From ‘www’ to ‘fb’ – Local History Goes Viral!

Five Ways or More to Connect With Your Martinez Past

By Harriett Burt


Remember about 25 years ago when the World Wide Web (aka www.) was brand new and such a miracle?  In what year did you first acquire an email address? I can’t remember but I know for me it was about three iterations of AT&T ago…before Pacific Telesis and after Pacific Telephone and Telegraph.  Now I’m with the cable guy.  In those days catching up with former schoolmates and neighborhood playmates was principally done through class reunions or the funerals of parents or through annual Christmas cards or not at all. 

Then along came Facebook and the changing of the word “friend” from just a noun to a verb also.  Here are three Facebook ‘groups’ devoted to growing up in Martinez and attending Martinez Unified School District schools.  Suddenly hundreds of adults are revisiting their childhoods and connecting with old friends and lots of memories and spending an amazing amount of time doing it.  Some of the sites are featured below along with the comments of their organizers.

Alhambra High Class of Pre-1960-1980 ++ Alhambra Bulldogs – 797 members; 575 posts since February, 2009.  Group administrator: Tom Liberty, Class of 73.

“I started the Alhambra Senior High Facebook page in February, 2009.  I had lots of time on my hands and wondered how something like this page would progress if I started it.  This was early soon after Facebook got started.  I searched in FB for other Alhambra Senior High classmates and started inviting them to join the group.  FYI: In Facebook, our Alhambra High is actually listed as Alhambra Senior High School.  Anybody that listed their school as Alhambra High will not show on a proper search as there are three other Alhambra highs listed.  As the group progressed, more and more joined.  As of today (August 17, 2011), the group has 796 members.  I hoped to generate a similar interest as Ray’s site did (see below) but in the early stages of FB, many were hesitant to participate in discussions.  Over the past one to two years, FB has become a more comfortable networking site and Ray’s site came onboard at a good time to excite more interaction.  When I first started my group, I was limiting it to the years that attended Alhambra (1968-73) and have expanded the years a few times to accommodate more and more people to join.   I believe that I have one member who graduated inn 1942 in the group.  Wow!!  I have since found things to do with my time and have not been as active in recruiting members to the group.  Additionally FB changed the school search so it made it more difficult to find classmates.”  Email from Tom Liberty to Harriett Burt 8-17-11

Remembering Martinez: 384 members, 1,135 posts since August 3, 2011.  Group Administrator, Raymond Gentry, Class of 64 with assistance and encouragement of Cynthia Cola, Class of ’65 and Angie Ferreira, Class of ‘72

“I wanted to make a fun Facebook page where the alumni from the 60s and 70s could interact and tell stories from that period of time.  My site is a politically free zone.  I allow people to post any comment they wish and I will never delete their posts, but they can delete their own posts at the insistence of other members.  They must use their own judgment as to the content of their posts.  So far, people are having fun and it is yet to be abused.  I began by making posts on Tom Liberty’s site.  It didn’t take long to get responses.  Cynthia Cola suggested that I create my own Facebook group and call it “Remembering Martinez”. I did and it exploded.  It was hard to keep up with the number of posts that had to be read.  I started with 15 members and a week later it was at 300.  If a person is an alumnus of Alhambra High School or Alhambra Union High School, they should join and visit the past.  To me, the biggest advantage is to be able to converse with people that I didn’t know that well.  Almost every person I spoke to said it wouldn’t work because people don’t want to talk about those things. Well…..”  Email from Ray Gentry to Harriett Burt, August 16, 2011. 

Editor’s Note:  This writer is a group member although not an alumna of Alhambra High.  However, I was invited because I taught at Martinez Junior High from 1962-80. I am honored by that but am also a bit overwhelmed by an overflowing email inbox.

