Press "Enter" to skip to content

Valley People (Feb 4, 2014)

THE LOCAL ANGLE, PETE CARROLL, coach of the Seahawks, once worked at the football camp run in Boonville by the late Boonville school superintendent, Bob Mathias. Mathias and a Marin County coach named Troppman ran the camp for high school jocks for a few summers on the Mathias Ranch six miles south of Boonville, circa the late 1960s.

THOSE HIGH END drunks you'll see around town this weekend will be here to guzzle our Rieslings and Gewurztraminers and other white wines at the International Alsace Varietals Festival. Our low end drunks, me included, are still reeling from the closing of the Boonville Saloon, formerly the legendary Boonville Lodge, as the Anderson Valley suffers through its driest spell since Prohibition, not that Prohibition stopped anybody in Mendocino County from having a drink or six. Just in time, however, Tom Towie of the Buckhorn Bar and Grill, Boonville, has finally cleared all the hurdles and now offers a full bar. Boonville is back in business!

THE AMAZING GLORIA ROSS has pulled off another mass crab feed, and as always has made it seem so easy all of us stand back and marvel. And eat within minutes of sitting down. 350 paid, 50 volunteers, 400 crustacean-satiated diners, a masterpiece of down home organization.

THE MENDO YOUTH PROJECT is pleased to announce the 2014 Jim Levine Legacy Scholarship applications. The $500 scholarships are given in recognition of a student’s personal journey and achievement towards taking steps into adulthood.  Preference is given to seniors who have faced significant challenges in their high school career. The Mendocino Family and Youth Services chose to honor Jim when he passed away in January 2013 by establishing these scholarships in his honor. Application packets are available from: 1) high school counselors  or 2) by calling MFYS/MCYP at 707-463-4915.   Application deadline is March 31, 2014.

IN THE SMALL TOWN way of things, we get to know the classmates of our children, but when our children leave school we only get to know a random kid or two. Here at your beloved community newspaper we're in regular contact with two high school kids, one of whom I've known since he was born and both of whom are growing up straight and true in a culture that's become a minefield for young people. A couple of weeks ago I gave Chris Balson a ride to SF State where he's a freshman. I hadn't known him at all when he was a student at Boonville High, but knew that he'd been awarded a full college scholarship by my nephew on the basis of his academic promise. Chris is not only pulling straight A's but he gets around the city on a fast pass to visit all the cultural hotspots, including little theater and improv performances. He's even done some stand-up comedy! He said the mostly black audience at one comedy show was mystified by his humor while I marveled at the courage of an 18-year-old who would have the pure nerve to perform before a highly critical audience, and comedy club audiences, I've heard, can be brutal. In all the years that the Anderson Valley has been sending ambitious young people off for higher learning, and name another community anywhere more generous in raising and doling out annual scholarships, this guy seems absolutely unique, a budding intellectual who really should be in college and wasted no time availing himself of Frisco's abundant intellectual stimulation. I asked him if he felt he'd been well prepared for college by Boonville High School. He said he did, and specifically cited teachers Corey-Moran, Jim Snider and Ms. Honneger (her name always comes up as inspirational) as particularly helpful. But Chris said he'd been an avid book reader since childhood and he's been writing for years, meaning he's already got a big advantage over most college students anymore, including lots from fancy prep schools, who read at elementary school levels and can't write at all.

MAYBE HALF AN INCH of rain fell Sunday, if that much, but the day at least felt like winter. There was even snow at the higher elevations. Highway 175 from Hopland to Lake County was closed for a few hours, and the CHP required chains of Cobb Mountain travelers.

LATE SUNDAY AFTERNOON, the CHP issued this advisory: “Please be very careful when driving this evening in Lake and Mendocino Counties.  Expect extreme ice conditions and carry chains.  Cal Trans and the California Highway Patrol are on duty and making every Attempt to keep all roadways clear and safe.”

PERTINENT COMMENT from Glass Half Full: “In order to get out of the drought at this point, we'd need rain of Biblical proportions. And that would bring us a whole separate set of problems. So many people have to feel like the world is on the brink of destruction all the time. If it's not a drought it's ‘global warming,’ ‘climate change,’ ozone holes, ‘extreme weather,’ etc. Yes, the weather has been very dry this year and we're going to need to conserve, but it's not the end of the world. It will rain again, reservoirs will fill up again, and Tahoe will be covered in snow again.”

SEEMS FROM HERE that the state should go to mandatory water rationing immediately rather than wait a month to assess supplies at the end of February. The rains aren't coming, as the water authorities themselves tell us. “The state would have to experience heavy rainfall and snowfall every other day through May to get back to average precipitation levels,” the State’s Water's boss, Mark Cowin, said last week. In this context voluntary isn't going to cut it, and we're headed to mandatory anyway.

