Personal History

A Family Photograph

Note: An earlier version of this was password protected because I wanted to address my family directly. This version should make more sense to the general reader.

Years ago my father, Marty, gave me a copy of a photograph of the Acker/Samuel(Weissbuch) family, assembled in Manchester, UK around 1900. I don’t know if he knew more about the photo, but he never gave me any details. The family had migrated from Rumania not long before. The group is photographed in front of and hemmed in by, brick walls, in tiers, with a gaggle of kids sitting in the front row. I have been going through folders of family photos lately, (partly so the younger members of my family won’t have to do it some day). I came across a copy of the photograph.

Now, in this family was a boy who would become a well-known writer, a Zionist thinker, and something of a radio personality in the U.S. His name was Maurice Samuel (my father’s first cousin. He was a hero to Marty in his youth, and I remember hearing him talk with poet Mark Van Doren on national radio. This conversation, the subject of which was the Old Testament, went on weekly in the summer for twenty years! They were also on TV.)

Maurice Samuel and Mark Van Doren

In 1963 Maurice published a memoir entitled Little Did I Know, the first sentence of which reads

 “Among the people who rise out of my past to claim first mention in this book, my uncle Berel is the most persistent.”

 Berel Acker was my great-grandfather.

I have had Maurice’s book (my father’s copy) by my reading chair for months and I dip into it now and then. I started reading, on page 72, a few days ago, this: “My mother’s family came to Manchester in full force, part of it moving on, as I have told, to America. I have a group photograph taken in 1902, in the squalid backyard of 5 Norfolk Street, on the occasion of my aunt Chaya’s wedding, which was celebrated in our upstairs front room. Uncle Berel is in it, billycock set jauntily on his head, a cigarette dangling from his lips. I am there with my twin sister Dora, in the front row, seated on the ground, and into my face only a Wordsworth could have read trailing clouds of glory…”

Vicinity of 5 Norfolk St. Manchester

An amazing coincidence that I found the photo I read about in Maurice’s book just a few days later, giving me a lot more detail and a certain flavor.

Marty wrote on the back of the small copy I found that the little boy at the extreme left is his father, my grandfather Isaac.

In 1995 Marty and I visited the English relatives. In cousin Harry Rothman’s living room was a large version of the photo.

This photo was taken in 1955, in the New York area. My brother Dave and I are sitting on Isaac’s lap. Seated to our left is Berel. My mother and father and two grandmothers are standing behind. The woman at the left is unidentified, possibly one of my aunts.

Maurice’s depiction of Berel agrees with everything I was told by my father. Berel was the man of the world, the “cool grandfather.”  Marty’s other grandfather, who was named Katz, was so religious that he established his own synagogue and became its rabbi. Kids of Marty’s generation would say “when the Katz away, the mice will play.”

It’s gratifying to have little bits of family history come together like this.

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

New to the Valley of the Moon Historic Photo Database March 2021

Circa 1910. Looking northeast from the hotel. The depot is about in the center. To the left is the club house. The arbor is at center left. In the foreground you can see some wonderful faces. As you know from newspaper accounts, the crowds were very large in the summer. Courtesy of Ron Price.
“Hotel Promenade and Driveway, Boyes Calif.” I think the arbor seen in the first photo is at the right side here. No crowd, just three strolling women. The photographer was C. R. Payne. Courtesy of Ron Price.
Saint Francis villa was near Verdiers Resort in El Verano. Courtesy Ron Price.
Sonoma Creek at Sonoma Grove Resort, 1911. Acker collection.
El Verano Amphitheater. 1950s. At the site of Maxwell Farms on Verano Avenue. I have no information on this establishment. Courtesy Sonoma Valley Historical Society.
Larson’s Sport Shop and Liquor Store, 1950s. Booze and hunting equipment are no longer sold in the same store! This is the current location of the Barking Dog Roasters in Boyes Hot Springs. Photo courtesy of the Larson family.
Evergreen Cottages was on Pine Avenue on Boyes. The buildings still stand. This looks to be from the 1940s. Dig the crazy colors. Acker collection
Ferrando’s Plumbing at Highway 12 and Thompson Ave. 2005. So much has changed since 2005! Photo by M. Acker
Sonoma Valley Grange #407, 2005. When the sidewalks went in, the front entrance was removed. That wall now sports the famous mural by su servidor. Photo by M. Acker

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Architecture, Boyes Hot Springs, History, mid-century, People

Marion Greene

Update: please also see https://springsmuseum.org/2018/11/07/the-woodleaf-store-big-three/ for the post about the Woodleaf Store.

