Remembering Woodworking Craftsman Chuck Bodin

When I first got to the Coastside it wasn’t like it is today–it wasn’t bustling, there wasn’t construction going on everywhere, the roads were carless, especially Highway 92 (wheeeeee) and the hot waves hadn’t been discovered by the young men & women in their wetsuits.

Happy days. Woodworker Chuck Bodin plays on El Granada beach.

Not much had happened to HMB since after WWII in the 1950s, and for me that was the Coastside’s charming appeal. Very few people lived on the ong and narrow marine terrace, bounded to the east by the coastal hills and mountains. The fickle fog that covered everything up on the Coastside could be seen from afar by people standing in the bright warm sun on the other side of the hill–better to stay home, they said, looking over the at the ocean.

Sure, there were farmers and folks lucky enough to have llived on the Coastside all their lives–but what I found was a bohemian atmosphere– and that’s what appealed to me. There was a small, close-knit community of carpenters and woodworkers. So if something terrible happened to a member of this community or among the fishermen the news spread fast.

MaryLou, Chuck’s wife, hams it up for the camera.

On or about March 24, 1975, Chuck Bodin, at 39, an older member of the craftsmen community, was killed in a car crash on Highway 92. He owned a big old truck, one of the biggest I’d seen around here but he need it for the projects he worked on and for wood he was moving around. Chuck also owned a red VW bug and that’ s what he was driving somewhere near the “House of Doors” on the day he was killed heading “over the hill”.

The minute the sad news broke, the El Granada community–where Chuck, his wife, MaryLou and daughter resided–rallied around the family. At the time Mary Day (Schlecht) was the “mother” figure and a dinner was announced at her home–an old white Victorian-style home built on an oversized lot.

Mary was in charge of everything–the town meetings were held there, birthdays, you name it. She was heavily involved with the “Voice of the Coast” newspaper and a dependable, active member of the tiny community.

MarySchlecht.jpgMary Schlecht, 1980

The night we lost Chuck his friends and neighbors came together. His brother, Rudy, came, and I recall he played a significant role in Ken Kesey’s brilliant “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest”, either the play or the movie, perhaps as a director. The local dentist Fred and his wife, Cathy were there and other prominent carpenters like Michael Sharpe.

One of Chuck Bodin’s last projects was the construction of a pair of gorgeous doors for a beautiful Moss Beach home overlooking the Pacific Ocean. I’m going to share a photo of those with you.

I might add that Pete Douglas (Bach Dancing & Dynamite Society) often generously turned his place over to locals for memorials and other celebrations of life and death.

These magnificent doors leaning up against this unique Moss Beach house represent one of Chuck Bodin’s last projects–

(Reminder click on any photo to enlarge)