About 30 of La Patera’s first students after the Goleta school opened in 1964, and their parents and children, gathered there Friday, July 22, to open a time capsule. There was nothing earthshaking inside the copper box when former student Jim Logan pried it open with shears, but much of great sentimental value.
In addition to 1964 copies of the News-Press and long-defunct Goleta Gazette, there were lists of bright youngsters from yesteryear, now eagerly pored over by men and women taller, some gray of hair and some short of hair, some carrying a few more pounds.
After snacks, Ben Allaway, who attended La Patera in third through sixth grade and is now living in Des Moines, Iowa, led a group to recreate the popular game of marbles in the grassy playground. It was unlike regular marbles played in a circle—more free-form and in a circus atmosphere. “Marbles were the big, big thing,” my daughter Frances told me. “Your status depended on it. But I fell in love with my marbles, I didn’t want to lose them. All the kids came out to recess with buckets of marbles.”
Outside today’s La Patera hangs the bell that had hung in the original La Patera School in the 1800s. It was forged in Ohio and brought by ship to San Francisco, then brought down to Goleta. La Patera students now in their late fifties and early sixties recalled how they gathered in the courtyard each morning until someone was elected to ring the bell that summoned them to classes. Shirley Giacomotti Silva told me that her father, Emilio, arrived here with his family from Bolzano, Italy, in about 1916 and attended the original La Patera School. (Shirley herself went to Goleta Union School.)
Among those swapping fond childhood memories on Friday were four of my own children, Frances, Wendy, Kenneth, and Barclay, who was in the first kindergarten class in 1964. Organizing the virtual reunion were Logan, Linda Thomas Anderson of Minnesota, and Dorothy Henderson.