How Tall to Be “Paul?”

If you spend any time in our redwood forests, particularly the few remaining groves of old growth trees, you may find yourself with face upturned in an attempt to ascertain the height of these beloved giants. Ninety-nine years ago today, there was an item in an unspecified local newspaper concerning the heights attainable by humans. Mentioned in the story was Charles Alfred Buck, youngest child of Charles M. Buck and Anna R. Anderson, who was born in Little River on learn more…

Some Truly “EPIC” Ephemera

We were reminded at the Kelley House this past week that a political campaign without rancor would be a rare thing indeed. The 1934 race for the office of California’s governor provides one example. The Republican candidate was Frank Merriam. The Democratic candidate had been a member of the Socialist Party and was nationally known as the author of “The Jungle” — the horrific 1906 expose of the Chicago meat packing industry — Upton Sinclair. A year before the election learn more…

One Story in a Town of Many

New characters in the panoply of history come to light at the Kelley House on a regular basis, often due to generous donations of time and materials to the archives and museum. A case in point involves items received as part of a large collection of photographs and other keepsakes from Mae Johnson, who died in August 2016. Mae had been raised in Caspar and knew everyone from its early days. Receiving a box of mementoes is only the first learn more…

Traveling in the Past? See Mr. Sutherland!

Somehow, buying gasoline is associated with the summer season. Those of us driving gas-powered vehicles do purchase fuel year round, but the summer months often see an increase in the number of trips to the pump and a consequent rise in prices. Back in the 1930s and ‘40s, one could have bought gas in Mendocino at the S & E Gas Station located on Main Street. The proprietor at that time was Ralph C. Sutherland, son of Thomas and Hilma learn more…

Dancing Like it’s the Fourth of July

In 1914, the town of Mendocino made a decision. The June 6 edition of the Mendocino Beacon announced that Mendocino would celebrate the Fourth of July for the first time since 1908. Those interested in contributing to the town’s plans were invited to attend a meeting that Wednesday at the Bank of Commerce (today’s Out of This World), on the corner of Main and Kasten Streets. Attendees rapidly organized and determined to host a “clean” Fourth of July celebration: an learn more…

“Dear Mr. Zacha,”

Zacha’s Bay Window Gallery, owned by Lucia Zacha, closes today. This marks the end of a historic era in the life of Mendocino. Walking through the final exhibit, one sees the works of the Mendocino Heritage Artists:  Dorr Bothwell (1902-2000), Sasha Makovkin (1928-2003), Fran Moyer (1922-2006), Hilda Pertha (1911-2011), Charles Marchant Stevenson (1927-2004), Toshida Yoshida (1911-1995) and William Zacha (1920-1998). The history of what Bill and Jennie Zacha meant to this town and how their dedication in bringing artists here learn more…

How We Remember

While enjoying a barbecue with friends, it might be of interest to consider that a place as remote from the battlefields of Virginia and Pennsylvania as is the Mendocino Coast has ties to the Civil War. The holiday we observe this Memorial Day has its origins in the sadness and losses resulting from the American Civil War of 1861 to 1865. Initially known as “Decoration Day,” it was widely observed on Saturday, May 30, 1868, to commemorate the sacrifices of learn more…

Skeins of History

Think of a cat or kitten playing with a ball of yarn as you read this story. It is the perfect metaphor for what happens when a historical question surfaces. It is a story of the Ladies Aid Society, organized by women of the Presbyterian Church in Mendocino. In the Kelley House Museum’s archives are receipts from the Jarvis and Nichols store which provide some hints as to what the Society purchased. Beginning in 1884 and stretching into 1893, the learn more…

Who Was Smoking These Pipes?

Native Americans introduced the joys of smoking to Europeans and shortly thereafter pipes and their use came into fashion. The clay pipes from the Kelley House collection were essentially disposable. Their stems broke easily. At the time when the fashion was to have stems as long as a yard, if the stem broke, one could continue to use the pipe until another break or two occurred. Pipes were used by women and even children in the earliest decades of their learn more…

Alecandocs? Babinyas!

By Carolyn Zeitler Boontling is a local nickname for a fabricated language that developed in the Anderson Valley between 1880 and 1920. It started out as a game by children who wanted to talk freely without the adults being able to understand what they were saying.  Based on English, it featured abbreviated words and sentences, a “lingo,” (Boonville and lingo becoming Boontling), of more than a thousand words and expressions. As more and more locals became interested, the lingo became learn more…