Thursday, June 2, 2016

Silicon Valley Historical Societies, Aging Pioneers and Locked Doors

I thought it might be time to comment on some of the historical groups and associations in our region, many of whom are doing amazing work to preserve our local history and keep their doors open. Sadly, some seem to be failing in their mission to inform newer residents about our past, or to display what they own in online collections, keeping some local city histories locked up in file cabinets behind closed doors, due to an aging volunteer base, poor leadership and other chronic issues.

I make that latter comment with a compassionate caveat, since it is our choice as residents to support historical institutions and associations with our personal and corporate volunteer time, money, skills and resources, and to insure that our neighborhood's pasts and histories are preserved and displayed for future generations, online and in person. 

(Pinterest - Unknown Source)
Yet, it is also our role as residents to ask historical societies and museums for more accessibility to their records and the artifacts in their collections, when repositories seem more often closed than open to residents and visitors, especially on evenings and weekends, or when their events seem more tied to local fiction authors than presentations by historians. 

(Yes, I can hear museum executives and boards exclaiming over funding and the lack of volunteers, yet many historic associations are supported by area Rotary, Chamber and City Council members, who could more effectively seek regional support for the museums in their cities, so museum curators may focus on managing and growing their volunteers and collections, rather than constant fundraising efforts.) 

Why maintain strong museums, from a local business point of view? Strong museums draw new and continuing tourism and trade to our cities.

Historically, preserved historic regions draw greater foot traffic to local restaurants and businesses, as residents have observed on North Santa Cruz Avenue and the west end of University Avenue in downtown Los Gatos, on Big Basin Way in downtown Saratoga, on Castro Street in Mountain View, on Old Murphy Avenue in Sunnyvale, in the quaint neighborhoods around the Rose Garden and the University of Santa Clara, everywhere in historic downtown Los Altos and on the west end of Lincoln Avenue in Willow Glen. Typically, historic associations and museums crop up in these historic districts, often in historic buildings.

Since strong museums in historically preserved areas are profitable for cities and the local businesses which surround them, they deserve more dynamic support from local corporations, Chambers of Commerce and City Council members.

CDC: Zombie Preparedness
Don't let me scare you off, this is not going to be a plea for your money or time, since many in SV are already overwhelmed with work, kids' schedules and lack of downtime, while battling some of the worst urban traffic north of LA. 

If you can stay with me for just a bit longer, I promise this won't be painful and you might learn something interesting about your region. Will you hang in there a bit longer? Great, thanks so much.

Why preserve our history? Because it is fascinating, unexpected and varied:

1. Did you know that our area was a home for East Coast and European sea captains who retired from hauling men and goods to the 1875 Gold Rush in San Francisco, then brought their vineyard and wine making knowledge to what is now Silicon Valley? Captain Elijah Stephens ("Stevens Creek Boulevard" has his name, although misspelled) was one such English captain known for his brandies in West Side (now Cupertino.) His vineyards became part of what is now Blackberry Farm.

2. We have the oldest commercial winery in Northern California (pre-dating the loudest claimant, Buena Vista Winery. )  Old Almaden Winery still sits in a small park in San Jose. Sadly, corporate donors have not yet been found to retrofit the old brick winery structure to make it and its underground wine cave safe as a future wine history museum.
Ollivia de Havilland Wikipedia Commons

3. Did you know that Saratoga was once the childhood home of Gone with the Wind actor Olivia de Havilland, her sister, Joan Fontaine (Alfred Hitchcock's Rebecca and Suspicion), and their mother, Lost Weekend actor, Lillian Fontaine? Both daughters won Academy Awards for their roles in the above movies and were active in local Saratoga school productions.

4) Did you know that Monte Sereno's Fred Hitt ran a fireworks factory there? (His pharmacist brother, Thomas Hitt, made fireworks in Washington State.) Both brothers were noted for producing the battle scenes, explosions and fires for All Quiet on the Western Front, the burning of Atlanta scenes in Gone with the Wind, and a re-enactment of the eruption of Mt. Lassen including lava pours, explosions and smoke, when that National Park was opened to the public in the 1930's.

Disneyand Railroad Wikipedia Commons
5) Did you know that Los Gatos was home to an orchardist and former railroad roustabout, Billy Jones, who built a railroad line around the perimeter of his Los Gatos ranch, then gave neighbors rides on that steam locomotive every Sunday, attracting Walt Disney when he heard about Jones' generosity to local children? When Disneyland opened in Anaheim on July 17, 1955, Jones was asked to be the first engineer on Disneyland Railroad, taking the first visitors on the Grand Circle Tour around the new theme park.

6) Did you know that Sunnyvale's Fremont High School, formerly known as West Side Union High School, and the old Cupertino Union Grammar School, reportedly produced many notables and millionaires from their former study body members? Notable names have included members of the Paul Mariani family and Apple's Greg Porter.

7) Guess how many of these stories I discovered at local museums and their online sites? (Answer: Only story #3, at the Saratoga Historical Foundation Museum, run by Foundation President, Annette Stransky.)

Kudos to the California Pioneers of Santa Clara County for placing many early recovered Santa Clara Valley home and commercial videos online in converted digital editions, and to Jim Reed, Curator Emeritus, and Cate Mills, Curator of Library and Archives at History San José, for making many images and documents in the extensive HSJ collection searchable online.

Kudos also to the continuing work of Mary Hanel of the Santa Clara Central Park Library Heritage Pavilion and SCCHGS, who continues to work with local historical groups in retirement. Applause to the California History Room: Local History Collection at the Martin Luther King Jr. Branch of the San Jose Public Library System, for their resources which may be accessed seven days a week.

