Valley People

by AVA News Service, June 30, 2010

WITH THE VOTE certified late Monday afternoon, we learned that Measure A, the $15.25 million bond to rehab Boonville's school buildings, was approved by almost two-thirds of the Valley's 1452 registered voters, 551 to 296. It required a 55% yes vote.

DAVE BROADBENT is pretty much confined to a bed at his Holmes Ranch home where Mrs. B. provides much of his care. Dave's a fighter, though, and once in a great while he and his missus can enjoy a drive through the valley, their home for four decades, and we're hardly the only Boonts who hope Dave pulls through.

THE 4TH OF JULY display in the windows of Rossi Hardware is not to be missed, a patriotic work of art unmatched, so far as I know, anywhere in Mendocino County, nor will you want to miss the annual 4th festivities at the Boonville Fairgrounds, an old fashioned family affair.

PASTOR BILL NOBLES is out as cook at the Senior Center, having been replaced by Natalie Matson who also drives the Senior bus. Opinions about the poor quality of the food served at the Center had been quietly unanimous for some time.

WEEDS ARE ABOUT to engulf the large sign announcing the Anderson Valley Elementary School, and surely grounds maintenance doesn't cease when school is out.

ONE ARGUMENT I haven't heard in favor of resident deputies is the one that points out how much money deputy Squires has saved County taxpayers over the years. The legendary lawman has informally settled thousands of matters that in a more anonymous place would have been run through the justice system at huge expense to the rest of us. Squires knows everything about this place, and deputy Craig Walker will also soon know everything about this place, and when the cops know everything about a place, the bad people in that place think twice before doing their bad. Resident deputies more than pay their own salaries, lots more, and should be the very last people laid off, especially in a County whose supervisors and public administrators are laughably overpaid and underworked.

PALM TREES on Gschwend Road? Can't miss 'em, and what's next at Mr. Multi-Buck's oasis? Camels? Bedouin bandits? Harem girls?

JEFF SKOLL of Skoll's Corporate Retreat on the Navarro river west of Philo is having the darndest time coming up with a properly worded no trespassing sign. This is the Stanford guy who co-founded E-Bay for cryin' in a bucket; you'd think for the sake of clarity he'd simply stick to No Trespassing, gun towers and killer mastiffs. But no, he wants to keep the half dozen or so people who occasionally access the public river across his private bridge to love him and stay away. Well, here's Skoll's third try in as many weeks, and what do you think?

VISITING relatives and old friends in The Valley last week were Robert and Yvonne Kraft, now of Bandon, Oregon. The popular couple worked here for many years, Robert as tow truck emergency man, Yvonne as clerk at various retail venues. The Krafts headed north when it became evident to them that they and their son were being negatively impacted by the concentrated applications of chemicals required by The Valley's dominant wine industry.

PUBLIC RADIO MENDOCINO COUNTY, aka KZYX, held a one-day pledge drive last week because of an errant equipment order. Turned out to be the wrong stuff, but the expensive deal was done. No returns, no refunds, hence the hurry-up fundraiser.

THAT ROLLOVER at Navarro last Thursday evening about 8, rolled right on into the parking lot of the Navarro Store, missing the gas pumps by a couple of feet, and kept on rolling towards the store like a two-ton tumbleweed. “I thought it was going to hit my front deck,” reported a horrified Dave Evans who was just closing up when the vehicle came pell mell as he stood at his door. It finally tumbled to a neat, right-side-up stop just short of Dave's back deck, having somersaulted multiple times over a distance estimated at a hundred yards from roadbed to redwoods. The two women in the vehicle were able to step out of it when it came to a smoldering final stop on three of its four tires. The driver, Loreen Bruce, 48, of Rohnert Park, had sped through the no passing double yellow line on 128 opposite Bull Hopper's place to get around a slower-moving vehicle. She lost control of her Toyota 4Runner and commenced her harrowing series of rollovers. Ms. Bruce's passenger, Lori Hernandez, 33, also of Rohnert Park, was airlifted from the scene. She sustained what turned out to be minor injuries, but the little doberman in the 4Runner was thrown from the vehicle; the dog was killed when one of the tumbles rolled over it. Ms. Bruce, the driver, was uninjured. “If they'd hit the gas pumps, it would have been a major disaster,” Dave said, “but it was scary enough as it was.”

