An Introduction by Gaye LeBaron

One definition of the word “legacy” is “anything that is handed down from the past.” Certainly that includes property or money or treasured possessions, but it also includes treasured memories. And that is the legacy being handed down in this book.

“Sonoma County Baby” is a paean to the fruitfulness of this place where we live. It offers the reader a potpourri of the past as a path to the future.

The people who stepped forward to share stories – either their own or those of their ancestors – will challenge generations to come to keep the continuum alive.

These “babies” were born here – some in the old County Hospital on the hill, others at the same place when it was Community Hospital that became Sutter Medical Center. But they also come from Memorial, General, Palm Drive, Petaluma General, Hillcrest, and Healdsburg. A few were born “at home” or “on the ranch.” Some offer compact vignettes of unfinished lives. Others are episodic, the retelling of favorite family stories.

They are farmers, artists, teachers, nurses, storekeepers – or have one of a wide range of jobs that cannot be described in a single word. Their families come from Switzerland and Sweden, Italy and China, Mexico and Germany. They met their spouses at 4-H meetings and Grange barbecues, at the then-new ice arena and the old Midway dance club on Sebastopol Road.

All are proud of being “connected” with Sonoma County. In this they share that “sense of place” scholars constantly seek to define. The place where we are “from” or where we live defines us. But it cuts both ways. We define the place. It is different, in small or large dimensions, because we live here.

I like to think that each of these storytellers is a thread in a giant tapestry, a work of art that draws its color and its design and its purpose from diversity. Sonoma County is a place that is so different in so many ways – in geography and geology, in agriculture and enterprise, in soils and climate, in ethnicity and culture – that the tapestry is beyond beautiful. And it is not completed.

This is only a fragment of Sonoma County’s continuing story. The newborns who receive this book will add their own thread and perhaps these tales of the past will challenge these Sonoma babies, as they grow, to find their own niche; to add their thread to the tapestry and their lives to the legacy.