Social Notes: Authors Visit local history museum in HMB’s “Z” Hotel, Z as in Zaballa

Dave Cresson, owner of the Zaballa Hotel in town, hosted a lovely evening for the authors who’ve written

books about the Coastside they love. Historical authors. Here’s Dave, and he truly was the “host with the most.”

Casey’s Cafe, located behind the “Z” House,  catered, and there were raves about the soup–and  nice touches like the mint leaf in my delicious glass of lemonade.

Dave is a businessman with a good streak of creativity. Here’s the invitation he mailed to the authors.

Dave has his own historical book that he’s laboring over, with a working title something like: From the Windows of the Zaballa House. In this endeavor Dave is lucky to have the loving support of wife Shelia (as I do with my parnter, Burt.)  I hadn’t seen Shelia in a long while. She was as sweet and spunky as I remembered.

Marina Fraser of the Spanishtown Historical Society was there, also Stacy Trevenon from the Half Moon Bay Review as well as Photographer Michael Wong;

Kathleen Manning came from the Pacifica Historical Society  (she told me that tonight, Friday, the PHS is sponsoring an event at the “Castle”)

There were two “stars” present in the reception area of the Zaballa House. Palo Alto historian Jeanne McDonnell told us about her well-researched new book: Juana Briones, the remarkable early Peninsula pioneering woman. Her enthusiasm was contagious.

Accompanying Mrs McDonnell were her husband and daughter who told me how much she enjoyed the friendly atmosphere.

I said two “stars” were present. Jeanne McDonnell was one; the other was the “permanent” historic exhibit (photos, maps, documents) the Cressons have lovingly installed in several rooms of the hotel.

Mark Andermahr, owner of the famous Half Moon Bay Bakery,

a couple blocks north of the Zaballa Hotel, brought his impressive HMB Drag Strip memorabilia for all to enjoy. Mark was with Jerry Bello who he’s talked about so much. When my “obsession” with Coastside history began, one of the first locals I interviewed was Harold Bello, Jerry’s father.

I applaud the Cressons, David and Shelia, owners of the oldest hotel in town who have rekindled our passion for local history.


Above, I mentioned meeting the Bello family. While looking through my voluminous files, I found one marked: Interview with Mrs. Harold Bello, August 5, I forgot the include the year but it would be the early 1970s. She was Louis Miguel’s youngest sister. The Miguel family constructed the beautiful Palace Miramar Hotel in 1916—which, burned in the 1960s. It was then owned by Albert and Eva Schmidt and it was also called “Albert’s,” a very popular seafood and steak restaurant. Albert played host to large groups of people, service organizations and important political get-togethers. When Richard Nixon was running for governor of California, a disappointing race he lost, Nixon appeared at a series of fundraisers held at Miramar.

Mrs. Bello and I talked about the hotel, its size, the name of the rooms. She said it was a two-story hotel, with a big ballroom; “the nicest in the county.” There were 16 bedrooms (upstairs and downstairs) A bar and lobby. A swimming pool.

“My father and brother built the pier,” Mrs. Bello told me. She recalled a pile driver, but to confirm it in her mind, she promised to write an older brother in Trinity.

In 1942, she continued, the military was stationed at the hotel. There was also a schoolhouse in Miramar used for barracks. After the war, the Miguels sold the hotel.

“And it changed hands–was a restaurant each time–the last time it was a gift shop until Albert bought it.”

Mrs. Bello remembered Maymie Cowley, the red-haired madam who reigned over the Miramar Beach Inn down the road from what became known as “Alberts.” [At the time I was trying to get a hard date on when Maymie’s place had been constructed. Not all Coastside buildings were officially recorded.]