Press "Enter" to skip to content

Letters to the Editor



A cluster of people assembled one early morning on the New York waterfront anxiously awaiting the arrival of the HMS Spotted Dick from Liverpool with the latest installment of "The Old Curiosity Shop." They were worried about what had happened to Little Nell since the last installment. Several hundred thousand readers were worried about whether Eliza would escape across the Ohio River by jumping from one ice floe to another. A few years later many readers were worried about whether Huck would be able to save Jim, a runaway slave, from being captured. In the 19th century people took their reading seriously.

In 1914 — why are Americans ceasing to read good literature? It is the fault, of course, of the tango, a craze which had enveloped the country. The automobile must bear part of the blame. Some years ago the bicycle was blamed for a decline in reading. Before that it was the railroad train that was responsible for the lack of interest in reading and before that it was the steamboat.

Between 1900 and 1920 Eugene Debs ran for president five times on the Socialist ticket. In 1920 Debs received nearly one million votes. Unfortunately, he was locked up in the Atlanta penitentiary at the time. The publishers of The Nation magazine sent him a copy of their magazine each week and each week that magazine was confiscated. He was not allowed to read anything but "light fiction" from the prison library. Any newspaper clippings enclosed in a letter were removed. Debs had planted a peach tree in his yard some years before. Now that the tree started bearing fruit, Debs' wife sent him six peaches. The warden ate the peaches.

When writing a letter to a Tea Party tabloid or a pinko broadsheet some would start off with a prayer. Others would include a poem. Lizzie Borden took an ax / and gave her mother 40 whacks. When she saw what she had done / she gave her father 41.

* * *

One of the things I like about the Meskins is their practice of placing a question mark or exclamation mark upside down at the front of the sentence to warn you about what's coming. They like to say, "no servible;" "no se," "no hay," and "ahorita" ("no good," "don't know," "there isn't any," and "right away.")

The obligatory trivia question is next: (Q) What 19th-century composer stuck a saxophone solo right in the middle of one of his orchestral works? (A) Bizet.

If you wanted to ride the city bus in Montgomery, Alabama and you were a Negro, first you had to enter the front of the bus and pay your fare, then go back and enter by the rear door. This prevented the possibility of a male Negro's trousers from brushing against a white woman's leg which was absolutely not tolerated. The bus was loaded with white folks seated from front to rear; Negroes seated from the rear forward. When the bus was full, the row in which the most forward Negroes were sitting was called "no man's land." When a white person entered the full bus, the driver hollered, "I need those seats," and the Negroes sitting in the most forward seats had to get up and permit the white person to sit.

* * *

Mrs. Rosa Parks had what was considered a pretty good job. She was a seamstress in a large department store. One afternoon returning home from work she was sitting in "no man's land." The bus was full and when she was ordered to stand and permit a white person to take her seat she refused to do so. Mrs. Parks was an activist and secretary-treasurer of the local NAACP chapter and was not adverse to a confrontation with whites in segregation and discrimination situations. After several meetings with Mrs. Parks, her husband, Dr. King, and NAACP activists, it was decided to go ahead with the bus boycott. The boycott, although tough on Montgomery negroes who needed public transportation, was successful, almost driving the bus company out of business. It was the beginning of Martin Luther King's career in direct action. Incidentally, Martin Luther King was chosen as my selection of the four most outstanding people of the 20th century along with Norman Thomas, Eleanor Roosevelt and William O. Douglas.

* * *

This is something written by Edward Abbey in 1954:

"Why does every American with any sensibility and wit despise Texas? Is it merely a joke, a national gag? Not at all. There are good and sufficient reasons for this serious and widespread attitude. Why pick on Texas? Because it typifies, concentrates and exaggerates most everything that is rotten in America: it's vulgar — not only cultureless but anti-culture; it's rich in a brazen, vulgar, graceless way; it combines the bigotry and sheer animal ignorance of the old South with the aggressive, ruthless, bustling, dollar-crazy brutality of the Yankee East and then attempts to hide the ugliness under a facade of mock western play clothes stolen from a way of life that was crushed by Texas-ism over a half-century ago. The trouble with Texas: it's noisy, ugly, mean spirited, mediocre and false."

* * *

If it ain't country it ain't music. This month's honkytonk highlight: "You never even called my name."

