Lately I have been reminiscing over one of the important “aha” moments in my life. In 1975 I was in my mid-teens. One evening I accompanied my mother to a meeting held in the community/rec room of the mobile home park on Grangeville Boulevard across from the old YMCA.
It was the year when the County determined that its quarters in the old County courthouse (circa 1896) were too small and antiquated. Plans were made to move to a new location, and the old courthouse, known for its unique architectural style, was to be torn down. Immediately after this was announced, citizens rallied and a “Save the Courthouse” committee was born.
The evening I went with my mother, the committee held its first of numerous meetings in that community/rec room. Mr. Dan Humason was appointed chairman. He spoke eloquently and passionately about the cause. Listening to him I had my epiphany. Gears shifted in my mind bringing a new perspective, and I realized our town, especially our downtown, was special.
I was a teenager with mercurial moods, most of which made me feel I couldn’t wait to leave Hanford and not look back. But as Dan talked, I listened and began to see the beauty of many of our downtown buildings. He spoke of Hanford’s history and the importance of preserving its history and the places that reflect it. Certain buildings are the warp and woof of the irreplaceable historic fabric of downtown Hanford. I remember reflecting on the beauty of the rooflines of certain downtown buildings.
Then everything turned into chaos.
There were the sounds of screeching tires and splintered wood. Everyone went out to investigate. A car driver, trying to avoid hitting a dog, skidded and ran through the mobile home park’s fence. The driver was fine; the car was not. The “Save the Courthouse” meeting was adjourned.
Over the next few years, I was still a moody teenager, but Dan’s words and historic preservation work helped to nourish in me seeds my mother had planted. I became interested in our city, our downtown and its history. In 1980 restoration work on China Alley’s historic Taoist Temple began and those preservationist seeds sprouted and grew.
And here I am now, writing this column within the restored, revitalized and maintained Taoist Temple cultural museum. Today I am feeling grateful for the restoration, preservation and revitalization of the the Carnegie Museum, the old Courthouse, the Old Phone Building and the Fox Theatre.
Today as I think of Dan, I am reminded of the last stanza of Maya Angelou’s poem, When Great Trees Fall:
“And when great souls die,
after a period peace blooms,
slowly and always
irregularly. Spaces fill
with a kind of
soothing electric vibration.
Our senses, restored, never
to be the same, whisper to us.
They existed. They existed.
We can be. Be and be
Better. For they existed.”
I am better. Our community is better. Hanford is better for the good works and spirit of Mr. Dan Humason.
The year I attended my first “Save the Courthouse” meeting, I was both a waitress in the Chinese Pagoda and a “pantry girl” for the Imperial Dynasty. In my last column I shared an Imperial Dynasty classic. This week I’m turning to the Chinese Pagoda kitchen repertoire with something sweet and sour on my mind.
In her book “The Breath of a Wok,” Grace Young shares a recipe for a home-style sweet and sour chicken. The chicken isn’t deep-fried and the sauce is much lighter and brighter than what is usually served in Chinese restaurants and it’s mighty tasty.