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Blog posts by Marla

The MAH represents at the History Fair

Posted October 17, 2016

Santa Cruz County History Fair 2016

The second Santa Cruz County History Fair, hosted again by Friends of the Cowell Lime Works, took place on October 8. It was at Louden Nelson Community Center, and featured displays and activities by more than 30 local museums, historians, historical societies, and other groups. The MAH was well represented by volunteers from many of the museum’s history groups: Publications Committee (selling the new history journal, Do You Know My Name?), Historic Landmark, and Evergreen Cemetery. Thank you to all of our wonderful volunteers who staffed the event!

This year’s fair commemorated the 150th anniversary of the establishment of Santa Cruz as an incorporated city, and the City of Santa Cruz was a co-sponsor of the event. The fair filled most of the available rooms and even hallway space at the Community Center.
“Friends” president Frank Perry (Coauthor, Lime Kiln Legacies: The History of the Lime Industry in Santa Cruz County, California) again took the lead role in organizing and running the event, as he did at last year’s inaugural History Fair. Frank estimated this year’s attendance at about 400 – about a third more than last year’s fair. The four history talks were well-attended and well-received, with standing-room-only audiences estimated at 50-70 for each presentation.


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Journal Launch Santa Cruz County History Journal 8: Do You Know My Name?

Posted September 19, 2016

Front Cover of Santa Cruz County History Journal 8, Do You Know My Name?

Front Cover of Santa Cruz County History Journal 8, Do You Know My Name?

By Joan Gilbert Martin, History Journal 8 Editor

On September 2, 2016, a large First Friday crowd gathered in the MAH auditorium to hear short talks by three local historians who contributed to the latest MAH History Journal, Do You Know My Name?Martin Rizzo asked do you know the names of the Native Americans who assassinated Padre Quintana at the Santa Cruz Mission? Lisa Robinson asked do you know the names of some early eccentrics who enlivened the history of the San Lorenzo Valley? Conor O’Brien asked do we know the names of a Santa Cruz family who entertained themselves with games and visits and movies in the early days of the twentieth century.

These are just a few of the questions answered in this lively journal that tells the stories of men and women who were not in the mainstream of Santa Cruz County history, who were unknown, overlooked, or discriminated against.

Other stories answered other questions: Who were the group of squatters evicted from Rancho Bolsa del Pájaro (site of the city of Watsonville) following a quarrel between two brothers? Why did an early Hispanic settler in the Villa de Branciforte lose his standing in the community following statehood? Why did so many of the children buried at Evergreen cemetery die of so-called “natural deaths?” What were the names of the men who played on an all-black baseball team here in Santa Cruz? Who were the men and women who established the first black church in Santa Cruz? And, who were some other folk who once lived in our community, but whose stories have never been told?

Louis Berry, catcher on the all black Santa Cruz baseball team, the “California Giants,” 1909. (McKean Photo)

Louis Berry, catcher on the all black Santa Cruz baseball team, the “California Giants,” 1909. (McKean Photo)

The plan for this unorthodox history journal began over two years ago when Lisa Robinson, chair of the MAH Publications Committee, attended a memorial for the late historian Phil Reader. Phil was a local boy who spent his life researching and writing about people marginalized in their lifetime and often neglected or misrepresented by later historians. If Phil thought someone had been victimized, even if it was a hundred years ago, he set out to research their life and bring them retroactive justice. Hearing about Phil’s people, Lisa said, “Here are the subjects of our next journal.”

At the launch ceremony, authors were on hand to sign journals for the audience. Joan Gilbert Martin, editor of this eighth journal, presented Phil’s widow, Lorraine Reader, with the gift of a hardbound edition of the journal. Joan is a longtime member of the Publications Committee, a contributor to many of MAH’s preceding seven journals, and also was editor of History Journal 6, Pathways to the Past.

We are thrilled that so many attended in appreciation of this important addition to the unknown history of Santa Cruz County.

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Artifact of the Month: Bringing the Town Together, Catalyst Poster from 1966

Posted June 10, 2015

In MAH collection-land, the 1960s are big—huge, in fact. Recently I’ve accepted a few wonderful donations from this decade. It was a pivotal time in Santa Cruz County’s history. And locals are ready to open their closets, storage sheds, and trunks to share part of this history with us.

