An Old Hopland Hand Visits The Coast
by Bob Dempel, September 7, 2016
After stopping in at the AVA offices recently, we continued up Anderson Valley finally getting to the magnificent redwood tree tunnel. My intent was to stop at Dimmick Park, a place I had visited when I showed livestock at the Boonville Fair. The 4-H Youth Advisor back then would take us down there to see the big trees and have a little time to do whatever. But as we got closer to the park last week I had this terrible feeling, and sure enough Paul Dimmick State Park is closed. Driveway is boarded up. I visited there 70 years ago.
We continued west to Little River for our favorite Dennan's B and B. Jo and Fred greeted us with open arms.
We went into Mendocino and stopped at the Kelly House. Fortunately the research wing was open. Katy Tahja had indicated that they may have more information on Dr. Preston. What they do have is limited and could not really help me. I wrote two articles on Dr. Preston that were published in the AVA. Dr. Preston died while they were filming East of Eden. His last wish was that the movie company continue to use the house for the film. That was in 1954. The Preston House burned down in 1959. I was never clear who occupied the house from 1954 until 1959. Dr. Preston had a couple live in the house and take care of all the domestic duties. They had two daughters, Carol Ann and Bonnie who were both in the local 4-H club. They have both recently died and are buried in Fort Bragg. Their obituary mentioned having grown up in the Preston Home, which I found interesting.
I had an expected great dinner for our 57th wedding anniversary at Little River Inn. The waitperson who served us has been there 40 years. The next morning after a great breakfast from Jo and Fred we headed south to explore Point Arena. Point Arena has been one of the most desired destination points for this 80-year-old from Hopland.
We stopped at Manchester State Beach. Another disappointment. The camp sites were all closed. You could drive down to the beach by avoiding the potholes. Looks like a nice KOA right next to the road.
On down towards Point Arena. We saw Walt and Donna Stornetta's Jersey cows on their nice green pasture. They own the only two dairies in Mendocino County. I had dinner with them at the Ukiah Fair opening night dinner. Very nice couple.
Right off Highway One a large sign caught my attention — Arena Justice Court. I thought and wrote about all of the Justice Courts being closed in Mendocino County. In fact Judge Jim Luther (ret) wrote a companion article using my article as a reference. But the sign is right there.
On top of it is Point Arena City Hall sign. Certainly this would be the place I could stop and get some local information. There had to be 15 cars on one side of the metal building. I tried all of the doors until I got the north side and it read “Point Arena City Hall.” But this door was also locked. I further read “Closed from 12 to 1pm.” It was only 12:50. I could see lights on inside. I knocked hoping someone would open up. I guess the work ethics of the current City Manager have trickled down to the door monitor.
So we forged ahead and wound up at the Point Arena Pier. This place has some activity. We could see the old Coast Guard lighthouse buildings up on the hill. We parked and went into a coffee shop in a large old building that had several shops. We were served by a knowledgeable young lady who not only had answers to our questions but supplied us with a map. So the old Air Force Base is closed and guarded according to her and it’s a long drive up the hill. There is no road to the old Coast Guard station. It was given to the college who recently wanted to sell it. There was some resolution on that. Paul Poulos lead that charge from the Historical Society.
For a guy from Hopland I did gather a small amount of history about Point Arena and the surrounding areas through my cataracts, I grant you. (That is my favorite saying from ARGO.)