Highway 128: AV’s Main Street

One-Twenty-Eight. The highway. That $%&(@! road. However one refers to California State Highway 128, it is Anderson Valley’s main street and its main portal to the outside world. Highway 128 is also — in some ways — a wonder. Anderson Valley’s isolation comes in part from the seriously rugged surrounding terrain; tall ridges, deeply cut […]

Shades & Sounds of Winter, 2014

During my periodic visits to Anderson Valley in recent years, I often told recently arrived residents they had not yet experienced a true Anderson Valley winter, one with big storms that lasted days, came often and dumped copious amounts of rains. Such winters were the norm when I was a full and part-time resident between […]


Soon after I began writing these vignettes of my time in Anderson Valley from the late 1950s to the late 1980s I discovered the Anderson Valley 4-H Club no longer existed. I was surprised, but perhaps I should not have been. Anderson Valley agriculture in my day, especially in my early years, was diverse: apples, […]

Local Folks, Part 2

As promised in my previous article, here are descriptions of a few more local folks as I remember them during my time in Anderson Valley from the late 1950s to the late 1980s. Jack Clow — Proprietor of Jack’s Valley Store. Situated then, as now, about a mile northwest of Philo, Jack’s Valley Store in […]

Local Folks, Part 1

Although I have been writing articles about my time in Anderson Valley from the late 1950s to the late 1980s for more than two years, I have been reluctant to say much about those who lived in the Valley during this period, except for those who were our neighbors. My reasons were simple. First, I […]

School Days

When the Newman family first came to Anderson Valley in the late 1950s, it was as part-timers; most weekends during autumn, winter and spring, and all summer when my parent’s summer camp near Philo, El Rancho Navarro, was in operation. That changed in early May of 1959, when we moved to camp. The move was […]


My years in Anderson Valley, from the late 1950s through the late 1980s, included a fair share of medical issues for my parents, my siblings and myself. When my parents’ summer camp, El Rancho Navarro, was in session, medical issues multiplied — perfectly natural with an additional 120 children on hand, even with a nurse on staff. Stuff happened and when it did, we depended on local and — on serious stuff — regional resources, with the hope that they were up to the challenge.

Cars, Trucks & Tractors

Pretty much like today, those – like me – who lived in Anderson Valley from the 1950s through the 1980s depended on cars to get around, pickup trucks to handle hauling (except for logs, lumber and apples) and tractors to farm. Public transit back then consisted of a Greyhound bus that ran from San Francisco […]

The Consummate Wine Man

John Parducci, the legendary Mendocino winemaker, died on February 4th at age 96. In a real sense, he was the name and face of Mendocino wine in the modern era, laying much of the groundwork for the wine renaissance to come, and providing reassurance and guidance along the way for those who followed in his […]

Dry Times

Drought. Even the word has a dry, raspy ring to it. Anderson Valley typically enjoys copious winter rain, but drought — for those who have lived in the valley long enough — is a known, if unwelcome, commodity. The dry years of 1976-1978 reduced the Navarro River to a trickle in late summer and in […]

Putting Food By

Last autumn, I received permission to harvest apples from our neighbor’s tree. I had no idea what variety they were; they looked a bit like Gravensteins, but ripened later and were not very good eaten fresh. However, they made great apple sauce. When my daughter came home from college, I insisted she try some. She […]