We didn’t know what to expect for the Hostel’s 20th Birthday Party.
When folks would ask, How many are going to come? we replied, Somewhere between 25 people and 100, we think. We knew there would maybe be a band, but we weren’t sure yet, and Tara, our designated chef, had to spend a few weeks in New York State in early July, so we didn’t quite know what the menu would be, or if it would be. We planned the party in the drops of spare time between folding sheets and forgetting things. We made the invitations ourselves, with help from the council in San Francisco, and forgot to factor fussy printers into the time equation, so the equation became Que + Sera + Sera =Whatever Will Be, Will Be.
But suddenly Tara returned and there were empanadas everywhere! Shish kebobs! Barley salad! Fresh-squeezed lemonade! And a gorgeous wall display of photos and newspaper clippings illuminating 100 years of the DeMartin Home, 20 years of Redwood Hostel, and 18 months of historical research by Ryan.
I’d feared things would fall apart, but instead they were falling into place.
Matthew, our self-appointed Maintenance Slug, trimmed and weeded and mowed the yard into something that began to resemble a well-groomed lawn. Barb, the Queen of All Things Clean, whipped out her magic non-chlorine bleach tricks and sanitized the heck out of the hostel.
Rumiano’s donated cheese, Wildberries Marketplace a gift card, Los Bagels the bagels, and Ramone’s Bakery the cookies. Thank you for such kind in-kind donations!
Just a few days before the party, a photographer for the local newspaper arrived to shoot the hostel for a cover story. Wouldn’t you know, he’s a guitarist for a local jam band, "The Joint Chiefs." The bandmates agreed to play, and for free (!!).
Then the people came. How many? Somewhere between 75 people and 100, I think. Who were they? Some were lucky hostellers who happened to book a bed for the right night. A few came from the community, just to see what the fun was all about. The rest of the folks descended from the park service, Hostelling International, and the hostel’s earliest inhabitants, the DeMartin and Rudisill families.
We filled every couch and floor cushion, and went around the room for introductions. But to say who you were was to say how you were connected to this place and what would, at the average neighborhood block party, be a swift round of name-saying, instead turned into a Storytelling Circle of sorts that lasted until dinnertime. The stories were spoken into tape recorders, and folks were invited to borrow mini-tape recorders and record more stories and reflections.
Over the next year we will transcribe these stories, gather some more, and publish the oral histories and photos for the Redwood Hostel Oral History Project. If you have a particular story that bears telling—if it pertains to the hostel in any direct or even tangential way–please email them to firstname.lastname@example.org. Tell your story, and become a part of ours.