The Sylvia Parker Story: Early Moss Beach

[Image below. The Moss Beach Gas Station (that stood on the east side of Hwy 1) Mrs. Parker refers to in her letter. My neighbor, Mrs. Pacini, a longtime Coastsider, now in her 90s, believes some of her relatives are pictured,]


[ Thank you Mrs. Parker, who is Elaine Martini Teixeira’s cousin. More pix coming.]

[Image below: “My father and his two brothers lived and worked at this ranch when they first came to America.” Mrs. Parker’s father is the last man standing in the back row.]

Dear Ms. Morrall,

As you will see I am not a writer.
I will do the best I can.
I wish I could tell you more.
May name is Sylvia nee Belli Parker.
I’m now a widow living in Cameron Park. I was born August 21, 1920. At that time we were living in one part of the house of Peter B. Kyne [the author] where my father farmed the land nearby.
[Image below: “My father loved his cars. This was in front of the Kyne house, Moss Beach.”]
We later moved to a house, he (my father) had built on Etheldore (in Moss Beach) –
[Below: Images of the house then and now. I hope I got them in the right order]
It’s across the street from the grammar school.

Also across the street –later– a bocce ball was situated In the background

is the home of my mother’s brother, Roy Torre, and his wife, Pia, nee Nerli and children, David and June.

[Image below: “Torre Home on Sunshine Valley Road.” It was also a grammar school at one time.]

My father was born in 1889 in San Donato near Lucca in Tuscany, Italy. In 1906 he came to Moss Beach. He was sponsored by a local farmer.
[Image below: “Father farming near the railroad”]

He became a USA citizen in 1917. He was quite ambitious and later farmed artichokes and sprouts on some of the land that now is the airport near Princeton. In 1917 he married my mother, Rose Torre.

My mother was born in 1898 to Octavia and Eugenia Torre
[Image below: “Love this picture of my grandfather Octavio Torre.]
in San Francisco. After the San Francisco earthquake, the family moved to Moss Beach on Sunshine Valley. I’m sure that my aunt Lillian (Torre) Renard will tell you more of the Torre family.

I failed to mention he (Mrs.Parker’s father) built the service station in Moss Beach.


You have a picture of it and of him in your book, “Half Moon Bay Memories.” The other two people I’m not sure; I think they rented and operated the station.

In 1932 –we–my father, mother and I traveled to Italy where we stayed with relations for three months. When we returned he built the Half Moon Bay Inn.
[Image below: The Half Moon Bay Inn on Main Street, before and today.]

He leased it to Charles Carlini (not a good idea). So–my father took it over–I think it was in 1936.

The Moss Beach house was sold to my mother’s sister Eva and her husband Albert Quilici (ed. I have to re-check the spelling] and we moved to an apartment in the Half Moon Bay Inn.

I attended Half Moon Bay High School and graduated in 1935. I commuted to San Mateo Junior College. Before I even completed the first year he (my father) converted one corner of the Half Moon Bay Inn into a soda fountain and made me the proprietor at the age of 18 and a half. I operated it all through World War 2–quite an experience. Also very successful.
[Image below: “My cousin Raymond Martini home on leave.”]
In 1944 I married Jack Parker, a local young man. We lived in the apartment above the fountain. Son Jack was was born in 1947. In 1949 we moved to San Bruno into a new home.

My husband worked for RCA in San Francisco and was an excellent professional musician (trumpet). My daughter Janet was born in 1953. She was a well known journalist with the San Mateo Times. She married James Beck from San Bruno. Sadly, at the age of 41 she died, leaving a five-year-old daughter Amanda.

Our son, Jack, graduated from San Jose State. So did Janet. He became a music teacher and married Sally Graham. They have two sons—22 and 28 years old.

After [my husband] Jack retired, we moved to Cameron Park in 1981. I continue to live here. My son, Jack and his wife lived Rancho Murieta. I wish I could tell you more but I think you have more in your book, “Half Moon Bay Memories.”

Forgot to mention —-I can’t recall the date my mother and father were living in which is now called Pacifica (at that time it was Edgemar). He had a bar there. In May 1956 he was trying to repair a garage door. The spring broke loose from the wall and hit his skull. He died two days later. After that mother lived in Burlingame and later with me. She died in a convalescent home in 1963.

Sylvia Parker June 2009
[Image below: Family picture]

Terry Baldwin: Who’s the new Hunter Thompson?

