Tue 11 Oct 2011
Women of West Marin, a show of black-and-white portraits by Art Rogers of Point Reyes Station plus commentaries by journalist Elizabeth Whitney of Inverness, opened Sunday in the Jack Mason Museum of West Marin History.
A guest ponders photographs of rancher Alice Codoni Hall (top) and her granddaughter Carol Horick (below). Nearly two dozen images of people who have been notable in West Marin’s modern history are included in the show.
Organizing the exhibit were Mary Kroninger and Meg Linden. Noting that more than 100 guests showed up, Kroninger said, “It was the best attended of recent openings.” Among those on hand were seven of the people in the portraits: Carol Horick, Celine Underwood, Dakota Whitney, Laura Wold Rogers, Nancy Hemmingway, Pat Healy and Elizabeth Whitney.
Alice Codoni Hall (1898-1991) lived on D Ranch at Point Reyes. Her father Quinto Codoni was part of the wave of Italian-speaking Swiss who immigrated to West Marin from the Canton of Ticino in the mid-19th century.
“In 1873, he started working on the Charles Webb Howard ranches, taking hogs to market,” Whitney writes in her commentary. “He eventually became the chef hog and cattle buyer in the area. He had a hog and cattle butchering business in Point Reyes Station.” Quinto even came to be a part owner of the schooner Point Reyes that transported the meat to San Francisco.
“Quinto Codoni was considered ‘Mr. Point Reyes,'” Whitney adds, and when the [narrow-gauge] railroad was standard-gauged from Fairfax to Point Reyes Station [in 1920], he drove the ceremonial gold spike.
“His house in Point Reyes Station was very elegant and had a Delco plant to generate electricity for his house and a few neighbors.
“Alice went to school at the old school house on the hill [across Highway 1 from present-day West Marin School], and then when it was built, the Black School,” which was located where the firehouse is today.
She married William T. “Bill” Hall in 1919, and in 1925, they leased N Ranch. In 1927, Bill acquired D Ranch, and the family moved there from N Ranch in 1936. The Halls had about 100 dairy cows, which would be a very small herd by today’s standards.
“Alice tells of driving to Point Reyes Station for groceries or to Inverness to take her children and sometimes other ranch children to school even though she never got a driver’s license and never learned to back up,” Whitney writes. “She spent most of her time working in the house and cooking for the hands.”
Point Reyes Station resident Carol Horick (seen here when she was 22) is the granddaughter of Alice Codoni Hall, and she told Whitney, “Grandma Hall, she was the best.”
Whitney adds, “Carol Horick grew up on her family ranch — the D Ranch overlooking Drake’s Beach — already in the thick of it as an eight yer old with her first 4-H project. First it was lambs, then cows, and always horses.” She was “the quintessential cowgirl. ‘I remember being on horses all the time,'” she said in an interview.
“‘Fall off, get back on. That’s how you learned. Grandma Hall gave me my first pony. It liked to knock me off by running through the clothesline. Some days it came back without me; put the fear of God in my mother.'”
Retired restaurateur Pat Healy chats with other guests while standing in front of two photos of herself at the old Station House Café. The café had been owned by the late historian Jack Mason and then Claudia Woodward. Pat and her short-term partner Jackie Hordoko bought it on Feb. 19, 1974. On Dec. 3, 1989, the café opened in its present location, the refurbished Two Ball Inn building.
On June 1, 2005, Pat sold the business to Sheryl Cahill but retained ownership of the building and grounds.
Before moving to Point Reyes Station, Pat had been a well-regarded jazz singer in the vein of June Christy, Anita O’Day and Billie Holiday. Although she had performed mostly in the West — Los Angeles, Las Vegas etc. — she had also performed in Canada and toured the US with Ray Anthony’s big band.
MALT CO-FOUNDERS — The late Ellen Straus, an organic dairy rancher in Marshall (left), and environmentalist Phyllis Faber co-founded Marin Agricultural Land Trust in 1980.
“Ellen Tirza Lotte Prins was born Feb. 21, 1927 in Amsterdam, Holland,” notes the website of the family creamery. “In February 1940, Ellen and her family fled to New York, just ahead of the Nazi invasion.
“Ellen quickly learned English and graduated in 1948 from Bard College in New York with a hope to practice medicine. A year later, Ellen was introduced to Bill Straus, a German, Jewish immigrant. After courting for 16 days, they married three months later and came to ‘honeymoon permanently’ on the shores of Tomales Bay, where together they grew the dairy and raised four children….
“Ellen served on scores of boards, often three or more at a time, including the Marin Conservation League, the Marin Community Foundation, the Environmental Action Committee, the Greenbelt Alliance, the Eastshore Planning Group, West Marin Growers, Tomales Bay Advisory Committe, the Environmental Forum and the Democratic Central Committee of Marin. She also co-founded Marin Organic and the focus on Family Farms Day.”
Phyllis, an author and educator, has been a California Coastal Commissioner and a vice president of the California Native Plant Society. She graduated from Mount Holyoke College in Massachusetts with a major in Zoology and received a master’s degree in Microbiology from Yale.
Some of her most important work, she’s said, has been editing and publishing environmental books and articles.
MALT grew out of Ellen and Phyllis’ concern that agricultural land in West Marin was being subdivided and no longer used as working open space. To counter this trend, MALT — with money from donors and grants — began buying agricultural easements from ranchers.
The easements allow ranchers to continue ranching their own land but in perpetuity prevent residential or commercial development of the property. To compensate ranchers for accepting the easements’ restrictions, MALT typically pays them half the appraised value of their land.
The money is often used to make improvements to the ranch or pay inheritance taxes in order to keep the ranch in the family. So far, 44,100 acres of ranch land in West Marin is being protected from development by MALT easements.
Women of West Marin will continue through Dec. 31 in the Jack Mason Museum of West Marin History. The museum shares The Gables, Mason’s former house, with the Inverness library, and visitors can see the show whenever the library is open.
Library hours are: 3 to 6 p.m. and 7 to 9 p.m. Mondays; 10 a.m to 1 p.m. and 2 to 6 p.m. Tuesdays; 10 a.m to 1 p.m. and 2 to 6 p.m. Wednesdays; closed Thursdays; 3 to 6 p.m. Fridays; 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturdays; closed Sundays.