Thursday, August 23, 2012
In 1906, an effort was initiated to commemorate El Camino Real with the placement of 85-pound bells along the state highway. These distinctive bells were hung on supports in the form of a shepherd’s crook. By the 1960s, most of the original 450 bells had disappeared due to theft, vandalism or re-routing of the roadways.
Toward the end of the twentieth century, preservation organizations and individuals renewed a state-wide effort of marking El Camino Real with new bells and crook supports. Utilizing an original 1906 bell as a pattern, the newer versions are still being cast by the California Bell Company, headquartered in Saratoga. A video of the company’s casting process may be found here.
The museum’s bell is adjacent to the Trolley Barn and near the Phelan Avenue gate entrance. Utilizing this marker, the El Camino Real story will be integrated into our Historic Transportation Education program, enlightening school aged children about this portion of California’s heritage.
Wednesday, August 1, 2012
|Lt. Samuel L. Washington|
“Tuskegee Airmen” refers to all who were involved in the so-called “Tuskegee Experiment,” the Army Air Corps program to train African Americans to fly and maintain combat aircraft. The Tuskegee Airmen included pilots, navigators, bombardiers, maintenance and support staff, instructors, and all the personnel who kept the planes in the air.
The Tuskegee Airmen overcame segregation and prejudice to become one of the most highly respected fighter groups of World War II. They proved conclusively that African Americans could fly and maintain sophisticated combat aircraft. The Tuskegee Airmen’s achievements, together with the men and women who supported them, paved the way for the full integration of the U.S. military.
A native of Cleveland, Samuel L. Washington graduated from the Tuskegee program on June 27, 1944 and was appointed as flight officer. With his fellow classmates, Officer Washington was assigned to the 99th squadron of the 332nd. Based in Italy, flying P-40 and P-51 fighting aircraft, the squadron provided air support for numerous bomber missions over Germany. After retiring from military service, Lieutenant Washington eventually settled in San Jose with his wife Mary. The decorated war veteran died in 1981. Postmortem, he received the Congressional Medal of Honor in 2006.
|Some of the items donated by the Washington family|
To honor the service of Lieutenant Samuel L. Washington and his fellow servicemen, these newly received artifacts will be on display in the lobby of the Pacific Hotel during this Saturday’s August 4th Keep the Spirit of ’45 Alive event at History Park.