2011 SHS MarinScope Columns

Weekly history columns in the Sausalito MarinScope are provided from the archives of the Sausalito Historical Society. Stories from the past are shared with the general readership of the newspaper.

Sausalito’s First Railroad


By Jack Tracy

The following acount is excerpted from Jack Tracy’s book, Moments in Time.

On April 12, 1873, an event occurred that seemed to secure Sausalito's future. Amid much enthusiastic cheering, a groundbreaking ceremony took place in Sausalito, marking the start of construction of the long-promised railroad that would link Sausalito to the lumber empire to the north.
Railroads were the key to growth for towns all over the country, and California was no exception. New towns struggling for existence suddenly prospered when even the thinnest of rail links was established. San Rafael was one of the first to have its own line, the San Rafael and San Quentin Railroad. This single broad-gauge track between the ferry landing at Point San Quentin and the center of San Rafael gave an invigorating boost to local commerce.

The North Pacific Coast Railroad, incorporated in 1871 with the aid of a public bond issue in Marin County, had a grand plan to run a line through Marin connecting the emerging towns, and continuing up the coast to the vast redwood stands along the Russian River in Sonoma and the Gualala River in Mendocino County. The Sausalito Land & Ferry Company directors, sensing that this could be the breakthrough for their town, gave the financially feeble railroad company thirty acres along Sausalito's waterfront as an inducement to make Sausalito the southern terminus of the new line.
Because the bond issue called fora southern terminus at Point San Quentin rather than at Sausalito, a legal battle ensued. After considerable legal fireworks, Sausalito won out, and in 1873 construction began. One work gang commenced at Tomales, moving south. Another gang worked at Fairfax, and a third started at Strawberry Point where a trestle was constructed across Richardson’s Bay to Sausalito. The trestle connected with Alameda Point (later Pine Station), approximately where Nevada Street meets Bridgeway today.

Engine Number One, the Saucelito, in service with the white Lumber Company c. 1880.   Photo courtesy of Sausalito Historical Society.

Engine Number One, the Saucelito, in service with the white Lumber Company c. 1880.
Photo courtesy of Sausalito Historical Society.

North Pacific Coast Locomotive Number One "Saucelito" was shipped by sea to Tomales in 1874 as work progressed on the rails. Ambition being tempered by lack of cold cash, it was decided that Tomales would the northern terminus for the time being. On January 1875, another ceremony marked the passing of the first train over the completed line. James Wilkins, a former mayor of San Rafael and founder of the Sausalito News, recalled in 1927: "The railroad, as completed in 1875, was a ramshackle narrow gauge affair, built along lines of least resistance, with a lofty disdain of the laws of gravity and a preference for curvature instead of tangents.”

The Sausalito Land & Ferry Company retired the nineteen-year-old ferryboat Princess and happily turned over all ferry operations to the railroad. A new ferry landing and railroad wharf was built slightly north of the old one at Princess Street. There it would remain for the next sixty-six years. Trains began hauling logs and lumber from the redwood forests to feed San Francisco's endless building boom. And passengers came too, commuters from fledgling towns along the line and vacationers from San Francisco. Sausalito's small business community was delighted and encouraged by the influx of new people as shops and stores opened for business along Caledonia Street near William Richardson's old casa.

In the summer of 1875, the North Pacific Coast Railroad absorbed the San Rafael and San Quentin Railroad and converted it to narrow gauge from broad gauge to unify the two lines. The main passenger terminal was shifted from Sausalito to Point San Quentin, where it would remain until 1884. Even though the wharf remained  in Sausalito, and several trains a day  brought passengers and dairy products from nearby towns, the main traffic  was routed through San Quentin. The track from San Rafael to San Quentin avoided the several steep grades and curves on the line to Sausalito.
In spite of that setback, Sausalito continued to grow. With the railroad came more people, laborers at first, the merchants from many national backgrounds. Added to the Americans and British were families from Italy, Franca Germany, Austria, and Portugal, from China, Ireland, and Greece— all contributing to the character of Sausalito.

Moments in Time and other local historical books are available at the Ice House (780 Bridgeway) and at the Historical Society’s headquarters on the top floor of City Hall.

Waterfront News Part III:  Conclusion

Friday, December 9, 2011

By Steefenie Wicks

n 1983, the Gates Co-Op would produce ‘SCUTTLEBUTT’.  Later, ‘ THE SCUTTLEBUTT BULLETIN’ was edited by Thomas Hoover -- a longtime and current member of the Sausalito Historical Society.  The staff of this venture included Chris Tellis (of Yellow Ferry Harbor) as news reporter and local musician Joe Tate as columnist with Phil Frank’s mother listed as the photographer.

Richardson Bay Chart

Richardson Bay Chart

The newspaper was printed at the office of local Night Fire Theater Company which was founded by artist Laura Farabough and was funded in part by a grant to Art Zone and the Art Zone Board: Steward Brand, Mary Crowley, Jack Van der Mulien, Chris Tellis, Chris Hardman, Phil Frank and Annette Rose.  This grant from the San Francisco Foundation allowed the group Art Zone to become a subsidiary of the Garlic Press Productions.

Many of the articles in the GARLIC PRESS dealt with clearing up rumors about the political side of the waterfront issues.   A good example is the article by Chris Tellis titled;


“Throughout 1983, a series of reports have been generated by the staff of BCDC to aid the development of a Richardson Bay Special Area Plan (SAP).  The purpose of the plan is to develop a unified set of planning policies and regulatory controls that can be adapted by BCDC and the 5 local governments that have jurisdiction over Richardson Bay.  Nevertheless, many jaded observers of this process feel its primary target is the anchor-outs and the secondary target is the low-incomewaterfront community.   The reports often detail legitimate grievances.  They also often get it wrong.

“Detailed written rebuttals of these reports are very important before unfounded theory becomes accepted as fact.   The reports are very interesting as they are detailed explanations of a variety of normal and abnormal Richardson Bay environment activities. For instance did you know that the Bay is actually getting deeper?

‘The Water Quality Report covers everything from dredge disposal to parking lot runoff, but of course, the major impacts are due to ‘untreated wastewater.’  Richardson Bay does not get the same circulation that areas further down the Bay and in Raccoon Straights do.  Richardson Bay is a shallow, semi-backwater and does not get the maximum ebb and flow.  This complete tidal flush does impact the areas following the shorelines.

“Unfortunately, while the reports strongly insist that all live aboard structures connect to shore facilities it does not detail how frustrating it is to attempt to do so.

“Positive and creative solutions for waste disposal are more than timely in the present political climate.  If these issues are not addressed, and copasetic outcomes resolved, they would definitely cloud any negotiation we may want to have with a government agency.  Besides, we also believe in clean.”

Chris Tellis

It has been said that history repeats itself and after reading and reprinting excerpts from the articles printed in the waterfront newspapers that statement has truth because many of the same issues (from the 1980’s) are still current issues on the waterfront (in 2011).  Today’s need for a waterfront newspaper is no longer as important as it was because of the new fast media that exist today.  With the advent of email, the iPhone, Facebook and Twitter, the news today is instant. Rumors and facts are readily available and can be seen as fact or fiction long before they become a political waterfront campaign.

Waterfront News: Part II … Fighting City Hall

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

By Steefenie Wicks

The talents of the writers for the waterfront papers were rich and strong with the belief that rumors on the waterfront were more dangerous than the speculation of what was being written and who was writing it. 

In 1976 the “Waldo Point Garlic Press” was published on the waterfront and sold for 25 cents a copy.  The front cover of an issue published in December, 1976, has Phil Frank writing about the “Railroading of Frank Anderson,” who owned a nursery in town. Frank Anderson had been part of Sausalito since the 1920’s and was known and loved by many of the residents in town and on the waterfront. He was an outspoken figure who soon became a political cause as he faced off with the City over his property rights and faced eviction.  Phil Frank took up his cause and the front page of the Garlic Press Vol II issue no. 2, published in December of 1976 took on the town. Phil wrote:


The Railroading Of Frank Anderson …..

“It would probably make a good situation comedy for prime time TV viewers … an irascible old timer in a small town with a flair for the absurd, sets himself up in a nursery business that also dabbles in firewood, coal, railroad ties, pots plants and Victorian house parts.  Suddenly, the real estate that he occupies becomes prime commercial development property as the little town goes BIG.  Ensuing episodes show the old nurseryman up against the Southern Pacific Railroad, local commercial developers, city council and the county sheriff.  Sort of a ‘Walton’s’, ‘Beverly Hillbillies’, and ‘Ma & Pa Kettle’ in which the small town folks battle for their livelihoods and lives against, ‘PROGRESS.’

“For it was Frank Anderson who in the 1960’s sounded the alarm, ‘THE DEVELOPERS ARE COMING!’ as he watched his much loved downtown Sausalito fall store by store to the purveyors of jewelry, fashions, tourist gee-gaws and fast food services.  He watched the entire City oriented services disappear just because someone wanted to make a fast buck.

“He watched them drop, month by month … the florist, the barber, the cleaners, the Western Union, the music store, two groceries, the upholsterer, the shoe repair, the butcher, baker, laundry then the auto garage, the cigar store, the theater, the Porthole and the variety store. He watched all of these City oriented services disappear just because someone wanted to make a fast buck.

“A perennial thorn in the City Council’s side, Frank Anderson has, by means of an ever-watchful eye and an unflagging criticism, fought the Carmel-ization of Sausalito.”

   Phil Frank in his studio at Gate 3 in September, 1983.  Photo courtesy of Steefenie Wicks


Phil Frank in his studio at Gate 3 in September, 1983.

Photo courtesy of Steefenie Wicks

It was apparent as shown in Phil Frank’s article, that the waterfront newspapers became the forum for articles that spoke to the communities not only on the waterfront but up on the hill.  This form of communication played an important part in helping to organize, not only the waterfront, but also the Sausalito Community.  This was a continuation of a movement that was fast turning into a political entity being born on the waterfront.

Waterfront Newspapers: Part I … The Beginning

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

By Steefenie Wicks 

From the mid 1970’s and well into the 1980’s when the Marin public was reading its newspapers, The Independent Journal, The Pacific Sun and the Marin Scope, there was a need on the Sausalito waterfront to have its own newspapers so that they could tell what was fact/rumor and what was fiction.   The Sausalito waterfront became the front page of many newspapers both local and national with its very public battle between developers and the waterfront community at the Waldo Point Harbor. Many residents of the waterfront community felt that the real story was not being told.  The real story that was being lived by the individuals and families of Waldo Point Harbor, who felt their existence was under attack by their own government.   Today we might call this group of waterfront residents the first to “Occupy” the waterfront.

