Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Memory lane, Garberville California

Just as I abandoned the "Vroom, vroom, yeehaw" post below, it took a tangent that I been wanting to explore anyway.

I think that it was Cousin Jim that asked if anyone remembered the dump. Of course a few of us did, then Kym did a post about it.

Then Jim threw a trick question at us; “Who knows about the original Wagon Wheel Bar, next to the sheriff's Garberville sub Station? I’ll give you a hint. It was actually 2 or 3 buildings north of the sub station.”

It was not a very good hint, because the Garberville Substation and Jail used to be on Thomas Flat, that used to be the flat that the Southern Humboldt Building Supply is built on now. The flat was huge and it was once used as the town park. The freeway took out most of the flat. The flat was where the town ball games were played, and when the circus or a carnival came to town, which was at least once a year, the flat was where it was put.

There also used to be a creek there that ran just north of the building supply. The creek had a sandstone bank that had thousands of fossils in it that the town kids would spend endless hours digging the fossils out of the stone. Monroe Tobin, as a child found a whale bone there. The creek is now buried beneath the freeway.

The Midway Motel was built on the north end of the huge flat, about where Redwood Drive crosses the freeway on the north end of Garberville. The Midway Motel had Garberville’s first coin laundry in it. I serviced the Bendix-Westinghouse washers. They were front loaders, and had to be bolted to the floor to keep them from walking away.

When the freeway was built, they took a huge amount of soil from Thomas flat, and lowered the grade at least forty feet. The soil was used to fill Bear Gulch; the Newcomers call it Bear Canyon, just south of where the Alderpoint Road goes up the hill. The last lonely remains of what was once a glorious hunk of flat real-estate can still be seen between the freeway and Redwood drive just south of Bear Gulch Bridge. Heading south, look up and to the left as you pass Bear Gulch. It’s the flat top hill that is left there as an island.

Southern Humboldt Building supply was built originally as a bowling alley back in the mid fifties, it was the most popular place in town, and you had to belong to a league to even get a chance to roll a ball in it. The buildings between the freeway and the building supply are some of the remains of the motel units that were the Midway Motel, and they were moved there before they built the freeway.

The trick Question that Jim asked about the Wagon Wheel Bar that was run by Al West, is tough to visualize because the terrain has been lowered and the roads repositioned. But, the Wagon Wheel bar was built in a building that backed up to the bluff that you peer over between Bear Gulch, and the freeway, at about the south end of the guard rail. The trees that were behind the building are still there, but the dirt that the building sat on is gone to the fill in the gulch.

The back porch was where they had their refrigeration units. When I worked on their refrigeration units, all that there was between me and a three hundred foot fall was a rickity old railing. If I dropped a wrench, I didn’t even look to see were it went. They say that it takes a brave person to do something that scares the hell out of him. I can tell you that I didn’t trust the porch, I didn’t trust the railing, and I would even go back there if anyone else was back there. I didn’t go for any clowning around. But I did it, so I was one brave kid. The Orange Spot Market was on the south end of the Wagon Wheel and it sort of got smaller as the bar got bigger. It was all in the same building. And, the north end of the Market was more of a fruit stand than what a person would think of as a market.

Now, I apologize to all of my out of town fans, but I’m going to indulge us OLD-timer locals for a bit.

These places were all gone before 1964
1- Where was Foxworthy Lane?
2- Where was Poorman’s Auto Parts?
3- Where was the Pass Café?
4- Where was the Ace Café?
5- Where was the Coffee Cup Café?
6- Where was Buds café?

I have more, but you can start with these. If you can add to the list, please do, but everything has to be pre-sixty-four. That will separate the newcomers from the old-timers. One of the above is a “Fudgie” because it existed past ‘64. Which one?

42 comments:

Anonymous said...

I remember Bill Pass, he lived across Oak Street from me and he was the first mail man in Garberville.
And as I can recall I (me) found that whale bone in the sand stone. I was in the 4th grade at the time.
I realized that I had found a bone from the fossles that uncle Everete brought back from Utah.
I sure wish there was a spell check here, or have Suzy Blah Blah's talent.

Jim

Anonymous said...

Horse baloni, I remember the sub-staion in a row with the Wagon Wheel. Dang!!!

Anonymous said...

Who remembers the apartment building on Locust St. used to be on Main Street, Highway 101 at the time.

