In Pictures & Words, Watercolors & Legends, Artist Galen Wolf Left Us the History of the Coastside

sketchingthumbnail10.jpg (Photo: Sketching on Tunitas Creek Rd. Note the old Tunitas one-room Schoolhouse at left.)

[I wrote this in 2002]
By June Morrall

When 87-year-old Coastside artist Galen Wolf died in 1976, the inventory of paintings he left behind could have been created by two different peoploe.

Most them are know as “the Pictures,” and then thre is a small, unique series called “the Legends.”

The “Pictures” are watercolors and some oils, many of them of reflections of Galen’s beloved Coastside. There is also a series devoted to the Peninsula’s famous 19th century mansions, historic California missions and evocative seascapes painted in Mendocino, home to one of his three brothers.

Galen began sketching as early as 1909, and aside from artistic merit, his work may be as valuable to historians as are vintage photographs. His pictures provide a visual history of scenes that may have changed or no longer exist.

This Coastside artist was neither reclusive nor Bohemian. Galen Wolf was outgoing. He loved people and they returned that love. Wearing suspenders and a hat, sometimes a tam o’ shanter, he was an advocate of plein air painting, often sketching on site at remote Tunitas Creek, Mills Mansion in Millbrae, and Mission Dolores in San Francisco.

At his modest studio on rural Frenchman’s Creek Road north of Half Moon Bay, he transformed the smaller drawings into larger pictures.

But Galen’s talents as an artist did not help him in his role as a husband and father. During the desperate years of the Great Depression, he made a decision that forever marked his life: He separated from his wife and their two children, with emotional repercussions for everyone.

We may not know all the reasons for his break with the family but he did fit the description of the classical artist, a free thinker who said what was on his mind, un-fazed by conventional pressures, driven to paint, paint, paint. Galen supported himself painting pictures of people’s homes for a small fee and earned a few dollars teaching students as well.

Outside Galen’s studio on Frenchman’s Creek Road, there was the unusual sight of a avocado tree. Without the help of a tropical climate, the avocado tree thrived through the long summers of endless Coastside foggy days. It flourished, as did Galen, who also seemed like a transplant from a different place.

There was always laughter and chatter in the studio as Galen painted. He had a loyal following. Many–mostly women–made what could only be called “the pilgrimage” to see and hear “the master.” Some of the students were there to learn to paint while others sat his feet and listened to the retelling of Galen’s Coastside Legends. Certainly Galen Wolf would be the first to say he was no guru but all who met the artist revered him and agreed he spun a magic web about Half Moon Bay. Continue reading “In Pictures & Words, Watercolors & Legends, Artist Galen Wolf Left Us the History of the Coastside”

History of a Tire Found at Pescadero Beach: Story by John Vonderlin



Story by John Vonderlin (email John: [email protected])

Hi June,

As you know I’m collecting tires as part of my “101 Tires” artplay. Along with complete ones that I count as part of my project, before disposing of them, I also gather tire parts. I used to throw those away, until mid-December when I found this remnant at Pescadero Beach.


It was strange-sized, with non-significant to me numbers, and a few embossed letters that hinted at Ford. I did a websearch on the numbers, vintage Ford tires, tractor tires, etc. and found nothing. I held onto the remnant as a curiosity, and a mystery, thinking someday I’d find somebody who knew what it was.

Well, a few days ago, before this giant storm came to whack us, I figured I better make a quick beach survey. Once again at Pescadero Beach, I found another remnant. This time with lots more info on it. 135/685…The Star Rubber Company…Akron O…RD…CSAA. I was also able to approximately measure the inner circumference of the tire and its width, 30 inches and 4 inches respectively.



It wasn’t easy finding info on it and I’m not 100% sure, but I believe this is an original Model T tire, 80 years or more old.

Here’s a Wikipedia excerpt from the Model T page:

The standard Model T Tire size was 30″ X 3″ for front tires, and 30″ X 3 1/2″ for rears. Demountable Wheels, which were offered as an option starting in 1919, were 30″ X 3 1/2″ for all four wheels. In 1925, 21″ demountable Balloon tires/wheels were offered as an option and in 1926, 21″ wire wheels were introduced (as an option) which used the same tires. In 1927, 21″ tires and wheels were used on all cars.

