake, California, was one of the most beautiful Spanish style buildings in the area.  Resembling a Southern Pacific depot, the building, constructed in 1914, served as the headquarters of the company.
Old hotel4

This view faces the offices on the east end of the building.

Redbanks009

I met Ernie Garcia over 20 years ago when I taught at F.J. White Learning Center. He hasn’t aged a bit in those years, so we are almost the same age now. Ernie Garcia, whose family came to live and work at Redbanks in the 1940s, remembered Wylie, the one-eyed Chinese man who was an excellent cook who presided over the kitchen. Unfortunately, no one had a picture of Wylie, nor much information about him.

Redbanks001

The building faces Colvin Mountain to the north. In the center of the north side of this headquarters building, a hall and stairway gave access to the upper floor. At first there were only rooms for workers up there. Then in 1932, the upstairs has converted into a five-room apartment known as “the penthouse”.

Redbanks003

The east half of this building as seen above, contained rooms for bachelor workers. Hence it was referred to as “the hotel.” In the late 1920s, the east end was remodeled to create offices.

Redbanks002

“The Hotel”  held a large restaurant for the workers at its west end. Immediately behind the dining area was a large kitchen and food storage area with ice lockers in the center directly below the upstairs. West of the headquarters building, which can be seen in the distance nearest to Cottonwood Creek was the shower/lavatory building.

Redbanks101

I fell in love with the buildings, and took some odd angled pictures of them.

Redbanks007

I liked the geometry in this one.

Redbanks102

I love shakes, even when they are coming off. Where else but an oddball challenge could this hope to be a good picture, but I love it. I hope you do too.  It was a magically clear fall day with one of my favorite people learning about where he grew up living in apartments that no longer exist in a place that affected so many lives in this area, and shipped fruit to people all over the world.

For more of Cee’s Challenge Click Here.

Cee's OddBall

For more about Ernie’s and my day at Redbanks, Click here.

For more research about Redbanks Click here.