“The Woman Lawyer”- (via Museum of Ventura County)

by Library Docent Volunteer Andy Ludlum

On July 28, 1924, when motions were called for in the case of the People vs. Jesse Mendoza in Ventura County Superior Court, court watchers were stunned when “a tall and stately woman” stepped inside the bar and answered, “ready for the defendant.” Mary Belle Spencer of Chicago became the first woman to represent a criminal defendant in Ventura County history. And this was no routine trial. It was the trial of man accused of committing one of the most gruesome and brutal murders anyone could remember. Spencer practiced law for decades and relished the attention she drew in legal circles. But despite her accomplishments and failures, she was invariably described in the newspapers as “the woman lawyer.”

Read the story: Museum of Ventura County

Octopus Birdbath Restored

The mosaic birdbath I made last year for my daughter Mariel was damaged when high winds during a February 4th storm sheared off a massive tree branch that came crashing down onto the bird bath in her back yard in Pacifica.

When the tree was removed, the birdbath was four pieces. I was hopeful that I could put the pieces back together using concrete epoxy. Who knew? This thick gray stuff was nasty, but effective. It was designed for gluing marble headstones back on their bases, so I figured it would be tough enough to hold together a bird bath.

Once together, I had to use a Dremel tool to carve out space for the replacement tiles. Mariel found many of the original tiles and one of the eyes, on the ground and I used all of them in the restoration. The gallery below takes you through the entire restoration.

It was a fun project and I think the end result is almost identical to the original. You can see some slight differences below. The original is on the right with the bird visiting.

The Bad Bob – (via Museum of Ventura County)

by Library Volunteer Andy Ludlum

Marjery Misner was described in 1924 by The Los Angeles Times as a “pretty, young teacher.”  Near the end of the term, the first-year elementary school teacher in Santa Paula was summoned to the South Grammar School office of the district superintendent, Charles D. Jones.  He said her actions two weeks earlier left him with no choice. She could no longer teach in Santa Paula, and he asked for her resignation. What had Misner done to prompt such an arbitrary reaction from Jones? She defied a school board edict – and bobbed her hair.

Read the story: Museum of Ventura County

Mosaic Birdbath Storm Victim

The mosaic birdbath I made last year for my daughter Mariel was damaged when high winds during a February 4th storm sheared off a massive tree branch that came crashing down into her yard in Pacifica. The branch, from a tree on the neighboring property, flattened a section of fence and damaged a backyard gazebo. Most importantly, no one was hurt.

It wasn’t until the debris was removed that the fate of the Octopus birdbath was discovered. I think the pedestal helped the branch split the birdbath into four pieces.

I’ve done some preliminary research. There are epoxy adhesives designed for concrete. I don’t know if I’ll need to drill holes in the pieces and add some sort of metal reinforcing rod.

I don’t know how it would look, but just for fun I might restore it and employ the Japanese art of Kintsugi – where broken pottery is repaired using resin with gold dust in it. I might work if I can’t properly cover the break lines. This would be a decorative, not a structural part of the repair. (But I always get these crazy ideas that I usually scale back.)

I pick up the bird bath pieces next month and now I have a spring restoration project. Hopefully I can make it like new…or better!

Happy Birthday Phoebe

Phoebe is one! She’s become a wonderful part of our family! She has her routines. We don’t take any credit for this — somehow she taught herself to run out in the morning and bring in the newspaper! (She’ll surrender it, unharmed, for a modest treat.) She’s responsible enough to be off leash in an open space near our home and every morning she goes for a romp in the fields and runs down to the creek to swim — much to the displease of ducks living in the big pools. The two pictures show her today and at about one month. She still has the same expression. She’s got a great, loving personality and wants to meet every person and dog.

She is only allowed on two pieces of furniture. (I know, spoiled.) One, a covered ottoman that we call her “princess bed,” and the other, a reclining chair in the family room. Despite her increasing heft, she still likes to sleep on our laps when were are in the chairs.

Easy Health in a Bottle (via Museum of Ventura County)

by Library Volunteer Andy Ludlum

When a baby was teething and wouldn’t stop crying, there’s a good chance that Ventura County parents in the late 1800s reached for “Mrs. Winslow’s Soothing Syrup.”

Source: Museum of Ventura County

Koi Birdbath

I’ve finished another bird bath, this one is for my daughter Sarah. She liked the look of the colorful fish and requested some lily pads be added to the design. I found some great lily pad tiles from an artist on Etsy. Once again, this bird bath is grouted in black, not only to make the colors pop but also to hide the algae that inevitably develops in outdoor birdbaths.

85th Anniversary of the Martian Invasion

On October 30, 1938, 85 years ago, 23-year-old actor Orson Welles shocked the nation with his dramatization of H. G. Wells’ story The War of the Worlds. It depicted a Martian invasion of Trenton, New Jersey.

The obviously fictional drama was broadcast nationwide on the CBS Mercury Theater program which aired at 5:00 P.M. in Los Angeles on KNX. The “too-realistic” drama unfolded using “news bulletins” which were especially frightening to the people who fled their homes before listening to entire broadcast.

The panic wasn’t limited to New Jersey. In Los Angeles, hundreds of people called the Los Angeles Times’ switchboard, some even came to the newspaper’s office to be reassured in person. In Ventura, an “excited man” called the telephone company about the “eastern disaster” while a young couple, with a half-dressed baby, rushed into a local drug store warning “the world was coming to an end.” The nation was already tense with the threat of world war developing in Europe. (Hitler’s invasion of Poland was less than a year away.)

At the year-old Columbia Square, CBS West Coast Vice President, D.W. Thornberg made light of matter. He said, “We get calls every time one of our fictional characters is supposed to have a cold.” He pointed out that four times during the broadcast it was announced the drama was “entirely fictional.”

Disaster in the Devil’s Jaw (via Museum of Ventura County)

by Library Volunteer Andy Ludlum

One hundred years ago a tragic mix of poor judgment, navigational errors, irregular currents, and fog cost 23 sailors their lives.

Source: Museum of Ventura County