Photos of the annual Rendezvous in Poway!

Today I headed up to Old Poway Park to enjoy a very cool event. Scenes from the 19th century were being reenacted at the annual Rendezvous in Poway!

History enthusiasts had set up tents and tipis under large beautiful sycamore trees in the park’s grassy area. I learned that the rendezvous participants had been camping in Old Poway Park for several days already, and that local school students came by during the week to learn about life in the Old West during the 1800’s.

The Rendezvous in Poway, which continues this Sunday, features people in costume representing vaqueros, mountain men, cowboys, pioneers, and even members of the cavalry during the Civil War. For a few bucks kids can pan for real gold and families can ride the park’s fun Poway-Midland Railroad loop and watch a mock train robbery! Many of the attractions are free to the public, including a realistic cannon firing demonstration and Professor Tru Lee Bogus’ Traveling Medicine Show.

I also discovered that the Heritage Museum in Old Poway Park is open on weekends. There are many fascinating exhibits inside, and visitors can learn a good deal about the early history of Poway, back when people reached the once-tiny town by stagecoach.

On a pleasant early October afternoon I walked about the Rendezvous in Poway, enjoying many unique sights–and of course I took photos!

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

Inspirational photos of Memorial Day.

I had all sorts of plans for this Memorial Day weekend. But I’ve decided to rest and write. Three uninterrupted days of writing. In a quiet place.

I’ve blogged about local Memorial Day events in past years. If you’d like to see many inspirational photographs, click the following links:

Photos of Memorial Day at Mount Hope Cemetery–remembering those who perished in the Civil War.

Memorial Day at The Veterans Museum in Balboa Park–remembering those who died in the Vietnam War.

Photos of Memorial Day ceremony at Fort Rosecrans–sloping fields of flags and roses.

World War II vets honored on USS Midway–remembering the Greatest Generation.

Photos of Memorial Day at Mount Hope Cemetery.

San Diegans gather for a dignified Memorial Day ceremony on GAR Hill at Mount Hope Cemetery.
San Diegans gather for a Memorial Day ceremony at Mount Hope Cemetery.

The second Memorial Day event that I attended yesterday took place at Mount Hope Cemetery. I had never before visited this history-filled municipal cemetery.

Mount Hope is where many of San Diego’s early residents are buried. It’s hilly and sprawling, with thousands of scattered headstones and monuments. Thousands of names are eternally engraved.

The dignified Memorial Day ceremony was held atop GAR Hill. I learned that G.A.R. stands for Grand Army of the Republic.  The fraternal organization is composed of veterans who fought on the Union side during the American Civil War. On grassy GAR Hill rest many Union soldiers who fought bravely.

The annual event, I also learned, is organized by both the Sons and Daughters of Union Veterans, and Sons and Daughters of the Confederacy. Over a thousand Civil War veterans are buried at Mount Hope Cemetery.

Yesterday afternoon I stood and watched a moving tribute to those who had fought in the war that ended slavery. Some of the participants wore Civil War uniforms and period dress. History came to life with eloquent words of remembrance, and the singing of The Battle Hymn of the Republic and Amazing Grace. Several speakers recalled the men who fought, their sacrifices, and the triumph of liberty. Our current times were also addressed. It is necessary to stay firm in the defense of freedom.

This year the ceremony honored one Civil War soldier in particular: Henry Neal Fletcher, 4th Corporal, Company G, 3rd Iowa Cavalry. He fought for the Union. Both of his grandfathers fought in the Revolutionary War. From them he learned how freedom was won. He died a beloved member of the San Diego community.

The idea for Memorial Day is thought to have come from the tradition of decorating soldier’s graves in late spring with flowers, a custom that predated the Civil War. During the war, with so many dead, the practice became very common. The tradition finally became formalized, and known as Decoration Day.

On this Memorial Day, atop a quiet hill, I saw many flags decorating the graves of soldiers.