I SPEAK as a man whose well produces many gallons a minute, and I'm assuming it will go on producing at that prodigious rate because it was developed in the last century when ranchers always grabbed property with dependable water.

THE MOONIES owned most of the place back in the early 1970s. It was then a single 640 acre ranch, or a big hunk of the even bigger Singley Ranch that ran east up into the hills from Highway 128. At one time our well supplied a large-scale hop field. By the time the Moonies descended on us, the property consisted of a few outbuildings into which the Moonies stuffed hundreds of young people they'd recruited out of the Bay Area to visit their “New International Ideal City” in Boonville, the only new ideal city in the world with a bountiful water supply but nothing else. “Want a really cool experience in a beautiful place with beautiful people? Everything's free. Get on the bus.” And thousands did only to find themselves in sleep-deprived herds marched from one crackpot lecture and group chant to another, maybe grabbing a couple hours rest piled in a sheep shed with a hundred other disoriented cult recruits.

Visiting family members stand at entrance to New Ideal City Ranch, Boonville, California, April 4, 1977. (AP photo)
Visiting family members stand at entrance to New Ideal City Ranch in Boonville on April 4, 1977. (AP photo)

BOONVILLIANS often encountered distraught parents who'd driven up from wherever to retrieve little Debbie and disoriented Donnie only to either be turned away or, a couple of Moon goons standing by, little Deb and doh-doh Donnie would say, “I've found everything I've been searching for right here,” and the parents would drive off wondering at what they'd done wrong raising their blissed-out ingrate.

ON STILL NIGHTS the Anderson Valley reverberated with the chants of the recruits. The Moonies (and the Hari Krishnas) raised a lot of money selling flowers at SF International until the airport finally banned them as the pests they were, and Reverend Moon, as we know, went on to buy himself total respectability complete with a daily Washington DC newspaper whose stable of scribble-sluts you can see today on the Sunday morning talk shows.

MENDOCINO COUNTY finally cracked down on Boonville's Moonie camp and the Moonies, at least most of them, moved on to Sonoma County where they bought an old summer camp to do their rural brainwashing. A German and an Italian stayed on in Boonville to run a chinchilla ranch deep in the hills. The Rev had married them at random in one of those nutball mass ceremonies in Yankee Stadium. “You got him, honey, and you got her, hooplehead, 'til death or deprogramming do you part. The chinchillas occasionally got smuggled out of their temperature-controlled pens and, for a time, were quite popular with Boonville teenagers. The property was sold years ago and is now dotted with rental cabins. I don't know what the Moonies did with all those surplus chinchillas.

CALFIRE'S MENDO JEFE, Chris Rowney, says go ahead and burn so long as you have a permit and so long as things remain damp.

LINNEA TOTTEN reminds us that it’s time for anyone with an idea or plan for a summer activity, adult, teenagers, children or combo, to put their ideas down on a Recreation Class form and apply for any needed insurance. As Rec Committee chairperson Ms. Totten suggests summer day camps, sports skills classes, dance, drama, technical workshops, literary exercises, etc. If you have questions contact Linnea at or come to the next Rec committee meeting on February 27 at 3pm at the Elementary School principal’s office.

KATHY MACDONALD straightened me out on the Pechners. It was weatherman Mike Pechner's brother Richard (Richie) Pechner who lived in the Anderson Valley for a short time in the early 70's and then on Cameron Road near Elk.  Richie and Mike, Kathy says, grew up in Marin County. I met Richie when his son, Tobias, played football and basketball at Boonville High School.

MOSSWOOD CAFE AND BAKERY will be exhibiting the art assemblage of Michael Wilson from February until the end of March. Michael and Susan Spencer had owned The Beat Gallery next to Schatt's Bakery in Ukiah, but are now free to present shows in a variety of galleries and venues. If you look hard enough at Michael's Mosswood installation you'll see how closely the talented couple has worked together. Their art can also be seen The Attic, Mendocino, and the Healdsburg Center for the Arts.


  1. Bob Delaney August 13, 2018

    Just looking to see how you all are dealing with the fires. I was in Boonville in the late 70’s got my sister and her friend out of Ideal City.

  2. Dean Gutheil September 5, 2018

    I had just turned 19 and my buddy and I were in California for a month during the summer of 1977. Two women chatted us up at Fisherman’s Wharf in SF, invited us to Washington St for dinner, love bombed us into going to Ideal City and the rest is history. Spent 24 hours there but it seemed like days. For two Regina, Saskatchewan Canada boys it was a memorable experience we still discuss today.

Leave a Reply

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