Creating advocates for history through the stories of greater Los Angeles.
by Steven Dugan
This month’s Staff Spotlight shines on Homestead docent Anne Parker. Anne’s introduction to the museum occurred during the 1960s; long before the museum opened in 1981. Even before the museum was open, local students would tour the outside grounds and Anne’s children were no exception. Anne taught classes in El Monte for those who are developmentally disabled, and worked at El Encanto Rehabilitation Hospital, located just north of the museum. Anne has shared many stories with us about how she and other El Encanto staff would bring their residents over to the museum to take a walk and enjoy the park.
Anne has been volunteering at the museum since 1996 and has participated in dozens of different themed events, tours, workshops, and other opportunities we offer to the public—and then some! Always a volunteer, she helped at her childrens’ schools, chaperoned at events, and even volunteered during the 1984 Los Angeles Olympic Games. In fact, Anne was a young child during the Los Angeles Olympics in 1932. We’ll look forward to seeing you there if LA wins its bid for 2024!
We asked Anne to share with us her recollection of her time at the museum, her favorite events and activities, and a little bit about herself.
You have a very interesting history with the Homestead. Can you tell us about your first visit to the site?
Yes, in the 1960s, I learned some basic history of the Workman and Temple families. When my children were in school, I remember they brought home a small booklet in 4th grade which told us about the history of La Puente. Back then, when the kids went on field trips, they only toured the outside of the buildings. In the case of the Homestead, the kids were told to be very quiet because people still lived in the houses. By the time I got to El Encanto, I attended a Christmas party in 1971 and was very impressed with the beauty of La Casa Nueva, but unfortunately disappointed a few years later when crews were working on the Workman House (most likely, this was during the restoration of the site). The wrought iron fences were not up yet, either. But by the time the museum opened in 1981, I fell in love with the entire site. La Casa Nueva was beautiful and the Workman House was much improved.
You’ve been a volunteer at the museum for 21 years! What are some of your favorite volunteer activities, and why?
I have enjoyed many things during my time here at the museum. It’s interesting to see how activities are chosen for the different events. I’ve really enjoyed getting to know the other volunteers, too. We’ve had a combination of small and large events and projects in addition to the tours, and you really get to know fellow volunteers when you’re working on a small project, or answering questions in one of the rooms in the houses. Interacting with our visitors has been another activity that I have enjoyed immensely. I like finding out where our visitors are from, what they’ve seen at our tours and events, and what they’ve enjoyed the most. Recently, I have enjoyed working the Summer Picnics, one of the newer small events at the Homestead.
You worked in adult education for many years. How has that experience come in handy in your work at the museum?
Teaching has helped me to be very flexible and able to read a group’s reactions. We sometimes have to do that on a tour, reading a group to see what is working and what isn’t. This allows me to adjust the approach to my tours accordingly and gather the group together to avoid losing their interest. I have also learned patience, both in the classroom and on a tour.
When you’re not giving your time at the museum, do you have any other hobbies or interests?
I have many things to keep me busy! In addition to spending time with friends and family who live close by, I have a good time communicating with other friends and family through Facebook and have indulged in a couple of computer games. I also enjoy historical research, both general history and Biblical research. Genealogy has been an interest of mine for a long time, too. And while I don’t give tours on a regular basis anymore at the museum, I still enjoy participating in some of the smaller events and our festivals.