Local History – December 2009

Napa Valley Marketplace Magazine “Local History” December 2009.

Stories Of Suffrage
by Lauren Coodley

History is two things: it is the past, and it
is what happens in the minds of historians
who bring to the documents their own
interests and concerns, as well as the
interests, concerns, and historical
understandings of their eras… Carol Kammen

Those of us able to publish about the histories of our regions are few and fortunate. In writing, we try to honor the many whose names might be forgotten. Sharon McGriff-Payne has just published a revelatory history of African Americans in the North Bay between l845 and l925. Her survey of property records and census figures show that 200 to 300 African-Americans lived in Napa County between the 1860s and the 1890s.

Napa’s first Black church, founded in l867, was one of the first in California. The African Methodist Episcopal Church was on Washington Street between First and Clay. In addition to providing a place of worship, it offered educational opportunities for the children of its members. That same year, the play Uncle Tom’s Cabin, based on abolitionist Harriet Beecher Stowe’s anti-slavery novel, opened in Vallejo, and Napans might have traveled through the countryside in their horses and buggies to attend the performance. McGriff-Payne found a review stating it was “well-played considering the short time in preparation and bad weather.”

Three years later, the l5th Amendment to the Constitution was ratified. The Amendment prohibiting each state in the United States from denying a citizen the right to vote based on that citizen’s “race, color, or previous condition of servitude” was ratified on February 3, 1870. Black churches in the Napa and Vallejo areas, along with those around the country, celebrated the ratification of the amendment which expanded voting rights to newly emancipated men.

The Vallejo Evening Chronicle announced: “The colored citizens of Napa will jubilee on Monday next.”  On April ll, l870, Napa’s Black residents gathered for a full day of activities, including a speech given by Rev. William R. Hillary, dancing, and a hundred gun salute, all at Napa Hall.

Frederick Sparrow was undoubtedly one of those attending the celebration. Sparrow, who owned a barbershop at 52 Main Street in Napa, was educated in one of the first schools for Black children established in the l850’s, in Sacramento. Because of his standing in the community, Sparrow was selected by his peers as one of those chosen to vote.  McGriff-Payne writes: In April l870, Frederick A. Sparrow strode the short distance from his home to the Napa County Courthouse where he registered to vote for the first time… Sparrow, who had long waited for this day, was ready.

Frederick Sparrow and his wife Alice had married in l865, and were the parents of three children. Unfortunately his youngest son died the year before his father was able to vote. The 1870 Census includes a “grandmother Nellie” among those in the Frederick Sparrow household. Frederick’s wife Alice died sometime before l877, when records show he re-married Jenny Hall. One fragment of evidence exists about Sparrow’s second wife: according to the March 31, 1877 Reporter, Jenny was enjoying the St. Patrick’s Day celebration in Napa when suddenly city Marshall Thomas Earl grabbed, arrested and jailed her. Mrs. Sparrow was brought to trial, but the presiding justice acquitted her of criminal charges after hearing the testimony. She won a $5,000 lawsuit against Earl.

By l880, the census lists only Nellie Sparrow, 84, and her twelve year old granddaughter as still living in the Sparrow household. What happened to Frederick Sparrow, to his mother, his daughter, or his second wife is yet to be documented. The ongoing struggle to gain voting rights for American women would surely affect the future of Frederick Sparrow’s female descendants.

Sixteen years later, in 1896, California men cast votes on whether to extend suffrage to women. The campaign for Women’s Suffrage sent Susan B. Anthony to Napa that year.  Anthony was born into a Quaker family, the first denomination to denounce slavery, and to actively work against it in the abolitionist movement. Women were not allowed to speak in public; thus for the female abolitionists, their struggle against slavery became a struggle for women’s rights as well.

Anthony was 76 years old when she came to Napa County, and the Napa Register reported that she spoke to enthusiastic crowds. Reporters also described the local suffrage conference that was held at the Opera House a month  later, where a Mrs. Mills stated that “the anti’s are in the minority in California; California has such excellent men; and the press in California favors equal suffrage.” Mrs. B. F. Taylor added: “We cannot claim that our Constitution is of the people, for the people and by the people when one half of them are disenfranchised.”

Despite their hopeful declarations, the Equal Suffrage ballot measure of 1896 failed by a large margin, primarily due to lobbying by alcoholic beverage associations, who feared that female voters would support Prohibition. In l906, Susan B. Anthony died, still unable to vote. We don’t know which of the Sparrow women might have been able to vote in l920, when the Nineteenth Amendment was ratified only because a Tennessee suffragist telegraphed her legislator son from her hospital bed, urging him to change his vote to “yes.”  Thanks to Sharon McGriff-Payne’s research, we now also know that the Vallejo’s National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) established the Women’s Political Club on August l2, l920, six days before that ratification vote in Tennessee. Carol Kammen writes:

Most of what local history once was, stems from and documents a community’s elite… We consciously expand beyond this base, finding new ways to use the materials that are already in our collections and seeking additions to the archive of documents more representative of all the people of the past.

Vallejo museum curator Jim Kern is inviting the public to contribute photos, documents, and other artifacts to document African-American history between l850-l950. As our research and our collections grow, we will understand better the intersection of the l9th century struggles for equal voting rights for all Americans.

Works Cited:  Carol Kammen, On Doing Local History (Altimira Press), 2003.
Rebecca Yerger, “Suffragists Met in Opera House,” Napa Register, March 3, l996; “Napa Valley’s African-American pioneers,” Napa Register, March 01, 2009;
Sharon McGriff-Payne, John Grider’s Century: African Americans in Solano, Napa and Sonoma Counties from l845 to l925 by (iUniverse), 2009.
McGriff-Payne’s book is among those included in the author’s Napa Vallejo History class, History l53, in Spring 20l0.


Local History – November 2009

Napa Valley Marketplace Magazine “Local History” November 2009.


“A Fine State Of Perfection:” Dr. Phong Vu’s Napa Childhood
by Lauren Coodley

O white pear,
your flower-tufts,
thick on the branch,
bring summer and ripe fruits
in their purple hearts…

(Hilda Doolittle)

My family first came to Napa around 1981.
There was a church in the community [St Appollinaris] that had sponsored some of my other relatives to come to Napa, who then paved the way for us to come over safely. I was around the age of one at the time. My first memory that I can recall was walking around the parking lots of the Stonehouse apartments with my mother. This was where the whole collection of us had stayed for a while until we had all gotten settled. My immediate family, which consisted of my father, mother, and older brother, then moved to a duplex on Silverado Trail located across from the Hamburger stand and what was once Vallergas. We lived in this place from about 1984 – 1989. It was during this time that I first saw the pear trees at the Napa College.

