|Meet the author of
Survival With Style: The Women of the Santa Cruz Mountains.
Joan B. Barriga
In 1999, the Mountain Network News serialized an essay authored by Joan B. Barriga about mountain women. The series was entitled Survival With Style: The Women of the Santa Cruz Mountains.
I first met Joan Barriga through the Mountain History Study Group I organized in the mid-eighties. It wasnt long before I realized this lady knew much about mountain history. She gave a fact-filled, funny presentation on Holy City based on an essay she wrote in early 1988 called The Holy City Sideshow. In addition to the Holy City essay, Joan has donated to the mountain history collection two more essaysAmbrose Bierce: The Devil Takes a Holiday and The Raucous Bluejay: C. E. S. Wood.
Who is this lady with sparkling eyes and great laugh? Although she would probably modestly disagree, I favorably compare her to the women she wrote about. She is a mountain womancapable in a power outage, a volunteer at Lexington School, a 4-H club leader for twelve years, a hiker and lover of the outdoors, goat herder who spun sheared mohair, a poetry and fiction writer, and a craftswoman making baskets and miniatures. Her volunteer efforts at Lexington and other local schools included teaching local history and a science project based lumps of coal.
The Barrigas children first joined a 4-H club at Lakeside in 1971. The interest in the Lexington area led Joan and George to form the Lexington 4-H Club. At one point they had forty children in a sheep project. The Barrigas switched to raising goats because they did not have to sell them. After twelve years, they turned the 4-H club over to others.
Joan was also a docent at Forbes Mill Museum in Los Gatos and a participant in Living History Days sponsored by the San Jose Historical Society. She counts among her many friends two ladies prominent in mountain and Los Gatos societyMary Foster and Wilma Thompson. (Mary Foster and Joan had children at Lexington when Mary set up the poetry contest.) William A. Wulf, Los Gatos Historian, is also a friend and a history consultant. Although Joans activities and contributions are limited due to a stroke she suffered a few years ago, she has recovered well.
Joan and her husband George moved to Aldercroft Heights when son Carl was six months old in July 1960. They still live in their mountain home. Her husband taught engineering at San Jose State while Joan raised their two children, Carl and Bridget. Both children are married and have given Joan and George four grandchildren. In addition to being a full-time "mom," Joan earned a master of arts degree in English from San Jose State to accompany her bachelor of arts degree in English from the University of New Mexico.
I asked how she made the transition from writing poetry and fiction to writing historical essays. Joans answer in her own words.
Joans favorite woman in her "Survival" essay was probably Mt. Charleys wife, nurse Barbara McKiernan.
Joan has another skill that immediately tells you she is a historian. She maintains history scrapbooksseventeen nowthat contain primarily newspaper clippings of local history. These books are not only in chronological order, but carefully indexed. Each volume is labeled.
(c) 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009 mountain network news All rights reserved.