Film magnates, fatal accidents and paved (!) highways share space with the beginning of Marion Greene’s career as postmaster.  (Stay tuned for the story about the film magnates.) And, yes, they called it the “Springs” in 1923.

Marion Greene was a businesswomen of Boyes Hot Springs in the mid-twentieth century.  Many women were prominent in business around this time. Mary  Fazio of Mary’s Pizza Shack, Pine Wagner, the pharmacist,  and Jerry Casson were her contemporaries. Emma Fetters was a few years earlier, Juanita Musson a bit later. In 1947 she became a founding member of the Sonoma Valley business and Professional Women’s club. 75 women attend the first meeting.

In November of 1923, Marion Lovett Greene, proprietor of the Woodleaf Store, was appointed acting post master of the Boyes Hot Springs post office and was waiting to take the exam to qualify as the permanent post master.  There as quite a bit of competition for the job among local grocers, the Index Tribune noted. ”Postage stamp sales lead to pork-and-bean sales and love letter inquiries increase pickles sales, so naturally the store keepers want to serve Uncle Sam’s patrons, even if the salary of post master itself is not very remunerative.”  She did become the regular post master and stayed in the job until at least 1939.

Marion Greene in 1925, in her original Woodleaf Market.

Her Woodleaf store was in the Kellar building in 1932, we are told. The same year she move “across the street” to the Putnam building, which presumably was the building at the corner of Boyes Blvd and Sonoma highway,  where the Woodleaf Store stayed as it later became the Big Three. In 1938 Ms. Greene was appointed the Greyhound Bus agent for the Springs as well.

Woodleaf Store, 1930s.
The Woodleaf in 1956, after Ms. Green’s tenure.

The interior of the Woodleaf Store in 1956. This would be in the Big Three building on the corner of Hwy 12 and Boyes Blvd. Mrs. Greene was no longer owner, but she would have approved of the modern appointments.

Mrs. Greene served as president of the Sonoma County Grocers Association and the state association, and was active in the California Post Masters Association.

She was named Outstanding citizen of the year 1948  by the Sonoma Valley Chamber of Commerce. In 1949, as chair of the Travel and Recreation Committee, she spearheaded the effort to establish the Valley of the Moon Scenic Route along Highway 12. As part of her duties with the Chamber of Commerce, Ms. Greene appeared on Paul Marcucci’s radio show, broadcast from his resort.

Marion Greene, left, with Paul Marcucci, at Paul’s Resort, 1950s. Courtesy of Eve Marcucci. See https://springsmuseum.org/2018/12/28/pauls-resort/

Marion Greene built two houses in Boyes Hot Springs in  the 1940s. In 2019 Marion’s grand- daughter came to Boyes Hot Springs to sell the houses that her grandmother built and gave us a tour. The interiors were all Ms. Greene’s design, and quite charming, featuring custom cabinets and many built-ins.

One of the houses was cited in the 1994 Design Guidelines for the Redevelopment Project for showing “eclectic charm” .

An artifact found in the out-buildings attested to Ms. Greene’s involvement with local development and business.

In 1949 local boosters celebrated the “centennial” of Boyes Hot Springs. This is puzzling since Captain Boyes did not arrive until 1885, however, they were dating from the arrival of T.M. Leavenworth, who bought hundreds of acres in the Rancho Agua Caliente from Vallejo in 1849. See Leavenworth’s House.

The commemorative tie features the image of a mule because that was the mascot of Boyes Springs at the time. Mules live long lives, but it’s doubtful Peskie was still there in 1949.

Index Tribune courtesy of the Sonoma Valley Historical Society. Photographs by author and from author’s collection.

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Architecture, Fetters Hot Springs, History, Now and Then, Photographs, Resorts

The Ideal Resort

According to the 2005 Historical Resources Compliance Report for the Highway 12 Phase Two Corridor Project of County Redevelopment (whew!) The Ideal Resort was built some time around 1910 by Anton and Helen Schaffer who, in 1919, sold to Joseph and Margaret Weiss.

The Schaeffer’s were active resort developers in the early days.

The Schafer’s and the Weiss’ were Austrian immigrants, like the Weghoffer family and Leixner, who also had businesses in Fetters Hot Springs. {See Liexner }.

A Northwest Pacific Railroad brochure from the 1910s described the resort this way: “At Fetter’s Springs, three minutes’ walk from the Northwestern Pacific Depot, and ten minutes walk to Boyes, Fetters, and Caliente Hot Springs, where there are large swimming tanks….No expense has been spared to make this place a pleasure ground. Large, sanitary and well ventilated rooms, sleeping porches or tents,…Mrs. Weiss has established a reputation for her excellent Hungarian cooking.”

