Rebecca Gutierrez and Gail Von Aspern, members of the Pinole Historical Society, have mounted an excellent collection of artifacts relating to Pinole's past. Housed in four custom-built cabinets located in Pinole City Hall, this informative exhibit represents the vision and intense efforts of these two women. Funding for the cabinets and other equipment came from a $6,000 grant from the city's redevelopment committee.
Rebecca and Gail spent hours collecting, researching, cleaning, and cataloging the display items. Both are well-qualified to undertake the research and authentication required for such a project. Rebecca is a nurse, formerly with the U.S. Navy, and an expert at identifying old medical items. Her broad knowledge of Asian history and culture is a major asset in helping identify artifacts relating to the Chinese who lived in the area over a century ago. Gail, a former police officer, is a licensed private investigator whose job requires utilization of accurate research methods. Both benefit from advice from Gail's sister, an archaeologist.
The exhibit includes photographs, school books, bottles, pottery, Chinese and American coins, medicinal opium pipes, and numerous other artifacts reflecting Pinole's diverse history. One display cabinet contains Native American material such as tools which the Costanoans used to prepare acorns for food. Another cabinet holds old bottles which are displayed next to present-day bottles containing modern products to help young historians better understand how the old-time ones were used.
The exhibit is located in Pinole City Hall, 2131 Pear Street. Display cases are located in the lobby, along the stairway, and on the second-floor landing.
Gail and Rebecca believe that this exhibit will stimulate interest in both the history of Pinole and the Pinole Historical Society. They hope that those who view the various artifacts on display will be encouraged to search their homes and contribute additional materials which will further help interpret and preserve Pinole's past. They seek photographs, documents, oral histories, artifacts, and any other items relating to the area. For further information on donations, please call Pinole City Manager Marc Grisham or his Administrative Assistant, Alisa Johnson at 510.724.9000.
Those interested in learning more about Pinole Historical Society including membership and becoming a volunteer should call its President, Dr. Joseph Mariotti,at 510.724.1235.
"In the month of August, 1854, there settled at Pinole, Bernardo Fernandez. After many ups and downs, he here started a local trade, which has sprung into great proportions; he owns vast warehouses, a wharf twenty three hundred feet in length, a large and well-stocked store, and several sailing craft, plying between San Francisco and the inner waters of the State."
History of Contra Costa County, California, published by W.A. Slocum & Co., 1882.