Miss Harvey Returns!

Dear Liza,

Many years ago, I did some writing and research for The First Mayor’s House in Salinas. I wrote, and Auntie Bridgett Spicer illustrated, a little book called “Miss Harvey Remembers … Getting to Salinas”.

It was fun to learn about Isaac J. Harvey and his family, who moved to Salinas before it was even a city. They built a house, a store, and became part of the group that incorporated and laid out the city, way back in 1868. Isaac’s oldest daughter, Saphronia, left town so she could go to college and get her teaching license, just to open up the first school in this new town.

The First Mayor’s House

Over the years, I worked with David Baker, Mary Randall, and MaryJane Choate to create lessons and tours for local school kids so they could understand their town’s history. It was so much fun!

Learning to play 1868 games

When we moved to Portland, I thought I was all done with that. But, like so many times before, I was wrong.

With all the schools going on-line because of Covid-19, The First Mayor’s House is making virtual tours and on-line lessons to take the place of actual walk-throughs of the House. It makes me sad that kids won’t get to pump the water and use the scrub board, roll a hoop or touch and feel the plants.

Maria and the aloe…

But, it turns out, I get to play! When MaryJane asked if I could read the story on camera, for kids to watch in their on-line classes. it seemed easy. Reading stories out loud was my favorite part of my thirty years of teaching. Piece of cake.

Wrong again. I had to find the story, which has been tucked away for years. In re-reading it, I discovered a factual error and had to figure out how to correct it. I had to find a ‘set’ (a bookcase in my bedroom) and a ‘camera crew’ (Auntie Bridgett) to make it look good.

Using my teacher voice…

And I had to use my teacher voice, which I have been running from for two years now. It was all harder than I thought.

But eventually we got a rough draft video done. I am still figuring out how to send to Salinas so they can include it in their collection. Or maybe, the internet being what it is, I don’t even send it, but just post it. Who knows? We are learning as we go along.

Love,

Grandma Judy

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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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In the caboose

What a long, wonderful day!

Love,

Grandma Judy