Hunter Fields hard at work in the Kelley House Museum

When I met with Hunter Fields last week in the Kelley House Office, he was organizing two file boxes of CDs with old-timer interviews.  Hunter is a high school student who volunteers with Kelley House a few hours per week in order to fulfill his community service requirement.  He is going to graduate from dear old Mendocino High tomorrow, so congratulations are in order, but we don’t want him to move on to the next chapter in his life without thanking him for his contributions and telling him, and our readers, how much we’ve enjoyed having him around.

Hunter was born in Oakland and lived there until he was 11 years old.  About that time, he saw a man shot down on the street outside his dad’s coffee shop in West Oakland.  At that point his father, who also owns property in Caspar, decided that the Mendocino Coast was a better place to get a son through middle and high school.  Hunter agrees: “I am so glad I went to high school here in Mendocino.  It’s a good school and I have great friends.”

He arrived in time to start 4th grade and, serendipitously, that was the year his class took a field trip to the Kelley House.  He remembered that day, especially the vault, the treasure chest with historic documents, photos, and clothes.  His friend, Riley Iverson, came from a family who had been here a long time and “she was shown all sorts of fascinating items related to them.”  When his high school counselor, Liz Newkirk, suggested he volunteer there, he was interested.  He interviewed with Karen McGrath, the Kelley House director-curator, and he says, “It seemed like a good fit.” 

Some of his responsibilities have taken advantage of his youth and strength—he’s 5’8” and plays on both the winning high school basketball team and the lacrosse team—so he helped replace the arbor by the pond, assisted in fixing the irrigation system, and hung banners for the two exhibits that opened.  Other tasks have capitalized on his interest in history: “It feels good to learn more about the place I call home,” he says.  When the 4th grade class visited this year, Hunter was on hand to talk to the students and show them around the museum.

Not surprisingly, history has been Hunter’s favorite subject in school, but he thinks “It’s good to take lots of courses so you can grow; high school is a time to expand your horizons.”  His widening perspective has convinced him to take a year to travel before he goes on to either Berkeley City College or Diablo Valley College back in the Bay Area.  He plans to head to Chile, where he has family in Santiago, work on his Spanish, and then visit other countries in South America.  When he returns, he wants to get involved in changing legal processes in the U.S. because, he says, “Mendocino is a beautiful county, but it distracts people from an unjust legal system. Fight the Power.”

Before he gets on the airplane, however, he needs to earn money so, after school is out, he will be expanding his hours as a lifeguard at the CV Starr Center.  If you’ve ever been at the pool on a summer afternoon, you will understand why he says he will miss “the quiet, relaxing environment of this old country house.”  And the Kelley House will miss you, too, Hunter!

If you would like to relax in the Kelley House office or explore the vault, please contact us during office hours, 1:00 to 4:00 pm every weekday, or come by and see the museum 11:00 to 3:00 pm Fridays through Mondays.45007 Albion Street, Mendocino. 707/937-5791.