I’ve known John for at least 40 years, and have watched his rise in the world of type and book design with great pleasure. I was very lucky that he volunteered to redesign the Springs Museum logo. There are four other versions that will be used on the website. Keep your eyes out for them. THANK YOU JOHN!
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.
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.”
Was Nuf Sed the name of the “Original Ragtime Orchestra…” or just an emphatic statement?
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.
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.
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.
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
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).
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.
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.
The Melody Club sign was in place until 2014, when it was removed for safety.
Rozarios’ resort, the successor to Parente’s Villa, was located on Verano Avenue between the Highway and the bridge.
Louis Parente, a notorious bar owner, fight promoter and would-be politician, came to El Verano in 1906 from San Francisco. (Please see Jeff Elliot’s great santarosahistory.com for much more on Parente: http://santarosahistory.com/wordpress/2016/07/the-village-of-vice-in-the-valley-of-the-moon/
By 1925 he had built a “new” hotel.
According to the Index Tribune, “The 43 room hotel, hut, cottages and grounds were purchased by the Rozarios in 1943, and it was on January 1, 1944 that they opened it for business. The former San Francisco and Marin county residents had purchased the property from Joe Parente [actually Louis Parente], colorful Bay Area sports figure who brought many prize fighters here to train.”
Rozario’s was popular through the 1950s for wedding receptions, fashion shows, and formal dinners.
The Rozarios sold the resort to Carl Innskeep and Joe La Rango in 1955.
It later became known as the El Verano Inn.
The buildings were torn down in 1985 to make way for an extension of the Finnish American Home Association’s housing complex for retired people, which was located behind the old resort building. In that year, the editor of the FAHA Manor News explained in a letter to the editor of the Index Tribune that FAHA wanted to preserve the building, but “could not afford the very expensive improvements necessary…” Thus we lost another piece of our history.
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.
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.
Liaros sold part of his land to the proprietor of the ice plant.
The building changed hands in 1949.
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?”
The above mentioned variety store, operated at one time by the Polidori family.
The building was demolished as an eyesore in 1992. Progress!?
In 1997, a lone California Bay tree stood on the lot, but it was dying.
The merely functional parking lot in 2008.
Thanks to the Sonoma Valley Historical Society, Stanford University Library Special Collections, and Mr. Lloyd Cripps.
Document describing the land in Woodleaf Park that Bob Liaros bought in 1931, including the ornamental arch.