The fact that the make of auto it was intended for, that is “Ford,” was embossed on it, tells me that it was from a time when there were very few car makers, with even less interchangeability of parts.

The “Star Rubber Company,” was also difficult to locate any info on, but in a book about Akron, Ohio, from 1875-1925 by Mr. Busbey, I found this excerpt:

One of the earlier rubber companies was the Star Rubber Company, founded in 1907 by S. E. Duff, its first president; Homer A. Hine, its first secretary, and J. W. Miller, the first treasurer. L. H. Firey became president in 1916 when the company launched actively in the tire manufacturing business, having previously made druggists’ rubber sundries. Present officers are L. H. Firey, president; R. L. Robinson, vice president, and D. A. Grubb, vice president and sales manager; J. W. Dessecker, secretary, and R. G. Shirk, treasurer. The company now is capitalized at more than $1,000,000 and has capacity for 750 tubes and 600 tires a day.

Researching other tire companies in Akron, the onetime “Tire Capital of the World,” I found this nugget:

In 1962, Kelly-Springfield acquired the Star Rubber Company (a company that originally devised the first radial tires), along with three other corporations connected to Star: the Hick’s Rubber Company, Richmond Rubber Company, and Richmond Tire & Rubber Company. At the time of their acquisition, Star and the Richmond companies had long ceased manufacturing tires, preferring to distribute tires and inner tubes wholesale. In 1975, these subsidiaries merged as divisions within Kelly-Springfield.

Finally, on ebay I found this 1916 poster of the “Star Rubber Company” for sale. It offers distributorships for their tires. I wonder how many people got in on this at ground floor and founded dynasties that we would recognize today?



Continue reading “History of a Tire Found at Pescadero Beach: Story by John Vonderlin”

Come to the “Party for Pete”: Special Tribute on Feb. 16


(Photo: A young Pete Douglas poses in front of the Ebb Tide Cafe, the beginning of what today is known as the Bach Dancing & Dynamite Society, a world-class jazz house overlooking the Pacific in Miramar Beach, 4 miles north of Half Moon Bay.


January 28, 2008

RE: Tribute to be held February 16th for Pete Douglas, founder of the Bach Dancing & Dynamite Society

CONTACT: Linda Goetz, 650 726-2020, [email protected]

Persistence and musical integrity: A Tribute to Prentice “Peteâ€? Douglas, founder of the Bach Dancing & Dynamite Society

A tribute dinner to Pete Douglas, founder of the Bach Dancing & Dynamite Society, will be held on February 16th at the Domenico Winery in San Carlos to acknowledge his contributions to the Bay Area music scene. Creating a venue and sharing a “true musical experienceâ€? between musicians and audiences has been his lifetime achievement. Organized by Bay Area vocalist, Margie Baker, the “Party for Peteâ€? will recognize his uncompromising integrity to “the musicâ€? and thank him for keeping the Douglas Beach House doors open for the past 50 years.

The “Party for Peteâ€? starts at 6 pm at the Domenico Winery, 1697 Industrial Road in San Carlos. Jesse “Chuyâ€? Varela and Jayne Sanchez of KCSM will act as Masters of Ceremony. Scheduled speakers include Sonny Buxton of KCSM; Tim Jackson of the Kuumbwa Jazz and Monterey Jazz Festival; Benny Barth, drummer and long-time friend; Linda Goetz of the Bach Society, as well as representatives of San Mateo County and Half Moon Bay. Musical tributes will be performed by Tim Jackson; Susan Muscarella, Berkeley Jazz School; drummers Eddie Marshall and Benny Barth; Ken Plourde, bass; vocalists Nate Pruitt and Laurie Antonioli; Michael O’Neill, sax; and Al Molino, trumpet. For more information email: [email protected] or call Margie Baker at 650 755-2115.

