Santa Cruz County history in focus

Using inside-out cereal boxes, historian Ross Gibson made this early-day model of Soquel Village. — Tarmo Hannula/Register-Pajaronian

CAPITOLA — The third annual Santa Cruz County History Fair unfolded in Jade Street Park at the Capitola Community Center on May 18. Twenty-two organizations had displays at the free event that was hosted by the Capitola Historical Museum, said Board President Niels Kisling.

“We’re seeing a great turnout, even during the rain,” he said. “There’s a great energy here in the room; people seem to be really excited about this event.”

Indeed, scores of people filtered through the various tables, studying the wealth of books, early-day photos, displays, posters, videos and memorabilia. Representatives from the Friends of the Cowell Lime Works, Friends of State Parks, Native Daughters of the Golden West, the Davenport Jail, Pajaro Valley Historical Association and the Soquel Pioneer & Historical Association were just a handful of groups sharing their slice of history at the four-hour affair.

“Santa Cruz County is the second smallest county in California, yet it is very diverse and very spread out,” said historian Ross Gibson, who shared his display of a model of Soquel Village made of inside-out cereal boxes.

The author of “An Architectural Tour of Historical Santa Cruz,” “Riverside Hotel,” and “Santa Cruz Brews,” Gibson’s Soquel model depicted fine details of the village from the early 1900s, which included commercials signs, banners and business names of the era. 

“This is a great event today,” Gibson said. “We need a place to come together and share our valuable history. I really hope we do this again.”

Kisling said one of the oldest Capitola Museum volunteers is 86-year-old Paul Parsons.

“Paul and his good friend Frank Hill were the first two dishwashers at Shadowbrook (restaurant in Capitola) in 1947,” he said. “Paul’s name is number three on the plaque of children born at the old Santa Cruz Hospital. I’m happy to say that Paul is a great guy, a wonderful volunteer, and he used to work at the Register-Pajaronian in 1954 or 1955 for about two years selling advertising.”

Members of the Pajaro Valley Historical Association were on hand to help visitors get a taste of the past in the Pajaro Valley. Among their display items was a book, “Watsonville Images 1888-1940” by Edgar L. Clark, Pioneer Watsonville Photographer. Put out by the PVHA, the captions and text are by the late Betty Lewis. The 139-page book is a vast collection of black and white photos made from glass negatives that depict various groups, businesses, key people of the time and numerous saloons.


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