Woman re-creates Anita Baldwin’s era
Lucky Baldwin’s real treasurer may not have lain in his business dealings, but in the people to whom he would pass on his legacy, namely his daughter Anita. Anita was the only child born to Baldwin and Jennie Dexter, a “big-eyes and tiny footed woman” (Glasscock, 1993) to whom he devoted himself following a separation from his second wife. Anita was 9 years younger than Lucky’s first daughter, born to his first wife, Sarah Ann Unruh. She would later be known as an artist, a true lady, and a prudent businesswoman who preserved Lucky’s financial fortunes after he passed on.
“Afternoon with Anita” is a new program at the Tallac Historic Site, both created and hosted by Marilyn Long, a volunteer at the museum for her fifth summer. Long feels an affinity with Lucky and his family, because like him, she was born in Hamilton, Ohio, before moving to the San Francisco Bay Area. The program, which premiers at 1 p.m. July 10 will be offered on five consecutive Wednesdays. Admission is $10 per person and reservations are required. To make a reservation and for more information call (530) 541-5227. Tickets may be picked up at the Baldwin Museum, Tallac Historic Site.
During the one-hour program the audience will be drawn into the world of Anita Baldwin as time is frozen in 1921. Anita’s elder child, Dextra, is expecting her first child. Her younger child, a son named Baldwin, is engaged to marry.
Through this experience-based program participants will gain a sense of Anita’s life and work, attitudes and beliefs as well as her musical compositions and writings.
Long said, “I see this program as filling a gap following the museum’s Lucky Legacy Program set in the 1870s and Tea with Mrs. Tevis set in 1906. It connects the Lucky Legacy Tours, examining how E.J. “Lucky” Baldwin made his money, with the estates themselves. It’s that in-between that people often don’t see. They year all about the money, but not about how the money could be used. Anita’s story provides a view to how the money was used.”
While modeled after Tea with Mrs. Tevis, a program led by veteran volunteer, Carol Bordeaux, Afternoon with Anita has several differences including Long’s involvement. First, there is the difference in era. Also, there is a difference in how the programs will be run. In Afternoon with Anita, there will be an opportunity to use the method called “Chautauqua” in which education and entertainment are interwoven.
“With this style,” Long said, “participants in the program will be able to hear the 1921 and 2002 perspectives on some of Anita’s views and works.” After the program rounds up. Long will step away and allow participants to examine Anita’s musical compositions and writings before returning in partial period dress to answer questions from a modern perspective.
In this program participants will see how Anita, often described as “aloof and shy,” succeeded as a businesswoman, as an honorary general and as an artist who declared, “I will devote myself to music and travel.” Also, the program shows Anita’s connection to Tahoe, Southern California and California as a whole. This includes a taste straight from the day to be chosen from Anita’s own southern California cookbook that included such delicacies as orange-flavored eggs.
A few trivia questions to pique an interest in Anita and to be answered during the program are:
1. Who was the “White Knight” in Anita’s life?
2. How many times did she marry?
3. What was her connection to the early Hollywood filmmaker Frank Capra?
Participants should bring their curiosity as well as their appetite for 1920’s living.