Anonymous said...

I keep going over this list of yours and I remember two cafes that Bill Pass had. I am getting dated here so ya'll give me some slack. The last I remember the phone company had their office at the site of Pass' Cafe and then I believe it was at the loacation of Bonnie's Cafe.
Holy Cow, for all that's interested, Branscomb Center used to be the Grayhound bus station and pool hall. Sherman Hensell had a furniture store in the upper level of Branscomb Center.
Sorry Ernie for letting the secrets out. I am having fun here.

Jim

Ernie Branscomb said...

Jim
And everybody else, don't worry about spelling or grammar. I don't give a damn. That isn't as important as talking. If we can figure out what you mean, that's good enough. The last thing that I want to hear on this blog is whining about spelling, grammar, and punctuation. This blog is not for English majors, this blog is for people that like to tell stories.

I got F's in English. But I got A's in Bullpucky. Later on I'll tell you a few tricks for getting the spelling and punctuation right. 'Til then keep telling stories!!!

P.S. Suzy Blah Blah is my most favorite story teller person!!!

Also Jim, I know that you found a whale fossil bone in the sandstone, but there is a record of Monroe Tobin, at twelve years old, pointing out a whale bone to a world famous geologist. Maybe it was the same bone, or maybe it was from the same whale, anyway it’s a moot point because your whale fossil is under the freeway.

Ernie Branscomb said...

Jim
Just remember, anything that happened in the "Rat's Club" is still secret!

Ernie Branscomb said...

“The Pass Café”, or Bonnie Moore’s “Bon Ton Café”, and there were other names that slip my brain, is now called "The Paradise Grill“, next to the “Garberville Theater.”

Five more guesses are open………….

Ernie Branscomb said...

Horse baloni
You're right the jail, and an un-named restaurant, (At this point) Al's Wagon Wheel Bar, and The Orange Spot Market were all in a row, from south to north, on....Thomas Flat. Now gone, all because of the freeway.

Carol said...

I am a newcomber, but I love this kind of history stuff! Just finished reading Through the Eyes of a Salmon about the Mattole Watershed.

Anonymous said...

I bet my whale bone is still there. Donn Dale and I found it. We used to climb down the bank at Sherwood Forest Trailer Park and it is (was) located on the East side of the river between where we hit the bottom and Sunnybank.

Jim

Anonymous said...

The Rat's Club is so secret that I am suprised you even mentioned it.

Anonymous said...

I remember reading information that Uncle Ben had from the Mendocino Historical place. It was about some men from Capt. Grants camp at Sprowl Creek that built a trap with logs and trapped a 1600 plus pound griz and that is where the name Bear Gulch comes from.
I think the weight was a little over estimated.

suzy blah blah said...

-- Suzy was borned sooon after mom woke up in the bushes behind a bar in Ruby VAlly one mornign after a heavy nite of partying [ok this was around 74 not 64 but still thats the oldan daze for some of us yungins an so im qalifying it lol] and so anyway like i was sayin she got up an rubbed hre eyws anD loooled around and their was this hippy dude passed out in the bushes nxt to her and one thing led to anoother and ........ Suzy was begotttttten that morning ~ LOL but now hears one for yuo guys-- who can make this gurl smile by tellin me -- what was the name of that bar again?? Id ask mom but she dont remember those daze to ggood-LOL ... if dad was still aruond id ask him where the old jail usde to be -- he told us lotta storys about thet place... like the time him an this indian dude got threwn in their after they ate some peyote and fell in the creek that used to run thurough downtown Gville and they had a sacred outa body intitiation ceremonuy in their but ill save that 4 antoher timme when i got more of it andbut so anyway but i rememvber he said they served slices of horsecock 0n stail braed in that jail [an thats no balony ]] --gag ..LOL
huggles,
s

Carol said...

We love you, suzy blah blah!

xoxoxo

Ernie Branscomb said...

Suzy.

You were conceived behind Saul Kaye’s “Country Tavern”. The cops called it “The Country Toilet”. But that’s not very nice.

The old silver colored double ball absorption refrigerator that hung from the ceiling was mine. I don’t know who got away with it, but it is still mine.

Suzy you are a true native of the South Fork of the Eel River. Your story has many, many duplications of that era. You probably know that.

Ernie Branscomb said...

