When someone has lived with you awhile, you get to know him pretty well. And we've gotten to know Carl Purdy quite well during his stay here at the Museum.
We know that he loved to explore and to study outdoors; that he found his life’s calling in the valleys and hills and fields of Mendocino County; that he connected with colleagues in horticulture throughout California and the United States; and that he became involved with landscaping projects at home and at some of the most visited sites in California.
We know that family was important to him. He named plants that he discovered for those he loved.
We’re here today to recognize the Life and Times of Carl Purdy and to acknowledge the pivotal role played by family.
This exhibit was a creative collaboration of the Guest Curator, Dot Brovarney, and an intrepid band of volunteers. They did research, read books and correspondence, looked at paint samples, and connected with Carl Purdy’s family. That’s how the exhibit came into being and took up residence in the Mendocino County Museum for almost a year now.
This is not, by the way, the end of the line for the text panels and the photos and items belonging to the Museum – we have received a request from the Jepson Herbarium at UC Berkeley to display the panels in their downstairs lobby. We are looking at providing a special display for Carl Purdy Hall at the Redwood Empire Fairgrounds. We’ll be carefully documenting the exhibit before it is disassembled.
We want to thank Carl Purdy’s family for sharing him with us, and for loaning us most of the objects in the exhibit. The objects have provided 3-dimensional substance and perspective to Purdy’s work. Thank you so much for sharing your grandfather, great-grandfather, and relative with the Museum, and so with the communities of Mendocino County. This has been a wonderful gift.
We also want to thank the major financial donors to the Museum for this exhibit. We are grateful for the trust you placed in the Museum and its crew in the creation of the exhibit.
The Museum has a family as well – those of you who visit regularly or infrequently, who attend our events, who send us money, and who know the value of our local heritage and the absolute necessity of saving it and studying it and learning from it.
That came home to me recently when I spent a morning with an individual whose grandmother was originally from Willits, with ties to the original outside settlers of this area. He had a family album with photos from the early 1900s lovingly arranged within a leather cover embossed with a California poppy. We were walking through the Museum as he described the ties of the various people in the pictures in the album, pointing out specific individuals, and homesteads.
As we returned to the front of the Museum, his wife reminded him that they had another place still to go. He hesitated, then handed me the album with both hands, saying that he knew that it was going to be taken care of, and shared with others beyond his immediate family and he felt fine letting go of it.
Although I am always struck by this feeling as I walk through our exhibits and back in our archives, it was in that moment that I could truly feel what it means when we say the Museum is a public inheritance. We are safeguarding the inheritance of the larger family of County residents, Museum friends, and visitors.
Thank you so much for recognizing and participating in the public trust that the Museum fulfills by being here and connecting people with our history.
So, today we’re going to celebrate an individual, his family, the places that sustained him and that sustain all of us still.
The Museum has and will continue to remember other individuals and families, from the first settlers thousands of years ago, to the tribes of the last several centuries and the present, the outside settlers in timber, ranching, fishing from the last half of the 1800s, those who continue to make this place their home. You may recognize some of the names: Leonard and Mabel McCoy, Elsie Allen, Mark Walker, Captain Faucon, Andree Connors. We’ll have more family reunions.