Posts Tagged With: volunteers



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It was a surprise party held at the Office of Emergency Services hall at Santa Rita Prison.  People crowded around the door waiting for former Sheriff Plummer to enter the building. Charlie holds “office” hours every Wednesday so it was easy to surprise  him. He was stunned and temporarily at a loss for words.

DSC08306 (Copy) Once he arrived, everyone began finding old friends they hadn’t seen in years. I saw so many faces I recognized, but often the names wouldn’t come to mind, so I decided to print none.  I’m going to let you guess who is who. You can always call Cynthia Crawford at the department for the answers.

DSC08308 (Copy)The place was mobbed and it was so much fun catching up on old friends, even if I didn’t always know who I was talking to-at first. The way it worked,  we had about an hour to mingle and chat.

DSC08313 (Copy)There were many hugs and a constant buzz of happy voices.  Some were group hugs.

DSC08404 (Copy)Several officers took time off work to attend.

DSC08389 (Copy)I think everyone made it in time for the food.

DSC08329 (Copy)It was like a family reunion with stories and memories flowing.

DSC08319 (Copy)After all the camaraderie, we sat down to enjoy the food. I attempted to get a picture of each guest while they were still.

DSC08393 (Copy)These women put out the word, collected the money and greeted everyone who came. Events like this don’t just happen as we all know.

DSC08369 (Copy)I’ve worked enough affairs like these to know that it takes many volunteer hands in the kitchen to feed 100 or more people, too.

DSC08396 (Copy)As one of many attendees, I don’t know who planned and organized it. But our current Sheriff, Greg Ahern, presented Charlie with gifts from the group and I expect he was the ring leader.

DSC08397 (Copy)When Charlie got up to speak, that strong, commanding voice was still there, with a few cantankerous fighting words to keep us all laughing. An unforgettable character, his peers all over the state and the people who worked for him, hold him in high esteem. His accomplishments during his triple careers in law enforcement are innumerable. I came unprepared to re-hash his career. Let me just understate-that the man of the hour was a major force in Alameda County during challenging times. He left an indelible mark.

To see  the rest of the pictures I took click on the link below:



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IMG_2725 (Copy)My friend, Paul, fell and broke his hip. He is 88 years old and crawled from his garage into his house and called his housekeeper. She asked him if he needed 911 and he said “NO!”  He is a very determined person and didn’t want to go to the hospital.

He was trying to eat his first meal after three days in the hospital, when I visited with him yesterday. His coordination was such that he couldn’t control the spoon, nor his waxed carton of milk, so I fed him.  A helper came in and took his tray away which still held half of his food. She didn’t ask, would you like to keep your applesauce to snack on later? I think to myself, he could slowly starve if left alone and no one would even blink an eye. No candy striper to help him eat. The local hospital uses volunteer help in the gift shop and receiving area, but none on the wards.

They will be putting him in a rest home, but my experience with that is, they are understaffed and the same thing happens. They put food in front of a person, but not much gets to where it belongs. My friend Betty, was a case in point. I’d visit her regularly and feed her because she had difficulty chewing and would take a long time to eat. Unless I stopped them, they’d whisk her food away because “lunchtime” was over, or the food was cold.

The answer is, more staff. It is expensive and cuts into profits. Medical care should not be a for profit operation. One reason I bought my property in Oregon when I did was because they had right to die laws. They now have them in California, too. I’m determined to never spend time in a rest home.  And, I’ll stay away from hospitals if it is in any way possible. And, I’ll support progressive, social reforms.



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DSC06718 (Copy)Yesterday, I drove to Mountain Ranch to the park on Whiskey Slide Road where Fema and the Red Cross have set up a fire victim recovery center. Mountain Ranch Rd. was filled with traffic with 3 major stops for road crews re-establishing power lines to the area; removing dead debris from the road, and cutting dead roadside trees with potential to fall on the road.  Mountain Ranch Rd winds treacherously through the canyon without much shoulder space to stop.  At each forced stop, I took a picture from my window. It always baffles me that one tree still has green leaves while the next one is almost completely brown and scorched.

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Somehow, when a fire goes through an area, I’m not alone in thinking that everything is burned down to the ground.  I’ve seen devastation like that. There is plenty of ash, and plenty of dead trees to come from my very limited view.

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In the foreground on the left is a small blackened pine. Pine trees will die in a fire like this, but many of the oak trees, if given a chance, will survive. I don’t understand fire science and what makes this a hot spot where big trees burned and other areas are islands of green. Recovery is better when trees, are left standing, and even some dead ones left on the ground to hold water and gather clumps of washed dirt against them to aid in regrowth and insect activity.

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At the park, I took this picture of mass, organized chaos when I first arrived. Then, it was a matter of slowly making my way around the park to drop off the carload of items I brought. Soap and shampoo one place. Black garbage bags another. Charcoal, boots, medications, paper plates, toilet paper, jackets, toys, pants, shirts, books, belts, scarves…

Before I returned to the site above the four pairs of boots I had left were already gone. One guy told me, “Oh, thank you. I have such trouble finding size 13.”