Native to temperate Europe and Western Asia, pears (Pyrus communis) are one of the two-dozen plants known to have been cultivated over 4,000 years. In the fourth century B.C., ancient Greek authors had detailed information about the propagation of pears, which Homer called “the fruit of the gods.”West Coast pears were originally brought by the Spanish to Mexico, and traveled up the California coast with the early missions. Until pear growing was established on the West Coast, imitating European standards was a luxury of the leisure class.

The boom in California pear growing came after the Gold Rush, in the late 1800’s, when farmers planted large orchards of European pears to provide fruits for a growing population. Markets remained local and town folk enjoyed fresh fruit up until World War II. After the war, the small, easily bruised heritage varieties were gradually eliminated in favor of a large pear that could be shipped, handled, and had a long shelf life: namely the Bartlett. The inland coastal valleys of California, Oregon, and Washington became the largest pear growing area in the United States, producing 90 percent of the pear crop.

Gold seekers, when they came to Napa during the winters, were willing to pay high prices for the pleasure of eating fresh fruit. The Thompson brothers, who traded lumber for land with Mariano Vallejo, planted fruit trees near Suscol Creek, which they diverted and channeled for irrigation. By l860 Thompson’s Gardens were known all over the West, with  l50,000 fruit trees thriving. In l869, when transcontinental high speed train roared to life, Napa’s fruit production exploded. Napa offered the ideal climate and available land even for people with limited incomes. By l923, the San Francisco Chronicle described Napa pears as reaching “a fine state of perfection.”

When we first came here to Napa from Vietnam, my father found a temporary job working on the Napa College campus. This is how I think we found out about the pear trees. For several years I remember my mother taking my brother and me to the pear orchards.  At first, because I was so young, my mother would tell me to wait on the concrete while she and my brother would go pick the trees. She would tell me that there were snakes nearby, which I guess scared me enough to stay put. I’ve never seen a snake there in my life. Then as I got a little bit older she eventually had me help out. We’d come fully prepared with our brown paper grocery bags and just pick away, sometimes until daylight was gone. I remember the grass was always yellow and the trees looked somewhat –“scraggly”– I guess would be the best word to describe it. The pears themselves were sometimes green, sometimes yellow, and often times with worm holes in them. After we would take them home, my mom would wash them, skin them, and cut them into pieces for my brother and me. Although sweet, I remember them being somewhat of a dry texture, not like the ones you would find at the store these days. Often times we had picked so much that the extra pears would eventually make their way to other family households. I am surprised to hear that the trees were planted by the inmates from the hospital for the Mentally Ill.  In fact, until I was older, I had always thought the hospital was somebody’s big house.

The state chose Napa in the l870’s as the site to build the 192-acre asylum because the land was so inexpensive. Two hundred and four acres of the original Tulocay Mexican land grant were purchased from Don Cayetano Juarez for $15,000. Eventually, hospital acreage totaled 2,000,  from the Napa River to the eastern skyline. The early Asylum, which locals called “The Farm,” was nearly self-sustaining, with live-in staff, vegetable fields, orchards, cattle, a bakery and a wharf on the Napa River to receive supplies. As late as the 1920’s, patients made the trip up the river in wicker cages secured to the boat deck.

Because the founders believed that farming would be therapeutic, patients raised all their own vegetables, meat and dairy products, and operated an award-winning pig sty. The patients also tended the orchards on the hospital grounds. In the late l960’s, State Senator John Dunlap arranged for the transfer of these orchard lands to the newly built community college campus, next to Kennedy Park, named for the first President associated with the Vietnam War.

My mother and father originally left Vietnam to look for a better life for my brother and me. Like many Vietnamese people after the war, they have their own story of escape which I don’t remember, but have heard many times before through their words and the words of my other relatives who also took that journey. Through the kindness of many Good Samaritans most of my family made it to California – some in Los Angeles, some in San Jose, and some, like my own family, ended up in Napa.

After the end of Vietnam War, several waves of refugees from Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos were admitted to the United States; between 1983 and 1991, the United States admitted between 35,000 to 52,000 each year, for a total of 367,174. Immigrant son, Andrew Lam,  writes: “Soon enough houses are bought, jobs are had, children are born, old folks are buried, and businesses opened. That is to say our roots sink slowly but deeply, into the American loam.”

I have very fond memories of growing up here. Fishing with home-made fishing rods in the Napa River, smashing quarters on the Wine Train tracks, circus acts at the Napa Fairgrounds, duck feeding near Kennedy park, July 4th fireworks on the Napa College soccer field, and even waking up to see people swimming in the streets during the 1986 flood. My most cherished pastime, however, was the weekly gatherings at my relatives’ house. Every Saturday, my mother and father would bring us to the homes of aunts and uncles where we would have Vietnamese Catholic mass. While the parents would catch up with each others’ lives, the kids would play in the streets until night. It was here in these homes, that our family was able to hold onto their culture. Although most of the children have grown up and moved on, the tradition is still going on to this day with new family friends.   I’ve been truly blessed to have lived in such a wonderful community and look forward to one day having my children call this city their home.

Phong Vu was recently married and is currently a practicing optometrist at the office of Drs. John Bosetti and Nancy Jameson.

Information on pear history from

Andrew Lam from

With her writing partner, Paula Amen Schmitt, Lauren Coodley is the author of Napa: the Transformation of an American Town (Arcadia, 2007).


Local History – October 2009

Napa Valley Marketplace Magazine “Local History” October 2009.


Like A Bottle Cast On The Shore
By Lauren Coodley

While today, women make important contributions to newspapers and local magazines such as this one, newspaperwomen in the Forties and Fifties, like Phyllis King, were unusual. Phyllis King was one of the few pioneer journalists who kept her job after World War II. Liz Reyna, King’s daughter, writes of her mother:

“Phyllis King Thompson was a newspaper reporter from the l940’s through the early Sixties, mostly in Napa, her birthplace. Her great grandfather, a Methodist minister, had come here in the l880’s after serving as a chaplain for the Union Army in the Civil War and as a circuit riding minister in California’s mining towns. Her grandfather, Judge Percy King, presided over Napa courts from Prohibition through World War II. Her father, Percy King Jr, was also a judge in the l950’s, and her Aunt “Babe” (Elizabeth King Robinson) was Napa’s first woman lawyer.”

Phyllis, born in l924, graduated from Napa High in 1942, attended Stanford, then moved to Marysville and worked on a daily paper during World War II. The public relations officer at nearby Camp Beale was Carl F. Beuoy, whom she would contact for camp news and would later marry.   After the war ended, the couple moved to the Midwest where they both sought work in journalism. Their two children were born in l947 and l948.

