Little Free Libraries

It’s not surprising that many of the Mendocino coastal communities have embraced the concept of little free libraries. On roadsides, street corners, and front yards from Fort Bragg to Gualala, pretty wooden boxes on posts offer books for the taking. Some of the book houses are registered by their builders and sponsors with the Little Free Library organization and some are not, but all operate on the serve-yourself/take-a-book/leave-a-book/enjoy! principle. A concept that works equally well in urban and rural areas, learn more…

If You Remember Woodstock,…

On the August weekend in 1969 that saw nearly half a million children of God on their way to Yasgur’s farm in upstate New York “to try and get their souls free,” what could the Aquarian peace and music lovers stuck in Mendocino do for their souls?  To get myself in the right headspace for this coming Saturday’s Woodstock 50th Anniversary Dance Party, I looked through that summer’s Mendocino Beacon to see what was going on here. The pages of learn more…

Dance Hall Days

When the dancers start busting their moves at the up-coming Woodstock 50th Anniversary Dance Party at Crown Hall on August 17th, they will not only be celebrating the golden jubilee of that iconic rock festival, but also taking their places in a long line of hoofers who have dipped and twirled in many Mendocino halls and ballrooms for over 150 years.  From the waltzes of the Victorian era and the foxtrots of the Twenties, to the boogies of the 1970s learn more…

Kids Nowadays!

When I met with Hunter Fields last week in the Kelley House Office, he was organizing two file boxes of CDs with old-timer interviews.  Hunter is a high school student who volunteers with Kelley House a few hours per week in order to fulfill his community service requirement.  He is going to graduate from dear old Mendocino High tomorrow, so congratulations are in order, but we don’t want him to move on to the next chapter in his life without learn more…

All the News That’s Printed Fits

History and genealogy buffs in Mendocino County have recently been given a great resource by Phil Carnahan, a tech-savvy buff himself who has undertaken to scan and make searchable documents of all the microfilm from the newspapers published in the county from their beginnings to the present time.  Phil began that project in 2015 and, while working on that, he began compiling databases of other information he unearthed in his own genealogical searches: births, marriages, deaths, obituaries, and cemeteries.  Then learn more…

Love, Not War

One hundred years ago today, on February 14, 1919, the Mendocino Study Club held a special evening meeting to celebrate both the triumph of Cupid and the end of World War I. The armistice with Germany had been signed November 11, 1918, and the Paris Peace Conference had begun on January 18, 1919, so the Study Club event was timely. Almost three million American men had served in World War I — including a number from little Mendocino — and learn more…

Little Schoolhouse in the Big Woods

Over the past couple of months I have had the pleasure of driving to Ukiah weekly to see a foot doctor.  This has given me the opportunity to become familiar as never before with every twist, turn, and straightaway on Highway 20, and to notice for the first time the little red schoolhouse tucked into the woods on the east end of the meadow at the Camp 20 rest stop near Chamberlain Creek.  I suppose I had failed to see learn more…

An American Venus

As the Miss America pageant prepares for its annual show this Sunday in the wake of the #MeToo movement, it is trying to remake itself. Among its changes, Miss America 2.0, as it calls itself, has gotten rid of the swimsuit competition! That made me think back to 1925, when the pageant didn’t pretend to be anything but a beauty contest (notwithstanding those ugly gabardine swimming suits), when a woman was a woman and a good cigar was a smoke, learn more…

A Green Thumb and a Red-Hot Trigger Finger

I celebrated National Lighthouse Day on Tuesday by reading through the memoirs of Cora Isabel Owens, the wife of William Owens, the last civilian light keeper at the Point Cabrillo Light Station who served from 1952 to 1963. After her husband died in 1984, Cora and her daughters wrote down their recollections of life at four California lighthouses, and a copy of their manuscript is in the Kelley House archives. By the time the Owenses arrived at Point Cabrillo in learn more…

“M” is for the Many Kids She Gave Him

What better way to celebrate Mother’s Day than by looking at this interesting four-generation photograph of women who, among them, brought 21 children into the world and look none the worse for wear. The photo, from the Kelley House Museum archives, was taken in Fort Bragg in 1921, when little Florence Amelia Goldsam was just over one year old. Her mother was 31, her grandmother 51, and her great-grandmother 71. Her great-grandmother was born Serafina Thomasdottir in northern Finland in learn more…