Suppose you were traveling through Mendocino County on Road Number 101. What do you think your chances are of finding a place where you could sit down and be served a chicken dinner? Huh? As a redneck says, "Good luck with that." In the 20s and 30s there were at least 20 restaurants that advertised chicken dinners between the Sonoma and Humboldt county lines on Road 101.

* * *

In 1912 a 12.5 mile section of road was graded between Cloverdale and Hopland. In 1920 there were 14,000 automobiles registered in California and tourist facilities started appearing in Mendocino county. The present location of Highway 101 between Cloverdale and Hopland was opened in 1934. Several readers who are still alive will remember the Riverbend Cafe and gas station and the Black Cat Cafe which lasted until 1990. There were three auto camps in Hopland, plus the 42 rooms at Thatcher Hotel built in 1890, including a 66 x 26 dining room. In Ukiah the first auto camp (later auto courts) was located at 1071 South State Street. There were many auto camps in Ukiah and Willits. Most cost between $1-$2 and you had to bring your own bedding. There was a free municipal campground at what is now Todd Grove Park on Walnut Street. The railroad had reached Ukiah in 1889; several hotels were built in 1876. The Grand on the southeast corner of Perkins and State Street with 52 rooms, and the Palace Hotel with 80 rooms opened in 1891. It had electric lights and a newsstand! Imagine, a newsstand in Ukiah! Of course people were more civilized then. A Ukiah woman who observed a young man masturbating while walking down the street (as has happened recently and reported on in great detail by one of the AVA's intrepid reporters) certainly would not call the cops. More likely she would have tried to think of a nice young girl she could introduce him to.

Driving north on Highway 101 toward Willits forget everything except getting your flivver up that hill. It's steep, winding and narrow. It's a regular son of a bitch. Always a traffic jam as there are few places to pass. If you make it to Ridgewood Summit the water in your radiator will probably be boiling. Drinking water and radiator water was available at the summit. In Willits, a large banner hung over the intersection of Main and Commercial streets pointing to the Willits Auto Park. In 1922 the town of Willits leased 10 acres (now known as Recreation Grove) from the Northwestern Redwood Company and turned it into a free auto camp, charging only for firewood. Of course people were much more civilized than they are now. If such a place existed today the police department would have to hire three more officers and a front end loader and a dump truck would be seen each morning at the auto camp. In 1925 the 40 room Van Hotel was built. Rooms cost $2. In 1929 a party which included Winston Churchill who were traveling from Vancouver to San Francisco stayed overnight there. Winnie was probably Willits' most famous visitor until Ralph Nader arrived for a speech. It is not known whether Jack London, who rode with his wife from Lakeport, actually rode into Willits proper. The railroad reached Willits in 1901. In 1902 the Willits Hotel was built, 105 rooms. In 1914 the railroad was extended to Eureka and the evening trains from San Francisco and Eureka would both lay over in Willits for the night. The Willits Hotel had over 100 passengers staying overnight. Such a business! The highway north to Garberville was built between 1912 in 1920, starting out via Reynolds Highway. There were tourist accommodations every few miles up to the Humboldt County line especially around Leggett and Cummings. A motor stage ran along Highway 101 starting in 1920. At first it consisted of a four passenger vehicle.

This information comes from a book found at the Friends of the Willits Library (FOWL) book sale. "Touring the old Redwood Highway in Mendocino County" by Diane Hawk of Piercy. As usual, the Friends of the Willits Library book sale had a pretty good selection. Lots of books for lefties; someone had removed all the right-wing propaganda. No books by Ann Coulter, Ayn Rand, or the Fox News personalities. Seldom seen at book sales are readers under the age of 60. The typical resident of Willits and vicinity looks at the TV 7 (seven) times each week. Maybe that's why Willits is considered to be the most conservative town in Sonoma and Mendocino counties.

Ralph Bostrom


PS. In 1996 Frank Riggs says he defeated Dan Hamburg of the "Democrat Party." A few years ago Hendrik Hertzberg, an employee of Marty Peretz (heir to the Singer sewing machine fortune) and a former Editor of the New Republic, wrote one and a half pages in the New Yorker about spoken and written use of the term "Democrat Party" which he found disgusting. "Those who write 'Democrat Party' — I piss on you from a considerable height — Celine.”

Please complete the following and return to Wes Chesbro, Sacramento.

/_/ I apologize for writing Democrat Party.

/_/ F___ you, Chessy, I do not apologize for writing Democrat Party. You have any friends? F___ them too.

