The Memories of Ralph Feusier, Part I

Twice I met and talked with Ralph Feusier, a wickedly funny East Coast Insurance executive who flew west to Half Moon Bay to re-visit his past.

One of my self-defined jobs is to find someone in town who could provide Ralph (or anyone else) with connections, who might know or remember his relatives.

Over the years I have learned that while the “local historianâ€? may benefit from these visits, gaining new information & the always- coveted photographs—there is also a deeply sad side to these visits. Frequently, people go back in time to recapture a magic time from their childhood– when they are old and feel death stalking them.

Ralph Feusier was six-years-old in 1930– and his magical year was spent in a two-story Victorian house on Main Street in Half Moon Bay. The house was filled with wonderful characters, his relatives, the Nelsons, “Great Auntâ€? Flo, Uncle Horace—and Carrie, the “talentedâ€? housekeeper and seamstress.

The Nelsons were not ordinary folks. They had long been recognized as leaders in the close-knit Coastside community.

“Uncle Horace was president of the Half Moon Bank and the water works,â€? Ralph proudly told me. Horace was also known for his civic contributions as a school trustee, a responsibility he held for nearly two decades.

More importantly, Horace Nelson owned a successful cattle ranch in the Purissima canyon, south of Half Moon Bay.

Some of Ralph’s memories were blurred but he remembered visiting the historic ranch in 1930. There was a little covered bridge that impressed him greatly. He was convinced that his Uncle Horace, an accomplished craftsman, had helped build the bridge.
R-Feusier.jpgPhoto: “A Happy Day Beach Picnic at Half Moon Bay, 1928”: L-R: Unknown woman, Aunt Flo, Carrie, Ralph’s mom, Emma, Ralph and his brother Edward.

….To Be Continued…


Recognize any of the backs of these people enjoying a party in San Gregorio in the 1970s?


And here are some old friends:

Oldfriends.jpgPhoto: Woman in hat is me, June, then counterclockwise, Doug St. Denis, Dennis Hart, Unidentified man, John Morrall and Unidentifed man.



In 1977 I had a small cabinet shop in El Granada, and built a lot of signs and things for Carolyn Wood, a graphic artist. Carolyn was doing the menus, and designing the big sign out on Hwy 1 for what was going to be called “the Distillery” but had been the Galway Bay Inn for years.

This guy Paul had purchased the restaurant and in talking with Carolyn, he found out I had knowledge of an old whiskey still’s location. The old postmaster of the El Granada Post office’s grandfather (as the story was told me) had buried the original still from this restaurant behind a barn somewhere in Half Moon Bay during prohibition. It was supposed to still be there.

Carolyn came by my shop, and introduced me to Paul. Paul let me know–with his southern California attitude showing– that he was going to get this original still buried behind the barn. It truly left me scratching my head wondering why he came by to meet me just to tell me this but whatever! He made it very clear he did not need mine!

In Burlingame was (as far as I know) the first mini storage place on the peninsula named “U Stor It” run by a friend of mine named Mark. This was a warehouse with lots of plywood cubicles and mesh wire composition built the entire area for two stories except for the office, and a driveway from the front to the back. Along this driveway people were allowed to sell things if they had a box there, and this is where the whiskey still sat. $85.00 said the piece of binder paper taped to it.

A couple of weeks later Carolyn Wood called me up and said Paul could not find the whiskey still buried and so was interested in mine. He came over to my shop and started going on (very wired dude) about how he had found a still for $800.00 but it wasn’t in very good shape. I agreed to show him the one I knew about and told him the location. As soon as he left I called Mark, and told him to put a price tag on it for $800.00. Mark did it one better, he brought it into the office, put a sheet under it on a table, wrote a full typed page of its history and placed it neatly to the side of this giant metal tea pot with a straw.

When Paul arrived with Carolyn (I wasn’t far behind in my car) he was elated going on about how much better this one was than the other for $800.00 and in so much better shape!

$800.00 was a whole lot of money to us back in 1977 so you will never know how gleeful we were when Paul said he wanted it!

He started dealing out the hundred dollar bills, put the still in the car, drove away happy while Mark and I deducted the $85.00 we owed the original owner and split the rest……….. I always feel I can afford to eat at the Moss Beach Distillery!

