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Saturday, March 21, 2015

 This link should take you to the Department of Interior article ... .


http://www.doi.gov/employees/news/womens-history-month-an-interview-with-93-year-old-national-park-service-ranger-betty-reid-soskin.cfm

I think you have to copy and paste this link into your web browser.

Will keep trying to get it into a hyperlink.





Monday, March 16, 2015


18 with a long life ahead ...
The significance of my work of the past few days is only now beginning to dawn ...

About ten days ago I received an email from our superintendent saying that he'd had a request from the Department of Interior for an interview from me.  He forwarded the information with his response which had been, "here is Betty's information and you may contact her directly."


This being Women's History Month, it seems that the Department has decided to profile the National Park Service's "Oldest Park Ranger," and -- since I'm involved with a number of engagements already calendared and waiting -- this was just another such.  It's kind of "what I do." I hold a unique position of being an original source with the responsibility of sharing historic information when and where appropriate to the community, service clubs, agencies, educational institutions, on site, as needed.  This appeared to be within the area of my "expertise" and little more.

Now that I've completed a lengthy Q&A and had several brief phone conversations with the editor, it's beginning to be obvious that this is a bit more than out of the ordinary.
52 and counting ...

It wasn't until our deputy superintendent brought it to my attention (when I gave her the draft that had been forwarded for corrections) that this was not the National Park Service, but for the parent agency, The Department of Interior.  That the editor, Donna Margelos, was spending the major part of her work week reading and re-reading my blog; listening to video interviews that exist online; viewing DVDs and scanning my entire life as it exists online every day.

At my end -- between spare moments in my schedule of events -- I was finding myself searching out photos to send that span my entire existence since my 20th birthday!

This is big!  How big?  I have no idea, but it feels awesome.

The editor asked at one point, whether anyone at the National Park Service is capturing my blog -- and I had to admit that it had never occurred to me that anyone needed to ... that it was written as a way to process life as it whizzed by -- and -- since I'm really in conversation with my family and myself (mostly), and since I only write on my days off or late evenings ... it is strangely still a personal document.  It just never dawned that anyone else would see any value in the thoughts of an aging woman ... .
S. F. Giant's Game Day
90, and almost there ...

I'm hardly aware of any other readers, though on occasion (when someone asks) I try to check the numbers, but they're unimpressive at best, so for the most part outside readers are not my audience.  Leaving a record of my life for my family has always been the objective.

Some time this week The DOI project will be released -- where or how is still a mystery.  Ms. Margelos said something about "social media," and "a new young audience," but I know little beyond that.  It was just another assignment from superintendent Tom Leatherman, and that's about as far as it went.

Fortunately, the national attention has been incrementally growing, and each assignment (last week it was,Tom Bentley, a writer for the  American Scholar," the publication for the Phi Beta Kappa Society which has an interest in my blog; the week before it was Steve Early, Labor writer, who has a new book in process in which I'm included.) Early had been on board for two of my recent bus tours, and attended several of my afternoon presentatioins.  Until the Department of Interior's far more detailed piece required some work on my part, I really took it all in as just "what I do."

But it's far more than that, obviously.

The future is still opening up and the portals are widening even as we speak ...


Sunday, March 15, 2015

What a week this has been -- so memorable ...


... among other things -- on Wednesday I finally got to Alcatraz Island, and the Ai Wei Wei exhibit.  It is so moving ... so important.  It will close in April, which is much too soon.

Learning about how it was executed -- with the artist still confined under house arrest in China and unable to participate in the installation except by long distance, and with the involvement of local artists who used his designs through detailed instructions to fabricate the disparate pieces into reality.  They're astounding! The Kite; the Wing -- the stories that came to us through interpretive Ranger John Cantwell and his 28 years of working on the Island ... .

There was a moment when standing among the reproductions (in Legos) of a worldwide collection of images of political prisoners -- when I felt a sensory overload and had to momentarily withdraw -- to remove myself from that place into myself and away from the present by turning my back on the exhibit to look out of one of the multitude of windows toward the beautiful Golden Gate ... .

The experience was beyond surreal.

Alcatraz has a visitation of 5000 tourists a day; one million per year.  Ferries are boarded at Pier 33 in San Francisco; 300/trip, and tourists from every state and nation arrive every half hour throughout the day, with every boat trip sold out.  While my friend, Ann, and I were being guided by Ranger Cantwell, there was a brief exchange with a group of four young people who were visiting from Sweden; a reminder of how far-reaching is the influence of this work of Wei Wei and the long arm of the National Park Service which has enabled this remarkable cultural exchange.

I was not prepared for the beauty of the site that is not as overwhelmed by the desolation and decay as one might expect.  Though the evidence of its lengthy Armed Forces history plus the 49 years of life as the nation's infamous maximum security prison are clearly dominant, the beautiful historic gardens and Mediterranean-like site is much as one might have expected to find somewhere in Italian waters.

And, as we boarded the ferry for the scenic trip back to Pier 33 the captain allowed me to take the wheel for a while and guide the vessel back to shore -- with 300 unsuspecting tourists on the decks below!



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