Monday, January 15, 2007

A gem in the rough

Took off on my last tour of the San Francisco area, but this time we went south to Monterey. While we were picking out what sites to see, I stumbled upon a brochure for the Presidio at Monterey. It included a museum that was close by, so we decided to take a look.

It was a relative hop, skip 'n and a jump, so the museum was pretty easy to find. From the outside it wasn't too much to see, but inside was a small surprise. A volunteer was manning the place, a WW2 and Korea vet by the name of Richard Maxey. You could tell this place doesn't get very many hits, and Mr. Maxey was a great source of history information. He was the only fellow I ever talked to who participated in the Louisiana Maneuvers in 1941. Mr. Maxey was a pretty good hand at the history of the Monterey Presidio, so I was privileged to get a personalized tour of the small museum.

Since the museum is so small, so I didn't expect too much, but Mr. Maxey explained that all the uniforms and most of the artifacts were loaned by citizens of Monterey. I thought that was impressive - citizens caring enough to showcase their own pieces of their collection to a local museum that needs it. He also pointed out that the museum itself was once part of the Presidio's arsenal. He also had an interest in the generals of the Presidio who later made names for themselves in the Mexican and Civil Wars. He may have shared too much in that category, but it was still pretty interesting history.

The first display was a Spanish helmet, cannon ball, and model ship of the conquistador era. Not too much, but enough to start gathering an idea of the history of the local area. This is also overlooked history, which is just as military and dramatic as the Civil War or any other larger conflict.

The next display was a US infantryman's uniform and musket of the Mexican War period. I'm undecided on the uniform, it's not US standard, and the plaque at the base did not go into detail. I think it's either an abstraction of a regulation uniform, or styled after a militia knock-off. The musket was definitely period, and looked to be a Springfield '42 flintlock. Not shown was a fine example of a Grimsley saddle, which was the regulation tree in the Mexican war.


Harry said...

I'm hoping you took the time to visit Irvin McDowell's misspelled marker at the Presidio.

mntineer said...

Harry -

Thanks for the comment! I'm assuming you're talking about the San Francisco Presidio. I wish I had the time to have seen that, but alas, my time was short. Maybe next time, I'll take my time there and snap a pict. That's one error that sticks around!

Harry said...

Yeah, I did mean the San Fran Presidio. That's what I get for not reading all of your post!