Hershel Parker: World Authority on Herman Melville Chose Morro Bay for his Retirement Home

Retired Morro Bay librarian Jude Sanner Long recalls numerous visits by the world’s authority on Herman Melville. “Hershel (Parker) was a giant in our Morro Bay Library; tall and looking scholarly in a comfortable way. I always knew when he was in the building and I appreciated his quiet friendliness and humor though I felt his intellect deserved a more extensive book collection than we offered.”
Born November 26, 1935 in Comanche, OK, the literary giant chose to spend his retirement days in Morro Bay, but like many who are inspired by the quiet lifestyle of the Central Coast, Parker is transitioning to his next career as he finishes his final publication on Melville. In 1997 Parker was a Pulitzer Prize finalist for Herman Melville: A Biography Volume 1 1819-1851. In 2016 “Volume III” is scheduled for publication.
Parker retired as the H. Fletcher Brown Professor Emeritus from the University of Delaware. He co-edited the Norton Critical Edition of Herman Melville’s Moby-Dick,(1967 and 2001), was the general editor of the Northwestern-Newberry Edition of The Writings of Herman Melville, and his first two-volumes of Melville’s biography were published by Johns Hopkins University Press (1996, 2002). His personal bibliography is massive. He also taught at Northwestern University and the University of Southern California.
However, he now lights up telling stories about his current project, Ornery People: Who Were the Depression Okies? Parker said, “Mother was so poor. We moved constantly. I thought I had no family history, but I’ve found relatives dating back to the American Revolution.” He talks about his great-great-great grandfather being “…connected to one of most horrendous events in the war (Pyles Massacre, 1781) and his “…people involved in the Battle at Kings Mountain.” In 1780 the North Carolina battle was a decisive victory for the Patriots over the Loyalists.
Researching his family history has led to his becoming a regular contributor to the Journal of the American Revolution (www.allthingsliberty.com). His October, 2014 article “Fanning Outfoxes Marion” was printed in the journal’s annual anthology (JAR Books, May 2015) where he was credited unearthing “…an important tool for researchers, who are able to pinpoint a specific person, event or location without having to review thousands of applications…namely hundreds of Revolutionary War pension applications…”
Parker is amazed by today’s access to traditional methods of literary research. “What 25 years has done to help (one) research,” he said. “I used to have to beg someone to research something for me when I couldn’t travel to get to it myself.” His 35 years of Melville research, including 90,000 online pages and files and shelves of stored materials will be donated to Lamar University in Beaumont, TX.

Meade Canine Rescue: Tales of Tails

Charlotte Meade is not an Old Mother Hubbard. She’s far from elderly, a spunky bulldog when confronted with irresponsible pet owners and her cupboards would never be without healthy canine cuisine. Her volunteers at Meade Canine Rescue Foundation say she’s the Pied Piper of her 62-dog senior homestead. No doubt, she’s the Alpha dog on the ranch, but she’s “no dog” when it comes to looks, knowledge and determination. Admirers probably liken her to St. Mother Theresa. In fact, Pope Francis, take note! Meade is working miracles in California for senior dogs that become homeless for a variety of reasons.


“Dogs that have no other option but death are provided food, shelter, veterinary care, exercise, and love,” states Meade’s website http://www.meadecaninerescue.org, a senior dog rescue nonprofit based in Connecticut and California created by Charlotte Meade. Funds for medical costs and supplies are the most needed while Meade and volunteers provide a loving and safe environment for abandoned senior dogs to live out their final years.

Tolosa Charlotte Meade & 19th Beagle

Her dependents’ stories could break your heart. “Terry is 16 and senile,” said Meade. “His parent was on Hospice. We have a surrender fee to care for him and then bury him with her.” Kit, an emaciated and furless German Shepherd was to be put down for depression. At Meade’s Kit is running and social. QuieQuie, a loving and beautiful blue-eyed Dachshund-mix was said to be aggressive. Gummi Bear was misdiagnosed with cancer, yet perky three years later. Oliver’s long hair was so matted and infested he couldn’t scratch at the fleas that were eating his skin. A man encouraged 19 feral Beagles. When he died his son allowed Meade to place most of them. A few are still humanizing at the shelter.


