2014 SHS MarinScope Columns

Jumbo and Pee-Wee welcome visitors to Sausalito

Weekly history columns in the Sausalito MarinScope are provided from the archives of the Sausalito Historical Society.

Written by members and friends of the Society these columns provide an in depth look into many unusual and little known facts and stories about the people and places of Sausalito.  


Sausalito encounters deadly storm in 1982

December 19,2014

By Larry Clinton - Sausalito Historical Society

When I moved to my first floating home at Kappas Marina, it was just in time for New Year’s – and just in time for a killer storm. After getting 10 inches of rain in December 1981, Marin got drenched with 13 inches on January 3 and 4.

A leak developed from my upstairs deck, which soaked my bedroom floor, causing rain to fall downstairs and eventually seep into my plywood pontoons. Our parking lots flooded, and people had to brave the elements to move their cars to higher ground.

Dealing with this “trial by water,” I learned a lot about houseboat living in a very short time. But my problems were minor compared to some of the folks in the hills of Sausalito.

Here’s how Cindy Roby reported on the storm for the Sausalito Marin Scope almost 33 years ago:

The late Sally Baum of Sausalito Courtesy of Sausalito Historical Society

The late Sally Baum of Sausalito
Courtesy of Sausalito Historical Society

It started off like just one hell of a rainstorm. While the 49ers slogged their way to victory at Candlestick on Sunday, the rain grew heavier. It pelted the county all night and by mid-morning Monday, serious flooding was reported throughout the county. Noon news showed submerged cars, slow traffic and a make-the-best-of-it-fellow windsurfing on the floodwaters in San Rafael.

And still it came down, and the news turned frantic and ominous. The word “disaster” was substituted for “storm”…Attention turned to Sausalito Monday night with news of a large landslide which fell onto the southbound lanes of 101 on the Waldo Grade. Homes on Wolfback Ridge were watched carefully. The bridge was closed and helicopters circled ominously.

Early Tuesday morning the rain stopped. It was cold and gray and grim. The bad news continued to pour in while the cleanup began. All day trucks worked to clear the southbound lanes of Waldo Grade. Sausalito residents hung over the overpass and cheered the first cars traveling north about 4:30 p.m. And they wandered down on Bridgeway as residents of several buildings evacuated their homes that had been damaged by a mudslide and stood in further peril from above where the house at #6 Bulkley had begun to show signs of strain. Crews cut the gas and water lines and monitored Bulkley Avenue where a huge crack grew and the downhill roadbed sank lower with the strain. But by Tuesday night it all seemed stable. Over with. The general consensus was that Sausalito had been pretty lucky.

But that assumption was terribly wrong. In the clear quiet of Tuesday night, the steep hillside, covered with Scotch Broom that lies just 40 to 75 feet south of the Spencer Avenue-Monte Mar exit sign was silently reaching its tolerance. The hillside – actually landfill placed there to support the northbound lanes of 101 when they were built some 25 years ago – had been saturated to the breaking point. And at approximately 9:30 p.m. the hillside gave way, releasing tons of mud that roared downhill smashing the duplex at 466-468 Sausalito Blvd right off its hillside perch.

This two-story structure sheared through 85 Crescent killing its sole occupant, 46-year-old Sally Baum.

Nearby residents describe these few awful moments as punctuated by the sound of a woman screaming, trees cracking and the dull gurgle of mud as it descended. The lights went off. Then there was an eerie awful silence.

Within minutes, the fire and police departments had responded to the scene. They assessed the enormity of the disaster and began to evacuate the stunned and disoriented nearby residents. Police and fire personnel went door to door. Banging on doors, beaming flashlights in darkened windows, yelling through bullhorns, and literally pulling some people from their own homes.

Later a CHP helicopter was brought in to bring the same message to people in a wider area of neighboring streets ranging from up on Prospect and Cable Roadway down to Crescent, Lower Crescent, Sausalito Boulevard and Main Street, reaching all the way down to Third and Fourth Streets.

Police checkpoints informed them to go to an evacuation point at Martin Luther King School at the other end of town. Fire Chief Steve Bogel and Battalion Chief Fylstra started looking through the wreckage. “We understood someone was in the house, Chief Bogel reported. “Fylstra saw the body and together we pulled it out.”

According to later reports, Sally Baum, a young widow, had just returned home from dinner with neighbors when her bedroom was struck. She was probably getting ready for bed when the slide hit. Ironically, the living room and kitchen of her house remained intact, with Christmas gifts still under the tree.


Sausalito In The News: Dec. 12, 1914

WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 24, 2014 AT 06:43PM

By Billie Anderson

Local briefs

• County officials, who are in a position to know, claim that the population of Marin County is now hovering around the thirty thousand mark. In comparing Marin County as a place of rapid suburban development with the East Bay, more trains and boats are needed.

• Lack of industries and manufacturing establishments in Marin County will force a greater percentage of future growth from the metropolis. In other words, it is the commuting public that will prove to be the backbone of development. The possibilities of rapid growth are most flattering.

• In glancing over Sausalito, we see constructive work on all sides. Streets are being improved, new sidewalks laid, lots and yards cleaned up, good houses under construction, not to mention two railway enterprises that are in the making. Trains now operate between Sausalito and Eureka.

Quiet in Mexico reported

Washington – Provisional President Gutierrez and General Villa are in Mexico City and several of their military chiefs have gone to Cuernavaca to discuss with General Zapata and his officers the distribution of forces in the vicinity. It was reported in official dispatches to the State Department that conditions in Mexico City were quiet.

“Zapata soldiers, very poorly clad, some being barefooted, patrol the City,” said an announcement from the State Department. No further molestation of foreigners has occurred and fair order is being maintained. Thus far there has been no friction. Brigadier General Bliss reported bullets from Mexican snipers.

Sanborn addresses Mother’s Club

Mrs. Julia Sanborn of Berkeley spoke at length of the different aspects of the terrible European war and showed how very ignorant we are of the causes. One of the most awful sights Mrs. Sanborn pictured was to see 100,000 idle men marching the Streets of London. She pointed out how the greatest minds on this economic subject have come to one conclusion: Federal Aid in road building and all public improvements so as to remove this crying need.

Report on food products available

It is frequently noted in the daily press that the average length of life is increasing and this leads many of us to go very complacently about our business. If we were living a life that even approximated the normal, there would be little danger. But under the highly artificial conditions of modern urban life so many of our foods are now distributed in sterile packages, “predigested” and otherwise processed in order to preserve them. We are so far removed from the point of origin of our food that increasing numbers are losing all idea of the normal appearance of natural foods.

It becomes the personal duty of each individual to know what to eat, how to eat it and why to eat it. Bulletin No. 28, United States Department of Agriculture, being “The Chemical Composition of American Food Materials,” should hang in the kitchen of every home in the United States. The bulletin can be bought from the Superintendent of Documents, Government Printing Office, Washington, D. C., postage prepaid, for ten cents.

Community enhancement planned

Despite the very inclement weather, the Mothers’ Club held its regular monthly meeting at South School. Six dollars was received toward the Scholarship Fund founded by the Club last August. The Garden Committee reported the placing of window boxes that will later on be planted in red geraniums. It is planned to fix up the basement of South School for classes of dancing and sewing at present. Later on, gymnasium work, gardening, swimming will be considered.

In The News: December 1914

Dec. 12 – The largest one-day percentage drop in the history of Dow Jones Industrial Average, down 24.39 percent.

Dec. 16 – World War I: German battleships under Franz Von Hipper bombard the English ports of Hartlepool and Scarborough.

Dec. 25 – Legendary “Christmas Truce” takes place on the battlefields of World War I between British and German troops. Instead of fighting, soldiers exchange gifts and play football.


James Herbert Madden Senior: A Sausalito Original

THURSDAY, DECEMBER 4, 2014 AT 12:42PM

By Roger Brindle

Part I

Herb Madden Sr., boat builder and more. Photo courtesy of Sausalito Historical Society

Herb Madden Sr., boat builder and more.

Photo courtesy of Sausalito Historical Society

Herb Madden Sr. was a man of many skills and roles and paradoxes. He started as a skilled Boatwright, claiming to have been a foreman on the building of Jack London's "Snark".  He helped run a successful delivery business to Sausalito in the early teens (pre GG Bridge) of the last century. In 1915 he bought land on the Sausalito waterfront and, with his brother, founded what later became Madden and Lewis, one of the largest wooden boat-building firms in Sausalito history.

In the early 1920s he was elected to the City Council and by 1925 was Mayor of the town for the first time. The 20s were the decade of prohibition and Herb Sr. managed in that same year to be both building patrol boats for the Treasury agents who were attempting to enforce prohibition, and indicted for running rum. By the late 1920s he wound up in prison for rum running. He was supervising a large landing of booze in Moss Landing when his party was raided by Treasury agents. Unfortunately, one of the rum-runners fired a shot in the ensuing melee and killed one of the T-men. When the government wanted Herb to turn state's evidence and name the shooter, Herb refused and went to prison for three years. He was pardoned by President Hoover in mid-1932, even before prohibition ended in 1933.

Herb Sr. was Mayor again by 1937 when Sausalito was excited about the opening of the Golden Gate Bridge. He presided over the opening ceremonies and, over the next three years, led the efforts to deal with the implications of increasing auto traffic through Sausalito: improving paving, lighting, adding sidewalks. He also began to advocate for a small boat harbor in Sausalito. One of the implications of the new ability of commuters to take their cars to work over the bridge was the eventual abandonment of the ferry and rail service of the Northwestern Pacific, which had been the largest business in town up until 1941, when both services were abandoned.

