Tiny Towel Tax

Two-Tank Water Tower between two buildings
Main Street Courtyard, 1963-1977. In 1961, Bill Zacha, founder of the Mendocino Art Center and owner of this property, constructed a new building that housed on its lower floor the Mendocino Laundromat, seen here on the right. The Laundromat operated until 1977, when water shortages caused it to close down. (Gift of Karen McGrath)

August 14, 1967 – Mendocino Laundromat was the scene of a strange “happening,” according to the Mendocino Beacon, under the headline, “Tiny Towel Tax Amounts To $56.”

A young man undressed, “apparently deciding he’d enjoy clean clothes, and sprawled on the front stoop of the laundromat while waiting, covered, or barely covered, by a small towel in his lap. Outraged owner of the business, Betty Dostal, immediately signed a complaint for a warrant to be issued for his arrest. He had already disappeared, with his tiny towel.”

Sheriff’s deputies arrested the suspect in Comptche two days later and charged him with indecent exposure. “He posted cash bail in the amount of $220, in Big River Justice Court.” The next day, he entered a plea of guilty and was fined $56 by Judge Ray Ware, acting for Judge Basil Heathcote.

Today! Two events in one day! Sunday, August 14. The “Stump to Ship” walking tour to learn about Mendocino’s logging history at 11 am. At 3:30 pm, Katy Tahja leads a “Sunday Afternoon with the Illustrators” discussion about cartoonists of the 70’s and 80’s on the coast. Call 707-937-5791 for more info.