Tag Archives: donations

Donations – El Camino Real bell

by Margarete Minar

Sunnyvale’s El Camino Real bell, cast in 1906

Recently, the Heritage Park Museum received quite a weighty donation: An original El Camino Real bell. About 450 of these bells, were once placed along the historic El Camino Real, from San Diego to Sonoma. They were cast in 1906 with the first bell being placed on Olvera Street in Los Angeles.

The El Camino Real was a trail blazed by early Spanish soldiers and missionaries in the 1700s, connecting the 21 California missions. By the 1850s, much of the El Camino Real had become overgrown and the missions were falling into decay. Around 1900, two women’s groups, the Native Daughters of the Golden West and the California Federation of Women’s Clubs joined forces to preserve the California missions and mark the historic El Camino Real. Mrs. Armitage Suton Carion Forbes (she preferred using her husband’s name) helped design the bells. The 11-ft high shepherd’s crook that holds the bell is a reminder of the walking stick used by Father Junipero Serra, founder of the California missions. Mrs. Forbes and her husband bought a foundry to cast them and formed the California Bell Company. (Source: Gloria Lenhart, SF City Guides)

This bell was very likely placed in Sunnyvale but no one knows for sure. For the past 50 years it has been in the patio at Pezzella’s Villa Napoli restaurant in Sunnyvale, on El Camino Real near S Mary Avenue. The bell had been given to Vince Pezzella by a friend of one of his sons because it was known Vince collected bells. It’s a mystery how someone could have come into possession of an 85-pound bell, but by the mid 1900s, many of the bells had fallen into disrepair and some were even stolen as pranks.

The third generation of the Pezzella family still runs the restaurant and they decided that now was the right time to donate the bell to the Sunnyvale Heritage Park Museum.  As its final location, it will be  reinstalled at the new entrance of the museum next summer.

Veteran volunteers Monte Stamper and Don Adams (above), along with museum director, Laura Babcock, have been instrumental in the bell’s journey to the museum.

Donations – Audio oscillator

At the Heritage Park Museum we are grateful for all of the donations we have received over the years. One such donation is this audio oscillator. The 200A model was the first product by Hewlett Packard and was manufactured in David Packard’s garage in Palo Alto in 1939.

An audio oscillator is an instrument that generates one pure tone or frequency at a time. Through the years, HP oscillators were used to design, produce and maintain telephones, stereos, radios and other audio equipment.

The 200A was the first commercial oscillator to use a simple light bulb as the temperature-dependent resistor in its feedback network.

Walt Disney bought eight of these oscillators for use in the production of Fantasia. (source: Wikipedia)