By Ralph GibsonOn February 27, 1944, the U.S. Army’s DeWitt General Hospital opened to the public. It was a festive event with the pomp and circumstance one would expect from a grand military opening. A special treat offered to guests in attendance was a unique cookie born from an era of rationing: the H-O cookie.
The regular museum hours will be Wednesdays, Noon to 4:00 pm. Once we build up our volunteer force, we’ll add Fridays from Noon to 4:00 pm.
Letter From the Editor by
Jason AdairDear Readers,
I’m taking over as editor of The Placer once again. You may be wondering what that means for this publication, and truth be told, I don’t have any idea. This first issue will be pretty much business as usual, but from there on we could be taking some twists and turns.
I’d like for us to chart this new territory together so that The Placer can become an invaluable resource to museum people, as well as to anyone who makes collecting and preserving history their business. To that end, I’ve put together a survey that wonders what is it about The Placer that you find useful, interesting or just ducky? It asks pertinent questions like, “How much of The Placer do you normally read?” and only has four other questions, so it shouldn't take long to complete.
What I really want to know is how can we at the Placer County Museums employ this newsletter to be more relevant to you? And in the future, how can you contribute to help others follow in your historical successes or avoid your historical failures. To be a part of creating the new direction of this newsletter, or making sure it stays exactly how it is, click here to log on to the website and make your voice heard. If you’d rather express your opinions offline, the survey will be available at the Placer County Museums office.
Together we can make 2017 the best year of The Placer yet.
by Kasia Woroniecka, Curator of CollectionsThe traditional role of history museums is to collect, organize, study and preserve objects, and to educate the public by displaying these objects. Objects are our special link to the past and to the people who came before us. In order to connect to and understand our past, museums must collect artifacts that support their mission best.
As we prepare to open the DeWitt Museum to the visiting public, we are continuing to gather oral histories, objects, photos, letters, and other archival materials that will give added layers of meaning to our collection.
Sometimes the smallest, ordinary objects tell the most amazing stories. One of our more recent donations to the DeWitt Museum collection includes a framed dollar bill. It is a series 1935 “A” dollar with a number of illegible and faded signatures. It also happens to be the first one spent at the DeWitt General Hospital Officer's Club.
While the bill might have been signed to commemorate the opening of the club, it could also have been a “short snorter”— part of a drinking game popular among commercial pilots and servicemen that started in the 1920s. A “short snort” is a slang expression for a shot of liquor that is less than full. The bills, usually low denomination banknotes, were signed by people who traveled together, met at events or became new members of the club. Anyone who failed to produce their “short snorter” when challenged was obligated to buy a round of drinks for the others.
The Officer’s Club dollar bill belonged to Captain Hans A. Leonhardt, who was the Post Engineer at the DeWitt General Hospital and Camp Flint from 1943 until 1946. Leonhardt met his wife, Ila Rainier, at DeWitt, where she was serving in the Army Nurse Corps. They were married in Las Vegas in 1946. Leonhardt was decommissioned in 1947 and went back to work as a civil engineer for the City of Los Angeles. He died in 1981.
The artifacts and documents in the DeWitt collection play an essential part in bringing the history of the DeWitt complex to life. Our mission is to create a collection that represents the local experience through DeWitt’s three different eras: as a WWII army hospital, a State mental institution, and as the Placer County government center.
There’s a small window of time left to have your personal artifacts become a part of this museum before it opens. If you have objects to donate, please contact the Curator of Collections, Kasia Woroniecka: 530-889-7705 or firstname.lastname@example.org If you have photos, letters, documents, or personal stories to donate please contact the Curator of Archives, Bryanna Ryan: email@example.com or 530-889-7789.
by Beth Rohlfes, Supervising CuratorWhen the DeWitt History Museum opens to the public on Wednesdays, starting February 28th of this year, we will need volunteers to share the unique stories of DeWitt with our museum visitors.
Special training will be held on February 10th and 15th.
Contact me at 530-889-6504 or firstname.lastname@example.org to find out how you can be part of bringing DeWitt history to life.
Free DeWitt Van Tours! One Day Only!
by Jason Adair, Exhibit PreparatorWhile trying to figure out some fun and educational activities for the grand opening of the Dewitt Museum, we came up with the idea for a walking tour. This would allow us to show off some of the almost unchanged areas of the campus as well as point out places where historical events happened.