I guess Paul took the whiskey still with him when he moved away but this is truly how the Distillery got its still!

RR.jpgPhoto: The Ocean Shore Railroad depot in San Francisco had a separate office for visitors to El Granada!

First Coastside School At Princeton & Sunshine Valley Road, Moss Beach

RoseMeehan.jpgPhoto: Miss Rose Meehan with her students.

From the archives of the San Mateo County History Museum [filed under Margaret Kyne] located in the Redwood City Courthouse.

“The location of the first schoolhouse was at Princeton where the Cosmopolitan building now stands, directly across from the John Patroni House. It was a two-room structure. The district ran from Pedro Point to Miramar. The teachers were Miss Kate McCarthy, principal, who was a sister-in-law of Mr. George Hall and Miss Rose Meehan, who for many yrs was vice prin of the grammar school at San Mateo near where the Junior College is now located, under George Hall. The school was moved in 1887 to Moss Beach, after a lengthy controversy over attendance and it was finally settled when [John] Kyne moved his family of seven children to Moss Beach. There was only one teacher, Mr. William Savage, who later became one of San Mateo Co’s proominent educators. After Mr. Savage, Rose Meehan returned to teach for a period of seven years. The school was located on the corner of Highway 1 and Etheldore Street, which is now the residence of Gregorio Rossi. In 1890 a new one-room schoolw as built in Sunshine Valley, which is now the home of Anthony Torre, and continued to be until 1910 when the present school was built. In those days attendeance was just as great as it is now with 45 to 50 in attendance….”

J.C. Williamson: Dapper President of Pescadero School District


And here’s the list of neighbors who contributed to the “Soccer Field Fund” in the 1920s– for all of you folks interested in who was then living, working and financially supporting the school district in Pescadero.

names.jpg The names are: J.C. Williamson, E.R. Pinkham, First National Bank of Pescadero, M. Baptist, Pescadero Inn–B.R. Phillips, Dr. C.V. Thompson, M.V. Martin, Dr. Theo K. Miller, E. Williman, Tony George, J. Goulson, Walter Moore, G.M. Steele, C.E. Steele, R.R. Woodman, N.E. Steele, Ida E. Raney, T. Hayashi, T. Anouda, Fain, Joe Francis, Armando Rossi, R. Morello, Z. Nakashima, Mrs. Mary G. McCormick, Marcella H. Kartheiser, Chas. Scott, H. Harada, Frank Quadro, J.F. Steele, F. Steele, Chas. H. Knapp, Veda Griffiths, Mildred R. Steele, Rufus Steele, John Cardoza, Frank Masamori, Mrs. Ida Mesquite, Miss Sadie Pinkham, Manual Brazil, Frank Pinkham, Julia Vega, Y. Yoshi, G. Seirrizdee, Tachiki, Y. Yamato, Mrs. Joe Baker, G. Kajiako, M. Schroeder, G. Winkler, C.F. Humphrey.

The Soccer Kids From Pescadero, 1920s (Conclusion)

soccerteam.jpg Photo: Pescadero High’s Soccer Team. Which one is “Skinny” Elbert Pinkham? “Mountain Lion” Lloyd Locke? “Flashy” Henry McCormick?

There was a luscious blackberry patch on Pescadero High’s school grounds and the students joked that picking the berries was the chief sport during the season–but another sport, this one more traditional, was gaining popularity.

Soccer was establishing a following throughout the county leading to the formation of Pescadero High’s first soccer team.

Although the game was virtually unknown to Pescadero’s boys, the “Bob Cats” quickly learned the fundamentals, scoring goals by shooting balls only with their heads or feet.

A small but loud rooting section of classmates pushed them on. Team members included Henry McCormick, the “flashy” center forward who scored most of the Bob Cat’s goals.

It was said he could kick a goal, wink at a girl–and “bunt” an opponent in the shins, all at the same time.

“Skinny” Elbert Pinkham was the tough goalie that stopped many “a hot one” with his “million dollar wallop” while “Mountain Lion” Lloyd Locke, a transfer from hated Half Moon High, was a guard “who used his head and feet with equal ease.”

Pescadero’s fighting Bob Cats competed against San Mateo, San Jose and Colma’s Jefferson High–but their blood enemies were the Half Moon Bay “Yellow Jackets.”