“After my mother separated from my dad, she moved back to Napa. We lived at the ranch at 2230 Big Ranch Road for a while, then moved to downtown Napa where we lived in an old Victorian on Second Street.  This is where most of my mom’s newspaper career took place. She was a versatile reporter, covering everything from what was then called ‘women’s news’, to politics, major news stories, travel, and scientific advances. She had a terrific sense of humor, a very quick mind, knew everyone in town, and was a very social person. She had reddish-brown hair, gorgeous and naturally wavy, was always slim and enjoyed up-to-date styles.”

Reyna describes how her mother simultaneously worked in a “man’s world,” as it was then frankly labeled, and also managed to “wallpaper several tall rooms in her old Victorian with only the help of two young children.” Reyna remembers watching her mother sitting at her typewriter, either at home or at the Napa Register office, with the phone cradled on her shoulder, getting information on some breaking news and pounding away at her keyboard at the same time:

“Within moments the story would roll out of the typewriter, a finished product requiring only minor edits before it would appear in the next day’s paper. She worked a full day at the Register, then came home to write Napa stories for the Sacramento Bee and the Oakland Tribune. By 9 p.m., we would drive down to the bus depot to send the stories off for the morning’s editions.”

Phyllis King herself gives a vivid account of what it was like to work for a local paper in the Forties. She describes working with Register editor Arthur MacKay “in the days when reporters used folded over half sheets of copy paper to be held easily in the left hand…before they donned horned rimmed glasses and bought clipboards.”

“Mac’s predecessor was a fellow by the name of George Peck… When George arrived in Napa, about l94l, the newsroom stretched some l5 by l2 feet, room enough for him, a reporter, and the society editor plus the morgue. The society editor had a constant flow of people in to inform her of “club happenings” (It wasn’t proper to have “social functions” during the war.)

Back in those days, people in town hung out at the Plaza Hotel bar. George used to get together there every night with the lawyers, courthouse personnel, and other interested townsfolk. One night he became deeply engrossed in conversation with a group…until he decided maybe he couldn’t make it to his rooming house three blocks away. He went to the phones and called an ambulance!”

King recounts how newspapers were produced during the War years: “In order to catch the mail, the paper had to turn from an evening to a morning publication, so the society editor handled things during the day, with the reporter and editor coming in late in the afternoon.” The publisher and composing room foreman got the paper out in the morning.

Recently, Richard Rodriguez noted that “Newspapers are about something much more intimate, something more local, something more flavored than merely news. I say “merely news,” by which I mean that there is some other aspect of the drama of our lives that newspapers used to be attentive to.”  Liz Reyna writes:

“Mom died too early, at 49, more than 30 years ago.  Her stories offered glimpses into other simpler times: when Napa’s population was only l3,000, before Berryessa Valley was flooded, when a new house was $ll,000, and the Uptown Theatre was showing Teenage Rebel. As the years pass, her old stories from high school and her many newspaper clippings, are becoming brittle and yellowed with age… like a bottle cast on the shore, they bring us back something of the person Mom was.”

Phyllis King’s writing transports us to old Napa, where everyone gathered at the downtown Plaza Hotel Bar, a time when everyone read the daily newspaper, which held those l3,000 souls together in community– the world that Phyllis King chronicled with such delight.

Notes: Phyllis King’s children are Liz Reyna of Rohnert Park, Phillip Beuoy of Santa Ynez and Laura Reed of Napa.
Thanks to Paula Amen Schmitt for editing; to Richard Rodriguez for “The Death of the San Francisco Chronicle,”
http://www.newamericamedia.org, Jun 6, 2009

Last month’s essay Fighting Fires should have been credited to Paula Amen Schmitt with Lauren Coodley.


Local History – September 2009

Napa Valley Marketplace Magazine “Local History” September 2009.


Fighting Fires
By Paula Amen Schmitt with Lauren Coodley

The Dry Creek-Lokoya women were really a very good team. They stuck together in spite of the opposition and they became effective public safety service providers for their community. When they faced a dilemma or a situation they had never encountered before they analyzed the problem, made a plan and set about to deal effectively with whatever the problem was.
– Norm Silver, Retired Battalion Chief, 2009.

When Lois Apperson moved with her family to Mt. Veeder Road in the early seventies, she joined the Dry Creek-Lokoya Women’s Fire Brigade (DCL), a group of women fire fighters recently formed in the Mt. Veeder area. Even though DCL was the first such female unit in the county, Apperson never thought of herself as special, nor, she thinks, did the rest of the some dozen women firefighting pioneers. “We did it out of necessity—we needed to protect our homes, and the men couldn’t get to the fires quickly from their jobs.”

The women reasoned that they could at least get the trucks to the fires so the men could go straight to the scene without having to stop to pick them up. But first they had to learn to drive the 35,000-pound vehicles. Enter California Division of Forestry (CDF) Battalion Chief Norm Silver, whom Apperson credits with inspiring the group with his “you can do anything” attitude. “He gave us the confidence to do what we did.” Silver, the first CDF training officer in the state recalls:

“I took two units down to the big parking lot at the Napa Fairgrounds on Third Street–a military surplus 1941 Dodge Power Wagon and a 1947 Dodge, which had been purchased by the county. The first rule was to learn to use the mirrors—you have to properly adjust them before turning the key. The second rule is to check the water level in the batteries before taking a truck out. After that the women practiced pulling the trucks in and out–we had to use pillows to adjust the seats for Ila Crook, the shortest gal.”

Echoing Silver’s memory, Lois Apperson remembers that 5’ 1” Joan King had to drive the big E-16 engine because she lived closest to where it was parked. “Going through the gears was difficult at first. We had to double clutch the old trucks.” Double clutching is crucial to driving any big rig, It requires extra motion and effort because the driver has to shift first into neutral and then into the desired gear, releasing the clutch twice, once for each shift. Every one of the DCL women mastered it.

Having the trucks at the scene ahead of time helped, but it didn’t get the fires put out. According to Apperson, that prompted the women to begin saying to themselves: “Why wait? We’re here—why not fight the fires ourselves until the men got here?” Norm Silver’s growing concern over slow response time prompted the same idea. However, actual fire fighting would require additional training. Silver recalls first meeting with the women in a vacant lot on Dry Creek Road. “I asked, ‘do any of you think you can’t do this?’ and not one hand went up.” The women learned to handle the ladders and the hoses, and to run the pumps. Once mastering the operation of the equipment on all three trucks, they went out on controlled burns and began fighting fires. Apperson recalls:

“CDF called us the Dry Creek Day Crew, on the pager, and soon they were calling us 24 hours a day. Some of the other rural units did not want women in their organizations, so DCL was unique compared to the rest of Napa.”

