Now for the "history mystery" question for
next week: How many public time capsules are buried in the Tri-Valley
(excluding churches and schools) and where are they? The first
correct answers by email and snail mail will win golden time
capsule bolts with certificates of authenticity signed by a mayor
Cathie Brown, do you remember? Then you're much older than I
The answer to last weeks history
mystery question is that there are at least nine time capsules
buried in public places around the Tri-Valley with a 10th due
for sealing in 2005.
So now the history mystery question for this week:
What two things do Sonny Barger, Sandia's Mim John and Blitz
Krieger all have in common? Send in your answers to the address
below and the winner(s) will receive another one of those golden
capsule bolts (I have a box of them left).
Tim Hunt, do you remember the Altamont (he was just an innocent
young sports reporter at the time, and did not inhale)? Then
you're much older than I
The answer to last week's "history mystery" question
is that Ralph (Sonny) Barger, Miriam (Mim) John, and Harold (Blitz)
Krieger all had nicknames as adults, and they all worked at a
DOE national laboratory at one time or another. Sonny's work
as a subcontractor at LLNL was shortlived, however. Jay Davis
won the prize this week for coming up with clever but different
answers to the question.
Now here's the "history mystery" for
this week: Hirst revealed that he made an executive decision
and vetoed a donated item from Amador-a 1976 Playboy magazine.
Now the multiple choice question: Was the magazine (a) sent to
the Museum on Main archives along with his other files, (b) returned
to the Amador boys, (c) left in the bottom right hand drawer
of his desk, or (d) loaned out to Ed Kinney? Send in your answer
to the address below and the winner will get a copy of another
popular magazine of the day-Mad. For the complete lists of capsules'
contents in P-town visit the Museum, or in Dublin see Ms. Isles
at the Old Murray School.
Bernie Billen, do you remember? Then you're much older than I
Speaking of P-town, the man who put the "P" in
P-town, (meaning "Pleasant with Personality Plus,")
Ed Kinney, is facing an uphill battle back to health after more
than a month in intensive care. When I first wrote in this column
that he might have borrowed a 1976 Playboy that was yanked from
the Century House time capsule, I didn't even know he was hospitalized.
But now I understand he is smiling and recognizing people. I
wonder if that "famous" grin comes from the fact that
there is a certain magazine hidden under his hospital bed mattress
that the nurses haven't found yet
.Only Ed will have the
answer to that question-and I can't wait to hear his wonderful
repartee again. Hang in there, Ed, and keep winking at Roberta!
The "history mystery" question for next week is:
Who played Santa Claus in the Pleasanton and Livermore Christmas
Parades this past Saturday night, and who used to play Father
Christmas in Danville?
Last week's history mystery answers are: (1) Frank Brandes
represented the jolly old gentleman in Pleasanton's parade, (2)
Pete Conley did the same for Livermore, and (3) in Danville,
Carmen DeVivi used to fill the role of Father Christmas and loaned
his costume to the Museum of the San Ramon Valley where it is
displayed today. Leading the guessing so far in that contest
is Chris Miller from P-town.
Here's the "history mystery" question for this
week: Whose picture appears on every page of the strange new
website: www.historydetectives.info and the first person to solve
that will get an autographed photo!
The answer to last week's history mystery was so easy
I had to turn off my email for awhile. But Bob Butler from P-town,
Janet and John Pearce from Livermore, plus Pei Gu and Joe Bishop
from the local Heritage Guild got their answers in first-so they
win the time capsule bolts this time. (The answer was B. Schrader.)
History mystery question for next week: Why and when was the
Sunol Water Temple built? You may have to read that book I recommended
two columns back to find out, unless you recall those features
in the newspapers a few years ago when it as renovated and re-opened
to the public. Take a drive down there and see it for yourself--one
of the Seven Wonders of the Tri-Valley to behold! We'll talk
about the other six in a future column.
It was first guessed successfully by both Kathy Engel of P-town
and Bill Nale of eLivermore.com who responded that the temple
was built in1910 by the Spring Valley Water Company, designed
by Willis Polk (the inspiration was the Temple of Vesta at Tivoli),
and the purpose was to enhance the dignity of the water company
as a public utility. About 15 percent of San Francisco's water
supply still flows through that tunnel. Bill even offered a photo
of its inscription on the web at www.elivermore.com/photos/water_temple.htm
if you have a computer (or get your local librarian to show it
This week's question is: Which service club chapter is the
oldest in the Tri-Valley and when was it founded? Answers are
not accepted from the few remaining souls still paying dues in
that club (I have a listing). Hint: If you remember Charlie Fracisco,
then you're much older than I.
The history mystery question last week may have been a bit
misleading because I used the word "service" when asking
which club was the oldest still meeting in the valley. Most people
overlooked that word and guessed the International Order of Oddfellows
chapter in Livermore was by far the longest surviving group,
but that is a fraternal organization, not a "service"
club. The answer should be the Livermore Lions Club, which celebrated
its 80th birthday this past August. I was gong to write the column
on them this week, but Renee's untimely death changed my plans.
