By Steefenie Wicks - The Sausalito Historical Society
For years, the Sausalito Historical Society has recorded interviews with people who have added to the history of Sausalito. The following is taken from an interview that was conducted by Dorothy Gibson, a local historian and former member of SHS. A resident of Sausalito since 1954, Gibson is the author of two books, “Sausalito Paths and Walkways” and “The Marin Headlands.”
“High above Richards’s Bay, high above San Francisco Bay, high above almost everything God willing, we are at the home of Fritz Warren on Wolfback Ridge.”
This was Gibson’s opening statement on the interview tape, recorded March 26, 2008. Francis (Fritz) Wreden Warren was born in San Francisco in 1927. In the interview, Warren makes it clear he was on his own at a very young age. He shipped out of San Francisco as a merchant marine when he was only 17 and, by the time he was in his 20s, he had sailed most of the world.
At that time Warren attended San Francisco City College and decided that he would return to the Bay to go back to school. He later attended Hastings Law School, but dropped out when he started working for British Auto Parts, a job that he would hold for the next 10 years.
Warren spoke about taking a part-time job with Ernie Gain as a young student. At the time, Gain was fishing out of San Francisco on a 35-foot salmon trawler.
“In those days, there were public docks that the fishing boats could pull up to and sell their catch,” Warren recalled.” When we would get to the dock, Ernie would give me a dollar’s worth of nickels and send me to the nearest phone booth. There I would go to the restaurant page, start calling them, letting them know that we had just come in with a load of fresh rock cod that they had better come over fast before we sold out. Within an hour they would start to arrive.
“But soon I realized that this was not the way to make a lot of money. That’s when I got involved in auto parts sales.”
Part of Warren’s job was to travel to different areas, and, on one of his trips, he purchased his first boat. She was called the Truly Fair, a 72-foot yawl with what he called a “Sausalito” transom. He spoke fondly of his days aboard the Truly Fair and his life at sea with his wife, June.
“I met June in 1948, here on Wolfback Ridge,” Warren said. “I had come back to Sausalito. There was a listing in the newspaper about this piece of property at the top of Sausalito, so I came to see it. Walked around, could not get over the million-dollar views that this acreage offered, then saw a house, walked up to the front door and knocked.”
The door was opened by June, who, at the time, was living in the house with her soon to be ex-husband, Mario Corbett.
“Mario Corbett, an architect, had purchased most of this property in the mid 1940s,” Warren continued. “June had been part of his public relations team. When they married, they moved to Sausalito. They had purchased from Sausalito Boulevard to the top of the ridge, they owned upper Spencer [Avenue] on both sides of the freeway, also a road called Ridge Road.
“At that time, there were no houses or structures up here except for the castle that was built in 1939 by Rudolph G. Theurkauf, called, ‘The Tower.’ It commands a spectacular view of San Francisco Bay.”
June eventually divorced Corbett. He kept land, she the house. A relationship soon developed between Fritz and June. They married, had three children and became involved in the political structure of Sausalito.
In 1977, he constructed his dream house high above the rushing traffic of Highway 101. It was in this house that the interview with Gibson took place.
Warren spent a lot of his time at planning commission meetings and was eventually appointed to the commission on which he would serve two years. He ran for city council, was elected to office for four years in the 1970s, and served two of the years as Mayor of Sausalito.
He would become known as a strong-minded mayor who had his own issues with not only the Sausalito waterfront, but also the Golden Gate National Recreation Area.
At one point in the interview, Warren breaks his train of thought as he spots a hawk out the window. As he gazes at the large bird, he comments on how they don’t move their wings; they just keep working the wind currents up and down.
One can almost see both Dorothy and Fritz in that 4,000-square-foot structure, looking out over the Bay as they sat and spoke. I think both would agree that people do throw stones at those who live on the sides of mountains.