This day, sixty one years ago. Eighteen pages in the issue. What happened that day? Things small and large, meaningful and trivial. Presented with just a few comments and notes.
Valley Mourns Oscar Larson-See page 14 for an editorial appreciation of this important figure in mid-twentieth century Boyes Hot Springs.
Incorporation, Bank sought at Boyes –“’A committee to form a committee’” to work for incorporation of Boyes Hot Springs as a full-fledged city, was appointed Tuesday at noon meeting of the Boyes Hot Springs Merchants Association, held at Sonoma Mission Inn.” Zan Stark Jr., Harry Phinney and Milton Greger were appointed to “establish a “citizens committee” to “sell” the incorporation plan in the area.”
More about Oscar Larson. Dr. Ronald Scott fished in Oregon. Big News! (Oregon keeps coming up in this issue.)
You could get a permit to burn things.
“Never used anything like it,” say users of Berlou mothspray, odorless, stainless, and guaranteed to stop moths for five whole years. Simmons Pharmacy, WE 8-2039.
“Bob Fouts, sportscaster for the San Francisco 49ers and other athletic events of both radio and television, plans to spend the summer in the Valley of the Moon, the Index Tribune learned this week. Fouts, his wife and five children will reside in the Bel Aire development near the Sonoma golf Course, where they will temporarily rent a home during the summer months.” Just a few years later, Dan Fouts would be starring at quarterback for the University of Oregon, which is mentioned page 17.
Merchants meeting continued:
“Help from an outside source in the merchants’ fight to retain the identity of the Boyes Hot Springs Post office came at the meeting when Harry Kay of Santa Rosa, member of the State and County Democratic Central committee pledged his aid.”
“The El Verano Improvement club members will meet on June 12 at the clubhouse on Riverside Drive.”
“Key figures in Valley of the Moon Little League…Gene Morreton, August Sebastiani, J. Bettencourt, C.M. Marsh, Carl Ellason, Betty Thomas, Thelma Ashley, Paul Marcucci Sr., Bud Butts…”
“New Safeway Store to be Discussed By City Planners”, “No Setting Aside of Prunes This Year.”
Mario Ciampi is recognized in Life Magazine for design of Sassarini Elementary School.
Oscar Larson remembered. A letter to the editor about Valley Unification.
Justin Murray Combo at the Palms Inn!
“Dr. and Mrs. Michael Mikita of Sobre Vista returned home recently after spending five days in Eugene, Oregon, visiting their son, Michael who is a freshman at the University of Oregon.”
Index Tribune courtesy of the Sonoma Valley Historical Society
UPDATE at the end of the post.
Highway 12 is thought by Breck Parkman, retired State Parks archeologist, to have originally been a mammoth trail from the valley that is now the Bay out to the Russian River.
The Diseño is a hand-drawn map showing the boundaries of a land grant, used in Alta California during the Mexican period. Several were drawn for the Rancho Agua Caliente, which encompassed the Springs area. Ecological historian Arthur Dawson interprets it this way:
“The mission is on the far right, Hwy 12 route is marked ‘camino de sonoma’–For some reason it changes from grey to red just west of ‘Portuzuelo’, which means a pass or a gap and I would bet refers to the area around the CalFire station by the Regional Park. In a car it’s not very noticeable, but on foot or horseback it does qualify as a pass. Also notice the Casa de Rancho, somewhere near Fiesta Market; Agua Caliente; and ‘siembra’ which means ‘plowed field. Arroyo Grande is Sonoma Creek. Corte de Madera is the neighborhood of Atwood Ranch. ‘Arroyo de los Guilucos’ =Nunn’s Canyon. Outline of the ranch is in red as is part of the road, which is a little confusing. But once you know that it makes sense.”
California State Highway 12, know as Sonoma Highway from the Town of Sonoma to Santa Rosa, once referred to as the Santa Rosa Road, is the main street of the old resort area of Sonoma Valley, including Boyes Hot Springs, Fetters Hot Springs, and Agua Caliente. Only a little west of the Highway is El Verano, the fourth settlement in the resort quartet. The entire road runs from Sebastopol in the west, to the town of San Andreas in the Gold Country to the east. In Napa County it runs through the Carneros region. It was there that photographer Charles O’Rear snapped the picture that was to become “Bliss,” the Microsoft screen saver that some claim is the most viewed photograph in history (see note.)
According to Californiahighways.org (a massive resource!):
“Historically, this route is close to the original “El Camino Real” (The Kings Road). A portion of this route has officially been designated as part of “El Camino Real.
