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Title: Ventura woman still digging into city's history
Author: Kevin Clerici
Publisher: Ventura County Star
Glenda J. Jacksons fascination with history dates back to childhood dreams of becoming an archaeologist.
Such a career didnt pan out for the management analyst. But in a way, she said, I have become one, because I am always digging up Venturas history.
Jackson possesses one of the largest private collections of Ventura memorabilia, including rare, decades-old postcards and turn-of-the-century ephemera.
She released her third book in November, Ventura, part of the Then & Now series from Arcadia Publishing that features historical black-and-white photographs coupled with current photos taken from the same vantage points. She published a book of vintage Ventura postcards in 2005 and a book of additional local historical images a year later.
The new book includes a never-before-published photo of a young boy, Charles Cole, standing in a sprawling field of calla lilies nearly up to his waist. The symmetrical rows of white flowers and acres of undeveloped land in the background are long gone, replaced today by Buena High School in east Ventura.
Jackson knew the photo was special the moment she saw it a feeling, she joked, that is often shared by collectors such as herself. The near-mint-condition photo had been held by the Cole family, prominent Ventura farmers, for more than a century, she said.
There is a core group of us who hyperventilate when something cool like this pops up, said Jackson, a Navy pilots daughter who was born in Corpus Christi, Texas, and has lived in Ventura since 1975.
She has spent thousands of dollars amassing her collection. When not working her day job in the county executive officers office, she usually can be found scouring flea markets and estate sales or searching microfiched editions of local newspapers at the E.P. Foster Library in Ventura.
Jackson lives and breathes what she loves, and her efforts to chronicle and publicize Ventura history should not be overlooked, said friend and fellow local historian Cynthia Thompson.
She keeps these peoples stories and their buildings alive, Thompson said. Its just so easy, because life is busy, to forget what came before us. And yet its so important in the big picture to remember. Everything we face today, we have faced before.
It was Jacksons idea to try to increase protections for the centuries-old, deteriorating Mission Aqueduct north of Ventura, said Kim Hocking, a senior county planner who specializes in historic preservation.
Jackson was immensely helpful in helping the county apply to get the aqueduct listed as one of the most endangered historical places in the nation, Hocking said. Unfortunately, it was never approved, he said.
Jackson credits some of her inspiration to years of working inside Ventura City Hall, a terra-cotta-adorned structure built in 1912 that formerly housed the county courthouse and is listed on both the state and national registries of historic places. Don Taylor, a current City Hall employee and photographer, helped her capture many of the now pictures for her new book, she said.
Unlike Los Angeles memorabilia, which is plentiful, finding quality Ventura items has proved a challenge, Jackson said. Trying to find Ventura stuff is literally almost like looking for the Holy Grail, Jackson said.
The thrill of the hunt keeps her going, she said. Vendors now refer to her as the Ventura Lady, and she once wore a T-shirt emblazoned with Got Ventura?
Now that the book is done, her latest passion is redecorating the interior of her condo with antique and vintage textiles, including 1930s velvet and 1920s silk. She has a working 1930s phone in her bedroom.
Other prized possessions include an early edition of Venturas first newspaper, the Ventura Signal; photos dating to the 1880s; scores of Ventura County History Museum Quarterlies; local high school yearbooks dating to 1926; and 200 turn-of-the-century postcards.
She recently discovered some Prohibition-era Ventura police reports. In one, a 21-year-old man caught with five pints of liquor and a .38-caliber Smith & Wesson revolver is released on condition he leave town. In another, a man was cited and jailed for alleged vagrancy and mooching from house to house on San Clemente Street.
I love Ventura, Jackson said. Its such a cool town. Its like an onion. Once you pull back one layer, you reveal more. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
For this new retrospective, local historian, collector, lecturer, and tour guide Glenda J. Jackson has selected rare and historic images from private collections to continue her evocative tour through her beloved city's past, begun in her 2005 companion volume on Ventura in Arcadia Publishing's Postcard History Series.