By Cindy Simons
The San Leandro Historical Society, presenting its 28th annual Day at the Casa, has transformed the old event into an extravaganza of local history discovery and celebration this year.
The once pricy event will be free and open to the public. Speakers, entertainment, tours, an art show, and kid’s crafts and games will fill the grounds and three buildings of San Leandro’s beautiful history complex that includes the Casa Peralta, the San Leandro History Museum, and the Little Brown Church.
In the morning, San Leandran Takeo Kato will show photographs and speak about his family’s life in Japanese American Internment camps during World War II. He was just a boy, but remembers using straw to make mattresses for the Tanforan Race Track horse stable that was their first internment “home”, and the dusty, barren Utah desert where they were housed in the barracks of Topaz.
Later in the day, Cal State East Bay professor Carlos Salomon will talk about his book Pío Pico: The Last Governor of Mexican California. Two-time governor of the Mexican colony of Alta California and prominent businessman after the U.S. Annexation, Pico was a politically savvy Californio who thrived in both the Mexican and the American periods. Salomon brings to life this story of a mestizo-black man who became one of the wealthiest men in California.
During the afternoon, guitar and dance will fill the Casa Peralta courtyard with music and motion. Gopal Slavonik will play two sets of the haunting and wild rhythms of Flamenco guitar, music with its roots in Andalusia, Spain, and its soul combining the threads of Spanish, Romani, Moorish, and Jewish music.
With its high-energy dances, colorful and elaborate costumes, and unique mesh of dance styles, Compañia México Danza energizes its audiences. This dance group has been building its repertoire of Mexican folk dance since 1992.
The museum staff are presenting their first showing of a recent grant project – taped oral interviews of San Leandrans – including Brian Copeland – talking about growing up, working, and living in San Leandro. The museum has been closed for budget cuts for some time, but will be open for this special event.
Tours of the Casa Peralta, the historic Spanish villa-style home of Herminia Dargie Peralta, are available the entire day as well.
In the San Leandro Historical Society’s Little Brown Church, there will be a San Leandro-themed art show. Talented local artists will be displaying their rendering of San Leandro historic buildings and scenes.
And kids can make tissue flowers, try to lasso a “cow”, roll hoops, and do crayon rubbings of Casa tile.
Finally, a raffle and silent auction offers a chance at restaurant gift certificates, a European photograph, fabulous vacations, and four Disneyland tickets.
The Day at the Casa takes place on Saturday, September 22, from 11:00 to 5:00, at the Casa Peralta, 384 West Estudillo Avenue in San Leandro. For more information and a schedule of events, visit www.sanleandrohistory.org, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 510-910-3215. It’s free! No tickets or registration. Come for the whole day or any part of the day to celebrate and discovery San Leandro history.