Silver agrees: “I took a couple years of razzing for being in favor of the women, but I didn’t care!” Apperson, who eventually recruited her own husband, Ruffin, to the group, remembers that “a lot of married couples joined the group together, and the men in our area were very proud of the women.” Apperson also recalls: “I would throw on denim over a nightgown or halter top, and away I would go. They didn’t make women’s boots then, so mine were old boots handed down by another firefighter’s teenaged son.”

She carries with pride memories of the 19 years she served: sitting on coiled up hoses in the cold tin sheds where they received their first training—son, Ted, starting her car while daughter, Angie, helped her into the heavy fire gear. She sees herself waiting on the road for the fire truck to pick her up, and her friend Alice Beers fighting fires into her seventies. “But what held it all together,” she adds, “was the trust the women had in each other.”

In 1981, the same year she fought the devastating Atlas Peak Fire, Apperson graduated from Sonoma State University with a degree in history. A decade later, she retired from fire fighting as a Captain and the District’s Historian. “None of it ever leaves you,” she says. Lois Apperson still lives on Mt. Veeder Road, satisfied with having been part of a unique group that proved that women could fight fires. Thirteen years after DCL formed, the City of Napa hired its first female firefighter, Jane D’Zell, in 1985; her uniform is displayed at the Napa Firefighters Museum on Main Street.

Lois Apperson’s story can help us remember the almost forgotten Seventies and the many astonishing new possibilities for women inaugurated during that decade. Equally, we need to celebrate men like Norm Silvers who steadfastly encouraged women in these new adventures. The authors wish to thank Lois and Norm for graciously sharing their memories of the Lokoya-Dry Creek women’s crew.

Additional Sources:
“Fighting Fire” by Caroline Paul

Website http://www.homewine.com/slides/firegals2000/index.htm

Paula Amen Schmitt’s poems and Lauren Coodley’s essays can be found in If Not for History… Recovering the Stories of Women in Napa, available at the Napa Historical Society. Amen Schmitt also collaborated with Coodley on the second edition of the Arcadia publication, Napa: The Transformation of an American Town, available at Copperfield’s Books.


History – July 2009

Napa Valley Marketplace Magazine “History” July 2009.


Poker Buddies For Life
By Louisa Hufstader

A Napa woman has written, and privately printed, a slim volume of social history that opens a window on life in Napa more than 60 years ago.
Cecelia Elkington-Setty’s “The Story of the Paesano Poker Club of Napa, California” is a 30-page tribute to a group of Italian-American men who have met for a weekly card game since the early 1940s.

“There wasn’t much to do back then,” says 82-year-old Attilio “Rudy” Bergantini, the youngest of the charter members of the Paesano Poker Club (he was named the club’s “fish reporter and weekend advisor” in the summer of 1942). “There wasn’t television … We got started in cards and we all got addicted to it, and we’re still at it.”

Although some of the original players have passed away, Bergantini and a handful of other members still meet every Thursday for a low-stakes poker game. Along with Bergantini, the club’s surviving members include his 92-year-old uncle Attilio “Tillie” Musante; president and charter member Silvio “Sil” Garaventa, 90; charter member Ranoldo “Babe” Grimoldi, 84; Frank Cances, 79 and 92-year-old Milan “Mo” Ocskay, the sole non-Italian at the table, and a relative newcomer who joined in 1980.

They cherish their weekly game more for the conversation and fellowship than for the play: “We’re not really that competitive,” Bergantini admits. “The cards are just there to keep our hands busy.”

Even in the early days, says Grimoldi, it wasn’t a money game. “It never has been,” he says. “That’s why it’s lasted so long.” The real attraction, Bergantini says, is “the company and the reminiscing, now… fortunately, we’re all together so long, we go back and just about remember all our good times.”

Setty describes some of those good times in her booklet, which she wrote with Bergantini’s help. She paints a nostalgic picture of Alta Heights’ “Little Italy” neighborhood where the friends grew up, the first generation born to Italian-speaking parents who grew their own fruit and vegetables, raised their own poultry and stored barrels of wine in their cellars.

“In the late afternoon up and down their streets, the kids would hear ‘chop-chop-chop’ of dinner being prepared by their mothers, knowing minestrone soup would again start their meal,” she writes. “The parents and many grandparents, some not speaking English, kept alive the Old World traditions and customs as these young men grew up.”

Their shared experiences as Italian Napans are not the only ties that have bound the men in the Paesano Poker Club so closely together for seven decades; they also attended local schools and went on to work at what was the Basalt Rock Company until it was purchased by Kaiser in 1955.

Lorraine Kongsgaard, whose parents owned Basalt, has such warm memories of the men in the Paesano Poker Club that she attended a party in their honor, held earlier this year at the Native Sons Hall in Napa.

Kongsgaard recalls Basalt fondly, not only as a plant, but as a tight-knit community: “You knew everybody and you knew their families,” she says. She attended school with the workers’ children, and her family was often invited to weddings and christenings by Basalt employees.

“It was a big part of my life,” she says. “This little plant in Napa—people don’t realize what went through it.”

“The Story of the Paesano Poker Club of Napa, California” includes historical photographs from the heyday of Basalt and Kaiser, as well as family snapshots, candid photos from past poker games and even class photographs from the 1930s. The booklet may be hard to find—Setty created her spiral-bound tribute out of sheer admiration, with no plan to distribute it—but it deserves its place on Napa’s historical bookshelf.


History Article – February 2009

Napa Valley Marketplace Magazine History Article February 2009.


History Isn’t Always Taught Properly: The Legacy Of Ivy Loeber
By Lauren Coodley and Lauren Ellsworth

The young Ivy Loeber, as many students today, “positively abhorred history,” but she became one of Napa’s finest historians and advocates for history. As Miss Loeber told a reporter for the Sacramento Bee, “It all started when Charles White of Calistoga asked me to serve as chairman of a research committee in Napa County for the state centennial celebration in 1945.” Finding a new passion at the age of 65, she would profoundly impact how Napa perceived and maintained its history. In l948, she was a founding member of the Napa County Historical Society, begun with eighteen citizens at the Plaza Hotel in l948. As part of a pioneer picnic at the Old Bale Mill in May of l948, she helped conceive the Napa County Historical Society, which was incorporated a few days later at the Plaza Hotel in Napa.
It was Ivy Loeber’s work ethic and vision for what history could mean for everyday people that inspired her fellow citizens. Editor of the Register Ross Game wrote:

You have brought so much leadership and enjoyment to so many people through the years, and you have made history a living thing for so many, that any contact anyone has been fortunate enough to have with you, will long be remembered.

When Loeber entered the field of local history, it may have been with memories of her own youth and how disinterested she was in history—despite the fact that her own connection to Napa was so rich. Her assessment of why young people aren’t interested in history has a special resonance: “As I see it- -history isn’t always taught properly in the classroom. There should be more emphasis on local history, on the romance of the past that’s closest to home.”

