Dream Machine’s* On Sunday At The HMB Airport: Meanwhile


(Photo: L-R, Burt Blumert and “Big Daddy” Don Garlits.)

Friends of ours hosted a birthday party for Burt Blumert, at a home over the hill, on February 11, 2008. Earlier in the day we met “Big Daddy” Don Garlits in San Francisco where he was at a big car show signing autographs for fans at Moscone Center.

Burt has known Garlits for many years. When he told Don about the birthday party, and invited him to come along. Don Garlits said, “Sure. Pick me up at 5:30.”

Burt went to pick Don up, and while I was waiting for them at the party, I began to worry because they were late–and then they were really late.

Meanwhile they were having a wild ride all over San Francisco.. Don Garlits, the world famous drag racer, who won races right here at Princeton, sat in the passenger seat as Burt got lost, almost hit a pedestrian and ran a red light.

Here’s the true story:

“I picked him up at the Holiday Inn in Chinatown,” Burt says. “Don hadn’t been in the Bay Area for almost 20 years and I decided to give him a little sight-seeing tour before we headed down the Peninsula for the party. The sight-seeing tour didn’t go well. The second time we passed the Palace of Fine Arts, Garlits asked me, ‘Haven’t we seen this before?’

Burt said, “Yes, but that was the other side of it.”

When Burt realized he was about to cross the Golden Gate Bridge, he made a sharp, illegal u-turn and told Garlits, “We don’t want to do that.” Meanwhile he was lost in San Francisco

Poor Garlits, who spent his drag racing career surviving terrorizing moments, never experienced anything worse than Burt Blumert’s sight-seeing tour of San Francisco.

“We were lost for 45 minutes. I didn’t know where I was. I was on the Great Highway, I was in the Avenues, I was at the top of Twin Peaks….”

Finally when they arrived at the party, Burt was exhausted and Don Garlits seemed happy to be alive.

In the late 1950s & early 1960s “Big Daddy” Garlits and his famous drag-racing rival, Don Prudhomme, drew record crowds, and all the locals, to watch them compete at the Half Moon Bay Airport near Princeton-by-the-Sea.

Be sure to stop by the Annual *Dream Machine event on Sunday, April 27–the drag strip is no more but let your imagination take you back to the 1950s when the great Don Garlits entertained so many.

To get info about June Morrall’s book, “Princeton-by-the-Sea,” which includes a chapter with vintage photos about Big Daddy’s drag-racing exploits at the Half Moon Bay Airport, please click here

….1967: Haight—-& Today: Joel Bratman’s Slideshow of Graffiti on the Haight

While rummaging through the garage, I came across this “drawing” of me, dated 1967, the artist signed off as Joseph Gomez.

I remembered it immediately but the circumstances remain blurry. In 1967 I still lived with my parents in San Francisco; I was attending City College which almost everyone I knew who graduated from Lincoln High School had chosen to do (while they were making up their minds what to do next.)

This was the time of the famous Haight-Asbury, and one night I was there, exploring the streets when I came upon the artist called Joseph Gomez sitting on the sidewalk, drawing pictures of whomever wanted their image on paper.

Here’s mine, and, no, I don’t think I looked anything like that! Tiny head, poo!


To visit Joel Bratman’s (that’s his photo above, thanks Joel) slideshow called “Graffiti on the Haight,” please click here


My childhood friend Lynn Kalajian McCloskey tells me that she, too, had a portrait of her done by a mysterious artist in 1967, the same year Joe Gomez drew my image in the Haight-Asbury.

Here’s Lynn’s account and picture:

City College – PE – Bowling – Castle Lanes – 1967
A guy was watching us bowl when someone on my team said to me, ‘Hey, Lynn, that guy is drawing you.’

I walked over and asked him why he was drawing me. I don’t remember his response, but when he was done, he left it on the counter behind where we were bowling. Then he vanished. His name on the drawing looks like Gus De Bock. I googled him, but couldn’t find anything.

Funny, we should both have one from the same time period. I had it crinkled up in a drawer until about a month ago. I am working at getting the wrinkles out of it, but I think it’s a lost cause.

[Image of Lynn Kalajian, 1967. Email Lynn: [email protected]}

Desperately Seeking Frank & Fanny Torres Update

A while ago I received this email from Millie Muller, who lives on the East Coast:

This is Millie:

Good morning June,

I’ve been doing some family research and I’ve just discovered that my Aunt was married to a Frank Torres of Moss Beach, CA. Her name was Fanny Lea Torres. Two days ago I was given a copy of her obituary; she died in 1976. It states that her husband Frank Torres was the owner of the Frank Torres Beach Hotel on the Coastside.

When I did a search for the hotel it brought up a page that has the Moss Beach Distillary, and there was a mention of a Frank Torres.