Collage of early waterfront newspapers.  Photo courtesy of Steefenie Wicks

Collage of early waterfront newspapers.

Photo courtesy of Steefenie Wicks

Original and freethinking folks who tend to not play to the norm have always occupied the Sausalito waterfront.  This original thinking would lead to the birth of the first waterfront newspapers because the feeling was that the “straight” newspapers had no idea of what was happening and how it was turning into a political “hot bed”.   Enter the waterfront newspapers that were meant to serve only the residents who both lived and worked on the waterfront but somehow ended up on the dining room tables in homes on the hillside in Sausalito.  The small waterfront communities of Gate 6, Gate 5, Gate 3 and Galilee Harbor were to be the main recipients of this news that concerned them and their waterfront existence.   For it was during this time that the County found itself in an advocacy position against waterfront dwellers, believing them to be illegals and squatters inhabiting valuable space in this beautiful location.

The Garlic Press, Fresh Garlic, Knee Deep, Scuttlebutt, The Scuttlebutt Bulletin and the HARBORGRAM of Galilee Harbor, were the newspapers printed on the waterfront-by-waterfront residents and told carried the latest facts on the stories and rumors having to do with the political status of waterfront dwellers.

In 1977 the first issue of‘FRESH GARLIC’, was produced and its intended purpose was to serve the residents of Richardson’s Bay.  It sold for 10 cents a copy at the local Sausalito liquor store on Bridgeway.  Many waterfront residents felt that the new development plan of adding a new Pier that would house up to 150 new vessels would economically exclude them and their families.   The new plans for the area did not included a playground for the children.  The residents felt that the new developers saw no need to include children as part of the future of their project.

Many who wrote for the waterfront news papers felt that the waterfront was being was being fought over as if it were a favorite toy that was being sought after by County developers while the real residents were being evicted with no rights to appeal this movement.  The waterfront newspapers provided a format to talk back to the developers and the County government and make feeling known that all would not go quietly into the night.

Waterfront residents like Ale Ekstrom, who has lived in the anchorage for the pass 45 years, wrote many of the early articles that appeared in ‘FRESH GARLIC’.  Ale’s article, titled “Arrivals & Departures’ “ gives his insight into what was taking place.

The following is an excerpt from his article:

Arrivals & Departures At Waldo Point Harbor..

 “The week went by, the sounds of industry muted but prevalent.  Last Sunday was profaned by the continuing thump bump of maul and snarl of chainsaws carving the newest pier of green copper oxide treated wood spiked to creosote treated piles.  Someone must be anxious to finish the showpiece, but so far the link to the shore has been held back.  I suppose that last stage awaits the new iron barred and barbed wire gate, fashioned on special order by some delighted local blacksmith with lock and card coded key & alarm system.  Locked gates can stop traffic both ways.  Perhaps the new management will promise to prohibit dogs.  It’s not realistic to expect dog owners to be responsible.  Responsible government and responsible property management are supposed to be expected, but expecting one hand and “bleep” in the other; see which one fills up first.  Tumultuous behavior sure is tiring.  Summer soldiers throwing themselves into the ditch: I would have thought it more fun to pitch someone else into the ditch.  Everyone seems to be missing something, but none agree on what it is.  It it’s not too many dollars and not enough cents, it might be prayer and patience, less tiring than tumultuous behavior.  Repent or perish! How often is GOD on the wrong side?”

In conclusion it should be noted that Waldo Point Harbor is still in the process of development 34 years later.

Where was Otis sitting?

Friday, November 11, 2011

By Larry Clinton

Otis Redding, inspired by Sausalito

Otis Redding, inspired by Sausalito

An August, 2010 MarinScope column presented two versions of the origin of Otis Redding writing his signature song, “(Sittin’ On) The Dock of the Bay” on a Sausalito houseboat.  Local author Derek Van Loan set the momentous occasion at Commodore Heliport, butlongtime Chronicle music critic Joel Selvin recalls that Redding was staying on Main Dock at the time. We invited comment from anyone who could shed further light on this controversy.

Last month we heard from Joe Tate, longtime waterfront dweller and former leader of the Redlegs, the legendary rock n’ roll band that formed in the houseboat colony during the late sixties. Joe says, “I was there and I saw Otis on the Main Dock.  I was staying on the Main Dock and one day we saw Otis walk to the end of the dock and sit down.  He stayed there for at least an hour.  When he left, Mike Bloomfield, who was also staying on the dock, saw him too. I asked Mike ‘Is that Otis Redding?’ He was very sure of it.”

Bloomfield, a blues legend himself, reached national prominence with the Paul Butterfield Blues Band. Tate still performs regularly at various Sausalito venues.

It appears that Redding wrote only the beginnings of the song in Sausalito. According to liner notes for aDVD of vintage Redding television performances, Dreams to Remember: The Otis Redding Story, Redding “had come off his famed performance at the Monterey Pop Festival just months earlier in June 1967. While touring … he continued to scribble lines of the song on napkins and hotel paper. In November of that year he joined producer and guitarist Steve Cropper at the Stax recording studio in Memphis, Tennessee.”

Cropper, a frequent collaborator of Redding’s, told NPR’s Fresh Air that he helped Reddingcomplete the music and melancholy lyrics. “Dock of the Bay” was recorded on November 22, 1967 with additional overdubs added the following month.

Redding continued to tour after the recording sessions, but on December 10, his charter plane crashed into a lake outside Madison, Wisconsin. Redding and six others were killed.

Within days, Cropper was back in the studio performing the final mix of the song, which would become Otis Redding’s greatest hit – and his lasting legacy to the world

Sausalito Water: "The Sweetest on the Coast."


by Annie Sutter

his story appeared in the Fall 1991 issue of the Historical Society Quarterly. It has been modified.

In the rolling hills of what came to be known as Sausalito, fresh water springs and streams were abundant. They poured down to the bay, creating marshes and watering holes visited by deer, elk, mountain lions and even grizzlies. The water was also enjoyed by Indians who built steambaths or "temescals' in their beach huts, some of which were in the little cove at the south end of Sausalito which later came to be known as Whaler's Cove.

The area was first mapped by Juan Manuel de Ayala of the bark SAN CARLOS in 1775 and named Saucelito after the willow trees on shore. Other ships' logs had it noted as South Salieto, San Solito, and finally as Sausalito. The word circulated by visiting ships said that Sausalito's water was the sweetest on the coast and was reputed to stay fresh longer than any other. Ships took on both wood and water at the cove beginning in the 1820s, and according to the log of Captain Beechey of the exploration vessel H.M.S. BLOSSOM, William A. Richardson, an English sailor who arrived in San Francisco in 1822, had a profitable little water business going at Whaler's Cove by 1827. Richardson made it easy for visiting ships to find the anchorage with the sweet water - he put out the word for ships to announce their arrivals outside the headlands by cannon, then his crew of Indians would paddle out and guide them to the anchorage. In the 1830s, a "traveler of the period", William Osborne, observed ships' crews throwing casks overboard, tying them together through the handles and towing them ashore "like so many sea serpents." They were lugged up the hillside, filled and rolled back down to waiting longboats. A tedious task, and doubtless one with high cask casualties.

The watering facilities soon were expanded. During the 1840s a cistern was built along with a series of flumes to carry water down to the beach. In "Historic Spots of California," written in 1937, we find an idea of what remained: "Captain Richardson piped water to a great cistern 30' square and 15' deep which he had dug for the purpose. From this cistern pipes were run on a trestle and thence to a boat, the WATER NIXIE, and transported to San Francisco and distributed by horse and mule-drawn carts for the price of fifty cents a bucket." Another account has the hull of the ship CORDOVA being put to anchor in the cove and used as a cistern to which ships' longboats repaired for water. In the 1850s Richardson had added two more boats to his fleet, to carry water and sell it in San Francisco. He also began selling oysters (125,000 bushels annually were reportedly shipped to the city), produce, horses and cattle. In the 1850s the cistern became known as "The Water Works", a business which changed hands several times until it became a part of a large land purchase by the Sausalito Land and Ferry Co. in 1868, which continued to sell Sausalito's "liquid gold."

Gold in Hurricane Gulch


By Larry Clinton

Back in July of 1896, the San Francisco Call reported on the discovery of gold in a Sausalito creek.  As you can imagine, such a find created quite a stir. Here are excerpts from the article and subsequent reports:

Sergeant John Hayes is a State employee at the head of a little squad of policemen who look after the interests of the Board of Harbor Commissioners. He lives over in Sausalito at the head of Hurricane Gulch, named that way on account of the wind that sweeps down through it at all times, even when the remainder of Sausalito is calm and sweltering…

“House of the Bay-Window,” the residence of Sergeant Jack Hayes, who claimed to have discovered gold in the gulch just to the left of the tank.  San Francisco Call woodcut courtesy of Sausalito Historical Society

“House of the Bay-Window,” the residence of Sergeant Jack Hayes, who claimed to have discovered gold in the gulch just to the left of the tank.

San Francisco Call woodcut courtesy of Sausalito Historical Society

Back of his residence… is the bed of a creek… Last Sunday the policeman and some of his friends discussed mining and miners, topics quite familiar to Hayes, who was a miner in days long past in the environs of Pike’s Peak…It was all very interesting until the climax came. The dirt was all washed out of the pan, and there, in the residue were four little bright yellow specks… There was plenty of black sand, almost an infallible indication of good pay dirt, and some fine gold flakes were gathered in. But most of the gold was found on an adjoining piece of property… belonging to a man named Miller. So it was decided that before the news of the gold find was made known that particular piece of property must be bought up.

The property is triangular in shape and the major part of it is on a 45-degree fall to the creek and is valueless. Still, Miller was willing to sell the whole thing for $250, so Hayes says.

The day set for the purchase was yesterday, when an ill-advised newspaper was inconsiderate enough to publish the fact that there had been gold discovered in Hurricane Gulch, back of the Hayes cottage…

Miller read The Call yesterday morning, and when Hayes and his partners, Messrs. Root, Gilfett and Bloomer, who were all interested in the venture, ran Miller down and offered him the $250, that gentleman smiled and asked for a week’s time in which to think over the matter.

“He’ll want all prices for it now!” exclaimed Hayes, when seen yesterday afternoon by a Call reporter.

“That article should never have been published until I got hold of the property, and I’d show you how gold is panned out.”

Years ago there was considerable mining done north of Hurricane Gulch, but it never paid sufficiently to warrant extensive working… so it is comparatively a virgin field…

Two days later, the plot thickened when the Call reported:

Sgt. Hayes does not intend to let this discovery remain undeveloped.  He already has mapped out a scheme to form a mining company, the members of which own property along the banks of the stream.

