Posts Tagged With: artifacts




DSC07871 (Copy)Dale Toussaint, right, has re-energized the Alameda County Sheriff’s Archive. Gary Nelson stopped by and took a shot at identifying a photo Toussaint scanned into his laptop.

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Bill Selles and Dave Hoig pondered identities. Everyone who arrived knew everyone else, but some of the guys are new faces to me.

DSC07863 (Copy)In one of the display rooms is a sign left by protestors during the riots on the U. C. Berkeley Campus. Blue Meanies was a term coined by the protestors given to Alameda County Sheriff’s Riot Squad when they switched from regular uniforms and dressed in mechanics coveralls by request of the deputies. Their uniforms reeked of tear gas from one fracas to the next. Mechanics coveralls could be tossed in the washing machine after each shift.  In fact, the Sheriff’s Department didn’t have a so-called “Riot Squad”. The Civil Unrest that began in Berkeley was the first of it’s type. During worker strikes or mob situations of the 1920’s and 30’s, the deputies waded in and beat senseless anyone within reach,  and jailed anyone who fought back.  The right to civil protest was not respected. Oldtimer, George Wisner, told me the Sheriff’s Department and Oakland Police Department came down hard on union organizers and strikers. It was policy to always take the side of the company. Another requirement of those early times?  You had to be a Republican to be a cop. DSC07862 (Copy)Marc Thompson and a bunch of guys from squads one and two signed the Blue Meanie sign. He pointed to his name and I took his picture.

DSC07864 (Copy)If you recognize your name, come visit and I’ll take your picture with the now famous sign. Well, famous among the deputies, anyway. The riots were an important thing for deputies. They were never paid overtime, and wages were decided at the whim of the board of supervisors. Old Captain Creel would give you compensatory time-maybe. Many deputies worked side jobs to make ends meet. Sheriff Houchins had no choice but to go the board and ask for contingency funds to pay overtime for deputies who were on the streets for 10 to 15 hour shifts while others covered regular duties with equally long workdays. The riots brought wages up to par with the rest of society.

DSC07873 (Copy)People don’t think they can contribute anything of value to the archive. Behind Dale showing me this picture is a group looking at the Sheriff’s assignment board. We guessed it was from 1994. But the guys knew what year they were assigned certain shifts and they informed us the board was pulled off the wall in 1997. Everyone has knowledge of their time and place and can add to the history of the department in big and small ways. All are welcome on the third Thursday of the Month unless it is a holiday.

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Bill Smith.

Dale and Chris

A woman named Connie came in. I thought she might be a retired deputy.

DSC07877 (Copy)It turned out her husband was the retired Deputy. I didn’t remember either of their names but thanks to Pat Higgins, they are Richard and Connie Krimm.

DSC07870 (Copy)Ralph Streicher, one of the new volunteers, with Bud Harlen, one of the old volunteers. The place was humming. Remembrances of the past were flowing like water along with plenty of laughter. DSC07865 (Copy)And part of that hum was a busy Ralph Streicher. He kept saying, “I love this place.” He is the fastest talker I ever met. I know I’ve gotta get him to sit down for an interview some day. I’ve got three promised now. I keep telling myself life is getting easier with age and retirement.

DSC07868 (Copy)Dave Hoig. Tell your friends.

DSC07867 (Copy) Don’t wait. Get involved. Its fun to talk shop.

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I’m an admitted collectiholic, but there is no 12 step program for one such as me. It may be from having depression era parents who were savers and never threw anything out that had a hint of future usefulness. It is a philosophy that suits me, and spills over into everything I do.

If I have two of something, it begins to look like a collection and I end up with 15 t-pots, or 5,000 magazines. (You think I’m kidding.)

DSC04174 (Copy)The problem comes when you run out of room. I have a wall of shelves in by office. Every picture album, every vacation scrapbook, albums of the features I had published, souvenirs, nick-knacks. Then over the albums, I place wall hangings because there is no room left on the walls to hang anything. I have 15 pieces, paintings and artifacts of some type hanging on the wall of my office.

DSC04175 (Copy)No matter how narrow a wall might be, it has something on it, like these beaded rings from my trip to Africa.

DSC04192 (Copy)If there is a wall, it is filled from floor to ceiling. And, I love and enjoy my treasures. And for many years, with growing children, I resorted to easier to store items made of paper. Just yesterday, while assembling  several different stamp collections to go to the thrift store, I found  notes that made me laugh:

HANZOFF!  Or I’ll sic my dirty P.E. clothes on you-they walk under their own power.

and:  Mary kenny hitted me   sally and kris wont play with me.

Silly stuff.