Likewise, it would be remiss not to acknowledge the astonishingly comprehensive work of John Hollar and the team at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, who offer visitors an imaginative visual and hands-on experience with our digital history.

Yet, there are still so many historical groups in this region doing their best to preserve one small corner of early Valley life with dwindling resources and volunteers, let alone digital collection, preservation and presentation skills.

Some historic groups still resist using email to distribute their membership newsletters and event updates, and many do not respond to email requests nor update aging Web sites, despite prodding by newer board members (who sometimes quit in frustration, when their advice to modernize meets chronic resistance, month after month.)

Elijah Stephens (CHSM)
I urge residents (and struggling historic groups) to share their early videos, images and documents with the California Pioneers of Santa Clara County, with History San José, with SCCHGS, with SJPL and with the Online Archive of California, so our early histories do not remain locked in file cabinets behind closed doors, year after year.

If you have a moment, stop by your local museum or history association one weekend to see what they have to offer. If their doors are frequently closed, write to your local Chamber of Commerce, your local Rotary Club and your City Council members, to ask their support in making the rooms and resources of your local museum or history association more available to working residents, so families may explore regional holdings together.

If the doors of your local museum or history association are open frequently, both on weekends and perhaps even one weeknight, please drop a $1 (or as much as you can afford) in their donation box, then find out what their future plans are for expansion, both online or on site.

The collected information about our regional roots will amaze you, once you finally gain access to museums and history associations responsible for our collective pasts.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Drought, Aquifer Wars and Sonar Dowsing

Interestingly enough, California has been affected by many droughts in past years, with the worst period of recorded drought (since the inception of hydrology) occurring between 1928-34, 1976-77, 1987-92 and 2007-09.

How droughts occur:

California's water tables depend on a few Pacific coastal storms occurring between November and March each year. If a Pacific high pressure system lingers off the coast preventing those storms from depositing rain or snow in winter months, dry conditions in California and Silicon Valley, may last throughout the year, or a few years, if high pressure systems recur in consecutive years.

Uvas reservoir, Creative Commons 

Likewise, according to E. R. Cook at Earth Science Reviews (as illustrated by the Mercury news), the Western United States has experienced prior 200-year droughts during the European Middle Ages, so some feel our shorter periods of drought are of less concern in terms of climate change. Of course, that hypothesis is controversial, since access to water remains a political and economic source of dispute for many Californians engaged in agriculture or near large urban cities, where the bulk of city water may be imported from other counties yet used more for landscaping than for food production.

Mercury News Illustration

Unrestricted groundwater drilling: An ongoing California problem:

Sadly, the creation of new California wells in agricultural regions has more than doubled in the last several years, with apparently no State records or monitoring taking place for privately-drilled wells (which now occur at much deeper depths than in past years) and which continue to deplete state aquifers, according to a July 2015 Water in the West Stanford University report. These privately-held wells reportedly are allowed to drain their California aquifer source dry, unlike wells in other states where extracted water is monitored so aquifers are not significantly depleted, according to an August 2014 National Geographic report on the boom in groundwater drilling in California's Central Valley.

New Legislation to protect aquifers: Too little too late?

New California legislation on groundwater pumping may be too little too late to save heavily-tapped aquifers, since many changes in new California laws will not take place until 2020, based on resistance from California agricultural lobbyists who have fought to allow Central Valley farmers access to new wells without extraction limits. Under the new laws drillers have 5 to 7 years to develop extraction plans, yet have until 2040 to implement them, time which may be used to repeal these new laws by agricultural lobbyists, as composition of the State legislature changes over time.

New sonar devices measure water source depth, aiding proportional usage limitations:

According to a Cal Alumni Association article, "The predominant techniques used to measure well water levels—measuring tapes or pressure sensors—are labor-intensive and costly. The U.S. Geological Survey monitors less than 10 percent of its 20,000 wells, California’s Department of Water Resources monitors a few hundred." The article continues to state that the development of new sonar devices which not only locate aquifers but monitor their depth, may aid local legislation efforts to monitor water extraction, so new agricultural wells are no longer draining water resources and aquifers completely dry in some regions of California.

Resurgence of Dowsers in agricultural and Wine Country regions:

"Water witches," or dowsers, those who use so-called divining rods (parallel hand-held metal rods) to locate underground sources of water, have been in high demand since the current drought has lingered and water restrictions have increased. Many practitioners are members of the American Society of Dowsers which has a San Jose chapter with both "spiritual" healing and water dowsers. The ASD also has a Water for Humanity Fund which seeks to use practical dowsing to improve global water sourcing and global water purification projects, among other goals. Their water dowsers have been particularly popular in the Wine Country.


"Pretty much all the farmers I know won't drill a well if they don't have a dowser," said Napa Valley vintner Marc Mondavi, of the famous wine-making family, who happens to be a dowser. Two years ago, Mondavi released a new label - a Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay called the Divining Rod - a tribute to his dowsing. Pretty much all of my weekends are spent dowsing. I'm backlogged."

(SVL Note: We did a blind test of dowsing at a gathering in a rural wine country area, by loosely holding parallel metal rods near a hidden water source known to only one attendee, yet not revealed to those present. About 30% of those who tried dowsing experienced crossed rods over the water source, while the remaining attendees experienced no reaction. Again, we were not told where the hidden water source existed, we were told to walk around while loosely holding the rods parallel in our hands, "then see what happens." The metal rods in my hands crossed rapidly over the water source, much like a magnet attracts a metal object. It was completely unexpected.)

