I currently have columns running in 3 newspapers;
- Tri-Valley Herald : Looking Back
- Valley Times : Do You Remember?
- The Independent : Do You Remember?
The Articles appear in the Herald and Independent on Thursdays,
and the Times on Sundays.
They will also be found on this page each week as well.
If you've missed any please follow the links on the dates
to catch up.
Bicentennial invigorated communities three decades ago
By Barry Schrader.................................May
Where were you on July 4, 1976?--probably at the park enjoying
the fireworks, in New York witnessing the spectacle of tall ships
coming into the New York Harbor, or maybe even watching President
Ford on TV at Valley Forge as he started the day saluting the
Bicentennial Wagon Train that crossed the continent as a part
of the nations 200th birthday celebration.
I was one of the lucky people to be on the tail end of the
wagon train adventure at Valley Forge with Harold and Ruth Gabriel
of Livermore, a bittersweet tale told before in this column.
The story of the Bicentennial would take volumesthousands
of towns, large and small across the nationcelebrating
with volunteer projects that spruced up their communities, created
permanent historical sites, and planned events that showcased
the heritage and diversity that make up this vast country.
Recently I had the opportunity to reminisce with a few Tri-Valley
residents who were a big part of their home towns activities.
The most prominent local celebrant was Marie Cronin of Dublin
who was named to the position of executive director of Alameda
Countys Bicentennial Commission. Thanks to her loyalty
to this part of the county we received our fair share of funding
to accomplish a number of projectsbig and smallthat
have had a lasting impact in our communities.
Dublin got funding to restore the old Murray School, plus
an attempt to build a replica of pioneer Jeremiah Fallons
home. The original house had accidentally been burned in a fire
training exercise earlier, but the rebuilding project never got
very far. There were also several historic markers on historic
buildings and sites around town. Heading some of the efforts
was the fledgling Dublin Historic Preservation Association which
included officers Judy Earl, Harvey Tulchinsky, Virginia Bennett,
Dawn Rutter, Al Nishimoto, Harry Demmel, Lila Euler, Linda Ferris,
Josephine Haas, Joe Kappeler, Barbara Laursen, Ida Rabello, Ken
Whipple, Bob Witt, and Charlotte Zika.
Pleasanton tackled 11 major projects during its Bicentennial
effort, according to one of the key players Charlotte Severin.
She singled out such admirable efforts as the work with the Lions
Club to build the Chan Henderson Bicentennial Bandshell in Wayside
Park, the Bicentennial Fair Parade, the founding of the Pleasanton
Community Concert Band, first led by Jerry Lapinsky, and the
publication of a Pictorial History of Pleasanton, a book edited
by Dorothy Davis and committee. Named in the book as members
of the Pleasanton Bicentennial Heritage Committee were chair
Callie Heinbaugh, LeeAnn McFadden, Bill Apperson, John Amaral,
Linda Cooley, Dorothy Davis, Dagmar Fulton, Loretta Lund, Jim
Jordan, Judi Hanhy and Diana Larson. Charlotte said there were
a score of smaller projects that added spark to the year-long
celebration, one of them being Bev Hamlin leading an effort to
make sun bonnets that also doubled as aprons for those dressing
in period costume. Many of the original committee still meet
once a year around Christmas to reminisce.
In Livermore the original makeup of the Bicentennial Committee
(in August 1974) was Gib and Marj Marguth as co-chairs, plus
members Earl Duarte, Chet and Henri Fankhauser, Mary Ann Ramspott,
Janet Newton, Mary Kay Berg, Priscilla Payne, Bill Ormond, Bill
Manis, Ralph Condit and myself. By 1976 the committee had tripled
Some of their more notable projects were publication of a
booklet on the Juan Bautista DeAnza Expedition of 1776, plus
the plaques and celebration of the Anza riders arrival
in the Livermore Valley, the creation of a Livermore History
Center in the Carnegie Library building, the restoration of May
School (later burned by arsonists in December 1979), and the
Bicentennial Ball at the Veterans Memorial Building, where many
dressed in costumes of 200 years ago. And we cant forget
Uncle Sam Walt Arnold who played the role all year
and also collected historical flags for community display. One
project that didnt make it past the concept stage was proposed
by Granada High school student Kevin Smith and the late Kris
Aaland for a Geotek, an underground structure to
house new facilities such as a city hall and community auditorium.
Just think, if their idea had been successful Livermore would
have had a community performing arts center 30 years ago!
Doug Baird shared with me a little publicized but vital work
project from that year. He headed the Livermore Arts Festival
A-crew which volunteered to refurbish the outside
of the Carnegie Library. Organized by Dorothy Svets of the park
district staff, the labor intensive effort took nine weekends
of sweat and dangerous dangling from scaffolding to sandblast
the rust from roof and eves, repaint the building, and repair
the sheet metal and stucco. Dorothy even rounded up some recruits
from the Santa Rita jail community service program to help each
week. Helping her and Doug were Jim Doggett, Chet Weaver, Arne
Kirkewoog, Les Edwards, Fred Rienecker, and Ted Kozman among
others. That renovation effort has kept the historic structure
intact for 30 more years, Doug assured me.
The Livermore Bicentennial group didnt tackle a historical
photo book at the time, but just this summer one will be published,
called Early Livermore, through the efforts of Heritage
Guild members Gary Drummond, Don Meeker, and Loretta Kaskey.
It should be available no later than August. It is just a precursor
to a much more voluminous and comprehensive history of the town
being wrapped up by author Anne Homan. Her book will be a treasure
trove of history about the town and its peoplesomething
we have been awaiting for many years.
To be sure, there are numerous other local Bicentennial efforts
not included here, but I thought it worthwhile to highlight some
what our communities were able to accomplish in a nationwide
burst of patriotism and volunteerism.
* * *
My recent column on the tragic 1941 Western Pacific train
collision in Niles Canyon caught the attention of Hayward resident
Virgil Lown. He told me his father Alvah was the fireman on the
Exposition Flyer who was killed along with engineer Frank Huff
and baggage man Oscar Lane. Virgil said that he was 14 at the
time of his fathers death. His mother received only $24,000
in life insurance on which she had to raise Virgil and his younger
brother through the 1940s in Stockton. He still has the Oct.
6, 1941 issue of Life magazine that featured the horrific crash,
including a full page photograph.
The columnist can be reached via email at :
or by snailmail at:
PO Box 446
Livermore, CA. 94551