Kym just posted a great tale about the Redwood Inn.

Ernie Branscomb said...

1- Where was Foxworthy Lane?

If you turn from Redwood Drive onto Sprowel Creek Road, the first county road on your right , after about three hundred yards, will be Sunnybank Lane. About halfway to Sunnybank Lane, on your right would have been Foxworthy Lane. The freeway completely took it out.

Mrs. Foxworthy had several houses that she would rent, and she owned everything on the street. Even the street was named after her. I hope the State Highway Department paid her well.

The people of Garberville thought that it was a good idea they take out the houses at the time, the houses were getting old and they thought that the removal of the house would encourage new growth. Maybe it did I don’t know.

Kym said...

I'm feeling like a baby. I didn't know any of this stuff.

I wish I could see the fossil place in Garberville. We've been to the one up by Rio Dell. I love it. My dad says there are some fossil beds between the Freeway and Redway. Anyone else know where those are?

Ernie Branscomb said...

2- Where was Poorman’s Auto Parts?

Across from Foxworty lane, there was a street that went south on the location of the present freeway, at the south end of the street and extending onto the big turn-out on top of the bluff south of town and west of the freeway, there was a wrecking lot and a used parts store.

Back when they would cut the frames off of cars and sell them for scrap metal, they wouldn’t have any use for the bodies. The owner would push the bodies of the cars over the hill and they would land on the flat below where he would run his bulldozer over the top of them and eventually bury them. As you leave Garberville on Sprowel Creek Road, the flat that holds tons and tons of old buried car bodies is the one just around the turn, It is the place were the road is slipping out badly. It is to the east of Sprowel Creek Road and it has a trailer that sets on it. It belongs to Paquie Le Paquerat.

The Man that owned it years ago was a man by the name of Loren M. “Speed” DeVee. He just died last month. He was well into his nineties, and he lived in Ferndale(?)

When we were kids, we went up there one afternoon when nobody was around and we decided that it would be fun to roll wheels and tires over the hill. We made a bet as to who’s tire might get to the river first. We pushed them off at the same time, they took off like a shot. Just as they were about to hit the road a pick-up truck came up the hill, the two tires hit the road just in front of him and the tires bounced clear over the power lines. I don’t know where they went from there because our feet were running away too fast to get a good look!

Ernie Branscomb said...

Kym, the fossil beds may still be accessible from the river. The canyon had many, many fossils in it. I would imagine that you could still find some there. We usually get to them by sneaking through the Sherwood Forest motel and Trailer park.

We found quite a few other places with fossils when we were kids. If you spend some time walking around the sandstone bluffs, you will find then. Things were a lot more accessible then, now you can run into some pretty strange people.

But, we used to build our own model airplanes to fly back then too. Can you imagine a kid doing that now?

You are a baby, enjoy it!

suzy blah blah said...

oh great! so yr tellin me i was physically conceptualized behind a place called teh freeking "Cuontry Toilet"!! sheeeit... no pun intented, butt, LOL i donno abuot this history stuff sometimes lol... thanx Earnie
oooxxxooo
S

Anonymous said...

I used to get most fossils below the swinging bridge next to the outlet of Bear Gulch. It used to be easy to drive there. I did however, used to pry through the differnt layers of sandstone.

Jim

Anonymous said...

I have a good story about digging for fossils below the swinging bridge. I went there one day to peck on the bluff and when I got to the bottom there were these ring neck snakes, all over the place. I had a paper bag and a rock pick I bought at the Tackle Shop.
I collected a bagful of snakes and headed home. I stopped to visit with Darrell Swithenbank, he was always good to the kids in town but he hated snakes. As soon as I walked in the door he saw me with my rock pick and a bag and said "let me see your gold". This was too good, I opened the bag and he reached in anb brought out a handful of snakes that went all over the store. I collected my snakes and didn't go back for a couple of days.

Jim

Ernie Branscomb said...

"The Tackle Shop" was straight across the street from the Eel River Cafe, and was removed when they expanded the Union Oil station. It was a popular hang out for sportsmen, and the local characters. It was owned by Darrell Swithenbank before he went to work for the Telephone Company.

My favorite Tackle Shop story is about when Darrell sat the stuffed Rattlesnake on the counter behind Charlie’s chair. Charlie turned around and stared at the snake right in the eye for about a second, then he exploded off his chair and crawled thirty feet to the front door. It was the fastest crawl I ever saw.

