It was a great feeling a few weeks back, joining in to celebrate the dedication of the Tim Haidlen Research Room at the Oakdale Museum and History Center.
Much of what fills that room, which was transformed from a storage area to a fresh area for museum visitors to conduct research, are the bound volumes of The Oakdale Leader. Going back even farther, there are also some stored issues of The Oakdale Graphic, established in 1882, which was the precursor of The Leader.
Long story short, when we were making the move from our longtime home at 122 South Third to the new 603 West F Street location earlier this year, there really wasn’t room to take those bound volumes.
Not only did we have shelves upon shelves of past issues for Oakdale in the big black bound books, we also had Riverbank and Escalon. That’s a lot of history and even though we knew we couldn’t take those bound volumes with us; we also knew we didn’t want them to be lost.
Personally, I am extremely grateful to those groups and individuals that stepped in to help.
For Oakdale, it was a crew largely headed up by Barbara Torres from the Friends of Oakdale Heritage that got the effort organized to catalog the volumes and meticulously package them for transport. Then they totally transformed the room in the museum facility at 212 West F in Oakdale to accommodate them. Friend and co-worker Michelle Kendig and I were able to attend the June 17 dedication and we both literally got chills when we walked into that Tim Haidlen Research Room. Seeing our bound volumes organized and stored with such love and care was all the confirmation we needed that having them go to a new home was the right decision. I happened to be babysitting my granddaughter that day so we stayed as long as we could, until she reached the end of her 17-month-old attention span. It took me back to the days when I attended plenty of events with my own daughter in tow. As a bonus, I got to say hello and share a few moments with now retired longtime Leader publisher/owner Stan Cook, who gave the go-ahead to hire me some three decades ago.
We maybe could have put the bound volumes out in the small garage we have at our new site but honestly, that wouldn’t have been the best situation and I certainly am glad we didn’t have to go that route.
For Riverbank, it was also a contingent of Historical Society members that came to our old office en masse to rescue the bound volumes and for Escalon, it was librarian Amanda Clifford and Historical Society President Dave Russell that came to our aid to handle the transfer.
The Riverbank volumes will be stored as part of the Stanislaus County Library System, with hopes of relocating back to Riverbank once the museum annex is built there.
Escalon’s volumes have found a new home upstairs in the library there, and they are available for people to come in and peruse at any time during open hours at the library.
When our small offices in Riverbank and Escalon were consolidated into the main office in Oakdale years ago, those bound volumes made the trip from their respective cities to new shelves in the converted former darkroom at The Leader. With the arrival of digital photography, we no longer needed a darkroom so that space became storage.
Michelle and I, along with the various crews coming in to re-house the old papers, spent a fair amount of time hauling them out and facilitating the transfer and we are indebted to them for their efforts.
Knowing those stories and photos from 1945 or 2017 are safe and protected, and available if you want to go check them out, is a good feeling.
We appreciate all those who helped preserve our little bit of history.
Marg Jackson is editor of The Oakdale Leader, The Escalon Times and The Riverbank News. She may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 209-847-3021.