“I do not want to be a bug, and I am willing to give my neighbors a chance,” said he enthusiastically yesterday, the fire of positive assurance and enthusiasm shining in his eyes…

“If I can form a company of my neighbors, each man putting up so much, and when the mine has been thoroughly worked each man taking his dividend, minus the expenses, which I do not believe will aggregate more than $2500, I will tell you, sir, each man of that twenty will not be obligated to work any more for a living…

“I shall see Mr. Miller to-night and make a fair proposition to him. I was the first to discover gold on this property, therefore I believe I have a miner’s lien on it.” 

The gold fever first taken by Sergeant Hayes in his own home has spread with wonderful rapidity. Yesterday morning, on an early boat to Sausalito, three men on horseback, having at their saddles picks, pans and blankets, took passage, according to Sergeant Mahoney, for Hurricane Gulch to stake out claims there, and later in the afternoon three of the regulation canvas-topped wagons that years ago traversed the plains drawn toward that loadstone, Pike’s Peak, were carried across on the Sausalito, destined for the newly discovered gold field in the gulch.

One month later, gold fever seemed to be subsiding:

Sergeant Jack Hayes…will soon close his bargain and purchase the land adjoining his… “Just before the rainy season begins,” said he yesterday, “I shall build a dam and sluice on my land and work the soil of the creek bed below for all it is worth. I know what I am talking about and I know I will find enough of the metal in the river bottom there at least to remunerate me and I believe to give me a comfortable sum in the bank.”

Mysteriously, there are no further newspaper reports of the mining operation, and the City of Sausalito has no record that a claim was ever filed. The County Recorder’s office has records of mining claims and grant deeds dating back to 1850, butwhen I went there to check out this story, the records for the 1890s were missing.  So, was this a mini-bonanza for Sgt. Hayes, an attempted land grab, or perhaps an investment scam?  If we turn up any further information, we’ll put it in a subsequent column.

History of the Sausalito/Viña del Mar Sister City Relationship

MONDAY, JULY 25, 2011

Note: The majority of the materials upon which this timeline is based are located in the archives of the Sausalito Historical Society. Many thanks for the Society docents who assisted in locating them.


September 11-12, 1956: US President Dwight Eisenhower holds a White House conference on citizen diplomacy to promote personal diplomacy and nongovernmental contacts between people in the US and overseas. Several "People-to-People" committees are formed as a result of the Conference, one of them being the Civic Committee which develops the idea of creating sister cities between US and overseas cities. Ultimately the Civic Committee is consolidated under the Sister Cities International organization.2


Early 1958: Sausalito Mayor Howard Sievers attends a League of California Cities meeting where the People-to-People program is discussed. Mayor Sievers brings the concept back to Sausalito.3

1 Prepared by Michael Moyle, a Sausalito resident.

2 See the history of the Sister Cities International organization at http://www.sister-cities.org/about/history.cfm

3 See comments by Representative Clem Miller of California in the US House of Representatives (“A Sister-City Success Story: Sausalito, Calif., and Vina [sic] del Mar, Chile”) on June 26, 1961 (hereafter, “Miller Comments”)

4 See Miller Comments.

5 See Miller Comments.

6 See March 5, 1960 Proclamation signed by Sausalito Mayor Howard Sievers

7 See Miller Comments.

8 See Miller Comments.

9 See newspaper article (“Sausalito Hunts for ‘Sister City’”) - undated

10 See Miller Comments.

Early 1958: Mr. Mark Bortman, Chairman of the Civic Committee of the People to People Program, visits Sausalito to make a presentation on how to establish a sister city program.4

Early 1958: Sausalito City Councilwoman Marjorie Brady is appointed chair of a City Council committee to study a possible sister city program.5

November 18, 1958: The Sausalito City Council passes Resolution No. 1457 pursuant to which Sausalito determines to participate in President Eisenhower program by appointing a People-to-People Citizens’ Committee to pursue the program.6

Late 1958: The Sausalito Citizens’ Committee for the People-to-People Program (the “P2P Committee”) is organized and Mrs. M. Justin (“Gladys”) Herman of Sausalito (“Mrs. Herman”) is elected as its Chair.7


Early 1959: The P2P Committee studies various cities as possible sister city candidates. “The preference [is] soon narrowed to South America because of its importance and because teaching of Spanish had just been introduced in Sausalito’s elementary schools.”8

June 1959: The search narrows to Chile. Mrs. Herman is quoted: “Chile appears to be the country in which it would be most likely to find a waterfront community which would possibly affiliate with Sausalito.”9

November 1959: “With the help of the American Municipal Association and the U.S. Information Service, contact [is] established…with Viña del Mar. The mayor of Viña, the Honorable Gustavo Lorca Rojas, took up the idea with equal enthusiasm.”10

11 See Independent-Journal article (“City in Chile to be ‘Sister’ to Sausalito) dated February 3, 1960.

12 See Jack Tracy, “Moments in Time,” page 116

13 See Independent-Journal article (“Sausalito Selects Name for its Plaza”) dated February 17, 1960.

14 See photo from the San Francisco Chronicle (“Chilean Consul Honored”).

15 See photo from Marin News dated March 19, 1960.

16 See copy of English translation of an article that appeared in the March 14, 1960 issue of El Diario Ilustrado (Santiago, Chile).


February 2, 1960: Sausalito Councilwoman Marjorie Brady reads to the Sausalito City Council a telegram from Viña’s Mayor Lorca Rojas accepting Sausalito’s proposal to become sister cities.11

February 16, 1960: The Sausalito City Council acts to name Sausalito’s central plaza, which had, up to that time, been named Depot Park12, as “Viña del Mar Plaza.”13

March 5, 1960: A kick-off ceremony is held at the Alta Mira Hotel attended by, among others, Sausalito Mayor Howard, Sievers, Mrs. Herman, and Eugenio Ovalle, Chile’s Consul General in San Francisco, all pictured below.14 Mayor Sievers signs a Proclamation stating “that the City of Sausalito accepts with pleasure adoption by the City of Viña del Mar an in turn adopts with pride the City of Viña del Mar as its Sister City.” Chilean artist Luis Guzmán presents a statute of a Chilean woman to Sausalito as a gift commemorating the event. A cedar tree donated by Mr. Fred Turner is planted in the Plaza.15

March 1960: Viña del Mar renames its El Tranque stadium and the park that surrounds it after Sausalito, changing their names to Estadio Sausalito and Parque Municipal Sausalito.16

17 For more about the Valdivia earthquake, seehttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1960_Valdivia_earthquake

18 See single page with copies of the texts of both letters that was sent to local newspapers.

19 See Independent Journal article (“Pictures of Sausalito to be Shown in Chile”) – no date provided. See also Marin News article (“Earthquake Funds for Port City”) dated February 3, 1961, and letter dated July 28, 1960, from Mrs. Herman to Ambassador Howe.

20 Unfortunately we have to date been unable to locate this tray.

May 22, 1960: The Valdivia earthquake (also known as the Great Chilean Earthquake - El Gran Terremoto de Chile/Valdivia) hits Chile with a magnitude of 9.5 and an epicenter near the town of Cañete, about 500 miles south of Viña del Mar. While Viña del Mar does not suffer any significant damage, thousands are killed in Chile by the quake and the resulting tsunami, and property damage is measured in the hundreds of millions of dollars.17

May 24, 1960: Sausalito Mayor Philip Ehrlich sends a letter of sympathy to Viña Mayor Lorca Rojas regarding the Valdivia earthquake. Viña Mayor Lorca Rojas responds with a letter to Mayor Erhlich on June 2, 1960, advising that Viña escaped damage but is assisting quake victims.18

July 28, 1960: $1,468 is collected in Sausalito and sent to Mr. Walter Howe, the US Ambassador to Chile in Santiago, to be used in the areas hit hardest by the Valdivia 19

September 1960: The Sausalito Sister City program receives an engraved copper tray fromMayor Lorca Rojas. The photo

21 See Marin News article (“The Show to Go on in Chile”) dated July 9, 1960

22 See Marin News article (“Earthquake Funds for Port City”) dated February 3, 1961. See also subsequent letter dated May 29, 1961, from Mr. Robert Woodward of the US Embassy in Santiago to Mrs. Herman regarding the Corral project.

23 See Independent-Journal article (“Plaque Unveiled for Sister City”) dated March 6, 1961, with photograph of ceremony. Pictured are James Bellino of the Sausalito Lions Club and John Bocci of Lions International

November 20-27, 1960: Chile-North America Week in Chile. Sausalito collects a group of 71 photos to be sent to Viña del Mar to display there. Ted Castle of Sausalito coordinates the collection of the photos.21


February 1961: A letter is received from Walter Howe, US Ambassador to Chile, advising that the funds sent from Sausalito the previous year for earthquake relief were used to help to rebuild a waterfront park in the center of the coastal town of Corral22

March 4, 1961: Upon the first anniversary of the sister city relationship a plaque, presented by the Sausalito Lions Club, is affixed to the base of the northern elephant at the entrance to Sausalito’s Viña del Mar Plaza.23

The below photo shows Mrs. Herman making remarks at the first anniversary celebration..

24 See Miller Comments.

25 See Marin News article (“Sausalito Goes All Out to Honor its Sister City”) dated February 24, 1962.

26 Per program announcement (“Literary Event”).

June 1961: During the World Conference of Local Governments in Washington, DC, Mrs. Herman receives a citation from the Civic Committee of the People-to- People Program with respect to Sausalito’s efforts to establish its sister city relationship with Viña del Mar.24


March 1-3, 1962: A series of events take place to commemorate the second anniversary of the establishment of the sister city relationship. Those include a fashion and art show and a lecture by Professor Fernando Alegria on “ The Image of Chile.” The Sausalito Rotary Club presents to the Sausalito Library a cabinet to be called “The Chilean Niche” especially designed by Charles Finney to house (a) the statue presented to Sausalito by Luis Guzmán in 1960, (b) the copper tray given to Sausalito by Viña Mayor Lorca Rojas in the Fall of 1960, and (c) various books and magazines related to Chile.25

May 20, 1962: Mr. Manuel Tello, Chile’s Consul General in San Francisco, attends an event at the Sausalito Cruising Club to donate 87 books to the Sausalito Library and a map of Chile to the city.26


February 1963: California is selected by President Kennedy for a pilot project to provide technical and educational assistance to Chile.27

27 See San Francisco Chronicle article (“Plan for California Aid to Chile”) dated February 14, 1963. This appears to have been the start of the special relationship between California and Chile which developed into the “Chile –California Partnership – see http://chile.usembassy.gov/chile_california_partnership2.html

28 See San Francisco Chronicle article (“Sausalito Sending a Son to Chile”) dated March 3, 1966, with photograph of Terry Copperman

March 9, 1963: A celebration of the third anniversary of the sister city relationship is held at the Alta Mira Hotel. Comments are made by, among others, Sausalito Mayor Paul Micou, Mr. Loren Jay, Chair of the P2P Committee, Mr. Manuel Tello, Chile’s Consul General in San Francisco and Mr. Hernán Lillo, a visitor from Viña del Mar.