And, I’ve kept my mother’s name collection. She would sit with her cup of coffee in the morning and read the paper. Her rule was to only collect names of people whose last name was an adjective, verb or noun. Like Earl Silver, Rita House, Cathleen Clinker, Susanne Doubled. It had to be spelled correctly.  Then she expanded it to humorous name juxtapositions like: Mrs. Rum divorced her husband and assumed her maiden name, of Selma Sober. Warren Nipple married Carla Breast. Jean Sucker married Roscoe Candybar.  Dr. Michael Fox is an animal psychologist. I put it out for the thrift store, but took it back. Who would want something like that? She has a couple thousand names in her book. I finally decided nobody would want it and I loved her beautiful writing and took it back. See?  Downsizing is tough for some of us.

DSC04194 (Copy) (Copy)My entire brick wall has pictures of birds on it.

DSC04179 (Copy)My son Doug built me five floor to ceiling cases to hold my magazine collection. I had to take a pick-up load of magazines to the dump. I’ve had guests who remove and examine every magazine.

I have plenty offers of help. People who say, I’ll help you. If you haven’t used it in a year, its time to get rid of it. OMIGOD. I shudder and quake at the thought. But, I know it is freeing and that my kids have warned me, “we are just gonna toss this stuff.”

It is painful and conversely freeing to get rid of  “stuff”. Jim estimates 5 years. I’m hoping for two.

It is something I have to do and can enjoy my stuff one last time before it gets tossed



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It is foreign to my nature to give myself a big pat on the back. Sheriff Greg Ahern had requested to see me at the Alameda County Sheriffs Archive Association meeting, but none of the board members would tell me why?

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Sheriff Ahern presented me a Letter Of Commendation for meritorious service as Founder of the Archive which is was accompanied by an official  brass plaque given to people who have been contributors to the betterment of the Department. He informed me that he does not hand out these plaques frivolously, they have to be earned and mine was the first given to a civilian.  I was overwhelmed and stunned. And grateful.

DSC06356 (Copy)I asked then Sheriff Plummer in 1989 if he would allow me to take over any archival materials the Office of the Sheriff had saved over the years if I could get five volunteers to work with me. He agreed and gave us a small room above the Santa Rita Fire Department. We started with George Matzek, James Moore, Larry Santos, James Rashe, and Frank Bernard. The sheriff sent us several boxes of materials that all fit on an eight foot table. We decided from day one, there was no rank at the archive. We were all equal players.

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Within a few months we attracted a few more volunteers and we attracted artifacts that retired officers felt were historical to the department. They felt there was no place to put them. We established an official board and a mission statement and incorporated into a Non-Profit in 1992 or 93.

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Now we have three big display rooms of 1500 square feet, plus three storage rooms, and a guard shack filled with artifacts and records. We recently received a collection of female deputy uniforms from Maureen O’Connell.

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The guard tower has an operating siren on top of the guard shack.

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The archive has only had two Presidents. Myself and Bill Rhodes who took over from me. Yesterday Bill, (left) and Vice President Bud Harlan got an old jail tracking device mounted and working. If an inmate was out of his or her prescribed area, the lights would show the person moving and a small siren would alert the staff. Bill has done an incredible amount of work at the archive and has made much of our collections visible.

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We have analyzed our archive and decided we need to reorganize to promote the archive, to also recognize that we are part museum, get a better flow of materials that tell a story in a progressive way, with moveable displays since we are now chuck full from floor to ceiling. At some point, a manned archive could be safely opened to the public and more useful to people doing research.

I’m proud of what I started, but in any organization, the credit must go to the many volunteers, and literally hundreds of people, who contributed in big and small ways to this worthy project over the years. I could have never gotten this thing moving without them. Amen.

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It’s interesting to me that when I first heard of Monte Wolfe and interviewed Harry Schimke, Monte’s unusual  life had been covered by the San Francisco newspapers, the Stockton Record, local newspapers and several historical societies. But, no one investigated Monte like Don DeYoung. Don first contacted me about my blog in 2009 and went on from there to meet the Schimke family. Harry’s daughter, Susan had all of her father’s photos and notes, and his brother Art was still alive.  Don did a major investigation about Monte that led to a  vastly more accurate portrait of Monte than anyone had before. As he put it, thanks to the internet, his skills and his own boyhood fascination with Monte from a boy scout camping trip, (that  he describes in one of the links below), Don  satisfied a lifetime fascination.  Monte disappeared in 1940, a date established by Harry Schimke,  who was the last person to see him alive.

Mark Bonar, too, became fascinated by Monte as a young man through his father-in-law, Paul La Teer, and subsequently collected materials, visited the cabins and introduced his own children to the legend of Monte Wolfe.  Monte built the “new” or second cabin in about 1933, Mark is guesstimating. As you can see, the hinged door is missing but the old woodsman’s device for “barring the door” was  in place.