The Humane Society states, “About 2.4 million healthy, adoptable cats and dogs…are put down in U.S. shelters each year…Spay/neuter is a proven way to reduce pet overpopulation…” Meade works with local shelters likes Woods Humane Society. Cal Poly’s spay/neuter program, and most reputable national adoption services, but hopes to create an affordable and convenient spay/neuter clinic.

Meade spent most of her life living in interesting places like Paris, New York, Washington, DC and London. Due to allergies, she didn’t discover her passion for dogs until she was 40. “I adopted an amazing one-eyed Beagle from a (New) Jersey pound. I’d give him stuffed toys. He’d always chew off one eye and then play with it for years.”

It was a move to Waterbury, Connecticut that determined her mission in life. “I went to the pound near Memorial Day and found four dogs I was interested in adopting, but the next day they were put down because they didn’t want to clean their pins after the holiday. I couldn’t get it out of my mind. I became an advocate and started the nonprofit. Free and easy access to spay/neutering made the difference in Connecticut.”


Three years ago Meade left her thriving Connecticut program to be managed by three foster volunteers. With family in California where the need for her advocacy is paramount, she found a 12-acre ranch in Creston. She built a home for herself adapting it to share with her senior wards in varying stages of need.


Saturday, June 27 from 4-7 p.m. the nonprofit will present a second annual benefit for Meade Canine Rescue at Four Lanterns Winery on Hwy. 46 West. Guests may walk their own dog or a Meade senior rescue dog through the vineyard during “Yappy Hour in the Vines.” There will be wine tasting, live music, and a silent auction with celebrity guests: actor David Alpay, author Teresa Rhyne, and movie equestrian, Donna Cheek. The advance donation cost is $40. Call (805) 239-4004 or email 4dots@att.net for tickets or information.

Editors Notes: A great success, but they can always use your support and volunteerism.

Elaine Giannini and John Gajdos of Morro Bay have become regular volunteers at the shelter on Webster Road. Besides making blankets for the dogs, Meade credits Giannini for securing a major kibble donation from Farm Supply Company of San Luis Obispo. Giannini said, “While I was volunteering one day Charlotte received a phone call from an owner saying she had rescued her dog 12 years ago and just didn’t want her any more.  Imagine!  Meade has blind, crippled, toothless dogs, who, if not adoptable, can spend their last years knowing they were loved.”


Mark Twain said, “If you pick up a starving dog and make him prosperous, he will not bite you; that is the principal difference between a dog and a man.”


Morro Bay Rock, Rescue Submarines & Skateboards

Author Comment: Pre-4th of July my By the Bay column in the San Luis Obispo Tribune previewed two exciting magnets for tourists in Morro Bay. The community has so much history dating back to the military creating the bay to train troops for ground storming in Europe, use of Morro Rock to create myriad public works projects on the Pacific coast and in the Orient, the rescue after the sinking of the Montebello, the development of skateboarding, and on and on. Skateboarder Jack Smith established the Skateboard Museum recently enlarged to expand the exhibit and accommodate a growing number of visitors. And for 32 years Larry Newland and friends have been working on the Central Coast Maritime Museum and it seems to have developed some interest from Morro Bay City Manager, David Buckingham. A city with a history should have places and storyteller to tell others about the history….and a place to keep the artifacts that are closeted for lack of a place to showcase a community history. I hope to write more about both of these projects, but for now 4th of July 2015 was a banner holiday for both the Skateboard Museum and the Central Coast Maritime Museum.

And there is just something about the tug and pull of Morro Bay…could it be a Central Coast healing vortex? I think so.

CCMMA Rescue Sub & Larry NewlandLarry Newland previews the Rescue Submarine before visitors climb inside…by way of the underbelly hatch…currently in the parking lot on Front Street, Morro Bay CA waiting for its permanent home.

By the Bay: June 22 column in the SLO Tribune (www.sanluisobispo.com) CCMMA

Second only to Morro Rock, the DSRV-2 Avalon rescue submarine parked on Morro Bay’s Front Street is probably the most photographed visitor attraction in Morro Bay. Only two were built and only the Avalon is available for public viewing. The submarine is on long-term loan from the Navy due to help from Congresswoman Lois Capps and former Mayor Bill Yates. It is one of many maritime crafts to be displayed at the future home of the Central Coast Marine Museum (CCMMA).

