The name rings a bell
In my last column I shared a short thanks to the Watkins couple, who represented all of the bell-ringers collecting money for FISH at Christmas. Within days, a call arrived from Barney Watkins to clarify some misinformation. I am grateful to Barney for setting me straight and happy to share what I learned from him.
First, Barney’s sweetheart is Mary. I misstated her name, which I won’t repeat here (furthering everyone’s confusion). Second, he and Mary wanted to make sure that folks knew more about the work that our local Rotary Club of Glen Ellen and Kenwood is doing.
The good news is that is the local Rotary has been coordinating the bell-ringing for FISH for the past five years, and it is mostly Rotarians who serve. Glad to know that, and I appreciate them all.
Food for learning
Barney had more good news about Rotary’s efforts locally. The Glen Ellen and Kenwood group has instituted two great programs at Dunbar School. One is delivering food to students attending the Boys and Girls Club after-school program. Every Friday, Barney and other Rotarians go to the food bank in Santa Rosa, pick up donations, and then fill bags so that 31 children receive food for their families for the weekend. Along with the Food Bank, Whole Foods has been helping Rotary with this project. Barney figures they have provided about 5,000 meals a year for needy families. Huzzah!
The Glen Ellen and Kenwood Rotary also tested a pilot program at Dunbar during the past three years that has now been adopted by the district for other schools in the coming year. Barney tells me it is a learning program using DreamBox (for math) and Lexia (for reading) to help students work independently at their own speed. Rotary aided this project by providing iPads and computers.
Native Americans, adventurers and tourists
On Jan. 9, Arthur Dawson, awesome Glen Ellen historical expert, spoke at the Sonoma Community Center as a guest of the Sonoma Valley Historical Society. His topic was a brief history of Glen Ellen from the Ice Age onward.
Sweetie and I took a forward row seat to see and hear all that Arthur had to offer, from the beginnings of our village with the Native American tribes who made their homes here (including the Wappos, Coast Miwok and the Pomos) to the present day. From the earliest Europeans (mostly Spanish), to the Mission Era (with its veil of sadness for the native peoples), to the time of land grants and ranchos, through the regime-changing Californios, Arthur shared stories of Glen Ellen’s early occupants and visitors. He told us about the first vineyardists (featuring prominent women winemakers Kate Warfield, Eliza Hood and Ellen Stuart), the tourist era of the railroads (when Glen Ellen sported eight hotels and a dozen bars), Dr. O’Donnell’s brick yard, and then, after the railroads, the Golden Gate Bridge and still more tourists, now in their cars.
Arthur ended his talk with a few personal reminiscences of some of the major players he has been able to interview.
Arthur is a gentle and compelling speaker who brings the past alive with his stories and his enthusiasm for his home town. If you missed Arthur’s last talk, I urge you to be alert for his next, and plan to attend.