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Valley People (December 18, 2019)

A FAST MOVING HOUSE FIRE, the third in five days in the Anderson Valley, last Thursday destroyed a large residence on the Vista Ranch Road not far from Boonville. Called in a little after 9:00 am, the home, occupied by the Cornejo family, was fully engulfed in flame when firefighters arrived. There were no injuries to either residents or firefighters. The cause of the blaze is under investigation. Ammunition popping off during the conflagration inspired wild rumors of an accompanying shootout with Immigration agents, but there was no shooting, no immigration agents, no injuries associated with the fire that totally destroyed the house.

KARY MULLIS has died. Internationally famous for winning the Nobel Prize for chemistry, Mullis, undoubtedly the liveliest Nobel Prize winner ever, owned a home on Gschwend Road where he presided over some memorably debauched soirees that live on in the torrid minds of some local debauchees. Mullis sold the Gschwend property to a far more sedate friend of his some time ago. The place is now looked after by local couple Gordon Tranberg and his celebrated artist-wife, Maire Palme. (The ava on-line archive has a large file of Mullis-in-Anderson Valley stories.)

MULLIS’S 1998 autobiography is called “Dancing Naked in the Mind Field.” It makes for interesting reading, and also makes his ideas accessible to us non-geniuses, not to mention the laughs we get from his hilarious descriptions of his many adventures. Mullis told Parade magazine: “I think really good science doesn’t come from hard work. The striking advances come from people on the fringes, being playful.” This guy managed both.

BURIED in the otherwise routine to-do list of the Anderson Valley Community Services District Board is this undoubtedly controversial piece of new business — “Hiring a Consultant for Parcel Tax Measure.” It will be discussed tonight (Wednesday, December 16). We will be reporting on it next week and, we expect, for some time to come.

A READER ASKS: “Question: Why did AVFD have to call in water tenders from other districts during the big blaze last week? Answer: Because there is no municipal water system, and thus no hydrants, in Boonville center. That's a spectacular and tragic example why there ought to be. No?”

MS REPLIES: It is true that a municipal water system would greatly improve firefighting capability in downtown Boonville, but there are two or three fire hydrants in front of the fairgrounds. As we understand the situation at the devastating  fire two weeks ago, the water tenders and pumpers ran the Fairgrounds tank down to below their reserve level and the Fairgrounds manager said they had to stop when the tank got down to something like one-quarter full. That’s when the firefighters looked farther south to PennyRoyal to re-load.

AS OF LAST FRIDAY, this was the list of folks needing housing:

  • Family 1: 2 adults and 2 children
  • Family 2: 5 adults
  • Family 3: 1 family with 2 adults and 1 young woman
  • Family 4: with 1 adult, 2 young women, 2 children
  • Family 5: 4 adults and 2 kids
  • Individual 1: 1 adult- needs to be in downtown Boonville because the person does not have a car
  • Individual 2: 1 adult 

THE AV FIRE DEPARTMENT AWARDS DINNER was held last Saturday, honoring the fire, EMS, and supporting volunteers that make emergency services possible in our community. Every year AV crew members nominate and vote for awards for the fellow volunteers that they believe have made outstanding contributions (a hard decision every year). This year, the following were recognized for their extraordinary efforts:

  • Rookie Firefighter of the Year - Don Graves
  • EMS Rookie of the Year - Aisea Taukave
  • Ambulance Operator of the Year - Wayne Howard
  • Engineer of the Year - Eddie Pardini
  • EMS Leadership - Terri Gowan
  • Officer of the Year - Tina Walter
  • EMT of the Year - Regine Boudoures
  • Firefighter of the Year - Ky Clark 

Also recognized for Distinguished Service is Martha Hyde, awarded on her retirement for her years of dedication as the AV Ambulance Service manager, EMT, radio programming expert, crew member advocate, and more. 

Emergency services are available in Anderson Valley because of the time, effort, and dedication of approximately 45 Firefighter and EMS volunteers - with the considerable support of their families, the Volunteer Fire Fighter Association, the Ambulance Service, & the Community Services District board and staff. To everyone who is part of this heroic and critical effort, THANK YOU.