Tilli Calhoun will still get a prized time capsule bolt for calling
and clarifying what I meant, having gone to the trouble of researching
the Oddfellows' history and giving me information that I didn't
know. I was quite surprised that Charlie Fracisco's daughter
Barbara Mertes didn't come up with the correct answer, but maybe
she is too busy being the new president of the Chabot-Las Positas
College District Board of Trustees to read my column
Next week's history mystery question comes from Jeri
Long of P-town, a fellow journalist turned public relations person
like myself. She reminded me that we both worked for the same
newspaper back in the early 1970s. Her suggested question: The
Pleasanton school district has had offices in how many locations
back in time and where were they? And for bonus points, who were
the various superintendents over all that time? Dorothy Laird,
do you remember? Then your memory's much better than mine!
Now the answer to last week's history mystery question about
the locations of the Pleasanton-Amador district office, and the
superintendents who have served that district. Both Lisa Loretz
and Sue McKinnon of P-town had the right answers, so get the
cherished time capsule bolts. Pleasanton district office locations
have included the site of the current Blue Agave restaurant on
Main Street; 123 Main Street, now the site of the Pleasanton
city offices; and 4665 Bernal Avenue, their present home. The
superintendents going back even before unification in 1988 were
Frank Lucas (1950-53), Taylor D. Edddie (1953-58), Ray Haskell
(1958-71), Rudy Gatti (1972-74), Bruce Newlin (1974-78), Bill
Berck (1979-84), Bill James, then Mary Frances Callahn, and now
John Casey. Juanita Haugen, do you remember all these?
Next week's question ties in with the upcoming inauguration
of our President on January 20th. How many US Presidents have
visited the Tri-Valley, either before or during their terms?
6? To be confirmed. Read next weeks column. ---It was rumored
that President William McKinley visited Phoebe Apperson Hearst
at her Castlewood home in 1901. Bill Jamieson, can you verify
---In 1903 President Teddy Roosevelt went through the valley
by train enroute to San Francisco. We don't know if anyone came
down to the station to wave at him.
---Another unsubstantiated report has it that President Warren
Harding's funeral train passed though Livermore in August 1923,
but neither historian Barbara Bunshah nor I could find any newspaper
accounts about that.
---Then-Governor Ronald Reagan visited Lawrence Lab in November
1967 for a briefing and tour. I covered his visit for the Herald
and remember him speaking at the auditorium. Lab director Dr.
Michael May was his host.
---In February 1990 President George Bush (the senior) also visited
Lawrence Lab and was hosted by director John Nuckolls.
---Pleasanton witnessed a wind-whipped helicopter visit by President
Bill Clinton for the annual Labor Day picnic at the fairgrounds
in September 1995.
---Bert Christensen, in 1928, spotted a special-looking
train on the Southern Pacific tracks, which had a balcony and
inside President Herbert Hoover waved at him.
---Bert Christensen, in 1940, answered a call from First
Lady Eleanor Roosevelt, at the Livermore airport.
---Checking the old Rose Hotel register, Charles Huff found
the names of Presidents Harding and Coolidge who had stopped
in Pleasanton overnight
---Charles Huff saw George W. Bush, Laura, and Sen. John
McCain come through town on a whistlestop tour in 2000 when Bush
was running for his first term.
---Former BART director Bob Allen, in 1964, picked up Barry
Goldwater at the old Sky Ranch airport near Rincon and
---Connie Duke remembers when Hillary Clinton stopped in
the valley on a campaign swing through here in the late 1990s.
Now let's give Dubloons or Dubliners a chance at this week's
history mystery question. If you lived here back in the mid-1970s
you may have gone to the Dublin-San Ramon Auto Movies, owned
by the Enea Brothers, located between the I-580 freeway and Dublin
Boulevard. Two of the high school girls working the snack bar
were named Ursula and Sue. What were their last names and where
are they now? I have a personal interest in knowing this, since
my wife Kay and I operated a flea market at that drive-in for
part of 1975 and 1976. Those two girls were very kind to our
young boys plus their "best bud" Erin Cole (now Sgt.
Erin Cole of the LPD) and our sons would like to know where these
girls (now women in their mid-40s) went.
Last week's question about the names of two Dublin-San Ramon
Auto Movies snack bar workers in 1976 was first answered by one
of the gals herself-Ursula (Garratt) McFarland who still lives
in Dublin. Her coworker was Sue Galant but her whereabouts are
still unknown at this time. Any help out there?
Now for the history mystery question for next time: What
famous piece of history came through the valley in 1915?
The answer to the history mystery question last week about
something famous coming through the valley in 1915 is: The Liberty
Bell came through here on a railway flatcar, headed for San Francisco's
Panama Pacific Exposition. The train stopped in Livermore where
folks could get up close and touch the bell. The Livermore High
band played patriotic numbers during the stopover. I am still
awaiting a winner for this question because my email has been
out for four days while we are moving our domicile to the Heritage
Estate seniors complex in Livermore.
