A Story About Antique Maps That Took A Sexy Twist


There were times the search for Coastside history led me to the county’s architecturally uninspiring offices in Redwood City —and one day in the 1970s I was searching for maps of the original ranchos. Of Guerrero, Vasquez and Miramontes.

In the language of acreage, the old ranchos seemed immense: I was anxious to see a map with the actual boundary lines.

An all- business lady wearing a dark suit directed me to an office, identical to the others, but this one was the home of the man I’ll call “the Keeper of the Mapsâ€?.

I got the feeling he’d inhabited this space forever. He knew every town’s outline and shape and what the ..….., ========== and { } meant. All the codes and symbols. He knew the name of every creek and hollow. He’d lived in San Mateo County all his life and felt a special affection for the Coastside.

He was gracious: “Maps of the original ranchos? Do you want copies?â€?

The encounter was brief but the “Keeper of the Maps” made a lasting impression. Someday, I thought, he might make a good story.

Decades later I was ready to write that story— it had been a long time—was he still tending his maps? was he alive?—And in the course of tracking him down, I sadly found his obituary.

Not the first time I had been too late.

But within the obit were the names of siblings. Aha! I thought, I’ll interview one of his relatives.

I’ve had stories take a sharp turn and go in an unexpected direction before–but never one so delightfully surprising.

One of the names was listed in the phone book. I called her, it was the map man’s sister, she was friendly and invited me to her home– one of those endless apartment complexes, hard to tell where it began and ended. I’d been there before on an interview: a lot of seniors lived quiet, eventless days and nights there.

I can still see her standing at the end of the long, barren hallway. Outside of her apartment, awaiting me.
She was a knockout. I couldn’t tell her age—but she had to be in her 70s. Her hair was brown, for cut and style, think Barbra Stanwyck. Her skin was smooth and wrinkle-less. I swear!

When she saw my notebook, she warned: “My daughter’s a lawyer. Watch what you write.â€?

She was gorgeous– “No, I’ve never dyed my hair. No, I’ve never had a facelift, or use botox.â€?

She was the sexiest old lady I’d ever seen. I was stunned. In all my years of interviewing seniors, I’d never see such a good looking old lady

I explained I was there to talk about her brother, the “Keeper of the Mapsâ€?—but when I asked questions about him, she gave one -word answers and then steered the conversation to herself, shocking me with tales of her active love life.

That night this widow of a prominent businessman was looking forward to a date with a new boyfriend. She couldn’t wait. Every time the phone rang, and it did ring several times, she tittered like a teenager hoping it would be him. And one time it actually was.

“I’m not going to tell him I’m 82,â€? she said conspiratorially. “He thinks I’m in my 70s. I kissed him on our first date.â€?

Then, yet another another phone call—this from a retired television executive whose name I recognized…he was calling to ask if he could stay the night. Wow!

She made it clear the interview was near an end and I left having made zero progress on my “Keeper of the Mapsâ€? story. Not only that but I struck out twice. What I learned about her I couldn’t really use; it would have been indiscreet.

Now enough time has passed that I feel I can tell a little about that gorgeous babe.

I didn’t learn very much about maps– but I sure learned that some seniors have a torrid love life.

Rancheros Sought Safety On The Coastside (1840s) Part V

bandit.jpg(Photo: The bandit Tiburcio Vasquez, whose uncle by the same name, owned the Corral de Tierra, stretching from Miramar to Half Moon Bay).

The Coastside was so isolated that the bandit Tiburcio Vasquez could visit his uncle on the remote Corral de Tierra without fear of being arrested by the authorities. He was finally captured in San Jose. The sheriff printed invitation announcing his execution on Friday, March 19, 1875.

GuerreroHse.jpg(Photo: Guerrero Farmhouse, later a hotel, Montara)

Francisco Guerrero continued to spend a great deal of time in San Francisco. In 1850, he was murdered as he stood near the corner of Mission and 12th Streets. The fatal injury occurred when a man stalking him on horseback struck him in the head with a slingshot.

On April 12, 1863, as the ranchero Tiburcio Vasquez sat near a window at a Half Moon Bay saloon, a volley of gunshots rang out. When the dust cleared, Vasquez was declared dead–and the murderers escaped.

It was later reported that there may have been a connection between the Guerrero and Vasquez murders. They had appeared as prosecution witnesses in an infamous land fraud case.

Although Candelario Miramontes did not live to see the outcome of the U.S. war with Mexico, all of his daughter Carmelita’s children were born in the adobe house on Mill Street in Half Moon Bay.

Descendants of these famous early Spanish families still thrive throughout California. Coastside street signs and geographical landmarks carry their names, a constant reminder of Half Moon Bay’s Spanish heritage.

(by Anonymous)

There is no poetry for me.
My years of love to celebrate have passed.
No praise is due for this old body
Never was, really.
Sing the body neglected

I do not live in or near the woods
The Ocean is miles away
Beautiful people no longer visit me
My day is past,
Perhaps it never came

There is one raspy, carping woman, here
Who shouts commands and then complains,
But I would rather forget than herald her.
Occasionally, she goes away.
Then it is quiet.

The neighbors do not speak.
When the doorbell does ring,
Someone wants a contribution
Or a signature
Or I’ve already voted absentee

You can’t see out the dingy windows
It doesn’t matter..
Outdoors it’s always windy, smelly, and gray.
We never see the stars, not up that late.
Too foggy for sun in the morning.

I read the papers
Some books, billboards,
I write uninspired reports and briefs
They are prosaic
There is no poetry for me.

(Poet’s name provided upon request)