RAOUL RADIO WRITES: “I was watching a post-apocalyptic movie last night called Goodbye World, and a few minutes into it I saw what I thought was the Philo gas station. A few minutes later in the movie, bikers had taken over Lemon’s grocery store.  I had no idea a movie had been filmed there!  Fun to see. Must have been a big story there at the time. 2013. In the Lemon’s scene, end-of-the-world price gouging was in the tomatoes were $40 each!”

FROM THE BUSTLING YORKVILLE MARKET: Join us this Friday for good food, great friends and festive Holiday Cheer! We will be hosting our annual community Christmas Party on 12/20 at 5:30 PM, with food, drinks and merry tunes played by local legends, The Lost Claus. Spend the evening singing carols (Music books will be provided), decorating sugar cookies, and chatting with your neighbors. There will be lots of fun activities for children of all ages. Remember that there is just over a week until Christmas, and the Market has many great locally made gifts for everyone on your list.  PS. The Market will be closed from 1/1/20-1/15-20 for inventory, cleaning, and a winter break. We will see you all again in mid-January, sparkly and ready for another year.  

THERE ARE GOOD DEALS, and then there are Super Deals, such as the one offered by KZYX last Saturday afternoon at the Philo Grange. If you brought food for "6-8" people, your own plates and cutlery, you not only got to meet the KZYX family, you got to feed them!

IT MAY BE PREMATURE to talk about what will replace Boonville's burned out center, but affordable housing and small business space at the site would certainly be welcomed, and maybe someone might also buy the awkward space of the Buckhorn and re-do as the viable structure it once was.

BREAKFAST BURRITOS are now on offer at the Navarro Store, meaning The Valley's morning shift can get off to a healthy start with a BB at the Anderson Valley Market and at Navarro.

LIBRARY LINES. The Anderson Valley Library will be closed Saturday December 21 through Tuesday December 31, for the holidays. We will reopen on Jan. 4, 2020. Happy Holidays to all. (If you book people have never dropped by the AV Library, you're missing out on a great little hidden treasure at the Boonville Fairgrounds. Tuesdays, 1:30-4:30, Saturdays 2-4.)

OLD TIMERS recall when the Vista Ranch sub-division near Boonville, the site of last week’s terrible house fire, began as a settlement of like-minded Christians who aggressively maintained the area for their co-religionists. 

THE LEGENDARY Boonville Lodge, destroyed by the recent fire, is now just a memory, and what a memory! It's been called "a bucket of blood," and for sure it had a well-deserved reputation as a fightin' bar, but the older old timers will tell you that the reference to The Lodge as a "bucket of blood" really began with the bar's first years in the 1930s as deer hunters suspended their prey near the door to bleed out the carcasses while they knocked back triumphant shots.

BACK A WAYS when Slim Pickens called Boonville the roughest town he ever called a rodeo in, the Boonville Lodge, a squat, brick bunker perhaps unconsciously designed to confine the mayhem common to it within its walls, there were Saturday night head-butting contests, only one of many heavily physical hijinks common to the place. One guy would position himself at the post office just across the road from the Lodge while another pawed the floor in the bar. At “Go!” the Lodge guy would sprint out the door to ram heads with the post office guy, winner take all.

STRANGERS entered the Lodge at their own risk, especially long-haired strangers. One night in the middle 1970s a thirsty longhair stopped by for a six-pack to go. While the hippie waited for Amy the bartender to bring him his beer, the hippie’s VW van was tow-barred to a  logger’s pick-up. When the unsuspecting visitor got back behind his wheel, he and his VW were dragged around Boonville for a spell, the terrified man screaming to be freed. 

Outside the Boonville Lodge, 1982 (l-r: Manuel Bettencourt; Butch Hood; Tony Pardini; Danny Kuny – in front: Amy Bloyd)

THE LATE BOONVILLE postmistress, Peggy Bates, was at work one morning when the door to the Lodge suddenly flew open “and here came a little guy running for his life straight down the middle of 128, and right behind him ran a big shirtless guy with a broken pool cue stuck in his back like he was the bull in a bull fight.”