THE NAVARRO STORE'S irrepressible Evans suffered an even more harrowing interlude two days later when, about 8:30 Saturday morning, the Deepend's power disappeared. Dave went into full panic mode, as anybody would with The Dave Nelson Bank coming to town that night and the day's musical events set to begin at 11am. And him in charge of everything. Dave was looking at a crowd of upwards of a thousand people “with no power, no lights, no flushing toilets, no working cash registers, no nothing. I didn't know what I was going to do.” He called PG&E. A disembodied voice informed Dave that power would be on by 11, which was when the first music was scheduled to begin. Dave called back at 11 when it was still lights out in Navarro. “The power should be back on by 6pm, they told me. I lost it. My mind went blank.” Then, Dave says, “I got help, so much help I'm still reeling. Everyone pitched in. Action Rental let me rent a generator on a promise to pay, and a volunteer drove over to Ukiah to get it for me. Everyone came through in some way. It was beautiful, and I can't thank this community enough. I'll never, ever forget last Saturday as long as I live. Without everyone pitching in the show would not have gone on. As it was, everything came out beautifully.”

POWER was also out in Philo last Saturday, which left at least one resident muttering about “indoor grows.” The outage in Navarro is kinda suspicious, too, frankly. Power seldom disappears from the Anderson Valley in the tranquil weather months. Did everyone turn on their in-door grows at the same time? Can our tiny piece of the grid handle all the demands put on it?

FROM HERB CAEN'S column of June 21st, 1989: “Charlene and Vernon Rollins, who turned the New Boonville Hotel into a celebrated gourmet dining place before getting into money troubles and fleeing to Europe, are back in the country. Charlene's mother is ill with cancer in Ashland, Ore., so she is cooking at Sammy's New Cowboy Bistro in the nearby town of Talent, while Vernon waits on tables. Carl Huntley, who discovered them there, reports that 'the place looks like dump, but the food is simple and superb French.'”

ENJOYED A FAMILY dinner at the Hotel myself on Saturday night, and how sweet it was with excellent food and fast, friendly service from the always charming Angela DeWitt and dapper Dave Ballantine, man of parts, all of them working. The Rollins' have made a great success of it in Oregon after their ignominious midnight flight from Boonville a quarter century ago in an old Dodge convertible they traded to David and Micki Colfax for the wall art consigned to the Rollins' New Boonville Hotel by unsuspecting Frisco dealers. Yes, the art and cases of high end booze the Rollins' couldn't fit into the Dodge as the couple ran north for the border in Colfax's getaway car, leaving behind an unpaid staff and an impressive mountain of debt. Colfax went on to become supervisor here in Amnesia County and the Rollins', as they had in Boonville, became an essential stop on every gastro-maniac's national eating tour.

WAY BACK we had a letter from a young urban couple who recalled the night they were lost in a late summer fog and, not quite knowing where they were, with the night late and impenetrable, put in at the Old Boonville Hotel where, as late as 1974, a couple of old gaffers still lived upstairs among the rooms for rent. “There were big guys butting heads in the bar when we got there,” they wrote, “but the man running the place didn't seem to be bothered by it. He took us on upstairs, and all night we heard thumps and groans and people laughing like maniacs outside our room. We thought we'd be lucky to survive. It was the scariest night we ever spent anywhere.”

