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Historian Celebrated as Bringer of World Peace and Tourism

Local historian and Cabrillo College professor Sandy Lydon was roasted as someone who couldn't quite lead a hike, but celebrated for what his published work has done for Santa Cruz.

Sheriff Phil Wowak gave historian Sandy Lydon a jail shirt to give him a feel for a place "he'd never make it in."

Judge Bill Kelsey brought in the trophies his friend, Lydon, had given him over the years for contests between them ... all reminding the judge that he finished second.

Writer Geoff Dunn auctioned off a baseball that he said was hit off Lydon while he was a pitcher at UC Davis and that only now landed in Harvey West Park.

Lydon – the professor and author known as "the history dude" – was feted at Cocoanut Grove Friday by the Capitola/Aptos Rotary Club. Guests included state senator Mark Stone, former Mayor Mike Rotkin, who sang a tribute with his partner Madelyn McCaul and columnist Bruce Bratton, who also sang.

That was the roast part. But developer George Ow's speech was well done, but not roasting.

Ow said that Lydon's book Chinese Gold: The Chinese in the Monterey Bay Region, about Chinese immigrants, not only helped him find his birthright, but is now widely distributed in China.

He said it would bring tour buses of Chinese visitors to the town, filling hotels and restaurants and, with no sarcasm, but a bit of a wink, said that the book could help reverse the rumors of war between the two countries and help them reach world peace.

Lydon, born in Hollister, taught at Cabrillo from 1968 to 2000, but continues to bring extension classes on trips to China and lectures around town.

Among Lydon's faults, according to UCSC geology professor Gary Griggs, was the fact that he can't quite judge distance. On a hike around the bay, he told his group there were only a few of the 12 miles left in their daylong hike, when in fact, they had only covered a few miles.

Griggs recalled Lydon's way of dealing with cell phones in his classes. On the first day of school, he had a shill in the front row whose phone rang. It was a beat up old phone. Lydon would confiscate it and smash it to the ground.

From then on, students kept their electronics off.

Sunshine May 15, 2013 at 02:43 AM
I took MANY classes with Sandy whenever they were offered. I always hated history so dreaded that mandated component of my education. Someone told me Sandy was a blast and to try one of his little weekend classes. I started with "The History of the Forest of Nisene Marks" and was hooked! He is a fantastic teacher that makes everything he is talking about come to life and his enthusiasm is infectious! Any class that includes walking around in a forest all day and ends with a beer is alright by me! Thanks for all the fabulous memories and learning experiences Sandy!

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