Adventure to History (Part 2)

Dear Jasper and Kestrel,

After Cousin Liza and I left the Steinbeck Center, we went to the Historic Harvey House, the oldest house in Salinas, which is 150 years old. Since it was the first Saturday of the month, it was open, and we could go inside!

File:First Mayors house Salinas ca.jpg
The Historic Harvey House

The Harvey House was built in 1868 for Isaac J. Harvey, the first mayor of the city of Salinas. He was a businessman and traveler, always on the lookout for new places and opportunities. He saw the wealth of Salinas’s rich soil and good location and decided to settle here for a while. He helped build the town and bring the railroad here, and had his own business, a mercantile store where folks could buy anything they needed.

I. J.  had this house built for his wife Sarah and his three daughters, Saphronia, Josephine and Mabel. After a few years of working and being the mayor, Isaac’s business went bankrupt. He moved away to find other work for a while, but Sarah and the girls were tired of moving, and stayed here. The girls got married and had their own kids. The house stayed in the family until Isaac’s grand daughters got too old to stay by themselves and it is now open as a museum once a month, and for school field trips.

Liza at Harvey House 1.jpg
Larry Showing Liza all of Sarah Harvey’s things

My friend Larry Smith was at the House, and he showed us around. He showed Liza things that had belonged to Mabel and Sarah. Some things, like the hairbrushes, were pretty familiar, but a shoe button hook was pretty strange to see.

Liza and carpet sweeper.jpg
Running the carpet sweeper

Larry took us out to the cottage, which is used as a classroom when students come to visit. It is a great place to learn more about the history of Salinas and to see old tools people used. Larry showed Liza how to bang on a triangle to call folks in for supper, clean carpets with a carpet sweeper (no electricity!) and even use a boot jack. Outside, she got to pump some water with a real hand pump and run around the garden.

Liza and pump.jpg
The pump!

Finished with our tour of the House, (Thanks, Larry!) we wandered to the Model Railroad Museum and saw the whole Salinas Valley in miniature. Trees, farms, stores, with trains hooking it all together. We got to climb up into a big old caboose and see how a telegraph works.

Liza and tiny trains.jpg
Model trains, model valley!

Almost ready to crash, we said goodbye to all the history and walked to see Adrian at Blue Aces Bakery. We chatted and got some cookie dough to nibble on, then asked Uncle David to come fetch us.

Liza at caboose.jpg
In the caboose

What a long, wonderful day!


Grandma Judy



Old Friends

liza PJ and hat.jpg
Liza and my hat

Dear Liza (and Jasper and Kestrel),


The very best thing about being in Salinas is seeing my old dear friends. I sometimes find them randomly. The other day a former student, Jesus, was buying cookies at Blue Aces Bakery where another old friend, Katrina, is working. Out for a walk, I ran into Mr. Rossi and his wife.

Neighborhood Squirrel

But today it was planned. I had a lunch date  with Pat Van Noy, a teacher who had retired by the time I met her 15 years ago. It was cloudy as I walked down Acacia Street and Main Streets to Ellie’s All American Restaurant on South Main Street, not quite two miles away, but sunny and pretty warm by the time I got there.

Pat and I talked about her life, taking care of her son’s two chihuahuas,  playing bridge, and singing in her choir. We talked about mine, getting used to teaching again and how I am adjusting to living in Salinas. We have teaching in common, so we talked about students and classroom troubles and administrators.

Pat at a Christmas Party a while back…Photo credit: Bridgett Spicer

But it always came back to “You seem to be having such fun.” And I am. My dad always said that the world was pretty wonderful, and if you weren’t having a good time it was your own darn fault, and I feel very much the same way. I work hard…we all do. But that means we are being useful. Doing a hard job that I love keeps me mentally active and walking all over town keeps me strong.

I feel very fortunate to have had the chance to live in Salinas, then leave it, and then come back for a short stay. It gives me perspective and lets me visit the people I love.

Off for more adventures today!


Grandma Judy



Steinbeck Adventure

Dear Liza (and Jasper and Kestrel),

Monday was a holiday from school, so Liza and I went on an adventure. We started in the morning, when it was cold enough we needed our jackets. We stopped by Hartnell Park first, to play for a while. We met an old friend of Liza’s, Victor, who can speak a little Russian.

Off for our Adventure!

Our next stop was Hartnell College. We watched folks play tennis and found some interesting statues. We had fun with the Panther, who was carved in 1934! He has been here being adorable all these years. We found a girl walking with her mommy, and she and Liza played with the Panther for a while.







Friend and Panther



Once we got downtown, we found The National Steinbeck Center. It is a huge museum that tells all about John Steinbeck and the books he wrote. It has a red pony to ride and comb, and a house like one the people lived in in a story called “Sweet Thursday”.

Working with The Red Pony

We spent an hour at the Center, and got hungry! Farm Fresh deli got us back on track, and we went back into the Center. Liza wanted to celebrate a “Pretend Birthday” in the pipe house, so we did. What a great time!

Pipe House Birthday

Once we were just worn out, we headed home, stopping by Blue Aces Bakery to get a snack. We chatted with Adrian and her assistant, who happens to be a girl named Katrina that I knew when she was little.

We walked back by Hartnell College, when Liza had a nice rest on the Panther’s back. She didn’t want to leave the Panther behind, so she hooked it up to a pretend leash and it quietly followed us home.


A Girl and Her Panther

Then, nap time!!!


Grandma Judy

Putting a Leash on the Panther