Dana Frank: Historian looks sideways at local landmarks

Historians in the News

The Boardwalk's Cave Train has its fans and its foes.

But few in either camp have ever thought of the kitschy, campy ride in socio-political terms.

Not so Dana Frank, a regular visitor to the Boardwalk in the '60s when her family made trips to the seashore from Los Altos.

A professor in the American Studies and History Departments at UC Santa Cruz, Frank is a professional historian, focused mainly on labor, women, trade and consumer politics.

Even the titles of her published books loudly announce their academic nature: "Purchasing Power: Consumer Organizing, Gender, and the Seattle Labor Movement, 1919-1929," "Buy American: The Untold Story of Economic Nationalism," "Bananeras: Women Transforming the Banana Unions of Latin America" and "Three Strikes: Miners, Musicians, Salesgirls, and the Fighting Spirit of Labor's Last Century," which she co-wrote with Robin Kelley and Howard Zinn.

But after writing four books that went over the heads of most Santa Cruz readers, Frank decided to try something a little different.

In "Local Girl Makes History: Exploring Northern California's Kitsch Monuments" [City Lights Books, $16.95], Frank investigates the stories behind four of her favorite landmarks ...

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