Press "Enter" to skip to content

An AV Kid Grows Up

[Post Falls, Idaho] — Sitting here tonight, I am remembering a man of great vision, compassion and an entrepreneurial drive that transformed your community. This visionary developed a keen ability to build teams and connections that enlightened, informed and produced results for the common good. That man, Homer Mannix, as well as his wife Bea, and son Joe and daughter Sue. As I tell you this story, I want to frame it with why I was in Philo, and how my relationship with Homer developed.

I was 13 when I first met this tall “Abraham Lincoln” man. He had an understated gruff voice with a touch of compassion, interest and concern. I was fascinated with his role in the community, as a student New Hope School, run by James Dean, and his wife Vivian. I was one of the misfits, or the group home kids referenced in the local high school. Really, I was a ward of the court, placed in the group home from my home in San Jose, California.

As a “New Hope” kid, I was home schooled at New Hope for almost a year. Working on the ranch, doing chores, pulling irrigation pipe around 32 acres, was a distasteful “Not” job, which we had to do every four hours. During my two years at New Hope, I was an incorrigible teenager with all the baggage, as well I was very short, only 4’ 9”. I shared the ranch with seven other kids, as well as Jim Deans family, and Howard and Ynema Daniels who supported the ranch team. I hated being at the ranch my first few months, hated the chores, the routine, and the area.

After three months at New Hope, I began falling into a routine, doing my chores, ranch work, feeding the animals, which by the way, this city kid was not to fond. In school, Jim Dean and his wife were the teachers, it was a small class and we have great attention. In my past school year prior to New Hope, I had had 37 days absent, and a stay in juvenile hall for over 90-days. My life as far as I was concerned was miserable, yet I prevailed.

First, the water at the ranch was “gross” it was very hard well water and turned all my whites a light orange. The shower was a metal unit, like the ones in the Army, and a bunk beds, and a dresser with a couple drawers, I shared the room with three other teens. All this something new for me and I hated it!

I had this routine for months, day after day, after day. Then one day, I was advised I would be a student at the local High School, Anderson Valley High, I started there in the 10th grade, and to tell you I loved the school from day one. I was issued a locker, which is something I had never had (per se), and as well, I had friends, one whom issued me a number of lockers near all my classes. I love the people, the teachers, and the food. I really got into the groove of being an AVHS student. I must say, my last high school I was tossed in trash cans, stuffed in lockers, and stripped naked in the girl’s locker room.

Being in a school I loved, I got involved in activities, I joined the newspaper staff, did not know a thing about news, newspapers or what to do. I bet to the other students, I was not very keen or even part of the newspaper click. I have to say, everyday was not perfect, I had a few junior and senior student who loved to pull pranks on me and harassed me, then one day during my “hazing” a student named Dean, stepped in and stopped it, and told them to lay off me. I have to say that from that day forward until I left Anderson Valley, I was never harassed, I have to today, thank Dean for that favor, it was well received, and today appreciated.

One day, in the newspaper office I read an article of the state taking action to eliminate all justice courts, merging them into the municipal courts. I was asked to interview the local justice judge, Mr. Homer Mannix and get his feelings and input on this proposed change in state law. So, here I went, a short, newspaper man (boy) off to get his first story. I called his office, and walked from the high school by the drive in hamburger spot, by the main post office, store, gas station, market, fire station to a wooden building next to the fire truck, and ambulance. I proceed up a flight of wooden stairs outside the building to an office at the top of the stairs. Knocking on the door, I walked in coming face to face to this large, tall man, with dark hair, a smell of tobacco, cigars in the air. Mr. Mannix, as I called him, got up and shook my nervous hand, and told me to sit down in a small wooden chair.

We sat in his office and talked about his role as a Justice of the Peace Judge, his role as a school board member, his role as a fire chief, and his role as the newspaper editor in chief of the local paper he founded called The Anderson Valley Advertiser. How every Tuesday he arranged, formatted and printed the paper late into the night, mailing it on Wednesday. We talked about how he would miss the role of Justice of the peace, and how he loved the area, loved his wife and family, and loved Anderson Valley. After about two hours, I left. Boy, was I in awe, totally impressed at all the things he was doing and how exciting he was to me, a 13 year old boy.

