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.