While doing research for my columns I frequently go to the new
Livermore Library. Head librarian Susan Gallinger has seen me
come in with a walker, then a cane, and now just shuffling along
on my own. So she introduced me to a new battery-powered scooter
that the Friends of the Library bought, which putts along at
3 miles per hour carrying the patron around the aisles and into
every part of the building. It was so enjoyable I now look for
excuses to visit the place, just so I can tool around on it.
There is even a basket on the front to carry your books and tapes
to the checkout desk. Anyone can use it free; just go to the
front counter and ask for the key to the scooter, usually parked
outside the café to the right of the front entrance.
Now the history mystery question for next week: How did Trevarno
Road, the company-built housing area off First Street in Livermore,
get its name? Marie Abbott, you must know the answer to this
Several readers nailed down the answer to the "history
mystery" question on the origin of the name "Trevarno"
the one block lane off First Street in Livermore, lined by company
houses from the former Coast Fuse Works. In summary, the street
was named after the home of George Bickford from Tuckingmill,
Cornwall, England, whose estate was named after Randolphus de
Trevarno in 1216. Bickford founded the first plant to manufacture
safety fuse. Trevarno is a Welsh word meaning "head of the
valley." It is said that Albert Merritt, first president
of Coast, chose the name.
So the multiple winners are Dick Finn, Jim Street, David Huff
(who worked for Coast from 1961 to 2004), Laura Julian Hannan,
and Susan Canfield.
Question for next week: How did Murray Township get its name
and how large an area does it encompass?
The winners of the history mystery about the origin of Murray
Township are Linda Jeffery Sailors, Jeannine Happ, and Bobbie
Small of Livermore (she got some help from her neighbor Mrs.
Joseph Michael Murray).
A man named Michael Murray, along with his friend Jeremiah Fallon,
came here from Ireland and purchased 1,000 acres in the valley
from Jose Amador. The next year (1853) Alameda County was formed
out of parts of Contra Costa and Santa Clara counties. Murray
(and Fallon) served on the Alameda County Board, and townships
were established in 1855, Murray's name being chosen for the
territory now occupied by Dublin, Pleasanton, Sunol and Livermore.
But in 1902 Pleasanton convinced the County Board to allow it
to break off and form its own township. In the old days townships
had legal authority and officers and territorial responsibilities,
much like the special districts (such as LARPD and DSRSD) still
do today. But that is all past history now and Livermore and
Dublin still share the same township designation, until someone
gets the idea to break them apart into two townships, for whatever
Here's the history mystery question for next week: Whatever
happened to Harold and Ruth Gabriel who drove California's covered
wagon in the Bicentennial Wagon Train across country, ending
at Valley Forge July 4th, 1976? Marie Cronin and Burke Critchfield,
do you remember?
Harold and Ruth now live outside the town of Phlean, near
Barstow. See the March 10, 2005
column on the wagon train trek in 1976 to learn more about Harold
. The history mystery question for this week is: What famous
Livermorean (people don't like me saying "Livermoreon")
will be immortalized with a life-sized statue at the new LARPD
Community Center when it opens on East Avenue next month? Incidentally,
the sculpture is being donated by the Livermore Rotary as a centennial
year gift to the community.
The history mystery last week was like one of those Groucho
Marx trick questions: Who is buried in Grant's Tomb? I asked
whose statue will grace the entry lobby of the Robert Livermore
Community Center. Well, of course it has to be the original Robert
Livermore, carved life-size by sculptor Don Homan. The resemblance
to the town's namesake is uncanny. One could just about walk
up and engage the pioneer settler in conversation. So watch for
his unveiling March 26. The first person to answer that tricky
question was none other than Tilli Calhoun (Livermore's foremost
historian-artist, also sometimes fondly known as the Grandma
Moses of local painters), but she said she doesn't want any more
of those golden time capsule bolts I keep offering. Sorry to
let Janet Buckley down, but her answer that it must be John Shirley
was not correct.
. The history mystery question for this week is: What was
the original name of Dublin?
Lots of readers responded to last week's question about
the original name of the settlement now known as Dublin. The
correct answer is Dougherty Station, which was a hotel built
in 1862 and named by James Witt Dougherty. He had been a county
clerk and even a sheriff back in Tennessee before relocating
to California. He became a supervisor on the first Alameda County
Board and was its first chairman. He had a post office at the
hotel-thus the postmark "Dougherty Station" which was
later shortened to Dougherty. But the name Dublin popped up about
1878 in the Thompson & West atlas and soon became the name
used by residents. Maybe many of them were from Ireland and they
wanted a tie to the homeland? Anyway, in 1960 the developer Volk-McLain
built San Ramon Village on part of the land that had been Dougherty's,
which eventually became San Ramon (also once known as Limerick,
according to Dick Finn). But south of the county line they kept
the name Dublin and incorporated by a vote of the residents in
So the winners this week include Don Van Meter, Jim Street, Bobbie
Small, Virginia Woy, Dick Finn, Charles Huff, plus Pam and John
Scott. Other names over time that people recall were Four Corners
(from Bob Philcox), Pioneer Village (from Linda Jeffery Sailors),
Murray Township (from Dan Scannell), and San Ramon Village (from
Max Eckert, Dave Snyder and Leslie Dent). Leslie recalls moving
there in 1960, scraping together $495 as the down payment on
a tract home, in which they still live. He remembers the slogan
in the newspaper ad: "Live in Lovely San Ramon Village,
City Close and Country Quiet." He also paid me an offhand
compliment, I think, adding that "by the looks of your picture,
you are probably as old as me, one day before the invention of
My mail was delayed last week and I found a note from Virgie
Jones of Alamo, also explaining the original name of Dublin.