From the NWPRR brochure, circa 1917

The Weiss’ ran the resort until 1934. Between 1935 and 1941, the property changed hands several times.  Joseph Weiss died in 1935. The IT gave him a front page obit, calling him  a “pioneer resort man.” The obit noted that he was born in Austria-Hungary in 1868.

In 1946, Ray and Florence Loper took over, renaming the place the Floray Auto Court. The Lopers sold in 1958 but the name persisted in to the 70s.

Plan of the resort from the 2005 Report

The 2005 Report noted that the Ideal Resort was “one of many small, family owned resorts in the Springs district. Small resorts such as this allowed families and people of lesser means to participate in the resort life previously enjoyed by the affluent. They plays an integral part in the historical development of this area. This property is a good representative of the Springs resort era. There are few small, road-side resorts from the early part of the century left in the Springs area, and non retain the degrees of integrity that this resort does.  Therefore, National Register Criterion A and California Register Criterion 1 are met.” In 2005. As with so many historic structures in the Springs, alteration or demolition proceeded before consideration of historic value could be contemplated.

The buildings were rehabbed in the 2010s. They remain, but very highly altered.

Main House, 2008
Main House, 2020

In 1924, this ad appeared in the Index Tribune. The assortment of goods for sale gives pause.

Index Tribune courtesy of the Sonoma Valley Historical Society. Photos by or from the collection of the author.

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Uncategorized

Dutil/French Cottages/Verdier’s, Part Two

Paul Verdier died in 1945. His daughter and her husband, John Piro, take over and managed the resort until 1962. During this period, the resort was extensively photographed by Zan Stark. Several elaborate brochures were also produced .

In 1962 Paul Verdier, the younger, died. He and his sisters had sold the resort to Hugh B. Nyce (really!) that year. Then, in 1964 a big change.

1964 October-Juanita Musson takes ownership of Verdier’s.

Juanita was a well known, even notorious, restaurateur in Sausalito from 1953 to 1963.  The IT informed us “Mrs. Musson, whose language at times is as colorful as her muumuus, was popular restaurateur in Sausalito between 1953 and 1963. Early in 1964, with the backing of Scott Mc Donald of San Francisco, she took over Verdier’s. She ran the business as Juanita’s Galley until 1969, when a fire consumed the dining room, kitchen, owner’s quarters, and several outbuildings. Juanita did not close the business, however. “She still plans to cater a dinner this coming weekend for a Sears Point Raceway group at the Veterans Memorial building which she has rented for the occasion. While the bar will continue “business as usual,” Mrs. Musson told the Index-Tribune yesterday she also hopes to make arrangements for the preparation and serving of food in the and dance hall area.”

A small article next to the bottom photograph notes that lawsuits against PGE for starting the 1964 fire in Boyes Hot Springs, were settled. In 1969. Everything old is new again, the wheels of justice, etc.

Juanita was not able to resurrect the El Verano resort and moved on to Fetters Hot Springs.

Ms. Musson, who loomed large in the Springs for many years, will get her own entry in this journal soon.


Two of the buildings that did not burn looked like this in 2006.

By 2012, the property have been divided and sold to several people. A new house was built that incorporated some of the resort into the back yard.



Back yard of new house on Verdier’s property, 2012, showing the bar, fireplace and sheet metal sign.

This sign was donated to the Sonoma Valley Historical Society by Eric Morrison.

Index Tribune and photo of Juanita courtesy of the Sonoma Valley Historical Society. Other photos by author or from author’s collection.

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El Verano, History, mid-century, People, Resorts

Dutil/French Cottages/Verdier’s

The “French Colony” of Sonoma Valley included the Dutil, Lounibos, and Verdier families. The Lounibos’ arrived from France in 1873, the Dutils and Verdiers in 1893. (A different Verdier family came from France to San Francisco in 1850. They founded the City of Paris department store.)

By 1900 Jean and Anna Dutil were running a boarding house in El Verano, and improving it. “J. Dutil received a carload of lumber here Monday with which he will build a five room annex to his private boarding house in this place,”  wrote the Index Tribune.  After construction was complete, “Doc Wilson is painting J. Dutil’s villa. The colors are red white and blue.”

In 1902 “Mons J. Dutil, mine host of the French Cottage [as it was now called] will commence the erection of a large hotel in this place in a few days.”

Mrs. Anna Dutil died in 1943. According to the IT, she was 80 years old and came from Lyon France “fifity years ago,” ie, 1893.  “she and her husband founded the French Cottage, one Sonoma Valley’s first summer resorts, now Verdier’s.”