The portion of this route running through Sonoma County is called the “Valley of the Moon Scenic Route“. “Valley of the Moon” was the name Jack London, resident of Glen Ellen, coined for this area. The first such sign with this name is when the Farmers Lane portion ends in Santa Rosa.
South of the town of Sonoma, Route 12 is called Broadway until it intersects Route 121 near Schellville. Route 12/Route 121 to Napa County is called alternately “Fremont Drive” or “Carneros Highway.” The latter term continues into Napa County.“https://www.cahighways.org/009-016.html#012
- First mention in the IT of the “Santa Rosa Road.”
P.L. McGill, Road Overseer of the township, in addition to the improvements on the Napa road, mention of which was made a few weeks ago, has just finished repairing the Petaluma road from Agnew’s Lane to the dividing line between Sonoma and Vallejo townships. This piece of road, which has been a terror to wagon spokes and horse flesh in times past, is now in fine traveling condition. Mr. McGill at present is engaged in grading from Gibson’s to Drummond’s on the Santa Rosa road and eventually expects to have every bad road in his township in a through state of repair.
In 1917, arguing for highway improvements, the IT states “There were beaten paths to the hot springs a century ago and as far back as 1850, the Sonoma Bulletin began the plea for a better connecting link through the Sonoma Valley to Santa Rosa.”
On these maps of Agua Caliente from 1888, the road from Sonoma to Santa Rosa is called Main Street.
In 1938 Bessie L. Mantifel applied for a liquor license for her Hollywood Inn, located on W. S. State Highway #12, El Verano, Sonoma County.
Promotional match book covers and brochures had maps inside.
Before the 1964 renumbering, this route was signed as Sign Route 12 for most of its length. However, SR 12 was designated as Legislative Route 51 (LR 51) from SR 116 to SR 121.
Note on “Bliss”:
In January 1996 former National Geographic photographer Charles O’Rear was on his way from his home in St. Helena, California, in the Napa Valley north of San Francisco, to visit his girlfriend, Daphne Irwin (whom he later married), in the city, as he did every Friday afternoon. He was working with Irwin on a book about the wine country. He was particularly alert for a photo opportunity that day, since a storm had just passed over and other recent winter rains had left the area especially green. Driving along the Sonoma Highway (California State Route 12 and 121) he saw the hill, free of the vineyards that normally covered the area; they had been pulled out a few years earlier following a phylloxera infestation. “There it was! My God, the grass is perfect! It’s green! The sun is out; there’s some clouds,” he remembered thinking. He stopped somewhere near the Napa–Sonomacounty line and pulled off the road to set his Mamiya RZ67 medium-format camera on a tripod, choosing Fujifilm‘s Velvia, a film often used among nature photographers and known to saturate some colors. O’Rear credits that combination of camera and film for the success of the image. “It made the difference and, I think, helped the ‘Bliss’ photograph stand out even more,” he said. “I think that if I had shot it with 35 mm, it would not have nearly the same effect.” While he was setting up his camera, he said it was possible that the clouds in the picture came in. “Everything was changing so quickly at that time.” He took four shots and got back into his truck. According to O’Rear, the image was not digitally enhanced or manipulated in any way. [9
Over the next decade it has been claimed to be the most viewed photograph in the world during that time. Other photographers have attempted to recreate the image, some of which have been included in art exhibitions. Wikipeidia
Paste copy of cease and desist order from Microsoft here.
Index Tribune courtesy of the Sonoma Valley Historical Society
Diseño courtesy Bancroft Library
2nd Agua Caliente map courtesy Jeff Gilbert
In 1924 we celebrated the opening of the newly paved highway. It was quite a grand event! Chairman of the State Highway Commission Harvey Toy is mentioned. There is a Toy Lane in Boyes Hot Springs.
Artists and obsession:
Artists, aging, and obsession:
“I have drawn things since I was 6. All that I made before the age of 65 is not worth counting. At 73 I began to understand the true construction of animals, plants, trees, birds, fishes, and insects. At 90 I will enter into the secret of things. At 110, everything – every dot, every dash – will live. To all of you who are going to live as long as I do, I promise to keep my word. I am writing this in my old age, I used to call myself Hokusai, but today I sign myself ‘The Old Man Mad About Drawing.'” ~ Hokusai
“Mount Fuji is a popular subject for Japanese art due to its cultural and religious significance. This belief can be traced to The Tale of the Bamboo Cutter, where a goddess deposits the elixir of life on the peak. As the historian Henry Smith explains, “Thus from an early time, Mt. Fuji was seen as the source of the secret of immortality, a tradition that was at the heart of Hokusai’s own obsession with the mountain.”” Wikipedia
Here in Boyes Hot Springs, we have a similarly visible, tall monument, and while the Spa does not claim to bestow eternal life, it definitely makes life more enjoyable, and is a worthy subject of an artist’s obsession.