And the answer came from her very own book: "Be It Ever
The history mystery question for next week: Atop the highest
hill in Livermore, Oak Knoll (also known as Boot Hill to the
inhabitants of Granada High School next door) , there once was
an historic plaque dedicated to the pioneers of that town. The
plaque was stolen some two or more decades ago, but what did
it say? And, as an afterthought, why hasn't the Livermore Heritage
Guild replaced it in all these years?
For the second week in a row Don Van Meter had the answer
to the history mystery. This week I asked about the wording on
the missing plaque atop Oak Knoll at the corner of Stanley Boulevard
and Wall Street in Livermore. The answer could also be found
in a book published by the late Dublin historian Virginia Bennett.
The plaque said: "Oak Knoll Pioneer Memorial Park. The pioneers
who rest interred on this knoll had the unique experience and
challenge of changing a wilderness valley into a vigorous community.
Their efforts have cast the present as our deeds shall mould
The cemetery was the first in town back in the 1800s and had
fallen into disrepair by the mid-Twentieth Century. Other cemeteries
had been created, and this one was no longer maintained. Hillside
erosion from the steep banks of the adjoining arroyo had caused
some of the remains to be exposed, falling into the creek or
taken by vandals. So in 1964 the city and park district decided
to restore it. The decision was made to contact any remaining
descendants of those buried there so their graves and markers
could be relocated, and the remaining tombstones were moved to
the city corporation yard where they would be held for a period
of time in case relatives surfaced to claim them.
Some 40 years later the area is pretty much returned to its natural
state, but those Livermore pioneers still deserve remembering.
Lets hope we can get the plaque replaced to honor their memories.
The history mystery question for this week: What part did
this valley play in the saga of Grizzly Adams?
The first readers to solve the history mystery on Grizzly
Adams this week were Pam and John Scott, Jim Street, and Mindy
The saga of Grizzly Adams has been immortalized in books
and even a TV series using his name. The real Grizzly Adams was
a bonafide "Mountain Man" and was also known as the
"Wild Yankee." He spent time in the eastern end of
the Livermore Valley, known as Corral Hollow, in 1855 and again
(Please see the March 24th article for the rest.)
Instead of a history mystery this week, I am seeking a young
girl's full name. In 1994 a third grader at Sunset School in
Livermore wrote a thank you note to Tilli Calhoun who had brought
the Livermore Heritage Guild's Historymobile (an RV turned into
a museum on wheels) to the school for a lesson in local history.
The girl signed her letter Lindsey B. Now Ann Homan would like
to use that letter in her upcoming history book, but needs the
girl's permission. Can anyone help us find her?
What well-known Livermore woman was on the board of trustees
when the Valley Campus was founded in 1975?
It was Dorothy Hudgins, who played a key role in getting the
land for the new college in the valley.
History mystery question for this week: What Livermore couple
has played a combined total of 80 years in the local symphony?
Hint: they missed one year while living in England.
The history mystery question last week about the couple who
have a combined total of 80 years with the Livermore-Amador Symphony
generated lots of responses. Those first to correctly name Arnold
and Marion Clark in the strings section as that couple were Julie
Gallagher, JoAnn Cox, Margy Odell, Judy Eckart and Bob Butler.
Butler also reminded me that the Pleasanton Community Concert
Band just observed its 30th anniversary. He provided a list of
musicians who have been a part of that group since the early
days. They include him and his wife MaryAnn, Bob Williams, Bernie
Williams, Bud Barlow, Yvonne Greilich, and Chuck Smith. This
is another example of a wonderful tradition that people have
enjoyed for many years on the local scene.
Question for this week: What was the first school built in
the Tri-Valley and when?
The answer to last week's question about the first school
located in the Tri-Valley comes from the pages of Virginia Smith
Bennett's book, "Reflections." Dick Finn is the first
reader to answer it. The first school was built in 1856 on land
donated by James Witt Dougherty at what is now the intersection
of Foothill Road and I-580. This was the first of three schools
in Dublin named Murray School. The building was moved much later
to an empty lot near Old St. Raymond's Church where it serves
as a museum today. For awhile it had been used as the Primitive
Baptist Church on old Dublin Road. The second Murray School was
built when I-580 was constructed and the state acquired the old
school site. The building was then used as a recreation building
for the VCSD (now Dublin-San Ramon Services District). The third
Murray School is on Davona Drive in Dublin. Do you remember the
annual flea markets at the school in the 1970s?
Also, a reminder that the antique fire engines will be at the
Museum in Danville Sunday afternoon from 1 to 4 p.m. Don't miss
the Ablaze exhibit before it closes.
So the history mystery question for this week: Who was the
first man in California to join the League when the national
organization first allowed male members back in the 1970s?
