Personal History

Rudy Cipolla

I used to have this recurring dream. I would find myself in a little corner store, in some unidentified city, maybe San Francisco. The place would have been lost in time. Inside was a glass case and inside the case was a marvelous collection of old fireworks with fantastic labels, for sale.

The dream came true, in a way, when, in the late 1980s, we stumbled across a strange little shop on Judah Street. We walked in, for what reason I don’t remember, and there we found Rudy Cipolla. The shop did have a glass case with musty, interesting old things in it. Among those was a box of caps for a toy gun, a firework of a sort, which I bought. The label said “72 Big Shots.”

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The proprietor of the shop introduced himself as Rudy Cipolla, and in a few minutes our acquaintance had progressed to the point that he started to tell us that his name meant “Onion” in Italian, and that he was related to John Cipollina, the lead guitarist for the Quick Silver Messenger Service, a famous 60s band. He also told us he played the mandolin and that he was a composer. Then he gave us an autographed cassette tape of a piece he’d written entitled “La Civetta” (The Flirt, in Italian.)

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We wandered out and into a gray fall day in the Inner Sunset district, never to see Rudy again, but I never forgot the literally dream-like encounter.

Later, I learned that the shop was called the Book Nook, and that Rudy Cipolla was revered by local musicians, mandolin players especially. David Grisman counted him as an influence and friend, and indeed, he was a very prolific composer.image1Rudy died in 2000 at the age of 99.

Photographs courtesy of Owen Hartford

 

 

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Boyes Hot Springs, El Verano, Fetters Hot Springs, History, Photographs, Resorts, Uncategorized

Railroads in Sonoma Valley

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The history of railroads in Sonoma Valley is complicated and confusing. It started in the 1860s and included at least 15 different companies, but by 1889 there we just two: the Santa Rosa and North Pacific, and the Northern Railway. The SR and NP became the Northwestern Pacific in 1907, and Southern Pacific subsumed the Northern in 1898. The NWP tracks were on the east side of Sonoma Creek, with a depot in Boyes Hot Springs, and SP on the west, stopping at El Verano. The old rights-of-way can be glimpsed in some places. Sierra Drive in Boyes is one location. See https://springsmuseum.org/2018/03/29/sierra-drive-meincke-road/

A precursor to the NWP, the Sonoma Valley Railroad, existed until 1889. In this schedule we see that it visited a stop called Pioneer Grove. This was the name used before Boyes Springs was used.

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The railroads served the populace of San Francisco, primarily, who wished to spend warm summer days at the resorts. They came in their thousands by rail. But as early as 1920, the railroads were challenged by bus lines and automobiles. (The “auto-camp,” precursor to the motel, originated in the 1920s.) The Index Tribune reported in 1921 that executives of the NWP were considering new, modern electric cars on the Santa Rosa-San Rafael line to counter the competition from buses. To no avail. In 1930, the Glen Ellen depot was eliminated.

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The editorial comment in the IT was prophetic. Rail service was gone by 1942.

Following is a collection of images of depots in Sonoma Valley, with some maps, which are courtesy of the Northwestern Pacific Railroad Historical Society.

 

NWP depots:

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Agua Caliente, year unknown

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A later Agua Caliente depot? Similar to Boyes Depot of 1923

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The name was changed to Boyes Hot Spring at least by 1908, but Model T production started in 1909, so perhaps all of the signs were not changed at one time.

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Marie and Elsie stand in front of a depot called “Boyes Springs,” in 1921. apparently the word “Hot” in the name came and went. This station was destroyed in the fire of 1923.

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1916 map showing the old hotel and the canal that ran down Pine Street.

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Still from the 1923 Harold Binney movie “Account of the no-account Count.” The film shows the train arriving at Fetters Springs.

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Boyes Hot Springs depot in 1942, the year service ended. The Woodleaf Store can be seen behind the depot.

 

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The Verano depot, across the creek from El Verano.

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Glen Ellen, year unknown.

Southern Pacific depots:

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Eldridge depot 1898

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El Verano, circa 1890s

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El Verano depot shortly after construction, 1880s

Images courtesy of the Sonoma Valley Historical Society and the Northwestern Pacific Railroad Historical Society.

 

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Boyes Hot Springs, El Verano, History, Photographs, Resorts, Springs Historic Photo Database

New to the Springs Historic Photo Database

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Probably around 1910

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His name is Gus. Post marked Boyes Hot Springs, but is this the Plaza? 1912

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The “Old Hotel.” Before 1923

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El Verano Villa. Near Verano Ave. and the creek.

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Gables Hotel. Exact location unknown.

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Sonoma Mission Inn, 1937, ten years after it was completed.

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Sonoma Grove, on the Highway between Sonoma and Boyes.

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