The President’s Column

Graphic of an old typewriter with the headline "The President's Column"

Dianne P. Cowen, President
The Congress of History of
San Diego and Imperial Counties (CoH)

Wow! I am still basking in the afterglow of the 2019
Congress of History Conference, Defining Moments
250 Years Extraordinary Events that Shaped the History
of the San Diego Region (1769-2019). We are so appreciative
of the sponsorship of the Portuguese History
Center and the Portuguese Hall for the use of their
convenient and comfortable venue for the conference.
Thank you Louise Torio for leading the 2019 Conference
Planning Committee.

Has it really been less than two months since we
listened to engaging speakers deliver interesting talks
that covered a range of topics over 250 years of history?
From those speakers and from member organizations
and our vendors, I am continuing to learn as I read
through my 2019 book purchases.

Every year I enjoy exploring histories of new and
familiar areas and people of the San Diego, Imperial,
and Riverside Counties and Baja California. I have already
passed-along one riveting read to a daughter-inlaw
who is an avid reader. Some of the talks also led me
to reread previous years’ purchases that are pertinent to
this year’s topics.

Our appreciation to the South Bay Historical Society
for hosting the upcoming May 18 Congress of History
Board Meeting. Harry Orgovan, SBHS President,
will lead a tour of the Chula Vista Heritage Museum
exhibit following the meeting.

I am excited for this opportunity to update my
knowledge of South Bay history. You are always welcome
to attend and join our meetings. That is how
I became involved in the Congress of History, after
attending a few conferences with a friend.

The Congress of History has greatly increased my
knowledge of local history. When I moved to San Diego
in 1975, I was in new territory far from my Santa
Barbara County home base. I am from that part of
California where the ocean is south of the roadways.

Hawaii’s directions of “makai” (toward the ocean)
or “mauka” (toward the mountain) make more sense
when the ocean and the sunset don’t line-up like they
do in all those gorgeous photos.

As a newcomer to San Diego, I read signs at the
intersection of Interstates 8 and 5 in San Diego that
gave me choices that I didn’t understand: “El Cajon
and Beaches.” I didn’t want to go to the beach and I
didn’t know where El Cajon was! There wasn’t GPS in
those days, and there wasn’t even the handy Thomas
Brothers map books.

Trying to both drive and read a foldout map with
small print (and it wasn’t as small to me then as it is
now) contributed to a lot of wrong turns or not turning
when I should have. I did, however, become familiar
with areas that were far from our rented house in
North Park.

Through attending Congress of History meetings
and conferences I have purposely explored east, west,
north, and south. Even with all the GPS I still sometimes
make wrong turns. However, now when I see
signs for Coronado, Lakeside, National City, Vista,
Fallbrook, Lemon Grove, Oceanside, Spring Valley,
Barona, Çamp Pendleton, Sycuan, Villa Montezuma,
Warner Springs, Tecate, Temecula, and many others,
I’m confident that I know where to recommend a great
museum or historic site in each community.

If I haven’t been to a place for a few years, I like to
return to see what has changed. If you have children or
grandchildren, you may have noticed that our member
organizations and museums have many activities
geared to children of various ages. Give it a go. You
might find yourself enjoying those “kid” activities too!

Our 2020 conference will focus on the history of
women in the San Diego Region. Co-chairs Rosanne
Goodwin and Helen Halmay are enthusiastic about
the topic. They are forming the committee and will set
meeting dates and places. You are welcome to join in
the fun and participate in preparing another first-rate
history conference.

The Vista Historical Society will host the September 21
CoH Board Meeting at their Rancho Minerva site.
On November 16 the Barona Cultural Center and Museum will
open their doors to us. A special thanks to these members
and to Lemon Grove Historical Society and the National
City Historical Society for providing free meeting
space and an opportunity to tour your museums. Each and every year six member organizations host the Congress of History Board Meetings.
If you feel slighted because we haven’t visited your site, please
contact me so that I can try to schedule you for 2020.

I invite you to commit to attend at least one event
promoted in Adelante by our member organizations and
museums. We are all busy with our own responsibilities
so it takes commitment to reach out and explore. You
will find some fun and interesting slants on history that
will add to your own enjoyment and knowledge. Then
tell me where you have been and one thing that you
took away with you.

Dianne P. Cowen,
Happy Spring!

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