“O” is for Orville: Story by Tom Andersen

Story by Tom Andersen
Email Tom ([email protected])
Hi June,
I enjoyed reading in your blog about Richard English. I was so shocked when he died so young, although having some insight into his personal habits, on second thought, it wasn’t such a surprise.

I was a close observer in the 70’s of Richard and Leah’s relationship, the first awareness I had of him. He had a disarming manner, quite by intent..but a great wit, and , I think, a profound intelligence. We were friends, and, mutual old- timey Coastsiders, we shared that, as do you and I…Its a special association, the area having undergone such a transformation from the 1970s, which I fondly look back on as the great years!

Do you recall Horrible Orville (HO)??

My first recollection of “HO” was in 1971. I had recently acquired the “Blue Yonder Coffee Shop” (my name) at the HMB Airposrt, which I bought for $1. Not able to make a living despite- the- only- $15- a- month rent to SM County, I moonlighted as a bartender at the PI (Princeton Inn), having “conned” Ed Tonini, the owner, into believing I knew anything at all about mixing drinks, which I did not. “HO” was a regular, wearing a tank top, and at the slightest encouragement, lifting his arm, and showing off the turtle bite scar near his arm pit. This not getting him the attention he desired, he proceeded to take a bite out of the beer glass, to my chagrin…I informed him he would have to pay for the glass before I served him again…

Much later, Orville got into an honest living doing appliance installation & repair on the Coastside. By this time, I was a couple of years into El Granada Hardware, having started it up in 1976, while still operating Tom’s Market in Montara & Princeton Market & Deli. Orville had become a regular customer, buying brass pipe fittings to hook up the appliances he sold. He spent long sessions standing in front of my brass fitting cabinet, assessing just the right combination of parts. He had a little dog, if I had to guess, a Jack Russell terrier, who was expected to wait in his truck, while HO made his selection. At my checkstand, I observed his pup growing impatient, and leaped out the window of the truck, going across the street to see if Orville was in the post office. Orville, sensing that the dog may have strayed, walked to the door of the store, and called the dog. “Herpes!!! Herpes!!! Where are you??” Of course, anyone within earshot, including myself, was appalled at the word “herpes” being shouted at top volume in “downtown El Granada”. Only Horrible Orville would name his dog after venereal warts…

I liked Orville, he would tell jokes routinely, so hysterically funny, that tears filled my eyes. I wish he had hung around…

Tom Andersen
To read Tom’s story:: “Mavericks Underground”, please click here

1950s: I Visited Santa at the “Big E” in San Francisco

(Me and my older cousin, Gabrielle.)
The “Big E” was the Emporium, a huge and historic department store on Market Street, with roots reaching back to the early 20th century. The Big E, a well known destination for all of us who grew up in San Francisco and Half Moon Bay.

[Image: The Emporium after the 1906 earthquake/fire.]

[Image: The Emporium after the 1906  San Francisco earthquake & fire.]


1960s: Biking thru Coastside Paradise & then… “Dysentery Stew” for Lunch

1960s: Biking thru Coastside Paradise & then…”Dystentery Stew” for Lunch

Story by Stephen Lubin

Email Steve: [email protected]

Prelude: I actually saw more of  Erich von Neff at races and multi club rides than at Pete’s.  He belonged to the SF Wheelmen and I belonged to Pedali Alpini, which was centered more in the Woodside to Los Altos area.  We often rode over Hwy 92 (which was safe in those days) or over LaHonda Road and returned by 92.  These days we use Old LaHonda and Tunitas Creek.

When I first started riding in 1961, Pete’s was on Kelly Street behind Cunha’s.  The building next to Cunha’s was a funeral parlor and Petes was next door.   A few years later the building was demolished to make the parking lot which is there now.  Pete moved to the triangle at Main and Purissima.  I think he was where the little park is now.

Some of my new school clubmates refused to go in.  They called his fare “dysentery stew”.  The “old school “riders loved it.  He had photos of  Fausto Coppi and Gino Bartali (Italian Pro Stars from the 40’s) on the wall.  If you arrived on a bike he would give you a heaping plate of spaghetti with meat sauce for 25 cents.  If any was left on the plate he would scrape it back into the huge pot simmering on the stove.  I imagine it being a continuous culture over the years.  Pete eventually got a mail order (?) Japanese bride.   I imagine that they couldn’t understand each other’s languages but she became a fixture at the restaurant.  He had an old Coca Cola top hinged cooler with a bottle opener on the front.  There was a supply of Cokes and Orange Nehi inside.

In the middle 60’s Pedali riders hung out in the windows of Peterson & Alsford’s in San Gregorio alongside Ken Kesey and the Hell’s Angels.  There was a bug eye MG Sprite among the choppers.  I went to architecture school in Eugene, Oregon in the fall of 1968 about the same time Kesey moved back to Springfield (across the river from Eugene) where his family owns the Springfield Creamery.  When Thalia & I returned to California in 1972 we missed Springfield’s Nancy’s Honey Yogurt.  Now you can get it all over.

One more memory: In 1965 and 1966 Tom Preuss put on the Tour del Mar Bike race (/originally /sponsored by Pedali Alpini/, but taken over by Belmont Bicycle Club in Tom’s era/). I think the race had been going on since 1956 or so, but in those days it was an early morning event so we wouldn’t get caught. Tom made it a well publicized festival of bike racing culminating in an awards ceremony and dance at the IDES Hall in Pescadero featuring the Qucksilver Messenger Service *and* the Grateful Dead.