The answer to last week's question asking for the name of
the man who was the first in the state to join the League of
Women Voters when they voted at their May 1974 convention to
admit men was provided by Dale Turner of Livermore and Bob and
Pat Lane of P-town. They both guessed correctly that the man
was me. I had known the League was going to vote on admitting
men that week and got my application form from the local League,
watching the United Press International (UPI) newswire machine
in our newspaper office for the news to break. When it did I
drove my completed application to the League membership chair
and then called UPI to report on it. The news bureau in San Francisco
then checked around the state and found I was first, so issued
a wire story that night. So much for my 15 seconds of fame
So the question for this week is: How long is each piece
of track and how many spikes does it take to secure the rail
to the trackbed?
The answer to last week's question about the length of a rail
and how many spikes it takes to secure each to the trackbed is
provided by Carolyn Lord of Livermore. She wrote: "I contacted
a friend from college who laid track for a year
rails are now welded into 1,000 foot lengths. But traditionally
the rail was 39 feet long, so it could fit into the 40 foot long
gondola car. The average piece of rail needs a minimum of 90
spikes and 15 ties."
The history mystery question this time is: What do Delpha
Chesterman, Lucille Bruskin, Judy Bryer, and Barry Bolden have
The answer to last week's question asking what Barry Bolden,
Judy Bryer, Delpha Chesterman and Lucille Bruskin had in common
was not answered by any of them. They must have forgotten they
were all on the Livermore Peace Monument Committee in 1984 along
with others-Celia Baker, Blanche Smith, Judy Johnson, Facio Burdios,
Jann Mayo, Steve Pollaine, John Stein, and yours truly. Monument
sculptor Don Homan also shared the names of several people who
helped him with the construction-his daughter Becky, John Baker
Jr., Jeff Davies, Arne Morgan, Ric Cederwall, and Mike Parsons.
The history mystery question for this week: Since the first
chief of the combined Livermore and Pleasanton Fire Department
is retiring, when was the first Hook and Ladder Company formed
in the Tri-Valley? Stewart Gary, you should know the answer
The answer to the history mystery question about the oldest
volunteer fire department in the Tri-Valley is that the Livermore
Hook and Ladder Company No. 1 was organized in 1874 with 30 volunteer
firefighters. Soon-to-retire Livermore-Pleasanton Fire Chief
Stewart Gary didnt send in a guess, but I bet Al Bonne
or Jack Baird (two former fire chiefs) would have known the correct
answer if they were still around.
This weeks history mystery question: What year was the
Livermore Rodeo cancelled due to hoof and mouth disease? And
for you more recent residents, who were the two National Laboratory
execs that battled for the belt buckle in the greenhorn calf-penning
competition back in the late 1990s? A hint is that they are both
heads of national labs at this moment.
The year the rodeo was cancelled due to foot-and-mouth disease
was 1924 and Michelle Calleja came up with the answer first.
Now about the two riders in the celebrity calf-penning competition,
no one had both names correct. The question: What two national
lab execs competed for the silver belt buckle and now are heads
of two Department of Energy labs? The answer is Bob Kuckuck who
is now interim director of Los Alamos National Lab and Tom Hunter,
the new president of Sandia National Laboratories. Kuckuck won
the silver buckle that year and Hunter was runner-up. But when
Tom left his post as vice president of Sandia/California a few
years later the employees took up a collection and bought him
a fancy western buckle so he could wear it with pride the next
time he and Bob met!
The history mystery question this time: When did Abbott and
Costello come to the Pleasanton fairgrounds?
Since I got into the history mystery search for the dates
that Abbott and Costello were in Pleasanton filming the movie
It Aint Hay at the fairgrounds, I was contacted by Ron
Palumbo, the co-author of the book Abbott and Costello
in Hollywood regarding the period the film was being made.
It was shot between September 28 and November 11, 1942. It was
released in March of 1943. I did find a big ad in the Livermore
paper announcing it would be shown at the State Theater beginning
April 11, 1943.
The question for next week: What year marked the first ostrich
races on the fairs racetrack?
Last weeks question about the first ostrich race at
the fairgrounds went unanswered: It was held on June 29, 1981.
The questions for this week are also tied to the fair:
What is the title of the movie being shown at the scale model
outdoor movie theater as part of the Model Railroading exhibit
during the fair?
And for oldtimers from the Livermore end of the valley:
Who is the beloved town character in the photo included in the
Keith Fraser Memorial Camera Collection being displayed in the
Hobbies, Gem and Mineral Building? The photo is only 3 by 4 inches
so you will have to look closely into the left side of the display
There were several correct answers to the question about the
title of the movie classic being shown at the Model Railroading
exhibits drive-in movie theater during the fair. It depends
which day and hour you visit the display. Alan Peasley was the
first to answer correctly that Casablanca was featured there
last year as well as now, but when checking with the model train
folks I learned they have six different movies that are shown:
Beside Casablanca there are American Graffiti, Gone With the
Wind, The Day the Earth Stood Still, Invaders from Mars, and
The Wizard of Oz. Iris Gan, a former news photographer
in the Tri-Valley, guessed the Wizard so is also a winner.