Loeber’s grandfather, Calvin Griffith, arrived in the Napa Valley in 1845, when it was still Mexican territory. Like most local men, he left town during the Gold Rush Days and, as Miss Loeber put it, returned “when he realized he could get more gold out of his farm than from the hills.” While her mother grew up in Napa, her father came to Napa from Baltimore. They married and started a family. Ivy was born in l880. At age fifteen, Ivy moved with her family back to Baltimore: She told interviewer Jerry Cornell: “My father said he was raising three tomboys and he had to take them East so that they could become ladies.” In the Nineteenth Century, “ladies” were distinguished from other women by their purity, piety, and domesticity.

From the time she was 16, Ivy Loeber taught Sunday school, resulting in 23 godchildren—“all ages, colors, and sexes.” There is much to be learned about Loeber’s life before her return to Napa County. During World War II, she presided over the Women’s Improvement Club and worked for the Red Cross. She also chaired the Well Baby Conference and quietly helped the poor to get access to used clothing.

After the founding of the Historical Society, Ivy Loeber spoke about California history all over the state; in San Diego, Los Angeles, Fresno, Shasta, and Sutter counties. As she told Jerry Cornell, “My job is to stimulate an interest in area history so that our youth will appreciate their heritage and understand its connection and influence with the present and future.”
The Solano County Historical Society began “when an organizational meeting under the direction of Miss Ivy Loeber of St. Helena, president of the Napa County Historical Society and a regional vice president of the Conference of California Societies, was held at the old County Library in Fairfield.” Eventually, Loeber was also involved in the Conference of California Historical Societies, served as state chairman of history and landmarks for the California Federated Women’s Clubs and, finally, played a major role in the Bale Mill’s preservation and success as a historic site, which was achieved in l972.

The park, the site of a water-powered grist mill that was built in 1846, was once the center of social activity as Napa Valley settlers gathered to have their corn and wheat ground into meal or flour. The owner of the mill, Dr. Edward Turner Bale, had received the property in a land grant from the Mexican government and lived near the site until his death in 1849.  The slow turning of the old grindstones and the dampness of the mill’s site gave the meal a special quality for making cornbread, shortening bread and spoon bread. According to the California State Parks website: “As old timers put it, “When meal comes to you that way, like the heated underside of a settin’ hen, it bakes bread that makes city bread taste like cardboard.”  Undoubtedly, the taste of that bread helped inspire Ivy Loeber’s crusade on behalf of local history.


“Ivy Loeber, Historian” Positive Living, Spring 1998.

“Ivy Loeber—First Lady of St. Helena” An Interview. St. Helena Star, n.d.

Cornell, Jerry. “In The Spotlight: Ivy Loeber’s Name Synonymous With Napa Valley Historical Studies” Napa Register. Aug 5, 1959.

“Valley History Her Specialty” Napa Register, 1968.

Game, Ross. “An Open Letter To Miss Ivy Loeber” Napa Register. Dec 5, 1968.

“Descendant of Napa Pioneers is Historical Chairman for CFWC” Sacramento Bee. Jan 30, 1961.

Loeber, Ivy:

With Ralph Cross and Anne Roller Isler, Anne Roller, Biographical Sketch of Mary Frances Lawley Patten: Lake Berryessa

Loeber, Ivy, Report of Trip to Identify the Battlefield of Soscol Indians and White in l836, l962

History of St. Helena: A century of progress: Napa County Historical Association, 1955

With Jess Doud, “The Good Old Days,” St Helena Star 1967-1974

The Legend of Spanish Mustard

“May I tell you a story? A true story ~ the story of the beautiful Spanish mustard, a golden carpet of which now practically covers the floor of Napa Valley; but not only of Napa Valley ~ all of the valleys of California that were visited by the early Spanish Padres. “This is the story of our early California when it was only a wilderness, with great quantities of trees, beautiful plains, all kinds of wild animals and birds; many, many Indians, and no white men at all.

“Father Serra had come from Spain to Mexico to spread the religion of Jesus Christ, and hearing about this beautiful, vast country to the north, decided to explore it. With a few faithful followers and Indian guides, he traveled north through what is now our glorious and loved California. As he traveled he scattered to the right, and to the left, the mustard seeds which he had brought with him from Spain.

“The following year, as they returned south they followed ‘a ribbon of gold;’ and following that path again Father Serra established his ‘Rosary of Missions,’ beginning in San Diego and ending in Sonoma.

“So wherever you see the Spanish mustard in California you know the Spanish fathers visited there. This is the early California legend as told to me by my Grandfather, whose father told it to him.”

Provided by the Napa County Historical Society, as told to Ivy May Loeber by her grandfather, Calvin Chesterfield Griffith, Napa County pioneer, and authenticated by Edwin Markhom.


History Article – September 2008

Napa Valley Marketplace Magazine History Article September 2008.

Searching For Peggy Connolly
By Lauren Coodley

The Connolly Ranch is quietly and effectively offering us a last sensory impression of rural life in a rapidly subdividing Napa. The lowing of its cows, the murmurs of its chickens, the bleating of its baby goats, graces Browns Valley with the, sounds– and scents!– of a bygone era. I’ve been curious for years as to how it got saved as a public resource by its last occupant, Peggy Connolly. Harold Kelly, local environmental advocate, told me:

“Her family owned the ranch. Her dad bought it. I knew Helen, older sister, and Peggy, the last remaining sister. They visited the ranch regularly as children and young adults; it was their summer place. Sometime in Sixties, the sisters moved fulltime to the ranch. I was active in the Browns Valley Area; Helen got involved with the neighborhood association. Her sister Peggy was supportive of things we were working on, sent a small donation. Along with me, they were among the original signers of Measure J. When I got to know Peggy Connolly, I enjoyed listening to her as she spoke of how much pleasure she got from watching children feed her animals. She told me she would like to see children continue to learn about farm life, and left her property to The Land Trust telling me, ‘Do what is right.’ She died a few months later.”

The last article about Connolly Ranch was published in 2004, and it refers to Marilyn Warnock, family friend. When I called Marilyn in Rio Vista, she told me that Peggy had attended Cal Berkeley with her mother and aunt. Peggy, a juvenile probation officer, and Helen, a court reporter, grew up in San Francisco, where their father was a pharmacist. As adults, the sisters lived in a Telegraph Hill apartment. After their retirements, they moved to the ranch.

When Marilyn and her sister Lorie’s parents moved to the Veterans home, they visited the Connolly sisters frequently; Marilyn kept the family horse, Cookie, at the farm. She also remembers: “a sweet little dog named Miss Mitzie, who ruled the roost… the fantastic library and wonderful old furniture, and lots of potlucks, sitting under the oak tree.”

