Divided back, unused postcard. Publisher unknown. Circa 1920s – 1930s.
This is a seemingly rare postcard; old Los Banos area postcards seem to be few and far between, though there are some vintage ones out there at the moment…..A trip back to the beautiful San Joaquin Valley is now shimmering on the immediate horizon….But this wetland area is beautiful, especially in the early foggy mornings….The description on the back is:
San Joaquin Valley Water-Fowl Group. Donated by Mrs. Delia Fleishhacker to the Museum of the California Academy of Sciences, Golden Gate Park, San Francisco.
The Sacramento-San Joaquin Valley has long been noted for the great variety and abundance of its water fowl. A few species, such as the Cinnamon Teal, Mallard, Spring, Redhead and Ruddy duck, breed in the Valley, and may be found there in limited numbers throughout the year. The principal breeding grounds of most of our ducks and geese are north of the United States, in Canada and Alaska. After the breeding season, when the young are able to fly well, these northern breeding species come southward to their winter feeding grounds, one of the greatest of which is the San Joaquin Valley. This group shows a typical scene on the grounds of the Los Baños Gun Club, in February, just as the sun is setting beyond the Coast Ranges at Pacheco Pass, and just as a flock of white-fronted Geese is arriving.
At first it was unclear exactly what was donated according to the back of the postcard (a painting?) but the following newspaper clipping from 1936, appearing in The Brooklyn Daily Eagle points to the postcard showing off (though obviously not in the best detail) one of the museum’s displays of stuffed birds, part of a group of San Joaquin waterfowl exhibits.
As to the donator, Mrs. Delia Fleishhacker was a well-known San Francisco philanthropist and mother of eight, who also was distinguished through her poetry and travel journals. Maiden name Stern, she was born 1839 in Albany NY and at the age of seventeen, married German immigrant Aaron Fleishhacker. The Fleishhacker name figures prominently in both the history of San Francisco and Jewish pioneers in the American West. Below, Delia’s obituary from the Oakland Times, September 23, 1923:
By steamer, mule and wagon
The following excerpt is from Jeanne E. Abrams Jewish Women Pioneering the Frontier Trail: A History in the American West (2006).
Some woman traveled by land, some by sea, and many combined the two modes of transportation. In 1857, Delia Stern Fleishhacker traveled to Virginia City, Nevada, from Albany, New York, with her husband Aaron, first by steamer and mule through the Panama route, and then by wagon from California. The discovery of the rich Comstock Lode in the area would for a time make Virginia City a bustling metropolis. Aaron and Delia operated a grocery and dry-goods store in the mining town, and the energetic Delia helped deliver babies born to miners’ wives. Before long, the couple, who would become the parents of eight children, moved to San Francisco, where Aaron Fleishhacker opened a thriving box company with a windfall from a miner he had grubstaked.
A very worthy restoration
Besides contributing to the West’s pioneer history, another of the Fleishhacker family’s historical legacies is The Mother’s Building, which was part of the former Fleishhacker Playfield and Pool complex, and now stands in need of some definite t.l.c. It was built in 1925 on land donated by two of Aaron and Delia Fleishhacker’s sons, Herbert and Mortimer, to honor their mother. (Herbert was the founder of what became the San Francisco Zoo.) And in viewing the photos of the grand and beautiful building we wonder what it was like exactly back when it was in use. What did they call it? (Nothing found in newspaper accounts.) And maybe this is romanticizing the past, but from our vantage point, it seems to have been such an oasis of beauty and spaciousness, compared to today’s pool and beach changing areas – struggling to change out of the wet bathing suit, in a small space where you’ve just discovered the door latch doesn’t work and you’ve got a million bags and your bigger kid in the next stall and a younger one crammed into the one you’re in, and oh by the way, there’s the toilet to contend with, too. (Weren’t there actual changing rooms here last time?) As for the Fleishhacker Pool – it was huge, accounts say it held six or 6.5 million gallons of filtered, heated sea water (heaven) and had a tall diving platform for the brave. The pool, it’s stated now, would not be feasible to re-build, but the Mother’s Building, when it’s restored (let’s say when) in our fast-paced, multi-tasking-is-the-norm world will, I like to imagine, restore a little bit of our sanity. 😉
Sources: “Museums and Monuments.” The Brooklyn Daily Eagle, June 21, 1936. Sunday, p. 50. (Newspapers.com)
“Mrs. Delia Fleishhacker.” Oakland Tribune, September 23, 1923. Sunday, p. 20. (Newspapers.com).
Abrams, Jeanne E. Jewish Women Pioneering the Frontier Trail: A History in the American West. New York University Press, 2006. (Google eBook).
Pon, Elton. “Hope for Historic Mother’s Building.” March 23, 2016. (San Francisco Recreation & Parks).
“Tag Archives: Mothers Building.” July 27, 2016. The Living New Deal. (accessed December 1, 2016).
Historic Sites, Fleishhacker Pool. San Francisco Zoo & Gardens. (accessed December 1, 2016).