has been touring Livermore for the last 10 years, showing her
pictures, maps and artifacts to third-graders
LIVERMORE - Ask Merilyn Calhoun anything about
Tri-Valley history over the last, oh, say 200 years and chances
are she'll know the answer. Look at some of the local artwork
displayed around the city and there's a good chance it bears
her name. And pick up a book chronicling how the city grew up
and you'll likely find she wrote it.
Calhoun, known to most as
"tilly" with a small T, has been learning area history
and teaching it to others for two decades, collecting artifacts
and squirreling them away in her home.
Many of those items are on
display in her "History Mobile," a minimuseum driven
to area schools each spring. Since it began touring Livermore
nearly 10 years ago, about 8,000 third-graders have seen the
pictures, maps and artifacts inside. Some of the drawings are
"I keep doing research
all the time trying to find out a little bit more," Calhoun
- The display, sponsored by
the Livermore Heritage Guild, documents the growth of
the Livermore Valley since the 1700s and follows it through its
several incarnations as a cattle hub, farmlands and a scientific
TRI-VALLEY TOP 10
Included in her arsenal of
memorabilia is a tombstone of Calhoun's great aunt, a World War
I helmet and seashell fossils providing evidence that the area
once was under water.
Children tend to learn such
topics more easily when they can see and touch things for themselves,
said Calhoun, who hated history as a child.
"When they're only visualizing
what you're saying, you're not quite sure if they're getting
what you're saying," she said.
Calhoun began teaching art,
poetry and history to students at Marylin Avenue Elementary School
in 1974 and continued for 15 years, instilling
in them an appreciation for the culture of the area.
"Working with children
all these years, I began to see that you had to excite the children
before the fourth or fifth grade," Calhoun said. "If
they're not interested in art and history and music before that
age, then if it's offered (later) as an elective they won't take
Calhoun wrote a book based
on her research called "Early Days in the Amador-Livennore
Valley," which is displayed near her artwork at
Livermore historian has
an arsenal of memorabilia
the gallery Her paintings
and other work is scattered throughout the building. She donates
many of them to local nonprofit organizations.
Calhoun also shares her love
of art at the Sonoma School, where she teaches drawing skills
to adult education classes.
"She's a wonderful lady,"
said her friend Mary Lou Hodgson, who met Calhoun several years
ago while taking the classes. "She is always willing to
share her knowledge with people, She's a fountain of information."
One Tri-Valley Top 10 profile
will, run each day through the end of the year. Other winners
named so far. Racy Achelis of Alamo.