Morgan Hill Today 2014 03 Spring - Page 41

Everyone has a story… Michael Brookman Love of his community and preserving history propels Michael Brookman forward. By Kelly Barbazette An author and a police officer, Brookman, 55, is passionate about his adopted hometown of Morgan Hill and sharing its stories with others. He is on the brink of retiring from the Morgan Hill Police Department after 29 years of service and beginning the next chapter of his life. Born in San Jose, Brookman grew up in Saratoga. A theater arts major in college, Brookman played the French horn and minored in music. He graduated from the University of California at Santa Barbara with a Bachelor’s degree in industrial education. After working in the computer and electronics industries, Brookman chose public safety as his career. He moved to Morgan Hill in 1985 when there were six traffic lights after working as an officer for the Santa Clara County Transportation Authority. He said he patrolled much of the county and liked Morgan Hill the best. “It’s a community. We all own it. I love it. That’s why I moved here,” Brookman said. A police corporal with the Morgan Hill Police Department, Brookman says he enjoys interfacing with the community. The police department is also in charge of animal control, and as a result, Brookman has adopted geese, ducks, cats and his dog, Yo-Yo. A graduate of Leadership Morgan Hill, Brookman has served as president of the nonprofit group’s board for five years. He continues to volunteer for the group and Henry Coe State Park, where he was a docent from 1989-2009. He is also a collector of cars and antique postcards. The first hobby includes racing vintage automobiles and tinkering with his eight cars; amongst them are a few MG’s and a 1943 Volkswagen. The latter hobby he stumbled upon serendipitously when he came across a postcard from Edenvale – currently part of South San Jose - from his cousin while sifting through postcards at a Morgan Hill antique shop. Brookman said the postcards tell a fascinating story about what people value and enjoy over the years. He began collecting postcards from Gilroy and Morgan Hill and soon after began writing a book about them. Along with writer Ian Sanders, he authored “More Views of Morgan Hill,” which highlights Morgan Hill’s history through postcards. They’ve recently completed their second book, titled “A Hundred Years of Gilroy Hot Springs, 1860’s - 1960’s. A Visual History of Gilroy Hot Springs and ‘Magic’ Springs.” It is due to be released this month. Brookman’s interest in the springs developed after he learned that his mother’s parents shared a first date at the then-popular resort. Gilroy Yamato Hot Springs, a California Historical Landmark and on the list of National Register of Historical Places, is a property near Gilroy famed for its mineral hot springs. It was a social hot spot in the 1920s drawing hundreds of people daily for parties, dances and local service club socials. The property changed hands many times and most recently was purchased by the California Department of Parks and Recreation and added to the Henry W. Coe State Park. “It’s a huge part of the South County history,” Brookman said. “There’s not one book written about it. We got together with our postcards co-author and wrote a book.” Brookman said writing about events past gives him a sense of purpose and ownership of his community. “It explains why are people here, why do people stop here why do people stay here,” he said. This curiosity has driven Brookman to travel to Spain four times and Mexico twice – each trip lasting a month – after completing a Spanish immersion program from Gavilan College. He recently completed a tour director school to become a tour guide. “I love to travel so much I’m looking to do that for retirement,” he said. Brookman says he plans to retire from the Morgan Hill Police Department in June, adding, “It’s time to step back” after more than 30 years of being a patrol officer. South America, parts of Japan, Australia, and New Zealand top his bucket list of destinations. Brookman said he hopes to lead local tours, do event planning, and coordinate “meet and greets” with the Chambers of Commerce for Gilroy and Morgan Hill, eventually offering statewide and European tours. S P R I N G 2 0 1 4 M O R G A N H I L L T O D A Y 41