SOME TIME in the late 1970s the Boonville Lodge was the site of a pivotal episode. It also began in the morning, a weekend morning as I recall, when the drunks began hurling Mexicans out the front door of the bar like bowling balls. But that morning the Mexicans counter-attacked. A mob assembled outside as the drunks hurriedly bolted the door from the inside. Guns were brandished as the Mexicans, wielding half a telephone pole as a battering ram, pounded at the locked door to get at their tormenters. Frantic calls were placed to the Sheriff’s Department a half hour away (at least) over the hill in Ukiah. By the time a platoon of deputies arrived on-scene, the Mexicans were in a pitched battle inside the bar. They had one guy down and were sawing at his throat and everyone else was involved in serious hand-to-hand combat. Boonville was soon after declared “lawless” by then-Sheriff Tim Shea, who also said the Anderson Valley was dominated by “anarchists.” The legendary Deputy Squires seemed to have been given carte blanche to restore order, which he did, and singlehandedly, too.

AH, THOSE WERE THE DAYS. When the NPR brigades took over, Boonville’s wild people were mostly priced outta here, and the Anderson Valley seemed almost instantly blanded down to where people now come and go talking of radicchio. The area, if you're given to literary before and afters, went from Flannery O'Conner to Updike. The excitement these days is all on television and telephones.

‘THE CONFESSION KILLER’ — the local angle: Boonville resident and star video editor Len Feinstein was lead editor on the new Netflix five-part true-crime documentary series “The Confession Killer” which debuted on December 6th. Directed mainly by Robert Kenner of Food, Inc. fame, the series is already getting rave reviews. “I spent 14 months grappling with thousands of hours of archival and original materials and interviews,” said Feinstein. “It was one of the toughest projects of my career. But it’s currently one of Netflix’s top 10 most watched shows. Great reviews — 100 on Rotten Tomatoes.” More info on the series/subject and the trailer:

MENDOCINO COUNTY'S longest-running eyesore, cum fire trap, the long-abandoned Ricard slum at Haehl Street and Highway 128, has for forty years sat there unabated like a big pile of highly flammable kindling, imperiling the surrounding homes and businesses.

No other community in Mendocino County would tolerate this gross eyesore and fire hazard. While we’re considering what to do with the burned out heart of Boonville, we might also persuade our fire people and our CSD board to get the County to at last abate the Ricard property. Operation Clean Sweep!

EXACERBATING the local housing shortage of course is the number of transient, Air B and B conversions the Anderson Valley has suffered. The number we thought was correct at 62, is more like 82 tourist rentals from Yorkville to Navarro, according to locals tracking them. 


  1. Dayla December 20, 2019

    I am sorry to hear that the Boonville Lodge burned.. What a great American bar.. A legend, not just in the Anderson Valley but far and wide. I remember back in the early 80ties when my ex Rick Hepting and I had decided to leave Berkeley and move to Boonville, mostly because of Bruce Anderson and AVA. Rick Hepting was the master of repairing The IBM Composer which was a portable typesetter designed like the IBM selectric typewriter. That’s how we came to know Bruce. These machines that already ancient then and often needed repair, so Bruce had to make the trek to Berkeley to await the magic repairs of Rick Hepting. Harry something or other who published the Mendocino Commentary also had a ramshackle IBM Composer so he to had to see Rick in Berkeley frequently. When I told Harry about our move he was aghast. He said Boonville was just a pack rednecks hippies and Mexicans fighting like cats and dogs. That’s when I first heard about the Boonville Lodge. He repeated much of what you have recounted in this story, especially dwelling the Mexican’s rebellion and siege on the rednecks at the Lodge. He suggested we move to the wilds of Sebastopol. We knew right then that if we had any reservations about the move to Boonville, they were gone now. Harry sold us over the top. We moved to Anderson Valley and it never did disappoint. Just one quick story. I will never forget when theyoung Bloyds tied some hapless guy to a chair and drove all up and down 128 in the back of their pickup in the late nights hours. When they got bored with that they picked him up chair and all and left him in the lobby of the Boonville post office for the post mistress to find in the morning! What a great place Boonville was in those days and she wore the Lodge as a crowning jewel!

  2. Cooter Ray December 31, 2019

    A coyote once bought be a virgin daiquiri at the lodge. Keith made me pay him back but not before I made Tater do a push-up with one arm behind his back. Them the days. Today is post-days AF

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