A Look Back

History anyone?

Did anybody out there see the Ukiah Daily Journal of Friday, June 19? They had a picture of my family hacienda on the front page. It now abides on North Franklin Street next to Fort Bragg City Hall. However "Fort Bragg historians" are a little clumsy as to the building origins. It now and has for over 25 years been occupied by assembly and state Senate offices. The people who work there usually are very helpful. The building was originally built by my great granddad Scott "The Growler" Saunders about 1884. It first stood on the corner of Main Street and Redwood Avenue where Coast to Coast Hardware is today. My grandma Claire Saunders was first in my Crow family there in 1885. Her two younger sisters and three young brothers were born there as well. Her four older siblings were born north of 10 Mile River in what was the native village of Keibaselah. All that’s there now is my pal Sally Ottoson’s wine bar. My great-grandad married my great-grandma Suzanne Hudson Youngcault, born 1855 in Cuffy’s Cove near Greenwood, at Keibaselah with patriarch Judge Frank Allen Whipple presiding in 1880. Mr. Whipple came “around the horn” from Massachusetts law school and was a founding daddy in Fort Bragg, thus the name of Whipple Street. Probably one of the first Northern California judges also.

This landmark Fort Bragg house was the Saunders home and combination trading post. The Growler sold enough moonshine, guns, ammo, horses, chickens and eggs and of course blackberry pie to build his own saloon -- one of the first license in Northern California -- around 1895 that also stood in the Coast-to-Coast vicinity. I guess old Fort Bragg soldiers were good customers.

Granddad Growler was also the last foreman of the Union Lumber Company that first opened at the mouth of the 10 Mile river. He was associated with the Johnson clan that owned the mill and moved it to Fort Bragg around 1883 where it stood as the second largest lumber mill in the world and closed around 20 years ago. It went from Union Lumber to Boise Cascade and finally Georgia-Pacific and absorbed two different unions with the last one dissolved in the 1940s after armed gunbattles and fistfights between union and nonunion Fort Braggers living in the same neighborhoods!

We were fortunate as the old logging town of Navarro around 1910 and Rockport around 1950 both burned completely down due to union strikes and other struggles at Navarro. I know what I'm talking about because both my granddads were born in Navarro around 1888. My father was born in Greenwood, now Elk, in 1970. My ma and I were born at the Grey Whale Inn and my second oldest daughter Danielle was one of the firstborn in the new hospital. Four generations born right in Fort Bragg and at least five generations on the Mendocino Coast. So welcome to my history world.

My great granddad Growler and his brother, great uncle Albert, were both born near Quebec City Canada around 1825 They needed a document with date of birth from New Hampshire to pose as US citizens to open their two saloons which both fell down in the 1906 earthquake along with our new big house that sat where Purity is today. One Chinese fellow died in that earthquake. My grandma said it really rocked 'n rolled. The Growler rebuilt his saloon at the same site but great uncle Albert moved his to Point Arena. My grandma's little brother, my other grand uncle Albert, didn't need a liquor license as he opened the last speakeasy in Fort Bragg. He later got a license but stayed in the family for 100 years until my uncle Darrell told the Samoa Club in Ukiah.

The Growler would be like the first tycoon in Fort Bragg. He either homesteaded or bought property along Main, Franklin and McPhersons (West to east) and from First Baptist Church south of Fort Bragg’s post office. His brother owned about from there south to about the Tradewinds. My family owned several famous (or infamous) buildings in Fort Bragg: Old Louie’s Pizza, Coast Hotel, the haunted Mendoza building where my adopted uncle John ‘Brick’ Cernac was born in 1915, Brick was full-blooded Yugoslavian but spoke fluent Italian. My grandma owned an old-style ice cream parlor that sat where the Tiptop Lounge is now, built by another of my Italian (or Roman) uncles, Zio Giusti, and another Crow uncle built the Fort Bragg bakery. My mom was making moonshine for my uncle Albert ‘Ab’ Saunders at four years old and would deliver doughnuts with whiskey bottles in the bottom of her basket. She taught old Dominic Carini how to make ‘shine and how to barbecue. They were real live roaring 20s kids.