When the day of the big game between the rivals came around, the weather was dreadful–the rain torrential–but it didn’t dampen the crowd’s spirits.

The Pescadero chanted:

“It’s Pescadero’s day!
Just watch us in the frag,
What’s that you say,
About the team
From Half Moon Bay?
Shhh! Not so loud
Oh, please don’t make me laugh,
Just show the way
To Half Moon Bay
For this is dear old
Pescadero’s day.”

By all accounts, the horrible weather conditions turned the field into a quagmire–and the players slipped and skidded–making the game even more thrilling.

Pescadero scored the first goal–the ball shooting out of “one of the hottest melees ever seen.” At halftime the score was Pescadero 2, Half Moon Bay, 1.

The Pescaderans continued chanting:

“Carnelian and Blue
Oh, Boy! We’re strong for you.
What can we do
To Show you that our hearts are true!
We’ll fight the foe
Until we win win the game or die
So hold ’em boys
We’ll fight for our
Carnelian and Blue.”

But things changed quickly in the second half. At a crucial point one of Pescadero’s Bob Cats slipped in the slime, the skidding ball just elduing goalie “Skinny” Pinkham–and the ball slithered into the net–tying the game.

Half Moon Bay, with a little more experience, would finally eke out a victory over the gallant Pescadero Bob Cats, who remained noble in defeat.

The Pescadero soccer team may not have won all their games but they claimed the distinction of being the only county school soccer team that had their photographs taken by a bona fide motion picture syndicate which happened to be in the area shooting the silent film called “The Timber Pirates”.

Wish I knew what happened to that movie!

Let’s Take A Field Trip! Part II

students.jpgPhoto: Students at Pescadero High, 1926.

The kids from Pescadero High were reminiscing about an exciting field trip they had made to Davenport in 1924.

Twelve students and their teacher, Miss Kartheiser, got into three cars–when, a short time later there was the sound of a sharp crack followed by a “pfffftttt”.

No surprise. It was a flat tire–but no one despaired.

This was an ideal time for a picnic lunch. The happy group might have tarried–but they had a schedule to follow.

First stop was Swanton to see the Big Creek Power Plant, located in a steep-walled canyon. Then on to Davenport to view the electrically operated cement plant, said to be the second largest in the world.

The plant’s 500 employees produced 40 carloads of cement per day. The students witnessed a demonstration of how cement–comprised of crushed limestone, mixed with clay and gypsum–was manufactured.

According to a 1920’s Pescadero High yearbook, there were many other field trips–all fondly remembered. The “Peninsula Pageant of Progress” held in San Carlos drew special attention.

The event was more like a County Fair and there was a competition between the area’s high schools. First prize was $15 and a coveted silver cup awarded for the exhibit best representing the high school’s hometown.

Pescadero High’s students decided to build a scale model of the town’s most famous landmark: the Pigeon Point lighthouse. The kids worked diligently to complete the model, including exacting details such as the surrounding roads, farms and ranches.

Their lighthouse was the hit of the San Carlos Fair and more admiring visitors stopped at the Pescadero High booth than any other. The Pigeon Point model won the $15 first prize and the silver cup.

Unfortunately they never got the cup–the embarrassed promoters of the pageant had run out of money.

…To Be Continued…

I Meet With HMB Artist/Sculptor Ken Paul

(my video of Ken Paul here:

This afternoon I got an email from Peter Adams. What about Ken Paul? he asked.

Ken Paul is an extraordinary Half Moon Bay artist & human being–whose intricately carved wooden sculpture pieces are displayed outdoors, for all to enjoy– in a pretty setting, a charming clearing, if you will that sits on Main Street between Carol DelMar’s real estate office (located in a cozy historic home) and the historic Zaballa House, a B&B. I already posted several Z-House photos earlier today.

Peter’s email got me curious and next thing I knew I was in Half Moon Bay chatting with Ken Paul about past lives and spiritual things at his “sculpture farm”.

Do you know he’s 73? Unbelievable.

KP1.JPGPhoto: Ken Paul

Here’s Ken Paul’s fabulous sculpture called “Neptune”


And here’s a sculpture a defector from Hollywood did of Ken: KP3.JPG