Fredy Champagne said...

Hi Ernie: Love the blog also so us newcomers can get educated about the wonderful history of this place we all love. I am one of the back to the landers arriving in 73. I used to bartend at the old Country Tavern, in Ruby Valley. Now just an old hippie up the hill a couple miles.
Tell us about when they built the freeway. What was the town like before then. How big? How many houses, businesses, etc were lost to the freeway. With land so valuable here for housing, it's hard for us newcomers to imagaine how big the Garberville town flat was before. I appreciate reading your stuff, Ernie. Keep it up. Fredy

Anonymous said...

Fredy, when I lived there the sign said 984 Population. And I remember when range land was going for $200 an acre between Garberville and Bell Springs. Maybe less in Southern Trinity County.
I used to collect deer meat in June because the deer got fat when the grass turned brown. In later years there ended up being hunting clubs in the area but that is another story.

Jim

Ernie Branscomb said...

Freddy, I will be talking mostly about the history of this area, and of course it's people. The back to the land movement was one of Garbervilles more interesting times. I'm glad you found a job. If Saul Kaye owned it when you were there, I did the refrigeration. He had pretty good equipment, so it didn't break down a lot.

Jim, I sent you an e-mail. There isn’t anyplace that you can hunt here anymore. Besides I would feel guilty shooting a deer. There are pathetically few compared to when we were kids. One place that I used to count thirty to forty deer now only has four to six. (my front yard, so that makes me an expert).

My wife and I went to Fortuna tonight with Estelle Fennell and Kathleen. There is an amazing amount of people that know Estelle is running for second district supervisor. There are a lot of people that already know her from interviews she has done. We just went up for the Fortuna Sunrise Rotary Club’s fundraiser, but it was nice to see that most people already know her, and quite a few offered their support.

ben said...

The lumber yard office at SoHum Builders used to have a great aerial photo of pre-freeway Garberville. I don't know if it's still up as we don't use the old office these days. I'll look next time I go in.
I remember Saul, tho I was only in his place once. He sold out and the new owners stated a hippie bar to compete with Astrinsky's. i hear it was pretty wild, but never went a I was bartending at Astrinsky's which was peaceful weekdays but crazy on weekends. Everyone tells me I should write a book but no one would believe it. I don't miss it, it was really stressful.

Ernie Branscomb said...

Ben, If you wrote a book or even a pamphlet, I would buy it in a heartbeat. You were in a position to see the “Back to The Land Movement” that I could never see. You were on the inside of the movement, and have a prospective that the rest of us were standing on the outside off.

Maybe we should get together and write a book. I do fairly good “Redneck Logger/rancher” history, and you do pretty good “Hippy/ back to the Lander” history.

You are right… nobody would believe it.

Ernie Branscomb said...

4- Where was the Ace Café?

The Ace Café, prior to 1964 when Williams Chevrolet, and the Ace Café, and the Blue Room Bar burned down, was in the approximate position the House of Burgess is today.

Williams Chevrolet was located between the present day Community Credit Union and the House Of Burgess. A fire stared in the rear of the garage, and quickly took the garage and the bar / restaurant / hotel next door down. The Ace Café and the blue room bar was on the street level, and there was a hotel with rooms to let above the two businesses below.

When the fire started, people on the streets were running in and driving all the new cars out onto the street. The manager was handing out keys to anybody that would drive them out.

The bar and Restaurant were rebuilt, and the Ace Café became the House of Burgess, because Jack and Nelly Burgess leased the building from Pio and Phyllis Gusmerolli who owned the building. I guess the hotel was abandoned because it had such a bad (good?) reputation for prostitution.

But the Williams Chevrolet fire, and the hotel, will be the subjects of another story.

Ernie Branscomb said...

5- Where was the Coffee Cup Café?

Knapps Coffee Cup Café was in the present building of the Community Credit Union. The beautiful redwood paneled dining room is still there, along with the river stone fire place.

The Coffee cup Café was highway 101 famous, for good food and coffee. They had many signs between Santa Rosa and here. The signs were in the shape of a coffee cup sitting on a saucer. One remained on the top of Benbow hill for many years after the café was closed.

