This Article was published in the Martinez News-Gazette on 10/04/2017
Good Morning! How are you?
Ah, autumn in Potter's Field! The warmer summer mornings gave way to the slightly cooler air as everyone agreed autumn would soon bring its warmer glow as the day progressed. Like cats in a window, the deer watched the morning proceedings from afar while munching their breakfast. The smell of Joss sticks and paper filled the air as the day's proceedings began with a Chinese ceremony to honor the ancestors who were and are buried in Potter's Field. An introduction to the project and a recap of what has been accomplished so far was needed for the many new volunteers who came this day.
Dan Mosier "The Brick Whisperer"
While waiting for others to arrive, Dan Mosier, our resident brick expert, introduced all newcomers to the history behind the various manufactured and handmade bricks that we have discovered so far. As the saying sort of goes, "Who says you can't teach old dogs some new bricks!" Because of our newfound education, it made our Zen task of cleaning brick much more interesting.
Our Archaeology Team
It seems you can't keep a good project hidden from the archaeologists in this area! It just takes one, like Shauna Mundt, to spread the word and suddenly we have five archaeologists looking for good "field experience" in Martinez. Did you know that archaeology promotes dirty pictures? Before the day began, we tried to take a group picture of them, but they said "No!" Their secret code is, "Never allow your picture to be taken until your hair, clothes and body have been covered with excavation dirt!"
Preparing the Brick
Here we have pictures of the Zen art of brick cleaning. Notice how some of the volunteers, and professional\student archaeologists prefer being close to nature instead of, as they called it, luxury metal seating.
As with any archaeological site, removing bricks from this Chinese Funerary burner requires a great deal of focus and care. As each brick is lifted, the soil and leftover mortar is placed into a bucket and brought to the sifter to check for artifacts. Though no significant artifacts were found this day, we do believe that we finally hit bottom!
Our project booth stands outside of the Potter's Field Gate so that all that pass by, and our volunteers, can easily get to it. It serves as the sign in\information center, first aid station (complete with suntan lotion\bug spray), and snack shack. Besides the usual personal sized chips, trail mixes and bottled water, our specials of the day were Honeycrisp apples, Cutie oranges, boxed fruit\veggie drinks and zero sugar lemonade. We must have done the right shopping as much of it was consumed!
Every project day comes with break times and a lot of good conversation and humor. Our booth volunteer decided to take some candid pictures of what happens outside of the work.
Cyclists, joggers and dog walkers continuously passed by; especially Martinez resident Annie Jarrett who stopped her car and asked questions. Excited about the project and archaeology, Annie returned later with her son, Kevin Crane to volunteer and join in our merry band of dirt magnets.
All had a good laugh when Edgar Allen Crow presented himself on a post in his fossilized plastic body. Even our uber volunteer Dawn Curran brought her dog Jewels to supervise. (Unfortunately, he was bored and decided to take a nap instead). A much appreciated "Thank You!" goes to all of our enthusiastic volunteers, Virginia Bones, Christina Brenner, Kevin Crane, Dawn Curran, Sean Dexter, Annie Jarrett, Kierstyn Kirkus, Carolyn Knight, Nik Lucatorto, Dan Mosier, Shauna Mundt, Charli O'Malley, Ann Roos, and Christian Rousset, without whom this project would never have gotten off the ground.
Our next workday is Saturday October 14 from 9 am to 2 pm. E Clampus Vitus will be providing lunch. While there is plenty of work to do to maintain, preserve and restore this very important vital outdoor museum as the old saying goes, "many hands make for light work". Join our growing community and have a good time in the process.
Do you have a Potter’s Field resident story to tell? We welcome any pictures or information on anyone or anything regarding Potter’s Field & the Alhambra Cemetery. Please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call us at (925) 335-9396, to volunteer or share your information.
To find out more about Martinez and Contra Costa County history:
Martinez Museum – 1005 Escobar Street, corner of Court Street. Open Tues and Thurs 11:30 a.m. to 3p.m. First 4 Sundays 1-4 p.m. 925-228-8160; martinezhistory.org
Contra Costa County History Center – 610 Main Street, Martinez. Open Tues through Thurs, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.; 3rd Saturdays, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. 925-229-1042; cocohistory.com
Judie & Joseph Palmer are two of the founding members of the Potter’s Field Restoration Project and its Martinez Cemetery Committee for the Martinez Historical Society. Joseph is also a MHS Board Director, chairman of the committee and webmaster of its website. Both have a passion for discovery, history, genealogy, anthropology and archaeology.