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Valley People (May 7, 2014)

IT'S BEEN AWHILE since the Anderson Valley produced an Eagle Scout. I believe Norman Clow was an Eagle Scout and I believe Austin Clow, Norman's son may have been another.


AFTER AN OVER-LONG time with no Eagle Scouts from the Anderson Valley, we have at last have another one, Zacharias Wagner of Anderson Valley Troop 82. On Saturday, May 17th, 1-3pm, the community is invited to Troop 82's award presentation, with reception to follow, at the Anderson Valley Creekside Trail, the site of Zacharias's Eagle project. Please RSVP at (707) 684-9423. Persons interested in contributing a group gift are also invited to call this number.

HUGE WEEKEND in Boonville for the Beer Fest on Saturday and an archery event down the road at the Jim Hill Ranch, Yorkville. A beer-drinking crowd estimated at somewhere between 5 and 7 thousand came and went without arrest, a minor miracle but an organizational triumph by the Boonville Beer people.

THE ONLY incident out of the ordinary over the weekend occurred when “a huge fat guy covered with blood” stumbled into the production area of the brewery just after 6am Saturday morning. Arriving workers said the bloodied man claimed he'd been beaten and robbed by “four long-haired Indians,” but had apparently fallen and gashed his head. Bloody Man was hauled over the hill by the Anderson Valley Ambulance to the Ukiah hospital where he was treated and released, three pints lighter.

BOB DEMPLE is a Mendocino County old timer — 1954 graduate of Ukiah High School — and a long time resident of Hopland. He called to say he'd read Marshall Newman's story about Boonville's doctors in the 1950s and had a Boonville doctor story of his own. Bob remembered how he'd been shot in the face with starter's pistol as a “joke” by Fort Bragg kid. “This Fort Bragg kid,” Bob remembers, “walks up and shoots me while we're practicing a 4-H skit on stage at the old Boonville Fairgrounds. I threw up my hands but was still peppered with black powder. An old policeman called Shorty had been hired to do Fair security. He hustled me outside into a private car that took me down the road to that little building of a doctor's office in front of the Methodist Church where a lady doctor dug out the powder and gave me a tetanus shot and took me back to the Fair. That was in '52 or '53. A story in the Ukiah paper headlined 'Ukiah youth injured' told all about it.”

MR. DEMPLE couldn't remember the name of the doctor who treated him. “She was a lady doctor, I won't forget that, and she fixed me right up,” he says.

EVA HOLCOMB immediately identified the doctor as Vivian Fleming who, Eva recalls, “had bright red hair and was well thought of in The Valley. A visiting nurse would help her out sometimes.” Dr. Fleming, Eva says, left for Petaluma after a couple of years in Boonville.

IN THE COURSE of our chat, Eva asked me if the Dick Meister who writes occasionally for the Advertiser was the same Dick Meister who once played baseball in Boonville. Yep, same guy. In his youth, Dick played a lot of semi-pro ball and once wrote about a game his San Francisco team played here against a Boonville team. He was (and is) a prominent Bay Area labor writer formerly with both the Chronicle and the Examiner. Dick also appeared for years on the old KQED Newsroom show as the expert on labor matters. I promised Eva I'd dig up the baseball story for her — for everyone, now that I think about it. Sunday baseball was once an important part of rural and city life.

DEMPLE remembers Judge June was the Fair manager at the time of the starter gun episode, and Mr. D remembers “camping in tents with 4-H behind the June Building. Eva Pardini (Holcomb) and I sheared sheep at the Ukiah Fair in 1948. She's a year older than me and was the best looking woman ever produced by Boonville schools. We held hands once at 4H camp when I walked her to her cabin hand in hand. There was an old wooden arena and auditorium at the Fairgrounds then. On the last day of the Fair when everyone was packing up, we'd trade boxes of pears for cheese with the Coast people. The Fair today is still a great little fair.”

JUST IN! Emergency Noise Meeting, Wednesday (tonight) at the Philo Grange, 7:30. Everyone welcome, including the Noise People. You want these things stopped, be there! Inland neighbors of the Big Propellers are also encouraged to attend.

IF THE ONLY PROPELLER you're aware of is the one on your beanie, Anderson Valley residents are very, very unhappy that they've lost ten days of sleep in March and April because vineyard owners have installed huge blowers to prevent crop loss to frost. Grape growers used to deploy water sprays to frost-protect but, water in the County having become scarce because of drought and the ever-larger draw on the finite streams of Mendocino (and Humboldt) County, here we are with the mammoth noise makers and the continued depletion of stream water.

