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West Ventura County Focus

PORT HUENEME : For Unusual Collections, Try Tiny Museum

October 12, 1994|CHRISTINA LIMA

For Elaine K. Garber, it is the 3,000-piece collection of salt and pepper shakers that makes Port Hueneme Historical Museum so attractive.

The museum has shakers in the shape of cigarette packages and cereal boxes, shakers with the image of Elvis and John F. Kennedy, shakers that look like tiny Coke bottles or golf clubs.

"This collection tells us a lot about the cultural history of the American society," Garber said as she held a set of shakers showing Kennedy in a rocking chair.

"But then, for some other people, they may be fascinated by our barbed-wire collection," Garber added as she gazed on wires that date from as early as 1891.

Garber, an avid Port Hueneme historian, is one of five volunteers who work part time to maintain the tiny museum at Market Street and Hueneme Road.

The museum not only boasts the collection of salt and pepper shakers, but also offers a range of black-and-white photographs and historic memorabilia. There are shots of the old pier, which was replaced with port renovations in 1940, and dining china from one of the city's first developers, Thomas R. Bard.

The museum, which was founded in 1976, is administered by the Port Hueneme Chamber of Commerce and shares the same historic building.

Surrounded by Monterey cypress trees, the building was constructed in 1925 and declared a Ventura County landmark in 1976. An original anchor and bell of a World War II ship sit outside.

The building was initially the headquarters of the Bank of Hueneme and later used as City Hall. In 1973, the city built the Civic Center and moved out.

"I'm delighted that the city did not get rid of the building," Garber said. "We have so little (of historic value) in Port Hueneme that keeping the museum makes a big difference."

Garber, who sometimes gives tours of the exhibits, said the museum usually has from five to 20 visitors a day. "It's not a lot of people," she said, "but it's enough to keep our history alive."

A Port Hueneme resident for 38 years, Garber said she wished that the city had money to expand the museum so more items could be displayed.

"We have a lot of things in storage and, once in a while, we change things around," she said.

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