"New Historical Society formed for South Bay," used by permission of Helen G. Halmay, Editor, published in the September-October 2013 edition of Adelante, member newsletter of the Congress of History of San Diego and Imperial Counties.
A new, local historical society was formed the evening of August 26, meeting in the historic, South Bay home of Susan Walter and Stephen VanWormer. The group plans to hold interactive meetings for its members, and will emphasize documenting the history of the South Bay area of San Diego County, and Upper Baja California, Mexico. Sixteen people with a special interest in local, South Bay history discussed the formation of the society, and voted to name themselves the "South Bay Historical Society," reviving the name from just such a society that existed in the past, but which has been defunct for years. One of their early goals is to conduct oral interviews of elderly South Bay residents (who are dying at a rapid rate and taking their priceless memories with them). Another of the society's goals is to have excerpts from transcriptions of these interviews be made avail- able to the public, perhaps in pamphlet form, sometime in the future. Susan Walter was asked to be the society's ad hoc chairperson, and Peter Watry volunteered to be treasurer. (No membership dues have been established at this time.) They also decided to meet every-other month, on the fourth Monday evening of the month. At the beginning of the evening, general introductions were offered around the room. I introduced myself, as editor of Adelante, and gave a little background about the Congress of History, especially for those who were not familiar with our networking group. I explained that I was not going to be a permanent member of their new society, but had been asked to be there as a resource, since I have years of experience with lots of different historical groups. Some of those in attendance were members of other historical societies, but most were not. During the meeting I answered questions about the general workings of historical societies, and made suggestions. After we had all introduced ourselves, the general discussion revolved around why people had attended and what they expected from the group. I described the structure of the North County CINCH (Council Interpreting North County History), and how/why it functions. I also told them about the rack-card that CINCH developed, to advertise the historic sites of their region. The new society decided that their group will not be a group like CINCH. This new group will not draw together docents from South Bay historical museums/sites. They will not be a networking group of representatives from other groups, but rather function as an over-all historical society for their region, with a general membership, open to all who are interested. (They are not an official 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, at this time.) In addition to choosing a name and deciding meeting details, the other major action that the new group took was to vote to support the community's effort to have the Chula Vista Strawberry Fields declared historic, by the City of Chula Vista. The new society is sending a letter to the Chula Vista Preservation Commission, urging such a declaration. The Strawberry Fields is an area of about five acres, located at the southwest corner of 4th and Main, Chula Vista. According to several of those in attendance, this is the last commercial farming enterprise in Chula Vista, and they would like to have it preserved, by having it declared historic, with an official historic declaration by the city, using the relatively-new preservation guidelines passed by the City of Chula Vista. In attendance at the meeting was Leslie Wolf Branscomb, who is the senior council aide to Patricia Aguilar, Chula Vista City councilmember. Branscomb was there representing the councilwoman. The meeting ended with a tour of the historic Walter/VanWormer home, and out-buildings. The next meeting of the South Bay Historical Society will be on Monday, October 28 at 6 p.m., at Susan's home. (If the group grows larger, they will look for another place to meet, possibly at a library.) If you would like more details about this new society, or if you have an interest in South Bay history, and want to attend the October 28 meeting, contact Susan Walter at: firstname.lastname@example.org, to let her know you will be attending. All our best wishes to this new group, as you begin your important journey.