Boyes Hot Springs, Entertainment, History, Uncategorized

Music at the Resorts

From earliest European settlement (and possibly before), the Valley of the Moon was a place of rest and healing, but by the late 1890’s excitement was added to the activities: show business. First and always there was music. Theater and the spectacle of the circus were also popular. Movies arrived by 1917.

The following is a sampler of the variety of music available at the resorts.

 

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Art Hickman had been coming to Sonoma Valley since 1910. He was a newspaper man who became the leader of a popular band in San Francisco. He is sometimes credited with inventing the word “jazz,” in Boyes Hot Springs. This dubious claim is fully discussed in Bruce Vermazen’s interesting article: http://www.gracyk.com/hickman.shtml

Hickman’s arrival in Boyes Springs was front-page news in 1923. (No elucidation as to the nature of his accidental burns is given.)

In that year, Prohibition was in force, which did not prevent the resorts from offering refreshing beverages to their guests, to enhance their musical appreciation. As we see from the headline, the El Verano resorts were “Again Raided.”

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Was Nuf Sed the name of the “Original Ragtime Orchestra…” or just an emphatic statement?

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It looks like a circus troop in this photo, marching with a band. The stamp on the reverse dates the card to 1909.

Some of the musical offerings were more high-toned. A Ladies Singing Society would be very refined.1922HARMONYSOCIETYCLIP

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Between 1920 and 1950 there were over a dozen ads in the IT for “Hard Times” dances. Attendees were expected to come dressed in stereotypical farmers’ clothing, and decorations leaned towards hay bales, wagon wheels, and animal harnesses. The music for this 1928 affair, held at the Boyes Springs Club House, was provided by Prof. G. Nimpfer, who was originally a tailor and had run a resort in Agua Caliente under his name. What discipline his PhD was granted in is not known.

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Paul Marcucci’s “Hill billy Band” from 1933. Marcucci was a talented musician and song writer who presided over Paul’s Resort for three decades in the mid-20th century.

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Unfortunately described as a “negro orchestra,” the Funmakers featured Johnny Alston and Jeanne DeMetz. Alston and DeMetz recorded extensively. To get an idea of what they might have sounded like at the Fetters Resort, listen to this recording of “Sam the Boogie Man,” 1946, from the Prelinger Archive:  https://ia600604.us.archive.org/13/items/78_sam-the-boogie-woogie-man_johnny-alston-and-his-orchestra-robert-scherman_gbia0007741b/Sam%20The%20Boogie%20Woogie%20Man%20-%20Johnny%20Alston%20and%20his%20Orchestra.mp3

 

 

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Hugh Wedge and his Melody Men were active in the Valley in 1950 and 1951. Obvioulsy versatile, they played for dancing of all eras (modern and old-fashioned).

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Leon Pasco’s orchestra, “from Napa,” gigged a lot in the resorts from 1948 through 1953. Hugh Wedge was also billed as from Napa. Did they really hail from there, or was that puffery to make them sound more exotic? The Funmakers were billed as “direct from many smash engagements at New York’s most elaborate NIGHT SPOTS,” which probably had some truth to it. But “from Napa?” Not very enticing.

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Anson Weeks was famous as the leader of the orchestra at the Mark Hopkins Hotel in the 1920s and 1930s. For more on Weeks, see https://soundcloud.com/peter-mintun/sets/anson-weeks-his-orchestrahttp://www.sfmuseum.org/hist1/weeks.html

In 1969 Pete Mancuso took over the old Resort Club in the heart of Boyes Hot Springs and renamed it Little Peter’s Melody Club. The establishment was in operation until the mid 1980s.

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The Melody Club sign was in place until 2014, when it was removed for safety.

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Boyes Hot Springs, History, Photographs, Trees, Uncategorized

The Fairmont Employee Parking Lot

The site at the corner of Vallejo and Highway 12, now in use as the employee parking lot for the Sonoma Mission Inn, has a long history.