The City Council had been unable to organize the effort to build a small boat harbor by 1941. When Herb was offered a prime piece of NWP land along the waterfront by the president of the NWP, he jumped at the chance, raised $50,000 of private capital and began building the first harbor. It took quite a while to build the Sausalito Yacht Harbor, partly because the coming of the war put a lot of pressure on Herb Sr.'s boat building business. The yard was turning out lots of large craft for the US government, New Zealand, etc., its labor force tripling during the war years. But there was also the disturbance of local waters because of the building of Marinship, which turned out 92 capital ships during the war. The dredging for the channel up Richardson's Bay to Marinship and the huge basins needed for turning the large ships after launching meant that a lot of spoils were dumped off Sausalito, creating "Bechtel Island". By 1944 Herb Sr. had hit upon the idea of buying old derelict wooden lumber schooners, scuttling them in a line on the East end of the harbor, burning them to the waterline, then using the spoils from the dredging for Marinship to fill in and around the hulks. The big fire was on the night of Nov. 14, 1944. This process created the finger of land known as Spinnaker Point today, which provided a sorely needed breakwater for the harbor from SW storms and surge from great storms in the Pacific. The harbor was built with a borrowed pile driver from the Anderson Cristofani yard in SF where Herb Sr. had apprenticed, using logs that were left over from the 1939 World's Fair and materials wherever Herb could find them. It took a long time, but today the SYH is 600+ berths, one of the largest harbors in Sausalito.


Sausalito’s Own: VanBo

November 12, 2014

By Steefenie Wicks - The Sausalito Historical Society
Courtesy of Steefenie Wicks/Sausalito Historical Society

Courtesy of Steefenie Wicks/Sausalito Historical Society

The history of Sausalito is full of very interesting characters who have left their marks on the city. None, however, fit that description better than local street artist VanBo, who leaves his mark just about every place he goes.

VanBo is a painter – one who uses Sausalito as his canvas, the residents and tourists as his patrons. Some love him, others don’t; yet, he is part of Sausalito and has been for the last 49 years of his life.

VanBo’s real name is Robert Conley Jr., and he was born in North Carolina. He said it was the U.S. Job Corps program that was responsible for him moving to California. It was then he attended dance programs and was introduced to Anna Halprin, known as the “breaker” of post-modern dance. VanBo would become part of her company of dancers and perform with her company for almost 18 years. It was at this time he also became involved in the pornography industry for a number of years, while living in San Francisco.

VanBo came to Sausalito in 1969 and became part of the waterfront scene. He tells stories of living with Michael Woodstock on board the dredge that was located off Dunphy Park. He can tell you stories of Dredgetown, the life on this floating community before the city condemned it.

When I asked if he had stories about people in Sausalito, he told me one about Jack Tracy, the founder of the Sausalito Historical Society. It seems that VanBo had been arrested and was given the option of performing community service. He chose to do the community service with Jack at the historical society and spent his time cleaning bottles and dusting the displays while Jack was working on his book, “Moments in Time.”

“I never knew that bottles could get that dusty, but then the whole place needed to be cleaned all the time,” VanBo said. “There was so much stuff’.”

When asked about knowing or working with other people here in town, he compiled a broad list of residents in Sausalito, both on the hill and on the waterfront.

VanBo also claims to have worked for Michael Rex.

“I helped him get the Ice House cleaned out after he first got it,” he said.

He also claims he once worked for Sally Stanford, doing some rather interesting projects for her, personally, as well as working around the restaurant. He says he spent time living with Alan Watts, entertaining tourists at the No Name Bar, “and being invited to parties that no one knows about to see what everyone wants to see.”

After many years of moving from one aspect of his life to the other, VanBo has now taken up painting and become rather well-known. He has a Facebook page, a listing on the Internet and a 45-minute film, “Outsider: The Art of Van Bo.”His work was part of the collection in the Las Vegas Sexual Heritage Museum, which closed last March, and he sells a good number of his paintings to Sausalito residents.

VanBo was also a subject of cartoonist Phil Frank.

“Phil thought that I had a great thing going and liked my philosophy on life, so he had a character in his cartoon strip that was kinda like me,” he said. “That’s the best, being liked because I love this place.

“Sausalito has changed. There used to be a time when you could leave your bike and come back for it. Now, you better lock it up. But now things have gotten so bad that, when you come back, they have taken the bike and the lock.”

VanBo said he feels Sausalito is being fitted to the lives of the new people who have come here to live. He’s starting to see that his time here is slipping by.

I asked him what he would do if he leaves this place. “I’ll go on and paint somewhere else,” he said, rubbing his hands together. “My painting is something I do that no one can take away from me. I’m a black man and I have the right to live my life the way I want and paint on whatever I want.

“Things are moving in different directions now. I’m being pushed and moved about, but through it all I can paint. A piece of board, using my fingers, using a brush, I paint. This will live on like all great works of art. My art.”

I asked him about what he’ll remember most about Sausalito. He looked at me and then off into the distance and said, “Oh, that’s easy. It’s being interviewed.”


The Historian: Debbie Pagliaro

November 6, 2014

By Steefenie Wicks - The Sausalito Historical Society

Courtesy of Steefenie Wicks

There is one person who can tell you more about the history of Sausalito than any other Marin historian – Sausalito City Clerk Debbie Pagliaro.

Pagliaro, who has spent more than 50 percent of her life working in just about every city government department, is one of those rare individuals actually born in Marin and raised in Sausalito. Her playpen was a cardboard box in the front window of her father’s hardware store on Bridgeway, so she could watch the world go by. She can tell you about the picnics that families used to have in Vina del Mar Plaza, where Santa would come every year for Christmas.

Pagliaro attended Central School (now City Hall) from kindergarten to fourth grade. Along the way she, with a group of involved young folks in 1965, took on City Hall with their demands for a Youth Center. Today, that youth center has grown into the Sausalito Parks and Recreation Department. Once again proving her connection with the City where her grandfather started the family business, her father was born in a house on 4th Street; the family moved to Rose Court where she grew up.

Pagliaro got involved with working for the City of Sausalito right after she graduated from high school when her neighbor asked her to come and work a part-time job down at the old City Hall on Bridgeway.

It so happened that the city had started a new parking program, and she was to begin her civic career selling parking permits. Later, she took the position of business license clerk and from there she moved on to the planning department, building department and the police department.

“It was not until I worked for the police department that I felt that I had finally become well-rounded,” Pagliaro said. “I ended up becoming secretary to the Chief of Police. That was one eye-opening experience because you really got to see both sides of what can become a problem. I was there for seven years when it was decided that the city really did need a full-time City Clerk and here I am.”

Pagliaro said she learned a lot working under long-time City Clerk Janet Tracy.

“If anyone had told me then that one day I’d be sitting here in her position, I would have been the first to say they were wrong,” she said. “But here I am, 30 years later, the City Clerk.

“You know, Janet Tracy was a cutting edge City Clerk. She was part of what I call the sub-group of City Clerks that put together the process of departmental training for what would become the Certified Municipal City Clerk position. She also turned over to me the City Bible: that being a 5-by-7, black, three-ringed notebook with some of the most valuable information on Sausalito, some of it dating back to 1897, including the names of all of the City Clerks since the beginning of Sausalito.”

So what does Pagliaro think of Sausalito today?

“Funny” she said, “but that line about ‘never going home again,’ I think that’s true.”

She said she feels that the city has changed, but all for the good, noting that Sausalito has always been engaged.

Sausalito has always been a city that is circular, so cyclical that if something happened in the 1940s, then it’s bound to surface again some 30 or 40 years later. That’s where the historian enters.

“There was a law on the books once that said Sausalito residents could not have chickens or ducks on their city property,” Pagliaro said. “This came about because my mother got a duck, and the duck had ducklings, which were pretty noisy. A neighbor complained, and the next thing we knew there was a law against it. Now, look around Sausalito today, people love having the ability to have chickens and ducks as pets. “

She continued, “Everyone seems to talk about Sausalito’s small town character. Well, I don’t see that. I don’t see that at all. The way I explain it is, I have grown up in Sausalito and I have spent a lot of time in Mill Valley. But it was not until I started working for the City of Sausalito that I realized Mill Valley is twice as big, but Sausalito seems bigger. Sausalito is community-orientated, but not small town characteristic.”

“I can remember being a child, when you would hear the fire alarm, you’d go get your card to see where the fire was,” Pagliaro said, smiling. “You see, each neighborhood had its own fire call. So on the card, you could tell where the fire was. Also, you had to call the fire department to let them know if you were planning a barbeque so that they didn’t show up to put your fire out. Okay, that then would have been called small town…but not today.”


Jack Tracy, founder of the Sausalito Historical Society

October 30, 2014

By Steefenie Wicks Sausalito Historical Society

The phone rang in the middle of the night. Fire Chief Steve Bogal was putting in a call to his friend Jack Tracy.

“Jack,” he said, “You better get down here. I think that we just found a body.”

Jack got out of bed and was on site in less than 30 minutes. He paced over to the area behind the movie theater on Pine Street, which now had a fire truck and two police cars on guard. He nodded to the chief as others walked over, knelt down and took a look at the body that was now exposed from the wash-off. Jack walked back over to the chief, who asked him, “What do you think?”

“Miwok,” Jack replied. “I always said that there was a burial ground around here.”

As he walked off, one of the police officers turned to the chief and asked, “That the coroner?”

The chief looked over at Jack as he climbed back into his car. “No,” he said. “That’s Jack Tracy. He’s the town historian. He started the Sausalito Historical Society.”

The above is taken from an interview I did with Jack Tracy back in 1990. Tracy started the Sausalito Historical Society in 1975. So how he was able to accomplish this?