My paternal granddad Gabriel Giusti had a vineyard out Vinegar Ridge Road in and made wine when he wasn't teaching Jerry Philbrick how to log! My maternal granddad, Auer Mehtln and made the beer and built the best houses in Fort Bragg mostly up and down Corry, McPherson, Harrison streets and of course the Giusti pavilion on Winifred Way that was originally just north of Fort Bragg city limits at the site of old Fort Bragg high school where my dad set track record and Pavionis, Pivers and uncle Brick set all the rest.

My granddad also built the first house at Cleone and was the first Fort Bragg person to serve in France during World War I. He was born in Navarro about 1888 and eventually served in a chemical warfare unit sabotaging the Kaiser's nerve gas factory with famous major leaguers Ty Cobb and Christie Mathewson.

After World War I Auer, who pitched semi pro and in the Cuban leagues, stayed a few years with Cobb building houses in Georgia and teaching Cobb how to hit slopitch and underhand style pitching, thus prolonging the Georgia Peach’s great career. Then he hopped a freight train around 1921 and cruised back and built our Corry Street mansion now owned by my pal and classmate the beautiful former Miss Pamela Dragness. Hey Pam, where did grandma's lemon trees go? Youngcault footnote: a few years back in Montana I met and ran with one of Ty Cobb's granddaughters who was quite spunky like her granddad. Auer's brother, my uncle Charlie, was also a carpenter and Mendoza County’s most famous duck hunter who also pitched pro ball and was one of Fort Bragg high’s first basketball stars and fought with Teddy Roosevelt in the Spanish-American war under an assumed name. He was never married, had several kids and was supposedly born in Navarro around 1880 and died at the Grey Whale Inn around 1970 but nobody knows for sure as uncle Charlie never let the government know who he was. He had no birth certificate, no social security card, no insurance and of course no marriage license, no pension. He always worked for cash and was for years Henrietta Smith’s bodyguard at 10 Miles Ranch, and he had no driver’s license. He always had an old redneck pickup truck with a shotgun and a ferocious junkyard dog riding shotgun.

Only two cops in Fort Bragg in those days. Which one would be dumb enough to ask uncle Charlie to see his no license! The only proof the United States has of his existence is his tombstone at Rose Memorial right across from my uncle Britton’s Greenwood Ione monument. Britton's tombstone says he was born in Missouri although as a toddler he lived there, but he was actually born near Fort Union in Crow territory, now Montana, and lived in Nevada about 20 years and led the US Army to find the stranded Donner Party. There is another Greenwood west of there named after Britton's dad, the mountain man Caleb Greenwood. Caleb's statue with his wife, my aunt Batchika Youngcault Greenwood, and my great grandma Sonny Youngcault were also born near Fort Union, Gardner Hudson Hall stands overlooking the Truckee River on Virginia Avenue which is what is now called Reno.

My family founded Truckee River city (Central Reno) in 1840. My great granddad on the Crow side, Captain James Hudson Hall, showed up in 1865 and moved us to Perkins Camp, the native village on the big river east of Mendoza city, thus my grandma Suzanne Hall Saunders was born near Greenwood where we raised horses. My own ma helped train the famous Seabiscuit at Ridgewood south of Willits and Seabiscuit colt was named Seabiscuit Jr., one of the first horses I rode at age 4. Welcome to the Youngcault history world.