OLD TIMERS remember that bar. Its walls were festooned with artifacts and photographs from the Hotel's late 19th and early 20th century heyday. It struck me as a kind of museum, a fascinating little place just to the left of the front door. I can remember the unflappable Eddie Carsey behind the bar; he also then owned the place, and it must have been him who showed the brightlighters up the stairs for what they later assessed as their most harrowing night ever. Head-butting was late night recreation in those days, and sad to say the head-buttin' big guys have passed on, as have the head-buttin' little guys, and fightin' guys generally, as the Anderson Valley of 1970 is mos' def' not the Anderson Valley of 2010.

LAUGHING DOG BOOKS will feature the work of The Valley's very own Hannah Newcomer, 10 in July. Hannah's art will grace Laughing Dog's welcoming walls the entire month of Leo with a reception for the artist on Saturday, July 3rd, 3 to 5pm. Boonville's Art Walk, on Saturday, July 10, will bring Lady Rainbow (jewelry) and Steve Derwinski (guitars) to Laughing Dog's commodious and commodiously welcoming patio. Hannah will also be present to talk about her paintings. Rumor has it that local authors Bruce “Pat” Patterson and Katy Tahja may also appear to talk story and sign their books – Walking Tractor and Early Mendocino Coast, respectively.

PIG HUNT, the action movie filmed deep in the hills of Boonville, is about to be released via Blockbuster, meaning locals can find it at the Blockbuster outlet in Ukiah.

REALTOR ALERT! Helen Libeu, an old school lady, finds herself surrounded by pastoral delinquents. Helen called last weekend to suggest that city people who suddenly find themselves with country property via the international economic dance of death presently underway, would surely benefit from a crash course in country etiquette. The parvenus, Helen suggests, should not “traipse around” on neighboring property trying to get a fix on their property lines until they have some idea where they might be. “Trespassing is still a crime, I believe, a small one, but a crime,” said Mrs. Libeu who has owned property at Peachland for many years. “I would ask that maybe a realtor in the area up there write an article telling these new people what the dos and don'ts of country living and ordinary neighborliness are,” Ms. Libeu added.

THE SYMBIOSIS between predator and prey polishes both species. This is the one of the most elementary aspects of Nature. Another aspect of ‘Nature’ is the Symbiotics. Nature is a local artist, and a drummer, who has given himself the unusual, and some might say, precious, name ‘Nature.’ Nature has a new band called the Symbiotics. They played at Lauren’s Restaurant last Saturday night. Except for Nature, who is old by definition, the band members were young dudes, 20-somethings. Nature is probably 50-something. But Nature, who has a great number of CDs available, with titles like The Godman, Nature Dreams, Forest Music and the soon to be released, Divine Love, was gracious enough to let the younger set do their own style of music, something a little less woo-woo than expected, something that all the pretty young women in attendance could dance to without being in some kind of mystical Deadhead trance. The music was more-or-less rock, lite rock, not that head-banging hard stuff like heavy metal, or even the corny southern swill known as country rock, although some of the Symbiotics’ riffs sounded a little like the Allman Brothers or Lynard Skynard. Featuring Peter Kafin on keyboards, Rob Macello on guitar and KZYX Open Lines host Doug McKenty on bass, Saturday was the Symbiotics first stage gig. They seemed to suffer a little stage fright. It took over an hour to set up, and then they had to hunt down an insignificant little hum in the speakers that the first note would drown out, but they finally got to where they could tune the instruments, which took another interval of irritating tedium. Everything had to be just perfect. Good thing they didn’t need to tune Nature’s drums. Then they couldn’t decide which song to open with. To anyone except the groupies, it couldn’t have made the slightest difference. The songs were all equally danceable, interchangeable even, and the young women were anxious to dance. Finally, they got started. After the first song, the groupies all hustled to the bar for drinks, but I thought it was a little premature for a break, so I started clamoring for more tunes! I mean, my God, they’d just got up from a big dinner, the moon was high and these summer nights are too short to dally. I got my way and the band played on. They were pretty good, actually, once they got going. They’ll probably get lots of gigs this summer and, hopefully, get to where they can start on time. They need another name, though. Perhaps Nature and the Naturals. – Bruce McEwen

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