Post marked 1912.

According to historian Joan Lounibos, the Verdiers, Paul and his wife, worked for the Dutils at the boarding house, and, by 1922, they were the proprietors. “Mr. and Mrs. P. Verdier of the popular resort, the French Cottage, are making many improvements about the grounds, laying out beautiful gardens, painting the different buildings and getting ready for the coming season.”

By 1929, the resort was called Verdier’s. In the spring of that year, the Young Ladies Institute “enjoyed a bounteous repast at Verdier’s French cottage. The tables were beautifully decorated with daffodils and smilax, and the menu was elaborate, with chicken, ravioli and French pastry.”

1930s

1939-Paul Verdier makes more improvements

Paul Verdier died in 1945. His daughter and her husband, John Piro, take over and manage the resort until 1962. During this period, the resort was extensively photographed by Zan Stark. Several elaborate brochures were produced also.

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Architecture, Fetters Hot Springs, History, mid-century, People

From Tripp’s to El Brinquito

The store at the corner of Highway 12 and Depot Road in Fetters Hot Springs has been important in that community since at least the 1950s. Fetters Food Mart is first mentioned in the Index Tribune in 1952. The owner at that time is not mentioned, but we know that changed in 1956 when Mr. and Mrs. Roger Cleland sold to Mr. and Mrs. Victor Frolich, “formerly of Lodi.”

In 1963 the Tripp family took over.

 

Sharon Williams via Facebook: “This great photo was in the Our Supporter’s section of the 1965 El Padre. It is Tripp’s Corner Grocery, on Hwy 12, and we have Shirleen (Tripp) Perry (class 1966,) her brothers, plus Robin Dodson (1966) holding the dog.” (Cecil Tripp, owner, is at right.) The Nasso’s building can be seen in the background.

In February, 1966 the Index Tribune informs “the store is now operated by Mrs. Fena Parise, of Santa Rosa.”

“Opposite Nasso’s Gift House”

And in June 1967, “George Raby has taken over the former Fena’s Grocery at 17380 Sonoma Hwy., Fetters Springs. To be known as George’s Grocery, the store is on the corner of the road that goes down to Flowery School and is directly opposite Mountain Avenue. Raby formerly operated a grocery store in Boyes Springs and prior to that had one at Hooker Oaks.”



From the 1980s until 2005 it was known as Mike’s Market.

2005 First mention of El Brinquito. Photo 2008, Nasso’s building still standing.
Photo 2008

Rico Martin’s whimsical albeit controversial designs were introduced in 2015.

The Nasso’s building was replaced by the Vialetti family’s new structure, which was completed in 2019.

Bonus: Nasso’s ad from 1963

Index Tribune courtesy of the Sonoma Valley Historical Society.

Photographs by author. Yearbook photo from the “You Know you’re From Sonoma When” Facebook page.

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Boyes Hot Springs, History, Place Names/Street Names

Pine Avenue

PineLocust copy.jpg

Pine Avenue is shown on a County recorder’s map “Hotel Grounds Subdivision” which dates to before 1923. On that map there is a canal, starting near the hotel, crossing Boyes Blvd., and running down Pine Avenue. It ends in a large pond adjacent to the entrance of the Bath House. The canal did not exist long, if at all. Photos of the Bath House entrance from the 1920s show no pond.

HotelGrounds1labeled

Bath House1910horse

The Boyes Bath House in 1910. The end of the canal would have been somehwere at the right. The entrance to the Bath House was on Pine Avenue.

PondatBoyesSprings

This pond was in front of the “Old Hotel,” which was located where the Sonoma Mission Inn is today. Possibly the origin of the Pine Avenue canal.

On the fourth of August, 1916, the Boyes Hot Springs corporation, which owned all the land around the hotel which is now the Sonoma Mission Inn, sold lot numbers 155 and 156 (actually on Northside St., parallet to Pine) of the Hotel Grounds subdivision to Mary O. Cookson. She was enjoined by the boiler plate language of the “indenture” (deed) not to drill for water and, in the overt racism typical of the day, not to allow the occupation of the property by “Asiatics or negroes.”

DataTree Order son For User stanley

The signers of the deed for the Corporation were Henry Trevor and R. G. Lichtenberg. Lichtenberg became a proprietor of the Boyes Bath House, and a street is named for him in that vicinity.