Pete Douglas been “choreographingâ€? his music scene since 1958 when he bought a cottage beer joint on the beach in Half Moon Bay on the San Francisco Peninsula. The jam sessions began immediately and became gigs in the living room when he built his home above the cottage in the 60s. The non-profit Bach Dancing & Dynamite Society evolved and Pete committed to the music by building the concert room in the 70s. The Douglas Beach House on Miramar Beach is an unpretentious beach house attracting some of the biggest names in jazz. The current concert room commands a panoramic view of the Pacific Ocean, coastline and Pillar Point Harbor, creating one of the most unique settings for the enjoyment of music :magic. “The molecules are just arranged right,” said one musician.

Continue reading “Come to the “Party for Pete”: Special Tribute on Feb. 16″

Decades later: Lawton School Reunion…

After a fire (arson) destroyed much of Jefferson Grammar School on Irving Street in San Francisco’s Sunset District– just before I was about to graduate in the late 1950s– the kids were bused to Ulloa Elementary to complete the semester. As you might imagine, it was a difficult transition to go from the familiar to the unfamiliar but new friends were made.

(If you know the Sunset, you remember that the cross streets go in alphabetical order from Irving-to Wawona–therefore Ulloa was a zillion blocks from Irving, new territory for me, mostly residential.)

By then (before the school fire) my childhood friend, Lynn Kalajian McCloskey, had moved to a new house and attended Lawton Elementary. This was a good move because she was now closer to Lincoln High School and all the parents wanted their kids to go Lincoln. Eventually my parents did the same thing, moving two blocks from Lincoln to assure my acceptance there.

And many of the kids at Lawton went on to Lincoln, so I got to know them in high school.

I have to admit that Lynn and I are opposites. She’s very outgoing and I am not–which is why I can sit here for hours working on my blogs!

A couple of weeks ago Lawton Grammar School had a reunion and Lynn was there to cover the story. The teacher drove in from Sacramento….and former students flew in from Texas and other parts of the country…

Here’s a photo of the kids, now very much adults. The faces I see belong to former Lincoln High athletes, song girls, geniuses and highly motivated elected membersr of the school’s student body in the 1960s.


Lawton School – Mr. James Healy’s 1960 6th Grade Class –
Back Row: Glenda Dubour, Janis Grimm, Carol Tomasello, Jeff Liss, Karen Tomasello, Berit Hovde, Maria Cresci, Gary Schaezlein, Bobby Cooper, Jim Minor, Mr. James Healy
Middle Row: Walt Scott, Diane Denhart, Tina Chriss, Marlane Drews
First Row: Jeff Gaynor, Lynn Kalajian, David Gabriel, Darlene Pels, Madeline Karonsky, Billy Wilde


Photo: Reunion organizer David Gabriel gets the party going with a toast.

And here’s the Reunion story by Lynn Kalajian McCloskey

How many people think of having a sixth grade elementary school reunion? I’m sure it’s been done, but one must admit it is rare. On Friday evening, January 18, 2008, a group of classmates from Lawton Elementary School in San Francisco got together for a class reunion at the Beach Chalet Restaurant at Ocean Beach. We all grew up in the Sunset amidst the fog and “dunes.â€? So, the Beach Chalet was a perfect location for this event.

The group came together as a result of a classmate, David, researching, finding and contacting as many students as he could. During the research process, a number of emails went back and forth and one could feel the excitement brewing. The reunion was becoming a reality. People that I thought about over the years were coming back to life as were the fond memories I have of those wonderful days at Lawton in the Sunset District. Out of 36 students, 20 were able to attend. Sadly, one classmate, and a neighbor of mine in the Sunset, passed away in 2002 from brain cancer. Other students were unable to attend due to prior commitments or living out of the area. However, the organizer is living in Colorado and another classmate who attended, Bobby, lives in Texas. The rest of us live in the Bay Area. The biggest surprise of all was an email from David informing us that our teacher, Mr. Healy would be attending. I can honestly say that Mr. Healy was an amazing teacher, and I think all of his student would agree with me. As the day drew near, it was all I could think about. Finally, the day arrived. I went to work as usual, but couldn’t wait for the work day to end. It was a busy Friday, and the day flew by.