Lorie Saxon, Marilyn’s sister, told me:
“When I was in college, I spent time up at the ranch, taking a semester off from Cal. Peggy and Helen were very special and unusual people. You knew that after knowing them for five minutes. I remember them as being unusually intelligent women, something I was always looking for. Always a step or two ahead, Peggy looked like an Irish colleen, with a lovely smile.”

I asked her to describe a typical day at the Ranch. Saxon describes it this way:
“I always thought of it as the Chisholm Trail, going up to the house. They wore pants and sweaters and housedresses and, if it was a hot day, they offered iced tea or iced coffee. Then they broke out highballs on the porch. They had donkeys and cats. They were very, very opinionated and had wonderful senses of humor. They would be so happy to know that someone appreciated them.”

Marilyn and Lorie’s brother, Roger Andrews, wrote:
“Peggy and Helen, our ‘bogus aunts’ as they often called themselves, probably left many friends and admirers but likely no real enemies, and precious few of any of them are still alive. Peggy and Helen were, in some ways, larger than life figures. They were smart – maybe brilliant. They were plain-spoken, no-nonsense women who could – and did – take on anyone who crossed them. With their brother and father, and those who worked for them occasionally at the ranch, I recall them as caring and compassionate. With just about everyone else (us included), they were a bit rough and tumble, none too careful about their language, yet always ready for a good laugh, and always good hearted with a strong sense of fairness.”

Peggy Connolly died in l99l. The enormous oak tree–which Lorie Saxon describes as the “biggest I’ve ever seen in my life–was struck by lightning in the late Nineties. I’ve been walking my dog outside the ranch for the last six years, listening at dusk for the sounds of the geese and the chickens, imagining this land back before the traffic. Lately, I’ve been watching my grandson and hundreds of other children excitedly jostle to feed the sheep and the goats. For these children, who will probably never get to live on a farm, Peggy and Helen’s is a living legacy, an act of great love for the future children, in a world they would never see.

My thanks to Carolyn Fruchtenicht, Harold Kelly, Marilyn Warnock, Lori Saxon, and Roger Andrews for their assistance in restoring the Connollys to us. I hope to share some of their photographs, and other memories from readers, in a future article.


History Article July 2008

Napa Valley Marketplace Magazine History Article July 2008.

“A Calm and steady presence:”
Dr. Olive Jack

By Lauren Coodley

“Humble by nature, a consensus builder by choice and dedicated to making a difference, Dr. Jack has established a standard of community service reserved for legends that few will ever match…Dr. Jack’s extraordinary focus and knowledge has helped shape the plans and policies that have guided the development and significant expansion of the aging services network in both Napa and Solano Counties. Her work has directly benefited untold thousands seniors over the past twenty years. In a very real sense, her contribution to the community, particularly on behalf of the weak and frail among us, is simply beyond calculation. She has been a calm and steady presence whose work and compassion over the years has touched everyone in the aging services network.”

Those were the words of Linda Baker, chair of the Board of Directors of the Area Agency on Aging, at an event at the Olive Tree Restaurant in 200l to honor Dr. Olive Jack. I finally met this renowned Napa personage at Piners Convalescent Hospital, where she is currently living.

Born in l9l5 in Nebraska, Olive M. Jack attended the University of Nebraska during the Great Depression of the Thirties. She wasn’t financially able to go to medical school so, instead, she trained as a medical technician. When World War II began, she was recruited to be a medical tech for the U.S. Army and travelled to different military camps. After leaving the Army, she found a job at Temple University School of Medicine in Philadelphia, where her boss encouraged her to go to medical school: “If you don’t get into the top third of the students, I’ll never speak to you again.”

Beginning in the 19th century, the required educational preparation for the practice of medicine increased. This tended to prevent many young American women from entering the medical profession, especially if they were married and had a family. Although home nursing was considered a proper female occupation, nursing in hospitals was performed almost exclusively by men. The American Medical Association, founded in 1846, barred women from membership. No state fully admitted women until l870. By the 1910s, however, women were attending many leading medical schools and in 1915 the American Medical Association began to admit women members.

Thirty-two years later, in l947 when Olive Jack finally entered medical school, women were restricted to ten percent of the students. Olive Jack completed her internship and residency in pediatrics at San Francisco Children’s Hospital in l952. During Dr. Jack’s San Francisco residency, her mother moved to Napa; soon after, Dr. Jack followed. She fondly remembers Napa, then a town of 13,000 people: “It was easy to get around…people were friendly and easy to get to know.” When Dr. Jack was first looking for an office, she would always ask if there were objections to her as a woman doctor. She remembers hearing none.

She lived downtown, close to her pediatric office, and later moved across the street from the newly built Queen of the Valley Hospital. The first physician she shared a practice was Dr. Herbert Waechtler, with whom she maintained a long partnership and warm friendship. Paula Amen Schmitt remembers him saying: “The thing that is so hard about having such a busy practice is that I don’t have enough time to go to the rest homes to visit my seniors as often as I want to.”

In l969, Dr. Jack retired from private practice and began running the county’s outpatient clinic and child health conference. In 1970 she became the physician for the Napa schools. (The first woman physician in the Napa school system was Dr. Ethel Priest who, in l947, established a school health program and became a physician for the junior college and high school football teams). Dr. Jack served as the Director of Health Services for Napa County from 1974 to 1979, during which time she was also the Director of Mental Health and the county’s Drug Program.

Remarkably, Dr. Jack recognized that the newly developing field of geriatric medicine was as significant as pediatrics. In the Eighties, along with Jack Cunningham, Dr. Jack helped found the Solano/Napa Agency on Aging. In 1982 she was on the original board of directors of Napa Senior Day Services “Primetime.” Social worker, Michael Vurek, remembers working with her in the program:

“My deepest sense of her was her willingness to do the hard, unrecognized tasks of creating and sustaining a community-based organization. We worked shoulder to shoulder, but I was always paid, and she was a volunteer. She was, for me, a role model of how to roll up your sleeves and do a piece of the work when something needs to be done. There were no fancy titles or great prestige… I deeply respect and admire her.”

In l990, Soroptomist International of Napa Sunrise presented Dr. Jack with the Women Helping Women award for her service to the Napa community. She accepted the honor at a breakfast event during Women’s History Month. Dr. Jack continued to serve on multiple boards, as that “steady presence on behalf of the weak and frail.” On July l2, 200l, Congressmen Mike Thompson entered these remarks into the Congressional Record:

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to recognize Dr. Olive Jack’s tremendous commitment to the health and wellbeing of the citizens of the Napa community. We can all look to Dr. Jack as a true role model for serving the public selflessly and tirelessly.”