March 3, 1966: Terry Copperman, a junior at Mt. Tamalpais High School living in Mill Valley, departs San Francisco for Viña del Mar where he will study for eleven months as the first student exchanged between the cities.28

29 From from the April 5, 1966 issue of Valparaiso's "La Union"

[Note: On 6/30/11, Mike Moyle was able to speak with Terry Copperman, now a doctor living in Eugene, Oregon. He confirmed that the time he spent in Viña del Mar was very special, that he has returned on a number of occasions, and that he continues to maintain contact with people in Viña who he met on his first trip there. He promised to send some information. Contact info: Office: (541) 687-8581. Email:coppermn@msn.com]

March 2 – April 10, 1966: Mr. Loren Jay, Chair of the P2P Committee, and his wife visit Viña del Mar. The below photo29 shows the Jays at a lunch hosted by the Viña del Mar Rotary Club, attended as well by Viña Mayor Juan Andueza Silva.

June 1966: Viña del Mar Mayor Juan Andueza Silva and his daughter, Carmen, visit Sausalito. This is the first visit to Sausalito by a Viña public official since the sister city relationship was

30 Taken from an article (“Chilean Mayor Gets Look at Sister City”) appearing in the June 27, 1966 issue of the Independent Journal

31 See Pacific Sun article (“Presto: Sculpture Grows”) dated October 22, 1969

established. The below photo shows Mayor Audueza with Mr. Loren Jay, Chair of the P2P Committee.30


January 17, 1968: Mill Valley Record article (“Disinterest Threatens Sister City Program”) reporting that the Sausalito City Council was considering disbanding the P2P Committee due to lack of interest. “The People-to-People Committee, headed by Loren Jay, has been running the extensive Sister City Program for the past several years with only six to eight committeemen. Jay has been chairman for six years, mainly, he said, because he could not get anyone else to take the job.”


Fall 1969: Well-known Chilean sculpture Sergio Castillo (who was born in Viña del Mar), while teaching at UC Berkeley, erects a sculpture entitled “Hermandad” (“sisterhood”) near the current site of Gabrielson Park along the Sausalito waterfront. Mr. Castillo agrees to provide the sculpture to Sausalito for a fee of $4,000, his cost of labor and materials. Funding for the acquisition was provided by the Sausalito Foundation.31 The below pictures show Mr. Castillo with his work, and chatting with Mrs. Loren Jay and Mrs. Brookner Brady.

32 The framed seal is in the possession of the Sausalito Historical Society.

33 This date is not certain. The circumstances related to this plaque and how it came to be in Sausalito remain unclear.


May 1978: The Chilean naval training ship “La Esmeralda” visits San Francisco. La Esmeralda’s captain, Victor Larenas, delivers to Sausalito a framed metal seal of Viña del Mar. The piece includes an inscription: “The Mayor of Viña del Mar (Chile) to our Sister City Sausalito – Official Visit of the Esmeralda – San Francisco, May 1978.”32


April 198233: At some point a metal plaque with the Spanish inscription “Viña del Mar – Chile a la Ciudad Hermana de Sausalito – Abril 1982” is affixed to the base of the southern elephant at the entrance to Sausalito’s Viña del Mar Plaza.

34 The plaque that was replaced is in the possession of the Sausalito Parks & Recreation Department.


September 2008: After suffering significant damage in the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake, through the efforts of several Sausalito organizations and individuals, the Hermandad sculpture is restored and relocated to its current location in Gabrielson Park.


June 12, 2010: Through the efforts of Alex Geiger, Chile’s Consul General in San Francisco, a plaque is prepared to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the sister city relationship. That celebration, originally scheduled for March, is delayed in consideration of the earthquake which hit Chile on February 27, 2010, with an epicenter in the Maule Region and a magnitude of 8.8. It is finally held on June 12. The new plaque is affixed to the base of the southern elephant at the entrance to Sausalito’s Viña del Mar Plaza and replaces the 1982 Spanish language plaque shown above.34 The unveiling is performed by Consul General Geiger and Sausalito Mayor Jonathan Leone. A demonstration of cueca songs and dancing is provided by the Bay Area-based Chilean dance troupe the Araucaria Dancers. In a very nice touch, Eugenio Ovalle, Jr. (the son of Eugenio Ovalle, Sr., Chile’s Consul General in San Francisco in 1960 at the time the sister city relationship was established - see above photo), is present for the ceremony.

Sausalito’s First Sister City: Viña del Mar

MONDAY, JULY 25, 2011

by Larry Clinton

The following column is based largely on research prepared by Sausalito resident Michael Moyle. The majority of source materials for this history are in the archives of the Sausalito Historical Society.

President Dwight Eisenhower held a White House conference in 1956 to promote nongovernmental contacts between people in the US and overseas. This conference led to the establishment of  the Sister Cities International organization.

In early 1958, Sausalito Mayor Howard Sievers attended a League of California Cities meeting where the People-to-People program was discussed, and brought the concept back to Sausalito. Later that year, City Councilwoman Marjorie Brady was appointed chair of a City Council committee to study a possible sister city program. Soon the

Sausalito Citizens’ Committee for the People-to-People Program (the “P2P Committee”) was organized, under the direction of  Mrs. M. Justin (Gladys) Herman.  Mrs. Herman was the wife of urban planner M. Justin Hermann who soon was appointed by  Mayor George Christopher to head the San Francisco Redevelopment Agency. Today, he is memorialized at Justin Herman Plaza at the foot of Market Street.

The P2P Committee studied various possible sister city candidates. “The preference was soon narrowed to South America because of its importance and because teaching of Spanish had just been introduced in Sausalito’s elementary schools,” according to comments by Representative Clem Miller of California in the U.S. House of Representatives.  

Mrs. Herman noted: “Chile appears to be the country in which it would be most likely to find a waterfront community which would possibly affiliate with Sausalito.”

Eventually, contact was established with Viña del Mar. Rep. Miller reported that the mayor of Viña, “took up the idea with equal enthusiasm.” So the relationship began.

Mrs. M. Justin Herman and Mr. Robert McCabe, Master of Ceremonies, at a 1961 celebration marking first anniversary of the affiliation of Vina del Mar, Chile, and Sausalito, California as Sister Cities.  Photo courtesy of Sausalito Historical Society

Mrs. M. Justin Herman and Mr. Robert McCabe, Master of Ceremonies, at a 1961 celebration marking first anniversary of the affiliation of Vina del Mar, Chile, and Sausalito, California as Sister Cities.

Photo courtesy of Sausalito Historical Society

In  February, 1960, the City Council renamed the old Depot Park “Viña del Mar Plaza.” A kick-off ceremony was held at the Alta Mira Hotel attended by, among others, Sausalito Mayor Howard Sievers, Mrs. Herman, and Chile’s Consul General in San Francisco. Chilean artist Luis Guzmán presented a statute of a Chilean woman to Sausalito as a gift commemorating the event. This was years before Sausalito developed a second sister city relationship with Sakaide, Japan.

In May of that year a magnitude 9.5 earthquake hit Chile. While Viña del Mar did not suffer any significant damage, thousands of Chileans were killed by the quake and the resulting tsunami; property damage was measured in the hundreds of millions of dollars. Sausalito staged an earthquake relief fundraiser and forwarded  the proceeds  to the U.S.

Ambassador to Chile in Santiago. Ironically, another devastating earthquake struck Chile in May of last year, almost exactly 50 years later, and Sausalito again staged a relief drive to aid victims.

The Chilean naval training ship La Esmeralda visited San Francisco in May, 1978. La

Esmeralda’s captain delivered a framed metal seal bearing the inscription: “The Mayor of Viña del Mar (Chile) to our Sister City  Sausalito – Official Visit of the Esmeralda – San Francisco, May 1978.” The framed seal is now on display at City Hall along with other artifacts from the Sister City program. La Esmeralda returned to San Francisco Bay this week, and the ship’s band played at a ceremony at Viña del Mar Plaza on the 21st. 

Virginia Reginato, mayor of Viña del Mar, and other visitors will attend the Jazz & Blues by the Bay event on Friday evening, July 22.

Old Sailor's Graveyard Still Eludes Us

MONDAY, JULY 25, 2011

by Tim Rosaire

This story is from the Fall 1994 issue of the Historical Society Newsletter. It has been modified.

It's a balmy August afternoon in 1850 and a small group of men are pushing and pulling a cart up a narrow trail that meanders up the side of a hill south of Sausalito's Old Town. Resting precariously on the cart is a simple wood coffin, made from scrap timber by the ship's carpenter aboard the U.S. Navy ship Vincennes. It contains the body of Henry Mortimer, a seaman who fell overboard and drowned while the ship was anchored in "Saucelito Bay." At thirty years of age, Mortimer was almost certainly a seasoned sailor, with many adventures under his belt. Unfortunately, like most seafaring men of his time, he probably didn't know how to swim. Now his crewmates were transporting him to his final resting place: a small cemetery for sailors who died while their ships were anchored off Sausalito. Over Mortimer's grave they placed a tombstone that reads:


SACRED To the Memory of


A Seaman of the U.S. Ship "Vincennes"

Born in London, England, 1820, who Was drowned in Saucelito bay

August 27, 1850, aged thirty years.

This tombstone was erected by his Shipmates, though his body's under Hatches, his soul has gone aloft.

But where exactly is Henry Mortimer buried? The answer to this question has baffled historians ever since Jack Tracy, the Society's founder and first director, chanced upon a brief mention of an old sailor's graveyard in an 1880 history of Marin County. It described a forty-foot square enclosure located "some distance south of the site of old Saucelito, on the brow of a hill overlooking the bay." The long-abandoned cemetery contained about a dozen graves.

An aerial photo of the shoreline near Ft. Baker, where the "brow of a hill overlooking the bay" could contain a sailor's graveyard.  Photo Courtesy Sausalito Historical Society.

An aerial photo of the shoreline near Ft. Baker, where the "brow of a hill overlooking the bay" could contain a sailor's graveyard.

