By GLENN KAHL
209 staff reporter
There’s a lot of Ripon history in the community’s downtown museum – stories from years past and photographs of the early day farming community and many of its residents.
While the Clarence Smit Memorial Museum is stuffed with memorabilia, photo albums and newspaper accounts of the past, it promises to have much more in the near future thanks to noted chef John Mangelos who has been involved with the history of Ripon for years.
One find of note from the town’s early years was the cannon ball that turned up near Caswell State Park and believed to be of Spanish or Mexican origin. Another is the first settlers that made camp near the Stanislaus River from a Mormon Church expedition.
Mangelos through The Friends of the Library has devoted his time to saving the records of the weekly Ripon Record newspaper that recently shuttered its doors after more than 108 years of publication. Also president of the Ripon Historical Society, Mangelos focused on saving the memories that he found in editions of the Ripon Record retrieved from the attic of the newspaper when it closed at the beginning of this year.
With the stacks of papers were microfilm copies of the paper – page by page – in a less than usable condition for the public to view on a film reader now located at the front of the museum.
Mangelos is planning to have the old and yellowed pages restored and copied onto the electronic medium that will allow the public to visit the Ripon Library and do searches for friends and relatives who have been subjects of stories over the years from sports to social activities, crimes and fires in the community.
The electronic recordings will also include the legal advertisements carried in the pages of the newspaper during its some 5,400 editions that covered Ripon men going to war throughout the 20th century and the towns many elementary and high school graduations.
The cost of the restoration effort is reaching into the thousands of dollars, Mangelos said. It is going to be funded initially by the Friends of the Library that would appreciate additional contributions from the public to save the paper’s community history.
The paper in the early 1900s had numerous short stories on the front page each week with none of them jumping to the inside pages. One told about a sewing machine fraud, another was a soldier’s memorial from World War I with yet another focused on the early day two-story Ripon Grammar School.
Mangalos arranged for a website specialist two weeks ago to talk to the Ripon Rotary Club at their weekly Spring Creek Country Club luncheon on the plan to convert the old yellowed newspaper pages to an electronic medium. He explained the costs of the conversion of the pages so the members could appreciate the depth of the project and realize its importance to the community.
The program will allow Ripon citizens to enter the name and date of their search and it is expected to appear on their computer screens or on those at the library with little cost to them as well as former residents returning to the Central Valley with a curiosity about their past from weddings to sports stories – that they may have been personally involved both on the football field and the basketball courts.
Connie Jorgensen who has joined in the project at the museum read one story about a World War I soldier who had been imprisoned during the conflict. She was teary eyed as she related the story saying he was finally released and returned home to Ripon where he was killed a short time later.
Jorgensen said she is totally excited about seeing the history come alive on computers at the library and for those at home who will be linking into the web site.
To contact Glenn Kahl, email firstname.lastname@example.org.