Quilting at the Labs – One Stitch at a Time

By Kate Sawyers (16 November 2015)

Over the past 13 years, the MLML Quilt Guild has met every Wednesday evening, give or take a few missed times for holidays and vacations. Still hard to believe it’s been this long. How did we come to be? Maybe we owe our existence to Kenneth Coale. He was the one who tasked Lynn McMasters to try to figure out a way to fix the acoustics in that small windowless triangular space known as the Group Study Room. Maybe it was a blessing in disguise because that little room was the starting point for our many adventures in fabric.

A portion of the quilt on the front wall of the Group Study room.

Lynn designed the large Blue Whale panels and after much help from students and staff, we assembled them and continued on with the large quilt panels on the 3rd wall. It seemed to work! No more echo in the room. Yet, we continued sewing. People came and went but there was a core group of 7-8 people that came every Wednesday evening and still meets at the Labs. After the project was finished, or maybe even before, someone suggested that maybe we should make a quilt to fund a student scholarship at MLML. By this time over a year had passed. We decided to make a wall hanging quilt of different vignettes of sea and shore life.  Amazingly, we raised $2000. That was quite motivating!  We named the scholarship in memory of former MLML technician Signe Lundstrum, a young woman from a family of artists who was creative, imaginative, enthusiastic, and coincidentally…enjoyed quilting.

We are pretty much an agreeable bunch.  There isn't much dissent except for the occasional fabric disagreement, critter placement, or exact coloring of a certain species. That first quilt was won by Vida Kenk, former Professor, Invertebrate Biologist and Associate Dean of Science at SJSU. Vida later graciously invited us to their family cabin in the Sierras.  For the next several years we planned getaway weekend "Quilt Camps" where we concentrated on our craft and enjoyed some delicious dinners with Vida and her husband Bill Minkel.

MLML Quilt Guild: Kate Sawyers, Stephanie Flora, Sara Tanner, Lynn McMasters, Lois DeVogelaere, Vida Kenk, and Donna Kline.


In 2010 we were honored to be profiled in American Quilter Magazine with an article titled, “Quilters to the Rescue”. That same year our Leafy Sea Dragon Quilt “Dragon Lady”, another scholarship project, won the Judge’s Choice and Viewer’s Choice Awards at the Monterey Peninsula Quilt Show.

"Dragon Lady" quilt

Over the years, we have made a total of five scholarship quilts, raised over $10K, and provided twenty-two scholarships. We’ve had side jobs too. The Save the Whales organization asked us to design and construct two children’s costumes, a Leatherback Turtle and a Sea Habitat for their educational outreach program. This allowed us to raise another $1000 for the scholarship fund.

We’ve also enjoyed making baby quilts for staff and students. At last count, we had completed 20 baby quilts. Our first baby quilt recipient is now 10 years old?!?!

Montage of some of the recent baby quilts.

In December we will be giving away our newest quilt, “Chiton Crossing”, our rendition of Tonicella lineata, commonly known as the lined chiton. Opportunity drawing tickets are still available!

"Chiton Crossing" quilt

Our latest and most challenging endeavor is a quilt panel to be permanently displayed at MLML to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of Moss Landing Marine Laboratories. It is comprised of over 5000 pieces, not including the many embellishments that will be appliquéd on the panel to highlight, in fabric form, the many accomplishments of MLML over the past 50 years.

2015 MLML Quilt Guild members are: Lynn McMasters, Donna Kline, Sara Tanner, Stephanie Flora, Lois DeVogelaere, Karen Wallace, Jennifer Hansen, and Kate Sawyers. Newcomers are always welcome!

MLML recognized in Sea Grant Article

Read about Dr. Rick Starr and the work he's been doing with our very own CCFRP.

Follow this link to learn more: https://caseagrant.ucsd.edu/news/study-for-central-californias-marine-protected-areas-recovery-will-take-time?utm_source=shoreline&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=fall15


An update on the first seven years of monitoring within four marine protected areas between San Francisco and Morro Bay.

Media Contact: dseiler@ucsd.edu / (858) 246-1661

The Caretakers of MLML

By  Mary Yoklavich, Andrew DeVogeleare, Mark Silberstein, Kenneth Coale, Mike Foster

The MLML caretaker's trailer at the end of its life. Scan of a note card by William Brecheen dated June 2000.

