‘California dreamin’ for 30 years

Will Collin, Dunbar re: the Martinez link
Will Collin, Dunbar re: the Martinez link

THE community of Dunbar is getting ready to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the town’s twinning link with Martinez in California which is still alive and kicking.

The connection came about through the conservationist John Muir who was born in Dunbar and emigrated to America as a child with his family.

There he married Louie Strentzel, daughter of a Martinez fruit farmer in 1880, and from then until his death in 1914 the town was his home base.

Dunbar’s John Muir Museum was opened in 1981 and on April 18 that year Martinez and Dunbar were proclaimed ‘sister cities’.

Will Collin, a trustee of the John Muir Birthplace Trust, said: “In the years since 1981, connections between the towns have been fairly tenuous, largely a trickle of personal visits, but recently there has been a considerable increase.

“In 2004 Dunbar Grammar School began its biennial visits to California, the most recent in June 10, through which over 100 senior students and 20 adults have spent time in Martinez.”

He explained that in 2007 Pauline Smeed, a member of the Friends of John Muir Birthplace and birthplace staff member, spent a month at the John Muir National Historic Site.

Mr Collin stressed: “The Dunbar-Martinez twinning is a civic link, not simply a John Muir one. Connections are currently being made between the schools in Martinez and those in the Dunbar and East Linton area. The Rotary Clubs in the two towns are hoping to arrange an exchange in the near future and churches in Dunbar and Martinez are reaching across the 5,000 miles between the two communities, while correspondence has been exchanged between Dunbar Community Council and Martinez City Council.

Partners in these and other links are aiming to exchange greetings as are individuals who have made friends through the link.”

As Dunbar also prepares to mark the 173rd anniversary of the birth of Muir, events will be held to celebrate the twinning bond.

An exhibition will be on show at the Birthplace until May 29.