Monday, July 1, 2019

World War II Aircraft Speak of Courage on D-Day Anniversary

Robin Chapman standing with the B-24 aircraft dubbed "Witchcraft" at Moffett Federal Airfield. The B-24 is maintained by the Collings Foundation.

I probably would not have taken a flight on this World War II aircraft, if I had not won it in a drawing at the Moffett Historical Museum. My parents were members of the museum before me, and every year the museum holds a drawing when the Collings Foundation's Wings of Freedom Tour pays a visit to Moffett. Entering the drawing is a way to contribute to the museum. No one was more surprised than I when they drew my ticket. 

Saturday, May 11, 2019

Fire at Notre-Dame de Paris recalls Mission Santa Clara Blaze

This 1926 photo of Mission Santa Clara burning was taken on October 25, 1926, when fire destroyed the 101 year old building. It may be used only with the permission of the 
Department of Archives & Special Collections, Santa Clara University.

Historic buildings, like Notre-Dame de Paris and Mission Santa Clara, are often subject to fire because they were built long before the use of electricity. In older times, candles often started the fires in old buildings. In the twentieth century, primitive wiring, retrofitted on to these historic buildings is often to blame.

Monday, April 22, 2019

Take a Walk Through the Historic Los Altos Apricot Orchard

Artist Cynthia Riordan spends some quiet time in the Los Altos Civic Center Apricot Orchard.  The Orchard is a City Historic Landmark. 

I thought you might enjoy taking a walk at your leisure through the Los Altos Civic Center Apricot Orchard. I researched and wrote it last summer and have led it myself half-a-dozen times. But now I've posted it here so you can call it up on your device and take it yourself. Or you can relax at home and take it as an armchair tour! 

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

When Future Star Esther Williams Eloped to a Small Town

This vintage postcard shows MGM star Esther Williams circa 1952. 
She was gorgeous and she had already had two children.

If you like movie star trivia you are in good company with me. I love learning more about film history and the interesting people who made their home in this industry. Esther Williams is certainly one of the more unusual. An award-winning swimmer, she had planned to compete in the 1940 Olympics, but the summer games were cancelled by the beginning of World War II.

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

Marking California History Along the Old El Camino Real

This Mission Bell Marker can be found near the intersection of El Monte Avenue and El Camino Real on the southbound side of the roadway.

I'm not sure if drivers and passengers are taking note of what is outside their windows these days as they ride along America's highways. But there is a lot of history to see out there for those who would find it.

Thursday, January 10, 2019

New Book Talks and Signings for "Visionaries" and "Apricots"

"Historic Bay Area Visionaries" is a hit in our Silicon Valley library system, where there are now a dozen copies in circulation--and they're all checked out! I donated two more at a recent talk at the Los Altos Library.

We have lots of talks scheduled for 2019, and I hope you will find time to stop by and say hello at one or more of them. I always like to see familiar faces when I am at these events. It is a delight to see so many of you! Here are the details: 

Thursday, December 27, 2018

Robert Louis Stevenson's First Christmas in California

Robert Louis Stevenson photographed in Boston, 1887. Courtesy of 
Historic Bay Area Visionaries and the California Historical Society.

If you've ever had a blue Christmas (and even Elvis had one of those), you have some great company in the poet and writer Robert Louis Stevenson. He came to California in 1879 from Scotland on a journey of romance and, at first, it did not appear to be going well. Here's what happened over the holidays (and be sure and read it all the way through, as there is a lesson in the story). And for more on Stevenson in California, pick up a copy of my book Historic Bay Area Visionaries (History Press 2018). Merry Christmas! 

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