This postcard, post marked 1913, shows the entry arch, to Woodleaf Park (in the middle of the lot),  which was one of the early subdivisions in Boyes Hot Springs. The sign at left reads “Desirable Summer and Winter Cottages for rent. J. W. Minges.” Minges was a prominent land owner and businessman in early twentieth century Boyes Hot Springs and was often referred to as the “mayor” of Boyes Springs.

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This is part of a full page ad (above) from 1925 promoting Boyes Hot Springs. It reads, in part, “In place of the frame building and barber shop that was located next to the original post Office at Boyes, the enterprising business man (Bob Liaros) let the contract for a handsome hollow-tile building with concrete floors and fireproof throughout.”

The view from the 1930s (below) shows the building mentioned above.  Lairos was another Boyes booster and long-time business owner. Beyond the Liaros building are the ice plant and Sam Agnew’s service station at Vallejo St.

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Liaros sold part of his land to the proprietor of the ice plant.

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The building changed hands in 1949.LairosVarietyStorePlansJims

This article mentions that Jim’s Lunchroom is located in the building. If only we could get the Embalmers to come back! Perhaps they could “frolic?”

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The above mentioned variety store, operated at one time by the Polidori family.

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The building was demolished as an eyesore in 1992. Progress!?

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In 1997, a lone California Bay tree stood on the lot, but it was dying.

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The merely functional parking lot in 2008.

Thanks to the Sonoma Valley Historical Society, Stanford University Library Special Collections, and Mr. Lloyd Cripps.

Addendum:

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Document describing the land in Woodleaf Park that Bob Liaros bought in 1931, including the ornamental arch.

 

 

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Architecture, Boyes Hot Springs, History, mid-century, Photographs, Uncategorized

The Corner of Thomson Avenue and Highway 12

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Thomson Avenue, not Thompson Avenue, was named for Dr. Allen Thomson, who had been physician to General Vallejo, and who married one of his granddaughters. Thomson was president of the company that developed the subdivision known as Boyes Springs Park . Thomson Street is its southern border.BHSSubDivBweb

The building at the southeast corner was a Red Crown gas station circa 1930. It later became the Ferrando’s Plumbing building and now houses La Michoacana Ice Cream and Plain Janes. It was famously made over by Rico Martin in 2015.

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The caption says “Questerman/Churchill Garage.” Note the misspelling of the street name and the designation “east.”

Directly across Highway 12 from the end of Thomson (not East Thomson!) was Baker’s Drive In, established in 1957 (and open 24 hours per day!)Baker'sArticleAd In 1958 Norman Baker had big plans to build a truck stop on this property, but the county would not approve the project.BakerTruckStopweb

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Looking South, Farrell’s sign at left, Baker’s Drive In at right.

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Looking at Bakers’ Drive In on Hwy 12, from Thomson. Red Crown building seen at left.

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Looking North

These photos from 1958, courtesy of the Sonoma County Library, were used in a court case, the nature of which is unknown, but could have been a suit over a traffic accident. In the photo of the highway looking south, a sign can be seen (below the Richfield sign) which proclaims Farrell’s Resort, which would have been on the property now partially occupied by Arroyo Vet Hospital.

In 1972, John Metallinos and family opened the Fruit Basket on Arnold Drive.

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They opened their Boyes Springs branch sometime later, probably in the early 1980s, at the old Baker’s Drive In. On June 15, 1983, a fire destroyed that building.FruitBasketFireweb

Nearly a year later, the Boyes Springs Fruit Basket reopened, “in a flourish of live Greek music and dancing,” in its new building, which was designed by architect William Dimick.

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The Fruit Basket in 2107. It really is a graceful building.

My thanks to Mark Maberly for information about Dr. Thomson, and his general enthusiasm for our history. As always, contributions of knowledge are welcomed. Please leave a comment.

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Boyes Hot Springs, nature, Neighborhood Phenomena, Trees

The Corner of Central and Highlands

At the corner of Central and Highlands in Boyes Springs, these trees had been “influencing” the fence for many years, in a wonderful display of found sculpture. In April of 2017, big changes happened._DSC8641

The trees, which had been menacing the house’s foundation, were removed and a new fence was built._DSC8652IMG_2277 It’s sad to see trees go, but they don’t live forever, just like people.

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