“I went to my personal friends [and] asked for a donation of $5,” Tracy explained. “They, in turn, went back, asked their friends and so on. Before I knew it, we had raised enough funds to successfully began the dream.”

The first event the organization put together was for the opening of the new City Hall building on Litho Street, where we sit today. Tracy was asked if it was possible to do a display that would spotlight the history of the town. The display was an unbelievable success that opened at 7 a.m. and did not close ’til 7 p.m. that night.

Days later, the mayor approached Tracy and asked what he would need to start the Sausalito Historical Society. Tracy replied, “Permanent space!”

The next day, Tracy toured the new City Hall with the mayor. The two decided the second floor would be the best place for the new organization. This floor would eventually house a Victorian room, a library of historic books, maps, paintings, glass bottles from the waters of Sausalito, chairs and tables from the first school, old firemen helmets and WWII goggles, along with the many objects collected from Sausalito families that made personal donations from their heritage.

Tracy wanted the society to be a private organization with no money from the City, free from conflict with the political structure of the town. He wanted this to be an organization for the residents – the people he believed were making the Sausalito history of tomorrow.

Former Mayor Paul Albritton cuts a ribbon at the dedication ceremony for Tracy Way as members of the Tracy family look on from the raised platform. The street is in honor of Jack and his wife, Janet.  Courtesy of Sausalito Historical Society

Tracy found locals wanted to participate in helping to establish their history. The fee to join the society was set at $5; Tracy did this because he felt it made it easier for folks to donate at the end of the year. These private donations of both money and artifacts helped get the organization established. Tracy felt that by preserving Sausalito’s past, one could tell where its life came from.

Over the years, the SHS became a known entity of the city. Tracy’s reputation as a fundraiser is well-noted, as is his ability to be gifted with some of the real treasures that exist in the society today. His lasting efforts to establish the Marinship display at the Bay Model and his book, “Sausalito: Moments in Time,” are just two of the marks that he left.

But Tracy would never forgive me if I did not finished the story about the Miwok Indians of Sausalito:

Shortly after the bodies of the Miwok Indians were discovered, Tracy contacted some of the spokespeople from the local Miwok tribe and asked them to come to Sausalito to bless the found area and the remains, which were re-entombed where they were located.

Tracy told the story of how a young man and woman of the tribe came to visit along with an older woman who was their spirit leader. When he asked permission to tape the interview, the young woman agreed, but smiled and said, “Some things are meant to be recorded and some things are not.”

After the members of the tribe had left, Tracy sat down to listen to the tape. To his surprise, there was nothing on it but his own voice, saying, “Testing, 1, 2, 3.”

Tracy Way Sausalito, CA 

Tracy Way Sausalito, CA 

Sausalito has always had a reputation for strong-minded residents, people who take on projects for the town’s good and get them done. Stories like this tell the background of the town, how one person, with the help of his friends, could change the town’s historical path forever.

Because of his deeds, the town felt it was proper to honor both Jack and his wife, longtime City Clerk Janet Tracy, with the naming of a Sausalito street after them: Tracy Way.


A Native Son

THURSDAY, OCTOBER 23, 2014

by Mike Moyle

Sausalito recently lost one of its true native sons with the passing of Konrad Knudsen, known by all as Konnie.  Konnie’s life spanned 87 years of Sausalito’s history and touched the lives of many.

 

Konnie Knudsen as young boy in Waldo, as a teenager on horseback and as an adult. Photos courtesy of Anne T. Kent California Room at the Marin County Free Library, and the Knudsen Family

Konnie Knudsen as young boy in Waldo, as a teenager on horseback and as an adult.

Photos courtesy of Anne T. Kent California Room at the Marin County Free Library, and the Knudsen Family


Konnie was born on the Fourth of July in 1927 at his parents’ home in the Waldo community where Marin City stands today.  At that time Waldo was an arc of just over twenty houses on the hillside, curving around the bayside marsh that is today the Gateway Shopping Center.  Two dairies, including one owned by Joe Bettencourt, the grandfather of Konnie’s future wife, Arlene, were located among the homes, and cows far outnumbered people.

Konnie had a lifelong love of the outdoors that stemmed from his boyhood in Waldo’s wide open spaces.  Here is a brief excerpt from his oral history, referred to below, in which he describes what it was like to grow up there:

“We would play in the barns, you know, and stuff today that you'd do, you'd go to jail for. You know. I mean they, they'd, whoever owned the dairy now would run you, run you off. But, it was really fun. You know, in the mornings we'd do that, and then go home to breakfast, and then we'd go play baseball until noon, and then after lunch we would go down to Waldo Point. There was a beach down there, and we'd swim. When we finally got paper routes, we'd swim until the papers came, and then we'd go deliver our papers, and go home and have dinner, and then go out and play "kick the can," or whatever, you know, until about nine o'clock, and then go home and start over again.”

Konnie had several different jobs in his early life, including working on several local dairies, and, for a brief time during World War II, as a pipefitter at the Marinship project.  He served in Germany in the Army during the Korean War and, after returning home, got a job with the Sausalito Post Office and worked there as a mailman until his retirement.

Although it may not have been obvious from his name, Konnie was also part of Sausalito’s large population of residents of Portuguese descent.  While Konnie’s father emigrated from Norway, his mother, May, was a member of a branch of the Bettencourt clan that came here from the Azores in the 1800’s.  Just to confuse things, Konnie’s wife, Arlene, was from an unrelated branch of the same Bettencourt family.  

Although he was known for many things, Konnie may be best remembered by generations of Sausalito’s youth and their parents for his active involvement with the town’s youth baseball program.   Konnie had a lifelong love of the game and was among those who helped to bring the Little League to Sausalito in 1954.  For many years he coached his beloved Salvage Shop Seals as well as other teams, and his baseball-isms, such as “Get your glove and go,” were well known.  Some of the most touching memories of Konnie came from his former players who recalled his unfailing cheerful attitude, encouragement and support.  It did not matter how skilled a kid might be – what Konnie wanted most was simply for someone to try.

When the Little League started in Sausalito, participation was limited to boys living within the city limits, which at that time only extended as far north as Nevada Street.  Konnie was instrumental in allowing children from Marin City, as well as interested girls, to play.

Konnie’s contributions to Sausalito’s baseball program were acknowledged when the baseball field at what today is Willow Creek Academy was dedicated in his name in the mid-90s.

Finally, Konnie was a dedicated family man.  He and Arlene raised seven children, and at the time of his passing they had 17 grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.  His legacy lives on in many forms.

The Sausalito Historical Society has in its collection a CD and transcript of an oral history of Konnie done by the Anne T. Kent California Room at the Marin County Free Library, and Konnie is also featured in the IDESST Sausalito Portuguese Hall’s new Sausalito Portuguese Heritage Walking Tour (the tour Guidebook is available on the Hall’s website – www.idesst.org).  Both are well worth exploring.


Sausalito in the News: Sept. 18, 1920

WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 8, 2014

By Billie Anderson, Sausalito Historical Society

State fair drew large crowds

In nine days, 205,000 people witnessed the greatest State Fair ever held. Not only were all attendance records broken, but the number of entries in the livestock, county exhibits, poultry, horse show and all other departments exceeded by more than one-third those of any previous year.

 

Participation exceeded the number of entries of any Western livestock show including the Panama Pacific International Exposition. In the livestock department, there were 2,177 head on exhibition – reaching a valuation of over $2,000,000.

The county fruit and vegetable exhibits were of such unique design – attractively arrayed– that they compelled comparison with “the quality of the great expositions.” So great was the success of the county exhibits that 20 of the 27 exhibitors are making plans for a still finer and more complete exhibit next year.

Burns Colts defeated by local team

The great victory of the Sausalito Merchants over a crack amateur bush baseball team of San Francisco at Fort Baker last Sunday was a great surprise to both teams and many of the local boys who are sorry they did not cover some of the bets offered by admirers of the visitors. Carson pitched for the Merchants. He struck out fifteen and allowed three hits.

Why superstition lingers

Man’s curiosity is in excess of his power to interpret and understand; consequently, he guesses. When he guesses wildly and inaccurately, others call his guess superstition. Long after people have clearly seen that there is no rational evidence for the thing believed, the superstition lingers.

Bride Stolen

Frank M. Mumford, pharmacist at the Central Pharmacy, had his wife kidnapped by her parents on Wednesday and is now devising ways and means of getting her out of their control. He says she is 24 years of age and that she is anxious to join him, although her parents are not kindly disposed towards him and wish to have the marriage annulled.

Gentle reminder

Hiram, said Mrs. Corntossel: There’s one thing I want to remind you of.

What’s that? Get out of that rocking chair an’ come off the front porch.

You’re a farmer; not a politician. – Washington Star.

Brief items of local interest

The amount of money necessary to be raised upon the taxable property within the Town of Sausalito for Town Hospital Purposes is ascertained and hereby fixed at $468.93.

Ed Blakeley, hustling local Chevrolet agent, reports the sale and delivery of a Chevrolet Baby Grand automobile to George A. Schoen, a marine engineer, and will seal the deal for more in a few days.

The Marin County Housewives League will hold a public meeting in Town Hall of Sausalito next Friday, September 24, at 2 p.m. The president of the Alameda County Housewives League and also representatives from the San Francisco Housewives League and other speakers of interest will address the meeting.

A large attendance is urged. Come and bring a friend or two with you. – Mrs. F. S. Phelps, President.

Railway mail service on the interurban electric trains was by order of the Post Office Department discontinued last Monday and a closed pouch service used.

September, 1920

Sept. 16: 12:01 p.m. Bomb Explosion on Wall Street kills 30.

Sept. 17: National Football League organizes in Canton, Ohio. 12 teams pay $100.