Marc Mondavi demo at Charles Krug

Dowsing practitioners like Mondavi claim a 95% success rate in locating water, yet without adequate regulations protecting California's aquifers from continued, non-monitored drilling and extraction, or a per unit reduction in the state's ABAG Regional Housing Needs Assessment (RHNA) mandate to provide low cost housing in proportion to new office development in Silicon Valley cities, California's water from all sources, may be in scarce supply by 2040.

Take the California Water Challenge Quiz online:

Next 10, a San Francisco-based ecological non-profit, hosts an online California Water Challenge Quiz and fact sheet which presents some interesting facts and water use alternatives for residents, along with the ability for residents to submit grass roots ideas on water conservation which might positively impact the availability of California's natural resources in future years.

The Next 10 Water FAQ's and Quiz may be found at:
http://www.cawaterchallenge.org/pages/overview

-----------------------

Resources online and at your local library:

To find a recent book or article on California's water challenges at your local library, check this list of titles on OCLC.

To find a book on Dowsing at your local library, check this list of titles on OCLC.

To find a book on California drought history and hydrology at your local library, check this list of titles on OCLC.

To find a book on California legislation and well drilling technology at your local library, check this list of titles on OCLC.

To find current California State Water Code, see the California Water Code list at Leginfo.

To find recent or pending state legislation on California wells, safety, drilling and water extraction, see the current bill list at Leginfo.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Memorial Day 2014 and the Forgotten Comfort Women of WWII

Silicon Valley may have it's first monument to the suffering of "Comfort Women," the young women and girls who were coerced into sexual slavery in Imperial Japanese Army-occupied East Asia during WWII, if a monument to remember the Holocaust and World Genocide is approved by one of our local cities. 

To date, discussions on erecting a monument of this type have been tabled, apparently based on possible controversy with partners in local sister City programs. A group of area residents continue to revise and redesign memorial plans to accommodate concerns, hoping to to revisit approval for a world genocide memorial at future council sessions, much like the group who assisted Sonoma State University achieve consensus for it's elegant, educational Holocaust and Genocide Memorial Grove, mentioned below:
"Hundreds of bricks display the messages of love, honor and hope. This project was launched by a few people with a budget of hope and promise, the joint efforts of the Sonoma State University School of Social Sciences, The Center for the Study of the Holocaust and Genocide, The Alliance for the Study of the Holocaust, and donor principal donor Mr. David Salm. It was made possible, too, by the generosity of the whole community and especially the businesses who have extended themselves in a most meaningful way to affirm the phrase 'Never again.' ” 
--- 
http://www.sonoma.edu/holocaustgrove/

Sonoma State University
Holocaust and Genocide Memorial Grove
Why Remember Comfort Women?

Comfort Women have been viewed as victims of genocide, since many of the girls and young women who were coerced into sexual slavery during WWII, were left at the front to die by retreating Imperial Japanese Army troops. 

Likewise, many surviving Comfort Women were left infertile due to shots they were given to control venereal diseases during the war.

 Sonoma State University, after careful deliberation and study, erected a Holocaust and Genocide Memorial Grove on campus. The focus of the memorial is a lovely sculpture by Jann Nunn which serves as a beacon for peace, when lit after dark. 

Tiles with names of those who were lost to genocide form stylistic railroad ties under metal rods representing train tracks. These "track" converge under the green glass memorial, in a peaceful grove setting near a man-made lake on campus.

A quote by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. is inscribed at the base of the cylindrical sculpture:
"Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter."


You may view a segment of  the 2009 Holocaust and Genocide Memorial Grove Dedication Ceremony at Sonoma State University below, or at: http://youtu.be/RvpkvNIctz4



Jan Ruff-O'Herne, a Netherlander, who
was forced to serve as a Comfort
Woman at 17, in a WWII Imperial Japanese
Army Comfort Station in East Asia.
The History of Comfort Women During WWII

In 1932 the first Comfort Station in Shanghai was allegedly staffed by "volunteer" Japanese prostitutes. As the war expanded into Eastern Asia, more comfort stations were required by the Imperial Japanese Army, however, "volunteers" could not be found to fill new locations. More aggressive actions were employed to coerce, force or trick women and young girls into sexual slavery from regions surrounding new Imperial Japanese Army encampments beyond Shanghai. 

There is controversy as to whether the army or their agents or both, engaged in the coercion. What is clear, however, is that girls and women were sexually exploited and held captive for up to three years during the war, and in some cases murdered or left to die by retreating Imperial soldiers.

Girls and women from Korea, China, the Philippines, Burma, Thailand, Vietnam, Malaysia, Taiwan, Indonesia, the Netherlands Dutch East Indies and Australia, were reportedly among victims coerced into sexual slavery for Imperial Japanese Army bases in East Asia.

The girls and women were called ianfu by the Japanese, a euphemism meaning, "Comfort Women." Some teenagers and women came from vulnerable circumstances and were offered work in factories and laundries, yet were sent to fill new Comfort Stations outside of Shanghai, then not allowed to leave or return home. 

Other Dutch women, like Jan Ruff-O'Herne (pictured above left) were found among girls living in Japanese concentration camps, who were told to line up and be inspected by Imperial Japanese Army officers. Officers selected girls from the lineup, then transported them to a military brothel, where they were told to either submit to officers or be murdered, and as O'Herne states, were raped repeatedly soon after they arrived.

Video of Jan Ruff-O'Herne and her daughters, telling her WWII story: http://youtu.be/Mard9WrYn2I


According to Japanese military documents, the Comfort Stations were developed to prevent local "rape crimes" by Japanese Imperial troops. 

Surviving Comfort Women like Jan Ruff-O'Herne, report that they were raped multiple times each day by troops, with the number of rapes multiplied 4 to 5 times over weekends.


