The Children’s Natural History
Museum managed by the Math Science Nucleus, a nonprofit organization,
held a very exciting reception and field trip that celebrated the “Boy
Paleontologists.” This group of boys in the 1940’s with their
teacher, Wesley Gordon Sr, unearthed Ice Age fossils in the
Irvington District of Fremont. These “boys” would travel from Hayward
on weekends to excavate one of the most productive sites of the early
|Phil Gordon, Jay Broadwell, Leonard
Hennigan, and William Charlesout in the field.
||Phil Gordon, Les Kent, William
Charles, Jay Broadwell, and Leonard Hennigan at the
Host Robert Wieckowski,
a City of Fremont councilmember and lawyer, started the evening off by
introducing long term plans for the museum. The expansion will include
over 1500 square feet of new exhibits that will explain the evolution of
the Fremont landscape caused by the Hayward Fault during the Ice Age.
He has already is working with Alameda Labor Council to donate the labor
for the expansion.
Joyce R. Blueford, Ph.D.,
a geologist and Board President of the Math Science Nucleus discussed
briefly how the Math Science Nucleus inherited the exhibits from the San
Lorenzo school district. The foresight to exhibit the Ice Age fossils
by Wes Gordon was heralded. Without his direction these fossils would
not be available for children to take a glimpse into the Ice Age. She
emphasized that 150 classes visited the museum in 2006-07, but admitted
that the job of creating and maintaining exhibits takes money.
majority of the reception was devoted to the Return of the Boy
Paleontologists. Phil Gordon (left) and William Charles
(right), two of the original “boys” have been volunteering their
time to help curate and organize some of the collections of the
museum. Phil had a career as a high school biology teacher in
the Hayward Unified School District. William studied
music in Italy, teaching instrumental music and coordinating
festivals and touring throughout the country. They have been working on
contacting the original boys to create an exhibit on their adventures.
They were able to locate three more ‘boys’ to return for the reception
Les Kent joined the group
with his brother Roy Kent (now deceased) in 1944. Les later became
chief preparator at University of California, Berkeley in the
Paleontology Department. He now lives in Hayward.
Jay Broadwell was one of
the first to join the Hayward Rock Hounds with Wes Gordon in 1943. He
went on to have a career as a meteorologist and geologist. He now lives
in Lafayette, California.
Leonard Hennigan joined
the group with his nephew, Danny Hennigan, who now lives in Lincoln,
California. He had careers in the military and as a
vocational teacher in Arizona where he now lives.
All the “boys” admit that Wes
Gordon had a profound event on the molding of their early attitudes.
Jay Broadwell remembers fondly that Wes Gordon was not a leader, but a
“pusher” so that all the boys would succeed on their own terms.
|Looking for fossils along Mammoth
||Misha Semenov and his fossil find.
The field trip was an enchanted
day as the “boys” returned to what is now Sabercat and Mammoth Creek to
view a different landscape than 50 years ago. A freeway now cuts across
the fossil bearing Irvington Gravels, dividing the area into two distinct
parts, which both yield specimens. A group of younger participants lead
by Katie York, a staff member of Math Science Nucleus, decided to
go into the steep ravine alongside Mammoth Creek. They were looking
along the bank and Misha Semenov found a dark bone, which has
been tentatively identified as a scapula from Camelops.
The Boy Paleontologists have