Sept. 22: Chicago Grand Jury convenes to investigate charges that eight White Sox players conspired to fix the 1919 World Series.


Marinship’s Artistic Legacy

TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 9, 2014

By Larry Clinton

Sausalito’s wartime shipyard, Marinship, sprang up almost overnight in 1942.  Then, after WWII, it disappeared just as suddenly.  The waterfront acreage, littered with abandoned landing craft, lifeboats and other surplus materiel, was to become the center of Sausalito’s waterfront artistic community.


In his book Sausalito: Moments in Time, Jack Tracy wrote:
“With the end of World War II and the closing of Marinship, Sausalitans turned their attention from the waterfront and concentrated on a return to normal, if such a return were possible.  Sausalito’s population quickly dropped to almost its prewar level of 3,500.  The streets and shops seemed deserted when compared to wartime hustle and bustle.  As in the rest of the country, shortages of manufactured goods and food rationing still existed, and unemployment was a major cause of concern. . . The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers needed only a portion of the sprawling facility for their operations, about forty-five acres including the administration building, the warehouse, outfitting docks, and ferry slip… Marinship was sold off piecemeal by sealed bid auctions… Several small businesses did soon open on the site.”
Donlon Arques, who had worked on contract at Marinship, later acquired surplus ships, shipyard land, and equipment, and began renting watercraft to artists and returning WWII veterans, many of whom were going to college on the GI Bill and needed low cost housing.  Ultimately, Arques controlled much of the postwar Marinship property along the Sausalito waterfront.
As Phil Frank wrote in the Historical Society book Houseboats of Sausalito, “The Arques boatyards became havens for sculptors, painters, jewelry makers, and bon vivants in the late 1940s and 1950s.  The beats of San Francisco’s North Beach came to consider Sausalito their summer home…”

Tim Rose’s ICB studio in the ‘60s.
Photo courtesy of Sausalito Historical Society


A couple of large Marinship buildings went through dramatic changes in peacetime.  The Mold Loft and Yard Office, one of the largest buildings at Marinship, contained a giant open space for laying out templates on plywood. These templates were then slid down a ramp and taken to the plate shop where they were used over and over to mark the steel sheets that would become parts of the ships.  Postwar, the structure was renamed the Industrial Center Building and began leasing commercial space. Abstract impressionist Walter Kuhlman was the first artist to move in, in 1955, followed by many others, including Tim Rose, who became famous for his mobile sculptures.  Today the ICB, at Harbor Drive and Gate 5 Road, houses dozens of artists and artisans, and hosts open studio events twice a year.
The even larger Marinship warehouse covered 122,500 sq. ft. Railroad tracks ran along its dock area, bringing everything a ship would need, except plate steel and machinery.  Today it houses the Bay Model, and the surrounding property is the site of the Sausalito Art Festival, held annually over the Labor Day Weekend.


Other shipyard buildings became work spaces for many of the boatbuilders and maritime trades drawn to the area because of their proximity to harbors, suppliers, and affordable housing.  That tradition continues today, on a somewhat smaller scale.
I will be giving an illustrated talk on Marinship at the Sausalito Library, Friday September 19 at 7 PM.  And the Floating Homes community, which emerged from the remains of Marinship, will be honoring its artistic heritage during its annual Open Homes Tour Sept. 20.  For advance tickets, go to www.floatinghomes.org.


Jimmy Stewart & Crew on Gate Six Road

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

by Brad Hathaway

Nearly fifty years ago, Hollywood stars Jimmy Stewart, Glynis Johns, Ed Wynn and even teen-idol Fabian came to Sausalito to film a light comedy in the houseboat community along Gate 6 Road.

Ed Wynn (foreground) and Jimmy Stewart on Gate 6 Road
Photo: Twentieth Century Fox


The CinemaScope movie, titled "Dear Brigitte" because it involved the infatuation of an 8 year old child prodigy with the sexy French actress, Brigitte Bardot, was based on a book titled "Erasmus – With Freckles." It was written by San Francisco-born, Los Angeles resident dentist and author John Haase.

He had placed much of the action in Sausalito's colorful floating home neighborhood. Indeed, in the book, the name of the houseboat was "The Tiburon" and he described it as a permanently moored retired ferryboat that "had been carelessly beached. This caused it to list permanently six degrees to port." As a result, he wrote, "the craft was as mobile as a pyramid."

Haase made the location seem tremendously exotic. He wrote that there were "wonderful harbor noises. The putt-putt of a diesel, a distant steamer's whistle, the vessels backing against the wooden docks, the slap-slap of the gentle waves against a moored sailboat, a concertina, a winch being turned, a ship's bell, a bell buoy, a distant foghorn."

He wrote of visual qualities as well. "One could find a spot on top of the pilothouse and merely watch the bay around the ferry. There was always a sailboat race or a weary tramp steamer coming through the Golden Gate." Mr. Haase seemed to think that the Gate was visible from the houseboat community. Well, he couldn't get everything right.

Officials at Twentieth Century Fox saw the colorful locale as a plus as they looked for a new vehicle for their star Jimmy Stewart in the wake of such successes as "Mr. Hobbs Takes a Vacation" and "Taker Her, She's Mine."

The Bay Area had been good for Stewart before when he starred in Alfred Hitchcock's "Vertigo" which was filmed throughout San Francisco. So location shooting in Sausalito would give the star a chance to revisit the site of a success.

Paired with Stewart as his wife was Glynis Johns, who was becoming a familiar face to audiences with the release a few months before of "Mary Poppins" where she also played a wife and mother.

Another veteran of "Mary Poppins," comic actor Ed Wynn, took the role of a neighbor who narrates the story for the movie audience. During the filming of the Sausalito scenes, Wynn became something of a favorite of the local population as he mingled with the crowds that came out to see the filming.

Playing Stewart's son, the eight year old mathematics prodigy with a fixation on the Parisian sex kitten, was Bill Mumy. Despite his young age, he already had a lengthy career in television with recurring roles on such shows as "The Adventures of Ozzie & Harriet."

Fabian's role, that of the boyfriend of Stewart's character's daughter, was more a creation of the screenwriters, Hal Kanter and Nunnally Johnson, than of novelist Haase.

This wasn't the only change to the story from Haase's novel. The movie portrayed the professor's family as the only residents on the houseboat where Haase's novel described the layout of the "S.S. Tiburon" as family quarters on "A Deck" but with "B Deck" occupied by "wandering poets (and) poetry students."

Other, smaller details were changed in the process of turning the novel into a screenplay. A key scene where the eight year old child detects an error in a bank's statement of accounts took place in the Sausalito branch of the Bank of America. Whether it was that bank's desire not to be portrayed as having sloppy statements or not, for the film it became the "Bayshore National Bank."   

Brigitte Bardot, who had a single scene in the movie, didn't travel to California for the filming. Her scene was shot in Paris.

Fox sent a team including set decorator Steven Potter to scout locations. Potter recalls the locale as beautiful with great weather. "We just had rain once" he says. He adds the observation that "the people in the town were so very friendly."

The team picked a spot at the curve of Gate 6 Road which gave views of Richardson's Bay, houseboats and the ferries Issaquah and the Charles Van Damme.

The "home" of Stewart's "Professor Leaf" and his family was shown as a side-wheeled, twin smoke stacked vessel. Potter recalls that not all of the construction of the details for the set was strong enough for the safety of the actors. "The railings were falling off" he says.

Following the design mandates of Artistic Director Joseph Martin Smith, Potter created a distinctly Victorian look for the houseboat. The exterior featured filigreed touches and the interior sets had red velvet wall coverings.

Most of the filming of interior scenes, however, was done on the sound stages of the former Hal Roach Studios in Southern California. Only the exterior scenes were shot along Gate Six Road.

While the company was filming those scenes, Potter's wife came up for a weekend visit and the couple joined "Mr. Stewart" for dinner at The Trident restaurant on Bridgeway. This was during the time that the Trident was owned and operated by Kingston Trio manager Frank Werber.


Sausalito Waterfront: Art and Music

THURSDAY, AUGUST 14, 2014

By Steefenie Wicks

Fiver Brown, musician and Heather Wilcoxon, artist (left to right)
Photo by Steefenie Wicks

In his book, “Sausalito: Moments in Time,” Jack Tracy talks about how Sausalito has always being a haven for writers, artist, poets and creative souls.  He wrote that it was not until the 1950’s that a sense of creative energies seemed to be released.  After World War II, many returning service men and women took up residence in Sausalito trying to remove from their thoughts the horror of war.   A number of these individuals turned their talents to the arts; in the 1950’s Sausalito emerged as one of the best-known artist colonies in the Bay Area.  This reputation for peace plus freedom of thought and purpose eventually settled on the Sausalito waterfront, where a new type of artist/musician would evolve.
Many took up residency in old tug boats, barges, ferry boats, or ships that would never set to sea again.  These new dwellers would become the first waterfront house boaters.  One of the long-term members of this community is painter Heather Wilcoxon, who arrived here in 1969.  Musician Fiver Brown arrived in the year 2002.  Both artists came for a visit and stayed for a lifetime.


“I remember getting a call from my sister CiCi, a singer and musician, who said, “You have got to come here, see what I have found,” Heather recalls. “She was very excited, so I left art school in Los Angeles, drove to Sausalito.  Once I got here I never looked back.”
Heather was able to take up residence on an old “Potato Barge” that was 100 ft. long, docked at Gate 6.   It housed four separate apartments.  “People lived together, they shared what they had,” she continues. “The land all belonged to Donlon Arques, he let everyone live there for little or no rent, basically we lived for free.”  


