John Vonderlin: 1905: Let’s Go To HMB (2)

The Occidental Hotel started out to be 3 stories tall, then two stories tall, then gone….The stage driven by Half Moon Bay local Buckskin Bill Rawls stopped here daily on its way to Pescadero.


Story from John Vonderlin

Email John ([email protected])

Hi June,
   Here’s the second excerpt from the
auto trip to Halfmoon Bay in September
1905. Although the railroad did finally
reach Mr.Weinke property, 
his skepticism about the OSR was well-
warranted given the events over the next
decade. I wonder if an epihanous
light bulb went off in his head after this
author’s visit? Did Herr Vinke turn to his
bent and worn helpmeet und say,
“Fraulein, dis otto machine may bring many
beeples here evun if the railroad no is
coomin’.”  How right he would have been.
Enjoy. John
   Soon the double-lunged machine was
tearing off the miles again. Houses
came into sight with smoking chim-
neys and every evidence of joyous
tables full of good cheer; then they
disappeared again to the rear.
With each house that came into sight my
heart rose, but when it disappeared
again to the rear and no “Germans,”
my heart sank one dull thump deeper
into the place my stomach
should have been.
  And then–Oh. joy!–we swung
around an unexpected corner, zipped
down a long lane bordered by
cypress trees and–“The Germans,”
said Mr. Ramsdell. He said some-
thing else that sounded better, said
it to a small, whiskered ruddy-faced,
jovially grinning character–of course
“The German”–“Lunch for Five.”
While lunch is preparing we engage
“The German” (one Winkle) in conver-
sation. We tell him that soon he will
have a railroad on his property and
plenty of neighbors and a clubhouse a
mile or so away. To our astonish-
ment  Herr Winkle looks unconvinced;
indeed looks mournfully unconvinced.
   “Vat? Ach. nein!  Dond’t you see
dot tree?”  We saw the tree respect-
fully. “Twendty fife yar beeple
sayd dot railroad was cooming. So I
pought me dis land und I came und I
planted me dose trees. Und no rail-
road effer came. Fife years later day
say again, “Vinkle, dis time we air
cooming. Cooming for sure Vinkle.”
Und I blant trees again–dose there. 
Und no  railroad neffer came.” Und fife
yare later a feller come with papers
and rights of way and dings and he say,
“Dis time we air cooming Vinkle. 
Get ready Vinkle.  We air cooming
sure Vinkle.”  Und I blanted me
again a row of nice shady trees for de
beebles to get cool under. But no rail-
road neffer come. Und Gott in Him-
mel! But vy tell it?  Fife yare later
it vos the same story.  Und now I ain’t
a goin’ to plant me no more trees un-
til I see der engine cooming. No
more fellers are a goin’ to “Vinkle” me
no more.
   And Winkle stubbed mournfully away to
assist his good and faithful helpmeet to
get ready the lunch. Twenty-five years
of patiently waiting for the railroad to
come through!    The fact the roadbed
was even then building was of no matter
to Winkle; he had to see the trains pull
past his hostelry before he would plant
again the shade trees for the “beeples.”
    And as we pulled away in the
midafternoon the last glimpse of the
“Germans” was of Winkle, side by
side the  bent  and worn
little woman who had stood guard
with him these many years against the
day of the railroad, standing with mildly
excited eyes as the giant machine slowly
wheeled away, and the last sound was of
Winkle’s melancholy voice as he shook
his head mournfully, but as one who
fights against an almost overpowering con-
viction. “No, I blant no more trees un-
til I see the engine a coom’n’  over the
hill.” Thus it is with life.! When at last
we can pluck the fruits they are withered 
to the hand!  But, you’d better plant an-
other row Winkle. 
   I hope to see the day the coun-
try Club is established away down at 
Halfmoon Bay for the many good and
substantial reasons which have been
set forth by Mr. Harrison and Mr.
Ramsdell and indorsed (sic) by a dozen
other members of the Olympic Club,
equally prominent, but personally and
selfishly, because if the new club
should be opened up there might be a
bare chance of me being sent down to
do the story and then may be (sic) Max Ro-
senfeld would trot out his four cyl-
inder brute of a strong-hearted machine
and transport me again over those
paths of glory.