“Calendula (probably arvensis, but there is a larger flowered officianalis) is listed on Cal Flora as non-native to our area but not invasive. So it depends on your definition of a weed: any non-native, or the ones that most upset biodiversity? I don’t mind them; they’re pretty and have some medicinal uses. Since they tend to grow in disturbed and/or agricultural areas, no one knows for certain what grew there in the first place, so planting something else with the goal of restoration would involve some guesswork.” Hannah Aclufi via Facebook
A weed is a plant considered undesirable in a particular situation, “a plant in the wrong place”.
Examples commonly are plants unwanted in human-controlled settings, such as farm fields, gardens, lawns, and parks. Taxonomically, the term “weed” has no botanical significance, because a plant that is a weed in one context is not a weed when growing in a situation where it is in fact wanted, and where one species of plant is a valuable crop plant, another species in the same genus might be a serious weed, such as a wild bramble growing among cultivated loganberries. In the same way, volunteer crops (plants) are regarded as weeds in a subsequent crop.
Many plants that people widely regard as weeds also are intentionally grown in gardens and other cultivated settings, in which case they are sometimes called beneficial weeds.
The term weed also is applied to any plant that grows or reproduces aggressively, or is invasive outside its native habitat. More broadly “weed” occasionally is applied pejoratively to species outside the plant kingdom, species that can survive in diverse environments and reproduce quickly; in this sense it has even been applied to humans.
“There is a lot of magic in the naming of things. It is my contention that the more we know about nature’s secrets, the more we can enjoy it. Simply being able to call the elements of nature by their proper names helps us to experience them and allows their beauty to unfold…” Obi Kaufmann, The California Field Atlas.
“I find the Latin names for the plants as beautiful as the plants themselves … “ Wyethia Angustifolia (Hannah Aclufi) https://viridiplantae.com/about/
From the 1948 National Geographic article on “Hap Arnold’s Valley of the Moon.”
At the corner of Highway 12 and Sierra Drive stands the building housing Ross Drulis Cusenberry Architects. The building was built in 1966 for Sierra National Bank. It seems that the street, originally known as Meincke Road, was probably renamed for the bank. The street also has the distinction of being on the former Northwest Pacific Railroad right-of-way.
On July 15, 1942, a hearing by the Interstate Commerce Commision in Santa Rosa pitted the War Department and the Southern Pacific Company against the Sonoma Valley Chanber of Commerce, Sonoma State Hospital, and the Sonoma Vista Improvement Club in a debate about whether the rail line between Sonoma and Glen Ellen should be abandoned (passenger service had ended in 1935). The Feds claimed that the line was not needed for the war effort as almost all frieght was brought into the valley by truck, and the SP pointed out that the line had lost money for years. However, Dr. Fred Bultler of the State Home said that his institution had been designated the main hospital for the region should a coastal evacuation be necessary. The Home had been mandated to provide 500 beds on two hours notice and that the rail connection would be required to supply this additional population. The Home had 3200 “inmates”, as he called them, and 450 employees at the time.
Southern Pacific prevailed, however, and by January of 1943, the rails were gone, freeing the stretch between the Mission Inn and West Thomson Ave. to become a road.
The street was probably originally named for George Meincke, a school bus driver, chauffer for the Spreckles family, fire commissioner, and local property owner. However, two other Meinckes were prominent enough in the Springs, midcentury and before, to also be the namesake: Charles Meincke and H. Meincke.
Interestingly, the obituaries for George Meincke and Edith Waterman appeared next to each other in the January 30, 1969 edition of the IT. Both had streets named for them, or their family in Ms. Waterman’s case. The Waterman family goes back a little farther than Miencke’s. Her obit notes that “When she and her parents first started coming to this area many years ago, they were guests of Capt. H. E. Boyes…”
The Boyes Hot Springs Company was incorporated in 1902, with August Waterman as one of the directors.
A very low key announcement of the proposed name change appeared in the IT in March of 1965.
Sierra Bank first opened in a storefront on Highway 12 in 1964. The address was 18006, now a liquor store (2018). It was front-page news in the Index Tribune. This was the first bank to open in Sonoma Valley outside of the town of Sonoma.
The new bank building was also a major project for Boyes Hot Springs in 1965 when it was announced.
Among the luminaries attending the groundbreaking were Bud Castner, and Tom Polidori, prominent Springs businessmen. (Notice the article at bottom left. In 1965 they were fund raising for a new swimming pool.)
Just south of the Sonoma Mission Inn, on the west side of Highway 12, Sierra Drive intersects.
At that corner stands one of our landmark oak trees. The tree is in front of the building that now houses Ross Drulis Cusenberry Architects. The building was built in 1966 for Sierra National Bank. It seems that the street, originally known as Meincke Road (more on that later), was renamed for the bank. The street also has the distinction of being on the former NWPRR right-of-way (the tracks were removed in 1942).
Our tree is a Valley Oak, Quercus lobata. According to the California Native Plant Society (http://calscape.org/), the Valley Oak ranges over the interior valleys of the State, and needs to be near a source of water (Lily Creek*, which flows down Arroyo Road, tunnels under the highway very near the tree.) It can grow to 100’ in height and live for as many as 500 years. The tree in question, which has three trunks, certainly could be 100 years old. We have a photograph of the tree (and building) from 1973, which shows it to be in pretty poor shape. In 2018 it appears to be much healthier.