Fiver was living in Los Angeles when he got a call from a friend to come to a party on a Sausalito houseboat.   At the time he was reviewing scripts for movie executives.  His stay in Hollywood had enabled him to continue with his music which he had been involved with most of his life, but he missed a sense of community.  “I worked 16 hour days, got paid for 8.  Hollywood is not the glamorous place that you might think it is, everyone seems to be involved with themselves, not with others, “ he concludes. “It’s a selfish existence.”
He remembered his first music experience on a Sausalito houseboat.  “I was blown away by the fact that a full on band was playing.  They were the ‘Sonia Dada’ band, a Chicago based rock/soul/rhythm and blues band that had the place rocking,” he continues.  “It was like being at a music festival. After they played others took to the stage, a jam session began.  I ended up joining them; one of the fellows playing with me commented that he thought I should stay, be part of the group.  I told him that I lived in LA, would have to change life plans to do that, he said why not?  So, with this feeling of a new-found music community, I went back to L.A., packed my things, came back to Sausalito, began a new life. On the waterfront.”


A new life is what Heather also envisioned; she had her first studio at the ICB building where she practiced her painting for the next 20 years. In the meantime, her life at Gate 6 had taken a most interesting turn because of the “Waterfront Wars” during the late 1970’s.
“I remember a time when every morning you would get up to the sound of an air horn being blown to let you know that the police were there,” she smiles. “It was exciting.”   She goes on to explain that in 1976, Gate 6 was a very lively place to live, a very raw scene where a lot of live theater took place.  She remembered the first time she was arrested was during one of these live theater performances: “When it happens you realize that this is real, this was really happening, you’re being arrested. Now, as a 30 year resident of the waterfront, I can honestly say; things have changed for the better.”


Fiver, whose first job on the waterfront was working on a tug boat, has seen the closing of two great music venues, the music studio the Plant and the Sweetwater, in Mill Valley.   He feels that when things around you change, the effect can be profound.  He writes most of the music he preforms with his band Dredgetown, keeping the music authentic like Sausalito.  
He feels, “It’s tough being an artist/musician in Marin.  I’m married now, have a son. With a family it’s hard to sometimes make both ends meet.  But with the support of a strong community you can still make things happen so that you can exist, perform, play music.”
Jack Tracy, Sausalito’s historian, would be the first to say to both Heather Wilcoxon and Fiver Brown, welcome to Sausalito’s art community, still a haven for creative souls.


Renaissance Woman

Thursday, August 14

By Larry Clinton

Bea Seidler, c. 2005. Photo courtesy of Sausalito Historical Society

Bea Seidler, c. 2005.
Photo courtesy of Sausalito Historical Society

Sausalito lost an iconic figure last week with the passing of Bea Seidler.  Among her many accomplishments, Bea was a long term docent at the Ice House, and had been the guiding light of the non-profit Sausalito Foundation, which supports the artistic, cultural and historical heritage of Sausalito. She was also instrumental in Sally Stanford’s election to the City Council, and eventually as mayor.


Bea recalled her involvement with both the Foundation and Sally Stanford during a 2005 oral history session with Betsy Stroman.  Here’s a lightly edited excerpt from her recollections:  


I somehow or other got swept into an organization known as the Sausalito Foundation. The original people had put up the money to buy the open water down there in front of the Valhalla when there was a high-rise apartment building proposed for it and it was about to be sold. Sally Stanford was one of the original founders. They gathered up about $80,000 and were able to make a down payment, and they deeded it to the City and the City eventually put up the rest of the money. Sally I think was the one who got the whole thing going because she was going to lose her view. Literally, they were putting up a high-rise apartment there. The city owned all of the open water to that corner, about 5 acres. And the reason they owned all of that was that the State of California in the 1870s or ’80s sold off all the underwater lots to raise money for the dome for the [State] Capitol.


We were raising money for the Foundation for something in the early 70s. We had this art and antique auction, and we got people all over town to contribute. It was held on a Sunday afternoon, and at that juncture who should I meet for the first time but Sally Stanford. Sally had run for City Council many times and had been elected in 1972 after running 4 or 5 times. She always ran under the name of Marcia Owen. And when she finally ran under the name of Sally Stanford, she was elected in ’72, much (to tell you the truth) to everybody's surprise, but she had a fairly good reputation -- the hail fellow well met down at the Valhalla. People loved it and she was in her heyday down there, being hostess with her parrot. I maybe had met her, but not really. Anyway, Sally was going to rerun for Council and Betty Phillips called and asked me if I would [help] -- because she knew I worked on people's campaigns, if I would do a brochure for Sally, and I said Oh Sure. [Bea, an advertising copywriter at the time} got to thinking about it and I thought “A brochure for Sally Stanford, that’s the silliest thing I've ever heard. Everybody either knows who she is or doesn't, but a brochure, we don't need to say anything about her.” And the election was going to be in early March, so I said to Betty, why don't we, instead of sending out a brochure, which is nonsensical and a waste of our money, let's send a valentine to everybody in town, and we did. Betty's husband was a printer.


And indeed we did get her elected and I still didn't really know her, although I went to the celebration she had at the Valhalla, and we had a great fun party, but I knew a lot of people and it didn't matter that I didn't really know her. But the auction was after that, maybe 6 months, a year after that. I bid on a couple of things: a little oriental rug, some silver spoons. And lo and behold when I went to pay for them, Sally had paid for them. And she said to me, that's just a way of thanking you for what you did. And then I got to know her quite well, because not too long after that she had a heart attack. My neighbor across and I used to go up and take her meals up to her, if you can believe anything this loopy. Then we used to go to her ranch all the time. ... She had this wonderful walnut ranch between Kenwood and Santa Rosa on I think Highway 12.


Gracie Grove and I used to go up on the weekends. We stayed in the little guestroom in the White Victorian. Sally cooked. It was like she was our grandmother or something. She had a very old fashioned way of cooking. It was like she'd never left Baker, Oregon. Oh, that was why she and Gracie became great friends, because they were both from Baker, Oregon. We used to go up there and then hang out at the swimming pool all weekend.


There were always rumors which -- you know -- there are still to this day rumors that the upstairs of the Valhalla had girls up there. I don't believe that. There were always rumors that there were women in the Woman's Club who had been former girls. I don't believe that either. I think that was a bunch of wannabees. It is true that her name was proposed as Marcia Owen in the Woman's Club and she was blackballed as it were. I know someone who was on the Board at that time. ... It never came to the membership. She was simply blackballed in the Board. But Sally always managed to come to every Jinks ...


Anyway, she was quite a character. I didn't know her in her heyday, but when I knew her she was just kind of a – well, there's a picture of her up there with Gracie and me. That's kind of the way I remember her, as just this jolly lady.


Russian Opera with Local Roots

Thursday, August 7, 2014

By Larry Clinton

“Juno and Avos” is a popular Russian-language rock opera first performed Moscow in 1981.

Concepcion Arguello and Nikolai Rezanov as depicted on a mural in the Presidio Interfaith Chapel.


The opera is named after the ships Juno and Avos that constituted an expedition headed by Russian explorer Nikolai Rezanov around the turn of the 18th century. The plot is based on a true love story of Rezanov and Conchita Arguello, the teenage daughter of José Darío Argüello, the colonial governor of Spanish California.


Nikolay Petrovich Rezanov(1764 – 1807) was a Russian nobleman and statesman who was commissioned by Czar Aleksander I as ambassador to Japan to conclude a commercial treaty.  Rezanov departed the expedition when it reached Kamchatka after visiting Japan where he was unsuccessful in his mission. Instead, he brought the Juno to San Francisco in April 1806, to help provision the struggling Russian fur-trading settlement at Sitka, Alaska.


Unfortunately, the Spanish Comandante would not allow trade with Sitka. However Rezanov soon caught the eye of fifteen-year-old Concepcion, described by one admirer as: “distinguished for her vivacity and cheerfulness, her love-inspiring and brilliant eyes and exceedingly beautiful teeth, her expressive and pleasing features, shapeliness of figure, and for a thousand other charms besides an artless natural demeanor.”


The infatuation was mutual, and the lovers spent the two weeks they had together exploring the Presidio and planning their future lives in Russia. During this period, a party of Russians and Aleuts were harpooning seals and otters on the Farallon Islands, where they had established a base camp of crude earthen huts.  Hunters and their families rotated between Fort Ross and the Farallons, depending on the size of the sea mammal herds during the hunting season.
Rezanov asked for Concepcion’s hand in marriage. Though initially concerned with the religious differences as well as the distance between California and Russia, Concepcion’s parents eventually agreed that Rezanov would return to St. Petersburg to gain consent for a mixed Russian Orthodox-Roman Catholic wedding.(Sixteen years later, coincidentally, Sausalito founder William Richardson married Maria Antonia Martinez, daughter of a later Comandante of the Presidio.)

Attempting to cross Siberia to reach St. Petersburg, Rezanov caught pneumonia and died. Concepcion waited five years for her true love to return before learning from a Russian officer: “He is dead…His last words were of you.” The young officer returned the locket Conception had given to Rezanov.


Though her family encouraged Concepcion to marry—and she is rumored to have had many suitors—she instead joined the Dominican sisterhood in Benicia, California, where she died in 1857.
Two years ago, performances of the rock opera were scheduled in San Francisco, Santa Rosa and Fort Ross, but they were cancelled when funding fell through.  Perhaps “Juno and Avos” could be on the bill if and when the City revives its Opera in the Park program.


