I Count Myself Lucky That I Met Bruce Haig: Story by Fayden Holmboe

Story by Fayden Holmboe fayden2.jpg

When I first moved to Half Moon Bay from the Hillsdale area in the late sixties, there were a few locals that certainly stood out and it was always interesting to visit with them.

Bruce Haig seemed old to me but he was probably only about fifty. He had a weathered face like a farmer who had worked the land for many decades. Bruce was an ageless thinker, and he had more cool solutions to expensive problems than anyone I’ve ever known.

I met Bruce about 1969 as he rode his bike up to the front yard of “Little Joeâ€? Cotruvos house on the corner of Santiago and Francisco in El Granada. Bruce always rode a bike when he was off work, wherever he went to on the coast. He might be the only person in history who could smoke a pipe continually while riding up hill. His pipe had a large stainless stem between the tobacco bowl and the mouthpiece. He put toilet paper in it and this acted as the filter, “economic and efficient”, he exclaimed, owning about eight of the same design.

Bruce’s home had a window facing west that was about four- feet- high, and six-feet- wide with a fine view of the harbor. He could see Snakehead Point (also known as Pillar Point) and to the south the fog horn on the breakwater.

About 1975 new neighbors built a two-story house on the lot immediately to the west of Bruce’s 4 x 6 foot window blocking his entire coastal panorama. There was nothing but a wall of stucco looking back at Bruce. Bleak at best and the only thing breaking up the monotony of the wall was a very small sliding glass window and that was way up on the second floor.

Bruce went over, pipe in mouth, introduced himself to the new neighbors and asked in his always low-key voice, would they mind if he “painted a mural on the blank wall of their home?” They said okay so Bruce drew what was missing from his ocean view on their stucco wall.

You could still see the “real view” from other windows in Bruce’s dining room. If you stood in the dining room you could compare the “real view” with the painted one on the stucco wall and then back again to the “real view”.


This same 4×6 window was broken in the top right corner, with about two feet missing from it. Most people would have replaced the window. Instead Bruce got out his salvaged pieces of stained glass, channeled lead, then made and installed a beautiful little stained glass sun with rays coming off it in this corner.

Bruce was the shop teacher at Hillcrest Reform School in San Mateo, and he had so many talents besides woodworking. A good sense of humor was one so the kids would obey him, I’m sure.

There were many dimensions to Bruce. He was an accomplished potter, had a kiln and a few potters’ wheels in the backyard. If he found a log in the woods or on the beach, he’d carve it; if he found some scrap metal he’d make a fancy wind vane out of it. But the result was never just average. Whatever Bruce Haig made was finished, thought out, and well done.

In the late sixties Bruce said he didn’t like the violence on t.v. so as his personal statement he took an old Phillips t.v., gutted it and covered the screen with fabric. That was the only channel you could watch!

If you met Bruce on the street you would never have dreamed he was as creative as he truly was, an inspiration to me for sure, and funny to boot!

Long live the Bruce Haigs of the world!!!

(Watercolor of Snakehead Point and the beach at El Granada by Galen Wolf).

Langston Bowen R.I.P.: A Very Funny Recollection By Fayden Holmboe

Lang Bowen’s Driving Lesson Dilemma

fayden2.jpgStory by Fayden

MiramarBeach.jpgMiramar Beach, circa 1920s

Langston Bowen (most of us called him “Lang” back then) passed away about a month ago; he lived out here for a long time, and the most memorable thing I remember about Lang was a driving lesson gone bad.

So to set the stage, Lang lived at the south end of the road the Miramar beach Inn sits on.This house is now known as the “Hastings House”. After the “outer” breakwater was installed, the currents changed and ripped the beach down dramatically, so instead of walking straight out of the front of one’s house onto the beach, you had to climb down a cliff wherever access was possible. It looks similar to how it is
today, the difference is they hadn’t put the rocks in yet to curb further erosion.

I think that happened in 1970.

Some of these new cliffs stood fifteen feet or more between the road and the sand.

As memory serves me, Lang had one of the first Toyota land cruisers, a large station wagon- sized- four wheel- drive. He volunteered to help this kid Steve learn how to drive. Teaching someone to drive
is a charitable act at best, while at the same time putting one’s life, health and material wealth into a unpredictable teenager’s hands.

Apparently Steve hit the gas a little too hard backing out of the driveway, drove himself, Lang and the landcruiser out of the driveway and across the road a little too quickly to brake. Slowly………
slowly the car tilted until it sat on its back window and bumper facing down into the sand, its windshield facing skyward. It looked kinda like the space shuttle at the launch ramp in Florida .

After all this happened, I came walking upon the scene described. I looked down over the front of the car (I was standing on the road) through the windshield at a very puzzled Lang and Steve gazing back upward at me. Lang, whenever puzzled and unnerved, had a smile with enough teeth to look like the front grill of a fancy Lincoln Continental. With this smile he welcomed me to the scene not seeming to be terribly upset although somewhat bewildered.

So I asked Lang what in hindsight was an absurd question! “Do you need any help”?

