1890s-1900: Moss Beach & HMB

The Editor of the poorly named “Coastside Advocate” newspaper visited Moss Beach and marveled at the hospitable bed and breakfast belonging to Mr. and Mrs. Wienke. The editor’s name last name was Roma T. Jackson, and he had the love of poetry in his soul. If you can get a copy of his work at the paper, maybe at the San Mateo County Museum in Redwood City, you will understand what I mean.

Today, this is pretty much lost by the folks who write for the media. Maybe now that we are going through tough times poetry, writing and meaningful words will come back.

Here’s a little piece by Roma T. Jackson:

First, his description of Moss Beach, which was probably intended to be the bright light of the Coastside:

“The principal attraction here [Moss Beach] is the endless varieties and inexhaustible quantities of beautiful sea mosses that are washed up on the beach by the waves, where it lies, tons, only waiting to be selected out by eager hands. Besides the moss there are other attractive features here which form a pleasant combination of diversions to the average summer boarder. There is a fine little sand beach and rock-bound inlets which afford warm and and safe sea bathing,There is good fishing, an abundance of clams, abalones, mussels, and shells. It is only a short distance from here to the Point Montara fog signal, always open to the public, where Mr. David Splaine, the keeper, and his accomplished daughter, Miss Della, take pleasure in showing visitors about the station, and their handsome collection of marine curiosities.”


Charlie Nye, Jr. tole me that some company from Southern California came in the 1940s and took the moss away. He didn’t know for what purpose. If you didn’t know Charlie, you clearly missed a Coastside character. He was not Mr. Suburban and would not fit into the present. We, who were fortunate to spend time with him, loved him. An eccentric who lived in a house near the cliff’s edge; his dad had run what was called “The Reefs,” built right on the beach. He was a cook who made great clam chowder and you could rent little row boats from him as well as stay overnight in the hotel overlooking the cliffs. His dad was connected to a famous senator who was in favor of silver (too heavy too carry around in your pocket) instead of paper money.


Roma T. Jackson became piqued with the writer of the “Pacific Union” in San Francisco. There were all kinds of travelogues being written. My dear friend John Vonderlin has found many of them and you can read them at pescaderomemories.com. John’s come from the “San Francisco Call-Bulletin,” a favorite “old” paper of mine because the editor was a reformer and he went all out and after everybody. Fremont Older was hisĀ  name–quite a man. True, he was progressive. He worried about the prostitutes and how they got along south of Market in San Francisco. He worried about the common man. He had a mission. I like people who have a mission. The “Call” had some really good stories–the writers were unafraid back then. Today, I’m afraid they are scared to tell the truth.


Here’s what Roma T. Jackson had to say about a writer who wrote words a about a Coastside visit circa 1900. I think Roma died shortly afterwards, by his own hand.

Rather Overdrawn”

“The Pacific Union , a little paper published in San Francisco, either has a very exalted opinion of this section, or else is fishing for patronage with a very nauseating bait of taffy. In speakingof Halfmoon Bay it says: ‘This is a beautiful bay, the shape of its name, the blue clear water of the ocean flowing right up to its tide mark. It is sheltered at the northwest by a reef, and at some little government expenditure could be made a fine harbor and road-stead for all weathers. This done railroad and ship could come together, commerce be opened up, local industries be established, the rich land brought up to its full value and Spanishtown [Half Moon Bay] become the second seaport of the American Pacific. The S.P. [Southern Pacific Railroad which included the Big Four, Senator Stanford among them] are aware of this, and should they not soon act an eastern competing line may step in with their Pacific termius at Halfmoon Bay, and establish a route from San Francisco coastside via Santa Cruz, connecting with it and making it their overland line.”