Thursday, March 31, 2016

Ladies of the Lake

The Measure DD Coalition met a week ago, as it has ever since the measure passed in 2002. The coalition is a large and mostly volunteer group that monitors projects made possible by the $198 million bond measure that has dramatically improved both water quality and public access at Oakland’s Lake Merritt.

At the meeting, it was announced that two of the lake’s most effective advocates are retiring from their day jobs. But it went without saying that neither Naomi Schiff nor Jennie Gerard will ever resign from their volunteer commitment to preserving and enhancing Oakland’s public spaces.
Naomi Schiff (left) and Jennie Gerard at Lake Merritt. 

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

A Carousel of Love

Once upon a time in 1950 – the very year that Children’s Fairyland first opened its fairy gates – a young man named Ken Vetterli, freshly discharged from military service, had a job operating a carousel in Capitola, California. It was a lucky job in many ways. For starters, on one spin of the wheel he met the woman he would later marry. And, as it happens, carousels would turn out to play a very large role in his life – and in ours.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Fairyland Time Capsule

The other day we discovered a Fairyland employee manual dated March 1, 1956. The introduction to the 34-page document was written by William Penn Mott, Jr., who was Oakland’s superintendent of parks and Fairyland’s creator.

The manual is a time-capsule view of the park as it was exactly 60 years ago. Certain animals and sets, and the organizations that made them possible through their donations, no longer exist, and some sections of the manual would not be considered politically correct by today’s standards. But I was pleased to find that the message to employees was the same one we deliver today: to preserve and enhance the place that was designed to be “the dream of every child come true.”