The second question about the beloved Livermore character
whose photo was taken by Keith Fraser back in the 1960s and displayed
with the memorial camera collection exhibit at the Fair got three
correct responses so far. Connie Frydendall, Jan Buckley and
Gary Draghi identified the man in the photo as Harold McKenzie.
Harold was a familiar figure downtown, working for his parents
who ran the railway express business for many years. His trademark
was a fresh flower worn in his lapel every day and he could be
seen hauling the SF newspapers around in his little wagon. He
also posted funeral notices around town for the mortuary since
the local papers were weekly and there was no other way to notify
townspeople of someones death in time for the funeral except
by telephone or word of mouth. This I learned from Bill Junk
of Livermore who reminisced about Harold. He died in 1973 and
had lived 70 of his 77 years in Livermore.
Since we still have another week of the county fair to go,
here are two more fair history mysteries for you to solve. What
is the historic headline on the Valley Times that hangs on the
wall just inside the entrance to the Agricultural Heritage Building
(the one next to the Small Animals and Model Railroad building).
The second question: What is the date on the old rodeo bumper
sticker posted on the back wall of the blacksmith shop in Grandmas
Barn, not too far from the Pig Races? You will have to be a real
sleuth to find the barn, but if you do, the fair blacksmith John
Phillips may be inside tending his fire and is always happy to
demonstrate smithy skills to fairgoers.
The last of the county fair questions finally got answered
when Dona Blackmore and Jean Lerche, both of Livermore, responded
that the old bumper strip in the blacksmith shop at the fair
was dated June 9-10 (but no year appeared on it) and that the
Valley Times famous headline January 25, 1980 declared
THE VALLEY QUAKES.
The history question for this week: Who were the six Pleasanton
Chamber managers Carol Bush trained and then worked for over
The answer to last weeks question about the six Pleasanton
Chamber managers who worked with the late Carol Bush is: Michelle
Houston, Chan Henderson, Scott Raty, Nancy McCaffrey, Shelby
McNamara, and Al Amador.
This weeks history quiz: Who was the first person hired
to man the Crane Ridge Fire Lookout and what relation was he
to Carol Jean Famarris?
The answer to last weeks history quiz about the first
person to man the Crane Ridge Fire Lookout in 1916: His name
was Richard Famariss, father of Livermores Dick Famariss
and therefore the father-in-law of Carol Jean. The second official
lookout was George Famariss, Richards brother. The only
correct answer so far came from Lloyd Marsh of Livermore who
has an even better trivia tidbit: he says the fire lookout phone
number was 29F12. And he also recalls going on horseback up to
the ridge top with Dick Holm when the fire phone was still mounted
on an oak tree outside the lookout!
The history mystery question for this week was posed to me
by Bob Williams and Bob Butler of Pleasanton Community Band fame.
What was the name of the popular bar frequented by Camp Parks
military and civilians located at the intersection of old Highway
50 (now I-580) and Hopyard Road back in the Fifties and Sixties?
Last weeks question about the name of the bar located
at Old Highway 50 and Hopyard Road back in the 1940s, 50s and
60s generated the most responses in months. It seems the bar
was originally called Woods Corner when owned by Henry Woods
but was best known as Cruisers Inn, renamed by Navy Chief Kenneth
Slough who spent much of his career on a cruiser in the Pacific
before retiring and buying the bar. But thanks to several email
tips I was able to locate one of the living past owners of the
Inn, Fern Harris whose late husband Buzz, plus their partner
H.T. Lester, operated it for eight years serving the best
burgers west of Chicago, Fern claims. She told me about
all the hard work that went into operating the place. Owning
the establishment before that was Emma McDowell, who later married
Adolph Banke after she was widowed. Emmas grandson, retired
Pleasanton Fire Battalion Chief Bill Bonderud, was quick to answer,
as was Emmas niece Dottie Wiemken. Then Patty Ferrulli,
whose late brother Vito tended bar there, responded. More correct
answers came from Shirley Butler, Pauline Coe, Marjorie Mederios,
Nancy Elsnab, Rich Cortez, Gill Cruz, David Thorne, Larry Botelho,
Carter Wreden, Wayne Erven, Harold Phillips, Leona Correa, and
Don Van Meter.
The history mystery to solve this week: Radio Station KWGS
in Tulsa is trying to find any descendant of Glenn Condon, a
radio pioneer to be honored posthumously at an event there later
this month. His last known daughter in the mid-1960s was a Mrs.
Herbert Green of Livermore, plus five grandchildren. Can anyone
help locate her or the grandchildren?
History mystery for this week: What Cub pack formed a drum
& bugle corps in 1945 to march in area parades and take part
in rodeo ceremonies?
The repeated history mystery about the Cub Scout Pack with
its own Drum & Bugle Corps way back in 1945 finally got some
response. Lou Wittkopp provided the information that it was Hayward
Cub Pack 6 whose Cubmaster Bill Reno decided to organize the
boys into a well-trained corps. The 35 youth, including two who
later moved to Livermore as adults (Lou and Charlie Smith) where
they worked at Sandia and Lawrence Lab, collected tons of newspapers
to turn in for cash. That paid for the drums and bugles and started
them on their way to parades all over South County. Lou recalls
the Livermore Rodeo Parade as the most fun because they also
got to participate in the Grand Entry to the Rodeo which meant
free admission plus hot dogs and ice cream for all.
