“Coastland” by Galen Wolf (Part III) 1885


“And now the town. A tall white church, new and imposing. A store, and a store, and a store. Joe McCarthy’s, Angelo and Joe Boitano’s emporium. The headquarters of the Levy brothers; Ferdinand, Joe, Armand and Adrian, from Alsace Lorraine. And their wives from a German merchant port. They had come to serve and to prosper and they are doing both well.

“On the right, on Kelly Avenue is Nelson’s livery stable. Harry the post carrier, is still to be born. The postmaster is Fred Valedejo. Here is Quinlan’s blacksmith shop. There, Charlie Gonzales’ forge, showering sparks and tinkling with hammer blows.

“Now neither rawles nor the horses are too tired for the expected dramatic finale. Bob brings the team to a spanking trot. With a roar of wheels, a grind of brakes and trampling hooves, the stage comes to a hard down stop in front of the Schuyler House.

“The Schuyler House looks down from four impressive stories and balconies. A few years before it had been sold to a corporation of ten, at a thousand dollars a share. So now in the bar is young Andy Gilchrist. And in charge of the kitchen is young Kate Burke.

“They are to have many years of marriage and hotel keeping before them. But the years of the foredoomed Schuyler House are to be few. On April 26, 1894, it is to vanish in an avalanche of flame and thundering fall of roof and floors. Charlie Walker’s drug store is to be burned too, and the whole town threatened. Half Moon will fight back desperately with buckets and will never forget that day.

“You clamber a bit stiffly from the stage. The strap bound Wells Fargo box plummets to the board sidewalk. Not always has it survived the journey. The stage is not the only institution of the West to travel that lonely road. There are highwaymen too.

“On the hotel veranda you see the Higgins boys. Also McGovern, Clement Nash and Wm. Savage. You see splendid Dr. Church, and towering alongside him Johnny, all eight feet and one inch of him, the tallest man in America.

“The passengers separate to the bar, the dining room, to their homes. New passengers arrived; John Mein for Lobitas, some for Irish Ridge and for Doble’s ranch at Purissima. Three drummers are going through to Mc Cormack’s new hotel, the Pescadero House, and one to the Swanton House.

“Here they will take the Sears stage through the heavy timber to La Honda. Up and down the terrific Upenuf dusty grade to the Trippes store at Woodside and thence to Redwood City.

“It is a jolting, bone-weary job the drummers have, but with a pint of whisky and big black cigars they will see it through.

“After dinner in the bar, there is quite a gathering. It is nearing election. The strong voice of Judge Pitcher asserts, ‘As goes Spanishtown, so goes the county.’ A cheer goes up. The new name, Half Moon Bay, is yet strange to say.

…..To Be Continued….