Jumping Ahead

First of all, it’s foggy….let’s celebrate….the last few summers have been all too sunny for me, this is more like it. In my opinion, when you live on the Coastside, it should at the very least be drizzly, gloomily foggy until the afternoon when the sun comes out for no more than three or four hours and then the fog returns. That’s beachy Coastside weather.

I just don’t feel “right” if it’s not foggy during the summer. You want blue and yellow, go over the hill to San Mateo. You want hot, go to San Jose.

I told you I’m writing this from memory–I do have notes among files and files of historical memories but after writing for newspapers for years and digging through my files over and over again I don’t wanna now. I just want to write from memory. It would be better to have my “facts” in front of me, make a better little story, so I am sorry about that.

This morning I was thinking about a book I published in 1992 called “The Coburn Mystery”. It was a true story about the life of the doomed Coburn family who lived in Pescadero between about 1870 and 1919.

The “Coburn Mystery” focussed on Loren Coburn, a rich but illiterate landowner (at one point he believed everything between Pigeon Point and the southern edge of Half Moon Bay was his) and all the terrible things that happened to him until he died in his 90s during the 1918 Influenza Epidemic. And after he died his wife was murdered– probably by one of the thuggish men who had moved into town and were trying to get everything Coburn owned without paying for it.

The bad guys who drifted up from the Monterey area (and had some legitimate biz relationship with Mr.Coburn but now wanted to take advantage of him) had gotten so much control they were doling out jobs to the locals. The head thug who had a girlfriend from central casting–you know, blonde, liked pretty clothes and fast cars–had everybody terrified but was known to be kind during holidays like Christmas when he gave everyone in this rural village a present.

What I was remembering, with humor, was one piece of research I did for that book. If you haven’t been Pescadero is located about 15 minutes south of Half Moon Bay on the San Mateo County Coastside but because there’s nothing to the south, just the redwoods to the east, and the Pacific to the west, it’s remained kind of frozen-in-time. Folks who lived there could keep secrets from the outside for decades.

I became obsessed with the true story behind the “Coburn Mystery”. It was important to find locals who remembered anything, even though they would have been very young children. Turned out that Ron Duarte’s (of Duarte’s Tavern, gotta go there for artichoke omlettes and fruit pie) Aunt Carrie Dias did remember and so did Uncle Joe Duarte. Aunt Carrie lived in Pescadero and Uncle Joe lived near Santa Cruz.

One day I picked them all up to take a trip to Los Gatos where a former Pescaderan lived. She was a lady who had been married to the chauffeur who drove the thugs around. It’s hard to imagine limos in Pescadero but Sarah, the murdered and extremely homely wife of Loren Coburn, got around in one.