Last year’s effort raised more than $1,000 for the organization, which uses the funds to maintain its museum and grounds on Sellers Avenue. This year, historian Kathy Leighton decided to make the calendar even more fun for East County residents by including more rare photos from Brentwood, Oakley, Byron, Bethel Island and Knightsen, plus little-known fun facts about the area, such as the date of Contra Costa’s establishment as a county: Feb. 18, 1850. Calendar owners might also be surprised to know that 12 inches of snow fell on East County on Jan. 6, 1883 and that Byron Methodist Church was dedicated on June 3, 1884. By flipping through the new calendar, residents will learn all kinds of details about the area they call home.
“We’ve got a better-quality calendar this year,” Leighton said. “We learned a lot from our first go-round, and with more time to plan it out than last year, we’ve ended up with a great calendar that offers a lot more history. I’m really pleased with it. Each page has a photo and a story explaining the picture. This time we’ve included more trivia and we’ve expanded the calendar and made it a 13-month calendar, so you can hang it up as soon as this December.”
Leighton said the calendar, now available for purchase, makes a perfect gift for that new East County resident on your holiday shopping list. In fact, many old-timers are unaware of the history of their region.
For example, Lone Tree Way was named by Joseph G. Prewett in 1905. He chose the name because a solemn sycamore tree grew in the plain between Brentwood and Antioch where the road connecting the two towns was to be constructed. The calendar features an image of a crew of more than 30 men who helped pave the road with gravel collected from Marsh Creek. The calendar also showcases photos of downtown Brentwood, the Marsh House and the Oakley Hotel.
One of Leighton’s favorite pages in the calendar, created with the help of John Gonzales and Shirley McCall, is the month of August. It features Farrar Park, a local swimming hole that the people of Bethel Island used to enjoy. The park featured picnic tables, a café, a public campground, a motorcycle racetrack and a general store, among other amenities.
Leighton said when she debuted the calendar at the East Contra Costa Historical Society’s annual barbecue last month, attendees flipped through the calendar and began to reminisce about their summers at Farrar Park.
“People were looking at that picture and sharing their memories of swimming there by the bridge in the summer,” Leighton said. “It’s amazing how a photo can bring back so many memories.”
The 2011 East Contra Costa Historical Society Calendar costs $10 and may be purchased at the Brentwood Press office, 248 Oak St., or at the Brentwood Chamber of Commerce office, 8440 Brentwood Blvd., Suite C. For more information, call Leighton at 925-634-0917.