North to Alaska

This summer our friend Geert Flammersfeld decided to motorbike to Alaska from his home in New York City–he made a pit stop at our house in El Granada before completing the last leg of the 3000 + mile adventure alone (and in a zen frame of mind). I took this video down from youtube but I will soon have it up and running again.


When Rumrunners Ruled (Conclusion)

All along Paul Pane had been amused that officials could not find him. No wonder. Since the 1924 raid at Ano Nuevo, south of Pescadero, Pane had been working in a restaurant located directly across the street from the San Francisco Prohibition office.

But Pane’s luck ran out when police recognized him while he was traveling through Los Angeles. Brought back to San Francisco, Pane, along with his partner, Tom Murphy, was indicted on conspiracy to violate the Prohibition Act and IRS laws.

Now the former intrepid bootleggers prepared to face trial in federal court in 1926.

At the trial, South Coast farmer J.F. Steele testified that Paul Pane and Thomas Murphy first visited him in 1923. At that time Steele agreed to load contraband liquor at $1 a case and that he did so on several occasions. Each time Pane and Murphy supervised the operation.

“To save my hide, I made a statement to Prohibition Director Rutter that my place was used as a landing for illegal liquor,â€? explained Steele who admitted he knew he was violating the law.

Steele also testified that prior to the 1924 raid, hijackers came to his ranch and bound and gagged him., threatening to throw him over the cliff unless he revealed the hiding place of eight barrels of whiskey. He refused to cooperate but changed his mind after his wife was kidnapped, leading the rogues to the whiskey.

Teamster Joseph Soto had worked at the Ano Nuevo ranch during the raid by Prohibition Director Rutter. Arrested along with Steele, Soto agreed to be a government witness. But when Joe Soto took the stand in federal court, he was suddenly and inexplicably unable to identify the defendants, Paul Pane or Tom Murphy.

The jury deliberated for an hour-and-a-half before returning with guilty verdicts on all the indictments. Paul Pane and Tom Murphy were each sentenced to two year prison terms.

By that time, Pane and Murphy’s boss, Joe Parente, the king of all the Pacific Coast rumrunners, was also a hunted man. After a fierce gun battle with Prohibition agents on present-day Skyline Blvd. in 1927, Parente was arrested—but he jumped bail, heading north to the safety of his lavish Vancouver, British Colombia hotel suite.

A year later, during a violent argument, an associate shot Joe Parente.

Tonight is

great HBO watching
beginning with
the plucky Entourage, followed by
the absolutely vulgar Lucky Louie
and we top the night
off with the scary
Brotherhood on Showtime
where every week angelic looking good brother Tommy Caffee’s devastatingly handsome Robert De Niro lookalike evil brother Michael beats up or kills somebody: (when are the cops going to arrest Mike and get him off the streets?–well the writers won’t let that happen because Tommy and Mike may be brothers but they are also two parts of a whole)

When Rumrunners Ruled (Part 4)


“We not only learned enough to uncover one of the biggest bootleg rings in the country,â€? boasted Mobile Prohibition Supervisor John Exnicios, “but we also have the names of all of the prominent members of the ring.â€?

Leaked to the press was the news that Giovanni Patroni had revealed the identity of the Vancouver company that furnished the liquor, names of all the rumrunner’s boats, and to whom the booze was consigned.

Under pressure, Patroni had fingered Tom Murphy.

When the authorities finally located him, Murphy admitted that he had contracted with a major bootlegging ring in Vancouver to carry contraband liquor from Canada to the San Mateo County Coatside, making deliveries in small fishing boats at Princeton.

Law enforcement and the judicial system were erratic during the Prohibition era. Despite Tom Murphy’s indictment and confession, he did not serve jail time but continued his bootlegging career with partner Paul Pane at Ano Nuevo.

By 1924, Prohibition Director Sam Rutter’s agents had become tougher and armed themselves with sawed-off shotguns. When Rutter learned 240 cases of Canadian Club whiskey were arriving at Ano Nuevo, he raided the South Coast ranch. But by then Pane and Murphy had vanished from the beach into the darkness and weren’t found.

J.F. Steele was arrested but granted immunity for furnishing Rutter with evidence leading to the indictments of Pane and Murphy, according to newspaper accounts. Steele’s life was threatened and he received protection from the authorities.

A year after the Ano Nuevo raid, Pane and Murphy had still not been found. Then, in a bizarre twist, the San Francisco Prohibition office received a report that Tom Murphy had barricaded himself in his apartment in the City. He was armed and vowing to resist arrest.

A squad of heavily armed federal officers surrounded Murphy’s residence but when they rushed the door the agents found the rum baron sitting quietly by a window counting $30,000 in cash. He submitted to arrest without protest but his trial would not begin until his partner Paul Pane was also in custody.