Housing has always been a challenge for students at the Lab, which results in lots of interesting variations on what constitutes a home. One housing opportunity came with the job as student caretaker of the property. The lineage of students living in the MLML Caretaker’s Trailer is open to debate, but we think that John Oliver (Invert Lab, class of 1973) might have been the first and maybe the longest occupant. When Mike Foster arrived in 1976, he remembers that Steve Pace (class of 1978) served as caretaker and lived in the trailer just inside the cyclone fence that separated the Lab from the parking lot. Most memorable to Mike was caretaker Guillermo Moreno (Ich Lab, class of 1990), who hosted some outstanding margarita parties from the trailer. Andrew DeVogelaere (Phycology lab, class of 1986) was actually offered the caretaker job at one point, but the requirement of being at the Lab every weekend was too much of a commitment for him.  He now expresses some regret.

Kevin Hill (Ich lab, class of 1986) showing his mother where he was living as the caretaker. Kevin said: "She was a little shocked..." Photo circa 1984

Most occupants of the trailer were male students, probably because it could sometimes be a pretty lonely spot alone on the island all night. Kenneth Coale remembers that Heather Robinson (Ich lab, class of 2006), one of the few female trailer dwellers, got ‘creeped out’ when maintaining the property and dealing with vagabonds of questionable intent. The student caretaker was eventually moved into an apartment that was built upstairs at the end of the building in the former Sea Grant Office next to the original library.

And now MLML has two formidable brothers who watch over the labs: Billy who is informally known as the "Sheriff of Moss Landing" and James, an ex-correctional officer from the California State Prison in Soledad who dishes out his famous barbecue venison to students working late at the Labs.

James and Billy Cochran, two of our current Shop Guys, with their new spiffy MLML shirts.

As to the caretaker trailer, it became part of maintenance -- as in the first picture – and it sure needed some. At some point the trailer was moved to the pier property (now the site of MLMLs new Aquaculture Facility) on the island across from the bridge. And then it was eventually scrapped – a very sad end to a significant structure that served MLML students well.

Because none of us can remember the names and years of all the students that occupied the MLML trailer, we have put together the following list of possibilities and ask you all to correct the record by adding/removing names and dates and by leaving your own memory of those who lived in the caretaker trailer:

John Oliver

Pete Slattery

Ed Osada

Dan Watson

Larry Hulberg

Steve Pace - 1975-1976?

Howard Teas 1978-?

Steve Rushkin 1976 (although he may have lived in a camper in the parking lot)

Cheryl Hannan 1976  (although she may have lived in her bus in the parking lot and not in the trailer per se)

Bruce Stewart 1977 (he lived in a trailer behind the Shark House on the Island, and may have occupied the caretaker trailer as well)

Mary Margaret Perez

Kathy Heath 1980 - 1983?

Kevin Hill 1983 -86

Bill Hayden

Pan-wen Hsue 1985 - 1986

Guillermo Moreno 1987 - 1989

Steve Osborn 1989

Steve Trumble 1991 -1992 (ML trailers)

Kristen Carlson 1992-1993 (shorelab)

Brendan Daly (at Salinas campus of MLML)

Tony Orr (at Salinas campus of MLML)

Stephanie Flora 1993 - 1997

Heather Robinson

Jose Antonio (Tony) Alicea-Pou (at the shore lab triplewide area during the Salinas trailer daze)

Rafael Riosmena Rodriguez (SML)

Carlos Cintra Buenrostro  (who transitioned to the new lab on the hill)

James Cochran (Main Lab), Billy Cochran (Norte)



Lynn Krasnow: Oh my goodness the trailer pics bring back memories! Keep up the good work - I'm enjoying the blog!

Guillermo Moreno and his best friend, Gomer.