“It all adds up to a reminder that, even as the art historians have been slowly trying to squeeze the history our their discipline, artists have been assiduously turning them selves in to historians, archivists even collectors of a sort.” Barry Schwabsky, The Nation Magazine, April 2014
“Historically revered by Native Americans for its healing power, the elegant Spanish mission–style Inn boasts an enviable location atop an ancient thermal mineral spring, flowing from 1,100 feet below the surface. The tranquility and beauty of this environment is echoed throughout the 40,000-square-foot spa, which offers endless opportunities to find your energy.” From the SMI website
Photographs courtesy of the Sonoma Valley Historical Society and the author.
In 2008 final construction drawings for “Phase 2 Stage 1” of the Highway 12 sidewalk project were issued. The drawings are detailed and very specific, as they would be. Everything is spelled out, down to the design of the hardware used to hold up mail boxes, sign details, and the depth of fence posts.
One thing that was not thought about is the space created, or delineated between the edge of the sidewalk and buildings, fences and walls along the highway. Formerly just part of the shoulder of the road, these unpaved spaces became the chaotic province of weeds and trash, unclaimed and untended by anybody.
This 300’ strip on the east side of the highway between Hawthorne and Thomson is a good example.
Other examples of wasted space.
The new sidewalks, streetlights, and other amenities provided by the project are much appreciated in the community. It’s a shame that the interstices of the design were not dealt with originally, but they now represent an opportunity for creativity and community engagement. Let a hundred fledgling landscape architects bloom!
How old does something have to be to be considered “historic?”
The modern commercial building, with housing in back, was built in 1960 by real estate agent W. A. McFarlane. McFarlane practiced his profession through the 1960s, possibly at other locations. He died in 1975.
The gap in this story is a long one; between the 1960s and 2000, when Nola Lum Hsu filed her Fictitious Business Name statement for the Golden Garden Restaurant. It’s also during this period that the brick-faced addition appeared.
Thailand Thai took over from Golden Garden in 2008.
The building was vacant in 2010 but Norm Owens was getting ready to open his Hot Box Grill that year.
According to Sonoma Magazine
Former Cafe La Haye chef Norman Owens has opened Hot Box Grill in Sonoma — technically Boyes Hot Springs — in what’s fast becoming a gourmet gulch. The Aqua (SF) and Canlis (Seattle) alum garnered serious cred while in the Sonoma kitchen before leaving.
Chef Rob Larman opened Cochan Volant in 2016, complete with the flying pig sculpture by Brian Tedrick, on the roof. In 2020, it continues to pump out fragrances that stimulate the salivary glands.
Please comment if you can fill in the gaps in the story of this building.
Hot Box Grill photo courtesy of Sonoma Magazine.
“As Ellen Dissanayake has observed, the function of art is to “make special”; as such, it can raise the “special” qualities of place embedded in everyday life, restoring them to those who created them…”
“Psychologist Tony Hiss asks us to measure our closeness to neighbors and community and suggests ways to develop an “experiential watchfulness” over our regional ‘sweet spots,” or favorite places. Seeing how they change at different times of day, week and year can stimulate local activism.”
From The Lure of the Local, by Lucy Lippard.
It’s all about paying attention.
The course of the seasonal Lily Creek starts somewhere in the open space above Monterey Ave. (in the “Mountain Avenue Canyon”), goes under the street at Central and Verde Vista, travels below ground along Verde Vista, pops up at the corner of Verde Vista and Arroyo, ducks under again then is visible curling around the foundation of a house on Las Lomas, then parallels Arroyo Rd. traveling through back yards.
It’s curious that what is essentially an east-west water course would turn south very close to Sonoma Creek.
Tracy Irwin Storer was a biologist, not an artist or a poet or a historian, but a trained observer nonetheless. He thought it was worthwhile to note, in 1922, that “the French bullfrogs for sale,” he found near Boyes Hot Springs, “had been caught locally, along the creek, by two small boys.” Posterity thanks him for that evocative snapshot.
Thanks to Dan Levitis for showing me how to find field notes from the Museum of Vertebrate Zoology.
Addendum 3, December 20, 2019
Photos from author’s collection. Index Tribune courtesy of Sonoma Valley Historical Society.
NOTE: Baseball, Part 1, the Exhibition at the Depot Park Museum opens Saturday, October 26, at 1PM (power or no power!) The following post is a preview of Part 2, which will open in spring of 2020.