A person who says "Democrat Party" is a person who pisses on toilet seats, fails to return his shopping cart to the indicated place, backs into parking spaces and behaves in a boorish manner generally. — US Grant




It was a cool December night. My beloved wife and I were spending a pleasant evening at home with Irish coffee and some pleasing herb. The phone rang. The worst of all possible news — our son was run over by a drunk in North Beach and was in San Francisco General Hospital in critical condition. We rushed in tears to the hospital and waited in terror. After a while the doctor appeared and sadly told us our son was dead. My wife and I insisted on seeing the body. We were "blown away" — the body was not our boy.

What had happened? Our son and a pal had gone to North Beach. Our boy wanted to see Ruth Weiss and her jazz band at the Coexistence Coffee Shop. His friend wanted to hear Mose Allison playing at Mason Street West, a nightclub. He was not quite old enough for the nightclub so our son gave him his ID so he could get into the nightclub.

Alan 'Captain Fathom' Graham


PPS. Tammi-Diane, my #1 ex-wife commenting on Obama's speech at Nelson Mandela's sendoff: "Even if he don't walk the walk he can talk the talk."



Dear Neighbor,

It is the time of year when the Anderson Valley Food Bank begins our annual food drive.

Each month the Anderson Valley Food Bank distributes food to over 250 people in our community. We receive some food from our USDA associates, but all of our fresh produce, dairy and holiday meat provisions are now purchased locally with funds donated by Anderson Valley community members. Many thanks to our past contributors and to all the local organizations which support our efforts.

The Food Bank is fortunate that the Boonville Hotel kindly host our one and only fundraiser each year at the Christmas season, The Big Christmas Tree Lighting downtown.

Donations can be sent to: AV Food Bank, PO Box 692, Boonville, CA 95415.

Sincerely and appreciatively,

Anderson Valley Food Bank





First I would like to thank all you very hard-working taxpaying law-abiding United States citizens out and beyond these prison walls and your very important, very great and powerful Oz, aka Governor Choo-Choo Moonbeam. Ignore the man behind the curtain as California's citizens are losing funding for education and diverting it to prison spending. You are paying for the education of law breakers such as myself who need to be rehabilitated for what, I don't know, and forcing me to get my GED.

Here's a side note: Why would I need any education or a GED if I'm serving 105 years to life? There are many other lifers here who are never getting out. I was sentenced under the Three Strikes law and received a sentence for breaking the law, namely four counts of arson. I am very grateful that not a single Mendonite was hurt or killed or injured. I will die in one of these 34 glorious California prisons for my stupidity. I was sentenced as a punishment, not to be rehabilitated. I've often asked myself, Rehabilitated for what? My earliest parole isn't until 2098. There are many, many more stories of the permanent second-class lost-not-found citizens in here supported by you tax dollars. The money goes to support people who are not going anywhere to get that needed education, but little Johnny can't go to school and get that money because of that great and powerful Oz, the man behind the curtain you're supposed to ignore while he diverts your tax dollars to prison spending instead.

But there is another side of the coin. Little Johnny won't get his education until he breaks one of the many state laws and gets sent to the one of the 34 rehabilitation schools of hard knocks simply called the University of CDCR.

William 'Bongo Bill' Newport





Stephen Hellman's recent whining about Willits being portrayed as "Skunktown" by the AVA is unwarranted.

Willits is known internationally for two things: the unique, historical Skunk Train and primo powerful skunk weed.

International travelers don't come to Skunktown for the "civic life and high culture," but to get loaded and ride the choo-choo.

And when travelers are delayed by the first stoplight on Highway 101 north of Frisco their first sniff of air is not "redwood scented."

Mr. Hellman may not like the Skunktown sobriquet, but that's the way it is.


Don Morris





Happy holidays! I have no cards to send. I'm healthy, teaching high school, studying computer usage and enjoying the AVA. I am still crocheting too.

I'm also trying to get released, always.

They are opening a new high and medium prison here soon. It will be called FCI-Hazelton. It's very large, built for 1700 — that's big for the feds — one warden will be in charge of that one. This one, the women's joint and a camp — close to 5000 prisoners in all. That's big by any standards.

Keep well all of you.

