If mountains are our most “historic” resource, perhaps that’s why historic societies understand the intent of our book, Call of the Mountains. Yet before each presentation, I never know what to expect, for each setting is different. Last weekend, we gave our program to the Rialto Historical Society, which meets in the basement of the 1907 Christian Church building, listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Only after setting up our slide-show equipment, did I notice my surroundings – tables set for our elegant lunch in a museum-like ambiance. Before eating, however, society president Jean Randall showed us their real museum, transformed from the former Sunday-school building into an artistic, turn-of-the-century home.
I could have spent hours looking at the tasteful displays including an early 20th century doctor’s office, a citrus exhibit, framed maps tracing Rialto’s growth, and my favorite room with clothes from past eras. (The bathing suits looked heavy enough to drown in.) Farley liked the photo displays. One picture showed the old road to Lytle Creek, source of water for Rialto’s orange groves situated below the mountains. Indeed, many of the day’s guests recalled mountain stories from their heritages. Hanging in the curved staircase, a Charles McLaughlin photo shows the Mill Creek cabin of Rev. Harold Bell Wright, who wrote novels with mountain settings and who dedicated the church. Beforehand, I’d read some of historian John Anthony Adams’ books, including one about the church’s ghosts. On this occasion, however, they avoided the scene – perhaps climbing their own mountains.