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Blog posts by Marla

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 www.santacruzredwoods.org. 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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Don’t Forget to submit to History Journal #8

Posted January 8, 2015

History Journal No. 8 – Article Solicitation The Forgotten People of Santa Cruz County
The History Publications Committee of the Museum of Art & History is pleased to announce that History Journal No. 8 will be devoted to the history of the people of Santa Cruz County. But not just any people, not the famous, or wealthy but forgotten or under-represented people.

The journal will be dedicated to local historian Phil Reader (1940 – 2014). Phil was a champion of the under-represented and disenfranchised. He researched, documented, and shared their history.

In the words of the historian and UCSC librarian emeritus, Stanley D. Stevens:

Phil was one of the most generous historians, focusing on Santa Cruz County and the underrepresented people that other historians chose not to write about, or deferred to Phil, knowing that he was developing “the” definitive history on that subject. His writing and research included African Americans, Outlaws, and Prostitutes. His “To Know My Name — A Chronological History of African Americans in Santa Cruz County” is a classic that reflects Phil’s attention to detail and accuracy. . . His wit and gracious presence will be missed by all who had the pleasure of knowing him, or those who he has touched by his spirit. Many of his essays (327 items) may be read on the Research Forum website, hosted by the Museum of Art & History.

In the spirit of Phil Reader this journal will capture the previously untold stories of the people who have not yet been written into Santa Cruz County history.

Below is a partial and preliminary list of those whose stories might be included in the journal. Some of these may take the form of major articles, while others may be short sidebars or presented in an appendix.

Unsung Heroes
Minority Communities
Quiet Philanthropists
The Defenseless
Servants of the Community
Those who Served
The Enslaved
The Frail and Vulnerable
Those Taken Advantage of
People who made a Difference
Thinkers
Unrecognized Craftspeople
Planning for History Journal No. 8 has already begun, and the Committee is soliciting proposals for contributions. Authors of articles will be asked to submit their finished contributions in September 2015, with publication expected the following year.

Guidelines for authors are available on the MAH website under Learn— History Publications— Guidelines for authors.

Please submit your suggestion in the form of an article abstract, by March 1, 2015, to the Chair of the Publications Committee, Lisa Robinson at lisaar@yahoo.com, (831) 338-4152, or to Marla Novomarla@santacruzmah.org, Santa Cruz MAH, 705 Front St., Santa Cruz, CA 95062.

Sincerely,
The History Publications Committee

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You’ve still got time. Dolkas Awards submission deadline is September 1st

Posted August 14, 2014

If you’ve got a local history project, we’d love to help you! Apply for a Dolkas Award. You’ve still got time.  Submissions must be turned into the MAH by September 1st. Go for it! http://www.santacruzmah.org/wp-content/uploads/Dolkas-Application-2014.doc

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History Journal #7 looks to split the history of redwood logging and conservation

Posted June 17, 2014

History Journal #7 editor Lisa Robinson discusses the new MAH publication and why it’s a great read.

Mountains of Santa Cruz 1875-1880 by Jules Tavernier

Redwood Logging and Conservation in the Santa Cruz Mountains – A Split History

This month, the long awaited Santa Cruz County History Journal #7 was released. Three years ago this journal was initiated by historian Stanley D. Stevens, then chair of the MAH publications Committee, because there was no single, comprehensive, book on the history of the lumber industry in the Santa Cruz Mountains. As the contents for the journal evolved it was clear that there were many angles to this story, all intricately entwined, and all needing to be told. Three years later this journal, with 21 authors, 34 articles, and an amazing 128 illustrations, delivers to the reader:

  • Local ethnographic history, cultural history, art history, and natural history. After all that is what we are about- right?
  • Contested history, including all the citations so you can dive deeper in to the material and judge for yourself.
  • Alternate lifestyles. This is Santa Cruz!
  • The growth of the preservation movement, which began much earlier than you might imagine, and the untold important roles played by Santa Cruzians in the formation of California’s first Redwood State Park.
  • The foresight and leadership of the lumber industry in Santa Cruz County and their pioneering methods.
  • Cutting edge research. Pardon the pun.
  • Oh and yes, a sprinkling of fun, tragedy, and romance.

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I visited Big Basin Redwoods State Park this week and took this photograph. It depicts the loggers’ spring board holes that were cut into the truck using an auger to create a platform on which the choppers and fallers stood in order to fell the giant old-growth tree. This remnant stump isn’t in some remote part of the park, but adjacent to a picnic area not too far from the park headquarters. But what say you – “I thought Big Basin was saved from the loggers.” Ah! Another great reason to read the journal.

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Artifact of the Month: Donuts and Diplomas, Eva Whinery’s Graduation Dress, 1896

Posted June 10, 2014

Eva Whinery's graduation dress, 1896

What Eva Whinery’s 1896 graduation dress looks like now

A few weeks ago, Nina brought in to work a lovely box packed with donuts. She bought them at Ferrell’s on Mission Street and wondered who else went there for donuts. “Well, it used to be a local hangout,” I said. “In high school we would go there after prom.” Nina wondered if that was still a rite of passage, so I decided to do a little research.

My niece, Kat went to the prom last month. On the big day, I asked her if she was thinking of going to Ferrell’s afterwards. Was that still the thing to do? Kat said she thought maybe it was, but she was going somewhere else.

While shopping for her dress, Kat texted me images of her options. I don’t think we have any prom dresses in the MAH collection, but we have Eva Whinery’s dress when she graduated from Santa Cruz High in 1896. It is a lovely confection of cream satin and lace, with its wonderful long sash still intact.

The MAH also has a photograph of Eva posing in her dress, holding her diploma. It’s curious to note that in the photo Eva’s dress has larger, leg-o-mutton sleeves (yes, that’s a fashion term), a style quite popular in late Victorian fashion.

Eva Whinery with diploma and leg-o-mutton sleeved dress, 1896

Eva Whinery with diploma and leg-o-mutton sleeved dress, 1896

The dress we now have has been altered. Eva probably wanted to get some extra mileage out of the dress and had it updated to go with the times. I think my niece might make some changes to her prom dress too. Chop off a few inches, and its life could extend in the form of a snappy cocktail dress (or so her mom hopes).

Another thing about Eva Whinery: she and her parents are buried at Evergreen  Cemetery near Harvey West Park. Evergreen was also a local high school hangout back in the day (but I’m not going to get into that now).

Back to the donuts: I think Farrell’s is still going strong even if it’s no longer a go-to post prom tradition. It seems fairly busy when I drive by and its Yelp reports are pretty favorable. There’s something about how they fry those donuts just right that keeps their customers coming back.

My niece graduates from Santa Cruz High this week, the same school Eva Whinery received her big, rolled up diploma so many years ago. Times have changed, hangouts shift, but every once in awhile it’s okay to take a picture in a fancy dress.

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