The Riverbank Historical Museum was the scene last week for a series of interviews videotaped for a documentary project on former resident Oscar Acosta.
The program is being financed by Acosta’s sister Annie, who also lived here when she was very young. She attended the taping, on Friday, Oct. 2. She also visited the museum back in the summer of 2013, not long after the Riverbank Historical Society’s ‘Memories Day’ which featured a presentation on her brother.
Producer Phillip Rodriguez brought his equipment, a sound tech, lighting/cameraman and an assistant, literally taking over the museum for the middle of the day.
He was primarily here to interview Robert Moore, who grew up in Riverbank and was a boyhood friend of Acosta. Among other things, they played in Cardozo Elementary School’s jazz band when they attended school there in the early 1950s. They both graduated from Oakdale High School (RHS was not yet open). Moore went on to become an English Professor, and a computer tech professor at Modesto Junior College.
Oscar Zeta Acosta had a very interesting life after growing up in Riverbank, some of which is fictionalized in his book “Autobiography of the Brown Buffalo,” with some characters thinly veiled but still recognizable.
After finishing high school, Acosta joined the U.S. Air Force. Following his discharge, Acosta worked his way through Modesto Junior College, becoming the first member of his family to get a college education. He attended night classes at San Francisco Law School and passed the California Bar exam in 1966. In 1967, Acosta began working as an antipoverty attorney for the East Legal Aid Society in Oakland.
He disappeared while traveling somewhere in Mexico in 1974.
Rodriguez also interviewed Marina Acosta Campbell, wife of City Councilman Cal Campbell and first cousin to Oscar, during his time at the museum.
The Riverbank Historical Museum is open to visitors on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 10 a.m. to noon and 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturdays. It is staffed by volunteers. Admission is free.
The museum is at 3237 Santa Fe St., in downtown Riverbank.