Reparations for Surviving Comfort Women

Former Comfort Woman Ok-seon Lee at a
shelter for former sex workers. Guardian
Ok-seon Lee, (right) who stated that she was coerced into sexual slavery as a 15-year-old hotel worker and later stabbed by an Imperial Japanese Army officer, visited Washington DC to celebrate the anniversary of (2007) House Resolution 121 during a July 17, 2013 reception at the House of Representatives. 

H. Res. 121 read, in summary: 

"The Government of Japan should formally acknowledge, apologize, and accept historical responsibility in a clear and unequivocal manner for its Imperial Armed Force’s coercion of young women into sexual slavery, known to the world as ‘‘comfort women’’, during its colonial and wartime occupation of Asia and the Pacific Islands from the 1930s through the duration of World War II." 

Previously, in August 4, 1993, The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan had issued what has become known as the Kono Statement, which stated in part:
"The recruitment of the comfort women was conducted mainly by private recruiters who acted in response to the request of the military. The Government study has revealed that in many cases they were recruited against their own will, through coaxing coercion, etc., and that, at times, administrative/military personnel directly took part in the recruitments. They lived in misery at comfort stations under a coercive atmosphere.  
Undeniably, this was an act, with the involvement of the military authorities of the day, that severely injured the honor and dignity of many women. 
The Government of Japan would like to take this opportunity once again to extend its sincere apologies and remorse to all those, irrespective of place of origin, who suffered immeasurable pain and incurable physical and psychological wounds as comfort women."
In a March 2014 statement Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe responded to conservative Japanese politicians who requested that Abe, "water down" the 1993 Kono apology to Comfort women, alleging there was "no evidence of large-scale coercion by government authorities or the military." Abe refused, stating to a parliamentary panel:
"With regard to the 'comfort women' issue, I am deeply pained to think of the comfort women who experienced immeasurable pain and suffering, a feeling I share equally with my predecessors."  
"The Kono Statement addresses this issue ... and, as my Chief Cabinet Secretary Suga stated in news conferences, the Abe Cabinet has no intention to review it."
Many surviving Comfort Women and their families believe that an apology is not enough.

In 2007 there was some confusion over how funds and services for reparations to Comfort Women were being handled, according to the BBC. Some Japanese citizens raised private funds for compensation to surviving Comfort Women through the Asian Women's Fund. However, the BBC states that in some cases, the money went to medical centers and homes for the elderly, rather than to victims, while a few survivors received $16,700 from the fund.


Monuments and Oral Histories Remembering Comfort Women 

NPR has developed a slide-show on the testimonies of some surviving Comfort Women, some of whom state that they were coerced into sexual slavery and raped at just 10 years of age.

There were an estimated 200,000 women from East Asia who were trafficked as Comfort Women during WWII, according to historians, so the lack of memorials to these exploited women and girls, is troubling to many worldwide. 

Chinese and Malaysian girls held at an
Imperial Japanese Army Comfort Station during WWII
Koreans have spearheaded a movement to preserve the legacy of Comfort Women, so their suffering is not lost to history. 

In Seoul, Korea, the bronze statue of a seated Korean girl, representing a coerced WWII Comfort Woman, faces the Japanese Embassy in silent tribute.

Korean residents in Glendale, California, moved to erect a twin statue of the Seoul memorial statue at Glendale Central Park, yet were met with resistance from some in the Japanese community, who claimed that all military Comfort Women "were there voluntarily," which is only true in regards to the first Shanghai Comfort Station of 1932.

Some Japanese-American residents found the memorial "divisive," yet other residents referred to the statue as a "Peace Monument."

A similar outcry took place when a monument to Comfort Women was erected in Palisades Park, New Jersey in 2010. Japanese-American residents and representatives from the Japanese government asked the city council there to have it removed. However, Mayor James Rotundo stated that the monument was there for educational purposes, to raise awareness of the role of Comfort Women in WWII history.

Gendale city council member Frank Quintero stated that many complaints about the memorial came from Japan, where some believed that the so-called, "Rape of Nanking" was also a fabricated story, despite the fact that Japanese veterans who served in Nanking in December 1937, admitted that a massive slaughter of non-combatants took place.

Bok-Dong Kim, Survivor, Glendale
WWII Comfort Women Memorial
Contra Costa Times
Historians estimate that the number of civilians slaughtered in Nanking could be anywhere from 40,000 to 200,000, over the six-week period of time when the Japanese attack took place. 

Existing photos show some prisoners of the Imperial Japanese Army being buried alive, and some mothers and daughters raped with sticks, bottles and other weapons, then having expired from their injuries. 

Massacre photos were captured in a December 13, 1937  film by American Episcopal priest, John Magee, who was a missionary to Nanking at the time of the Imperial Japanese Army assault.

Magee was credited with saving thousands of lives during the slaughter. His witness to that event is memorialized at Yale University's Digital Archive of  Documents and Photos from American Missionaries who Witnessed the Rape of Nanking.

Currently there are only four memorials to Comfort Women in the United States


Why a Silicon Valley Monument Remembering Genocide During WWII?

Honoring and remembering the girls and women who were often fatally coerced into sexual slavery during WWII after the first "voluntary" Shanhai Comfort Station was expanded, as well as other nations who lost citizens to genocidal events in world history, remains important in returning dignity and respect to those who were affected.

Jan Ruff-O'Herne & surviving Comfort Women, Japan, 1993
Sydney Morning Herald
By remembering thousands of Australian, East Asian and Netherlander Dutch East Indies women during World War II, the stories of those women will not be lost to history. 