“You Knew You Grew Up in Martinez When….” 1035 members, 2672 posts since early August, 2011.  Group Administrator: Sonia Joiner Adams (Class of ’87)

“It was just a simple thought…I saw similar groups for other towns and some of my old AHS classmates actually wondered why Martinez didn’t have one.  I thought “well, it would be nice to catch up with some old friends and throw around some memories of my hometown. So I started the group and included those of my friends that I had gone to school with..around 30-40…and amazingly it grew to over 100 that day and within a few days, it was over 500 and then about a week later, it had grown to over 1,000!  Most of the people who request to be added I don’t even know but it was fun to see the remarks (many of them repeats but I was okay with that) of memories everyone had of Martinez.  I think the greatest part is the connections that have been made from that site – friends being reunited after years and reconnecting with thoughts and people they had forgotten about.  Although I didn’t officially become a “Martinezian” until I moved there in junior high, I consider it my “hometown”. I live in Tracy currently, but like many have stated on the Martinez group, it grows on you and once you move away you always yearn to return “home”. I think some of my fondest memories are of the people there – my friends and teachers from MJHS and AHS as well as some of the “monuments” that were and will always remain a part of Martinez history – the marina, downtown and the various businesses that have come and gone – even Shell Refinery!  I hope to move back there some day so my children can have the same memories and perhaps start a group of their own someday and get the privilege of traveling down “memory lane” as I have.  Email from Sonia Joiner Adams to Harriett Burt August 19, 2011.

Editor’s note:  Sonia used a name used by other Facebook groups from other communities.  While searching, a fourth group also using a FB template name “You Know You’re From Martinez CA if…” showed up administered by Rhonda Ramsey, Class of 1981 or thereabouts. It appears to be relatively inactive with a notice that it will soon be archived and group members will need to sign up under the new FB group template.  Deadline pressures made it impossible to investigate further.

One must be a member of Facebook to join these groups but that is easily accomplished  by going to the Facebook web site. 

However, if one is a bit old-fashioned and prefers to go to a web site for Martinez History, here are two. 

The Martinez Historical Society web site:    The Society also has two  Facebook pages (not the same as Facebook groups); Martinez Historical Society and Martinez Museum.  To “join” press the “like” icon and updates and announcements will come your way.

Alhambra Alumni web site:  created and administered by David and Karen Rich in 2009.  An accompanying Facebook page has also been created.  He wrote the following about the site on August 15, 2011:

“David Rich, AHS Class of 1973, along with his wife Karen own Sierra Morning Web site Design.  They design and host web sites for Northern California.  In 2005 while hosting their class reunion they created a web site to help with finding classmates and keeping them informed about the upcoming reunion.

After the reunion was over many classmates wanted to see the site continue.  However if you don’t add and change things on a site it becomes stale.  So they added some history about our class, then all four years David and his classmates were at Alhambra, and soon other years.  Before long the couple had added scanned many years of history from yearbooks and newspapers.  Classmates who lived in other parts of the world asked them to add pictures of Alhambra and Martinez so they could see what things looked like today.

Before long other classes caught interest and asked them to become more encompassing to all of the Alumni,  not just the Class of 73.  So in 2009 they purchased a new domain and created the Alhambra Alumni web site at

The couple moved the History and slide show sections over to the new Alumni site.  About that time we caught the attention of the High School and the School District.  The School allowed them to borrow their collection of all the Alhambra High School Year Books available at the School.  The rest have been acquired from the public library and local individuals.  They now have over 86 year books on the web site along with over 1000 stories spanning the entire 110 years of Alhambra History, the 50 years of MUSD history, early education and our community.  Research continues.

David and Karen made the decision to password protect the ‘History’ section to allow them to create a database of Alumni and mainly to provide funds for the very expensive history research and maintenance of the site.  But membership costs are low at $20 a year for password access.  However, much of the site is free for viewers to look at including the slide show section. 

They have given several presentations to Martinez groups and carve out ten percent of every membership dollar to donate back yearly to the Alhambra students of today.” 

Editor’s note: The first donation was presented to the Martinez Unified School District in January, 2011.  A directory of class reunion committee information is also being set up so that members of any class can check on reunion plans.

As fast as the Internet changes, it is impossible to keep up with numbers and variety of interest-based web sites and Facebook pages so if any regarding Alhambra High and Martinez have been left off this list, please accept the apologies of the author.  Meanwhile, another way to build interest in preserving local history is happening with the click of a few thousand mouses.



Martinez Historical Society

1005 Escobar Street - Martinez, CA 94553  (925) 228-8160