One never knows what traffic into the City will be like so we left in plenty of time. Driving from Marin to SF, I was telling my husband stories of the Lawton days that I hadn’t thought about in years. We arrived in the City about 45 minutes early so we drove around our old neighborhoods and reminisced.

At the designated hour, we arrived at the Beach Chalet. As I was getting out of the car, I mentioned to Larry that I was a little nervous. Would anyone remember me, what would I talk about……. I had seen some of my classmates at my 20th high school reunion. With those that went their different ways, it ended the day we were promoted to junior high some 48 years ago. The first person I saw was David and two other classmates, Bobby and Jeff, who I had not seen since our high school days. The nerves melted away as we greeted and hugged one another. One by one everyone arrived and the mood of the evening was electric. Photos were snapped, hugs were exchanged, laughter was filling the room and the smiles spread from ear to ear.

Continue reading “Decades later: Lawton School Reunion…”

Other Work V: The Werner Caro Affair

There will be a number of stories that I post here, all related to Werner Caro, but probably not in the correct order.

Letter from Werner Caro to my father, Martin Marcus (who changed his name to Charles Martin in Shanghai). Translated from German into English by my dad.

October 29, 1946

Dear Martin:

When I went to see my brother, Kurt, I found out about your letter of October 5, 1946. I will try now to report all events that have taken place since your departure in 1938. Before, however, answering in detail, I want you to know how happy I am to have heard from you.

I realize without the capitulation of Japan in 1945, all buildings in Shanghai would have been destroyed by bombs. One has to be thankful to God, to have escaped a disaster of this kind. If you would have experienced what we had to go through right here, I cannot say, how this war affected the nerves of every human being.

Anyway, I am sharing your opinion you should try to emigrate to the USA or South America. You surely would be able to start the same kind of business you used to have here.

Incidentally, your two stores in the Friederich and Joachimsthalerstrasse are bombed and burned out. Possibly there may never be another building.

You indicated, the house you live in lacks any comfort at all. For myself, I just can say, I have not had any comfort at all during the year I spent in prison. Still, I am grateful to have it behind me and to be alive. During the next few days, I shall go and see your mother-in-law to find out if she needs anything I can help her with.

Walter and I worked from May 1940 through July 1941 in underground construction later on through February ’43 in a brassware factory. Inasmuch as deportation of Jews has been going on since October ’42, we decided on 2/4/43 to go underground. It was made possible only,after our beloved mother closed her eyes forever, a few weeks before. Beginning on this particular day, Walter and I parted each trying to find a different refuge.

We were able to meet on the streets once in a few days. My older brother Kurt and wife stayed on in our old apartment (she was Aryan.) If my dear brother Walter had been more careful, he would have never been arrested. Unfortunately, I have to emphasize, he was unconcerned, believing in good luck. Despite my repeated efforts persuading him not to spend the nights with his fiancee he would not listen to me.

To reconstruct the happenings, I can only assume a third person living in the same building denounced the couple to the Gestapo, initiating the course of the disaster. Both were arrested on September 7, 1943. He spent six and one-half months in solitary confinement in prison, while she was sent on to a concentration camp after being in jail for six weeks. You can imagine, how the arrest of my brother made it very uncomfortable and hot for me. The authorities knew that Walter and I disappeared at the same time and I can imagine how he was interrogated about my whereabouts time and again.

Thank goodness he never knew where I was staying , so with good conscience he was unable to furnish the information. April ’44 he was transferred to a temporary camp from which he attempted to escape. Thereupon he was chained and brought to Auschwitz, the ill-famed concentration camp.

What I experienced up to this time, I cannot describe in words. It just happened, a very good friend of mine, introduced me to a doctor, who was the chief physician at the Charite, with whom I stayed in contact with for about five months. Then, however, my bad luck started to take its course, because unbeknownst to me, the doctor was an informer working for the Geheime Stadtspolizei.