Santa Cruz became a cauldron of cultural experimentation, neighborhood activism, intellectual exploration and environmental protection in the 1960s and 1970s. This progressive shift was one part university students, one part community activists, one part hippies with alternative lifestyles.

Located in the old St. George Hotel, the original Catalyst Coffee House and Delicatessen was the downtown gathering place for artists, politicians, students, and professors. The hotspot opened in 1966. Patti DiLudovico, a folk singer, chose the name “the Catalyst” to foster a welcoming atmosphere where ideas flowed with the beer and wine. Patti and her husband, Al, ran the Catalyst. “[UCSC administrator] Byron Stockey came to us one day, saying ‘We need a place where we can bring the University and the town together, ‘” Patti said.

Catalyst Poster, 1966. Artist: Doni Tunheim

Catalyst Poster, 1966. Artist: Doni Tunheim

A few months ago, I met Holly Harman, author of Inside a Hippie Commune. Packed with photos and stories, this book describes the counterculture in Santa Cruz County. Holly told me that Patti reminisces about the Catalyst days. She wanted the MAH to have 3 original posters advertising the opening of the deli. These posters are amazing works of art, in a flowing art nouveau style. Local artist Doni Tunheim painted these beauties in 1966. My favorite is the one featuring a seated woman. Her red hair winds around the deli’s moniker and “coffee,” “pastries,” “art shows.” That sounds pretty great to me.

While thumbing through Inside a Hippie Commune, I noticed Stanley Stevens’ name. Stan is Librarian Emeritus at UC Santa Cruz and amazing local historian. He comes in every week to the MAH archives and works on indexing some of our collections. Stan was part of the co-op Catalyst. In fact, he was the treasurer. And you think you know a guy…

Stan says that he was also in charge of filling up the huge pickle container for the Catalyst. He got the pickles from somewhere in San Francisco. He used to drive there once a month to attend ACLU (American Civil Liberties Union) meetings. I showed Stan another recent donation to the MAH. It’s an original menu from the Catalyst. Stan said, “Oh yes, Carli [his wife] made the chocolate crazy cake. She’d bake some in the morning, and by the afternoon, the Catalyst had sold out of it. Now I have to get that recipe.

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Artifact of the Month: Of Cheese and Dairymen: Scaroni Ranch Photograph

Posted February 4, 2015

My family has a soft spot for dairies. My husband was born and raised on a dairy ranch in the San Joaquin Valley. He loves telling boyhood stories about growing up among the bovine, milk, and the regular occurrence of calf birthing. We almost got married at the old barn.


A Barn at Scaroni Ranch

A Barn at Scaroni Ranch

Here’s a photo of another old barn closer to us. This barn was part of the Scaroni Ranch, a huge dairy operation situated along the North Coast of Santa Cruz. Pio Scaroni came to Santa Cruz from Gordola, Switzerland in 1868. He was a successful dairyman. The ranch prospered for many years. It’s now part of Wilder Ranch State Historic Park.


The North Coast of Santa Cruz County has a rich dairy history. “There was a time when the lowing of thousands of cows mingled with the lofty screams of the seagulls, starting in the early 1800s,” wrote Santa Cruz columnist Wally Trabing in 1966. Dairies dotted the coast—from Santa Cruz to Half Moon Bay.


When you think dairy ranch, you think milk. But this is a cheese story. The Scaroni Ranch took their turn at cheese in the early 20th Century, making the Fancy Flat cheese. These delectable cheddar rounds weighed 24 pounds. Cured for up to three weeks in warm cheese houses, the rounds shipped to Santa Cruz or San Francisco. At the height of production, the Scaroni Ranch produced 300 pounds of cheese a day.


Many dairies along the coast took up the cheese making business. But by 1933, it was all over. Changing laws forced the ranchers to quit the cheese and take up solely milk production. But that dried up too, due to the take-over of larger California dairies. For more information about our dairy history, check out We might not be able to snack on slices of Fancy Flat, but we can do our part to protect the land of milk and cheese.

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