Freedom and health,

Paul Jorgensen

Bruceton Mills, West Virginia




The Jefferson State proposal — the Double XX Brand

I've just recently learned about this proposal which began in 1941 and might have gone somewhere, but Pearl Harbor was bombed. So Jefferson State was put on hold. I hear there's been talk of it gaining popularity over the years. Recently Modoc County voted to become part of Jefferson State. I feel there's no better time to make major moves and do all we can to turn his proposal into reality. The borders for the proposed state include Mendocino County to Butte County, north into southern Oregon. I believe it's high time we break away from California. Sacramento is draining the rural counties in the north with political agendas that don't pertain to our lifestyles. Save what's left of Mendocino. Vote for Jefferson. Let's get it on the ballot and break away from Sonoma and California and save what we have left.

Aaron Vargas





(Regarding the letter saying that Hopland Fire Chief John Bartlett put up an unfunny Christmas display at his Hopland home):

Completely wrong…. Not the display in the front yard, but the complete lack of correct facts. This is NOT Chief John Bartlett’s house. And it is completely irresponsible for this news outlet to turn a letter to the editor into an article and post a picture without checking the facts. I understand people have their right to express their views through letters to the editor, but there are many other homes throughout this county that have the same display in their yards. Why pick on someone who serves the community? Remember that next time you need the fire dept.

Hopland Resident




Hello to my fellow Mendonites,

I'm happy to bring you more exciting investment tips and stock news in the world of Governor Jerry Brown. Apparently his construction business has taken the slump lately simply because those who made a franchise deal within the circle of hidden Sacramento lobbyists have received word from a supposed double agent who’s a member of Governor Brown's administration as well as the guy or gal who holds the copy machine toner exchanger contract for the three-judge federal panel courtroom chambers that investing in material used to build more prisons in California where the same success in increasing your investment just as Enron energy company will have is trying to launch an IPO in seven days. “No good.” The rebound idea from the three-judge panel's decision to not fund the governor’s building plan has produced a whole new approach to construction company investing.

Remember that in this line of business California inmates and outrageous sentences are the best stocks and a good way to increase the lobbyists’ whole numbers to the left of the decimal point.

Try this on for size. To make matters appear as an Enron approach the governor foresees his failure in building more human warehouses for captured steers so he underhandedly begs for $315 million to house his steers in stables out of state with the help of our senator Steinberg. He also includes part of that loan for not to exceed two years for a California Correctional Center in California City which provides services equivalent to the core governmental function of incarcerating inmates. This new Center shall be considered an agency or jurisdiction. Now supposedly this idea if approved would have been effective only until January 1 of 2017. Governor Brown had the nerve to say, "If the sheriff or corresponding official having jurisdiction over the facility has consented thereto, the agreement shall provide for contributions to the city-county or city or county toward payment of costs incurred with reference to such transferred prisoners."

Senator Steinberg along with the three-judge federal panel said a big "No-no-no." Those Nos go against the investing hopes of lobbyists as well. The Department of Corrections is known for trying to come up with sneaky ways to create an in-house financial racetrack, so its financial headless horse can perform. No deal, no money loans, and no more extensions to lower the inmate population to design capacity which is 137.5% which the three-judge federal panel says is grounds to demand 9600 inmates be released by April 18, 2014.

Well my fellow people, with that door having been closed, the building stocks been renamed as "all levels of transportation." So the tip I have for you is that the IPO will start in January, 2014. Purchase your shares from approved companies like Southwest Airlines, Alaska Airlines, Greyhound Bus, and any taxi-shuttle company because from January 1 to April 18 of 2014 inmates will be released from many of the 34 correctional facilities from locations that need transportation, transportation, and more transportation. So if you can, check for any means of transportation with the logo "Jerry’s Rides." Don't be alarmed because they are strictly for Jerry's kids. This will be a program that's worth a huge investment which will generate a quick return before the summer of 2014. Was that a great tip, or what?

If you have any questions send them to:

Mr. T. Taylor AP0797

Sierra Yard 6006-low

PO Box 2400

Susanville, CA 96127




(Regarding the letter saying that Hopland Fire Chief John Bartlett put up an unfunny Christmas display at his Hopland home):

Unbelievable that a resident of Hopland would attack a man who is there to serve and protect them. The house he is describing is in fact not Chief Bartlett’s home. For your paper to publish something that can affect a person’s character and reputation before checking facts is unfathomable.

