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.
Your mothers maiden name is at the Fair
By Barry Schrader.................................June
If you havent been to the Alameda County Fair, there is still
another week left, and you may find your mothers maiden name on a
computer there. This is not an ID theft by computer hackers, but rather
a public service being performed by the Livermore-Amador Genealogical Society
at its booth in the Technology Adventures building.
This is the sixth year L-AGS has been staffing an informational family
history center at the fair and hundreds of people get their first taste
of genealogical research each year there with the help of trained volunteers.
Gail Bryan, volunteer coordinator this year, said it is rewarding to help
fairgoers begin the search for an ancestor and in a few minutes access data
bases on the computer that give them names and ties they never knew existed
They have computers hooked up to a high speed Internet connection so
people can spend just a few minutes and walk away with valuable family history
in most cases.
If you cant get to the fair booth, then try visiting the society
online at its website: www.L-AGS.org and you will find some fascinating
local history, cemetery records and a multitude of other online resources
to help you research any branch of your family.
* * *
Since I got into the history mystery search for the dates that Abbott
and Costello were in Pleasanton filming the movie It Aint Hay at the
fairgrounds, I was contacted by Ron Palumbo, the co-author of the book Abbott
and Costello in Hollywood regarding the period the film was being
made. It was shot between September 28 and November 11, 1942. It was released
in March of 1943. I did find a big ad in the Livermore paper announcing
it would be shown at the State Theater beginning April 11, 1943. So the
original answer two weeks ago was incorrect.
One problem in researching Pleasanton area history in the 1940s is that
bound file copies of the Pleasanton Times for that period are missing and
no microfilms were apparently made of the papers during most of that decade.
Does anyone know where some old copies of the Pleasanton papers can be found
between 1939 and 1948?
* * *
There were several correct answers to the question about the title of
the movie classic being shown at the Model Railroading exhibits drive-in
movie theater during the fair. It depends which day and hour you visit the
display. Alan Peasley was the first to answer correctly that Casablanca
was featured there last year as well as now, but when checking with the
model train folks I learned they have six different movies that are shown:
Beside Casablanca there are American Graffiti, Gone With the Wind, The Day
the Earth Stood Still, Invaders from Mars, and The Wizard of Oz. Iris
Gan, a former news photographer in the Tri-Valley, guessed the Wizard so
is also a winner.
The second question about the beloved Livermore character
whose photo was taken by Keith Fraser back in the 1960s and displayed with
the memorial camera collection exhibit at the Fair got three correct responses
so far. Connie Frydendall, Jan Buckley and Gary Draghi identified the man
in the photo as Harold McKenzie. Harold was a familiar figure downtown,
working for his parents who ran the railway express business for many years.
His trademark was a fresh flower worn in his lapel every day and he could
be seen hauling the SF newspapers around in his little wagon. He also posted
funeral notices around town for the mortuary since the local papers were
weekly and there was no other way to notify townspeople of someones
death in time for the funeral except by telephone or word of mouth. This
I learned from Bill Junk of Livermore who reminisced about Harold. He died
in 1973 and had lived 70 of his 77 years in Livermore.
Can you think of a few other characters around the Tri-Valley
in the Sixties and Seventies so they can be profiled in future columns?
Pleasanton has had its own notables over the years, two of which I can recall
not more than 20 years agoBirdie Bianchi and Thurmon Caudill. I knew
them as news makers but others must have a more personal recollection
of their lives.
* * *
Have a meaningful and historic Independence Day. Enjoy the parade in
Danville, the dedication of the landmark flagpole and Peace Monument in
Livermore and then the fireworks at dusk.
The columnist can be reached via email at :
or by snailmail at:
PO Box 446
Livermore, CA. 94551