On May 11, 1944, we met for about fifteen minutes, had a cup of coffee at his place, leaving immediately with him and after about another minute on the street, after parting, I was stopped by an SA man who asked for my identification, arresting me right away.

First I was taken to a police precinct, where I was mistreated, pummeled all over, not knowing anymore whether I was a girl or a boy. They were anxious to get the names and addresses of the good people who gave me food and shelter between February 4, 1943 and May 11, 1944.

It would have been a crime, had I revealed anything. For me, it was very fortunate to have known all along that sooner or later, I may have the misfortune of getting arrested and that under no circumstances would I ever squeal, thereby endangering my true friends.

Even under torture, I did not give in, willing to pay with my life, I was firmly determined to stick to my resolve. Today, I can tell, it would not have helped me in the least, had I broken down and and top of it all, I would have been rearrested now again for that time.

Anyway after that fruitless attempts, I was transferred to the police headquarters and from to a camp for further distribution. They put me in a bunker where I stayed under extremely degrading circumstances for a period of ten weeks. Reason for my not having deported any further was, as the saying goes, luck in my misfortune.

At the time of my arrest, I had on me one thousand razor blades (note: this was an important item during wartime, all over the world, due to a sthortage of steel) which was not too bad, if the informer had not revealed with whom I had been working and where I obtained the goods.

For that reason, I was tied up in a wartime trial.[note: I don’t know what that means.]

The ten weeks in that bunker, with little food, terrible treatment, made a wreck out of me, so much so, that the leading physician in charge of the team of doctors, refused to take responsibility for my well being, if the leader of the camp continues to keep me in the bunker. [Note: I believe the reference to the bunker could actually be a dugout or “pillbox.”]

By the same token, I had a hunch they were afraid I might attempt to escape just like my brother. There I was kept harshfully in that kind of confinement. Yet, I would have never done it, for my older brother Kurt’s sake, who was allowed to stay with his aryan wife.

There was no doubt in my mind he would have been picked up by the Gestapo had I done something of the kind. Following the doctor’s complaint and refusal of further responsibility, I was brought up to the surface and could see daylight again. Also, I found then my place in the camp with the others. Eleven weeks had gone by when the first interrogation took place. It was my firm decision to stick by my resolve not to reveal anything, harming any other person. Consequently, I kept my mouth shut.

Then after another eight or ten weeks, I was interrogated again with the threat I am going to be confronted by witnesses. Then, in December, I had just returned from my work detail to have my lunch, two Gestapo men put me in a car. Displaying a gun, which was put on my breast, I was threatened to be killed if I don’t tell them the truth. I was brought to the headquarters of Herr Himmler (in charge of the Gestapo), put into an underground bunker, chained hand and foot to be left there on the ground for hours while being questioned. What then followed I can and will not tell you with the hope I may some day forget.

Late at night I was transferred back to the camp with the advice I should not be deported at this time, because I am still needed in that wartime trial.

In the meantime, the war had been in its last phases. Thanks for that, I can call myself lucky to be still alive. Exactly on April 20, 1945, with the help of a Gestapo man, I was able to regain my freedom escaping thereby the advancing Russians. I was running through the streets towards the west of the city, which was under steady enemy fire. Reaching Kaiser Allee 194, I found shelter in the cellar, where I met Lisa Beilke, a friend of Max Wegsmann. For 12 days, while the battle for the city raged, I was able to stay here surviving the bloody onslaught.

Any connection with the old home section was made impossible, because all the bridges had been demolished, also being on the street was most dangerous. After it settled down somewhat, I moved into the home of the mother of Walter’s fiancee. This girl had been through several concentration camps. In the month of June 1945 she showed up in Berlin but don’t ask me what she looked like and what condition she was in.

However, my dear brother Walter never returned anymore from Auschwitz. Just about three weeks ago, I met a former inmate of the camp I was in. He told me that Walter, along with about 20,000 other inmates, were killed while on the march at Gleiwitz, just about two weeks before the end of the war. The news moved me deeply because I had secretly hoped he would turn up one of these days.