I sense that the day our house will need to be emptied looms on the near horizon. Because of this, I’ve regularly set aside time to organize the fifty years of paperwork that chronicles Mom’s life work as a community volunteer, preservationist, historian and docent. Today I think she left me a cryptic message.     

I was putting her files of Historic Resource Commission meetings into a large plastic bin when one of the files slipped out of the stack and flipped open on the floor. I picked it up and saw that the file had opened to the agenda for a Historic Resource Commission meeting held on June 4, 1987. Mom wrote on the bottom, “1938-1939 ? WPA Fire Dept.”

I immediately remembered that wintry evening a few years ago when I told Mom that the City was going to tear down the old firehouse located on Lacey Boulevard and replace it with a parking lot. I again heard her groaning then saying, “I wish they weren’t going to do that. It has historic significance for this town. It’s a WPA building.” We then had a conversation regarding the Works Progress Administration (WPA), the largest and most ambitious New Deal agency.

Curious as to why she had written about the firehouse, I examined the entire file.  The July 9 agenda scheduled an update on the research of history of the fire station, pool and pool building.

On August 6, the City of Hanford’s Administrative Analyst sent a letter to the Planning Director and the Historic Resources Commission. The subject? The designation of the fire station as an Historic Structure. The Historic Resources Commission set a public hearing for the designation. The four-page letter ended with: “It is staff’s opinion that designating the fire station as an historic building could only have a positive effect on the building. The building’s historical architectural integrity would be preserved while not limiting the building’s future use.”

Knowing that the firehouse did not receive the historic designation, I wondered what had happened. Carefully reading each report, I found on the Sept. 3 agenda, that the City Council had made comments pertaining to the proposed historic designation of the fire station and pool building. It was the Council’s suggestion to postpone any further action until the Aquatics Committee made their recommendations.

Finding no other references to the firehouse in the 1987 file, I reached into the box and found the Mom’s 1988 file.

The Aquatics Committee finished their report February.

In June the City’s planning department sent a letter to the Historic Resource Commission regarding alternative uses for the pool building and fire station. Suggestions included use as a community center, an art gallery, a roller rink, and an office for the Hanford Sentinel.

Requests for Proposals for the fire station and pool building uses were ready to be mailed out on Sept. 8. The last notation in the 1988 file is in the Commission’s Oct. 20 minutes, in which it was stated that twenty-five Request for Proposals on the fire station and pool building had been mailed out to engineering firms along with fourteen Request for Proposals to various hotel companies. Recipients were given approximately four months to coordinate a package for submittal.

I have not yet found Mom’s 1989 Historic Resources Commission file, but I know it’s around here somewhere. I’d like to know why the firehouse didn’t receive the historic designation. If it had, would the demolition of February 13, 2018 still have happened? We’ll never know for sure.

But I do know I have a pasta recipe to share with you this week. One of the most popular recipes on the New York Times website. The pasta is addictively delicious. The caramelized shallots are balanced with the tomatoes, and the anchovies add just the right amount of umami. You will find the recipe below.

The firehouse is gone now. Mom is gone. I can’t help but think that, while recipes for many things in life can’t be known or are forgotten, somehow Mom fluttered the pages before me in just such a way that they fell open to a specific issue of her work, one that I shared, reminding me of the importance of all shared effort and of the dedication to good work and good causes she exemplified. May we all, gentle readers, carry on with Mom’s recipe for a good life, remembering the goals to which we are dedicated, regardless of failure being mixed with success, and may we share in an effort to restore and maintain and serve our community.

Arianne Wing is the co-author of “Noodles Through Escargots,” and co-owner of the L.T. Sue Co. Tea Room and Emporium, benefiting the restoration and preservation of China Alley. She may be reached at ariannewing@gmail.com


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