June 2016

President's Message



I will be looking forward to seeing you at our Annual Meeting on June 23-25. This will be my final meeting as your President, and I have enjoyed every one of them in that capacity.

At our last Executive Committee Meeting, one of our committee members said: "John, you have done a great job building the infrastructure for our RVPs and our Board of Directors." Having been in construction for 40 years prior to retiring, I know a bit about infrastructure and foundations. During the past 4 years, 2 years as First VP and the last 2 years as your President, I have spent most every day thinking of how to improve the CCHS. As 1st VP, we worked together to revise the foundation of the RVPs. During the past 2 years, we have worked together to revise the foundation of the Board.

As we speak, our committee on Strategic Planning is working on the building itself. The remainder of this year as your Immediate Past President, Andrea (your President Elect) and the committee have a plan in effect to have a magnificent structure in place for the CCHS. If you have any imput on making adjustments (revisions) to the plans, please let me know. You will hear more about this in our Board Meeting at the Annual Meeting.

I want to thank all of you for assisting me in my duties as your President. I will pass along a very thick binder to Andrea so that all upcoming Presidents can see what has been accomplished. Then, they can add to it for the next President in line. This way they will know what has been done to build this structure and how to maintain it.


All concerns and compliments are welcome.




John Lenau

CCHS President

[email protected]


First Vice President's Message

It is obvious that summer has arrived in Martinez. Every evening this week, there has been a graduation, from preschool to the Alhambra High School graduation tonight. Last week, the Martinez Historical Society was proud to award a $500.00 scholarship to a graduating senior who is interested in pursuing a major in History at UC Davis. We have been fundraising for this effort for several years, and this was the 4th year that we were able to give a scholarship to a worthy graduate. It always feels good to know that you are helping a young person pursue their dreams, even if it's in a small way.

The work at the Martinez Museum continues. The hardwood floors are being refinished, and once that work is completed, the hard work begins: emptying all of the display cases, cleaning everything thoroughly, and then creating and mounting the new exhibits and displays. I'll report on our progress next month and talk a little about our huge storage issues, a problem that all small museums are facing today.

However, today I want to focus on the Conference's 62nd Annual Meeting. I hope you have all registered, as it is going to be a fantastic meeting. The meeting will be held in Claremont, CA, a beautiful college town... a treat in itself.

The workshops are designed to address many of the issues that all small historical societies and museums struggle with: Strategic Planning, Financial Responsibility, Audience Develop, Fundraising, Governance and By-Laws, Leadership Development, and other provocative subjects.

There will also be presentations about interesting historical subjects such as the USS Camanche, the Ramona Myth, and the National Parks' Centennial.

The presenters have been carefully chosen and are recognized experts in their respective fields.

There's something for everybody! In fact, it will be hard to choose which track to attend. If you bring several people from your organization, you might consider having each person in your group attend a different track, so your organization can benefit from the entire array of excellent topics.

In addition, several people from all over the state will be recognized at the Awards Dinner for their excellent work in the historical community. As an Annual Meeting participant, you will be proud to be there to acknowledge their good work. We will all be inspired by the various ways these remarkable individuals have furthered the many ways that CCHS organizations share and preserve our California heritage.

It's not too late! You can still register by going to the CCHS website where you will find detailed information about the schedule and registration.

Finally, I want to thank and congratulate the CCHS president John Lenau for his excellent leadership during the past two years. He brought forward-thinking direction to our organization during his term, and we have greatly benefited from his thoughtful, diligent guidance. Thank you, John!

See you all in beautiful Claremont!



Andrea Blachman

First Vice President

[email protected]



Second Vice President's Message

Yakety-Yak: History Communication at Claremont, June 23-25!!!

Be sure to participate in the 62nd Annual Meeting in Claremont, June 23rd-25th. It is like a rewarding, fun-filled vacation. This time, I want you to do a little homework for the workshop Paul H. Rippens and I will be leading on Communications. Please.

It will be at 3:30 pm on Friday, June 24th.

Bring a copy of your newsletter or one you like or hate. It is your chance to brag or whine. Best of all, we can learn together and improve. Communication is a key to membership and organization viability. That's true, whether we deliver our news via mail, in person, on our website, by e-mail, smartphone, through Facebook, or whatever else you may choose.

One of the first things we learn in life is that in order to be heard, we have to communicate. And if you communicate well, you will be heard. And our organizations want to be heard, right?

Paul_Rippens_Promotion.jpegSome of you may remember Paul Rippens from his successful Communications workshop in Pasadena. "I was surprised by the turnout," he said. There were about 40 attendees. Paul is the Communications Chairman for the Associated Historical Societies of Los Angeles County (about 80 organizations). AHSLAC goes back to 1958. www.ahslac.org. I like Rippens' title. It seems to me that CCHS and many of our organizations should have a communications director. Rippens, of Upland, serves as AHSLAC's Vice President, newsletter editor, webmaster, and Facebook Master.

Rippens, 77, retired from the Los Angeles County Fire Department after 37 years. He served 8 years as archivist for the San Dimas Historical Society and authored San Dimas in Arcadia's Images of America series. He serves as newsletter editor for the Southern California Association of foresters and Fire Wardens and contributed articles to the California Territorial Quarterly and the Los Angeles Corral of Westerners.

Best of all, he will have an interesting PowerPoint presentation.



"Just the facts, ma'am." -- Dragnet's LA Police Detective Sergeant Joe Friday

As a third-generation Placer County resident filled with Gold Rush and railroad history, I managed to have a lot of fun as a Sacramento news reporter for 42 years. In the process, I discovered the integral role that history plays.

It is the duty of both the reporter and the historian to get it right. Right? We try to emulate radio-TV star Jack Webb and go after "Just the facts, ma'am." Several critics who say they listened to every episode contend that he never said that on air, that it came from comedian Stan Freberg in his two-million 1953 hit parody, "Saint George and the Dragonet." (Freberg was born in 1926 in Pasadena and died in 2015 in Santa Monica.)

That's why some authors say they write fiction rather than history, because it has to make sense. When my granddaughter, Amanda, saw the 1997 movie "Titanic," she just had to read everything she could about that famous 1912 disaster. While the movie made sense to her, a lot of the history she read didn't.

And that is some of the stuff we should be communicating to our members about the "facts."

A few personal facts: CCHS Region 8 (Placer, Nevada, Sutter, Yuba, Sierra), chairman of Placer County Library Advisory Board, spent a decade as president of Placer County Historical Society, and member of numerous historical groups, served as president of the Society of Professional Journalists in Central California and of Sacramento and Central California Newspaper Guild (AFL-CIO) and more you can learn about at the workshop.

More importantly, I would like to talk to you about setting up a media awards program to start recognizing some of our best newsletters, websites, etc. I will have a binder of various newsletters you can look at. Hopefully, we will be able to make copies for you as well.

We have worked hard to dish up the best, most interesting and entertaining history for the least amount of money we can. Get a hint of how good a bargain it is going to be by checking annualmeeting.californiahistorian.com.

Like to yak with you in Claremont.


Michael Otten

2nd Vice President

[email protected]


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Conference of California Historical Societies
Bringing together California's historical community to share California's heritage, learn from one another and strengthen our communities.