Photo Courtesy Sausalito Historical Society.

How far south of town? On the brow of what hill?  Jack scoured the thickets and hillsides between Sausalito and Fort Baker for years without ever finding a clue to its location. Adding to its elusiveness is the fact that the graveyard does not appear on any city, country or military maps of the period. This indicates that it was never an official cemetery, but simply a piece of level ground that, during the early to mid 1800s, was considered an ideal spot for the seafaring community to bury its dead. After all, the "brow of a hill overlooking the bay" is the perfect place to bury someone who has spent his life at sea. It was also convenient to the ships that dropped anchor off Sausalito, yet far enough away from the community so as not to disturb the local residents.

In fact, this is not the only location where sailors were buried. The same history of Marin County mentions that several Russian sailing ships were quarantined in Richardson's Bay due to an outbreak of a contagious disease. A number of Russian sailors died from it and were buried in "shallow graves extending from the beach back some distance" at the north end of Hurricane Gulch. The story goes on to say that "since then the tide has washed many of these bodies up, and excavations for lots, and the filling in of others have unearthed many of them, and buried others far deeper, and very soon all traces of them will be lost and forgotten."

Jack Tracy has passed away, but the quest to find the old sailor's graveyard has been taken up by several other members of the Society. Several months ago, the Society's current director, Phil Frank, thought he had finally found it. While commuting to the City one morning, he noticed the remains of a row of fence posts near the top the hill where Alexander Avenue first cuts through the ridge just south of Old Town. The posts were very old and they seemed to form a small perimeter. Along with members Tim Rosaire and Dave Neck, Phil climbed through the brambles and poison oak to examine the site more closely. However, the posts turned out to be part of a barbed wire perimeter fence protecting an old World War II anti-aircraft gun position. Very interesting, but definitely not the long-lost graveyard.

Then, two aerial photographs taken in 1925 were found. One of the 8 x 10-inch photos included the ridge of hills that faces the Bay. Upon examining it with a magnifying glass, they spotted what appeared to be a flattened area with what looked like a row of fence posts that bordered what could be... a grave yard! Curiosity piqued, they hiked to site. However, all signs of the enclosure were completely obliterated since the aerial photo was taken 1925. Whatever it was in the aerial photo no longer existed. Excavations had been done and heavy electrical cables protruded from the site. There had obviously been a lot of military activity at this location since the photo was taken.

So where are Henry Mortimer and his fellow sailors actually buried? After years of searching and tracking down false leads, we do not seem any closer to finding the answer. But we haven't given up the hunt. In fact on-site inspection of the site of the fire control station above Battery Duncan suggests a slightly different placement than is shown in the 1925 photo, so there still may be a graveyard there.

The Sausalito-Indian Navy

TUESDAY, JULY 12, 2011

Compiled by Larry Clinton

n the early morning hours of November 20, 1969, American Indians set out to occupy Alcatraz Island, following a failed earlier attempt. What few people recall is that they were transported to The Rock by a “navy” of Sausalito waterfront types, including no name bartender Peter Bowen and sailor/photojournalist Brooks Townes.  The following recollection is excerpted from their monograph “The Sausalito-Indian Navy.”
Peter Bowen (l.) and Brooks Townes aboard Peter’s boat the SEAWEED in Sausalito Yacht Harbor on the 30th anniversary of landing the Indians on Alcatraz.  Photo courtesy of Brooks Townes

Peter Bowen (l.) and Brooks Townes aboard Peter’s boat the SEAWEED in Sausalito Yacht Harbor on the 30th anniversary of landing the Indians on Alcatraz.

Photo courtesy of Brooks Townes

At about 1:00 a.m., two men came into the bar and asked forBrooks and me.  One was large, not particularly tall, but broad across the beam.  He wore a flat brimmed, high, round-top black cowboy hat with a colorful feather stuck in its band, and a red serape.  The other, bareheaded, burly and compact, carried himself with a kind of tough swagger, under which lurked a smoldering dignity they both shared.  [Al] Miller introduced himself and his friend, Richard Oakes.  We had a couple of drinks and went over the ground rules. . .

In the meantime, it being a quiet night at the bar and pretty brisk outside, a couple dozen Indians had come into the bar behind Miller and Oakes.  Customers fell silent and stared.   . . they were young, some underage to be in the bar, and some in traditional Indian dress. . . At a word from me, Oakes eased most of them back outside.  He urged they keep a low profile. . .

We all soon went outside.  The Indians were assembling – and disassembling – in the big parking lots along Sausalito’s downtown waterfront.  . . When the prowl cars drifted near, searchlights probing, the Indians would vanish, melting into the night like the fog that appeared and disappeared around hills and waterfront. . .

Once across Bridgeway, in the parking lots, we were surrounded by Indians.  There were 92 with blanket rolls, sleeping bags, knapsacks of belongings, bags of food, bundles of cooking gear. . . We decided there was no way we could make the whole thing in one trip. We decided on second trips for [Bob] Teft’s and my boats while Oakes and Miller organized the Indians into groups for each trip.  Then Mary [Crowley] made a discovery: the engine on her borrowed cutter was not working; she was going to have to make the trip under sail.  That also meant she’d likely only be able to make one trip and that one could be tough.  Sailing at night, overloaded with Indians, braving the notorious black currents around the Rock and making a safe landing would be a challenge for any skipper.  Mary wasn’t “any skipper.”

We packed them into the boats like cordwood. . . The Indians would pile down onto the finger piers until their feet were underwater. The piers would support only about ten people. Meanwhile, the Sausalito police were still on land dashing hither and yon trying to locate crowds of people who continued to vanish like wisps of smoke. . .

We were trying to keep everyone quiet. Along every dock live-aboards were trying to sleep. “Hey, what’s that?! Lookout there! “ one of our crowd shouted, pointing across the water toward Alcatraz several miles away. It appeared Alcatraz was ablaze with dozens of very bright white lights. . .”God, how’d we ever count on so many people being able to keep their mouths shut?” Brooks said. . . Visions of confiscated boats danced in the air.

In the papers, the Feds had made it clear they’d make it hard on Indians – and anyone who helped them – who landed on the Rock.  It seemed entirely likely our plans had been leaked. And, the Indians had just ten days earlier promised in a press conference they’d be back . . .

A friend in an outboard skiff ran Brooks out into the bay where he could better see what was up.  The lights, he was relieved to discover, were on huge sand dredge working in the ship channel about half way out to The Rock – directly in line between Alcatraz and Sausalito.  Whew. . .

Bob, Mary and I agreed it was wise to head out first toward Belvedere/Tiburon, leaving the dredge and Alcatraz well to the west, then – when the boats’ running lights would be lost in the clutter of lights ashore in Berkeley and neighboring towns -- we’d douse our running lights and make for The Rock.

We cast off and motored quietly out of the harbor, running lights aglow.  The casual observer might think we were yachtsmen getting an early start on a vacation – we hoped.  Just outside the harbor entrance, I stepped on one of the blanket rolls stowed in the rear of SEAWEED’s cockpit.  A modified squeal erupted.  Richard Oakes had broken my no-children rule.  His eleven or twelve year old daughter Yvonne was in that blanket, but it was too late to turn back.  Later, I would question myself deeply about not turning around at that moment.  Weeks later, Yvonne would be killed [in a fall] on The Rock. . .

So, in the dark morning hours of that November day, the three boats of “The Indian Navy” ferried 92 adults and at least two children to the most formidable and inhospitable piece of real estate anywhere near San Francisco Bay.  For prisoners who had been incarcerated there and their guards, I imagine that the thing that drove them most was the notion that one day whey might return to a more livable place. . . Our passengers planned to live out there; the difference was that these people saw Alcatraz as the symbol of new hope – for themselves, for a people too long forgotten and invisible to most of white America.

The Sea Lion and the Sculptor   photographer unknown

The Sea Lion And The Sculptor


by Bill Kirsch

The Sea Lion and the Sculptor   photographer unknown

The Sea Lion and the Sculptor   photographer unknown

“The Sea Lion and the Sculptor” will be a book about the late Al Sybrian, the sculptor who made the sea lion on the waterfront in Sausalito.  It was created in 1957 and has since become the internationally recognized symbol for Sausalito, much the same as the “Little Mermaid” in Copenhagen. 

Al was a creative, soulful, reflective person who recorded his thoughts about himself, life, art and relationships in an insightful, profound and interesting manner.  He exchanged extensive correspondence with his myriad of friends over the decades and meticulously preserved his writings, sketches and photographs in journals. 

Al eventually moved away from Sausalito due to the rising rent costs and he continued to be a prolific sculptor.  One day, he had a car accident on his way to buy art supplies. During the final months of his life he entrusted his friends sculptor Mike Rice and myself with his personal effects and requested they assemble his life’s work in a manner that would benefit his only son Joseph, who was born late in Al’s life. 

We intend to create a photographic book that will include his sculptures, drawings, writing and stories about Al and his friends at a time of artistic renaissance in Sausalito and San Francisco.

Al left a wealth of writings in his journals and a few quotes from them follow:


“Gloom is a bore.  Despair is detestable.  Both are too easy.   Good cheer takes intelligence – or outright idiocy.   Not all idiocy in unbeneficial – not all intelligence is harmful.  As we go down the slide, it would be good to make a final smile or two.   There’s undetermined hope in a smile”


“Time takes and gives.  Keep your ears open to the concept of time as a giver and a receiver.  You give it your life, literally – it gives you the essence of wealth you were intended to have if allowed.  From this point of view, a love affair with time is easily conceivable”


“The poet is a song; a song is never replaced.  Displaced for a while perhaps, but comes back when the breeze swings south.  A song is like water existing on a looping course and absolutely essential – who is it that lives without it?”


“If I had taken the way of the San Bruno tract house and security by rote,  I would never have known Sciocette or Belloc or Kanenson or Jinx or Tashi or Bleeker or Beckman or Berkowitz or Carlson or Mike & Jill or Draper, etc, etc … my treasury of friends and acquaintances – knowing them is undoubtedly the better part of what I am.”


I look forward to the creation of this book, it will be the legacy of Al’s life in words and pictures and a gift to his son Joseph.    An Al Sybrian website will be available soon and we will be sending out a letter inviting people to participate and contribute to the project.  If you are interested or know someone who might be, please contact me at bill@kirschart.com or call 888-3919.       

Nothing Changes - Parking Problems in 1958


by Annie Sutter

This story is from the Argonaut Magazine published in April 1958.

Parking in Sausalito

The only really upsetting thing we've found in Sausalito is in the parking situation. It isn't that there isn't plenty of parking space even on a busy Sunday, and it isn't that meters are improperly handled, or that the SPD isn't on the job. It is simply that the major municipal parking lot would seem to be the largest money making operation in town.

