Book Cover showing historic photo looking down an unpaved street

Photo: Courtesy of Robert Dominy

When Alvin Mendosa’s long-time friend, Buddy Fraser, passed away in 2018, Alvin received a copy of Buddy’s memoir of town life during World War II. Alvin recognized a little gem when he saw it, and he showed it to the curator at the Kelley House Museum. A few years passed before the document could be published, but recently it rolled off the presses as the museum’s newest historical review: A Mendocino Remembrance, circa 1942, by John “Buddy” Preston Fraser.

Fraser’s recollections of town life have been paired with vintage photos from the museum archives and contemporary color photos of the same scenes by Jamie Armstrong, who spent much of his time in 2019 getting the angles and the shadows just right. If a reader wants to know where the three-quarter-mile oval car racetrack was in 1921, just read Fraser’s text, look at an old photo, and enjoy Armstrong’s view of the site today.

There have been many changes in the area since the 1940s. The cover view looking south down Lansing Street decades ago shows no trees anywhere south of the headlands and the Kent farm barns at Little River plainly visible. The current Armstrong photo shows trees and more trees. Then and now photos of the Stauer Building on the northeast corner of Lansing and Ukiah Streets reveal an amazing array of businesses: a justice court, residential apartments upstairs, a saloon, telephone and telegraph offices, a grocery store, a bakery, and a church.

There’s a sad view of the last commercial building on the south side of Main Street—Quaill’s Meat Market. Built in 1871 to be the Quincy Meat Market, it was last occupied by the Quaill brothers, Tony and Joe, who took it over in 1915 and ran it into the 1950s. The building was owned by the lumber company and, like many of the businesses along Main Street, it had an upstairs apartment for rent. That was occupied by Joe Quaill and his wife, Elenora, until the mid-1950s, when they purchased a home in San Francisco but retained the lease on the upstairs apartment as their summer residence. In August, 1960, after the Quaills moved their remaining furnishings from their upstairs apartment, the lumber company razed the building.

Born on December 7, 1932, John Preston Fraser celebrated his ninth birthday on Pearl Harbor Day. After he graduated from high school, Fraser got his undergraduate degree at San Francisco State University and served in the army in Korea. Then he attended Golden Gate University for his law degree. He was admitted to the California bar in 1964 and practiced for many years in El Dorado County, California.

This new publication will be a delight to any reader who likes history or photography. It can be obtained at the Kelley House Museum, 45007 Albion Street, or online in the Kelley House Store.

The Kelley House Museum is open from 11AM to 3PM Thursday through Monday. If you have a question for the curator, reach out to to make an appointment. Walking tours of the historic district depart from the Kelley House regularly.