Having taught classes in human development at the community college for decades, I am impressed by the range of Dr. Jack’s contributions to children and elders in this region, and wish to thank her for her recent gracious interview, conducted in her room at Piner’s. Thanks also to Lauren Ellsworth for her research and editing assistance on this essay. Further information on the history of pioneering women physicians like Olive Jack can be found at http://www.ama-assn.org/ama/pub/category/171.html:

Beginning in 1970, when just under 8% of US physicians were women, the percentage of female physicians began to steadily increase- to nearly 12% in 1980 and 17% in 1990.In the 21st century, the number of women physicians continued to rise; 25.2% of US physicians were female by 2002.

Sympathy and Science: Women Physicians in American Medicine by Regina Morantz-Sanchez, Oxford University Press, l985.
Congressional Record, July 12, 200l
From The Last Adventure by Joyce Maxtone Graham, 1901-1953

You think yourselves the adventurous ones, you young ones,
And us becalmed, torpid, our days uneventful,
Our blood stagnant, our minds’ antennae blunted:
But I, who was young and now am old, can tell you
There is no adventure like the adventure of age.

Lauren Coodley has recently released, with Paula Amen Schmitt, a revised second edition of Napa: the Transformation of an American Town (Arcadia Publishing).


Local History – June 2008

Napa Valley Marketplace Magazine History Article June 2008.

Napa Valley Marketplace Magazine Local History Article Photo June 2008 - Joseph Chiles

Retracing Juliana’s Path
By Lauren Coodley

Who was Juliana Pope? Pope Valley’s first female settler was born Maria Juliana Salazar in Taos, New Mexico, in l8l0. We know nothing of her childhood—but just 34 years earlier, the Declaration of Independence was written on America’s eastern coast, while Franciscan friars Dominguez and Escalante explored routes from New Mexico to California. Seventeen years before her birth, the first school text was printed in New Mexico by Padre Antonio Jose Martinez of Taos. Three years before her birth, Zebulon Pike led the first Anglo American expedition into New Mexico. Upon his return to the United States, he published a detailed report on the culture of the people of New Spain, its natural resources, population, and military arrangements. It was the first adequate report on the Spanish provinces of North America ever brought back to the United States.

The only way we know about Juliana is through public records of births and marriages. She was married many times. Her second husband was Jose M. Rodriguez, with whom she had two children, Maria and Jose, born in l83l and l833. Juliana was a widow in l834, when she met Julian Pope. Pope had left Kentucky at the age of l7 to hunt and trade in the Mexican territory which would become “New Mexico.” In l827 he joined George Yount’s trapping expedition. But, in l830 the Mexican government, perhaps sensing that their land might be at risk, restricted trapping by non-Mexicans. So Pope set about becoming a Mexican citizen. He joined the Catholic Church and changed his name from William to Julian. He invested in the trade of woolen blankets for California mules that passed between New Mexico and California.

Julian Pope and Juliana Rodriguez were married at San Geronimo de Taos. In l835, they joined a trading caravan and moved to Los Angeles, where Juliana gave birth to two daughters, Luciana and Isabella. In l838, Julian Pope received a parcel of land east of the city in the area later known as Boyle Heights, where he built a house and planted seeds. The next year, he erected a grist mill on a bank of the Los Angeles River below the road leading to the San Gabriel mission.

Hearing of the vast land grants awarded by General Vallejo in northern California, Julian joined an expedition to the Napa Valley in l84l. Along with friends that included Cyrus Alexander, William Knight and William Gordon, he crossed the Carquinez Strait in a rowboat. They hired indigenous residents known as “Indians” to pilot them up the Napa River.

After making base camp at Yount’s home, in the area that would eventually be called Yountville, the four split up, each claiming a valley for his own. Pope petitioned General Vallejo and Manuel Casarin, the acting governor of California, for a parcel on the east side of Howell Mountain. It was almost 9000 acres, and cost him twenty-five cents. Pope named his grant “Rancho Locoallomi.” Juliana and the four children moved from Los Angeles and stayed at Yount’s ranch while her husband built their first home on his new property. The Mexican government paid for their moving expenses, needing the help of settlers in subduing the indigenous tribes

Scholar Linda Heidenreich writes:
With the arrival of Spanish colonizers and, later, Mexican settlers in the region, Napa’s history did not deviate from the history of what is now Greater Mexico/the U.S. West, but rather was reflective of it. Napa, then, is a location where larger trends throughout Greater Mexico can be studied in detail, not only in the ways in which different waves of immigration changed the region, but also in the ways in which the different histories that people constructed continue to influence a particular place. In Napa, Indigenous histories, California/ Euro-American histories, and Chinese and Mexican immigrant histories co-exist. At times they overlap and/or conflict with each other. But they always co-exist.

Juliana gave birth to her fifth child, Delavina, in l842. In 1843, the family moved wagons and livestock from Yount’s ranch to their adobe house, using ropes to ease the wagons down the steep trail. But later that year, Julian was trying to complete a wooden house before winter, and accidentally cut himself in the leg when his ax slipped. According to one story, he was carried to Sonoma for medical attention. Twelve days later, at the age of 38, he died.

Juliana was now 33 years old. The following spring, she married her nearest neighbor, Elias Barnett, a Missouri pioneer. According to Lin Weber, after meeting George Yount, Barnett “gave up whatever plans he may have had for returning to his wife and children in Missouri.” Weber says that he “squatted” near Juliana Pope’s house and “became the new patriarch of Pope Valley.” Barnett brought the first fruit tree seedlings from Missouri to Calistoga in l848.

Juliana herself took legal possession of Pope’s land in l845 by meeting the Mexican civil authorities with “three knowledgeable witnesses:” her husband Barnett, Florencio Salazar, and Joseph Chiles. Her surveyor was Juan Solis. Solis joined with George Yount, who was acting as surveyor for the mayor of Sonoma, and together they measured the boundaries of the property. At each of the four corners of the property, it is said that Juliana pulled up stones and grass and threw them to the four winds to manifest her possession of the land.

Californianas like Juliana ran the ranchos while the men were away. They were trained in horseback riding and in the use of small arms to protect themselves. Like all women in the l9th century, they were pregnant most of their adult lives. Juliana had six more children with Barnett, including two sets of twins in l845 and l854. By then she had borne eleven children.

The Barnett family also adopted three Indian children. Disease had decimated the native population during the l830s when the first group of trappers came from the Northwest, bringing smallpox. Salvador Vallejo estimated that 60,000 people died in Sonoma alone. George Yount, who had never learned to read or write, told an interviewer: “After burning the bodies of their friends in heaps of hundreds, in despair the living fled to the mountains and wandered desolate and forlorn.” Lin Weber notes that the indigenous population that camped near Edward Bale’s mill “gradually diminished and disappeared altogether by about l885.”