Richardson, Reed and Throckmorton

SATURDAY, JUNE 28, 2014

As shown in this excerpt from the new book “Legendary Locals of Mill Valley,” there are striking parallels between William Richardson and John Reed -- Southern Marin’s earliest Anglo settlers – and Samuel Throckmorton, who followed in their footsteps:  
William Richardson sailed into San Francisco Bay in 1822 as the first mate of a whaling ship. Just as with John Reed in 1826, London-born Richardson soon found himself a guest in the home of a Presidio commander, Ignacio Martinez. Richardson—like Reed—married the Presidio commander's daughter. In 1825, Richardson married Maria Martinez, and in 1841, the Mexican government gave Richardson a grant to Rancho Saucelito… This property included nearly half of the remaining land that would one day become Mill Valley. (But not all the land. A relatively small plot of unassigned land is the site of another Mill Valley story.)


Richardson took full advantage of his holdings, planting orchards and raising livestock. He also invested heavily in other business enterprises. He is credited with the development of Yerba Buena (later to become San Francisco) as well as the Marin town of Sausalito. Many public streets and landmarks carry his name, including Richardson Bay, on the edge of Mill Valley. Unlike John T. Reed, William Richardson had been a seafaring man all his life. He returned to his maritime roots after settling in the area. He was appointed Yerba Buena's port captain, and he purchased a number of trading and cargo ships that he used for commerce opportunities as far south as San Diego.

Samuel Throckmorton, c. 1875 Photo courtesy of Mill Valley Library

Samuel Throckmorton, c. 1875
Photo courtesy of Mill Valley Library


Accounts of William Richardson's life indicate that he was a good man, but his entrepreneurial spirit extended beyond realistic boundaries. After suffering a series of calamities, he mortgaged his vast holdings to meet his debts. By 1855, he owed more on the land than it was worth.
Samuel Throckmorton, nicknamed "Five-dollar Throckmorton" for his talent to snap up land from debt-ridden owners, soon owned nearly all of Richardson's Rancho Saucelito. Throckmorton transformed the grazing land into dairy ranches, and then leased them to workers arriving from the Portuguese Azores Islands. The rest of the land was the San Francisco businessman's private weekend playground. He put up a fence around the entire property, posting guards at strategic spots, and outlawed trespassers who did not carry a coveted permit to be there. But Throckmorton—like Richardson—eventually found himself in debt. After Throckmorton's death, the savings union holding the mortgage on the land took possession of nearly all of Rancho Saucelito and established the Tamalpais Land & Water Company (TL&W) to manage it. The land was subdivided and auctioned off in 1890. Perhaps as penance for taking the land away from Throckmorton's daughter Susanna, the TL&W named Mill Valley's first street Throckmorton. A number of former Portuguese tenant farmers bought land at the auction. In the end, neither Richardson nor Throckmorton could do what the Portuguese farmers accomplished: have multiple generations of their descendants live on the fertile and pastoral land. (Courtesy of Anne T. Kent California Room, Marin County Free Library.)


“Legendary Locals of Mill Valley” by Joyce Kleiner can be purchased at local bookstores shops, and cafes including The Depot and Book Passage, or it can be ordered direct from the publisher (http://www.arcadiapress.net) or through online retailers and national chains.


Sausalito In the News: June 11, 1921

SATURDAY, JUNE 28, 2014

By Billie Anderson, Sausalito Historical Society

Trust depends on nation’s thrift. We are advised daily by the economists that by thrift we must restore the capital destroyed by the war. If thrifty, we are assured we can make good – in twelve years – the total destruction of the great European conflict. – George Wheeler Hinman, Noted Financial Authority.

The man who lived through war times and in business may now save a part of his income — if he wishes.

He may buy the same things he bought a year ago, and at the end of the month have a surplus to put in

the bank. Even Government statisticians seem to hold this point of view. Only by thrift, we are warned, can we get the abundant capital…which means prosperous business and national welfare. The opportunity for thrift is here. The cost of living has gone down 40 per cent in the last year.

SWC concert features musical club

The concert next Tuesday evening at the Woman’s Club house is creating widespread interest. Many

are coming from the City and surrounding points. The artists are to be two child prodigies. To hear

these musicians dominate a roomful of people is something to remember.

Catherine Carver, a child of but twelve years, is a pianist who has astonished the critics with her

mastery of the works of the masters. She is to leave for New York very shortly after this concert.

Little Sarah Kreindler, a nine-year old violinist, is anticipated with great pleasure. Her work is so

remarkable that one can only think of her as a grown woman when she plays. Her recent appearance at

the Fairmont Hotel made a distinct appeal to all.

Board considers search light

V. Thompson, W. D. Fennimore and other residents have asked for an appropriation to help install a

search light on Mt. Tamalpais. A resolution of the Board of Trustees of the Town of Sausalito in

reference to placing a searchlight on Mt. Tamalpais was received and filed.

Doctors Come From Czecho-Slovakia

Seven prominent physicians visit The United States, for the purpose of studying new methods of

sanitation.

Damaged roads

The repair bills for damaged roads would be much reduced according to a bureau of public roads

report if motor trucks were designed to carry more of the loads put on them over the front axle and

not over the rear wheels, as at present. The damage done to the road surface by the rear wheels is

much greater than it would be if the load were distributed on both axles.

June 1921

1st – Race riot in Oklahoma

3rd – Sudden cloudburst kills 120 near Pike’s Peak, Colorado

11th – Brazil adopts women’s suffrage

15th – Bessie Coleman reaches France as 1st U.S. black pilot

20th – 11.5 inches of rainfall – Circle, Montana, State Record


Houseboat War I

WEDNESDAY, JUNE 4, 2014

By Larry Clinton

Donlon Arques in his Gate 3 shop in the mid-1970s.
© Bruce Forrester

The houseboat wars of the mid-70s, with scenes of boat-to-boat jousting between hippies and sheriff’s deputies, are a well-documented part of Sausalito’s history.  But the wrangling over the waterfront began far earlier.
In February, 1958, the Marin News reported that Attorney John B. Ehlen filed suit against waterfront property owner Don Arques on behalf of the City, charging that more than 20 “shacks and shanties” were being used as dwelling places without any sewer connections. He called the condition a “health hazard,” and vowed to fight until “we clean this matter up.”
Arques accused Ehlen of persecuting him, and said, “I am being singled out and harassed.”
“It is quite untrue that brother Don is being ‘singled out’,” Ehlen said in reply. “The city council has directed me to abate all public nuisances created and maintained by users and owners of structures on Sausalito’s waterfront who are illegally polluting and contaminating the waters of Richardson Bay.

The city attorney   said legal proceedings are being prepared and filed against what he termed
“all these scofflaws.”    
 He said if Arques is being harassed he had brought it upon himself.
“His (Arques’) wail of self-pity, reminds me of the fellow who murdered his father and mother and then prayed for the court’s mercy on the ground that he was an orphan,” Ehlen said.
“I don’t believe the taxpayers of Sausalito, who have heavily taxed themselves to create and maintain a sanitary sewer system,   desire that anyone be permitted to defy and defeat the purpose of that system by dumping sewage, including human excretia, into the waters of Richardson Bay.”
According to the newspaper,   many waterfront residents were reportedly seething at Ehlen’s earlier statement that “I like pigs, too, but not in my living room.” As the paper reported: “The majority of comments did not readily adapt themselves to print, but clearly indicated strong feeling on the part of the barge and houseboat dwellers. ‘Who does Ehlen think he is calling us pigs!’ one of them stormed. Someone ought to sue him.    
“Commented another: ‘&*%!!!’”
The following month a writer named John Raymond had some fun at the expense of both parties.  Here are excerpts from his article titled “Water Pistols at Ten Paces? Ehlen, Arques Spar in Epic Sea Battle.”
Sausalito’s aquatic heavyweights continued their verbal fisticuffs this week, with neither scoring a decisive victory.
Landlubber John B. Ehlen, Sausalito’s intrepid city attorney, and waterfront property owner Donlon J. Arques, big daddy of the houseboat set, delivered telling blows, before scurrying back to their respective corners.
“Arques is a sea lawyer who’s very much at sea,” jabbed Ehlen, moving quickly out of range.
The historic background for this weekly ringfest is at once simple and complex.
Caught square in the middle, however, are approximately 50 houseboats and barges that dot the Sausalito waterfront. These are inhabited by a picturesque group of rugged individualists who believe that an emerald sea and the wail of fog horns are preferable to asphalt and honking autos.
OBLIVION LOOMS
As one of them put it: “It’s a wonderful life in a tense world.”
The “wonderful life” appears to be teetering on the brink of oblivion at the moment, however. The city attorney claims the houseboats are polluting Richardson Bay because they are not hooked up to a sewer line.
“Nonsense,” replies Arques. “Belvedere has been dumping all its sewage in Richardson Bay for years. Why all the sudden fuss over less than a hundred houseboat dwellers?”
FROGMAN’S PARADISE
Ehlen is attempting to remove the houseboats through court action on the grounds they constitute a health menace. Besides, he insists, they are moored on city streets, even though the “streets” in question are under water and would be of little immediate use to anyone other than a frogman or an itinerant mermaid with a penchant for strolling down the avenue.
The immediate target for Ehlen’s civic wrath is the Lassen, a rotting two-masted   schooner whose decaying hulk has settled into the muck and mire of one of Sausalito’s underwater streets.  [In the late 40s, artists Ed and Loyola Fourtane turned the Lassen into a gathering spot for Sausalito’s art colony.]
LIKE IT’S PLANTED
Ehlen further claims the Lassen is no longer a ship but a structure, because it is firmly imbedded in the city’s “street.”
“If that’s true,” snapped Arques, “then the city owns it anyway, and it’s their responsibility to get rid of it.”
The article concluded: “Meanwhile, Sausalito’s houseboat dwellers have organized, and plan to fight the impending ban on their homes. Their next meeting will take place Monday at 8:30 p.m. at the Old Town Coffee House. “


The Off Ramp to Nowhere

WEDNESDAY, JUNE 4, 2014

By Larry Clinton

Marker for Marincello Trail.
Photo by Larry Clinton

It sounds like something out of Kafka, but if you’ve ever mistakenly taken the Rodeo Ave. exit off Southbound 101, you know it’s certainly no fiction.
The freeway exit was constructed in the ‘60s to allow access to the infamous planned development in the Headlands above Sausalito called Marincello. The development was finally abandoned after long legal battles which are described in the recent documentary “Rebels With a Cause.”

