by Steven Dugan
This month’s Volunteer Spotlight shines on Cheryl Temple. Her husband, Gary, is also a Homestead volunteer. Gary is a descendant of John H. Temple, a brother of Walter P. Temple and grandson of William Workman, the museum’s patriarch (check out Gary’s Spotlight article here). As a volunteer and the spouse of a family member, Cheryl has a unique perspective on the history of our site! Her connection to the Workman House is the strongest because Gary’s grandfather (John Temple’s son) lived in the house when he was a child. One family item that is particularly meaningful to her is the bedroom set owned by John H. Temple and his wife, Anita, which is now located in the southwest room of the Workman House. Cheryl remembers Gary telling her that his dad was born on the bed and that Gary would jump and play on it when he was a kid. She told us a little more about her connection to the Homestead and her experiences as a volunteer.
What do you remember about your first visit to the Homestead?
The first time I visited the Homestead was in 1982. I was amazed that the family had a historical site to begin with. I loved La Casa Nueva, especially the stained glass windows and tile collections. Gary told me a little about the history of the family, but I had no idea the extent of it all until we took the tour.
You and your husband, Gary, are film buffs and made a very interesting discovery. Can you tell us more about that?
One night Gary was watching TCM (Turner Classic Movies) in his man cave. He was watching an old movie called Song of the Gringo, and he said one scene looked like La Casa Nueva. I turned it on and sure enough it was. It was Tex Ritter’s first movie. You could clearly see the Main Hall of La Casa Nueva. Even the original portrait of William Workman was there. There were also scenes out by the Water Tower and the bad guys were jumping in and out of the windows. (Editor’s note: The Museum immediately purchased a copy of the movie and showed it at an all-staff event—our response to the Main Hall scene was “Beatle-like.”)
What are some of the most interesting things you’ve learned about the family’s history that you didn’t know before docent training?
Docent training just enhanced what I already knew about the family. It put a lot of the stories into perspective. I also enjoyed learning a little more about California history; especially the Mexican-American War. I never knew there were actual battles fought in the greater Los Angeles area.
You are also part of the Collections Care group. Is there an object in the collection that particularly intrigues you?
During Collections Care I had the chance to catalog the tile collection. It was being transferred to a different storage area .We wrapped them all and listed each one. I loved all the old tiles. Each of them is a little piece of art.
When you’re not at work or the museum, what are some of your hobbies?
The Homestead has become my hobby since I started volunteering. I still work full-time in a dental office and on my weekends I give tours, help out at festivals and special events, and aid with Collections. I love giving back my time. The staff does such a great job of being custodians of what is now my family history, it’s the least I can do.