Wth his Lincoln Continental “full-teethed” grin dazzling me and the heavens beyond, he laughed and replied “Uh……..no……….no……NO……we’re fine”!

So believing him, I walked away and went on in life with whatever I was doing.

Now, remember there were no cell phones. I have no idea to this day how they got out of the car (but they did), I have no idea how the car made it back onto the road (but it did), and we laughed about it later.

Ahhhhhh, the end of the sixties, we all did inhale, and no none of uswere running for president.



In 1977 I had a small cabinet shop in El Granada, and built a lot of signs and things for Carolyn Wood, a graphic artist. Carolyn was doing the menus, and designing the big sign out on Hwy 1 for what was going to be called “the Distillery” but had been the Galway Bay Inn for years.

This guy Paul had purchased the restaurant and in talking with Carolyn, he found out I had knowledge of an old whiskey still’s location. The old postmaster of the El Granada Post office’s grandfather (as the story was told me) had buried the original still from this restaurant behind a barn somewhere in Half Moon Bay during prohibition. It was supposed to still be there.

Carolyn came by my shop, and introduced me to Paul. Paul let me know–with his southern California attitude showing– that he was going to get this original still buried behind the barn. It truly left me scratching my head wondering why he came by to meet me just to tell me this but whatever! He made it very clear he did not need mine!

In Burlingame was (as far as I know) the first mini storage place on the peninsula named “U Stor It” run by a friend of mine named Mark. This was a warehouse with lots of plywood cubicles and mesh wire composition built the entire area for two stories except for the office, and a driveway from the front to the back. Along this driveway people were allowed to sell things if they had a box there, and this is where the whiskey still sat. $85.00 said the piece of binder paper taped to it.

A couple of weeks later Carolyn Wood called me up and said Paul could not find the whiskey still buried and so was interested in mine. He came over to my shop and started going on (very wired dude) about how he had found a still for $800.00 but it wasn’t in very good shape. I agreed to show him the one I knew about and told him the location. As soon as he left I called Mark, and told him to put a price tag on it for $800.00. Mark did it one better, he brought it into the office, put a sheet under it on a table, wrote a full typed page of its history and placed it neatly to the side of this giant metal tea pot with a straw.

When Paul arrived with Carolyn (I wasn’t far behind in my car) he was elated going on about how much better this one was than the other for $800.00 and in so much better shape!

$800.00 was a whole lot of money to us back in 1977 so you will never know how gleeful we were when Paul said he wanted it!

He started dealing out the hundred dollar bills, put the still in the car, drove away happy while Mark and I deducted the $85.00 we owed the original owner and split the rest……….. I always feel I can afford to eat at the Moss Beach Distillery!

I guess Paul took the whiskey still with him when he moved away but this is truly how the Distillery got its still!

We Hear From Fayden, The HMB Man Who Drinks Too Much Coffee

fayden99.jpgPhoto: Poodle, is that a black cat, too?– and Belinda with Fayden. Photo: courtesy Fayden

Hi June! Just busy fixing, building, being a grandpa, being a dad, being a husband, being a good worker, being being being etc. (Baba Ram Dass would have liked those last three words).

There is this really nice man who just moved to the coast named Charles, who owns Coastside spa repair in Princeton– he is very interested in coastside history (military, mainly, I think). What building did what kinda thing and where.

I told him about the pedestrian overpass in Montara going over to the lighthouse for the enlisted men– from the end of what is now Serra St. in Moss Beach– and about the gun turrets in front of the Distillery– and that most of the horizontal (small lap), lap strake homes on the coast were probably officers homes.

Then I had this great idea, and I suggested he read your articles. I loaned him your book (I really want you to autograph it), and told him perhaps you would know more about the coast in this regard.

This picture is of Belinda Balaski and me the day before I left to go to Europe on tour in 1970– she starred in and acted in a bunch of movies and now runs an acting school in L.A.. Belinda was a local on the coast in the late sixties, worked at the Miramar Beach Inn– although it was called the Spouter Inn for awhile, then the Shelter Inn. Belinda is a great gal! She was one of the rare coastside poodle owners as well.

She always had Muffin, her poodle, with her wherever she was– and apparently has always had one to this day. I like guitars better, I don’t have to feed them, take them for walks, or hold them unless I want to!

Anyway, got back from my European tour…the first morning back I’m walking south on the beach from El Granada, and I see Belinda running in front of the Miramar Inn across the beach. My hopes arise that she and I will pick up where we had romantically departed. She sees me… smiles, comes running up to me, gives me a big hug, and kiss– and in the same moment tells me excitedly she is living with Mike Mindell! My heart was broken…….. well not really, but I was forever jealous of Mike after this moment.

Mike, by the way, was one of the managers from the Spouter Inn days. He and Belinda moved to Manhattan beach where Mike recorded for Kapp records while Belinda launched her acting career. Mike is a great guy too, reminds me of Peter Adams in a way.

So there is a part of coastside history before you moved here, my friend, that was apparently important for me to share with you.

By the way, I fell in love with you the day you brought two plastic dog puppets that operated from squeeze handles into the kitchen by the back door. Do you remember them? You sat across from me at the kitchen table, and did a puppet show with them, you being the voice for both! You won my heart forever!


