Pop-up Speech

The printed text of the speech I presented at the opening of our Castro- Valley Pop-up History Museum. (But it's got all the umm's and pregnant pauses removed.)

The first thing we have to do tonight is acknowledge how unlikely this event was six moths ago.  Let’s face it, Castro Valley isn’t exactly the community that gets behind new ideas or changes. We are still complaining about a sign that hasn’t been here since 1997. There were a lot of moving parts: Crosspoint needed to come through, Rotary Club needed to climb on board, and Hayward Area Historical Society needed hitch their considerable engine to our little wagon and make it go.

And how crazy was the pitch to HAHS? Clearly I’m no Don Draper, because this was our starting point: former juvenile delinquent with a Facebook group, (not even a website, a Facebook group,) and I want to try an untested museum idea in a retail space, it’s only going to last one day, we are going to use your collection, your manpower, and oh, by the way, you are going to foot the bill for most of it. But don’t worry, I’ll be more than happy to stand up and give a speech at the opening as if I actually did something.

I have always been a fan of the Micky Rooney, Judy Garland, “Let’s put on a show,” mentality, you know, I have a hammer, you have the nails, let’s build a clubhouse. This exhibit took lots of people working together. We had to trust each other and we had to gamble that our conviction and vision would work. I think if you look around the room tonight, at the exhibits, and the everyone assembled here, that conviction has paid off, we built this clubhouse.

I love history, I have never been a big fan of dates, but I love the narrative, I love the stories. All too often I think we get stuck on the idea that history is this house, or this battlefield, this document, or even this museum. As if history only exists in a book or in these four walls. But history is all around us and it is not demarcated by some random point, say 50 years back.

I started CVLegends, because I was fascinated in creating an oral history about all things Castro Valley- where did you have your first kiss, shoplifting, cruising the Boulevard, these are all tiny, bright poignant points of real history.

Let me draw a bigger example, we all know the post war housing boom created a lot of the suburbia that is Castro Valley, that’s fine. But how much more connected to those events are you if you know the story of where the families came from before they settled in CV, or if someone can recall their favorite neighbors from those developments, or where they played, or what their kitchen appliances looked like. All those little stories create the connective tissue that fleshes out our community history.

And I know that sounds grandiose, and I know that’s bombastic, and trust me, we are not always that high minded, there are plenty of days we talk about burritos or streaking. But the bottom line is, this town has a lot to give, I’m thankful for the life I have created here with all of you my neighbors, and I’m just happy to be able to give a little bit back tonight.

So thank you’s to Heather Mellon And Diane Curry, without them this would not have happened. Thank you to Crosspoint Realty, Worthington Photography, Rotary Club for sponsoring tonight’s event. Big thanks to the Hayward Area Historic Society and everyone who works for them, especially Yohanna and John. HAHS is a great organization, they let me play in their sandbox, and I’ve already got new ideas bubbling in my brain cauldron. I hope to work with them again in the future. 

Special thanks to my family, especially my wife Stacey for acting as my sounding board as I obsessed about details and worried about spoilers.

And finally, thank you Castro Valley, you are all the reason this is here, please enjoy the exhibits, take your pictures with Don Castro, leave some comments. And when you get home, please, bombard your friends and neighbors with Facebook, or Twitter, or the telephone. Encourage them to come out and participate in their community, support this one of a kind exhibit, create Castro Valley legends.

Thank you

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Heather Mellon September 29, 2012 at 03:24 PM
Excellent speech, David! I particularly like what you had to say about history being more than dates. I know I've already heard some great new stories that help me feel more connected to CV.
David Ashton September 29, 2012 at 04:49 PM
Thanks Heather, couldn't have done it without you and Diane.
Vicki Cosgrove September 30, 2012 at 11:42 PM
I'm so sorry I missed the museum. I had too many family obligations this weekend, with Dad's 80th birthday.
Helen Sowers October 01, 2012 at 09:40 PM
We enjoyed the pop-up museum. What a great job! We missed your talk but heard Diane's excellent coverage of the history. We have lived in Castro Valley for 55 years and some pictures jogged our memories. We have a few stories I promised to forward to Diane. Helen and Malcolm Sowers
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