Mark told me, “Paul knew that country and used to stash food, sleeping bags and wool blankets in rocks behind Camp Irene, which was about eight to fifteen miles below Monte’s cabins.  A Forest Service trail led down to the  new cabin from the Blue Lake side.  It is located about 12 miles from the mouth of Summit City Canyon Creek. The creek funnels into the Mokelumne.  The cabin was well hidden, nestled among the trees about 100 yards from a sharp bend in the river. There was a horse trail leading down behind the cabin (as yet not re-discovered). Monte, too, used “spike” caches to hold food and traps on his forays throughout the steep Sierra Nevadas, a common practice for ranchers chasing cows, sheepherders, trappers, fishermen and hunters.

Mark found a paper at the cabin describing how Monte built that cabin by himself. He hoisted all the material up onto the ridge pole using the wetted incline plane principle. The door was small, but extremely heavy. “The door probably weighed 150 pounds and had massive hinges. No one could remove the door without special tools or help.

“The cabin was beautiful; strongly built,  with two rooms. The foundation of lightly charred cedar rounds  discouraged insects. He had a screened pantry high up off the floor to keep out mice.  Monte dug a fresh spring near the cabin from which he piped water into a carved wooden sink and to a solar shower he hooked up on the cabin’s outside wall.”

“He also built a partly under-ground smoke house with hooks enough for 100 trout or a large deer cut into pieces.”  Mark showed me pictures of  carved log chairs, a table and other items Monte made. There were also  comfortable furnishings that Monte  hauled into that steep canyon from long distances.

(The above two pictures were taken by Mark on one of his many visits to the cabins.)

“Monte hauled a heavy cast iron cooking stove from Hermit valley to the cabin, piece by piece.  He was exceptionally strong.”

Monte was reported to throw a canvas sack of nails over his shoulders weighing 80-100 pounds, stand with it on his shoulders and visit for an hour and never set it down, then move on as  though carrying nothing. He was seen setting off from Blue Lakes on skis to his cabin on the Moke,  at night, an incredible feat in the day time,  without the deceptive shadows cast by the moon. Paul Le Teer described him as “…a swarthy, short man; a dead shot with a rifle, small feet, enormous calves, slender waist, and the broad shoulders of an athlete. He wore his long hair in braids, sometimes tied by a ribbon.”

There are many engaging stories of Monte’s exploits.  One I heard from a former bartender at Tamarack concerns the romantic Monte. Supposedly no one, the law, nor wardens could  “sneak up” on the expert woodsman. But,  the Bartender  came across him lying in a naked embrace  with a woman on a large flat rock  in the bright sunshine. He retreated undetected.

After Monte’s disappearance, people began using the upper cabin until the U.S Forest Service burned it down. The main cabin was harder to find, was locked, and  under the “protection” of the Linford family.

Mark  has a letter from the Lindford’s to the El Dorado Forest Service  Supervisor, Edwin Smith, after Monte’s disappearance was formally acknowledged. The Lindford’s were well off and owned an Oakland Construction Company. They befriended Monte and convinced him to jointly establish a mining claim on Monte’s properties, meaning the area of his cabins and property he occupied, but didn’t own. The Lindord’s enjoyed, with Monte, a private, free, Shangri La Cabin in the mountains. From the letter, Mark speculates the Lindford’s were interested in the amazing private cabin retreat more than Monte. The letter admits that they had never mined nor taken any minerals on their claims, they simply wanted to use the cabin and lands that Monte occupied and asked permission to continue to do so. Permission was granted them as long as they did not extend that privilege to others. So, they shared a special  lock with the forest service on the cabin door.

“Between 1955 and 1970, ” explained Mark, “fewer people were going to the cabin. The elder Linfords were essentially gone and their son, family and friends used it on rare visits.  A tree fell on the cabin and took out one corner of it and the end result would certainly be steady deterioration. The cabin was repaired much later by a committee of interested people formed to protect the cabin. The non-profit Monte Wolfe Society was formed by James Linford.

The U.S. Forest service decided in recent years that the cabin should be left to deteriorate and removed the door to hurry the process and prevent people from using the cabin. They emptied the place of everything but the stove. The group has taken legal action against that decision, arguing that the Mountain Man’s place is an historical  artifact like an Indian Ruins and should be preserved.  The group has succeeded thus far in having the door replaced and the chimney pipe hole patched in 2010. That is heart warming progress indeed.

Don DeYoung’s book is still awaiting publication. But, in the meantime, there are several websites about De Young’s extended research, including locating Monte’s grandchildren and learning his real name at the very interesting links below.

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