S.L. Hawke is a volunteer with the Santa Cruz Museum of Art and History's Evergreen Cemetery Volunteer Restoration Crew. This includes the "Evergreenies", a group of dedicated individuals who do weekly on site maintenance and in-depth research about Evergreen's colorful and historic past. When she isn't at Evergreen, S.L. cares for old roses in Arana Gulch with AJ and two superhero cats.
Why is this called "An Evergreen Cemetery Mystery"?
Evergreen Cemetery is the oldest pioneer non Catholic cemetery in the state of California. The founders of Santa Cruz are buried there. Our town's tragic heros and heroines also managed to find a spot in this shady, redwood lined canyon. Murder, torture, prostitution, suicide, and the unknown all find a way to Evergreen Cemetery. We learned, during a time of transition for the Archives themselves from paper to digital platform, that Evergreen's own records were, for the lack of a better word, 'sanitized'. I have seen a ledger with two hundred pages of records, notes, localities within the cemetery, carefully cut from the spine. We don't know why, but since that incident from 1920, many different historians over the years have been trying to reconstruct these records. Now, as we unearth some of these secrets, both physically, (original documents and headstones), and culturally, (by sharing with the community our findings), we find many are reconnecting with history, and with Santa Cruz in general.
Do you remember the first story you ever read, and the impact it had on you?
I didn't grow up in a 'reading family'. Books and bookshelves were nowhere to be found in common living areas. Shelving in the bedrooms were also sparse. I had a vanity, though. English was my parents' second language. We used Japanese, but also spoke a hybrid of Russian and Polish. When I turned five, I was given a book of European fairy tales. I fell in love with the story of the ugly duckling. Shortly after I received this gift, I was abandoned at a church. Somehow, dressed in my frills and shiny, too small patent leather shoes, I found my way back to my parents, (who were luckily having a change of heart at their act). I think I was successful because I remembered how the ugly duckling had gone on adventures, both awkward and dangerous. In the end the duckling became a swan with out really knowing it. It gave me hope that I could transcend my situation with time. I'm still waiting....just kidding!
Follow AJ Sloan as he struggles to stay alive when ghosts in the gulch whisper his fate. In present time, volunteers pursue tantalizing clues that AJ may not have met his fate as inscribed on his headstone.
It’s 1863. 17 years ago, Undercover U.S. Marshal Andrew Jackson Sloan left his family to fight in a war and find a new life. Now a widower and father of a half Japanese Royal son, AJ returns to Santa Cruz, California to uncover murder, rebel thieves, and paranormal mystery. Ghostly voices predict he will fail and Santa Cruz will change. Can he outmaneuver his fate? Based on true events.