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Mira Loma travels back in time through annual Pleasantville event

Mira Loma travels back in time through annual Pleasantville event
Rishi Upadhyay

Cars, music, and milkshakes.

The 1950s came to life at Mira Loma High School’s annual Pleasantville event, a culmination of students’ hard work and faculty leadership.

Michael Bender, a Mira Loma teacher who helped lead the event held May 17, said Pleasantville is a project in which participating students are encouraged to recreate a convincing environment based on the 1946-1964 era. 

So, how did students recreate this nostalgic environment? One way was through music.

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Senior Conner Wilkinson said the Mira Loma choir performed songs from the ‘40s through the ’60s at Pleasantville.

“It also shows us the evolution of society and how it changes more than anything,” he said, “because it shows us how much has changed from both now and the past.”

The Mira Loma B Sharps attended Pleasantville and played music from the time period. (Rishi Upadhyay)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

U.S. Army veteran John Williams graduated from Mira Loma in 1969. He brought his classic blue Jeep to the event, showcasing his connection to this historic vehicle by detailing its specific components for students. (Rishi Upadhyay)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

An original Army Air Corps jeep in its original blue. (Rishi Upadhyay)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“It is an Army Air Corps jeep,

and it is the original blue it came in,” Williams said. “It came (with) a rifle rack and was a war manufacturer vehicle. It has a three-speed transmission – not very fast – but (it) is very strong.”

“I was in the army from 1969 to 1975,” Williams said. “It was an honor to serve. Our history is the basis for what we are. Understanding our history and building on it will make us better people.”

Some of Pleasantville took place in the small gym, where exhibits featured information about life during the period, as well as interactive presentations from various groups of students, ripe with visuals and activities.

Rishi Upadhyay

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Zayden Marinez, a junior, was part of a group of students who put together a booth dedicated to B movies – and made its own film called “The Goblin of Green Helm.” He said the group made the movie “to demonstrate how even with little budget and time we can still make something great, just like the B movies of the 1950s.”

Rishi Upadhyay

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Martinez explained the significance of B movies in the culture of the time. 

“B movies were a cultural phenomenon back in the day when people wanted to make it big by going into the movie industry,” he said. “However, they didn’t actually have the time or resources to actually make a full feature-length film. So what they did is they often just made these short movies with cheap effects and costumes and these were eventually known as B movies.”

Martinez said B movies eventually rose in status.

“B movies flopped at first, but over time due to their heart and effort they became classics,” he said. “Movies such as ‘Frankenstein,’ ‘Dracula’ and ‘Creature from the Black Lagoon’ were all B movies.”

Another area of student work featured at Pleasantville was visual arts.

(Rishi Upadhyay)

 

 

Rishi Upadhyay)

“Visual arts in the 1950s was more about abstract expressionism,” junior Sara Almustafa said. “What people would do is they would take what they would see and they would just draw it. So it was also a style back in the 1950s.”

There were also art activities for students.

“We (had) a station for people to draw chalk on papers,” Almustafa said. “This studio … (was) open for students all to enjoy and participate in.”

Although the majority of Pleasantville was centered around students and their presentations, outside organizations also participated. The Sacramento Public Library, represented by archivist James Scott and librarian Molly Milazzo, exhibited relics Scott described as “miniature time machines.”

The Sacramento Public Library, represented by archivist James Scott and librarian Molly Milazzo, exhibited relics Scott described as “miniature time machines.”
(Rishi Upadhyay)

“You can look at the suburban directory from 1960,” he said, “and use it to find out what businesses were located in Country Club Center back in the ’60s, (or) who was living in your house in 1960 . . .”

The library’s exhibit also included objects associated with the Cold War that raged between the U.S. and Russia during ‘50s and ‘60s, including letters to the editor published in the Sacramento Bee about alleged communists.

Other items in the exhibit reflected “the anxiety that came along with thermonuclear destruction,” said Scott, including a fallout shelter map and a Sacramento evacuation map.

“One of the best ways to learn about the past is to live it and walk in the shoes of these people,” Scott said.

Rishi Upadhyay
Rishi Upadhyay

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Milazzo also pointed out the common misconception that the past is not always binarily different. 

“This is an era, too, that is still in living memory compared to earlier times,” Milazzo said. “It’s really cool to meet people who lived through that and compare and contrast with what’s different now. For example, with the letters to the editor that we brought, there’s a lot that’s still the same – there were quite a lot of people, as our archives indicate, that feel very similar to today about social justice, racial injustice, covenants and segregation.”

Since Mira Loma’s Pleasantville event has been happening every year for quite some time now, will it continue? Bender, the Mira Loma teacher organizer, said the focus could change in the future.

“The inside joke among the teachers is that the 1980s era is on the horizon to take over within a decade or so,” he said. “Even more events and experiences from this decade that tie to our modern era.”

Regardless of the event’s future, though, one thing was certainly clear from this year’s Plesantville.

“Every year, the students find new and innovative ways to present their topics,” Bender said, “and this year was no different.” 

 

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About the Contributor
Rishi Upadhyay
Rishi Upadhyay, Reporter
Hello! My name is Rishi Upadhyay, and I am currently a senior at Mira Loma High School. I enjoy reading, writing, playing the piano, and traveling. I love being near the ocean, and my favorite place to visit is Hawaii.
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