President’s Message January 2015

Barbara Profile Shot Welcome to 2015, The Year of Dana.  Plans are underway to highlight the 200th birthday of our namesake, Richard Henry Dana Jr., born August 1, 1815, throughout this year. We want to encourage sharing Dana-related activities in the community.  The goal is for residents and visitors alike to know the educated young sailor who described this locale as “. . .  the only romantic spot on the coast.”

Of course, we will have a Dana exhibit in our museum!  Our Board of Directors recently acquired two rare and certified Dana documents.  The first is a letter written March 12, 1853, where, as the attorney in an ongoing court case, Dana must decline a lecture invitation. The letter is signed, “Yours truly R. H. Dana Jr.” The second document is dated Boston, Jan. 26, 1856, wherein Dana is indebted for an invitation to the festival of the Worcester Bar, will take pleasure in being present, and is signed Very Respectfully, Rich H. Dana Jr.  Somehow reading 160-year old handwritten notes, one signed “Rich,” allows you to feel as though you are acquainted with the author.

Our February program will feature Randy Biddle of Windship Studios.  He is a published author of maritime history and builds and repairs ship models. Randy has conducted extensive research on the brig Pilgrim and promises to be an interesting speaker.

A special committee has met to create a design concept for vertical street light pole banners to be featured throughout the city to commemorate Dana for two weeks in March for the Fifth Community Reading of Two Years Before the Mast. The banners will appear again for four weeks in July and August in celebration of his birthday.  We welcome donations and sponsors for this project.  Committees are also organizing and asking for volunteers to docent at the museum, participate in the Festival of Whales booths and volunteer for the community reading of Two Years Before the Mast, as a reader, watch officer and/or booth volunteer.   It is the immense popularity of Dana’s classic book that describes a common sailor’s life at sea and 1830s California for which the author was first known.  But he was also an activist attorney, an abolitionist, politician, husband and father.  Our challenge is to convey the most important and interesting facts about Dana‘s life and share them with our community.

Thanks must go to Mike Leahy and Joel Bishop, who organized our November train excursion and Union Station tour with Ken Pratt, Director of Union Station Property Management. Thirty-six folks enjoyed the train ride, tour, lunch and return on the afternoon or evening train.  More thanks to members who shared holiday cheer at the December 7 museum open house and to those who helped host the museum open house for City of Dana Point staff on December 18 to view the Official City Seal Exhibit. Kudos also go to all of the docents who faithfully opened the museum during our scheduled hours and by appointment during 2014.  Do encourage groups to schedule a private museum tour or a historic Walking Tour of Dana Point.  Many new museum visitors are amazed by the depth of our museum collections.

Our January 28th Traditional Potluck and Annual membership meeting is an opportunity to see friends and meet new ones. We will recognize Mary Crowl, who is retiring after16 years of outstanding service, and we will officially elect new members to the Board of Directors, including Paul Hinman, who replaced Christy Johnson as Treasurer, and Marsha LaRusso, who replaced Regina Barnes as VP Membership (both Christy and Regina have moved away).  We also welcome Bruce Beal as our new Director of Oceanic Heritage.  The highlight of the evening will be honoring Dick Dietmeier as the 2015 recipient of the Pat Plepler Award for his active citizenship and civic service to Dana Point.

Barbara Force Johannes

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