Now all roads lead to France and heavy is the tread
Of the living; but the dead returning lightly dance.
Edward Thomas, Roads

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Showing the Way: Cloverdale, California's World War I Historical Commemoration

Cloverdale, California, is a town of 8,600 citizens about 85 miles north of San Francisco. On 7 October I was invited to participate in the third of the Cloverdale Historical Society's World War I Commemorative programs. The umbrella title of the project is "The Sons of Cloverdale and the Great War 1914–1918. A Centennial Remembrance for Those That Served." I was so impressed by the work of the work of Executive Director Elissa Morrash, Event Organizer and Master of Ceremonies Joaquin Espinosa, and their numerous volunteers that I decided to present their project as a model for every community in America.  I hope when you read this, you will pass it on to others in your towns to show what can — and ought — to be done at the local level to remember the sacrifices of those who served our nation.

Best news: Cloverdale is not finished. Below we will have information on their next three programs. If you are anywhere near Northern California it is worth making a visit.  

The Venue

The Main Program Was Held in Cloverdale's Performing Arts Center (left); the Post-Event Reception Was Held in the Historical Society's Impressive Facilities
(both structures on the right)

Theme for the 7 October 2014 Program

Earlier Programs Had Covered the Opening of the War and the Early Campaigns;
Future Programs Will Cover 1918, the Armistice, and Aviation

Host for the Events: Joaquin Espinosa

In His Doughboy Uniform Joaquin Introduced All the Segments and  Spoke
on a Number of Local Boys Who Served in the War
The individuals remembered this evening were: William Ledford, Cloverdale's first casualty of the war (pneumonia) and Adam C. Adams, who died later in the war. Joaquin also spoke of Lt Victor Cooley (famous surname in town); Capt Billings, a Medical Corps dentist; John Knox Morris, member of the first American Field Service unit from the western states (Stanford, SSU14); and Charles Grant of the 2nd Unit from the west (University of California, Berkley, TMU133, a camion unit).  All of these men served in France.

Poetry Reading

Local Actor Steven David Martin Opened the Evening by Reading Two Powerful and Evocative War Poems: "Nostra Culpa" (1916) by Margaret Sackville and "Trench Post and Field Watch" by Walter Heymann, KIA January 1915

(We will present both of these poems in future postings on Roads...)

Dramatization: Sons of Cloverdale on the Western Front

 Gene Marcinkowski, American Legion, and Al Delsid, Sons of the Legions, Wrote, Designed, and Presented a Fictional Encounter of Cloverdale Sons William Ledford and Adam Adams, Who Would Both Perish in the War.  

Historical Presentation

Your Editor Making the Presentation on "The War and Life on the Home Front in 1917"

Summing It Up
Executive Director Elissa Morrash and Historian Scott Winter Summarized the Evening's Presentations and Invited the Audience to Meet the Presenters at the Society's Event Room

Ongoing Displays at the Cloverdale Historical Society

The Society Has an Excellent Exhibit of World War I Memorabilia and Selection of Posters Lent by Collector Jean-Pierre Mouraux of Sonoma, CA.

Future Programs

1918: The War Ends
Tuesday, 28 October 2014, 7 p.m.
Cloverdale Performing Arts Center, 209 N. Cloverdale Blvd. Cloverdale, CA

Armistice Day Remembrance of Those That Served
11 November, 7 p.m. 
Citrus Fair, One Citrus Fair Drive, Cloverdale, CA
The Historical Society Joins Forces with the American Legion and VFW

Knights of the Air. . .We Flew and Fought – Remember Us
Saturday, 15 November 2014, 2-4 p.m.
Cloverdale Airport
Features the unveiling of a replica 1916 Royal Aircraft Factory, SE-5a, Single-seat Fighter

For Information on the Cloverdale Centennial Remembrance

Elissa Morrash, Executive Dirctor
215 N. Cloverdale Blvd
P.O. Box 628
Cloverdale, CA 95425

Photos: Courtesy of Donna Wagner


  1. What a fantastic local program! Definitely a model for small and mid-sized locations. Cloverdale has really embraced the centennial and their remembrance programs.

  2. Joaquin is a very enthusiastic organizer and little Cloverdale packed the house for the first program in August. Ditto Mike, the programs are wonderful. I was honored to attend, dressed up as Kaiser Wilhelm II.