In l850, California was admitted to the Union; four years later, Juliana Pope Barnett sold half of the land and “l00 head of cattle, l5 mares and 9 colts” to her eldest son Jose, for $8000. She sold the other half of the land to her other five children for $5000. According to the Society of California Pioneers, Elias Barnett died February 8, 1880 in Pope Valley. Further research might illuminate how and why Juliana and her husband were able to separate in an era in which divorces were rare. Perhaps she sold her land to finance her relocation.

We don’t know where Juliana lived for the next six years. Her granddaughters reported that she painted nudes, which hung in the bars of San Francisco during the Gold Rush. By l860, the U.S. Census records Juliana as a “female farmer” living in San Bernardino with her daughter Isabella Pope; her son Jose lived next door. Twenty years later, she is listed in the census as living with daughter Luciana in Las Cruces, New Mexico. There she died in l900, at 90 years of age. None of her paintings are known to have survived, nor did she leave any written accounts of her life. Therefore, we can only mourn the absence of a more complete record, and be grateful for those who have attempted to retrace her path.

Timeline of New Mexican history:
Lin Weber, Old Napa Valley (Wine Ventures Publishing), l998.
Yount, George. George C. Yount and His Chronicles of the West: Comprising Extracats from the Memoirs and from the Orange Clark Narrative (Old West Publishing), l996.
Linda Heidenreich, “This Land was Mexican Once:” Histories of Resistance from Northern California (University of Texas), 2007
Harvey L Jones and Janice T. Driesbach, http://www.museumca.org/goldrush/art-intro.html, note that:
Images of the Gold Rush were created almost exclusively by men of European descent… Only a small percentage of the paintings, watercolors and drawings created during this remarkable time survive today. Fires that swept through early Sacramento and San Francisco (including the devastating blaze following the 1906 earthquake) destroyed many artworks; others were lost to various natural calamities or to carelessness.
Special thanks to Tucker Catlin, who compiled much of the research on Juliana Pope, based on the research of Joe Collizo of Pope Valley.


Local History – March 2008

Napa Valley Marketplace Magazine History Article March 2008.

Time Passing in Napa, 1

Time Passing in Napa, 1
By Lauren Coodley

One way to pour time through the hourglass of our lives is to read about Napa as it once was. Louis Ezettie, Realtor and journalist, wrote several columns in l96l that take us back to the past. If we listen to Napa’s elders today, we can glean much from their memories. This essay will intersperse Ezettie’s recollections with the remarks of the Merry Mariners group at the First Presbyterian Church.

.……Sunday afternoon and a great crowd of baseball fans pours out to watch the great rivals, Napa and Vallejo, whose lineup included the mighty Ping Bodie for Vallejo, and the slugging Lloyd Russell for Napa engaged in another thrilling contest. The bloomer girls baseball team making a cross-country barnstorming trip and annually meeting a local men’s aggregation. …Employees at California Glove Company making up two baseball teams called the Giants, captained by Bill Simpkins and Midgets, led by Archie Jacobsen, and meeting in the friendly combat as other employees formed rooting sections to cheer their favorite side.

We grew up digging up arrowheads out on Old Soda Springs Road. There must have been a large Indian population here…My family even remembered hearing about a powwow in l9l0.

Customers having dinner at Kunzel’s Restaurant on the east side of Main Street near First, where a meal consisting of pearl barley soup, roast beef and potatoes, coffee, and homemade pie cost 25 cents, cooked on a woodstove. …School children buying lunch put up in a bag for them at Levi Chapman’s grocery, southeast corner First and Brown Streets, with the lunch items including chipped beef, cheese crackers, fig bars, and some kind of fruit, for l5 cents. People waiting in line at Mason Bakery, southwest corner of Brown and Fourth Streets to buy hot bread just out of the ovens at three loaves for 25 cents and, if you found a five dollar gold piece in your bread, it was not there by accident, as the owner put four or five gold pieces in different loaves to promote sales; and at Regli Brothers Bakery (Napa City Bakery) they gave 20 tickets for $l, each ticket good for one loaf as an inducement to the hotel and restaurant trade.

We walked our cattle from Sonoma to Napa, and grazed them on the river behind what is now the Elks Club. Children would take turns watching the cattle.

……Professor HL Gunn, head of the local business college, whose penmanship with its elaborate flourishes and delicate shading was a work of art. …The big bell in the courthouse tower ringing out an alarm in the still of the night, and you consult your handy alarm location card distributed by and with the compliments of AH Smith insurance company, and if it’s a downtown number, you might jump on your bicycle and hurry to the scene.

Old town used to have a lot of boardinghouses… Do you know why there are Cupolas on downtown houses? They were “widow’s walks,” where wives watched for ships coming up the River after being out at sea.

The big, fruit cannery on 4th street opposite the SP Depot burned to the ground, throwing many people out of work, and was never to be rebuilt. The Chinese vegetable garden and watermelon patch on Soscol Avenue, back of where the Gasser Motor Plant stands, was often raided by kids living on the west side of the river, who would swim across, snatch melons, and then push them across the surface of the water as they made it back to shore.

There were skating rinks all over town, at what used to be Veterans Park, on the top floor of the Hatt Building, and on Silverado Trail by Juarez. We all used to go to Partrick’s afterwards.

.…. The first talking motion picture shown in Napa was presented at the movie theatre located on the east side of Main Street between 3rd and 2nd streets, and Eddie Cantor was the featured actor. …Julio Banchero, talented accordionist and expert billiardist, attracting music and dance lovers to Armory Hall (Migliavacca Building) and winning himself a long engagement as a solo accordionist on the Orpheum Pantages west coast vaudeville circuit. James J. Jeffries, World’s Heavyweight Champion, spending several days in town when he came here to take a small part in the cast of a show headed by Bert Lytel and Evelyn Vaughn at the old Opera House. Tom Sullivan, a local vocalist, probably setting a record for the number of encores ever accorded a performer on a Napa stage, singing for the first time the very sentimental song entitled, “Honeyboy, I Hate to See You Leaving.”

If I could save time in a bottle
The first thing that I’d like to do
Is to save every day
Till eternity passes away
Just to spend them with you
(Jim Croce, 1971)

Louis Ezettie articles published in June and September, l96l, courtesy of the Napa County Historical Society. On Sunday, March 2, Richard Aldrich will present a History of the Napa Valley Opera House at the Goodman Library Building, 1219 First Street,
2:30 p.m. Free.

For an article by Louis Ezettie about the founding of Partrick’s, see: http://www.napahistory.com/partrick.htm
For a fascinating account of the Lokoya women’s volunteer firefighters by Louis Ezettie, see http://www.drycreek.org/reprints/past_and_present75.html

Many thanks to the Merry Mariners for
sharing their observations with me on February l6, 2008.