I took the story idea back to the student newspaper, and I do not know if a story was ever written in the school newspaper. But, I was fixed on saving the day, well at least in the mind of the teenager. I wrote a letter to the editor for the Anderson Valley Advertiser. Stating my case to the community to stand up and oppose the losing of the justice courts and other facts discussed in my meeting with Mr. Mannix. To my surprise, the letter was printed in the paper, with my name, and letter. I was really impressed. This was my first printing of anything that I wrote, and had my name on it. Reflecting on that, some forty-five years later, and some dozen printings and notices in newspapers, I think fondly on the fact that my first public exposures was with Homer, and his newspaper. Life was good!

In school, I excelled, I became manager of the basketball team, and wow was Anderson Valley passionate about basketball. My time on the team, the things we did, people we saw really help shape me and help me find out who I was. Being a delinquent teenager, a felon, well as pre-adult felon, I was in a good place, with good folks, Jim Dean, his team and Anderson Valley High School, and soon to be Homer Mannix. I continued on the school newspaper and got a lot of training, education and outreach. I even was on the Flight Team, and flew the old Cessna 150 Red or Blue Plane for almost 40 hours. Flew all around the area Fort Bragg, Ukiah and Santa Rosa, however, I was too young to solo. As I was working in the newspaper, a call was made from Homer Mannix looking for a part time worker, I was told interested to go talk with Mr. Mannix.

Fantastic, I possible job, for a teenager, and not wanting to do Ranch work, a job would be something I might like. I walked back to his office, this time it was a storefront building a printing and newspaper office next to a beauty shop next door. I walked into the office; I was struck with the smell of ink, and dust. There were stacks of books on the desk, dust everywhere. Clutter, and walk way around the shop.

Printing presses to the right, Homer’s office to the left. On the right side of the building was the very large newspaper press, with type fir headlines, a letter press, and linotype machines, and lead melting pots. The left of the building was the AB Dick printing presses, the printing press plates and etching machines, both paper and metal plates. Proceeding I saw the camera, which had a black bellow for focusing, the item photographed, and the darkroom. Then we had shelving with storage, rubber stamp machine, plates, and books. Then more storage and back exit of the building. What a great place, very exciting.

Mr. Mannix then told to call him Homer. Homer and I talked about his needs; he needed a printer’s devil, basically an office slave. He would pay me $35.00 a month, I had to sweep, dust, organize, assist with printing (basic to start), make keys. He would teach me the business as time allowed. I was overwhelmed, scared, and yet excited, and I said yes. This was my first job! A job, it was not allowance. And to boot, I would get $35.00 a month, wow then I was hooked on RC Cola, you know then you could win money with the cap, I won $50.00 once. I was to work after school, and then on Tuesday I would help get the paper out, and sometimes on Saturday. I have to say, this job, set the foundation of my career, life and profession, all due to the interest, education and work I did for Homer, and the Anderson Valley Advertiser.

Back at New Hope, I was getting better in handling anger and my frustration. Mr. Dean took a personal interest with me. Gave me the tough love, gave me responsibility, I learned how to prepare livestock, raise various pigs, hens, cattle, sheep and get them to market for food. We even killed, prepared and ate livestock we raised. I was enrolled in 4-H with various animals, was in the ROP program, and had employment in the County Fair, playing a display of Rosemary’s baby. I had a great time, learned from Jim Dean, Vivian, the school, my friends, and Homer. As well, I learned to cut grapes, box peaches, box almonds all with the direction and efforts of our annual road trip with Mr. Dean. I am a better adult from the things I learned to do while in Mendocino County.

In my one year with working with Homer, having dinner at his house weekly with him, Bea, Joe and Sue enjoying the time. Then Homer and myself, and another paper worker would format the newspaper, do the typesetting, hard headline setting, racking the newspaper in blocks and printing the paper on the massive machine, which took the sheet of paper, printed it on all sides, folded and cut the paper in one process. Then we had to attach (stamp) the name and address on the paper, collect the papers, bundles the papers and get to the post office. Most Tuesdays, I would sleep in the office, and then off to school on Wednesday, it was a long day.

