courtesy of CalPhotos, https://calphotos.berkeley.edu/
courtesy of CalPhotos, https://calphotos.berkeley.edu/
In 1914, the Sonoma Vista Land Company, Harvey Toy, President, advertised in the San Francisco Examiner for a train excursion to Boyes Hot Springs:
“home sites $195 and up” and…”Boyes Springs mineral water served free on the grounds.”
Sonoma Vista was subdivision on the west side of Sonoma Creek, south of Boyes Blvd.
In January of 1918 the Index Tribune stated that “The bottling works of the now famed Boyes Springs Mineral Water has been put in the charge of Fred J. Hansen, popular musician and poultry man.” (A talented guy, apparently!) And “The management of the mineral water concern is no small matter as $25,000 worth of water was bottled and marketed last season.”
By 1925, the concern was managed by one H. Peterson, according to the IT. “Physician recommend the use of this water as a corrective for stomach and related troubles…Try a case and enthuse more and more over Boyes Springs,” the reporter stated, severely blurring the line between news and advertising.
Baseball players also enjoyed it, according to the Oakland Tribune in 1947:
The bottling plant, as shown on the County Recorder’s map of the Hotel Grounds subdivision, was adjacent to the Bath House near Boyes Blvd.
The building survived and has gone through a number of incarnations.
And inspired some art:
Images courtesy of Sonoma Valley Historical Society, Robert Parmelee, and the author’s collection.
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.”
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.)
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.Rudy died in 2000 at the age of 99.
Photographs courtesy of Owen Hartford
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.
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.
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.
Southern Pacific depots:
Images courtesy of the Sonoma Valley Historical Society and the Northwestern Pacific Railroad Historical Society.
After the main building burned in 2013, the Press Democrat reported, “The resort was built in 1908 at the El Verano rail station 20 years after the Santa Rosa-Carquinez Railroad opened the way for visitors from San Francisco and elsewhere,”. Actually, the location was the Verano rail station. The El Verano depot was across Sonoma Creek. Two competing railroads served the valley at that time. (See map), the Northwest Pacific and the Southern Pacific.
As there were two depots with the word Verano in their names, so there were two Pauls.; Paul Vannuchi founded the resort in 1908. Paul Marcuchi bought it in 1944.
As was common, Paul Vannuchi ran afoul of Prohibition laws. In 1920 he was accussed of conspiracy. At the time, he was also the propietor, with one J. Foppiano, of a roadhouse near San Bruno.
In 2016 we sat down with Eve Marcucci and her daughter Yvonne Marcucci Thibault to record some of their memories. As we talked, we paged through one of the many scrapbooks Eve kept of the resort and Paul’s career.
Paul’s father, Paul Sr. (“your host” according to the flyer) was also a musician; he played the mandolin. The Marcuccis emigrated from Lucca, Italy around 1900. One branch of the family went to Argentina. We see some photos of them in the scrap book. Paul left home in Ohio at the age of sixteen with a band he formed. They toured the country backing a female impersonator who was popular at the time. Drag shows were a staple of the vaudeville circuit in the 1920s and 1930s.
According to Eve and Yvonne, Paul’s Resort was place of laughter and good times, and the leader and instigator of the fun was Paul.
Paul and his pals, including Pete Mancuso, sang, played and performed skits in the dining room of the resort, where there was a stage.
Paul played electric organ and the trumpet at the same time. Some times the revelries were broadcast on radio from that stage on station KVON. Yvonne recalls that, as a child, her parents would put her on a bar stool, so they always knew where she was.
Paul certainly was a man of many talents. According to Eve, “Dad built the pool. He became a licensed contractor to get work done on the resort faster.” He was also a well known music teacher who worked for the public schools and taught privately. During WW2 he served in the Navy as a musician, and wrote the patriotic songs “Remember Pearl Harbor” and “Win the War in 44.” His coauthor on the former was Aub Brandon of Santa Rosa. According to the Healdsburg Tribune, the song was written in one hour. It was released on December 18, 1941, just twelve days after the cataclysmic Japanese bombing raid.
On top of all that, he became the manager of a young singer from Marin County by the name of Clairette Clemintino. Paul’s daughter Yvonne remembers trips to Los Angeles with her dad and Clairette, for recording sessions and publicity events. The scrap books contain photos of Yvonne with the likes of Danny Thomas, Chubby Checker and Shelly Fabre. Clairette’s career is documented at the website www.girlgroups.com.
Paul died in 1981
In the 1980s the main building of the resort became a Moose Lodge.
In the 1984 Historic Property Survey Report, prepared by architect Dan Peterson for the Redevelopment Agency, the resort is listed as eligible for listing on the National Register of Historic Places.
As mentioned above, the main building burned in 2013, much to the dismay of the Marcucci family and a community that continues to have warm memories of the resort.
More images from Paul’s Resort:
All photos courtesy of the Marcucci family.
Sonoma Index Tribune courtesy of the Sonoma Valley Historical Society.