Public memorials, like the monument being considered by one Silicon Valley city, serve to raise awareness and prevent similar atrocities, reducing the likelihood that atrocities will be repeated, based on increasing public education on world history. 

A public memorial may also serve to lift an undeserved residue of shame from those girls and women who were coerced and exploited into sexual slavery during WWII, yet have remained unable to speak of their wartime experiences and achieve healing. A growing wave of civic and global compassion for the suffering of Comfort Women through public monuments and programs, has slowly transformed the dynamic of hidden shame into a public recognition of courage and fortitude. 

A public memorial may also serve to remove the veil of shame from contemporary victims of sexual assault and coercion, a silent yet profound gift to the many abused or exploited women and girls in our communities. 

If we can acknowledge the Holocaust in our history books and monuments, without first paring-down history to avoid offending those Americans of Austrian, German or Eastern European descent, we certainly may acknowledge the whole-scale coercion, exploitation and rape, of many thousands of East Asian, Australian and Netherlander Dutch East Indies women and girls during WWII, as viewed through the lens of documented records from the WWII era, where the massive and continued exploitation of women and girls was deemed an acceptable act of war.

.................................................

The Conflict Surrounding UNAIDS and UN Resolutions Monitoring
Trafficking and Prostitution Near Military Bases:

Since prostitution near military bases has became a national and international issue, the United Nations, in 1950, attempted a treaty to monitor human trafficking and houses of prostitution. (Near military bases, these women were sometimes called "minor wives," since servicemen returned to the same woman regularly and often left children behind on exiting the service and returning home.) 

The most notable UN Resolution on this issue was the 1985 report, Activities for the advancement of women : equality, development, and peace: report of Jean Fernand-Laurent, special rapporteur on the suppression of the traffic in persons and the exploitation of the prostitution of others, found at WorldCat online, which also displays where you may find this publication in your area.

The UN history of Chapter VII: Traffic in Persons (Convention for the Suppression of the Traffic in Persons and of the Exploitation of the Prostitution of Others) may be found on the UN Web site, which includes a record of each country's comments on Chapter VII as it pertains to their nation.

Recently, in 2013 the United Nations group UNAIDS was criticized for wanting to decriminalize "voluntary" global prostitution in order to better control AIDS and reduce sexual assaults and abuse, as stated in their 2012 report

Many critics disagreed with the 2012 UNAIDS report, stating that global decriminalization of voluntary prostitution might lead to an increase in the illegal trafficking and exploitation of women and girls, supposedly working under the guise of "voluntary" service. It might not be easily proven that some so-called "voluntary" sex workers were in actuality, involuntary sex workers being held under duress due to enslavement or financial obligations to their employers. 

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Please also see my article about the Internment of the Japanese in the Bay Area during World War II

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Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Shasta Dam, Cement Plants and Liberty Ships: Henry J. Kaiser, the City of Cupertino and the battle to reduce Silicon Valley Mercury pollution

Not many people realize that old Silicon Valley has ties with Shasta Dam and the Liberty Ships of WWII, through industrialist Henry J. Kaiser.

Kaiser Overseas War Relief Poster
Wikipedia
Kaiser, owner of Kaiser Aluminum and Kaiser Steel, was reportedly most well known for his Kaiser Shipyards in Richmond, California, where he built Liberty and Victory ships during World War II.

He was noted for the innovation of using welding instead of rivets to build ships in just 5 days, a skill which could be taught quickly to inexperienced workers during WWII. Kaiser got the idea to use welding after one of his associates visited a Ford Motor Plant and watched workers on the assembly line. 

Unfortunately the early ship welds cracked in cold temperatures (called, "brittle fracture"), causing some Liberty ship hulls to break in two at sea, before the hull design and welding process were more closely monitored between 1947-1955.

It is interesting to learn that Kaiser was also affiliated with the Joshua Hendy Iron Works in Sunnyvale, which built the EC-2 Triple Expansion Steam Engines for the Liberty ships Kaiser was constructing in Richmond. More history on Hendy Iron Works may be found at the Iron Man Museum, housed at the Northrop Grumman Marine Systems Plant in Sunnyvale.

Liberty Ship Triple Expansion Steam Engine
Wikipedia
During the construction of Liberty ships, Kaiser saw the need to provide a 10-bed emergency field hospital for workers in a wooden shed at his Richmond Kaiser Shipyards, which were the basis for the Kaiser Permanente medical plans and hospitals which are still in existence today. The original Kaiser Field Hospital in Richmond expanded to 160 beds by 1944, and continued to modernize until it finally closed in 1995 to become the "Rosie the Riveter" historical landmark and musem.

During the war era, Henry and Bess Kaiser owned a cabin along Permanente Creek above Cupertino, where  Bess felt the creek's name would also be a good name for their Kaiser health foundation, since Permanente creek ran perpetually, year-round, much like their health care for Alameda ship workers.

What was once known as the Kaiser Permanente Cement Plant in 1939 before WWII, or Permanente Quarry (also named after Permanente Creek), was incorporated for the construction of Shasta Dam, completed in 1944, to extract the unique seamount limestone from the hills above Cupertino, creating gravel, mortar and cement for dam construction. 

(Kaiser Permanente Quarry seems not to be related to the 1918 construction of ferrocement ships in Oakland or concrete barges later in 1943. Likewise, the concrete ship SS Palo Alto, which now resides at Sea Cliff Beach in Aptos, does not seem to be related to Kaiser Permanente Quarry or the Kaiser shipyards.)

An old railway line which can be seen near Hwy 85 and Stevens Creek Boulevard (near Cupertino Post Office), was once used to transport lime from the Kaiser Cement Plant to shippers for dam construction.