They aren’t accepting appliances or furniture until people have power and shelter to put it in.  Many have found places to stay. Some are camping on their property or are in Fema trailers. 545 houses burned.  State Farm has set up a Disaster Recovery trailer in San Andreas where people go to file their claims.

I worked hard; never getting a chance to take more pictures. I met a couple from Manteca and another from Modesto who came to help. The community of volunteers from Mountain Ranch was fantastic, practical and upbeat.  Then, late in the day, about 3:00, word came that rain was expected. Then it was a matter of getting tarps under all boxes of sorted clothing so wet couldn’t seep into the boxes. And covering them from the top with rolls of Visqueen plastic. I returned home late in the  day completely exhausted. Today, I’ll work on getting my own stuff back on shelves, that my kids removed for me. Sunday, my oldest son will bring back a van load of genealogy, family photos and records from his garage in Valley Springs.

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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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My partners in crime and I decided to attend the Music In The Park last Friday,  put on by volunteers from the Community Club, supported by the merchants and alternately by the Arts Council. Above is left to right, Sue, Janice, Becky and Jan. Everyone brings snacks and drinks and networks with friends.  Or, you can buy dinner from a local caterer and buy wine and soft drinks from the club’s “Hut”.

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While you don’t have to be a Community Club Member to enjoy the event, the club invited members to a repast of wonderful hors d’ oeuvres and a free glass of wine preceding the music. The food was so scrumptious  and good, I wasn’t sure I should buy dinner. Now that I’m on the road, I don’t volunteer anymore, I only pay my dues.

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Small towns in rural Calaveras County have no city services and the Community Clubs step in to provide garbage service, pay for street lights on Main St. and so on. The volunteers provide an excellent service and I love being a supporter. This woman is a smiling ambassador who makes sure every one is happy. I’m forgoing names because I see so many new faces.

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The women pouring wine and drinks from the Hut were so busy I had to grab them in a rare moment to get a picture,.

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I’ve worked with Peggy before. She’s been a member for a while, but I think I have them all beat. I’ve been a member since 1979 or 80.

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These volunteers sell the drink tickets so those pouring don’t have to fiddle with money and change.

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Other members are there to enjoy and have worked in the past like myself. Kind of retired, temporarily anyway.

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The music was provided by a group called Sequoia. A mix of lovely folk tunes and original instrumentals, great listening music.

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Sometimes the bands that play are very danceable. Not this group. But, Walt Marcus and his wife decided that one lively tune was very danceable and they gave us all a show as they did a lively jig much to the delight of the crowd.

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It doesn’t get much more fun than that.

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It might look like we are a bunch of drunks, but, not true. Jan is a teetotaler and the rest of us didn’t even finish one bottle of wine. We tried, though. To see all 17 of the photos I took, click the link below.

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In an hour, I leave for the Alameda County Sheriffs Archive where they are having a ceremony to dedicate the rebuilding and moving of an old jail Guard Tower. It was rebuilt, retaining as much of the original materials as possible, about 1990 or so. The Association decided it needed replacing because part of the flooring had completely rotted out. But, more on that when I return.

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Over the years, I’ve learned there are very few Police Museums in the United States, mainly because there are destroy orders for just about everything related to police work once they have passed a certain date. We are lucky to have accumulated and pulled together artifacts and history of the people and procedures of law enforcement in the County of Alameda. We are also fortunate that we’ve had the permission and support of the reigning Sheriff along the way, who was Sheriff Plummer when we started in 1989 and current Sheriff, Ahern, now.  All volunteers work and assesssion the archive materials, refurbish artifacts and display them for posterity.  Sitting on the “pattern” table, an old store fixture donated to us, is a pepper fogger, refurbished by Les Moore. It sprays tear gas at an advancing mob and was used during the civil unrest of the 1970’s. When the retired deputies get together and talk they remember the first time they used it, the wind shifted and they ended up gassing themselves. (It is only funny now.)

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This cycle shield and calling cards were donated to the archive in 2012. We still don’t have much of a history on Berdoo. The Angels and the Cops have a checkered history. They knew each other by first names because the encounters were so frequent. The Angels got started in Alameda County and riders today still like to imitate their “bad guy” persona. The Angels have cleaned up their act in recent years. An interesting story if someone could write it. Sonny Barger wrote his memoirs and it was loaned to my husband, (who arrested Sonny more than once), by the wife of Angel Magoo. Magoo died young and my kids went to high school with their kids and they are still friends today. Magoo’s wife, Lynn Tinsley, and a couple of her brothers also rode with the Angels. She wanted to raise her kids away from that reputation and did. She died in about 2004.

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Because we are on a former military base, Camp Shoemaker, the department inherited many items from the military including the nickname for their brig, Greystone. Greystone became the punishment detention area for the jail. Old Santa Rita was torn down and rebuilt in 1985 as a prison, a jail no longer, a complete lock-down facility. We are there to document the changes from its inception in 1948, under Sheriff Gleason. Gleason was sheriff when I was hired in 1958, and I’ve known every sheriff since then. This has been and is an interesting project that my husband (since deceased)  and I started in 1988.

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