Judging by a recent Sunday visit, the income on a good day might well run into a considerable amount of money in a very short time. By actual count, we watched the cop on the motorcycle beat write fifteen tickets in something under thirty minutes which is quite an interesting performance.

The reason for this is a large sign which is reproduced in the picture portion of this issue. It is plainly visible at the entrance to the parking lot, and it has arrows pointing toward the two hour limit portion of the lot and to the all day parking area. The two hour portion is quite clearly laid out with meters which adequately handle the situation. The all day portion is another matter.

Off to one side, and very easily missed, is a little mechanical box which dispenses tickets at two-bits each which are meant to be left on the front seats of cars left in the area. On top of the little box is a smaller sign with instructions for parking in the all day lot. By observation, two out of every three people driving into the lot miss it entirely. The cost for a vacant front seat in parked cars, we presume, is the usual $2. This multiplied by a weekend crowd would suggest civic improvements paid in advance for some time to come.

* * * *

The next item about parking is from the book Saucelito/$ausalito by George Hoffman.

As commercialization continued, parking meters were installed. This was predictable. At first there were only a few meters, but soon there were more, reaching out from the hub farther and farther like insidious tentacles. Then the city had to hire a man to attend the meters. They got a good man, honest, strict and ruthless. But he was entirely lacking in public relations and common sense judgment. He had peripheral vision that could spot a red flag on a meter around a corner. His ear could hear the click of the hand three blocks away. In his first week on duty he got writer's cramp, then he trained himself to be ambidextrous. The city's treasury swelled as his zeal increased. His reputation grew rapidly throughout town. There was no leniency. He was as relentless as the nearby tide. Red means revenue. He couldn’t be talked out of a ticket if the sound of the hand was still in the air. He had freon in his veins and made more enemies in a week than Christ made friends in his lifetime.

Downtown Sausalito in the 1950s - Part II


by Annie Sutter

Marin Hardware and the Purity Market

The following stories are taken from the bookSaucelito/$au$alito by George Hoffman. The Purity Market today is the site of a shopping center called "The Old Purity Market Shops," and the Marin Hardware store was located next to it.

One outstanding business establishment in Sausalito was the Marin Hardware Store. It was a half block down Bridgeway from Jan's on the water side of the street. The hardware store was narrow and dark, with an aisle from the door straight back to the counter fifty feet inside. It was not an easy aisle to walk in, because of the stock cluttering the floor. Mr. Loudon, the owner, took great pride in this stock and deserved his county wide reputation: "If Loudon doesn't have it, forget it." But storing such a vast amount of material made problems, especially for a small space and a man who had no talent for order. The counters were piled high and precarious with the latest shipment dumped on top. It didn't matter what the box contained. But despite the hodge-podge arrangement the store was a miracle of supply and clerks could always locate a request. It took a little time, but the surprise of finding the item was worth something. And it provided time for a chat.

Mr. Loudon was a huge man, always with a cheerful smile, his head nodding in agreement. His philosophy was simple: satisfy a customer, if there's any profit so much the better. He did an awful lot of business, but not much profit showed on the books. This was mainly due to the number of broken, stepped on, lost or misplaced items. This didn't bother him. His world was hardware, lots of it, and having it available. Pyrex and other glass items were stored upstairs in a room with no shelves. A hundred or more boxes of various items were strewn on the floor, some spilling their contents, making it an acrobatic trick to walk without stepping on glass.

Back of the store was an area that reached to the water's edge. This wasn't wasted space. It was covered with enough material to prefabricate a dam. Thousands of red clay garden pots, wheel barrows, bales of peat, moss and manure, buckets, fencing, screen, cloth, baling wire and other items were stored back there. There was an old garden swing facing the bay where clerks from other stores often sat to eat their lunch. It was a sunny and quiet refuge, except for the seagulls who knew that scraps of bread came from people sitting there.

Courtesy of the Sausalito Historical Society

Courtesy of the Sausalito Historical Society

Next to the hardware store was the Purity Market. This was the only general grocery store in town. Located in a huge, oval topped, corrugated metal quonset building, it had a parking lot next door. The Purity store was well liked. Although it was one of a huge chain of stores, it had a homey feeling to it. It was not large, all the clerks were local, the manager was a native of Sausalito, the butchers knew everybody and all customers knew each other. It was a very important business establishment, and although they had a monopoly in town the prices weren't high because the manager wouldn't be a part of it. The policy at Sausalito Purity was dictated by the manager mainly, and not by a hard and fast rule from Chicago. This was one store where it was safe to say that everybody shopped. The floor was like an old school room; heavily oiled, dark, worn in places and squeaky. The butcher counter was near the entrance so there was always a trickle of sawdust where you entered, and tracks leading further in. A favorite drinking fountain dispensed icy water that came through pipes within the heavily walled refrigerated meat storage room. Stepping into the store, you were immediately greeted by a friend; customer or clerk. Dotty, one of the veteran clerks, was one of those people who wore a perpetual smile that had a different expression for different people. She was as cheerful as daisies and dependable as gravity. Scotty, the manager, was a large man with thick, black hair that he constantly brushed back from his face. He always seemed to rise up from behind a display counter nearby when you wanted him.

What would be classified as a phenomenon today, was the manner in which the parking lot next to the store was operated. It was not policed, lined off, or attended in any way. Residents used the lot at will, but no one abused it. It's doubtful if ever a fender was bumped or a door scratched. It held only twenty cars, but it served a thousand a day. The consideration for each other was unwritten and infectious. On Saturdays the shoppers hurried through, always with an eye on the parking lot to see if anybody was waiting to get in. No one waited long.

Downtown Sausalito in the 1950s


by Annie Sutter

Jan's coffee shop was on El Portal facing the park and today is the site of an art gallery. The Port Hole was at 753 Bridgeway and Duke's was next door. Today it is the site of  the Holiday Shoppe.

Jan's Coffee Shop, The Port Hole, Duke's Plumbing

From the Historical Society's files, “The Port Hole Tailor, once located here, is remembered as a dark and cluttered shop where one could buy almost ...

From the Historical Society's files, “The Port Hole Tailor, once located here, is remembered as a dark and cluttered shop where one could buy almost ...

In 1950 there were three restaurants in downtown Sausalito. None sold liquor, and only one served beer and wine. One such restaurant, or lunch counter, was Jan's, located in a drugstore on the corner of Bridgeway and El Portal. The food counter was back of forty feet of glass directly facing the park. Sitting there, drinking coffee, one had a view of the park and more than half of the business district. This didn't mean you had a large, sweeping view, but rather there wasn't much business district to see. But it was a nice place to drink coffee and meet friends, and before you finished a cup you could see who was downtown and where they had been by the packages they carried.  If Jan wanted to charge what the coffee was worth she could have made a fortune. But she didn't. All customers were friends. Things evened out at Jan's. Leaving a nickel for coffee and walking away, she'd shout at you, "Hey, wait a minute. Cy paid for your coffee yesterday, and so did you." After a huge lunch of her prize lentil soup and a plate consisting of bright crisp salad, a portion of the casserole of the day, refreshing sherbet and maybe a piece of banana bread, you paid, but never left a tip. The place had a similar feeling to eating at home.

Glancing to the right you had an unobstructed view of the sandspit and the bay. Looking up Bridgeway to the left, you saw the city hall, a clothing store, a butcher shop, a bank, a hardware store, a plumbing shop and the Port Hole. The latter was an institution; a necessity. Its entrance was deceiving, for the door was narrow, and you couldn't see far inside. But once you entered, the walls led you through corridors that branched out into various rooms and closets each stocked heavily with clothing of all descriptions; new, used, abused, mended, fisherman's foul weather gear, work clothes, shoes, boots, galoshes, each with their individual color. It was also a cleaning, pressing and mending establishment. These latter garments after being neatly cleaned and pressed, hung from the ceiling. Ernie, the owner, was a thin, pale man, with a pained smile, always sweatered in navy blue and wearing a green eye shade. He was particular about distinguishing between clothes to be sold and clothes to be cleaned and repaired. In the Port Hole that wasn't easy, but he never lost an article left for cleaning, nor made a mistake. Sometimes a garment hung for years; he didn't mind. His system was simple. Anything hanging from the ceiling was not for sale. And that was considerable. There was an overwhelming number of suits, dresses and overcoats bearing down on you wherever you walked. Beside wearing apparel, the Port Hole had fishing gear. The bamboo fishing rods standing in a wooden barrel poked up through the alphabetical 'H's' of cleaned and pressed garments. How Ernie ever got those poles inside the store through the maze of crowded corridors was a puzzle.

Cora, the calm, diligent, dependable lady who did the cleaning, pressing and mending was indispensable to the town. She was always there, standing behind the hissing pressing machine, sitting at the sewing machine or fitting a garment for alteration. The sound of the escaping steam and the odor of damp cloth was familiar to everyone. Some residents after being away for a long period of time would return to say hello and walk through the shop to satisfy their nostalgia.

Next to the Port Hole was a plumbing shop. Duke, the owner, was an unusual man in the 1950s; in the 1970s he would be unique. Duke was a plumber who enjoyed sharing the mysteries of his craft with laymen. This didn't endear him to colleagues, but it did to citizens. The windows of the shop had the usual display of sinks, faucets and fittings, which to Duke were not put there to entice customers, but because it was the safest place to store new and shiny goods. Once up the few steps and inside the shop you quickly learned that order and neatness was not Duke's greatest feature. Scattered over the floor were piles of four inch cast iron tees and ells and closet bends, sections of pipes, boxes of oakum, mounds of lead, plumber's pots and other tools. Overhead, but not far out of reach, were long sections of water pipes, both copper and galvanized steel. On one wall were bins of small fittings, another wall had a long work table showing scars of many years service, stained black from cutting oil. A huge pipe vise at one end with its hardened, intractable jaws and long, smooth handle showed heavy work and dependability. Leaning against the table were various sized pipe threaders. The smell of oakum, hot lead, cutting oil, pipe compound, butane exhaust, coffee, Duke's pipe and a little sweat all marinated together to make a distinct odor of work and material. The hissing plumber's furnace and the ratchety click of pipe threader were familiar sounds to everyone entering the shop.

The True Story of Mutiny on the Bounty


By Larry Clinton

[I hope you’ll join us Thursday evening, April 7 for a showing of the classic 1935 movie Mutiny on the Bounty starring Charles Laughton and Clark Gable.  To set the stage for the film, here’s some historic perspective, relating the time frame of the story to Sausalito’s own maritime history.]