Why not change Fort Bragg's name to Glass Beach, California? Keep Fort Bragg high, my alma mater, class of ‘72, as is. Believe it or not I was a scholar/athlete there where I played four years varsity baseball winning two league titles, played a little football as starting linebacker in the first annual Fort Bragg Turkey Bowl in 1968, was freshman tennis champ with James Britt and Charles Huber there. Played a lot of basketball, mostly in Fort Bragg men's city league where I was the youngest player coach in Fort Bragg history piloting the Coast Hotel Eagles at age 21. I also played pool tournaments mostly at the Golden West & Co. Huber and I once ran our own bowling league. Terrence Huber and I were both scouted by the Giants but instead I became a part-time giant scout — I developed my spitball to late — and retired sportswriter, my sports column can be found in the pages of the past old weekly Mendocino Beacon called Fort Bragg Sports by David C. Giusti from 1966 to 1970.

Terrance went on to coach semi pro softball and build houses with the artist Tim Taubold. I've built houses with him also, about his first, on Odom Lane. Chris Huber had a long career as high school and college basketball coach. He sure was a tough cookie in tennis and baseball and a three-year all-star all-league basketball player.

Chris and I played semi-pro-basketball in Italy in the summer of 1971 when we attended University in Rome and Venice on foreign exchange student status visas with our Italian teacher Mrs. Maria Huber (Chris and Terrence’s mom). I also served America on a debate team in London and Chris and I entered dart tournaments and watched cricket games all day. London's the bomb, and we had great grandstand cricket seats. We also won a lot of Guinness stout beer shooting darts, a game invented in Crow territory.

Also in Paris we met this cool cat who was hiding there after a military coup. He bought a lot of drinks and we were twisting like Sonny Liston. This "general" from Morocco looked just like Sonny Liston.

Our class of 1972 had the most stellar branch of athletes ever in Fort Bragg high school history and of course my dad Billy ‘Pav’ Pavioni had the only game close to us in the 1930s. I was a late developer so I was happy just to make the team, sat on the bench and cheered my pals on. We had the likes of Tommy Heitmeyer, a football and track star. He was on one baseball championship team with me and could have easily made pro baseball. He quit for reasons that he and I and his brother Doug only know. Doug and Tommy were also great bowlers from the wiki Munson clan. Also along with myself, Brick, the track and tennis star, and Huber, we had David Pavioni, a five-year college football player at Santa Rosa JC and Chico State, Gary Romeri, a full ride Chico State baseball player, the late Randy Silvera all-league in three sports, Kenneth Richards all-league in the same three sports and last of the Fort Bragg Loggers where he was a gold glove center fielder at age 14!

There were lots of others: Paul Williamson, a three sport varsity player from sophomore to senior in football, basketball and baseball, Richard Nowlin who set football records, John Sullivan all-league football and basketball player. Greg Margison who also played football at Santa Rosa JC and Ron Wooden, all-around utility player with track records. Fred Roach and Timmy Salo were good players who quit sports to salmon fish. Timmy probably still is the most avid baseball fan in Fort Bragg. Then those younger than us, may he rest in peace, was Jason Jacomella, the greatest Fort Bragg teenage baseball player I ever saw or coached in little league. He also quit baseball to salmon fish and was lost at sea. That was the quiz in my era -- who was best at baseball: Jacomella, Heitmeyer, Richards, Romeri, Pavioni or me?

Also worthy of mention is switch-hitting Roy Perkins from the class of 1973. Me and Roy played on basketball and championship baseball teams together and I think he still might be coaching college football where he might have coached distant cousin Aaron Rodgers.

One more high school football my school footnote: I was Honor Society for three years, student council two years and two years California Scholarship Federation member. I also logged for boss man Jerry Philbrick. Thanks Jerry for hiring me when nobody else would. And I only half-rolled that skidder. If I hadn't been alert I wouldn't be writing this today. Yes Jerry you always paid good and on time. And I always enjoyed you breaking up the barroom brawls. Aren't we glad that was part time?

Sincerely

David C. Youngcault Giusti

Mendocino County Jail

Ukiah

PS. Another hint on renaming Fort Bragg. The Greenwoods were mountain men (some were half Crow) and never owned slaves. Why not rename Fort Bragg to North Greenwood? Lots of Fort Bragg old-timers were born in the other Greenwood so it might fly.

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