Stratheran Park Docent Since 1975
Alicia Van Laar
I was born in Chicago, Illinois, came to California in 1959 – Graduated from Corvallis High School in Studio City in 1962. Attended Pierce College and worked as a Medical Secretary and as an Oral Surgeons Assistant. I married in 1964; we have 3 children, Marie, Dan and Ron. In 1976 I graduated from Pierce College and became a Brownie Girl Scouts Leader, eventually a Junior and then Senior Girl Scout Leader. I was also a Cub Scouts Den Mother. After moving to Simi Valley in 1978 I started working as a Teachers Aide for 18 years and while getting my children to their events; school, religious training, scouts and soccer, I decided to do something for me!
The day we moved to Simi on the way to the store I came across the “Paper Signs” of the Strathearn Park Museum and came back that afternoon at 1:00PM. My Daughter and I fell in love with the Strathearn house – the Colony house – the hinges in the doorways and doorknobs – It looked like my Grandmothers house – and the colony house came from Chicago! There was a class starting on the History of Simi Valley so I joined it. This would be something just for me. It was so interesting of course I became a docent.
I have wonderful memories of our monthly meetings, coming together in the Strathearn kitchen & Pat Havens giving us exciting stories of the past and what was happening at the time. I met other people who all liked the history of a really unique town, made great long lasting friends, learned interesting things. I enjoyed hearing about Sheep Sheering, Indian Ways, and Mrs. Strathearn Canning - all in that kitchen. I remember Christmas parties, stringing Popcorn and Cranberries, Singing Carols in the house. There are warm memories of visiting with other members and their families at the many Historical Society events.
My family has been involved over the years, my daughter served as a docent, my husband and sons worked at the barn dances and other projects. My youngest son’s Eagle Scout Ceremony was held in the barn – his Eagle project was the making of all of the wooden signs you see on the farm equipment and making a video with Neal Havens and Johnny Varble touring the farm equipment explaining how each piece was used.
I have lots of memories and lots of good times and have made so many good friends being part of the Strathearn Park family. Currently my children are grown and I have three grandchildren Alex, Nicholas and Olivia. I am involved in a polish club and I am the State President of the Polish Women’s Alliance of America where I am responsible for coordination of several groups and help running monthly meetings. I still enjoy doing the second Sunday at the Park.
I started with paper signs and by standing on the porch of the Colony House and waiting for people, the system evolved over the years to the tour system we have today. I was at the first Barn Dance and many of the Golden 50’s picnics, Box Lunches, helped in making the Adobe brick, and at the dig in front of the colony house – I have seen many changes and enjoy talking and sharing with all the people who come.