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Creating a legacy for tomorrow by cherishing our past and
connecting with our present

Fremont drafts an oral history for city's 50th birthday, interview with residents to be released on DVD

by Chris De Benedetti, Staff Writer
Fremont Argus
November 28, 2006

FREMONT - Milestones come and go, but local historians have been working throughout 2006 Fremont's 50th anniversary year to ensure the city's history is preserved long after the party confetti is swept away.

The result is the Fremont Oral History Project, featuring hours of videotaped interviews with 32 residents of all ages. Their memories of Fremont through the years will be shown at 7 p.m. Dec. 6 at the Fremont Main Library. The presentation is titled "Fremont Stories: Our Family Album."

The interviews, which started in January and continued through the summer, were a collaborative effort of volunteer residents, the Fremont Adult School and the Celebrate Fremont Heritage Team.

More than 20 interviewers participated, said Patricia Schaffarczyk, the project's coordinator.

"It was citizens interviewing citizens," Schaffarczyk said.

Interviews lasting from 60 to 120 minutes were edited into individual pieces from 7 to 9 minutes in length.

Lila Bringhurst past president of the Mission San Jose Chamber of Commerce conducted the most interviews, a total of seven, project organizers said.

"For me, this is a long-term gift to the future," Bringhurst said. "It's a bit of history that has been preserved in a modern way."

Schaffarczyk also praised Fremont Adult School video production officials, such as Walter Garcia and Duke De Leon, who donated time and equipment and gave discount prices for the project's production work.

The Heritage Team of Celebrate Fremont, the all-volunteer community group that has presented the city's year-round anniversary celebrations, also contributed to the project.

The group's initial community outreach found that many citizens wanted an oral history of the city, which was known as "Washington Township" before Fremont was incorporated, Schaffarczyk said.

The combined efforts have yielded a three-edition set of DVDs titled "Capturing the Moment," which divide Fremont's history into three eras:

-Washington Township to 1955.

-The New City: 1956-1977.

-A United Nations City: 1977-2006.

"United Nations City" refers to the diversity of Fremont, which today boasts nearly 140 different languages spoken. The city always has been a melting pot, Schaffarczyk said, noting the large Portuguese, Swiss and Italian communities that existed before the recent influx of Asian and Latino immigrants.

Each DVD edition ranges between 70 and 90 minutes. Copies have been donated to the Fremont Main Library and the Museum of Local History in Fremont, project organizers said. The Fremont Stories Project DVD copies may be purchased at the museum's Web site at

They also will be available for purchase at the library on Dec. 6. Prices are $10 for one DVD, $18 for two and $25 for the whole set, Schaffarczyk said.

In the meantime, the library's presentation will include interviews taped during Celebrate Fremont @ the Park, the city's two-day signature 50th anniversary celebration held in September.

"(Schaffarczyk) put in long hours and (project organizers) reached into the community and tried to get a cross-section of eras and places that people are from," Bringhurst said. "It's a treasure for the community that they produced and I'd like to see it continue. In a city of 210,000 people, obviously there are a lot of good stories out there."

The Fremont Main Library is at 2400 Stevenson Blvd. For information, call (510) 745-1401.

What's next

WHAT: Fremont Stories Oral History Project

WHEN: 7 p.m. Dec. 6

WHERE: Fremont Main Library, Fukaya Room, 2400 Stevenson Blvd.

COST: Free

INFO: (510) 745-1401

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