Hale Powell…former Coastsider

Hale Powell lived and worked on the Coastside as an electrician and carpenter in the 1970s. At that time there wasn’t a lot of fresh construction going on–the Coastal Act, which would freeze all building near our part of the Pacific Ocean, was just around the corner.

Probably as a by-product of the free-spirited, artistic 1960s, it came as no surprise that many of the carpenters on the Coastside were young and artistic–and had attended some college. Today it’s hard to find young Coastsiders working with their hands, working wood, creating sculptures, furniture, custom-built houses–but then, in the 1970s, many of the young Coastsiders, most of them “newcomers,” were doing just that.

Hale Powell belonged to that club of young folks. Today he lives back East, is married and a father. HPEnergy, his consulting business, focusses on developing sources of “green energy.”

Hale can be reached at [email protected]

(Photo: L-R, Hale, Shoshana and daughter Channah. The Powell stands on the beautiful “North Bridge” in Concord, Mass., site of the first battle of the American Revolution.)


Dee Harley: Coastside Farmeress of the Year

deehjpg.jpg(Photo: From where I was sitting at Pasta Moon–my view of the photograph of Dee Harley, “Farmer of the Year.” In the photo Dee is surrounded by her goats.)

We were having lunch at Pasta Moon in town when I looked up to see this great photo above my head. I had to know who it was. The waitress was excited to tell me this was the famous Pescaderan, Dee Harley, and she had just been awarded the title, “Farmer of the Year.” It’s a woman farmer,” she gushed, punctuated with a generous smile.

“Dee Harley raises goats…and she makes delicious cheese,” the waitress explained.

Many of the walls at Pasta Moon are covered with photographs of Coastside farmers, mostly good looking, strong men. The Farmer of the Year celebration was held at the restaurant. The photographs are all very well done and I only wonder who the terrific photographer was. Pasta Moon, please tell us!

Meet Miss Lial…

misslial.jpg(photo: courtesy Jerry Koontz)

Miss Lial was very old when I met her years ago. She lived in a very old house that hadn’t been painted for a long time on Highway 1 near Miramar. The worn-out house was hidden by thick manicured hedges and trees. The only light that could seep through the hedges was in one place only, and it was an opening in the greenery formed by Miss Lial’s shape. At her advanced age, she walked with a stoop and the artful “door” in the otherwise thick hedge fit her perfectly.

Miss Lial had lived on the Coastside for decades. Her father was called “Hightop,” because he drove a surrey with fringe on top to worship at the Catholic Church on Sundays, and when he crossed the concrete bridge in Half Moon Bay and lit up a cigar the fringe inevitably struck the sign that said “Half Moon Bay.”

Peter Kyne: Coastside Author (2)

The Kyne family oved from San Francisco to Moss Beach in 1885 when Peter was five-years-old. A precocious child, with a gift for gab, he knew he wanted to travel and “to make his mark in life.”

Kyne spent hours wandering around Amesport Wharf at Miramar Beach, which by then was already in decline, but where little steamers such as the “Maggie” tied up at the dock. He had a chance to observe the rugged life of sea captains, one of the subjects he later wrote about.

(In an early book, “Captain Scraggs or The Green Pea Pirates,” sea yarn published in 1911, Kyne set the scene on the “Maggie” off Half Moon Bay.)

In 1897, when he was 16, Peter worked at a general store on Main Street in Half Moon Bay–he soon discovered that he had to learn to do business in Spanish, Portuguese and Italian. Working in the store, gave him the opportunity of mentally recording the actions of colorful characters who occasionally appeared in his short stories.

…to be continued…

Peter Kyne: Coastside Author (1)

Jack London lived on a coastal farm in the 1880s, author John Steinbeck holed up beside a tree-studded Coastside creek and Palo Alto writer Kathleen Norris got her inspiration in a Moss Beach cottage overlooking the ocean.

Peter Bernard Kyne, who went on to become one of America’s best-loved and best-paid authors, also got some of his writing material from living on the Coastside.

Between 1916 and 1930, Peter turned out 25 novels and 1,000 short stories. Most of his hugely popular pieces took place in and around San Francisco, leading to his coronation as “king of the literary mountain.”

…to be continued…

1945: Destructive Fire Hit Pescadero, (II) Conclusion



(Photo: J.C. Williamson)

From the “Half Moon Bay Review,” 1945

“Principal loss was counted by F.G. Williamson, successor to his father, J.C. Williamson, as operator of the general store. He counted the loss to the building insured at $10,500 and to the stock, not insured, at $17,500.

“Some $2000 damage was done to the Pescadero branch of the Bank of America separated from the Williamson store on the south side by an alley.

“In 1927 fire leveled virtually the entire business district, including the famous old Williamson store, razed Sunday.

“Sunday’s fire was discovered by Mrs. Gwendolyn Meyers, wife of Deputy Fire Warden Albert L. Meyer in charge of the Pescadero Fire Station. Her husband had just returned from a small grass blaze at the Pescadero cemetery when she noticed smoke rising from the rear of the Williamson, a half block north of the station….”

Merv Griffin, R.I.P. (Part V) Conclusion

“The Merv Griffin Show” was an Emmy-award winner and he honored his hometown [San Mateo] by taping a show in 1965 at KCSM-TV, located on the College of San Mateo campus. Featured guests included Carol Channing, Phyllis Diller, the Smothers Brothers and the gospel singer Mahalia Jackson.

It was not the only time Griffin honored his hometown. In the late 1970s he returned to a San Mateo High School anniversary and performed before 7500 at the nearby fairgrounds.

In 1999 the 75-year-old entrepreneurial powerhouse lived near Palm Desert at La Quinta, also home to his 80 racehorses. One of his horses. Greny, had recently won an important race at Bay Meadows Racetrack in San Mateo.

When Griffin discussed his present and future projects, any evidence that he was a senior citizen evaporated. He was always in high gear. New projects included a television show based on author John Gray’s best-selling book, “Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus,” to have been hosted by Eleanor Mondale.

Another major interest was the Coconut Club at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Los Angeles, “one of the hottest nighclubs in town,” according to Griffin. He was especially proud of the role he played in remodeling the hotel, selecting everything from floor tiles to the motif each suite.

He was also very enthusiastic about his production of the movie, “Barnes,” starring Kevin Kline. [The movie did not come out.]

In 1999 Merv Griffin was leading an exciting, challenging life.

“I look at things I really love,” he told me, “buy them and take them to the next level.”

[Note: I filed the article and a good photo of Merv Griffin was going to be supplied by the newspaper I was working for.  The next morning I get the paper, and what do I see, to my horror? There was a photograph accompanying my article but it was not of Merv. It was of a San Mateo County politician called Mary Griffin! I won’t tell you what I was thinking….because I didn’t know what to think….but by the afternoon edition the photo had been changed to that of Merv Griffin.)