Here’s the Distillery

Millie is a genealogist, an intrepid one, who has been doing her sleuthing on the Internet. She’s come up with all kinds of new information about Frank & Fanny Torres, who, in 1927, built the restaurant we know as The Distillery in Moss Beach. That was during prohibition on the isolated Coastside, and, believe me, there are many colorful stories from that era waiting to be found and revealed. To read her original story, click here

Here is the latest from Millie, and I applaud and admire her tenaciousness.

Good Morning, June

I have found someone that has a picture of Frank and Fanny Torres!

Seems that Fanny and her mother Martha weren’t the only relatives of mine to live in San Mateo. The younger sister Maude lived there too. I had found information that the younger sister Maude had died in Santa Cruz back in 1947. I sent away for a copy of her death certificate and come to find out she had only been in Santa Cruz for 3 weeks before her death. She had been placed in a nursing home for those 3 weeks. Her cause of death was a brain tumor. She had been treated for that for 3 years. Her death certificate states that her usual residence was Moss Beach.

There are several typographical errors on her death certificate. It says the informant was Fawney Torres, which should have been spelled Fanny. And it states that her late husband’s name was Loewis Forde, which could be Louis or Lewis Forde or Ford.

Then come to find out the older sister Alice, her daughter Bernice lived in Moss Beach too. Bernice had an older son from a first marriage named Gordon Hickman; he married Violet Cima.. Bernice was married twice, the second husband was Gottlieb Huber. Now the two of them had several children: Theodor (Teddy), Gertrude (Trudy), Steven and Martha all with the last name Huber. I think that’s all.

Steven (1947) and Martha (1948) were both born in San Mateo.

Right now I’m in contact with a daughter of Gordon and Violet’s. She scanned the picture of Frank and Fanny but it is very tiny. The great thing is that I use this web site for archived newspapers and I’ve found the same picture used in an article about Frank and Fanny at Christmas. I’m hoping I can get a better scan or even a copy of this picture. I think the picture you spoke of, that you had seen, when you interviewed Frank, that had that Devils Slide as the background, is in the background of the picture of Frank and Fanny.

{This is Frank Torre’s 2nd Hotel near Montara Mtn:

In the email that Celest sent me that had the scan she says “LAST PIC IS FANNIE AND FRANK TORRES TAKEN AT FRANK TORRES BEACH HOTEL SEE THE PORTRAIT OF FRANK BEHIND THEM.” Quoted from her email to me. I’ve posted the article here for you to see. Along with the tiny scanned picture I was sent in email.

To see the photos, click here

Millie Muller

Email Millie ([email protected])

A “High Tech” Memory

Burt and I were laughing this morning, remembering when Netscape started up in Mountain View, and i was determined to explore all the new, exciting stuff on the Internet. The Internet connection was often shaky and sometimes difficult to hold. And, in those days, the early 1990s, you had to know a lot about settings and numbers on the computer.

Although my mind doesn’t work that way, I hung in and when things got rough, and I couldn’t stand to be “down,” another second, I picked up my computer, I think it was a Mac Duo then (ha! barely any memory but very cool looking), and dragged Burt to the Netscape building. Via phone calls I had bonded with a kid who was willing to help me and then I actually showed up a couple of times in person.

I wish I remembered his name. He was great. What’s funny is the vision of me and Burt and the Duo walking into the Netscape office to get this genius kid to fix my Internet connection. It was in the very early days and nobody else seemed to be around.

Two Eras in Montara: Home of a Ranchero’s Son & Monument

to the Spanish Explorers erected by Montara Publisher Harr Wagner

Photos: At left, the decaying remains of this building were once home to the Victor Guerrero family. Victor’s dad, Francisco, had been granted ownership of the northern part of the Corral de Tierra. In later years, Charlie Nye turned the Guerrero home into a small hotel. At right, About 1912, possibly to attract media publicity for his Montara Artist’s Colony, and new hotel, built at the foot of the signature mountain, book publisher Harr Wagner dedicated an impressive monument to the explorer Portola. In 1769 the Portola expedition pitched camp near Martini Creek. The next day the men climbed steep Pedro Mountain and discovered San Francisco Bay from Sweeney Ridge.

(Photo: Vic Guerrero’s home was a hotel run by Charlie Nye, of “The Reefs” fame.)

Word for the day: KeyBoarder

KeyBoarder: One who taps the keys on the computer keyboard for fun and/or profit.

How to use in a sentence:(1) I am a KeyBoarder; (2) The Keyboarder failed to get across a good description of where the monument [1912] erected by Montara publisher Harr Wagner is located. (3) The KeyBoarder punches only the letter keys, never the numerical keys.

El Granada Goes “Green” With Green Intention Design

For years I’ve walked to the post office near my house. And I always pass Nick Damer’s Liberty Court building–recently, I noticed that a new business, Green Intention Design, moved in on the ground floor.

I met the owner, interior designer, Diana Zamudio

who graciously pointed out the “green” products in the showroom, including the table, below, fashioned from recycled materials. But it’ll be much more fun if you visit the store and discover what’s inside Green Intention Design.

Green Intention Design
30 Ave Portola
El Granada