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Depot Park hosts exhibit on Valley’s famous women

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Sylvia Crawford/Glen Ellen Columnist

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Sandi Hansen, a dear co-worker from back in the old days at the Index-Tribune, and now director of the Depot Park Museum, recently wrote to me about a historical display that folks in Glen Ellen will want to visit. In honor of Women’s History month, the Depot Park Museum created a special exhibit on famous women of Sonoma Valley. The display, of course, includes special women from Glen Ellen. And why not … our town has included some notable folks.

A diversity of divas

Former Glen Ellen residents included among the women featured in this exhibit are Mary Ellen Pleasant, M.F.K. Fisher, Alma de Brettville Spreckels, Juanita Musson and Charmian London. A more diverse group I can hardly imagine.
I haven’t yet had a chance to see the exhibit, but I plan to be there soon. The Depot Museum, located just off First Street West one block north of the Plaza in Sonoma, is open from 1 to 4 p.m. on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. While admission is always free, donations are much appreciated.

Never before seen photos

Carol Page, long-time, dedicated volunteer at the Depot Museum, coordinated and curated the exhibit. Included in the photographs are a couple of never-before-seen photos of Jack and Charmian (not to mention a few nearly nude photos of Juanita). Carol is one of the helpful docents at the museum, and serves as a board member. “She has great talent and knowledge; Carol’s a great supporter of our museum,” remarked Sandi.

Dedicated museum volunteer

Like many of the women featured in the exhibit, Carol is a resident of our hometown, Glen Ellen, living in a lovely Victorian-style farmhouse just off Arnold Drive with her husband, Larry. When I talked to Carol recently, she easily offered, “I love our town; the whole Sonoma Valley is beautiful.” She added that her nephew, a recent visitor from Daly City asked her, “Does living here seem like being on vacation every day?” And indeed it can.

Carol’s other current good news is her daughter Heather Page Alter’s engagement to Dave Mackey from San Jose.

Perfect wine country wedding

The two sweethearts recently visited Glen Ellen touring wineries, caterers, florists and bakeries, in search of the perfect wine country wedding. Of course, their favorite places to visit are Sonoma and Glen Ellen, so that is where they will choose a site for their wedding ceremony.

I suggested the quartet of beautiful venues east of Highway 12. That would be Beltane Ranch, Atwood Ranch, Quarryhill Botanical Gardens and the Bouverie Preserve. What lovelier places can one imagine?

Cheek to cheek chic at Bouverie and Quarryhill

The Bouverie Preserve, along with its famous former residents, is in the news again this week. David Pleydell-Bouverie provided the property and design for M.F.K. Fisher’s Last House. Each spring, for the past three years, Audubon Canyon Ranch (ACR), Bouverie’s parent organization, has held a fund-raiser in support of their education programs, honoring M.F.K. and David. It’s called the “Art of Eating” and provides a bountiful occasion for celebrating food and festivities, much in the fashion that both David and Mary Frances enjoyed.

Bouverie celebrates wine, life and junipers

This year’s country picnic honors Marty Griffin and Carolyn Wente, and includes an exhibit on M.F.K. Fisher, “Wine is Life,” curated by Randy Tarpey-Schwed. However, for me, the real stars of this show are the youngsters chosen from Bouverie’s Juniper Class (young junior naturalists) who will speak to the crowd about the importance of nature education.

The joy of getting outside offered by the Juniper program is well known by the adult docents who run the program and the kids exclaim about it with enthusiasm. I’ll look forward to seeing some of my friends and neighbors at this event. It’s scheduled for May 18, in the afternoon. Save that date and then look it up on ACR’s website, egret.org.

Quarryhill expedites education

That same weekend, the evening before, Quarryhill Botanical Garden is holding its annual fund-raiser, “Expedition for Education.” On Saturday, May 17, from 5:30 to 8 p.m., the gorgeous gardens will be alive with the ultimate sensory experience.
A tour through the garden offers stunning beauty with aromas to delight, birds’ blissful music, Asian inspired delicacies to sample, all the while sensing the splendor of nature.

My suggestion: invite your out-of-town friends for a weekend they’ll never forget: Saturday evening at glorious Quarryhill, crowned by Sunday’s elegant country picnic at the Bouverie. While egret.org leads you to the Bouverie’s “Art of Eating,” quarryhill.org will provide you with the details of tickets for the grand garden tour they’re calling “Wild Collections.”

Beltane history revealed at Depot Park

More good news related to the Depot Park Museum’s exhibit on famous women of Glen Ellen and beyond: they are sponsoring a talk that is of special interest to folks in Glen Ellen.

Good neighbor, Alexa Wood of Beltane Ranch, will reveal the intriguing history of the ranch in a talk at the Depot Museum on Friday, March 14, at 2 p.m.

Yesteryear’s Wappos to present day tenants

Ranging from the Wappo natives that occupied the dusty land, through the era of the mysterious Mary Ellen Pleasant (who preceded Rosa Parks in insisting on her right to use public transportation – and Pleasant won her suit. But that was San Francisco; the city of Birmingham for Ms. Parks was much the tougher nut to crack). Alexa will continue from Ms. Pleasant into the present, where Alexa’s recently married son Alex Benward (alongside his beautiful bride, Breanne) manages the Beltane vineyard while Alexa maintains the bed and breakfast. We expect Alexa to share exciting stories from the 1800s to today.

Search and research for unknown father

Another local woman, famous in her own right, is seeking information. Justine Ashton, founder and co-director of Glen Ellen based Wine Country Film Festival, writes with an inquiry. It’s vague, but she hopes that someone, somewhere will have a glimmer of insight and lead her to a lifetime discovery.

Justine is seeking her biological father. Justine was adopted and raised by a family in New York and New Jersey. It was less than a decade ago that Justine discovered her biological mother, Dorothy Gotthardt. That search was prompted by a 1993 bank robbery, fueled by the predictions of psychic channeler, finally culminating in success. Yes, that’s quite a cliffhanger, but Justine will someday write the book that will explain this mysterious chain of events.

Justine was able to contact and meet her birth mother. She had one visit with her and learned so much. But not the identity of her birth father.

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Want to see your own name in the news? Share your stories with friends and neighbors in Glen Ellen. Call or write me at 996-5995 or P.O. Box 518, GE 95442. Or email me at Creekbottom@earthlink.net. Glen Ellen chatter rarely requires timeliness; however, if your news does, please be sure to contact me at least two weeks before your desired publication date.