One of the attorneys who fought that David-vs.-Goliath battle is Doug Ferguson, who described the legal struggles at the recent annual membership meeting of the Historical Society.
Marincello was planned to house up to 30,000 people in apartments, homes and townhouse and would also include a mall and hotel at the high point of the headlands. Working with Gulf Oil, a Pennsylvania developer named Thomas Frouge purchased 2,000 acres of land and made immediate plans for the new community.
Despite protests from local preservationists, In November 1965 the County of Marin officially gave Marincello a green light. Large gates were immediately built in Tennessee Valley marking the entrance for new city. A wide boulevard was carved up the mountain to be one of the main streets in and out of the community.
After much legal maneuvering, Doug Ferguson, with colleagues Bob Praetzel and Marty Rose,
filed a lawsuit claiming that Marincello had been improperly zoned back in 1964 and allowed the public only six days to review the zoning instead the legal ten days. The lawsuit led to discovery of other inaccuracies in the Zoning Outlines that Marin had approved in 1965.
By 1966, thanks in part to the legal delays, the budget for Marincello was ballooning from its original $250 million price tag, and 1967 construction was halted.
In 1972, the land was sold to the Nature Conservancy and transferred to the newly formed Golden Gate National Recreation Area.
Today the main boulevard is a popular hiking, biking, and horse path, appropriately called the "Marincello Trail." It’s accessible from the Rodeo Ave. exit, via the Bobcat trail. If you’d like to explore the trail and its spectacular views, you can park near the end of the off ramp, but be aware that it’s a long, steady uphill trek and then a series of up-and-downhill connections to reach the Marincello Trail.


Working Waterfront: Keeping It Alive

THURSDAY, MAY 22, 2014

By Steefenie Wicks


Sausalito’s traditional working waterfront is small but very much alive.   There are boat builders, shipwrights and ship captains working from small locations, making a living in their crafts.  Most of the training that keeps this working waterfront heritage alive comes from past students of the Arques Traditional Boat Building School, under the direction of Bob Darr.


Jeff Reid, Jody Boyle and Anton Hottner are all graduates of the school and all three have small shop spaces at Gate 3, one of the last spots on the Sausalito waterfront where such a thing is possible. None have been able to secure leases to their spaces, and this is bit unnerving because it offers no real security for them.

Jody Boyle, Anton Hottner, Heather Richard and Jeff Reid (left to right)
Photo by Steefenie Wicks


Jeff Reid was born and raised in Skaneateles, New York, an area full of small lakes. Even though his parents did not have a boat his friends did, so at the age of 8 he was on the water.   The same can be said for both Anton Hottner and Jody Boyle.  Anton was born in Germany, Jody just outside of Boston. That love of the water and sailing is what eventually brought the three of them to the Arques School.
Jeff would be the first to tell you that while he has been working here as a shipwright for the past 15 years, he has never had a business card or advertised his skills; all his work comes by word of mouth.   His mainstay is woodworking on repairs and restorations which he feels are the bread and butter of Arques School graduates.


He believes that the maritime shops, service people, and waterfront workers who now inhabit shop spaces at Gate 3 are a close-knit group that survives because they both work and play together. This includes helping Heather Richard at Cass Gidley Marina by volunteering to work on the small boats that have been donated to the organization.


Captain Heather Richard, who stands 5ft. 2 inches, commands tall sailing ships in the Bay area.  She also hails from the Boston area, and started sailing when she was around 6 years old on a wooden Sunfish.  She coached sailing out of St. Francis Yacht Club in 2000, working privately in the sailing community of the Bay area.


For the past five years, Heather has been working on a project known to locals as Cass’s Marina.  She explains: “This is a public city-owned property that went out of business. A group of us got together and formed a non-profit organization to have a waterfront sailing program at this location. Work has been slow but donations are just starting to come in recently. Oracle donated a bunch of docks after the America’s cup races. The engineering for the ramp has been done, the pilings have been driven, and the Lions Club has pledged $10,000 and manpower to help re-build the office.”  Heather and her committee are now putting together a fleet of small boats.


Heather has a near coastal 100-ton master’s license, which allows her to run charter boats the size of Gaslight and a little bigger.   She is working on board a USA 76, which is an old America Cup’s boat now under charter in San Francisco.  It’s a very long process to learn how to run this vessel that is 84 feet long, the largest boat she has worked on. Because of her size she has had to be better than most of her male counterparts.  But she feels that once she is on board and the crew starts to see what she is capable of; they soon change their minds.   
Jody Boyle, who is currently working on a 40 ft. yawl, has been at his shop at Gate 3 for the past 10 years, and had no idea that he would be in one space so long.  But he has plenty of work, which makes his month-to-month arrangement worth it.    His skills bring him work from outside Sausalito so he travels to different locations doing boat repairs and vessel restorations. He mentions how the most important things he learned from Bob Darr and the Arques School was lofting, hand tool work and that attention to detail.  “The school was awesome,” he says.
For the past 3 years Anton Hottner has worked on the 136-foot long luxury motor yacht, the Acania.  He was recently commissioned to design and build a 17ft lapstrake rowing boat.  His client Doug Gilmore, who believes in supporting the working waterfront, has purchased 3 small boats that both Anton and Jody have worked on.


Anton feels that the importance of the waterfront is that “It’s alive.”  He says: “If you change the zoning, condos can take over shop space and then it becomes a ‘dead’ experience. “


The boat-building heritage of the waterfront is alive because it is passed on.  Recently, a family came to pass on their father’s boat building tools because they felt they should be used. The family decided to seek out boat workers in Sausalito, and found Jody and Anton.  To their surprise they ended up with a set of beautiful specialized wooden tools, most of them hand made.  Anton says, “When you pick up a tool and feel the handle you can almost feel the man who used the tools, the romance of what he was building with that tool.”
Heather feels that Sausalito is one of the few places in the country where new wooden boats are still being built. “There are a lot of talented young boat builders working here and we are now starting to see that maybe fiberglass was not that good because it did not last as long as people thought,” she observes, adding,  “Maybe we should be looking for new materials that would work, but the traditional wooden boat is still preferred.”


Many vessels return each year to have repairs done only in Sausalito by the shipwrights from the Arques School -- vessels like the famous 52-foot yawl Dorade.   Designed by Olin Stephens in 1929 for $28,000, the Dorade would change the way people thought about sailing.  Recently she was docked at Schoonmaker Marina where Jeff and Jody were commissioned to do repairs on her.
They work together, they play together … Heather, Jeff, Anton and Jody all have one thing in common: a love of what they are doing which gives them the right to pass that on to Sausalito’s next generation of waterfront workers.  


Strawberry Point: ‘The Capital of the World?’

March 26 - April 1, 2014

By Brad Hathaway & David Siegel, Sausalito Historical Society

If architect William W. Wurster had had his way, Frank Lloyd Wright’s Marin County Civic Center might not be Marin’s most famous post-World War II building. It was Wurster’s idea that the slender peninsula jutting into Richardson’s Bay called Strawberry Point would have sported not homes and a Baptist Seminary, but instead, a “World Peace Center” serving as the permanent headquarters of the United Nations.

Charlene Mires, an Associate Professor of History at New Jersey’s Rutgers University, has published a book detailing the efforts of many communities around the country, and for that matter, around the world, to become “The Capital of the World” by hosting the UN, an effort which finally ended with New York City receiving the honor. She unearthed some 248 proposals or suggestions which earned at least a passing nod for the honor back in 1945.

Among the proposals Mires unearthed was one prepared by Wurster and two colleagues, Ernest Born and Theodore C. Bernardi. They prepared a plan which would have accommodated a domed auditorium capable of seating 10,000 delegates, staff, press and the public as well as office buildings for the organization’s permanent bureaucracy and a library/archive/museum to house and display the documents of this new world body.

While most proposals for a home for the United Nations would be expected to include facilities like those, the plans for Strawberry Point included such unique features as a small craft harbor to allow commuting from San Francisco by boat and a “Seaplane Landing Base.”

A ceremonial “Court of Flags” and the plaza surrounding the main auditorium would have faced toward the northeast with the Tiburon Peninsula as its vista, but sloping down the western edge of the point facing Sausalito would have been the library and both an indoor and an outdoor museum. It would have placed a broad plaza approximately where the homes on Starboard Court are today.

Architect Born waxed eloquent in his description of the site and the plan, saying “Caught in the meeting of land, sky and sea there is a sense of unity understandable by people of anywhere in the world. Unhampered by political prejudice or selfish bias, Strawberry Point, Marin County, has been selected by the architects as the area in the Bay Region possessing in highest degree features of a building site for a center of world importance. The site of unsurpassed beauty, indefinitely expandable generally northward and accessible to the bay cities is at once detached from urban cramp while still part of the urban scene.”

Northern California and the Bay Area had reason to anticipate the possibility of the United Nations establishing its headquarters here. The Charter of the United Nations was formally established in a two-month conference where delegates from 44 nations met in San Francisco’s Opera House between April and June of 1945 as World War II was coming to an end and the form of the post-war world was beginning to take shape. It was, and may still remain, the largest single gathering of an international conference, with 850 delegates, nearly 2,000 advisers and staffers and over 2,500 reporters.