Note: I’m not sure I understand this fascinating post from Half Moon Bay-er Terry Baldwin—but I have to say that when I worked as a stringer for Time in San Francisco (when it was still a great magazine, with luminaries you would not believe) I was called the new Hunter Thompson.

Thompson, now gone, was an original and crazy-wild journalist who gave birth to what was labeled as “gonzo journalism.”. Really,  I never understood why anyone would compare “me” to Hunter Thompson, but I’ve been let loose yet! 


Story by Terry Baldwin

When I read “Note: I’m finding that while I feel compelled to “give-up” these stories, at times it’s painful, retching work. Who will understand? These stories come from a different time, 30 years ago, when “gonzo” journalist Hunter Thompson ruled–“ I had to comment IMHO Matt Taibbi is the new hunter s Thompson. His stuff is great. So is yours.


Thank You

Terry Baldwin



Classic European Elegance By The Sea

615 Mill Street, Half Moon Bay CA 94019-1726

Phone: (650) 726-8750 800-900-ROSE (7673)

Fax: (650) 726-3031


Email: [email protected]

La Peninsula: How Maverick’s Works by Montara resident Bruce Jenkins

& The Many Sides of Pigeon Point by JoAnne Semones

Review by John Vonderlin

Email John ([email protected])


Hi June,
I was just reading the Winter issue of “La Peninsula,” the Journal of the San Mateo Historical Association. The cover and first twelve pages are devoted to an excellent article about Maverick’s by Bruce Jenkins, a Montara resident. Bruce, the advisor to the History Museum’s interactive Maverick’s exhibit and author of several big wave surfing books, knows his subject really well and so do we after reading the article. He’s got good inside stuff, covers the history well, and also delves into the spirit of the unusual group of surfers who risk their lives challenging the monsters that can build, collapse and explode at our local, world famous surf spot. With sponsorship secured, invitees picked, all we need now is for Mother Nature to co-operate, and we’ll once again be exposed to one of the most daring sporting events anywhere.

With the great low tides over the next few days, if I can arrange it, I might try to make a circum-Pillar trip and get some pictures of Maverick’s, Mushroom Rock, etc. from the foot of the Point, something impossible during the event.

The other article completing the issue is “The Storied Waters of Pigeon Point,” by JoAnne Semones.” JoAnne, the author of “Shipwrecks, Scalawags, and Scavengers,”  an excellent chronicling of a century of the tragedy-filled Maritime history of the treacherous waters the Pigeon Point Lighthouse was built to neuter, has added new material from rare oral histories and personal interviews with the keepers’ families and local residents. She has included historic smuggler stories that should be great background for some of the tales I’m hoping Rob Tillitz will share about his experiences in these waters. Enjoy. John


….1967: Haight—-& Today: Joel Bratman’s Slideshow of Graffiti on the Haight

While rummaging through the garage, I came across this “drawing” of me, dated 1967, the artist signed off as Joseph Gomez.

I remembered it immediately but the circumstances remain blurry. In 1967 I still lived with my parents in San Francisco; I was attending City College which almost everyone I knew who graduated from Lincoln High School had chosen to do (while they were making up their minds what to do next.)

This was the time of the famous Haight-Asbury, and one night I was there, exploring the streets when I came upon the artist called Joseph Gomez sitting on the sidewalk, drawing pictures of whomever wanted their image on paper.

Here’s mine, and, no, I don’t think I looked anything like that! Tiny head, poo!


To visit Joel Bratman’s (that’s his photo above, thanks Joel) slideshow called “Graffiti on the Haight,” please click here


My childhood friend Lynn Kalajian McCloskey tells me that she, too, had a portrait of her done by a mysterious artist in 1967, the same year Joe Gomez drew my image in the Haight-Asbury.

Here’s Lynn’s account and picture:

City College – PE – Bowling – Castle Lanes – 1967
A guy was watching us bowl when someone on my team said to me, ‘Hey, Lynn, that guy is drawing you.’

I walked over and asked him why he was drawing me. I don’t remember his response, but when he was done, he left it on the counter behind where we were bowling. Then he vanished. His name on the drawing looks like Gus De Bock. I googled him, but couldn’t find anything.

Funny, we should both have one from the same time period. I had it crinkled up in a drawer until about a month ago. I am working at getting the wrinkles out of it, but I think it’s a lost cause.

[Image of Lynn Kalajian, 1967. Email Lynn: [email protected]}