50 DECIBELS is the baseline noise figure for residential neighborhoods, beyond which noise is a crime. The vineyard fans run, by our crude calculations made from our Boonville house at a 2am-7:30am decibel level roughly equivalent to a Boeing 737 in landing mode a mile away. That mile-away Boeing airplane is makes a 97-decibel racket. (A mouse urinating on a carpet a hundred feet away is one decibel, and noise doubles every 10 decibels after that. How did we measure the mouse's urination? We asked our cat.)

LIVE ROCK MUSIC is 110 decibels. At 110 noise starts to hurt. Beyond a relative silent 50 decibels, the neighborhood standard in most regions of America, lie citations, misdemeanors, lawsuits, boycotts, thumbs-down yelps, vigilante vandalism, and the many other negative consequences that might be wrought on heedlessly noisy neighbors.

MENDOCINO COUNTY'S highest allowable decibel level is not more than 75 decibels for more than 30 minutes of any single hour in heavy industrial zones. We, the sleep-martyred residents of the rural, non-industrial Anderson Valley, have endured, from an hour or so after midnight, 4-7 consecutive hours of an 80-90 decibel din on ten early mornings of March and April, eight of those mornings falling on consecutive days. We are crime victims.

THE AV Senior/Community Center has an expanding vegetable garden that is providing some of the produce for Senior meals. All community members are encouraged to take advantage of this local food opportunity. For meal schedule and more information go to or call Gina at 895-3609.

THE BOONVILLE FARMER'S MARKET will be open every Saturday from May through October. Committed vendors this season include Anderson Valley Community Farm, Brock Farm, Erwin, Highland Organic Farm, Lone Oaks, Philo Hill, and Yorkville Olive Oil. The McEwen's will debut their ollalieberry jams, jellies, and other preserves. T-shirts, BFM shopping bags, and Secrets of Salsa cookbooks will be available.

THE AVHS Ag. Dept Plant Sale, writes the ag department's head honcho Beth Swehla, is on for May 10th, 9AM to Noon, at the high school. We are also in the planning stages for our spring Drive Thru Dinner. Tickets will be available at the Plant Sale. The dinner will be May 22nd.

ANDERSON VALLEY'S SOLAR GRANGE is throwing its regular second Sunday Local Organic Pancake Breakfast on Mother’s Day, May 11th from 8:30-11 at the Grange in Philo. Breakfast $5 for children, $10 for adults, most of the food locally grown, and that food includes Mendocino Grain Project wheat, organic buttermilk, and locally raised bacon and eggs.

THE ANDERSON VALLEY Food Bank distributes on the 3rd Tuesday of the month at the Boonville Methodist Church. We are now buying and giving out fresh produce from Burt at BBF and are seeking further improvements of a local nature! Denisse Mattei is the Food Bank director. You can reach her at 895-3763.

ANYBODY out there who knows where mutton might be available for sale in the Anderson Valley? Got a customer for you looking for a regular supply.