Now lets jump forward 30 years to the formation of a Drum
& Bugle Corps in the Livermore-Amador Valley in the mid-1970s.
It was a co-ed Explorer Post formed specifically for the purpose
of organizing the Tri-Valley Royalaires, a spinoff of the Royalaires
that had folded in San Leandro. The new group lasted about two
seasons, before soccer, high school band and other competing
interests spelled its demise.
The question for this week is: Can you name any of the players
in that corps? And the bonus question: Who was the Post adviser
who organized the group?
I didnt hear from any alumni or parents of the Tri-Valley
Royalaires Drum & Bugle Corps from 30 years ago, answering
the history mystery question, but the Explorer Post adviser was
Now for this weeks tricky question: What does the bizarre
killing of Michael Malloy in 1933 have to do with a fellow who
hangs around the Pleasanton courthouse today, some 72 years later?
You may have to go on the Internet to find that tie-in. By the
way, Malloy was no relation to Michael Maloney, former local
press photographer now with the San Francisco Chronicle, but
his mother Marian Maloney is now my neighbor.
The tricky history mystery question this past week was too
difficult for anyone but friends of Simon Read, Herald cops and
court reporter, to solve. You see, Simon wrote a book called
On the House: The Bizarre Killing of Michael Malloy
which is due for release in early October. The book traces the
murder of a paralytic drunk who was supposedly done in by a gang
called the Murder Trust in New York during the bleak Depression-era
winter of 1933.
The question for this week is: How many State Historic Landmarks
have been designated around Alameda County and which is the most
Last weeks history mystery question was answered first
by Bill Hankins of P-town who correctly guessed there are 36
state historical landmarks in Alameda County and the latest one
to be dedicated was the USS Hornet which is Historical Landmark
#1029. I bet Tommie Simpson also knew that answer since she is
a docent on the Hornet as well as at Camp Parks museum
This weeks question: What article mentioned Hearst
Ranch which appeared on the front page of the Pleasanton Times
on January 11, 1902? It will be easy to answer as this historic
issue will be on display along with a number of other newspapers
at the Pioneers of Pleasanton exhibit at the Heritage Festival
which runs Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m..
My attempt to get people to come and read the front page of
the January 1902 Pleasanton Times at the Heritage Festival so
they could answer the history mystery question didn't produce
any winners. So the answer is that a story told about an employee
of the Hearst Ranch (the one near Pleasanton, not San Simeon)
who fell asleep in his quarters and the coal oil heater nearly
suffocated him. Luckily for him, other employees smelled smoke
and found him unconscious in the smoke and soot-filled room.
This weeks question: What famous alumnus of Chabot
Valley Campus (now Las Positas College) has written a book about
his life and included many details of his rough early years growing
up in this valley? Hint: he was a commencement speaker at Las
Po about six years ago.
The question about the famous alum of Valley Campus (now Las
Positas) generated a quick response from Dottie Laird of Pleasanton
whose late husband Ralph was a friend and fellow political memorabilia
collector with former Congressman Jim Rogan. The congressman
paid tribute to his old friend with a special resolution in Congress
before Ralphs death.
Back in the early 1970s Jim dropped out of high school, but found
new direction and educational stimulation through Valley Campus
and its supportive staff when it first opened in 1975. In his
book, Rough Edges, My Unlikely Road from Welfare to Washington,
he tells great anecdotes about Livermores Straw Hat Pizza
where he worked, about his poly sci instructor Esther Goldberg,
and then his encounters with Pleasanton-Livermore Democratic
Club rabble-rouser Birdie Bianchi, plus attorneys Allan Grossman
and Dave Harris. Then-State Assemblyman Floyd Mori also earned
some ink in his chapter entitled The Party of the Little
Rogan has not only been a Congressman, but also Majority Leader
of the State Assembly, a gang prosecutor in LA, and most recently
Undersecretary of the US Department of Commerce and Director
of the Patent and Trademark Office in the current Bush Administration.
He will be the keynote speaker at an upscale GOP fundraiser at
Blackhawk later this month and said he hopes to return to the
Bay Area in November when he would like to visit his old alma
mater Las Positas and address the students there.
The question for next time: What is the name of the new book
just published by former Pleasanton resident and Vietnam War
hero, Major Lee Basnar? He visited here a year ago to introduce
his book on his Vietnam War experiences, and said he would next
write an adventure story about his 16 years in the Alaskan bush
country, which he has now completed. Lee was once president of
the Tri-Valley Exchange Club and is remembered fondly by many
club members yet today.
The history mystery answer, easily found online, is the title
of Major Lee Basnars new book, Northern Lights and
Shadows, Sixteen Years in the Alaskan Bush. The bookmark
says it so well: Bears, blizzards and bush flying; numbing,
subarctic cold, wild neighbors
Lee vividly describes
how he and his wife Joan lived, loved and laughed through adventures
and mishaps in the remote Alaskan outback. You can find more
about Lee and his two books at www.leebasnar.com.
