Elevated view of a street lined with buildings identified as "West Main Street, Mendocino, Cal."

Mendocino’s Main Street Before Prohibition, c. 1905-1908. Photographic postcard of Main Street in Mendocino looking westward. On the north side, edged by a long boardwalk, are the business buildings. The large two-story building with an enormous sign on its eastern wall was “Gus’ Saloon.” Behind it is a 30-foot-high water tower and windmill. It was once owned by Charles Gustavus “Gus” Semmler, a former tallyman at the Point, who had purchased Cy Galbraith’s saloon in 1887 when Cy Galbraith was accidentally killed after falling down his stairs. By the time this photo was taken, Gus, too, was dead, and the building became a store. This building was located on the lot where Ocean Quilts is now and was demolished in the 1970s. (Kelley House Collection, Kelley House Photographs)

December 24, 1894 – Saloon owner Gus Semmler distributed dozens of tin horns (small, loud, cheaply-made trumpets) to the young boys of the town. The townsfolk were not pleased. The Beacon raged, “Semmler has but one arm, but if he ever again afflicts the public with the horns, he will be further crippled by the people.”

Gus had lost his arm while working for the lumber company in 1883. He continued to work as a tallyman at the Point after his accident, but in November 1887, he opened his own business in Cy Galbraith’s former saloon.

The community wasn’t simply incensed by the obnoxious noise of the tin horns. The unpleasant racket caused what could have been a serious accident. On the day after Christmas, Edith Nichols went for a drive, and upon her return she commenced unhitching the horse by first taking off the bridle. At that moment, one of the bugling boys suddenly appeared on the scene. The horse, understandably frightened, took off at a run, knocking Miss Edith down. The wheels of the buggy rolled over her, but fortunately she suffered only minor injuries. The horse was captured before hurting himself or the buggy. The Beacon concluded that, “Edith Nichols has probably learned not to begin at the front end of a horse to unhitch him.”

More historical photos of Mendocino available in “Perley Maxwell’s Mendocino,” by Bruce Levene. Includes the Mendocino High School Photography Students 2002 Then & Now Project. $25.