The annual Elk Grove Giant Pumpkin Festival will be with us again next weekend. We look forward to many great activities in Elk Grove Regional Park.
My “Saving History” follow-up from last week - on my list of history finders and savers, I forgot to mention Mary and Marielle Tsukamoto. They’re both great savers and finders of history!
Kids History Books – I will write more in a future HHH about the Kids History Books that were created in the 1970s by my students at Joseph Kerr Middle School. I look forward to hearing from students who were in those Community History classes.
Books and Writers – I am not the only person who has written books about Elk Grove. Here are other local writers: Lance Armstrong, Michelle Trujillo, and the Daughters of the Utah Pioneers.
EG Historical Society – Our great historical society is back to having speakers at their meetings. Wayne Gallup spoke this month, and Marielle Tsukamoto will be the speaker in October. Marielle is a very active community volunteer, and she can be seen at many community functions. She is a graduate of Elk Grove High School, and has been a teacher and principal in Elk Grove schools. As the daughter of Mary and Al Tsukamoto, Marielle lived in Florin. Along with her parents and all Japanese American residents of Florin and Elk Grove, Marielle was sent to an internment camp in 1942 when she was 5 years old. Today, she speaks to groups all over the nation, state, and locally about the experiences.
From David Lema, EG Supergrad: “We began capturing oral histories of the area in 2016 by asking members of the community who they thought we should record. We approached several history-related groups, including from Wilton, Florin, Sloughhouse, the River Delta and Elk Grove. We asked community leaders from city government, the Cosumnes Community Services District, the school district, Old Town Association and the Chamber of Commerce.
“The list of names we compiled was extensive, comprehensive and reflected families and individuals with well over a hundred years of Elk Grove area history; some dating back to the 1840s. As we began recording stories, we purposely sought out those who could share stories of the early days of the area, of migration here – overland across the prairie or by ocean and later rail. We rapidly gathered stories and family histories from every decade from 1840 to 2000.
But it was another of our projects which lead to an important realization. In addition to our typical interview-type recordings, we also annually undertake independently researching, documenting, and recording local veteran stories. We began with two notable local veterans of the Civil War. We went on to discover and present veteran stories from WWI, WWII, and the Korean War.
“In the spring of 2019, we began interviewing people around Elk Grove who knew the story of Wayne D. Heintz, a 1964 graduate of Elk Grove High School who in 1968 was killed in the Vietnam War. As we collected these recordings and stood back to look at what we had, we realized that not only had History Happened Here, but that History Is Happening Here. All across the country, high schoolers of the 1960s were faced with the reality of military service driven by the war in Vietnam - Elk Grove was not immune. Hundreds served; 12 from Elk Grove High were killed in Vietnam; scores were wounded or suffered mental and emotional trauma by their service; others made the hard choice of resisting service; still others were deemed exempt from service. Without doubt, the life trajectory for each graduate, male or female, was undeniably altered.
“This circumstance alone was not unique to Elk Grove. But the cascading effects of the Vietnam War dramatically and permanently altered the fabric and vibrancy of the area; transforming it from an agricultural-based rural community to a thriving city of diverse and vast potential. The latest U.S. Census reflects this transition – as reported in the Elk Grove Citizen in August, 2021, 33% of residents trace their homeland to Asia, heavily from Southeast Asia.
“As we continued our work, we realized that in addition to just searching for stories of the past history of the area, we needed to speak to those who are here now to capture this important era of Elk Grove history. Because, we are in the midst of a very distinct chapter of History Is Happening Here.
“So, on Sept. 26, the Foundation will release on its website, a one-hour YouTube chronicle we title The Elk Grove / Southeast Asia Story. In this presentation, 15 people tell their stories in their own words and in the own voices. These voices paint a history of the era from an on-the-ground perspective. We’ll hear from those who served; from survivors of those lost; from those who lived in Southeast Asia and how, when and why they fled. Each story is different, but each story adds a page to the history of the greater Elk Grove area. The Elk Grove / Southeast Asia Story can be accessed, at no cost, at any time after 2 p.m., Sept. 26 by visiting the Linda Mae Mahon Lema Foundation web site at: www.LMMLFoundation.org.
BOOKS BY ELIZABETH PINKERTON
History Happened Here, Book 1 – River, Oaks, Gold
History Happened Here, Book 2 – Fields, Farms, Schools
We the People, a Story of Internment in America
All book proceeds go for student scholarships, and I thank the many purchasers who have made possible the 82 scholarships with each one $1,000. More will be awarded each year.
To purchase books, make your check for books payable to Laguna Publishers and send to me at 9227 Lamprey Drive, Elk Grove, CA 95624. Books are $20 apiece and California sales tax is included. Add $3 for shipping of one book; $5 for 2-3 books. Call me at (916) 685-0606 or email me at email@example.com. I can send you an order form.