While some gathered for the ceremony, others read the nearby gravestones and wondered at the sacrifices made long ago.
While some prepare for the ceremony, others read the nearby gravestones and wonder at the sacrifices made long ago.
American flags decorate the graves of fallen soldiers.
American flags decorate the graves of fallen soldiers.
This grave marker design was established by the Grand Army of the Republic. Here lies a Union soldier. Sergeant Francis E. Webster, 10th U.S. Infantry.
This grave marker design was established by the Grand Army of the Republic. Here lies a Union soldier. Sergeant Francis E. Webster, 10th U.S. Infantry.
Some participants wore Civil War uniforms--both blue and gray. They posted the flags and provided a musket salute.
Some participants wore Civil War uniforms–both blue and gray. They posted the flags and provided a musket salute.
This restored mortar dates from the American Civil War. It stands on GAR Hill at Mount Hope Cemetery.
This restored mortar dates from the American Civil War. It stands on GAR Hill at Mount Hope Cemetery.
One of many gravestones. Here lies P.W. Bradbury, a scout under General Fremont.
One of many old gravestones. Here lies P.W. Bradbury, a scout under General Fremont.
Honor guards perform March On The Colors.
Honor guards perform March On The Colors.
Speeches follow an Invocation and Pledge of Allegiance.
Thoughtful speeches follow an Invocation and Pledge of Allegiance.
Holly Kirkman of John Muir School reads her inspirational, award-winning essay What Memorial Day Means to Me.
Holly Kirkman of John Muir School reads her inspirational, award-winning essay “What Memorial Day Means to Me.”
Dedication Of Flowers. Red, then white, then blue flowers are placed by the grave marker of Henry Neal Fletcher.
Dedication Of Flowers. Red, then white, then blue flowers are placed by the grave marker of Henry Neal Fletcher.
The program included a short biography of Henry Neal Fletcher who fought in the Union Army. (Click image to read.)
The program included a short biography of Henry Neal Fletcher, who fought in the Union Army. (Click image to read.)
Musket Salute.
Musket Salute.
Taps.
Taps.
Remembering the fallen on Memorial Day, at Mount Hope Cemetery in San Diego.
Remembering the fallen on Memorial Day, at Mount Hope Cemetery in San Diego.

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

Life in 1865 at Old Town’s Mason Street School.

Gentleman in period attire tells visitors at Old Town San Diego State Historic Park about the history of the Mason Street School.
Gentleman in period attire tells visitors at Old Town San Diego State Historic Park about the history of the Mason Street School.

The Mason Street School was San Diego’s very first schoolhouse. It was built in 1865. In 2015, 150 years later, it’s one of the most interesting sights in Old Town San Diego Historic State Park.

The one room schoolhouse museum isn’t always open to the public. So whenever I walk through Old Town, I eagerly wander past to see if the front door is swung wide. If it is, I amble inside and look about, trying to absorb what life was like in the early days of San Diego.

I remember how the Mason Street School used to contain numerous desks. But they’ve been replaced by plain benches, to more accurately portray where a small number of students from Spanish, American and other diverse backgrounds, grade one to eight, sat together and learned how to read, write and do arithmetic.

Back in the early years of San Diego, school was held twelve months a year. Hours were 9 to 4, but many students would skip school to watch bull fights, fiestas and other exciting town doings. Many children were held out of school by their parents to help on a ranch or farm, or to work in a family store.

San Diego in 1865 was a small, isolated, somewhat ramshackle town. Mary Chase Walker, Mason Street School’s first teacher, wrote when she arrived in San Diego by steamship: “I arrived in the bay of San Diego on the morning of July 5, 1865. It was a most desolate looking landscape. The hills were brown and barren; not a tree or green thing was to be seen. Of all the dilapidated, miserable looking places I had ever seen, this was the worst. The buildings were nearly all of adobe, one story in height, with no chimneys. Some of the roofs were covered with tile and some with earth…”

Mary Chase Walker originally traveled from Massachusetts to California, in search of greater opportunity. While in San Francisco, she learned of a teaching opening in San Diego. After less than a year at the Mason Street School, however, she became embroiled in a local controversy. One day she made a kind gesture to a lady who was part African-American, but many early San Diegans had arrived from the Confederate South and voiced their disapproval. A number of students were removed from the small school in anger. To allow the scandal to pass over, Mary quit teaching and married the president of the school board, early San Diego settler and prominent merchant Ephraim Morse.

It’s hard in modern times to imagine the life and culture of San Diego long ago. But one can get a flavor of that fascinating history by stepping inside the old Mason Street School.

The Mason Street School was built in 1865, to provide education for the children of a sparsely populated San Diego.
The Mason Street School was built in 1865, to provide education for the children of a sparsely populated San Diego.
The first schoolhouse in San Diego County, the Mason Street School stands in historic Old Town.
The first schoolhouse in San Diego County, the Mason Street School stands in historic Old Town.

The nearby plaque reads:

MASON STREET SCHOOL

FIRST PUBLIC SCHOOLHOUSE IN THIS COUNTY.
ERECTED AT THIS SITE IN 1865 AND KNOWN AS
“MASON STREET SCHOOL – – DISTRICT NO. 1”
WHEN SAN DIEGO COUNTY COVERED AN AREA
LARGER THAN THREE NEW ENGLAND STATES.
RESTORED BY POPULAR SUBSCRIPTION IN 1955.