GREG KROUSE reminds those of us who weren't there what we missed: “The Boonville Big Band swung good! Twenty plus players blew the socks off of one and all. They played among other great music, one Mingus bebop piece 'Pithecanthropus Erectus,' a tongue twisting title plus other great dance numbers. I can only think of a few players, who did not stand to solo something sweet. Here’s a crack at naming a few of them: Guitarist Jan Jakob, Trumpeters: Rick Yates, David Sinclair and Rosco Tuomala, Bones blowers: Eric Wik, Kay Rudin and Joe Petell, Sax honkers: Bob Day, Mickey Kitarhara and Erica Zissa. Great singers featuring primarily Sharon Garner (lovely voice), Jan Jakobs (cool sound,) and yes Kevin Burke (like a veteran crooner.) The rhythm section was strong in the back (Richard Karch, standup bass with a nice lead on Mingus, alternating drumming by Kevin Burke and James Preston.) The Grange piano got a work out with Nadia Barrigan and Bill Adams and was carefully cooled with ice post haste. That said, let me tell you, mentioning names does not begin to match the incredible sounds, phrasing and rhythms this folks obtain and not mention the steady back sound, well, misses the importance of the bari saxophone among others. Further, local Bob Day, arranged a lot of this music into something a lot more for this unique gaggle of glee. These folks rocked! The event was posted as a dance contest and a quiet call to both dance clubs: Ukiah and the Coast, brought out the former. When the judging call came in and the dancers paired up for “Sing Sing Sing!” the ultimate challenge of deciding who might be a bit better occurred. The crack dancers clusters resolved into two duos that stepped almost equally well for the judges. The award went to the teachers of the Ukiah crew, with two of their students challenging, but a bit below them in interest, flair, and enthusiasm. Like it was hard to be enthusiastic as Bob Ayres band marveled us all. The Dancers won a familiar dancing couple held in ceramic; Mini and Mickey Mouse. In the glimmer of the win they said that this new trophy would be passed in similar contests between their students. Both winners got some Brutacao vintage wine. Then at intermission some pop music blared out of the grange sound system and the Ukiah Swing Dancers came alive in a routine of changing out partners. That’s how they do it in class and when out for fun, dancing amongst one another, so singles get in the action too. A challenge went out to dancing Coasties, I think written in the dirt outside the Grange. The Band will undoubtedly come back. As benefits for the band went, they did good. That’s important as the once Adult School funded Big Band has lost its funding along with other Adult classes. We miss the Adult school funding and the school band and art programs funding. What would Mingus say? WWMS? The room was aglitter with Eric Frye’s lighting and David Norfleet set up the cocktail tables, table cloths and candles for a warm club atmosphere. Laura Baynham, Lynn Archambault and David Norfleet served up the suds and treats. It was well attended and not to missed next time it comes around. Strong rumors of Tango classes with a teacher that has connections with Bay area dance groups may mean the stakes have just gotten higher in competition. The Grange is in its Free Membership Month. That means you can join for the first time at no charge to check it out. Yeah, at no extra charge. Wow! Sure it was for April but this delayed letter allows late applications if you do it right away. Why might that be a great idea? Well for example, if you are a musician you might be able to attend upcoming Grange Music Jams gratis. Others could pay $5.00 a visit. This plans to be a fun way to hear local musicians and dance. Demanded by valley musicians to play together and try new things. Discounts on Grange events like upcoming Piano series, grange rental and more could be a great reason to be a Granger, but the best thing is you get to join with a lot of great folks helping the community and having fun together.”

THE MOST INTERESTING LOCAL AG, and the most relevant long-term ag in the County, are the small-scale farms that have sprung up over the past 20 years. These enterprises are raising everything that once was grown on the family farms that Jefferson thought would become the economic engine of our political democracy. Tom couldn't have foreseen the food production processes we now suffer. But right here in Boonville, we have the nourishing and tasty LAYCHEE, fresh goat and sheep milk cheese from Penny Royal Farmstead, only one of many encouraging neo-ag businesses. But the only ag we hear and read about in Mendocino County is grape ag, a heavy industrial process at total odds with the homestead-like farms of real farmers trying to make their livings from real agriculture.

MEDICATEDLY CLEANING UP 128 we find Rev. Chris Diaz, Rev. Nona, Pebbles Trippett, and Rabbi David of the Medical Marijuana Patient's Union.


YES, THAT’S THE CHRIS DIAZ, apparently none the worse for his sojourn in a Texas prison on a drug extradition a few years ago, and now a reverend, leading a pious roadside clean-up crew on Highway 128 near Boonville.

DEPARTMENT OF SODDEN THOUGHTS. Seems from here that the County's Right to Farm ordinance clearly prohibits farmers from introducing new nuisances. The ordinance was enacted to protect farmers from latter-day neighbors who complain about this or that practice of working agriculture, this or that practice that was in place before you non-rural whiners got here. The noisome ag enterprise was first, the housing complex and the people in it are new. The new people moved in knowing the farm was next door.

MOST PEOPLE in the Anderson Valley knew when they moved in they would be within sight and sound of a vineyard, especially if they moved in after, say, 1975, when vineyards and wineries began their inexorable march to their current dominance.

BUT THE WINE INDUSTRY did not come with 100-decibel Queen Mary-size propellers that snapped on at 2am and stayed on past daybreak to frost-protect budding grapes. These things are new, and obviously represent an introduced nuisance, a nuisance that was not next door when people moved in. Prior to the giant noisemakers, vineyards were merely toxic.

BUT LET'S SAY GLEN McGOURTY and the wizards at the UC Extension find, that in addition to unendurably high decibel wind machines for frost protection, McGourty and Co. discovered that their latest oenology research informed them that as grapes mature, they grow better to top volume death metal music amplified by stadium speakers from midnight to four am. As they presently are with wind machines, three thousand residents of the bucolic Anderson Valley would be very upset. But Roederer, McGourty, the UC Extension, and the Winegrower's Association would quickly issue a press release that begins, “To Our Friends and Neighbors of the Anderson Valley. We want to assure you that the music some of you find offensive at any hour let alone midnight to 4, is absolutely necessary to the ongoing productivity of local agriculture. We all understand that our farm-based economy can occasionally be irksome, as some of you have claimed with wind machines, but we must add the summer musical strategy to survive in a highly competitive business. If you'll stop in at any local tasting room we will lend you ear plugs for the two summer weeks we are compelled to employ the latest in agricultural technology.”

