The Museum of Art & History at the McPherson Center

A Legacy of Caring: Evergreen’s Passionate Caregivers

Posted by on September 11, 2014

Written by Sangye Hawke//(c)2014 S.L.Hawke
This weekend we will be celebrating Evergreen Cemetery’s legacy. The families that chose Evergreen for their final resting place, have descendants who still  stay connected today. Those families that are no more, have been replaced by our team of volunteers, whom we lovingly refer to as The Evergreenies.
EVR_MainGate_DeEtteWheelThe Evergreenies themselves have a legacy that began back in the 1870s. It started with a decoration day, sponsored by the Masons and the G.A.R. who still maintain their sections today. Nature became involved and restored Evergreen to her liking, letting overgrowth, mudslides, and earthquakes rearrange Evergreen’s plots.
In 1906, DeEtte Newcomb (the lady in the wheel barrow), discovered Evergreen and set about her task, one of which included the installation of the wonderful iconic Main Gate Columns you see today.
She turned her task over to the Evergreen Cemetery Association which lasted until 1968. Again Nature volunteered her services. In 1969 another woman, Renie Lehman, discovered an overgrown cemetery called  Evergreen while taking a walk.  Times, they were a-changing! (See the flood photo below)
In 1974, Renie laid out ground rules and a roster for us to use. She called the organization H.E.L.P. From the Association’s books and DeEtte’s family’s memoirs these Evergreenies worked tirelessly through the 1990s. They gave us a reconstructed roster of interrees, one we are building off of today.  Nature came back for awhile, but only part time.
Today, we live by the rules of all our previous Evergreenies, plus a few of our own, such as excavation of older sites and cataloging found objects, an APP tour (in development), maintaining secure archival and historical data, and reestablishing connections between the past family plot and its current family descendants.  We even wear a green tee shirt.
What does it take to become an Evergreenie?
Volunteer and find out!
(If you are interested in becoming an Evergreenie contact diana[at]santacruzmah[dot]org.)

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How Watsonville Taiko Group developed a performance with 200 people about the drought

Posted by on August 27, 2014

As part of our ongoing Participatory Performing Artist-in-Residence Program (PPAIR), Joyce Smith of Watsonville Taiko Group writes about their experience developing a co-creative Taiko performance for our 3rd Friday: Games & Folklore event. Check out pictures here.

In May our business manager, Taeko, told us about a grant from the MAH for a family event, August 3rd Friday’s Games and Folklore. We knew there needed to be audience participation in the performance, but more so than our usual community performances that involve a performance followed by an opportunity for kids and adults to try out the drums and learn a simple song.  Each of our members will be actively participating with the audience in the creation of this performance at the MAH.

playingWe knew there would be a number of meetings with the museum staff to develop the program, that there would be workshops and then a performance. Our first job? Come up with a basic theme or story for the event.

Ikuyo chose Tolstoy’s story, “The Big Dipper.” The girl’s kindness and compassion, the magical elements, and the story revolving around a drought all make this the perfect starting place. Ikuyo asked me to take the short translated story and play with it.

Ikuyo, Taeko and I met up with MAH staff members, Emily and Stacey. What a fun meeting! Ikuyo shared comments/goals, which lined up perfectly with the vision of the museum staff. We shared the basic story line, discussed possible workshops, and the schedule for the day, etc. Ideas flew between the five of us. Thunder tubes … fish crafts … sandpaper makes a nice dry brittle sound … How much should Watsonville Taiko (WTG) drum … Taiko history … a very productive first meeting. I went home and started working on a rewrite of the story.

I have been working on a California version of the story, connecting Tolstoy’s themes and plot into a California setting. WTG will drum a song that Ikuyo wrote called Takinobori. This song is based on a Japanese legend about a fish fighting its way upstream and over waterfalls. I want to incorporate this song because it can represent our local Salmon as well as the carp of Japan. Salmon, coyotes, and horses became part of the tale.

Emails went back and forth with Ikuyo and Taeko… clarifications from Ikuyo of her artistic vision … revisions… editing … more emails and more changes … watching a YouTube version of the Big Dipper … visualizing the emotions and sounds Ikuyo hoped to create. Over the next few days the story started coming together. I sent off another version and another. By our next meeting with the MAH, we have a working script. At class that night we share the script with our drummers, their first real introduction to the project.

In July we gathered at the museum, and worked on refining details.  We looked at the number of people it would take to man the workshop tables, choreograph our young fish and stars, and teach the music and rhythms to our audience performers. Adjustments are made, activities refined.

After a quick dinner break it was off to Watsonville for Friday classes. We learn that we will be working with the script with the community performers on Saturday.

booksWe practiced drumming for an hour, then started looking at all the percussion instruments– cymbals, rain sticks, bowls with pebbles in them, chimes, bells, all colors and shapes. As a group we start signing up for different activities and workshops. We plotted it all out, discussed, laughed, and experimented. Bonnie’s summer kids workshop could possibly drum the sound of the horses.  Sandy has learned a wonderful way for people to create rain sounds with their hands and bodies.  Suzie is a dancer, Kay a primary school teacher. They will choreograph the stars and the fish.  Hiroshi will lead the origami workshop.  On and on it went. Such a great community feeling!

After an hour of class time, we practiced songs for the Church Street Fair, which was coming up in 2 days.  Then at 9:00, when the drums must go silent, we worked on the MAH project.  Shifting of assignments, more instruments passed out, and a very rough run through of the story. We were joined by several GreyBear drummers as well as Kathie’s granddaughter.

Taeko tried out teaching folks to play Twinkle Twinkle with the colored bells, and we all had fun becoming happy coyotes.

Bonnie’s kids had their first class the previous Sunday, and were finding their way around the practice drums.

peopleIn early August, I prepared for a meeting at 2pm with the museum staff. Looking around my computer room I saw scripts, “cast” lists, and instruments– so many instruments. The event was one week away.  Will we be ready? Will it go smoothly? Only time will tell, but it has been a wonderful experience so far.

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

Posted by on 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!

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

Posted by on August 4, 2014

Mountains of Santa Cruz 1875-1880 by Jules Tavernier

History Journal #7

The history of the Santa Cruz Mountain redwoods consists of many stories: stories that tell of the thousands of years these aged giants thrived as the Ohlone people managed the landscape; that tell of the settlers who came from afar and saw the seemingly endless forests as a source of profit; that tell of the far-sighted women and men who joined together to preserve groves of these ancient trees. The stories progress to the present day as the split interests of logging and conservation continue to collide.

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

Posted by on 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.












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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