STATE REGISTERED LANDMARK NO. 538
MARKER PLACED BY SAN DIEGO COUNTY BOARD OF
SUPERVISORS AND THE HISTORICAL MARKERS COMMITTEE
ERECTED 1955

The Mason Street School museum is occasionally open to the public. If you're lucky and it is, make sure to step inside!
The Mason Street School museum is occasionally open to the public. If you’re lucky and it is, make sure to step inside!
Years ago, the museum contained individual student desks. But these benches are a faithful reproduction of actual history. Fancy desks were rare in this remote outpost of civilization!
Years ago, the museum contained individual student desks. But these benches are a more faithful representation of actual history. Fancy desks were rare in this remote outpost of civilization!
Children attending the Mason Street School used slates and chalk, as paper was also scarce and expensive. A wood stove provided heat.
Children attending the Mason Street School used slates and chalk, as paper was also scarce and expensive. A wood stove provided heat.
Some old Primers and Readers on a wooden table. A water bucket and dipper were used for drink.
Some old Primers and Readers on a wooden table. A water bucket and dipper were used for drink.
A ball, broom and doll.
A ball, broom and doll.
Public School Teacher's State Certificate from the mid 19th century. San Diego's first teacher was Mary Chase Walker.
Public School Teacher’s State Certificate from the mid 19th century. San Diego’s first teacher was Mary Chase Walker.
Old map of California from an era when many immigrants arrived by ship.
Old map of California from an era when many immigrants arrived by ship.
Rock used as ballast in a ship that sailed from San Diego to Boston. Stones gathered on Ballast Point in Point Loma paved Boston's cobblestone streets, 3000 miles away!
Rock used as ballast in a ship that sailed from San Diego to Boston. Stones gathered on Ballast Point in Point Loma paved many of Boston’s cobblestone streets, 3000 miles away!
Photographic portrait of President Abraham Lincoln on a primitive wall. Mason Street School was San Diego's first schoolhouse, built in 1865 at the end of the Civil War.
Photographic portrait of President Abraham Lincoln on a primitive wall. Mason Street School was San Diego’s first schoolhouse, built in 1865 at the end of the Civil War.
Water for washing and drinking was brought in from a well near the schoolhouse.
Water for washing and drinking was brought in from a well near the schoolhouse.
The old well in the schoolhouse yard, beside a clump of prickly pear.
The old well in the schoolhouse yard, beside a clump of prickly pear.
The Mason Street School provides visitors to Old Town San Diego State Historic Park a fascinating look at our city's unique past.
The Mason Street School provides visitors to Old Town San Diego State Historic Park a fascinating look at our city’s very unique past.

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San Diego Library exhibit: Lincoln and Civil War.

Abraham Lincoln, slavery, the Constitution, dissent, the Civil War, and lingering questions.
Abraham Lincoln, slavery, the Constitution, dissent, the Civil War, and lingering questions.

A thought-provoking historical exhibit is currently on display in downtown San Diego’s Central Library. Titled “Lincoln: The Constitution and the Civil War,” the large multi-paneled exhibit outlines and discusses a number of controversial issues that arose during the time of America’s Civil War. The exhibit, which has visited a number of different libraries, was created by the American Library Association and the National Constitution Center.

Old photos and texts help visitors to understand the election of Abraham Lincoln, the secession of the southern states, and the Civil War itself; complex topics that are explored include slavery and the plight of African Americans, the Constitution and state sovereignty, and civil liberties.

If you happen to find yourself in East Village, pop into the library. The large display is on the ground floor and very difficult to miss. The traveling exhibit will remain at this location through January 9, 2015.

Lincoln: the Constitution and the Civil War is on display in San Diego's Central Library.
Lincoln: the Constitution and the Civil War is on display in San Diego’s Central Library.
Meet Mr. Lincoln. The new American president was viewed by some with uncertainty or distrust.
Meet Mr. Lincoln. The new American president was viewed by some with uncertainty or distrust.
People at San Diego's new downtown public library check out a provocative historical exhibit.
People at San Diego’s new downtown public library check out a provocative historical exhibit.
The Confederacy attacked Fort Sumter after Lincoln decided to resupply the fortification.
The Confederacy attacked Fort Sumter after Lincoln decided to resupply the fortification.
Old envelope depicts a boxing match between Lincoln and Jefferson Davis.
Old envelope depicts a boxing match between Lincoln and Jefferson Davis.
The Civil War, fought for complex reasons, effectively ended slavery in America.
The Civil War, fought for complex reasons, effectively ended slavery in America.
The original Constitution didn't abolish slavery. It left the matter to the states.
The original Constitution didn’t abolish slavery. It left the matter to the states.
Exhibit examines dissent, and Lincoln's choice to suspend the writ of habeas corpus.
Exhibit examines dissent, and Lincoln’s choice to suspend the writ of habeas corpus.
Traveling library exhibit asks about the state of equality, freedom and democracy today.
Traveling library exhibit asks about the state of equality, freedom and democracy today.
It is for us the living...to be dedicated here to the unfinished work.
It is for us the living…to be dedicated here to the unfinished work.

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