USDI/BR - Last bucket of cement used for Shasta Dam - 1944
Unfortunately, the Cupertino Kaiser Permanente Quarry has been an alleged source of ongoing pollution and controversy, since passing from Kaiser's ownership and becoming Lehigh Southwest Cement (a Heidelberg Cement Group affiliate)

Apparently using petroleum coke to fuel lime production (since 2007), which along with limestone, off-gasses mercury emissions during processing, the Cupertino Lehigh Cement plant is allegedly responsible for 29% of all Bay Area airborne mercury emissions and has reportedly impacted Calero Reservoir, 20 miles away, as well as local waterways.

Since mercury is a significant neurotoxin as well as a pollutant, and can become concentrated in local waterways, mercury now exists at allegedly 5.8 to 6.7 times higher in waterways near the Lehigh Cement plant, than at a site 2 miles away.

Likewise, groundwater is pumped into Permanente Creek from Lehigh quarry, so Selenium pollution in the creek (downstream from Lehigh quarry) was also found, indicating that the Lehigh quarry is allegedly the source of the pollution

"Quarry operations at the (Lehigh) cement plant have resulted in sediment discharges into Permanente Creek that are 3.5 times what would be expected under normal conditions," according to the USGS. This sediment threatens local fish, which can no longer be safely eaten from Stevens Creek Reservoir or Rancho San Antonio Reservoir, due to mercury pollution levels from the Lehigh Cement plant, according the to City of Cupertino.

Lehigh Cement Quarry above Cupertino Schools and
Homes, near  Rancho San Antonio Preserve and Reservoir
Google Maps 
Lehigh Southwest Cement has been the target of numerous environmental court cases and lawsuits brought by local cities and environmental groups. 

Bay Area federal and regional water and air quality monitoring agencies and the Sierra Club, have also closely followed mercury and selenium pollution from Lehigh Cement, to counter apparent failures by state EPA monitors to accurately assess risks from plant emissions.

Mercury News 6-4-2010 Report sites risks
Lehigh has worked to to bolster it's public relations efforts in the Valley, making large monetary and in-kind donations to the Cupertino Senior Center, the Cupertino Museum and Historical Society, and other local civic groups. 

Brass wall plaques can be seen at the Senior Center, West Valley Community Services, and Quinlan Center (near the Cupertino Historical Museum), noting Lehigh Cement contributions to those entities, where Lehigh representatives also serve on boards of directors.

Unfortunately, the 20 worst mercury contamination sites in the state include five sites in Santa Clara Valley, with the worst being Almaden Lake. While some mercury pollution can be attributed to the Almaden Quicksilver Mines, the presence of Lehigh Cement pollution is also alleged to be a contributing factor to mercury pollution in our West Valley reservoirs and waterways, according the City of Cupertino.


Santa Clara Valley Water District
Posted Mercury pollution/unsafe Fish Sign
Most recently a $20 million judgment against Lehigh was won by the Sierra Club ($10 million for the clean up of Permanente Creek, plus a $10 million bond, ensuring the work would be done in a timely manner).

A Cease and Desist Order was pending against Lehigh Cement for anticipated inability to reach new cement plant EPA requirements in 2014, yet may not be implemented if restrictions are met.

The City of Cupertino has documented pollution, violations and lawsuits against Lehigh Cement to raise public awareness about mercury and selenium pollution. A chronology of citations and lawsuits, as well as public hearings concerning Lehigh Cement pollution, may now be found on the Cupertino City Web site

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Valley Vineyard and Winery History is a Story of Immigration and Dedication

I was surprised to learn that our valley was at one time covered with vineyards.

During the Gold Rush, entrepreneurs were attracted to our fertile South Bay Valley so they could produce wine, brandy, and other products and goods, for the influx of immigrant miners flooding into San Francisco. 

As I state on my Wine History page, some East Coast sea captains (who brought miners to San Francisco), migrated to the fertile Santa Clara Valley, where they bought property and planted vineyards to produce the fortified wine and brandy so popular at the turn of the century. The East Coast already had a thriving wine and brandy culture in New England, with some vines imported from Europe, so these captains brought wine making and distilling skills with them, along with a desire to produce spirits for shipment to San Francisco, which was thriving due to immigrant prospectors seeking lodging, food, wine, and a way to spend their new fortunes.

Captain Elisha Stephens (of "Stevens Creek") was one such English immigrant noted for his brandies in West Side (now Cupertino), whose vineyards became part of what is now Blackberry Farm in Cupertino. James Pieronnet Pierce (an Englishman, whose father gave his sons $10,000 to emigrate to America to make their fortunes), was part owner of the Empire Gold Mines in Grass Valley, after building a sea wall in San Francisco. Pierce then moved to Santa Clara where he purchased Enterprise Mill, which he renamed Pacific Manufacturing. What is not noted in area history records, is that J. P. Pierce and Richard Thurston Pierce (his son), were noted as the most important wine growers in the Valley in the 1870's. (A daughter, Frances Pierce, married Lester Morse, son of one of the founders of the Ferry-Morse Seed Company.)

Vitis Californica - UCANR
The French were attracted to the Valley due to economic tumult in France during the Revolution, and the promise of riches from California gold. 

Antoine and Delphin Delmas were early French immigrants who were instrumental in starting Valley nurseries which imported wine grapes from the East Coast and Europe, to replace the disappointing native California grapes, which did not produce remarkable wine, yet attracted the early Mission settlement in Fremont, since those native wild grapes were prolific along Valley streams and hillsides. 

