September 21, 2018
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From the archives VII-2009

By: Irene Hilsendager
June 29, 2018

We are beginning to get hints of support from folks who might give the Historical Society the buttress they need to continue to preserve Rohnert Park’s memoirs. Sonoma Mountain Village seems to be very interested in including history as well as the arts in their future plans for development.

The City of Rohnert Park has generously loaned us our temporary archival space and also worked with us to create and fund historic displays in the new city hall.

With this suggestion of support, we might just be able to pull together a fine 50th celebration in 2012. It will soon be time to gather and decide what such an event would look like and to consult former leaders for their expertise on how to manage such an endeavor. What might also be important is to interview participants about the details of their experience.

For instance, I would ask Gordon Adam, who donated a specialty tooled trike for the tricycle relay between Rohnert Park and Cotati leaders, how tall men managed to squeeze into these vehicles and actually travel anywhere at all. Mayor Art Roberts and Gordon Adam engineered a tricycle for the trike races for Founders Day in 1974.

I would also like to interview Steve Jeffries to determine what special criteria he had or technique he used to win the “Mr. Lucky Legs” contest in 1981.

Speaking of legs, we might find out which man and woman won the “Tight Fitting Jeans” contest in 1982 and how they achieved victory.

And regarding any aesthetic human contests, our best consultant is Reba Roberts, widow of popular Mayor Art Roberts. She not only supervised any Miss Rohnert Park pageants, but also designed and worked tirelessly on volunteer-built, handmade parade floats.

It would be fun to see if Reed’s Hair Barn entrants still have any old bed frames on wheels and ask what it took to win the bed races three years in a row from 1990 to 1993.

For historic advice, we have the diligent efforts of Prue and Lloyd Draper, former Cotati Clarion owners, who chronicled every facet of Founders Day. Alongside was Jud Snyder, who not only wrote a history summary of the town each year but is also the longest-term journalist in the city’s history.

We can poll Rohnert Park’s founders and mayors, who hosted many events, as well as the Grand Marshals and directors of each year’s pageant. Because there are numerous folks who have put their heart and soul into Founders Day each year, it seems inevitable that a 50th planning convergence would attract a large and eager crowd. 

A Semi-Centennial celebration is a unique experience in a town’s history-it is the one last historic marker that still includes many of the founders and families, who are able to relay their firsthand experiences for historic record. We would not want to miss out on this great opportunity.

Pride in heritage marched with community spirit-what could be better elements for a Golden Anniversary?

Irene Hilsendager’s column each week touches on moments in the history of Cotati, Rohnert Park and Penngrove.