February 19, 1945 – Former Mendocino resident Joseph “Joe” Lawrence died in Oakland at the age of 50. Born in 1894 to Joseph and Mary (Farro) Lawrence, early-day residents of Mendocino, Joe grew up in his parents’ home on Ukiah Street and attended the local schools.

Children and teachers posed on schoolhouse steps

Mendocino Grammar School Second Grade Class, c. 1900. They are posed on the steps of the first schoolhouse located at the corner of Pine and School Street. Only a few of the students are identified: Front row L -R: (1) Annie Silvia, (3) Amelia Vieira, (5) Johanna Thomas, (7) Mamie Faria, (8) Tommy “Sox” Pereira, (9) Esther Nystrom; 2nd row: (2) Joe Lawrence; 3rd row: (1) Maryan Pereira; 4th row: (5) Joe Madeira; 5th row: (3) Andrew Brown, (5) Dewey Myers. (Gift of Aldine Gorman)

In March 1918, Joe was drafted into the United States Army and served in the Ambulance Corps in France during the First World War. The Mendocino Beacon described his war experience, “He was a first aid man and it was his duty to go into action with the troops and dress the wounds of those who were hit.” In September 1918, he was hit in the thigh by a machine gun bullet while treating a wounded soldier. “He and the man he was aiding got safely back to their own lines and were sent to the hospital. His wound healed quickly and he was back in service again in a short time.”

Following the signing of the Armistice in November 1918, Joe was stationed with the army of occupation in Germany. After more than a year overseas, Joe returned to Mendocino in June 1919. “He brought home with him many German souvenirs, including iron crosses, rings, coins, and many postcard views of the section occupied by the American army. One of the most interesting was a panorama map taken from a German aviator in a bombing plane who was brought down by aircraft guns and fell only a short distance from Lawrence and a companion. The map was a photograph of French territory in which arrows point to particular buildings or points of vantage to be bombed.”

Joe moved to Oakland in 1920 or early 1921, and in August 1922 married Dorothy Francis at Mission San Jose in Fremont. He was buried in Holy Sepulchre Cemetery in Hayward, survived by his wife, brother Albert, and sister Katy Watson.

A Mendocino Remembrance, c. 1942. 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. Curated by former Kelley House director-curator Karen McGrath, this charming memoir brings to life the unique place that was the town of Mendocino, California before it became the artist colony and tourist destination for which it is well known today. During the 1940s, Mendocino was a quiet community of unpaved roads and Victorian-era architecture perched on bluffs above the Pacific Ocean. Fraser’s reminiscences are accompanied by vintage photographs from the Kelley House Museum archives paired with contemporary color images taken by photographer Jamie Armstrong, offering readers an enjoyable “Then and Now” view of Mendocino. $35