Heres a simple question for next week: How did Eugene
ONeills Tao House get its name?
The weekly question about the naming of Tao House got plenty
of emails, but I will just name the first two to respond. Patty
Roudebush of Livermore and Kathy Engel of Pleasanton were right
on the money. ONeills interest in Eastern religions
and culture as well as Carlotta ONeills passion for
oriental art inspired the name Tao House, which is usually translated
as The Way.
This weeks history mystery: What kind of cars were
the first two bought by Livermoreans in 1903?
The answer to last weeks question on the first two automobiles
owned in Livermore in 1903 is: a Haynes-Apperson bought by Dr.
W. S. Taylor and an Oldsmobile purchased by H.R. Crane. Both
were one-cylinder models. Two readers took a guess at the answer:
Marjorie Welham of Pleasanton knew her grandfather owned a Chase
Model F Surrey about that time, and Bob Wood suggested they were
a Star and Durant, the brands sold at the Duarte Garage in Livermore
a few years later.
This weeks history mystery question is provided by
my neighbor Steve Gawura: What do comedian Chic Sales and outhouses
have in common?
Two readers Max Eckert and Jim Muir quickly answered last
weeks question about the connection between comedian Chic
Sale and outhouses. It seems Chic had a routine about being a
specialist who designed and built outhouses. He wrote
a book as well which sold over a million copies and eventually
his name became synonymous with privy. If you have web access,
the story of The Specialist can be found at www.jldr.com/specialist.htm.
So the history mystery for this week: What two one room schools
in the Livermore Valley were burned down by arsonists after the
schools had both closed in the early 1950s?
The correct answer to last weeks question about the
two Livermore Valley country schools torched after they were
closed down was: Altamont (Summit) and May schools. Randy Moore
of the Alameda County Fire Department who fought both fires was
first to respond, followed by Peter Bailey, Helen Washburn, and
Karen Madsen Faraldo. Also, Ann Homan called to report that the
Morgan Territory School north of the Contra Costa County line
was burned in 1949, two years after it closed. Ann is writing
a history of Livermore and is looking for color slides or prints
of the commercial rose gardens in the valley. If you have one,
give her a call at 443-9440.
The history mystery quiz for next week: Who were the two
men chosen mayors of each city by their councils after the 1972
city council elections?
The answer to last weeks history quiz: Robert Reid was
re-elected mayor by the Pleasanton City Council after the April
1972 election, while newcomer Floyd Mori was made mayor pro-tem.
In Livermore Clyde Taylor became mayor and Don Miller vice mayor.
No one managed to get both city mayors correct.
Now heres a history mystery for Sandia National Lab
employees to solve. According to federal records there is a benchmark
disk on their site somewhere 25 feet west of Avenue A on the
concrete surrounding a manhole cover. The GPS coordinates are
North 37 degrees, 40 minutes, 48 seconds, and West 121 degrees,
42 minutes, 21 seconds. Will someone there be able to find it
or is it long gone? It was installed in 1957, just a year after
Sandia was founded in March 1956 (which happens to be 50 years
ago this Spring).
Last weeks history mystery location turned out to be
a surprise to everyone, but Sandians were up to the challenge.
I listed GPS coordinates for a geodetic survey marker that was
supposedly at Sandia, according to the old records that were
last updated in 1957. It seems that at the time Sandia occupied
two buildings north of East Avenue while awaiting the construction
of new facilities across the street, so the marker was registered
on Sandia property. In fact, the benchmark disk had first been
placed there in 1944 when the Livermore Naval Air Station occupied
the site, then rediscovered and recorded on the cement slab around
a manhole cover in 1957. But Sandians Joanne Lombardi and Steve
Bunn took up the hunt this past week and found the exact markerjust
inside the parking lot fence by the LLNL South Gate where the
South Cafeteria parking lot exists today. (FYI, the cafeteria
that served Sandia and Lab employees in that area for nearly
40 years just closed down.) By pushing back some ground cover
you can spot itstill in good condition. Joanne is a member
of the international Geocaching.com adventure group that hunts
for landmarks and GPS points all over the world. But thats
another story. Rich Larson from Sandia also hunted for the benchmark
but confined his search to the south side of the street where
I erroneously reported it might be.
Now for the latest in the geodetic benchmarks saga. Sandians
Joanne Lombardi and Steve Bunn did not give up hunting those
little brass disks after finding the initial one at the LLNL
South Café lot, but by the end of last week had crawled
atop the ridge south of the Sandia firearms training range to
uncover another lost disk, the important Tesla Station marker
that has two disks directly north and then south of it so surveyors
could use it for siting. All three benchmarks were placed there
in 1947 when it was still Livermore Naval Air Station property.
Now others have told me about disks at the northwest corner of
Greenville and East Avenue and even outside the (northwest corner)
rollup door of Building 511 inside Lawrence Labs secure
area. This may never end, so get your own GPS unit, log on to
www.geocaching.com and begin a new adventure in your life