*Thanks to Greg Larson for the creek name.
1973 top. 2018 bottom. Top photo courtesy of the Sonoma Valley Historical Society.
The tree may appear in some other historic photos.
Boyes Depot, 1930s, (approximately located in the parking lot behind the Plaza Center Building), looking north to Sonoma Mountain. The oak in the foreground is possibly the Sierra Drive tree.
Photo by Zan Stark, 1950s. The location is opposite Arroyo Road on the Highway.
Oaks are never more beautiful than in winter.
Next post: About Sierra Drive/Meincke Road.
According to a Santa Rosa Press Democrat article from 1942, “Edwin P. Thomson, who many years ago owned the site of Fetters Springs…in 1887, planted the olive grove that now borders the highway between Fetters and Boyes Springs.” In 1946, the PD tells us that “Twenty-five acres of olive grove property fronting the state highway in Boyes Hot Springs and extending down to the ballpark, will soon be made available as an exclusive business and residential subdivision…” the owners were Bill Johnson and Rudy Lichtenberg, who also owned and managed the Boyes Bath House. Both men have streets named after them in that area.
Bill Johnson at the Boyes Bath House
(Courtesy of the Sonoma Valley Historical Society)
This map, from the website 321 Houses.com, shows an area which they call “Olive Grove.”
UPDATE: Below is the Recorder/Assessor map of the subdivision. It is dated 1947.
This is part of an aerial photograph from 1961, with a few street names superimposed. At that time, Bokman Avenue did not exist. Bokman approximately follows the outfield fence of the Boyes Springs Ball Park, which can be seen left center of the photo.
According to an IT article from 1988, the trees covered an area of 12.5 acres at that time. The trees were bulldozed in 1988, much to the dismay of local residents. See below.
Zan Stark photo showing olive grove behind the ball park (to the east.) Courtesy, Stanford University Library, Special Collections.
At various times, various people have made the claim that the trees in the Olive Grove tract were planted by M. G. Vallejo. This was asserted and denied in 1988 when the trees were removed. Real estate agents and B + B proprietors still use this “information.”
(Copy from online advertisment, below)
Property Details for 17600 Johnson Ave
This property is no longer available to rent or buy. This description is from May 03, 2010
Experience this darling 1949 Turn-Key home in the heart of the Wine Country! This meticulous 2 bedroom, 1 bath home features a spacious vintage kitchen, and a light and bright living room. The private back yard is a gardener’s delight that includes a patio, a deck and plenty of shade provided by two mighty olive trees that were once part of General Vallejo’s olive grove. Minutes from the Sonoma Plaza, restaurants and wineries.
”The area where this home is located was once part of General Vallejo’s personal olive grove.”
As mentioned above, the remaining trees were removed in 1988.
Olive trees on DeChene Ave. in 2017. (Author’s photos) Many of the existing trees in the area seem very old. They could be survivors from Thomson’s orchard.
The Valley of the Moon Community Church was located in the Olive Grove tract.
In September of 1951, the foundations were poured. Fourteen months later, “The handsome church building is slowly but surely nearing completion.” In August of 1953, the church building was in use.
This Chamber of Commerce map, courtesy of the Sonoma Valley Historical Society, from the 1955 shows the VOM Community church approximately where Lichtenberg St. comes into DeChene Ave.
This is the last mention of the Church in the IT. What happened to the congregation? What happened to the church building?
Many thanks to Joanna Kolosov of the Sonoma County History and Genealogy Library for information from the Press Democrat and other sources.
Regrettably, we have lost track of the name of the gentleman who loaned the 1961 aerial photograph. The photograph was provided to him by Sonoma County.
Antonio Juan, who took over Johnny Mazza’s barber shop in 2017, found this clock in the back of the shop.
Valley Watch Repair was started in 1954 by George R. Trueman, who previously ran a jewelry store in Sacramento. The shop was located in the Kinucan building, at first. This building, once called the Central building, was located on the highway, on the land that now features the Sonoma Mission Inn employee parking lot. At the time Trueman moved in, part of the building was used for the Boyes Springs Variety Store, run by the Polidori family.
In this post card photo by Zan Stark, the Variety Store is at left. The cars date the scene to 1954.
George Trueman became active in the business community. In 1955 he was elected vice president of the newly formed Boyes Springs Merchants Association. President was Tom Polidori. Zan Stark and Babe Gallo were directors.
(The photo caption on the same page tells of the former A.B. Peluffo house being moved from the site of the new shopping center at the corner of the highway and Verano Avenue. Pellufo was the developer of the Plaza Center building which houses the post office in Boyes Hot Springs.)
In 1956 Trueman moved his business to the former Saul Becker real estate office adjacent to Gallo’s Service station on the east side of the highway, near Arroyo Road. (Gaye Notely left for Berkeley a few days later, as we ;earn on the same page of the Index Tribune. Much later she would become Gaye Le Baron.)
Mrs. Trueman opened her yardage and clothing store next to the Valley Watch Repair, “opposite the Mission Inn entrance on Highway 12…” in 1958.
The indispensable Zan Stark provides a view of the Mission Inn entrance.
In 1961, the Truemans sold their businesses and embarked on a cross-country road trip, saying they would return to Sonoma Valley. And return they did, in 1962, and set up business in Frank’s Hardware.
Photographs courtesy of Michael Acker