MENDOCINO COUNTY is strewn with abandoned towns, most of them so completely disappeared you wouldn't know they had been there if it weren't for old maps and some old timer accounts of life in them. My late friend Vivian Weatherhead, a retired math teacher and resident of Airport Estates, in the years before her passing, grew up in Mina, a once-thriving community north of Covelo on what is now called the Mina Road. Mina was complete in itself with a store, a school, a church, a meeting house. People were pretty self-contained, too, eking out their livings on their ranches.

HERE IN THE ANDERSON VALLEY, we have Peachland and Hop Flat, to name two communities that once were large enough to have their own schools. Hop Flat not only had a school but a hotel and an early telephone exchange. It was locally renowned for its weekend “hops” or dances and its general joie de vivre, hence Hop Flat.

COMPTCHE historian Katy Tahja writes, “According to my Western Railroader magazine, the old rail line at the Navarro end of the Anderson Valley, did go the Navarro Mill but it was via Sunny Slope, Keene Summit, down Flynn Creek Road, then east… up Neefus Gulch where the Boy Scout camp was… to Navarro, Wendling, and just beyond Floodgate to Christine (Reilly Heights). Between Wendling and Floodgate it crossed the Navarro River and went up Perry Gulch. All of this was after Albion Lumber was gobbled up by Northwestern Pacific RR which melded together Albion, Stearns, Mendocino, Salmon Creek, Navarro and Elk lumber companies. Navarro Lumber Co. Railroad DID stop at Hop Flat, at the end of the line.”

MRS. TAHJA describes the logging railroad as it approached Navarro from the west. In addition to hauling logs and lumber, day-trippers could ride it to Albion and back to the Navarro end of the Anderson Valley.

BUT WHERE EXACTLY was Hop Flat? We know it was logging and mill-based, and we know it was located between the town of Navarro and the Pacific. Gentleman George Hollister, of Comptche, locates the town for us, a once-thriving community whose former residents of Hop Flat had a kind of alumni association that held regular reunions.

HOLLISTER WRITES: “Tim O'Brien [retired Mendocino County Superior Court Judge] told me it was either at the 4.5 mile marker or the 5.4 mile marker. My son might remember what Tim said, he heard him say it and has a better memory. It was on both sides of the river. Jim Gowan told me his father delivered produce there. And I think he told me he tagged along when he was a kid as well. I have been curious about the place for a while.”

PASSING THROUGH BOONVILLE Sunday was Supervisor Hamburg with his lady friend and former Point Arena mayor, Lauren Sinnott. The visit was noted by our fashion correspondent: “Ran into the Art Goddess [Ms. Sinnott] and Dan Hamburg headed for Mosswood, ‘passing through’ town this morning. She wearing layers of ivory lace and 'tards, as in leo-tards; a full short skirt with ruffled underslip — showing of course. And I can't remember if she had her bra on the inside or the outside, but there was some sort of lacey corset-look going on there with a short western style jacket over that. The proud-to-be-from-San Antonio-chick outfit is her trademark, so that was nothing new, excepting that it looked a little more pastel Easter-ish in color. My eyes were mostly drawn to her flashy new probably Texas-made white, brown and turquoise long-shaft wingtip cowgirl boots, which were the best thing about the outfit. Hamburg I didn't bother to notice excepting that if I would have looked at him directly I would have laughed, so I didn't look at him. Out of the corner of my eye in passing I could see she'd fixed him up with some sort of funny event hat that looked like he was an adult at a child's birthday party, although the hat was not dunce-shaped. She tends to do that to her boy toys — dresses them up foolishly for public events. I notice they often stand looking enslaved and uncomfortable next to her in the costumes she designs for them. There. Your fashion report from beautiful cloudy downtown Boonville. Where it was actually cool today. Off and on rain right now. Very clear with high cloud ceiling. The rain took the pollen out of the air, I see.”

SOMEHOW OR OTHER, hackers broke into Lauren's Restaurant's website and proceeded to use the site as their own, probably as a base for criminal activities. The hackers have since been described as “Russians,” although to most of us Russia is all the countries east of Paris just as China is all the countries west of Honolulu. Lauren's cyber-intruders, whoever and wherever they were based, have cost Lauren the time and expense of building a new website, which she is now doing via Boonville's talented graphics person, Torrey Douglas.

One Comment

  1. Pete Otey November 21, 2016

    Thanks for a fun read! Makes me want to retire there.

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