History Of A Coastside Musician: Fayden’s Story

On that sizzling hot weekend a few days ago, Coastside musician/artist Fayden drove from Half Moon Bay to Redwood City where he had a musical reunion with friends he hadn’t seen in 38 years.

The guys rented a hall that wasn’t air conditioned “so playing acid rock four-feet up on a stage full of Marshall amps was brutal—— but fun!!!”

When I arrived on the Coastside in the early 1970s, everybody knew Fayden. Well…I’ll let him tell his story as a musician, filled with sweet memories…..


“The band I played with was called “Time”; we were a major player on the peninsula,we played with Country Joe and the Fish, and released a 45.

Before this (and what really made me want to be in music) I knew a wonderful
Italian family who lived down the street from where I grew up.They kind of adopted me
(my parents weren’t home much) and I was there more than not.

The dad was in partnership with two other guys who managed the “New Bedouins”.
He would take me to their performances, and sometimes the group would let me sit in for the
warm-ups as the drummer usually didn’t arrive until the last minute
from his regular job.

This group became the original “Grassroots” that did “Where were you when I needed you?”, and “Mr.Jones”, by Bob Dylan.

Anyway, I popped my lung singing with the band “Time” (acid rock),and so had to start playing more acoustically/folk type music,

I went to Hollywood and worked with Jackson Browne, Dobie Gray, Karen Gunderson (New Christy Minstrels), Lee Mallory (Millennium).

Half the time I was in Hollywood, the other half in the Bay Area– when up here I lived with Ron and Sue Wickersham. Ron was the main
engineer/electrical genius for Pacific recording on El Camino Real and Hwy 92. I got to work with a lot of the people from the Avalon/Fillmore, Tony Lenzini (Steve Miller) Cork Seagull,
Fred Catero, David Rubinson (San Francisco records),

Backin the sixties musicians ran around like a bunch of quaking ducklings whoever was around played, and it was wonderful!!!

I had a little shack in El Granada, and was playing over at the Miramar beach Inn (then called the Shelter Inn, then the Spouter Innor visa versa). Patrick Simmons, and Tyranne (went on to be DoobieBros.), and Peter Grant (played with the “Dead”), and I played there.
Also Mike Mindell (Uncle Jim’s music), Sonny Terry, Brownie Mcghee,Jesse (the lonecat) Fuller (wrote San Francisco Bay Blues), TomScribner(played musical saw on a Beatles song), Hot Tuna and the list goes on.

Clay Fountain, Mike Conrad, Bill Middlejohn, Harry Moore, Kay Quadra,Anthrax (Electra records), so many people (the regulars) played atthe Shelter/Spouter Inn and we all played together later in the

I went to Europe and cut a solo album while on tour with a groupcalled “Steam Hammer”. This was a side group for Ion Anderson. While there I was offered a chance to be in the “Doobie Bros.” by the man who gotthe front money from Warner Bros., His name was Paul–he was one
of the guys from the group “The Mojo Men” who took their royalties and built and owned Pacific Recording where just about all of thesixties albums were made.

If I had known Pat, and Ty were going to be in the group, I would have probably not opted for the solo l.p. andcome back to the states. My l.p. went to the Cannes music festival (representing Bellaphon records.)

I was the first American to write against the Viet Nam War (outside this country). This l.p was blacklisted in the U.S.A.–however it did really well every where else.

When I got back to the U.S.A., I hooked up playing in smaller coffee houses again, recording and working with other folks, who, like myself, were largely the wind beneath the wings of folks most people have heard of.

Chuck Portz was the bassist in the Turtles– he and I had a little band in Montara in the early 1970s. The last time I played (using my union card) was with Waylon and Willie, substituting
for and “Outlaw”, at the Concord Pavillion in 1976.

Then I started building/repairing guitars instead of playing them.

P.S. I play guitar, bass, banjo, mandolin, dulcimer,keyboards, handsaw, and vocals. A little drums, brass, and fiddle.

I’ve written hundreds of songs.

I play and write in a John Fahey, Leo Kottke, style however usually
end up jamming with people in a bluegrass or blues capacity.

Fayden & Son Zack Demonstrate Heredity

A few posts back I shared with you what I called “the two sides of Fayden” Holmboe (literally the two sides–left and right, taken on the same day in my El Granada backyard 30 years ago)

“I sent my son those two pictures you sent me, he had his wife take this one

He’s going to be 25 this June so that puts us just about at the exact age.

Zack is a science teacher in a junior high school in North west
Oregon and is starting a chapter with his class on heredity. He
said this is going to be one of his examples!

Thought you’d enjoy seeing how your “historical photo of me” was built upon!

Fayden lives in Half Moon Bay and works at Stanford (Applied Physics).

Real Coastsiders Know Fayden

The two sides of Fayden as he relaxes in my “old” backyard ” 30 years ago when, as he says, “we were all hanging out”– in the background a snap-together geodesic dome “invented” by my ex.


Fayden played with a rock group; was it The Turtles?