Vitis Vinifera - Cornell
Charles LeFranc, another French Gold Rush immigrant, bought land for his New Almaden Vineyards, and is considered to be the father of commercial wine production. Philippe Prudhomme, Pierre Sansevain, John Auzerais, and others, also immigrated to the area and were considered to be fathers of local wine production and grape importation, during the Valley's wine heyday.

Many early imported vines came from New England and were of the Vitis Vinifera variety. The early "Black St. Peter's" version of this varietal was identical to Zinfandel, and was widely planted or grafted onto the Vitis Californica root stock. By 1860, it was considered to be the premier California wine grape, and in 1858 Delmas won awards for his "French Claret" made from his grafted Black St. Peter's grapes.

Leland Stanford (Public Domain)
The French Prune, Apricot and Cherry orchards of Blossom Hill are well known, yet Stevens Creek Boulevard, Branham Lane, Delmas Avenue, Pierce Road, Naglee School, Portal School, and other familiar roads and landmarks, are named for early vineyard owners who also excelled in other aspects of civic life. 

Like those men, Leland Stanford was another early vineyard owner. Stanford's ancestor, Thomas Stanford, emigrated to America in the 1700's and settled in Massachusetts. Leland Stanford, Sr. was born in New York where his father was a farm owner. He became a lawyer and practiced in New York and Wisconsin, until his law library and offices burned in a fire, and he decided to join his five brothers out West in California. 

Jane's family would not allow her to move West with Stanford, so she remained in Albany, New York.

Stanford opened a store for miners in Placer County and became Justice of the Peace, then helped organize the Sacramento Library Association (now Sacramento Public Library.) He rejoined Jane in Albany in 1851, but found Eastern life too dull after life in California, so Stanford and Jane moved to San Francisco in 1856, where Stanford joined Charles Crocker, Mark Hopkins and Collis P. Huntingdon, the so-called "Big Four," in creating the Central Pacific Railroad, incorporating in June 28, 1861. 

That same year Stanford was elected Governor in California, served for the required two years, then became involved in the Pacific Union Express Company, which would eventually merge with Wells Fargo and Company, where Stanford was elected Director and would serve almost consistently in that role until his death in 1893. 

Lloyd Tevis, mentioned below in relationship to the Tevis/Novitiate vineyards above Lexington Reservoir, was one of Stanford's partners at Wells Fargo. Tevis was also a partner in Haggin and Tevis, a somewhat controversial San Francisco law firm. Haggin was an interesting pioneer from Kentucky who came to California during the Gold Rush to join Tevis, who was also his brother-in-law, in San Francisco. His family estate in Kentucky was ironically, near Lexington.)

After profitable railroad pursuits Stanford became enthralled with wine-making after travel to France, bought agricultural property, and planted vineyards not only in near Menlo Park, but in Tehema County. 


The old Stanford Winery today.
Cahill SF image (Photo no longer online)
Stanford's property near Menlo Park, nicknamed "The Farm," not only had 900 horses, but a vast 158-acre vineyard which produced 60,000 gallons of wine per year.  
The old town of Mayfield, now where California Street sits in Palo Alto, was once the home of 13 saloons. Stanford wanted the entry gates to his new university to reside on Stanford Avenue near Hanover Street, if Mayfield residents would only vote to "go dry." 

Mayfield residents rejected Stanford's offer, so Stanford asked Southern Pacific Railroad owner Timothy Hopkins, the adopted son of Mark Hopkin's widow, Mary Hopkins, to purchase 700 acres of private property North of the university, and sell off small lots. This community became known as University Park and was later incorporated as the town of Palo Alto. 

Jane Stanford was also active in local efforts to have Mayfield became a hub of the "dry town movement" designed to ban saloons within the city limits. The Menlo Park-area vineyards were converted after his death by Jane Lathrop Stanford, however the winery building was preserved. Stanford's old brick winery is used for shops and restaurants, on the West edge of the Stanford Shopping Center complex.

The Governor Stanford Engine
(Public Domain)
We do not have a Wine History Center in Santa Clara Valley to remember these early winery and vineyard owners, despite the fact that wine and vineyards were the bedrock of our early economic history, and these men were notable for so many other civic accomplishments. One of those notable men was Henry Naglee.

General Henry Morris Naglee was particularly interesting in regard to our early history, since he was a Civil War Veteran who was also active in the Mexican-American War which ended in 1848

Naglee bought land in East San Jose in 1852 and planted vineyards on returning from his last campaign, after travel to Europe where he visited Cognac and studied brandy production. From his efforts to produce a clear brandy from grafted, high-quality Riesling, Pinot Noir, and Charbono grapes, San Jose became a center of brandy and fortified wine production

Henry M. Naglee
(Public Domain)
Naglee won numerous awards for his "white lightning," not because it was like French brandy, but because it was considered to be excellent even by 1940, when remaining bottles were tasted by local experts. 

He allegedly invited a group of pro-temperance teachers from San Jose Teacher's College (Also called "The Normal") to tour "Naglee Park," in 1883, then served them lunch with lemonade laced with his clear brandy, causing some of the teachers to require assistance in mounting home-bound carriages. (1)

His daughters sold off much of the estate after his death, and there was eventually a monument in his memory erected in Saint James Park

Naglee was quite a character and more information about him has been documented by local historians, notably, Charles L. Sullivan, Jack Douglas and April Halberstadt.

Because Phylloxera and The National Prohibition Act (also called the Volstead Act) had such a devastating effect on Santa Clara Valley vineyards and wineries, the vines were lost to inter-planted fruit trees, and the valley turned towards stone fruits for economic survival. Only a few hearty vine growers and wine making families held out during Prohibition, along with the Novitiate, which produced sacramental wine for parishes in the state. Of those, Paul Masson, Pellier/Mirassou, Kirigin, Martin Ray, along with Guglielmo and others, still retain historic vineyards.