The true incident which inspired the movie Mutiny on the Bounty occurred aboard the British Royal Navy ship HMS Bounty onApril 28, 1789 – years after the Spanish first discovered San Francisco Bay. 

The first European to enter the bay is believed to have been the Spanish explorer Juan de Ayala, who passed through the Golden Gate on August 5, 1775 in his ship the San Carlos, and moored off Angel Island in what is now known as Ayala Cove. Early Spanish explorers called the settlement to the South YerbaBuena, and the jot of land to the north Saucito (little willow), from the small willow trees growing along the stream banks of this area.  That name evolved into “Saucelito,” and ultimately “Sausalito,” as reported in the Historical Society’s Sausalito book.

In 1776, Colonel Juan Bautista de Anza founded the first European settlement in the Bay Area by establishing a military garrison, or Presidio, in Yerba Buena. That same year the Franciscan Order built Mission Dolores.

On the whaler Gay Head, we see men laid out on the main topgallant yard of a typical mid-19th-century whaler rigged as a bark.  Photo courtesy of San Francisco Maritime Museum.

On the whaler Gay Head, we see men laid out on the main topgallant yard of a typical mid-19th-century whaler rigged as a bark.

Photo courtesy of San Francisco Maritime Museum.

Meanwhile, British merchant ships like the HMS Bounty were trading all over the world.

Under the command of Captain William Bligh, the Bounty and her crew were collecting and preparing breadfruit plants in Tahiti, which they planned to transport to the West Indies (today’s Caribbean) in hopes of transplanting them there to become a cheap source of food for slaves.

According to the website moviefone.com, the sailors were attracted to the idyllic life on Tahiti and repelled by the alleged cruelty of their captain.  Master's Mate and Acting Lieutenant Fletcher Christian married a Tahitian woman, and others followed suit.  EventuallyFletcher Christian and other mutineers set Captain Bligh and most of those loyal to him afloat in a small boat that began an epic journey to Timor in the Dutch East Indies (modern Indonesia). The mutineers then settled, some in Tahiti in 1789, others on Pitcairn Island, with Tahitians they had befriended.

To find out how this story ends, you’ll need to come see the film on April 7.

Meanwhile, Sausalito had become a seafaring center on its own. After establishing the first independent homestead in Yerba Buena, Captain William Richardson became Port Captain, and began directing visiting ships to Saucito for fresh water.  In 1838, Richardson married the daughter of the Commandante of El Presidio and was given a land grant across the Bay which became Rancho del Sausalito.  During its heyday, whaling ships bound for the Pacific were attracted to the protected deep-water anchorage off Old Town, which became known as Whaler’s Cove.

However, by the mid-1800s, the shipping industry had moved to San Francisco, Sacramento, and other areas, according to Jack Tracy’s book Moments in Time.  Sausalito began settling into its dual role as a fishing village and bedroom community until the advent of ferries and trains turned it into a transit hub near the end of the 19th Century. That era lasted until the completion of the Golden Gate Bridge in 1937 made the trains (and, temporarily, the ferries) obsolete.

[The April 7 showing of Mutiny on the Bounty  is a fundraiser for the Sausalito Historical Society and the Spaulding Wooden Boat Center. Donations will be accepted at the door. Doors open at 6:00 at Spaulding WoodenBoat Center, foot of Gate 5 Road, for a no-host barbeque & beverages & popcorn, plus self-guided tours of the facility.  The film will be shown at dusk outdoors, so bring a blanket.]

Memories of Juanita

FRIDAY, MARCH 11, 2011

By Larry Clinton

Juanita Musson Press Democrat

Juanita Musson
Press Democrat

Juanita Musson, the colorful former Sausalito restaurateuse, died February 26 at Sonoma Valley Hospital following a stroke 10 days earlier. She was 87.

“By her own account, Juanita Musson has opened and closed 11 restaurants since the 1950s,” wrote S.F. Chronicle critic Grace Ann Walden in 2002. “The first was Juanita’s Galley located on Gate 5 Road in Sausalito and another was in an old ferryboat nearby.” That ferryboat was the legendary Charles van Damme, which had been beached off Gate 6 Road at Waldo Point. Walden recalled: “She ruled the kitchen in her flowing muumuu turning out sumptuous feasts of roast turkey and prime rib. . . She was ribald, eccentric and a damn good cook.”

The Santa Rosa Press Democrat recalled that “While in Sausalito, Juanita befriended madam and eventual mayor Sally Stanford. Often enough Juanita was asked if she’d worked for Stanford and she’d reply, ‘I never charged a nickel from a horizontal position.’”

According to the Arcadia Book “Sausalito,” compiled by the Historical Society, “Juanita frankly called her place a ‘dive.’  

“The Galley opened at 5:00 a.m., and catered to fishermen.  Animals, including a rescued fawn, wandered around the place.  If upset with a cantankerous customer, Juanita was just as likely to throw a rolling pin or a skillet at him as serve him.” Expectations for service were defined by Juanita’s “House Rules,”  a copy of which is preserved in the Historical Society’s archives.  Patrons were required to pour their own coffee and to write out their food selections on order pads, which proudly proclaimed, “Our food guaranteed – but not the disposition of the cook.”

Customers were also invited to specify their desired level of service: Slow, Don’t Care, or Damn Big Rush. However, Juanita added the caveat: “Doesn’t mean that you still get what you ask for – But check any one that will make you feel better.”

There was no complaining about the quality of the food.  Juanita’s unofficial motto was “Eat it or wear it.” No one was exempt from these rules – from Hell’s Angels to local officials.  As reported in the “Sausalito” book: “It’s a known fact that a local police officer, tired of waiting for his hamburger, left the Galley without paying.  Juanita followed him and threw his hamburger through his squad car window.” 

Juanita flees the fatal fire that destroyed the Fetter’s Hot Springs Hotel in 1975.   Photo Courtesy of the Sausalito Historical Society.

Juanita flees the fatal fire that destroyed the Fetter’s Hot Springs Hotel in 1975.
Photo Courtesy of the Sausalito Historical Society.

In the 1960s, Juanita left Sausalito and opened a series of destination restaurants in the North Bay.  The first two, in El Verano and then Fetters Hot Springs, burned down around her.  But the buoyant, busty hostess kept resurfacing in new incarnations, and loyal fans followed her to such far-flung locales as Port Costa and Willets.  She eventually retired to a dilapidated cabin on the grounds of the burnt-out Fetters Hot Springs Hotel. When developers took over the property and began eviction proceedings in 2002, the Sausalito Historical Society staged a get-together and silent auction that raised $1,900 to help her relocate.

Her final years were spent at a retirement home in Agua Caliente.  According to her obituary in the Santa Rosa Press Democrat, “Juanita, who dressed every day in a colorful muumuu and placed a decorative comb in her grayed hair, greeted every visitor and read to each resident his or her daily newspaper horoscope.”

The home’s administrator told the Press Democrat: “Juanita also hounded the staff to make certain they provided for the residence’s pet bird. Even if the bird had enough food and water, she’d yell at you to make sure they were full to the top. She didn’t really have a censor. She was the light of the Villa. She was the nurturer.” What a fitting epitaph.  Juanita’s last wishes were for no memorial service.  Her ashes will be scattered in the Bay off Sausalito.

Of course, there are many more fabulous Juanita stories, and the Historical Society would like to collect them.  If you have a particular memory you’d like to share, please send it to info@sausalitohistoricalsociety.org. And we’ll add it to our archives

Keeping History Alive


By Larry Clinton

Last fall, the Historical Society officially launched a schools program with the third grade classes from Bayside School and Willow Creek Academy, and with the support of the Sausalito Public School District. The program includes classroom visits and field trips led by SHS docents.

During the classroom presentation, docents introduce students to the history of Sausalito using books, artifacts and "Then and Now" student workbooks filled with photos, maps, historical facts and space for the students to add their own research notes. The teachers then work with the students to research a particular building or site and write a paragraph on what they learned about their building and what it tells them about the history of the town. 

Bayside School third graders proudly display photos from their field trip, after receiving congratulations from teacher Paula Hammons(l.) and Historical Society members including Schools Program co-chairs Susan Frank (second from right, top row), and Bob Woodrum (bottom right).

Bayside School third graders proudly display photos from their field trip, after receiving congratulations from teacher Paula Hammons(l.) and Historical Society members including Schools Program co-chairs Susan Frank (second from right, top row), and Bob Woodrum (bottom right).

On the field trips, docents lead students, teachers and parents on a tour of the areas and buildings the students are in the process of researching. Students also have their photos taken in front of their chosen building or site.  The classes then have lunch in either Marinship or Gabrielson Park and enjoy an ice cream treat. 

Historic sites visited by the third-graders last Fall include the Ice House, Viña del Mar Park, and the present-day Sausalito Hotel, Winship’s Restaurant, Don Olsen Associates, Jewelry By the Bay, Scoma’s, Horizons, Galerie Engelstad, Georgiou Boutique, Marin Fruit Company, Crazy Shirts, Gene Hiller Menswear and Poggio Trattoria.

In a final awards ceremony involving both classes, school administrators and parents, students receive recognition of their accomplishments in the form of framed photos from their field trips and their written research, courtesy ofthe Sausalito Historical Society and Sausalito Picture Framing.

With the cooperation of the Sausalito School District, teachers and parents, the SHS conducted two programs in 2010, with two more in the Spring and Fall of 2011. The Society plans to continue this program with two programs each subsequent year, focusing on different aspects of Sausalito history.  Each program involves approximately 40-50 students, over a dozen docents, numerous parents, school administrators and local businesses.

Assessing the effectiveness of last year's programs, teacher Paula Hammons of Bayside School wrote: "Thank you ever so much for the wonderful field trip experience: exploring Sausalito's downtown historic district.   The children (and adults) were engaged and stimulated by the wealth of information you shared.  We all learned a great deal.  Your impeccable preparation helped to make this a memorable day for all of us." 

Willow Creek teacher Ann Siskin added: “My third grade social studies curriculum and instruction would not be the same without this exceptional educational partnership! The program has provided students with hands-on, experiential learning opportunities that help bring our community’s history alive.  The program has encouraged memorable learning for every student.” And Superintendent Debra Bradley summed up the impact of the program with "I cannot say enough about the Sausalito Historical Society and how their efforts have brought richness to our students in both historical exposure, and personalized recognition to each of our students. Needless to say, the parents are thrilled as well and attend the recognition assembly with cameras in hand."

Feedback like this is the best measure of the program's success.

