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Barry Schrader
Columnist

 

I wrote these columns for the following 3 newspapers;

  • Tri-Valley Herald : Looking Back
  • Valley Times : Do You Remember?
  • The Independent : Do You Remember?

The Articles appeared between November 2004 and May 2006.

 

If you've missed any please follow the links on the dates to catch up.

Archive Page

Columnist bids farewell

By Barry Schrader.................................May 18, 2006

All good things must come to an end, they say. My love affair with the Livermore-Amador Valley and its history has lasted over 35 years—culminating with the writing of this weekly column since November 2004. I must commend The Independent for signing up Anne Homan, an excellent writer and historian, to take over my column.

My wife Kay and I have decided to move back to our roots in Illinois this summer, once I have retired from my “other” job at Lawrence Livermore Lab. Health issues and a desire to be near Kay’s family drove the decision. It is a transition from “Earthquake Country to Corn Country”-- DeKalb, Illinois being in the Midwestern Farm Belt and also the home of my alma mater Northern Illinois University.

But Livermore and the Tri-Valley have been our home most of the time since 1967, so it is not easy to “pull up stakes” and go back to where it actually thunders, snows and has something called a “Wind Chill Index.”

Over the past three decades I have been involved in some exciting projects and organizations formed to “preserve our past for the future.” They include saving the Southern Pacific Railroad depot in Livermore which was the inspiration for the formation of the Livermore Heritage Guild. Then there was the threat of extinction of viticulture in the valley about 1980 so we formed Save the Vineyards, later renamed Friends of the Vineyards, and fortunately visionary vintners dug in their heels and stopped the takeover of more land by housing subdivisions and industrial parks in the South Livermore area, as well as in scattered other agricultural parcels around the Tri-Valley.

During these preservation battles I had the privilege of getting to know some of the unwavering advocates in historical and viticultural preservation—people like Dagmar Fulton, Janet Newton, Marie Cronin, Jim Concannon, Ed Campbell, Barbara Bunshah, Ed Kinney, and Barbara Stear. These people and others devoted years of their lives to fighting for what they believed in—and I salute them.

Not all of our efforts have been successful—the shocking destruction of the Livermore boyhood home of Jack London on Alden Lane by a developer’s bulldozer, the accidental burning of the Jeremiah Fallon house in a fire department drill, and the senseless arson that consumed the one-room May School.

A long-running effort to build a wine education center and museum was abandoned in recent years when the funds for its start were given away by the Vineyards group to the Livermore Area Recreation & Park District. Now the best we can hope for are two private museums on the grounds of Wente and Concannon wineries

While the cities of Pleasanton, Dublin and Danville have provided the desired quarters and staffing and/or funding for their historical societies, Livermore’s Heritage Guild has to operate out of a tiny “history center” in the Carnegie Building, but the city may be on the verge of helping them find new quarters.

Three significant preservation efforts need to be nurtured at this time—the restoration of the Alviso Adobe by Pleasanton, the salvaging of the 1836 Hagemann house and barn on Olivina, and the preservation and eventual moving of the only one-room country school left in the eastern end of the valley—Midway School. There is also the threat of loss of the Southern Pacific depot if the new owner of that commercial parcel isn’t required to move it to an appropriate park.

But I have faith that people will come forward—join with their local historical societies and see that these valuable reminders of our past are preserved for the generations to come.

Our heritage and history isn’t just about saving old buildings—there is a “people” side as well. I still look forward to helping out with the Heritage Guild’s traditional Memorial Day weekend auction, announcing one more Livermore Rodeo Parade plus attending the “World’s Fastest Rodeo” this June, working the antique printing press at the fairgrounds during the annual Alameda Country Fair, and attending the resurrected Summerfest June 24th at The Barn. These are some of the fondest memories that Kay and I will take with us from this lovely valley.

But as the poet Robert Frost once wrote: “I have promises to keep, and miles to go before I sleep….”

The columnist can be reached by snailmail at:

Barry Schrader
PO Box 851
DeKalb, Ill 60115

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