EvergreenCotageLeos

Evergreencottges

The principle resort on Pine Avenue was the Evergreen Cottages, which dates from the early 1920s. The main building, housing a bar know variously as Mary’s or Leo’s was on Pine, but the resort extended to Northside St. In the center of the cottages was an open area said to have been a boxing ring. This is plausible as the training of fighters was common in the Springs in the era before WWII. Louis Parente was well known for hosting workouts at his place in El Verano.

BHSBoxers

In February of 1940 the Index Tribune and dozens of local businesses welcome the San Francisco Seals to the baseball grounds at Boyes Hot Springs for spring training. Among them was Mary’s Evergreen Cottages. Their boxed ad boasted “dancing, sulphur baths swimming.” The baths and swimming were courtesy of the Boyes Bath House at the end of Pine Avenue, and dancing might have been in the large square area in the center of the cottage cluster.

IT1940businessList

On September 16, 1949, William Johnson and Milton Gregor, proprietors of the Boyes Bath House, leased Leo’s Evergreen to Thomas Mayhew and Celanire Mayhew. The Mayhews gave notice, the same day, that they would engage in the sale of alcoholic beverages at the Evergreen.

In April of 1951, Ruby Coronas bought the Evergreen Resort from Johnson and Greger.In 1955 she celebrated the fourth anniversary with an ad in the IT.

. EvergreenAd1955

Joe, a native of Spain, died in Sonoma in 1971. Ruby died the same year, in Colusa.

In May of 1954, the Jack London Lodge of the American Legion hosted a candidates night at the Evergreen Resort. “Post commander Ed Reedy said that all candidates for federal, state, and county offices had been invited to be present, and that “most of them” had signified they will attend…” According to a June 3rd article in the IT, some of the candidates were Charles E. Greenfield, for state senator, 12th district, Oscar Larson for a Republican central committee post, and James J. Manning, of Boyes Hot Springs, unopposed for constable in the Sonoma judicial district. (Do we still have a constable?) Interestingly, among the polling places was Perkin’s Memorial Hall on Agua Caliente Rd., location unknown today. The Verano East polling place is listed as the Grange Hall on Highway 12, showing how notions of the boundaries between communities shifted over time as the (former) Grange Hall is now considered to be in Boyes Hot Springs. Archaic places names that had polling places included Cooper, Eaton, and San Luis.

The resort was for sale in 1996 for $449,000. It was said to be in “part of the up and coming area of Boyes Hot Springs.”EvergreeRealtyAd1996

Another resort on Pine was the Golden Oaks, which was on the corner of Pine and Northside, or Pine and Gregor, depending on which source you chose. In a 1968 article the Index Tribune gave the address as 130 Pine, which would put it at the Gregor end.

The first mention of the resort in the IT is in 1932. From 1938 to 1950 a Mr. and Mrs. Zinkulsen owned and operated it. In 1950 they sold to Bertha I. Donnelson. In the notice of the transaction the Golden Oaks was said to consist of eleven cottages and an owner’s residence.

Crime on Pine

Apparently Pine Avenue was a rough place in 1950. Around 11PM on September 8 of that year a street brawl broke out between seven young men, according to the IT headline. However, in the story it turned out that twelve youths were arrested and three were in the hospital, one with his “belly cut open.” He survived.PineAveBrawl1950.2

16 Pine Avenue was an interesting looking building. Apparently a store, it was in use as a residence up to 2009. It was boarded up in 2010 and demolished in 2019. In 1969, the federal Office of Housing and Urban Development was contacted by Boyes Springs Resort owner Luis Vela about a redevelopment program for the Springs. According to the IT, “Vela said he had conferred with HUD officials and others from San Francisco on the Boyes redevelopment plan. Preliminary proposals set this up on a three-stage basis. The first area to be upgraded under such a pilot project, said Vela, might be the section between the creek and Highway 12…”

16PineAve1969Photos

These photos, courtesy of Sonoma County Library, show an area, Pine Avenue, that could be included in the project. 16 Pine Avenue is shown. Redevelopment did no start in earnest until the late 1990s. We got sidewalks and street lights and some improvements to commercial buildings before Jerry Brown abolished redevelopment statewide in 2011. The sidewalk project was completed with county funds in 2016.

In 2004 a new development was built at Pine and Gregor. It consists of nine, small, two story homes plus an older home that was remodeled. Four of the units were meant to be “affordable.” John Bonfini was the developer. I believe the Bonfini development was built on the Golden Oaks site. Photo of the “older home,” possibly the Golden Oaks owner’s residence.

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Photo collage watercolor by Michael Acker of a section of Pine Ave.

Index Tribune courtesy of the Sonma Valley Historical Society. Photographs and maps from the author’s collection.

 

 

 

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