Also of interest are the Tevis vineyards and the Swiss Chalet-style mansion which were located on 1,071 acres above what is now Lexington park and reservoir, now part of The Mid-Peninsula Regional Open Space District's Bear Creek Redwoods Open Space Preserve

The Tevis vineyards and mansion were acquired in 1906 by Dr. Harry Tevis (son of the millionaire entrepreneur and 1872 Wells Fargo Bank President, Lloyd Tevis.) Photo's of the estate may be found in the Novitiate Collection at Los Gatos Library.

Tevis Clubhouse Dining Room 1917 - Los Gatos Patch
Dr. Tevis purchased the property from James C. Flood, owner of the 1871 stock brokerage firm, Flood and O'Brien. Flood was a colleague of Leland Stanford and one of the so-called, silver "Bonanza Kings." Flood's $100,000 investment in Virginia City, Nevada Comstock mines, eventually netted him, his partners and his investors over $150,000,000 from silver and gold, or approximately $3,000,000 per month for each year the mines were in operation. 

Dr. Tevis sold the property to the Sacred Heart Novitiate in Los Gatos, who then built Alma College on the site in 1943. Alma College was the first Jesuit Theological Seminary on the West Coast and Governor Jerry Brown was once a student there. 

The Tevis Mansion burned down on New Year's Eve night, 1970 and the property was sold to a Hong Kong casino owner in 1989, when it was slated to be developed as a gold course. According to historical records, Novitiate wine from early Tevas vineyards was used to try to douse earlier fires on the property.

Wine and Immigration - Partners in early vineyard life

The story of our Valley's wine industry exists side-by-side with the stories of immigrants who came to California, not only to follow the Gold Rush and it's related industries, but to escape from wars, revolutions, famine, ethnic repression and extermination, all for California's promise of a better life. That story continues today, although the industries now have changed to a more diverse economic culture. 


"Californian Burgundy"
Yosemite Poster  by
London Wine Merchants
Development of the local Wine industry at Old Almaden Winery in 1852, created a cultural phenomenon in the Bay Area allowing our region to become a Mecca for food and wine lovers, wine retreats, wine and cooking weekends, Wine and Art festivals, wine tasting tours, and wine history, just over two centuries since the first Mission grape was harvested for sacramental wine at Mission San Jose, now located in Fremont. 

With the addition of Native American, South American and Pacific Rim cultures, plus their traditional foods and new ethnic markets, we have a solid immigrant culinary base with a deep affinity to our local wine culture. 

From that shared experience, we have strong local cultural support for organic, sustainable, locally-grown foods, breweries and wineries. 

It's hard to believe that some of us are only a generation or two away from our own immigrant roots, while some of us are just beginning our journey as today's entrepreneurs

As children of immigrants or immigrants ourselves, we contribute to the area's success by supporting schools, community programs, philanthropy, and new products, as well as providing a consistent backbone for local service industries, educational institutions, and professional medical services.  

New Citizens Sworn in on Angel Island
San Jose Mercury News
Immigration reform would respect all who come to serve, like our early vineyard and wine producers, or our parents and grandparents, many of whom came from England, France, Spain, Italy, Germany, Eastern Europe, Mexico, South America, the Pacific Rim, China, the Middle East, Africa and other far-off lands, and who are now honored with their names on our local roads, schools and parks, and in memorial plaques to their civic service. 

Our wine history shares much of it's past with Santa Cruz, Sonoma and Napa Counties, where Santa Clara Valley families moved their wine making facilities after Prohibition and the housing boom here in the 1950's. If you explore those Santa Cruz, Sonoma and Napa Valley family names, you will see a similar salute to rugged and determined immigrant families who brought their native skills to the wines and vines of California, then stayed on to build civic centers, libraries, hospitals, and community places of pride and service, for today's families.

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For more information about California Wine History, please see my Wine History Page and explore the wonderful books by Charles L. Sullivan, who taught a Wine History course at De Anza College for many years, and who was honored by the Wine Literary Foundation in 2008 for his exhaustive and intelligent work as a regional wine historian. 

For information about local immigration reform efforts, including the push by Mark Zuckerberg and other Silicon Valley leaders to promote immigration reform for local tech and service workers, please see:

Push for Reform - "An advocacy organization created to promote policies that will lead to a more advanced workforce and stronger knowledge economy in the U.S. Our organization is backed by a diverse group of leading innovators, job creators, business owners and founders from Silicon Valley’s tech sector."

FWD.us - "FWD.us is an organization started by key leaders in the tech community to promote policies to keep the United States and its citizens competitive in a global economy—including comprehensive immigration reform and education reform."

SIREN Bay Area - "SIREN’s mission is to empower low-income immigrants and refugees in Santa Clara County through community education and organizing, leadership development, policy advocacy and naturalization services.  We believe that all people regardless of legal status or nationality are entitled to essential services, human dignity, basic rights and protections, and access to full participation in society."

PACT SJ - "PACT as part of The PICO National Network is working on The Campaign for Citizenship, which represents Americans of faith and aspiring Americans who believe that full citizenship rights for 11 million aspiring Americans is the only response to our broken patchwork of immigration laws, consistent with the American values of freedom, fairness and family."

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(1) Historic San Jose: Tales of Naglee Park, Second Revised Edition by Jack Douglas: A project of the Campus Community Association. (Page 23, "Naglee Brandy" Chapter.)
Published by Campus Community Association, c. 2001, ISBN 0-9668707-2-7
(Articles originally appeared in the Campus Community Association newsletter.)