As far as your nieces/nephew/children seeing this image.. Did it ever cross your mind to explain to them what this display was? Did freedom of speech ever cross your mind? Just as you had the freedom to write this article, the resident of that house, NOT THE CHIEF, had the right to display what he wanted. Did it ever occur to you to knock on that person’s door and have a civil conversation regarding your disapproval of their decorations? Or better yet, write the above letter to that resident? Did it ever occur to you to resolve the issue without pointing figures and make a public spectacle?

I find your letter offensive, and I surely will lose sleep tonight thinking about how you can bad mouth a man before you even know the facts. Does that give me the right to blasphemy you?

Concerned Resident





Have a little patience on health care delays.

It seems that almost every day there is an article lambasting the Affordable Care Act and Covered California. The opinion piece by John Aiello was no exception (“Consumers deserve better than backlogs, long delays,” Open Forum, Dec. 13).

As a retired individual with a pre-existing condition, I was paying over $1,070 a month with the usual deductibles and co-pays. Under Covered California, my cost for an almost identical plan is $800 less. I was able to go onto the website in early October, choose a plan, and have received my first statement and paid my first installment for a policy beginning January 2014, all of it being seamless and painless.

I did have a few questions over the last few months and have called Covered California several times, each time getting through immediately, never put on hold, and had courteous and informed answers.

I suggest that perhaps John Aiello needs to find a better “certified agent” or improve his phone skills. Also, I wonder if he has better results when trying to resolve problems with AT&T or PG&E by phone? Although this plan is not perfect (single-payer would have been much more efficient), let's be a little more patient, please.

Michele Tagger





If it's OK for the government to collect this “megadata,” why isn't this information in the public domain? The public's acceptance of this crime might be palatable to a lot more citizens (and especially Corporations. which are, we are told, also citizens) if they, too, could mine this data for there own purposes? The outcome of this is too terrible to imagine, so let's just cut out the collection process — anything to prevent the march toward becoming a police state.

Bruce Hering




Dear Anderson Valley:

Thank you so much for making this year’s Toy Drive a huge success. We gathered at the church on a cold and frosty morning with toys in hand on Tuesday, the 17th.  After enjoying cookies baked by the FFA class with our coffee (great job on the cookies kids!) we got underway with the toy handout. We delivered toys to 81 kids. It was such fun watching the decision making process of which toy they really wanted! What a wonderful valley we live in.

Merry Christmas & Happy New Year!

Sarah, Tina & Judy

Anderson Valley Fire Department


  1. December 26, 2013

    Hohoho, re: surveillance… I agree entirely that gov’t spying on People is unacceptable, totally out of line for a lawful government. And we’ll see how this plays out in a circumstance without lawful government. I thought it might be useful, in a practical repurposing/adaptation, to re-apply the spook-built info-apparatus in the other direction; it might actually have some positive function as the PUBLIC’S long- reaching and microscopic eye DIRECTED AT ITS OWN PUBLIC SERVANTS. Think how this might affect the performance of Public Offices, how the ethics deal might be viewed… I’m thinking it would make a peachy house-cleaning tool…

  2. Jeff Greenblatt March 7, 2014

    I was enjoying reading the Mendocino County Today column every day for the past couple of weeks, but today I was refused accommodation because you now want the content to be subscription only.
    Well, you could have warned me, or something.
    Please let me know how much I owe you for these two weeks, and cancel the remainder if my non-subscription.
    Jeff Greenblatt

  3. Jeff Burroughs January 29, 2021

    Frank James and Anderson Valley.

    Archie “Arch” Clement, who rode with the notorius Frank and Jesse James may have had ties to Boonville, Anderson Valley California by way of a family relative by the name of  Ed (Squirrel) Clement. The ongoing rumor for years has been that Frank James, while hiding out from the law after the faild Minnasota raid, was indeed here.
    Sharky Rawles, a decendant of the Rawles pioneer family, one of the first families to settle in Anderson Valley, recalled his father telling him that Frank James was here. His father would tell of meeting and the conversations he had with Frank James.
    These recolections, even in years after the fact, always came with great deal of caution when spoken about and sometimes his father would even use a word or two of Boontling to keep the secret a secret from possible eavsdroppers that might be within earshot.
    In an odd coincidence, it is believed that “Boontling” originated from a couple of characters by the name of Ed (Squirrel) Clement and Lank McGimsey.
    Makes one wonder if Ed Clement came up with the idea of a secret language to hide the truth about Frank James hiding out in Anderson Valley.??

    Jeff Burroughs

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *