A Quick Opinion: Who do you consider old?

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A Winters Express opinion column

By Charley Wallace
Publisher Emeritus

When I turned 40, someone gave me a book titled “Old is 15 years older than you are.” At the time I thought it was funny, but looking at all of the older folks around me, it isn’t so funny anymore. With the way medicine keeps advancing, I’m not sure that I consider 86 old anymore. Not in my circle of friends, anyway.

Winters keeps losing those that made Winters, Winters. Last week we lost Jack Graf and T.R. Martin, both made a lasting impression on Winters. I’ll miss Jack’s smile and T.R.’s comments about life. If Winters were a boat, we just lost our motor and rudder. They will be missed.

Working in the museum is a constant reminder that we are forever changing. Sometimes the exhibits make me think that living in the past was easier and people lead a simpler life back in the day. Then I remember that I like air conditioning, hot water and refrigerators.

The current museum exhibit — The Lost Japanese Community of Winters — will be ending at the end of this week. It has been one of the most successful exhibits as far as attendance and fundraising. It also reminded me of how a community can be both ugly and inspiring, all at the same moment in time.

The City of Monticello is next on the agenda, with plenty of photos and artifacts being readied for display. The first object that was dropped off was a stuffed bear. He doesn’t appear to be that old when he died and some people don’t like the idea that someone shot a bear and put him on display. We decided to let the people decide on whether we should keep the bear, or not, and the overwhelming vote was to keep him. You will be able to vote on the bear until the end of the Monticello exhibit.

The Monticello Valley was flooded by Lake Berryessa in the early 1950s, so the bear is older than I am. I was going to mention that he is in better shape, but he is stuffed.

There are still people around that lived in and around the town of Monticello. There is an effort to film and interview them, but to say time is of the essence isn’t an exaggeration. Bringing the life and times of Monticello to the museum might help with the process.

When my father was getting up in years we tried to film and record him, without much success, and then, it was too late. With modern technology we should all try a little harder to save our history for future generations.

Gloria Lopez did a great job of writing a book about the Spaniards who came to Winters. Probably the best thing she did was record everyone she could find and put it on a CD, and now onto a digital file. You can watch the interviews at the museum, or buy her book and CD and watch them from home. She wrote the book in 2007, and if you watch the video you will be surprised at how many of her subjects have passed away.

Enjoy life and have a good week.

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