Autodesk allows employees to spend up to 4 hours per month helping out in the classroom. My wife, Sheryl, and I are empty nesters, so it's been years since I have taken advantage of this generous Autodesk benefit; however, Sheryl is a third-grade teacher at Bay Farm School in Alameda, California, and on Wednesday, I was able to lend a hand. The third-graders participated in an activity billed as The Amazing Race. The third-graders were chauffeured by parent volunteers to various locations around Alameda billed as challenge stations. At each station, students learned about the history of Alameda and participated in some healthy activities.
I was the station manager at the Lincoln Park station. The students' challenge was to listen to me read a story about Lincoln Park and then answer questions to score points. This was followed by seeing how many baskets the students could score, as a team, in 60 seconds.
"Before Lincoln Park became a city park in 1909, three families lived on this piece of land. Captain Robert R. Thompson was the head of the third family that lived where Lincoln Park now resides. He was best known for his artesian well that was a source of water for many Alamedans. Thompson replaced the house that was there before and built one of the finest residences in all of Alameda. He built a huge mansion with a cast-iron fence that surrounded his house in 1881. It was a beautiful house.
Three years after Thompson's mansion was built, a mysterious fire destroyed his house in 1884. The only thing left is the gate on High Street.
image source: zamboanga.com
The year 1909 marked the 100th anniversary of the birth of Abraham Lincoln who was our 16th president. Across the country, cities were finding ways of honoring Abraham Lincoln. Alameda decided to honor our 16th president by changing the name of Railroad Avenue and Wilson School to Lincoln Avenue and Lincoln School. In that same year, the residents of Alameda also decided to develop one of their finest open spaces in Alameda into a park. They would name it Lincoln Park.
The Ohlone native Americans were the original inhabitants of the land — long before any Alamedans. When the park was established, a rock monument with a plaque was installed on June 17, 1914 to honor the first residents of the area and to mark the location of the Ohlone shell burial mound that was found on the land.
Q: What does the rock plaque commemorate?
A: The burial mound of the Ohlone native Americans who were the original settlers of the land.
Q: What is left over and still stands from the giant house that Thompson built at Lincoln Park?
A: The gate that is part of the cast iron fence along High Street.
The historical information for the challenge is an excerpt from a book about the history of Alameda that was researched and written by a former Bay Farm School 6th grade class.
There were 22 teams competing in the friendly competition. The 10-foot rim proved challenging for the third-graders. Teams scored between 1 and 8 baskets in the time allowed.
Both of our children attended Bay Farm School back in the day. I was happy to help out such a fine school with a fine tradition of excellence. As an aside, Lincoln Park includes a rose garden that was designed and created years ago by Bay Farm student and our across-the-street neighbor, Martin Wilson, as part of his Eagle Scout project for the Boy Scouts of America.
History is alive in the lab.