We quickly realized that even though we all thought this was a good idea, asking people who just arrived at the grand opening of a museum to agree to take a very long walk away from the museum was probably going to be a tough sell. Especially since the sun sets around five and February is the third rainiest month of the year around here.
Our Solution? A 15 minute van-powered shuttle tour.
The van will be driven by our resident driving expert, me, and the ride along tour, designed by our curatorial staff, will be given by one of our docents.
Still not sold? How about we throw in onboard photographic reference materials and an era appropriate sound track at NO EXTRA CHARGE!!! Like it says in the headline, this tour is only available on one day, so mark it on your calendar. Hint: It’s the same day as the Grand Opening of the DeWitt History Museum, February 27.
Tours depart from the museum every 15 minutes, 4:15pm-5pm.
See you there!
News from Placer County Historical Society
by April McDonald-Loomis, PresidentHappy New Year!
This is shaping up to be a very good year for the Society, due in part to the extremely generous donation from the Weston and Eleanor Briggs Trust. We will be meeting with the Briggs family very soon to ask for their help with ideas for using the money in a way that honors Weston and Eleanor. If one of your New Year’s resolutions is to finally get that will written, remember the Society!
The Board of the Society may have some openings this coming May. If you are interested in being on the nominating committee or in serving on the Board, please contact me.
Our Landmarks Committee has recently completed the plaque for May Perry that will be placed in the Gold Rush Museum. We will have a dedication ceremony in the next few months.
We continue the fairly mundane effort to update our By-Laws that are very outdated. We have Al Stoll to thank for much of the work.
Our effort to decrease our stock of Thompson and West’s History of Placer County is going well. We gave away several books at the recent Docent Guild Luncheon and will give away some more at the next Docent Guild Lunch and Learn Program. All went to very good homes. I think some will also turn up for auction at the Friends of the Library annual fund raiser. If you belong to an organization that might want some books or have any ideas for ways to get these books out into hands that would appreciate them, please let me know.
The Society is currently working with the Placer County Historical Foundation on possibly initiating a Historian of the Year Award. This is still on the drawing board however.
The last Holiday Dinner meeting was quite a success. As always Lisa Bloom of A Window Opened catering did an outstanding job with the menu. The drawing was a success and lots of fun. Join us for the next dinner meeting on February 1st 2018.
President, Placer County Historical Society
Placer County Historical Society Dinner Meeting
by Addah Owens, Vice PresidentWhen: February 1, 2018
Time: 6:30 Dinner, 7:30 Program
Where: Veterans Memorial Hall, 100 East St, Auburn
Cost: $16 per person
Menu: To Be Announced. Catered by Lisa Bloom “A Window Opened.”
Program:The Samurai of El Dorado County by Herb Tanimoto.
DO NOT BRING ALCOHOL.
Mail Dinner Checks to:
PCHS c/o Jane Hamilton,
1871 Crockett Road,
Auburn, CA 95603.
(530) 885-7839 or email@example.com
Calendar of Events
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Placer County Historical OrganizationsColfax Area Historical Society
Chris Miller (530) 346-8599
Donner Summit Historical Society
Bill Oudegeest, (209) 606-6859
Foresthill Divide Historical Society
Sandy Simester, (530) 367-3535
Fruitvale School Hall Community Association
Historical Advisory Board
Old Town Auburn Preservation Society
Lincoln Highway Association
Lincoln Area Archives Museum
Elizabeth Jansen, (916) 645-3800
Joss House Museum and Chinese History Center
Richard Yue, (530) 346-7121
Loomis Basin Historical Society
Karen Clifford, (916) 663-3871
Roseville Fire Museum
Maidu Museum & Historic Site
Glenie Strome, (916) 782-3299
Native Sons of the Golden West, Parlor #59
Dave Allen, (530) 878-2878
Newcastle Portuguese Hall Association
Mario Farinha, (530) 269-2412
Golden Drift Historical Society
Sarah Fugate, (530) 389-2121
Newcastle Portuguese Hall Association
Aileen Gage (530) 885-9113
Placer County Historical Society
April McDonald-Loomis, (530) 823-2128
Placer County Museums Docent Guild
Tom Innes, (530) 888-8969
Rocklin Historical Society
Hank Lohse, President (916) 624-3464
Roseville Historical Society
Christina Richter, (916) 773-3003
North Lake Tahoe Historical Society
Marnie Carr, (530) 583-1762
Placer County Genealogical Society,
Toni Rosasco, (530) 888-8036