The café closed after the owner, Dwight Knapp, was electrocuted while working on his refrigeration. As I heard it, he was laying on the floor and reaching under the refrigerator when he came in contact with and electrical current. He was the grandfather of Dwight Knapp, our local plumber.

Ernie Branscomb said...

And the ringer. Buds café existed well into the sixties and early seventies. Bud was a famous cook in the Garberville area. And I’ve heard many stories about him. None that I can recall at the moment, but apparently he was also quite a character.

Buds was bought by Herb and Lucilla Ruiz, redecorated and renamed Herb’s Café. They served Mexican style food, and the food was delicious. They eventually sold to Pam Hansen and her brother Tom. They named the restaurant after their father, “Woodrow” … Woodrow’s café--Woodrose Café. Get it? Oh, never mind.

Kym said...

Isn't Mrs. Ruiz running the Waterwheel? She was at one time. Both of her sons are still in the area and Londi (her daughter) might be here too.

Ernie Branscomb said...

Herb and Lucilla ran the Piercy cafe back when Piercy's mills were running. When they moved to Garberville, they bought Bud's Cafe. Their Children's names are Beto, Rick, Toby, and Landy. And I think they have another daughter. I remember in the Rodeo Parades through Garberville, Lucy would dress them up in authentic Mexican costumes and they would do the traditional Mexican hat dance on a flat bed trailer. That was Garbervilles cultural experience. Both Beto and Toby Ruiz work for Caltrans.

After they sold to the Hanson’s, Lucilla and Herb divorced. Herb went back to Mexico, where he still resides. Lucilla went to work at Singing Tree’s for Steve Anderson. They served Mexican food there and it was GOOD FOOD. You could eat on the patio. There was a Blue Jay that would fly down to the tables and say “hello“. (Don’t laugh, I’ve got witnesses)

Lucilla married George Mullins, and they bought the Water Wheel Café. They sold to Marilyn Cox who still runs it. After that George and Lucilla bought Calico’s and ran it a few years. Then the Retired.

Cristina said...

Ernie, I can't believe there used to be a bowling alley in Garberville and it closed! WHY? I LOVE bowling (and so do all my Tahoe friends... see below).

www.tahoedailytribune.com/article/20010511/
SPORTS/105119120

We could use some activities like that. And before anyone laughs: on league nights in Tahoe, when there were only two lanes open for the general public, they were always used by high-school kids. And not the "dorks," "nerds," and "losers," either (in other words, not the kids who were like me at that age!).

Anonymous said...

Is this comment page still active?

Ernie Branscomb said...

Yes, all of the comment boxes are open on this blog site. An E-mail is sent to my in-box when someone comments, but sometimes it takes a while to reply. Why do you ask?

It's probably best to move your comment to the current post if you want everyone to read it, because few people go back and check for new commments on old posts.

Anonymous said...

Hey locals,this is Pat from Pismo Beach coming up your way. Could you tell me a good local place to eat breakfast. Thanks

Baraco1 said...

I remember Al Bullock, Mel Coombs, and Cookie, who ran the feedstore at the south end of town before the freeway was constructed and tore down the old Sherwood Forest Motel and trailer park.
Do you remember Joe Rushing, The Blue Room and Ed William's Chevrolet that burned down on Halloween night? I watched the fire from the old Presbyterian Church porch.
Does anyone remember Joe Rushing, and my grandfather, Al Strout?

Ernie Branscomb said...

If you remember Al Bullock, you remember Hardy Wallen, who lives in Eureka.

Al Strout painted everything in Garberville back in the sixties, He painted the grocery store in Laytonville at least three times. He was the father of Roy and the Grandfather of Ed. Do you know any of those people?

Joe Rushing was the electrician in Garberville & Redway. He was the father of Tom and Joelene. The grandfather of Bart and Brent Rushing.

The Blue Room and Williams Chevrolet burned up the same night that Covelo burned up.

Cookie’s wife Margarite Cook wrote several local history books that Diane Hawk put together and finished for her.

Nope, don’t know any of those people!

Anonymous said...

just wanted to comment on Knapps Coffee Cup - the restaurant closed 10 years after Dwight was electrocuted. Grace, his widow ran the place with the help of her children, Mary, Sterling and Kenny..

olmanriver said...

This is such a great post and comment section Ernie, great job of capturing a lost slice of G'ville's pre-freeway history!