SHS  members contributed over $3,400 to offset the costs of last year's program, in response to a year end fundraising letter. Waterstreet Hardware, Lappert's Ice Cream and Sausalito Picture Framing provided in-kind donations to help with last year's programs.

Sally calls her lawyer.


By Doris Berdahl
Sally Stanford www.marinnostaglia.com

Sally Stanford

In the past few weeks, this column, assisted by a bulging file of newspaper clippings in the SHS archives, has recalled the 20-year period in the 1960s and ’70s when former San Francisco madam Sally Stanford did her star turn on the Sausalito political stage. In the early years, running for Sausalito City Council under her legal name, Marsha Owen, Sally frequently employed one of her favorite campaign strategies: threatening to sue. In fact, once it was more than a threat.

After her narrow defeat in her first run for council in 1962, it didn’t take Sally long to pick herself up, dust herself off and plan her next assault on those she perceived as her enemies. Within a month of the ’62 election, she was asking that the voter registration list and the ballots of that year be impounded, claiming that her “interests and prerogatives” had been “flagrantly violated.” Writing to the city manager, she declared “there’s something rotten in Denmark” and demanded to see for herself if everything had been run “fair and square.”

According to the San Francisco Chronicle, she pointed out that 589 of her mailing pieces had been returned by the post office. She charged that her poll watchers had been “pushed out the door” of the Sausalito Woman’s Club and Christ Episcopal polling stations. A week earlier, the Chronicle had reported complaints from polling officials at those sites, who claimed that Stanford’s poll watchers had “sat down at the counting desks” and proceeded to “lean over the backs of the workers and breathe down their necks.”

In 1962, no legal action was attempted by Sally’s forces. But two years later, in the 1964 election, she again ended out of the winner’s circle, losing to Carl Gabrielson, a corporate executive; Mel Wax, a San Francisco newspaperman; and O’Hara Chapin, homemaker and member of the Sausalito Library board. The context of these losses is noteworthy. Both in ’62 and ’64, she took a dual approach to campaigning — unabashedly exploiting the vote-getting power of her former profession, at the same time running on a strong civic betterment platform. For the most part it contained conventional public improvement ideas and even some favorite planks of the environmentalists, normally her sworn enemies. More fire protection. Better policing. A local medical facility. More recreational areas. Limiting the spread of high-rise, multi-unit dwellings. Preserving the open beauty of Sausalito’s waterfront. (On the last two goals, her motives were clearly mixed. It certainly didn’t hurt that, if achieved, they would help preserve the bay views from her Valhalla restaurant. But, to give her credit, she ultimately put up much of the funding that kept development off Sausalito’s southern waterfront.) Included were several of her laissez-faire, pro-development themes, disguised in thinly veiled euphemisms , e.g., “fair and equitable” zoning laws. And in the splashy half-page ads she ran throughout her campaigns, her no-nonsense voice always came through, loud and clear: “Put a stop to some of the city council’s more outlandish follies!!”

In fact, so sober and businesslike was her campaign rhetoric that Chronicle columnist Lucius Beebe, long a fan of her earlier persona — before she abandoned San Francisco for solid citizenship in Sausalito — lamented that she’d had to embrace a “dreary standard of civic virtue, a melancholy degree of morality” in order to satisfy the demands of “that largely cheerless suburb across the Golden Gate Bridge.”

However, no amount of civic virtue and morality deterred a feisty Marsha Owen from filing suit in Marin Superior Court on May 12, 1964, claiming that the victorious candidates in the council election of that year were ineligible to take their seats, that illegal votes had been cast and that certain precinct boards were guilty of misconduct. She demanded that the ostensible winners relinquish their seats and be required to pay her court costs.

Her lawsuit came to nothing, and the defendants ultimately served their terms of office. But Beebe was no doubt heartened by the sight of the ex-madam sallying forth to do battle with the “sanctimonious ancients,” the “bogus artists, unsuccessful practitioners of belles letters, and self-identified aesthetes” of Sausalito who’d opposed her candidacy.

It took Sally three more tries before she won the chance to test his firmly-held conviction: that her presence at City Hall would profit Sausalito far more than the “gaggle of failures in beards who are now the town’s chief claim to Bohemian fame.”

Next time: Persistence pays off.

Sausalito’s Sea Lion


By George Hoffman

The following column is excerpted from George Hoffman’s 1976 book “Saucelito-$au$alito- Legends and tales of a changing town.”
That bronze sculptured sea lion sitting proud and defiant off shore at Hearst point, was put permanently in place in 1966. But it has a history of several years before that, when its counterpart existed in concrete and haydite.

Sea Lion drawing by Bill Dempster from “Saucelito-$au$alito.”

Sea Lion drawing by Bill Dempster from “Saucelito-$au$alito.”

Al Sybrian is the sculptor responsible for the Sea Lion. Al was well known in Sausalito for his drawings, stone walls, drinking and conversation. He was good in all, and often excelled in the latter two. He could drop in to say hello of an afternoon and make his goodbyes five days later. The walls he built were works of art. Al lived in a small house directly beneath the old Hearst wall, which is half way between Ondine Restaurant and Valhalla. From his house he could see sea lions on the rocks not over a hundred feet away. He sketched them endlessly. One day in 1957 he talked to a neighbor, Mr. Gratama, and said he would like to make a sculpture of a sea lion to be placed or waterfront, but he had no money for materials.

“How much will it take?”

“I don’t know. Maybe a hundred dollars.”

Mr. Gratama talked to Julie Sweet [and other neighbors]. Together they put up the money. Al set to work immediately. The half finished wall he was working on would have to wait. When Al was inspired his concentration never wavered. Within three months he had finished. He notified his benefactors and they came to see what he had done. They were amazed. Instantly they recognized it as being a good work of art. They all knew of Al’s ability, but now they were looking at an accomplishment that just a short time before was only a promise. The sculpture stood four feet high, molded in concrete with the slight pink color from haydite. The lines were graceful, yet pronounced, and the turn of the head was a position familiar to everyone who has ever watched sea lions. The party exclaimed profusely, and like thousands since, could not keep their hands off of it. It had that appeal.
The statue sat around for a few months while Al and his benefactors wondered what to do with it, where best to display it. The most obvious spot was overlooked for a long time until [Lawrence] Steese happened by.

“Public land, on the waterfront,” he said. “Right outside your door. On top of that old manhole cover down there. It gets covered up during high tides, so we can get it out there during a low one. Perfect place. When do you want to do it?”
“During the next low tide,” said Al.

A phone call or two got enough friends to carry the sea lion down the rocky beach and put her in place. It was 1 a.m. when they accomplished the task. The next morning a traffic jam occurred on Bridgeway as commuters stopped to view the new occupant of the waterfront.
For eight years she sat there unperturbed, indomitable, giving joy and satisfaction to viewers. Her grace and silence became a trademark. Homeward bound weary commuters got a lift when viewing her, children played on her back, thousands of pictures were taken of her by tourists and townspeople. She was growing as popular as Denmark’s Little Mermaid. But the sea lion wasn’t made of good material. High tides, winds, battering logs and debris during winter storms had been beating against her unprotected sides, taking their toll. The sea lion was breaking up. Cracks in the concrete grew larger, pieces were falling off.

Al looked the sculpture over one day and announced was going to destroy it. As the creator he had the right to do it, and his heart told him he must.
Enid Foster, the grand dame of Sausalito artists, heard about it and knowing Al, she knew he would do it. She immediately wrote the city council asking for funds to cast the statue in bronze. An outcry from many residents was heard, so the council, in their charitable wisdom, agreed to contribute $100 and made a plea that the citizens get behind the effort to make it a community project. The job would cost $3,000, of which the artist would get $700. That was a fair price, for there was much work to do. Al would have to make a mold from what was left of the statue.

Weeks went by. A few contributions trickled in, mainly from artists. Sybrian had moved the original sculpture to San Francisco in the expectation that funds would come in.  He was getting discouraged. Then the Sausalito Foundation put up the money and the project was completed.
So in 1966 a bronze sea lion was placed in her present position.

Al Sybrian wasn’t present on the day of official dedication. He was in San Francisco helping Steese install a new vat for Steam Beer. A more important mission.

“Saucelito-$au$alito” is part of the permanent collection of the Historical Society, and can also be checked out from the Sausalito Library.

Neil Davis. Vs. Sally Stanford


By Larry Clinton

Sally Stanford ran into some stiff opposition when she began her political career, as evidenced in the following article, which is excerpted from the San Francisco Chronicle of April 9, 1962.

A Bartender Tees Off On Sally

The proprietor of the avant garde no Name Bar became the first man in Sausalito yesterday to tangle politically with ex-madam Sally Stanford.

Neil Davis, a gentle philosopher and mixologist, charged Sally’s election to the city council would make as much sense as “appointing Elizabeth Taylor our ambassador to the Vatican.”

Sausalito Historical Society

Sausalito Historical Society

Retorted Sally: “From what I read in the papers I doubt Liz would qualify for the job, whereas I know my way around City Hall.”

Davis poured himself a straight shot in his bar before hurling his political darts at the one time keeper ofSan Francisco’s swankiest bordellos.

(Seven men running against Sally for two council seats in tomorrow’s election have meticulously avoided dueling with the quick-witted ex-madam.)

“All of a sudden I find it very refreshing that Polly Adler just faded away and avoided politics,” Davis began.

The wail of Miles Davis’ trumpet provided background music for the barkeep’s political dissertation.


“Anyone that has ever attended council meetings,” Davis continued, “knows that Sally and the council, especially the mayor, have not been involved in one of the great love affairs of our time.

“She has called them everything in the book.  With this in mind I think the voters of Sausalito will be well aware of the fact that a vote for Sally could only result in chaotic, riotous and bitter council meetings.”

Sally, twirling a huge diamond ring on her finger, survived the initial shock of the Davis charges and launched a sharp-tongued counter attack. . . So far as her relations with Mayor Philip Ehrlich are concerned, Sally said it was “the man’s actions, not the man, that annoy the hell out of me.

“In fact, I think Phil Ehrlich’s rather handsome. With proper tutelage he might grow up,” she snapped.

As for the Davis charge that she would convert the council meetings, if elected, into a chaotic, riotous and bitter affair, Sally had a ready reply.

“I won’t if they shape up and fly right,” she said.

Neil Davis will share memories of some of the legendary characters who frequented the No Name from 1959-1973 in a talk sponsored by the Historical Society on Monday evening, Jan. 31.  The event will be in City Hall Council chambers beginning with light refreshments at 5 PM.  Admission is free for SHS members, $10 for non-members.  Advance reservations are required.  Call 415-289-4117 or e-mail info@sausalitohistoricalsociety.org.