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Huge Crowd Turns Out To Celebrate Museum
Escalon Mayor Robert Swift, at left, presents a special proclamation from the City of Escalon to Historical Society members Evelyn Swass and Dorothy Miller as part of the 30th anniversary celebration gathering at the museum on Saturday, Oct. 19. Marg Jackson/The Times

It was a celebration way beyond their expectations.

A nearly overflow crowd crammed in to the Escalon Historical Society Museum on Main Street on Saturday afternoon, on hand to help mark the 30th anniversary of the organization.

There were proclamations from the City of Escalon, Congressman Josh Harder, Assemblyman Heath Flora and plenty of connecting with old friends at the Oct. 19 festivities.

Curator Dorothy Miller and Docent Scheduler Evelyn Swass handled the duties of welcoming the crowd and singling out several in attendance for special recognition for their continued support of the organization. Among those honored were several charter members of the Escalon Historical Society, joining it back in 1989.

City residents and those coming back into town for the gathering had plenty to peruse, from the collection of Escalon High School yearbooks to the display of antique farm items, a kitchen set up, historical memorabilia and more.

Chris Munson of Cameron Park was born in Escalon and came back to see the museum and help celebrate, noting that her grandmother Gene McCollum was a founding member and her mom, Dianne McCollum was also heavily involved with the historical society.

Larry and Ellen Snelling were both charter members and enjoyed looking at the displays and reminiscing.

“I remember the store, we used to shop here when it was Bengston’s,” Larry said of the museum now taking up the store space on Main Street.

“It’s good to see people you don’t normally get to see,” Ellen added of the family reunion-style atmosphere of the Saturday anniversary celebration.

After a time of socializing, the crowd assembled for the presentation of plaques and proclamations, and also were greeted by Miller and Swass.

“We didn’t expect this,” a happy Swass admitted to the huge crowd. “We are so proud you are here, we hope you appreciate our hard efforts.”

The two were interrupted several times by applause from the crowd, which indeed indicated it was very appreciative of the efforts of all the historical society members.

There were 150 charter members when the group was formed in 1989; 34 are surviving. Swass said they were able to contact 29 and 16 of them were in attendance and introduced on Saturday.

“I wouldn’t miss this for anything,” said former EHS teacher Art Sanguinetti.

Miller took the microphone and praised the efforts of fellow society member Swass in helping bring the celebration to fruition.

“I had nightmares that no one was going to show up,” Miller admitted. “It’s wonderful to see friends of all ages, it’s a great reunion, I think, and I’m just thrilled.”

Mayor Robert Swift presented a proclamation from the City of Escalon, thanking the Escalon Historical Society members for their efforts to “preserve, protect and maintain the history of the City of Escalon and its nearby rural environs.”

Miller and Swass also offered special thanks to Jim and Annie Santini, who have loaned their barn out for a fundraiser for the past couple of years, and the two also praised Wendy Fenton for her work in putting together a great gift shop at the museum.

Altogether, Miller said, the 30th anniversary was one for all, not just the historical society.

“It’s community involvement that keeps us all going,” Miller said.

Escalon High School seniors Angela Simoes and Elizabeth Shelley were on hand to serve up cake and refreshments, volunteering at the Oct. 19 anniversary party for the Escalon Historical Society. Marg Jackson/The Times
Former longtime Escalon High School teacher Art Sanguinetti is presented with a commemorative letter opener by gift shop coordinator Wendy Fenton at Saturday’s Historical Society anniversary celebration. Marg Jackson/The Times