…to be continued…

When Rumrunners Ruled (Part 3)


Three years earlier, in 1921, Paul Pane and Tom Murphy began their bootlegging operations at Princeton-by-the-Sea, some four miles north of Half Moon Bay. With the collapse of the Ocean Shore Railroad, Princeton was a failed resort and some residents were ready for any kind of business.

Overlooking Princeton Bay for many years was the Patroni House, a seafood and Italian restaurant owned by Giovanni Patroni. Fishing boats docked at the nearby wharf, also called “Patroni’sâ€?.

Born in Genoa, Italy in 1878, Giovanni, the son of farmers, learned the hotel business in San Francisco before moving to Princeton in the early 1900s. Patroni also formed a partnership with El Granada artichoke farmer Dante Dianda. Together they owned 400 acres.

In 1921 when Patroni was 43-years-old, bootlegger Thomas Murphy approached the restaurant owner, convincing him to let his wharf be used to unload illegal liquor.

A few months later, in the fall, fishing boats delivered $60,000 worth of illegal whiskey from Vancouver to Patroni’s Wharf. Tipped off about the shipment, agents led by Mobile Prohibition Supervisor John Exnicios raided the Patroni House, confiscating thousands of dollars of bonded liquor.

Arrested for violating the Volstead (Prohibiton) Act, Giovanni Patroni confessed that he was a member of a bootlegging ring smuggling thousands of dollars worth of high-grade whiskey into Princeton. Patroni was released on bond in return for testifying before the grand jury he received immunity.

The information Exnicios extracted from Patroni made him optimistic that booze smuggling on the San Mateo County Coastside had been smashed.

…to be continued…

(Photo: San Mateo County History Museum. Visit the museum at the historic Redwood City Courthouse)

I Visit The Old Victorian: A Most Creative Miniature Shop

Marilyn H.JPG Marilyn Haupert

Stopped by to see Marilyn Haupert at the “Old Victorian Miniature Shop”, 799 Main Street, Half Moon Bay.

Marilyn’s been in the miniature business for eight years (before that she was a very successful realtor for 35 years)– and now she’s having a terrific sale– she’s going to close the store and kick back a little.

She’s an expert on miniatures and the store has a little bit of everything small (I bought a mermaid)–it’s heaven if you enjoy the smaller things in life like tiny upholestered gold & red striped couches and chairs, old-fashioned pinty-pint-sized claw-footed bathtubs, beautifully made itty bitty dolls…

There’s much to look at and enjoy and Marilyn is charming and knowledgable. She also told me that as a realtor she bought copies of my book, “Half Moon Bay Memories”, to give to clients as gifts…..

MermaidJPG.JPG Unusual in the shop of miniatures is this “large” mermaid.

When Rumrunners Ruled (Part 2)


It was dark and the bootlegger Paul Pane was standing with his men on an isolated beach near Ano Nuevo. His job was to signal the Canadian vessel, Prince Albert, with a flashlight, using a special code to give the all clear sign—allowing the skiffs aboard the rumrunner to sail through the surf with cases of illegal booze destined for Half Moon Bay and San Francisco.

But the night didn’t feel right. Pane sensed something was wrong; even some of his men were acting peculiarly. For whatever reason, Pane and his partner, Tom Murphy, the last of the old line of bootleggers, smelled serious trouble at Ano Nuevo in 1924.

Without apparent warning, the pair bolted, leaving so fast that Pane abandoned his suit jacket with the secret code book still inside. Pane and Murphy escaped to Santa Cruz. They had little choice as the Half Moon Bay Road, present day Highway 92, was closed for repairs.

Pane’s instincts were on target. Minutes after the two rum barons departed from Ano Nuevo, armed men raided the South Coast smuggling operation, a seaside ranch belonging to J.F. Steele. (Steele had been “convincedâ€? into cooperating with the bootleggers). Embarrassed and frightened, Steele was arrested, then released on his own recognizance. Other men were also arrested, two of them Pane-Murphy gang members who were later killed in a shootout with hijackers in Los Angeles. Also taken into custody was Steele’s employee, Teamster Joseph Soto.

Collecting evidence at the crime scene, Prohibition Director Rutter gathered bottles of the Canadian Club whiskey for testing by the government’s chemical analyst. Rutter also took into evidence Paul Pane’s coat jacket with the bootlegger’s name stitched inside. Reaching into that coat pocked, Rutter pulled out the prized secret signal code book. Flipping through it, he realized he had the key to all the bootlegger’s flashlight codes: wait; delay all clear; danger; get out; return tomorrow; return to San Francisco; return to ship; and go to Santa Cruz.

Paul Pane and Thomas Murphy were declared fugitives from justice for violating the Volstead [Prohibition] Act. A manhunt for them in the Santa Cruz Mountains turned up nothing. Pane and Murphy had escaped, perhaps as far north as Canada.

—to be continued–