As well, working for Homer I learned to typeset, learn how to read backwards, work the letter press, as well as creating the printing plates, etching them, running the AB Dick presses. I learned how to use the camera, set copy develop film in the darkroom. Make rubber stamps, make keys, sharpen knives, learned how to make unending tags for the Philo Lumber Company on the letter press with numbers. My year with Homer could not have been better, it was a wonderful job, working for a great man, as a kid I did not know him as well as the community but my “period” of time was beneficial for me, my learning, my growing, and my self-identity, and self-worth. Working for him was a two edged sword.

Since, being a ward of the court, I was assessed every quarter. One evaluation in late 1973 showed my 100% improvement in school, in behavior, in education and personality. Lest, I was to return home, the case with New Hope was coming to an end. From my perspective it was disappointing, from my recalling it today, it was the right decision. I left New Hope in November 1973, and I never saw or spoke to Homer again, my time was done, and my life journey was to be done elsewhere.

From 1973 to 1975, I excelled in Santa Clara High School. I went into the US Air Force in 1975 and served with distinction, awarded the Air Force Commendation twice, as well as the Humanitarian Campaign Ribbon for service to the Enewetalk Atoll people in the Marshall Islands. After active duty, I served many years in the US Air Force Reserves, in 1986 transferring into the Army National Guard serving as a Military Police Officer, earning my commission as a Second Lieutenant in the US Army Reserve, retiring in 2003, after 20 years.

I also have been self-employed for over 40-years creating a number of companies, advancing technology and program for consumer products. After a career of 40-years a retired in 2010, moved to Coeur d’Alene Idaho and have been planning a new venture, but time will tell. All my life, I have strived for perfection, and stability. I am blessed to have been a teenage delinquent, and have the chance to meet Jim Dean, and his New Hope program, and the love, support and belief he showed me over two years of my developmental periods. As well, my meeting Mr. Homer Mannix, who took this kid, under his wing and showed him a career and opportunity in the newspaper. Although, I never went into printing, the learning and education provided by Homer planted core ideas and beliefs which followed me my entire career.

Time it has passed, Homer and Bea, as well as Vivian, Howard and Ynema have passed. They were wonderful people, especially for a young, delinquent and showed him that he mattered, and helped change a life. Today, as a 58 year old adult, I want to thank them from the bottom of my heart. As well, reaching out and thanking James Dean, who with a lot of love, tough love, managing my youthful outrageous outburst helped me see beyond that, and help me find the right path. My time moving irrigation pipe, walking a mile to turn on the water pump, and the time of self discovery, and my teachers, and principal from Anderson Valley, I am the adult I am today.

Thank you New Hope, James and Vivian Dean, Howard and Ynema Daniels, Homer, Bea, Joe, and Sue Mannix, the Anderson Valley basketball, baseball, and football teams I managed, and the town of Philo and Boonville for letting me grow up, find myself and discover – Life Matters! And people care.

I left Mendocino County a stronger, more self-assured, more kindness, with faith a better 15 year old.


Happy Holiday, and thank you. I love you all!


  1. Rick Weddle December 23, 2015

    Newsgasm: Readers the world over will positively yelp with joy at this story, and not just loyal followers of America’s Last Newspaper.

  2. Riverrat December 23, 2015

    Good article and local boy(displaced) does good!Jeff you should have known Jack Mannix,my classmate. Not many people remember him but he worked with Dad, Homer on the AV paper. Homer used to sell Mercury and other Chain saws as well as appliances. Good man. Navarro Riverrat.

  3. George Hollister December 23, 2015

    Great story.

  4. BB Grace December 23, 2015

    Wonderful autobiography because it shares the feeling of achievement through personal struggle and why caring about each other is so important.

  5. Gupatii December 23, 2015

    Every County in the Country could use a Homer Mannix (and/or an AVA)

  6. Burt December 28, 2015

    Great story about a very good man. I had the great experience of being the very first employee of the AVA. Homer hired me when I was just 16. I helped with the very first issue published, and stayed until I left after HS to join the Navy in 1957.
    He was always generous and I still occasionally think about the opportunity he gave me. The experience and lessons learned during my time with Homer served me well in my future life.

Leave a Reply

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