“Tour the Avalon before watching the movie Hunter Killer. The DSRV is integral to the story,” said CCMMA’s board president Larry Newland. He spent an afternoon with set director James Spencer and special effects coordinator Peter Chesney. They are building a sound studio interior mock-up of the Avalon for a major Hollywood movie scheduled for release in 2016. Based on the novel Firing Point written by Don Keith and George Wallace, the movie is about an untested American submarine commander sent to rescue a crew off a Russian submarine under the polar ice in the Barents Sea.

A $5 donation will purchase a tour on July 4-5 from 10-3 p.m. of the inside the Deep Submergence Rescue Vehicle launched in 1971 after the loss of 129 men in the USS Thresher disaster. Intended to rescue submerged, disabled submarines, it was decommissioned in 2000 without a mission. It is 50-feet long, 8-feet in diameter, weighs 37-tons and can dive to 5,000-feet carrying 24 passengers plus the crew.

During the holiday weekend CCMMA volunteers will also be available to show a revised plan of the future maritime museum and talk about the tugboat, Alma. It was donated in 1995 by the Kelsey family, owners of Sylvester’s Tug Service. Typical of tugs working harbors along the west coast in the early 1900s, it was drafted to patrol the Central Coast waterways during World War II anticipating possible attacks by Japanese submarines. The Alma was anchored off Cayucos on December 23, 1941, when it heard explosions. The Union Oil tanker Montebello had been hit by a Japanese torpedo and sunk off the coast of Cambria. The Alma rescued 22 survivors.

Newland said talks with Morro Bay’s city manager, David Buckingham, have generated plans to jumpstart the permanent home for CCMMA’s fleet by early October. After completing preliminary site improvements to the designated 2-acres adjacent to where the fleet is currently parked, CCMMA can move the water crafts to pads for interpreted viewing.

“We’ve had dedicated volunteers and donations promised. With a permanent home we’ll be taken seriously,” said Newland. “With funding we’ll build our first building in 2016– a garage sized space for information displays and merchandizing.”

By the Bay: Column in San Luis Obispo Tribune June 29

Tribune MB Skateboard Museum pix

Have you ever broken a world record? Since 2010 Morro Bay’s July 4th festivities have included a skateboard competition produced by Jack Smith, one of the 1970s “downhill daredevils” featured in the documentary The Signal Hill Speed Run.

“Having been involved in long distance racing, the organizers of Morro Bay 4th approached me to create a new event on the Embarcadero,” said Smith, who owns and operates the Morro Bay Skateboard Museum. “It is a race for a few and a ride for most.”

Participating racers have included top amateurs like Bakersfield’s Daniel Engel, Nick Dicus of Los Osos, and Smith’s son Dylan Smith of Morro Bay. However, most of the 50-plus skateboarders ride along – and every so often they’ll earn bragging rights for being there, like when the loop mile world record was broken in 2013 by Engel in 3:32 seconds.

With the Morro Creek Bike and Pedestrian Bridge officially opening at noon on July 4th, Smith has reconfigured the Morro Bay Mile Skateboard Race route so skateboarders will beat out the parade bicyclists to become the first official event over the bridge. Skateboarders will register at Morro Bay High School’s back entrance at 9 a.m. Racing will start at 10 a.m. and hug the beach and bay until flying up and over the bridge to finish at the Front Street parking lot, the temporary display site of the Central Coast Maritime Museum’s historical rescue submarine.

“Racers won’t have to slow up to make a U-turn as in the looped race on the Harbor Walk,” said Smith. He reminds participants helmets are required, all ages welcome, it’s a free event and cash and product prizes will be awarded after the race.

Smith said skateboard races are held all over the country. They range from one mile to Georgia’s 3-day 188 mile race or San Diego’s Adrenalina Skateboard Marathon, a 26.2 mile longboard race that Smith has participated in.

“Every Saturday at 6:30 p.m. there are 3 to 12 of us that meet at Cloisters Park for a 6-mile loop just for fun and the exercise,” said Smith. “Anyone’s welcome to join us for 3 or 6 miles.”

The Morro Bay Skateboard Museum opened in 2012 with 700 square feet of display space. Still at 601 Embarcadero, it moved in April 2014 to the premier Marina Square space on the corner with triple the room for historical displays and retail product sales.

Smith said, “Trip Advisor says we’re the fourth top pick for things to do in Morro Bay. There are 300 skateboards on display, including the world’s second biggest. It has become a unique – and fun — photo opportunity for locals and visitors.”


Morro Bay’s Embarcadero: a bay-side view.