Early in the twentieth century, the climate and healing waters of Sonoma Valley, Boyes Hot Springs in particular, were attractive to Pacific Coast League baseball teams looking for places to train.
“Boyes’ Hot Springs is rapidly becoming recognized as one of California’s chief health resorts. A few years ago this famous resort was known only to a favored few in Sonoma and Marin Counties, who were aware of the marvelous healing powers of its medicinal waters. Through the combined efforts of Dr. Parramore of Mill Valley, and former Under Sheriff Litchenberg of San Rafael, both Marin County boys, the facilities and accommodations of the springs have been developed until now it is able to house the immense number that flock to this delightful and health giving spot. Against a State wide competition the Seals have chosen Boyes’ Hot Springs for their Spring training quarters. Exhibition games will be given there in recreation park that stands on the hotel property. The owners of the teams pronounce the facilities for (training) the best in the State. There is a large swimming tank, hot and cold water baths, plunges, a gymnasium, and the best climate in California.” Sausalito News, Volume 28, Number 48, 30 November 1912 — Page 1
The League was founded in 1903. Teams initially were not associated with the major leagues and PCL baseball was considered an “outlaw” league until 1904 when an agreement was settled with Organized Baseball which made the PCL a Class A league. Still the PCL was “the only game in town” west of St. Louis until the Giants and Dodgers moved to California in 1958. Star players of the League included the DiMaggio brothers and Ted Williams which tells you something about the level of play.
We know that the San Francisco Seals, a perennial powerhouse, were holding spring training at Boyes Springs as early as 1912. In that year, as an SF Chronicle headline read, an “ Eight Acre Ball Park (is) Being Built at Boyes Hot Springs.” The Chron goes on,…” it seems certain that the Seals will have the largest ball grounds in the world (!)-and very likely the finest-in which to prepare for their pennant struggle.” Manager Cal Ewing “…is highly enthusiastic about the new quarters.” In 1913 the SF Call, in an article about opening day, declared “The Boyes Springs rooters were the most conspicuous of the bunch. Headed by Doctor Parramore and Rudie Litchenberg (sic), they arrived at noon in a big auto and they drove direct to the ball park to root for the Seals.”
Building new parks for the Seals happened every few years, it seems. In 1913, under the heading “Interesting Items From El Verano and Vicinity,” the Index tribune reported that “Dr. E.L. Parramore and R.G. Lichtenberg (owners of the Boyes Bath House) of Boyes Springs were in the city on Friday of last week. Their visit was for the purpose of purchasing the lumber to build the fence around the new ball park, which has been laid out for the use of the Seals, who will do their spring training there.”
This is probably the field that endured until the 1950s. It was also very close to the Boyes Bath House. The land was surrounded by the Olive Grove subdivision in 1947 (see map),and completely subsumed by housing in the following decade. Originally named Fetters Field, it later became Lichtenberg Field. Today, De Chene Ave. roughly follows the old outfield fence.
The Seals weren’t the only team to train at Boyes Hot Springs. In 1950 the Twin Falls farm team of the Yankees were there; in 1951, the Oakland Oaks. The Index Tribune put the story of their arrival on the front page, with a photo of manager Mel Ott. Since one of the original attractions for teams was the healthful waters, it was natural that some players would endorse the product. The Oakland Tribune showed two Oaks pitchers enjoying Boyes Springs mineral water after a workout in 1947.
Some of the major leaguers who came to the valley for training ended up settling there. One such was Sam Agnew.
According to the Society for American Baseball Research, “Sam Agnew is best remembered for being the catcher for both of Babe Ruth’s pitching victories in the 1918 World Series.” Agnew started in baseball with the Vernon team of PCL in 1912. His Major League debut came with the St. Louis Browns in 1913. He started as catcher for the Browns through 1915, when he was traded to the Red Sox. While a St. Louis player he had the distinction of being called out while sitting in the dugout: the team was found to be batting out of order and he was supposed to at the plate at the time.
Agnew opened a service station in Boyes Springs in 1935. It was at the corner of Vallejo St. and the Highway (where the Barking Dog parking lot is today.) Agnew died in 1951 in Sonoma.
AND THAT’S JUST A SAMPLE! STAY TUNED…
Index Tribune courtesy of the Sonoma Valley Historical Society. All others as noted or Author’s collection.
Ovoid object of cast iron, heavily rusted, weight about 9 lbs, found, sometime in 2010, in the soil at the southeast corner of lot # 6 block 12 of the Boyes Springs Sudvivison A, which was platted in October of 1913. It appears to have been attached to a shaft, of which there is a broken stub. It’s too big and heavy to be doorknob: Possibly a surveyor’s corner marker.