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Team of volunteers decorate museum buildings for Sunday’s open house gala

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Jeanie Marsden and Susan Milner busy themselves decorating a Christmas tree in the museum hall as other workers make use of ladders to hang wreaths, garland and other decorations inside and outside...

GLENN KAHL/The Bulletin

POSTED December 3, 2013 12:57 a.m.

It was a historic and yuletide transformation of the Manteca Museum this past weekend as a team of volunteers put up decorations and dressed mannequins in preparation for Sunday’s traditional open house.

Paul Hafer was the youngest member of the small army as he took to an extension ladder to hang garland around one side of the main room. Victor Gully matched his efforts on the other side.  Former police dispatcher Lamerle Peterson, who has been volunteering at the museum for some 23 years, worked on decorating a Christmas tree in the old Manteca dental office display.

Peterson said she began working at the museum in 1990 when it was still located in what had been a Christian Science Reading Room on Poplar Avenue, adjacent to the city tennis courts.  It was former furniture store operator Ken Hafer’s goal to establish a museum in the community that is now located in a former church building on the corner of East Yosemite and Sequoia avenues.

Volunteers worked not only in the main building but took their ladders outside to hang wreaths on the exterior of the building and its wrought iron fencing.  More decorated trees can be found in the Ag equipment building where a group of mannequin carolers, overseen by longtime volunteer Jeanette Farley, face the windows that can be seen by traffic on Yosemite Avenue. 

Farley, too, has been also been dedicated to the museum for years.

The aroma of warm cider and pine trees, along with live holiday music will welcome visitors on Sunday who will have a choice of finger foods, wine and coffee as they prepare to take tours guided by docents leading them throughout the facility.

The docents will offer explanations and backgrounds of the many exhibits, including those in the Memorial Ag building across the museum’s parking lot where visitors will see antique tools and farm equipment.

For newcomers to the Historical Society’s exhibits, there are countless photographs mounted in swinging panels showing the yesteryears of the community.  There is a corner dedicated as an office to former Congressman John McFall and an early local post office window dating back to 1924.  Both the police and fire departments have their own spaces complete with memorabilia on display.  There is even an early telephone switchboard saved from Manteca’s first telephone company. 

Also to be seen is a display featuring former Manteca Bulletin publisher George Murphy, Jr. and his experiences in Pearl Harbor in 1941. Murphy was injured when his destroyer, The Oklahoma, was sunk.  Against all odds, Murphy swam through totally flooded darkened compartments and made it up to a porthole he was just thin enough to squeeze through to safety.  That date will have been 72 years ago this Saturday.

Admission to the open house is without charge; however the gift shop will be open for anyone wanting to purchase the items on display.  Doors open at 1 p.m.  For more information, call (209) 825-3021.

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