Mires’ book, Capital of the World: The Race to Host the United Nations reveals that just what the UN would require once it got underway was unclear at the time. Would a new city be founded as a “World Capital” with embassies for each of the member countries, residences for staff and all the accouterments of a capital city, or would a “Headquarters” within an existing locale be sufficient? Wurster, Bernardi and Born assumed a working headquarters would suffice, but that it should be of a design that spoke both to the dignity of the organization’s goals and of the aspirations of a world tired of war.

The Strawberry Point proposal wasn’t the only Marin County entry in the very informal competition for a “World Peace Center,” “Capital of the World” or “Permanent Headquarters for the United Nations.” California Democratic State Senator Herbert W. Slater of Santa Rosa introduced a joint resolution in Sacramento which, if it had passed, would urge the placement of the facility - whatever it might turn out to be - “in a redwood grove in the west’s world famous Redwood Empire.” While that might have been some redwood-rich area on the North Coast, it might just as well have proven to be the grove in Muir Woods where the United Nations held its memorial tribute to Franklin Delano Roosevelt on May 19, 1945.

Mires’ book details the way that New York City earned its place as the UN Headquarters with the last minute agreement of John D. Rockerfeller, Jr. to fund the purchase of the site on the East River between 42nd and 48th Street for the UN at a price of $8.5 million. Adjusted for inflation, that would amount to over $110 million today. Strawberry Point couldn’t compete with that.


The Rainbow Tunnel Shines On

TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 13, 2013

by Brad Hathaway

In 1970, what is now CalTrans took a utilitarian piece of infrastructure and turned it into a landmark, comining the uniquely Marin-ish mixture of whimsey and wonder with the utility of a major highway structure.

Photo by Yelp

As Alan S. Hart, the director of the San Francisco District of California’s Division of Highways, prepared to retire, he and his public information officer, Robert Halligan, came up with the idea of painting the southern portals of the Waldo Tunnels of U. S. Route 101 with a rainbow of colors. Hart didn’t bother to clear the idea with his superiors in Sacramento and it is reported that they were not pleased – but the public reaction was so positive they let the colors remain.

Originally, there had been just one tunnel. It was constructed in 1937 as part of the Golden Gate Bridge project to connect San Francisco with Marin County and the rest of Northern California. The tunnel was 1,000 feet long and the elevation at the entrance was 517 feet above sea level. It cost $630,346 in depression-era dollars.

By the 1950s the single, four lane tunnel had become something of a bottleneck sitting as it did just north of the six lane Golden Gate Bridge on the Redwood Highway. A second tunnel was drilled in 1954 so that the highway could handle four lanes in each direction. The cost of that second tunnel came in at $1,750,000.

After the portals to the tunnels took on the spectrum of the rainbow, legends that seem to die hard sprang up about hippies sneaking out in the middle of the night to surreptitiously apply the paint. After all, the age of flower-power and psychedelic color schemes was at its peak. The fact that no crew could have done the work in a single night didn’t seem to keep that legend from spreading.

As the fame of the tunnels grew, the rainbows became part of the area’s self-image, and the drive under the rainbow became a delight both for commuters approaching home and for tourists following the Redwood Highway to the north.

But time took its tole on the vibrancy of the rainbow spectrum. The paint faded badly. In the 1980s CalTrans repainted the portals, but by 2009 they needed another coat.

Enter Belinda Hallmark, a color consultant from Novato.

Hallmark read that CalTrans was planning on renewing the paint job and thought she might be able to be of assistance. After all, as a color consultant she knew a great deal about how different colors would go together and how different paints would behave.

Of course, a rainbow would include red. But which red? Green, but what shade of green? Yellow, but would the yellow be lemony or golden?

Hallmark feared that simply applying bands of primary colors might end up with the tunnels looking “more like a roll of Life Savers than like rainbows,” so she contacted CalTrans to offer her services – gratis.

With the cooperation of the paint team of CaTrans’ Maintenance Division 4, plans were laid for the job. Hallmark painted test swatches to judge not only how different colors would work together, but how they would behave in the wide range of lighting conditions the weather offers for those south-facing arches: direct sun through morning mists, sharp twilight shadows, rolling fog banks and wind-driven rains. As often as three times a day she would drive Route 101 to check the samples.

Not only did Hallmark help determine the colors to be used, she chose the paint and even got it donated for the project. Benjamin Moore’s Aura was the paint of choice and the company donated half of the paint required for the job. Their generosity was matched by Marin Color Services, Inc., the Benjamin Moore outlet in San Rafael and Novato.

There was thought about painting the north side portals as well, but they were in sight of private residences and not all the homeowners thought seeing painted rainbows was the view they wanted.

Hallmark convinced CalTrans officials that the north face of the tunnel and not just the arched portals shoud be painted. She chose a green for the flat surface and a grey tone for the pop-out concrete blocks. This was to provide a more distinct background for the rainbows.

Photo San Jose Mercury News

In all, it took 30 gallons of paint for the rainbows themselves, 40 gallons for the wall surfaces as well as a total of 40 gallons of primer, and an additional 20 gallons of clear sealer for the rainbows.

CalTrans’ Jeff Buttte and his Richmond/Sn Rafael Bridge Painting Crew did the work in September and October of 2009 at a cost of about $142,000 for the 3,000 hour job. That included a dozen painters and a half-dozen person lane closure/traffic control crew. In all, almost 10,000 square feet of surface outside and within the tunnels were coated.

Hallmark still drives up to look at how the rainbows have fared. “There’s no sign of fading” to date, she says.

A sentiment echoed by my granddaughters who love to go through the Rainbow Tunnel!


Angel Island The gem off our coast

TUESDAY, JUNE 5, 2013

by Brad Hathaway

For most residents of Sausalito, the view from the water side of your home isn’t of the Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco, Belvedere Peninsula or even Strawberry Point. It is Angel Island which forms our front porch.

Photo funcheap.com

A book detailing The Islands of San Francisco Bay provides a wealth of information on the history of Angel Island from its geological formation to its role as a safe haven, a military installation, an immigration station and a park.

James A. Martin, who conceived of the book and wrote a good deal of it himself, visited the Sausalito Historical Society at its May meeting and explained that the project was more than just a textual one. He photographed the scenes on the bay’s major and minor island to make the book a thing of beauty as well as of interesting information.

Appropriately enough, in an introduction by Paul McHugh, the book begins with the history of the bay region itself, going back some fifteen thousand years to the peak of the last ice age when what are islands today were just hills on the plain that became the bay. Then, the ocean lay over 30 miles to the west of the Golden Gate and the rivers draining California flowed out to a huge cliff miles beyond the Faralons.

Today, Angel is one of seven major islands in the greater San Francisco Bay: in alphabetical order they are Alameda, Alcatraz, Angel, Bair, Brooks, Mare and Yerba Buena/Treasure. Each receives full attention in a separate chapter in Martin’s book, along with additional chapters on collections of less major outcroppings such as Red Rock and the Brothers and Sisters.

In Angel Island’s chapter, written by Jonah Owen Lamb, we learn that prior to the arrival of Europeans in the bay area, Angel Island had hosted occasional seasonal visits by Miwok people, but apparently it never had a permanent settlement. Then, in 1775, the San Carlos, a Spanish vessel under the command of Juan Manual de Ayala, became the first European vessel to sail into the bay.

Ayala named the island Isla de los Angeles and used a cove on the north side of the island as a base for extensive charting of the bay. That cove was named for the captain. Nearly forty years later the British Cormorant-class sloop Racoon beached at the cove for repairs. Using a more modern spelling, the strait between the island and what is now Tiburon, which is more than 200 feet deep, has become the Raccoon Straits.

In the 1830s, Antonio Maria Osio owned the island as part of a Mexican rancho and grazed a herd of Long Horn Cattle. He built houses for his cowboys and had a thriving business until Mexico lost California and he lost his rancho.

Lamb sketches the on-again, off-again history of military uses of the island between 1863 and the end of World War II. “Several gun batteries facing the Pacific were built by the military, and installations and bases around the island housed, shipped and trained soldiers for years” he says, adding that “to this day, the military presence still permeates the place.”

View of Immigration Station Administration Building, detention barracks and pier, c. 1916. Photo courtesy of National Archives,

View of Immigration Station Administration Building, detention barracks and pier, c. 1916. Photo courtesy of National Archives,

But it is, of course, the history of the use of Angel Island as a US Immigration Station that dominates the reputation of the island. It earns a separate sub-chapter in the book titled “Picture Brides and Paper Sons” in which Joe Mudnich sketches, in human terms, the impact of the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 and the 1907 “Gentlemen’s Agreement” with Japan which meant that the role of the facility was, as he says, “not so much to welcome most newcomers as to guard against them.” Mudnich points out that this history means that the station “was not exactly the ‘Ellis Island of the West’ as it is often called today.”

He says that between 1910 and 1940 as many as a million people, “mostly from China and Japan” were processed through the more than four dozen buildings on Angel Island’s “China Cove” before either entering or leaving the United States. The cove’s name, by the way, was a reference to Chinese shrimpers who camped there long before there was an Immigration Station there.

“Angel Island” was also the name of the 144-foot steamer that shuttled passengers back and forth between the island, San Francisco and the ships in the bay. Today, it is the name of the California state park which holds the entire island with the exception of an unused Coast Guard facility. Martin’s book contains as many as thirty five color photographs to illustrate its description of the island as it exists today, and the sketch of its history, which makes a visit to Sausalito’s “front porch” a day trip to remember.