To visit Stephen and Thalia Lubin’s website, please click here

An evening at the Coastal Rep Theater with Tom Andersen


By Tom Dudzick

Directed by Roxane Ashe

Coastal Repertory Theater

1167 Main Street

Half Moon Bay, CA 94019


November 21 – December 13, 2008

An Evening at the Coastal Rep Theater with Tom Andersen

Email Tom ([email protected]

“Greetings”, a delightful holiday- themed play by Tom Dudzick is currently on stage at the Coastal Repertory Theater in Half Moon Bay. The first scene opens with a young couple sitting on a plane headed for New York City. It’s Christmastime, and they’re celebrating at the young man’s parent’s home. He’s been brought up Catholic, and she’s Jewish, but a horrible family tragedy has driven her to declare that she’s an atheist.

The next scene takes us into his parent’s home where Mom is putting the finishing touches on the holiday decorations, which are hilarious! Nothing is lacking in Christmas ornamentation, including the felt antler headgear and glowing earrings that could power the traffic signal at Highway 1 and 92. Joyously trimming the tree is the young man’s  brother, a mentally impaired fellow, whose high spirits are uplifting–but when he talks, nobody can understand what he’s saying. His speech sounds slurry, unintelligible. Evidenty he has always been that way. Meanwhile the adult brothers fall into their childhood ways, wrestling and roughhousing on the floor.

Enter the father who needs a cane because of his limp. He’s negative, bombastic. Everybody sits down in fear, and Dad meets the young man’s girlfriend. He’s told that she’s Jewish and an atheist, a lethal combination that tests the father’s patience. The father aggressively attacks both her beliefs and lack of. Things get really strained after that and the couple prepares to cut their visit short.

Then, in the middle of all the emotional chaos and noise, the mentally challenged brother blurts out something that, for the first time ever, everybody understands. “Greetings,” he says, which is also the title of the play.

The family is astonished, flabbergasted. Greetings. It seems to express the feeling of the moment; it’s exciting, philosophical, above their heads but what IS that accent? It’s East Indian. He’s got a foreign accent, no, yes, well, let’s just say that a “cosmic entity” temporarily takes over the brother’s body, at the brother’s invitation. This guy has plenty to say, delivered in an East Indian accent, and what follows shakes up everybody’s beliefs.

“Greetings” has many, many very funny one line zingers. The actor who portrays the “impaired” brother & the spirit that possesses him does a terrific job. During the standing ovation, which lasted several minutes, he was the last to take his bows, and the applause and cheers surged loudly!

But when I first sat down to watch this play, the characters seemed so rigid, suffocating and stereotypical that I could not imagine two hours in the presence of these people. This is a first rate production with fine acting. Hat’s off to Roxanne Ash for her excellent direction, and to the Coastal Repertory Theater for choosing such a unique script!

1891: Frank Hendricks Calls HMB the “Gem of the Sea”

Half Moon Bay was originally a tiny village called San Benito. When it grew into a bigger village, it was known as “Spanishtown,” a 19th name that stuck with locals well into the 20th century.

In 1891, Coastsider Frank Hendricks penned a poem called:


“I view the sea shore

“And hear int he distance

“The wild breakers roar,

“And down the green valley

“By fountain and tree

“There appears to my vision

“The Gem of the Sea.

“No costly reared mansions,

“Nor cloud piercing domes,

“Overlook in proud grandeur

“That cluster of homes,

“But where a warmth hearth and

“A welcome will be,

“I’ll return to that village;

“The Gem of the Sea.

“Upon the wide prairies

“A shelter was mine;

“I have dwelt in the shade of

“The cedar and pine;

“I have had many homes but

“The dearest to me

“Is that beautiful village,

“The Gem of the Sea.”

Frank & Eddie Thomas: Pennyland – Echoes of the Great Depression

Award-winning filmmakers & musicians Frank and Eddie Thomas (above)  invite you to a “private screening” of their latest work:

Pennyland: Echoes of the Great Depression

(To view “Pennyland,” the movie, click on the link above, then, please, before or after,  visit the Thomas’ website, click here

Frank Thomas says: “This is not meant as a political statement, but rather as an attempt to put a face on something that so often appears academic.”

Prohibition and the Great Depression

Great Depression & Prohibition

Burt and I were talking about the repeal of Prohibition, the 18th Amendment, in 1933, a year when the Great Depression was roaring.

On the Coastside, the end of Prohibition instantly put a lot of rumrunners and bootleggers out of business. No more “mother ships” carrying whiskey from Canada visible from the South Coast, Miramar, Princeton-by-the-Sea and Moss Beach.

When liquor was illegal, the key players made fortunes. Moving down the “food chain,” the rewards were worthwhile for anyone.

In San Mateo County, 1933-34 was the year Bay Meadows Racetrack opened, with pari-mutuel betting [meaning the state government controlled the proceeds.]  The humble Thoroughbred Seabiscuit, the “people’s horse” treated like a Hollywood movie star.

Now, putting it all together, 1933-34, a year when the costs of the Great Depression were steep, gambling and alcohol were legal.

Do you think that a solution to our government’s financial woes is to make everything that is illegal, (prostittuion and illegal drugs) legal, and tax it?