Local Folks, Part 2

by Marshall Newman, July 30, 2014

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 my youth was perhaps the most complete store in the Valley, offering everything from food and fertilizer to clothes and building supplies. Jack was balding in his 40s, but radiated energy and an easy, genuine friendliness. I understand he organized the dedication ceremony at Hendy Woods State Park in the early 1960s and it sounds just like him to tackle such a task. He also was a generous fellow: I recall he offered my brother and me two or three old fluorescent beer signs he had stashed behind the store. Foolishly, we passed on them. Years later, I ran into him at the Coddingtown Macy’s in Santa Rosa. Same Jack, only older.

Marshall Wynn, Sr. — He was the Philo postmaster when we first arrived in Anderson Valley. I recall him as a taciturn man whose home we passed on Rays Road on the way to my parents’ camp, El Rancho Navarro. Although I cannot be certain, I think he was the first of Philo’s postmasters to put aside a sheet or two of each new commemorative stamp for my dad to buy. My dad kept only the corner blocks and for years I got letters posted with a wide-ranging assortment of three and four-cent stamps.

Thelma Pinoli — the Philo postmaster who succeeded Marshall Wynn, Sr. She was his exact opposite; a friendly presence who greeted everyone with a smile. Her daughter Linda was in my class in school. Our camp must have provided a unique challenge for the Philo Post Office, as it received a huge pile of mail every day but Sundays and holidays during the summer, and produced almost as much outgoing mail. I know for years we bought all our stamps at the Philo Post Office and — in that era before metered postage — I am fairly sure it sold many more stamps than was typical for a post office in a town the size of Philo.

Martin and Dorothea (Dot) Becker — The Beckers lived just south of Indian Creek and Dot was the clerk in the Philo Post Office when Thelma Pinoli was postmaster and probably after. I think my parents must have met Dot at the Post Office and Martin later, but the two couples became friends, with my parents visiting the Beckers fairly regularly, even after we became part-time Anderson Valley residents. I have only passing memories of them, but all positive; nice people.

Archie and Myrtis Schoenahl — Archie farmed apples and beef cattle at the Schoenahl Ranch just north of Boonville. He had two sons about my age, Jimmie and Wayne, and I was friends with both. The three of us used to get into minor mischief during my visits to Schoenahl Ranch. One time we restrained a series of yearling calves, enabling one of us to climb aboard and pretend to be a bull-riding cowboy — dumb, painful fun. Archie was a big guy (at least in my memory) with a big smile and his wife Myrtis served man-sized meals — with pre-teen/teen boys, probably a given — those times I stayed for lunch.

Austin and Sylvia Hulbert — The Hulberts ran sheep on their Hulbert Ranch, which was located southeast of Yorkville. Both helped lead 4-H in Anderson Valley, though Sylvia was the more active of the two: Austin was very active in civic activities in Anderson Valley and Mendocino County, including doing a stint as manager of the Mendocino County Fair & Apple Show. My memories of Austin are mostly appearance; he dressed well and sported a mustache, the latter a bit unusual for the era. My memories of Sylvia are as a gracious host when we 4-Hers visited their ranch.

Bob and Barky Rawles — The Rawles family settled in Anderson Valley very early; the first Rawles — Joseph — purchased the land originally settled by Walter Anderson, for whom the Valley is named, in the 1850s. Bob was a rancher, grape grower (unusual back then) and local judge, but also was active in insurance and real estate. He was — almost certainly — the judge who sentenced me when I got ticketed for a car accident near Boonville in the mid-1960s: I was ordered to fix the ranch fence I had destroyed. I remember Barky mostly for her name (it was actually a nickname, but it was all anyone called her): who gets Barky for a name? Bob and Barky had two sons about my age; Robert, who was in my older brother’s grade, and Tom, who was a year behind me in school.

Eva Farrer — Another of my teachers and someone who, as the wife of J.D. Farrer, married into a longtime Anderson Valley family. She taught at the old Conn Creek School and later at the Anderson Valley Elementary School. I remember sweeping, structured silver hair — very stylish in the era. Years later I visited the Anderson Valley Historical Society, where the docent on duty on that day also had the last name of Farrer. I innocently said, “You must know my former teacher, Eva Farrer.” The lady straightened up, gave me a stern look, and responded, “We don’t speak.”

Other names from those days come to mind: Bates, Brown, Pardini, Mason, Prather, Rossi, Burns, Witherell, Glover, Day, June, Tuttle, Clark, Tindall, Wilhite, Bloyd, Pronsolino. Sometimes I have first names to go with them, but more often not. Some were schoolmates, others were adults. I have specific memories of a few and almost none of others. They were the fabric and thread of Anderson Valley back then and most of them made it a better place by being here. Change is the only constant in this world and virtually all of these valley stalwarts are long gone, but I am glad to have known them.

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