Susan Coale: I'm pretty sure Mary Margaret Perez occupied that lovely trailer in the late 70's -early 80's.  I also remember a couple-Ted and Julia (whose last names escape me). Ted was the shop person.  I remember Ted as a very kind man who built what we called the slough boat- very shallow draft-I guess he got tired of students getting stuck in the mud (kind of a right of passage, as far as I'm concerned).  Anyway, we all thought it was wonderful.  Julia, his wife, was the janitor.  I was comforted by her presence when I was at the lab late at night running experiments.   They also had a milk cow and we could get fresh whole milk from them.  Then, as I recall, they left the lab to farm avocados in Corralitos -but I think they lost their trees during a particularly cold winter.

Carrie Bretz: Carrie sent this picture of one of the caretakers (Gomer) and his friend Guillermo Moreno

John Oliver: I was the first caretaker. USGS had an old trailer they used for many years and finally gave it to MLML, where it sat in a sand dune. We had no tractor or other way to move it, until a student body meeting ended in 30 kids pushing and pulling the trailer to the east side of the old marine lab, where it sat for many years. The late John Bell, our amazing maintenance guru, and I built a new kitchen, fixed the roof, and made a cozy little room. I was the keeper of the keys, and let folk into anything locked. It was wonderful to have a room on the beach next to the labs I worked in and the library, showers, and lots of room to roam and hang out. I remember many late nights sitting on the beach or the Moss Landing pier (now gone) watching the red tide glow in the breaking waves. It was every bit as awesome as a polar arora. The early and mid 1970’s was colder, foggier, rainier, and rougher than any similar period since then. Storms were strong and frequent, and one of the funnest events was watching the waves break on the library windows. It was the end of a cold period in the PDO (shifted after 1976), and we are at that same time right now at the end of the next cold period. Will we have a half decade or so of the 1970’s weather? I lived in the trailer for a year before going to SIO. Peter Slattery was the second caretaker. He lived in the trailer for a year, and was followed by Steve Pace.

Halloween at the Elkhorn Yacht Club

By Andrew DeVogelaere (4 November 2015)

In the 80s, 90s, and parts of this past decade, MLML Halloween parties were held at the Elkhorn Yacht Club. Recently the party has been up at the main lab in the seminar room. The setting at the Yacht Club was conducive to wild times: live bands, plenty of free drinks in the front grass area, pool tables, a large dance floor, and a full bar in the back. The costumes featured marine themes (e.g., sharks and jellies), topical events (e.g., Tonya Harding and Jeff Gillooly with Nancy Kerrigan) and ghoulish presentations (e.g., a walking body bag and the flattened I-880 overpass). Part of the deal between MLML and the Yacht Club was that we had to allow their members to attend. That meant the masked character constantly bumping into you or staring at you all night long could be a friend playing a prank or an odd Club member; it added to the fun. The evening always included a costume contest, and I remember that Greg Cailliet and John Heine were often in the finals. Enjoy a few pictures below from  some of the parties, and send us a comment if you remember other good costumes, have other scary memories, or better yet send us a picture with a label.

Diana Watters and Lucy Littlejohn went with the more standard ghoulish costumes, and were joined by the red alga, Botryocladia.
Sandy Zeiner and Eric Dorfman ? would "dance the night away".
Brendan Daly as Trophy Corn Flake, Jean de Marignac as French Maid, Tomo Eguchi as one of the Tagging Gypsies, and Bill Parkin ? (Jennifer Parkin's spouse) as a crash test dummy.
Graham and Zachary Foster with dad Mike as a SCUBA diver and his catch, with Greg dressed as Mike Foster in a tequila bottle.
Christian Denney as Greg Cailliet, Scott Gabara as Christian Denney and Will Fennie as Scott Hamilton.
Greg dancing at his retirement party with some of the costumes he wore to the MLML Halloween parties: tequila, rockfish, squid, and fish
2015 MLML Halloween: Brice Dahlmeier, Robert San Miguel, Corey Hamza, Melinda Wheelock, Catherine Drake, and Emily Schmelzer (bottom right).

Email us with your comments and pictures. Happy Halloween!


Here is a comment and picture from David Schwartz:

Attached is a picture I'm particularly fond of from the end
of the Halloween party of 1980 or 1981. Rich Rasch on the
left, who passed away in 2008 from a heart attack, me in
the middle, and my wife to be Vera Brown on the right.

Rich Rasch, Dave Schwartz, and Vera Brown, 1980 or 1981 (they can't remember the year so must have been a good party).