Entries tagged with “E Clampus Vitus”.


Tomales was founded in 1850, and almost a thousand people showed up Sunday for the town’s annual Founders’ Day celebration. It was a huge crowd for a town with only 200 or so year-round residents. Attracting all the visitors were both a parade and festivities in the town park.

This year the parade route was shortened to just one long block of the main street, Highway 1.  The reduction allowed the Highway Patrol to reroute traffic onto Dillon Beach Road, Carrie Street, and Second Street instead of having to temporarily stop all vehicles on the highway.

Bystanders clapped as the US Coast Guard honor guard from the Two Rock Training Center marched past in the early going of the parade.

The middle of a long line of motorcycles that rumbled up the main street.

The Redwood Empire Harley Owners Group, affectionately known as HOGS, provided the riders. HOGS is based in Rohnert Park, and among its activities is raising money for Meals on Wheels.

A flowery float.

Hands Full Farm of Valley Ford is run by the truck’s driver, Anna Erickson, a fifth generation rancher. The farm has now gone “big time into eggs and lots of chickens,” she says but adds that she still finds time to make “jams and homemade goodies.” _______________________________________________________________

At the microphone.

From the balcony over Diekmann’s General Store, Bert Crews and Lena Furlong, both of Tomales, were the parade announcers. _______________________________________________________________

The Stair Builders float, a motorized mini go-cart, was entered by George R. Magan, whose business designs, constructs, delivers, and installs handcrafted staircases. The business, which previously operated in Petaluma, has moved into Tomales’ Cerini Garage building.

The Hubbub Club from Graton, Sonoma County, provided upbeat music and some lively dancing.

School spirit.

Tomales High cheerleaders sang out as they marched up the main street.

Dan’s Auto Repair of Tomales again this year entered a clown car that fell apart during the procession and had to be reassembled before continuing.

The Sam Brannan Chapter of E Clampus Vitus is an annual entry in the parade.

The Clampers, a fraternal organization dedicated to the study and preservation of Western heritage, has memorialized events in Tomales history. This Napa-based chapter has also contributed greatly to Tomales Community Park’s remodeling project.

District 3 Dairy Princess Francesa (Frankie) Gambonini (right) and first alternate Jessi Peterson are this year’s goodwill ambassadors for the North Bay dairy industry. They are riding in a 2008 Corvette driven by Bill Maestretti of Maestretti and Son Firewood.

Marshall sculptor Jason McLean drove a truck carrying his elaborate creation called “Got Art?” A skateboarder caught a ride by holding onto the rear.

Riding another McLean entry, which has appeared in a number of parades, is Shannon Hobbs.

A doodle, llama, and goat procession.

A 13-year-old llama named Crunch was led by Jeff Etemad of Tunnel Hill Ranch in Tomales. In front of Jeff, his son Cam led a golden doodle named Lucky. They were accompanied by Aidan Black. Following close behind the llama were the Barlas Boer Goats — great for clearing brush — entered by Nancy Barlas of Petaluma.

Rancher Al Poncia of Tomales rides on a 1946 International truck driven by Gary Thornton of the Thornton Ranch. Al’s son Loren was the grand marshal of the parade.

A 1950 Farmall M.

The sexagenarian tractor, which was driven by Johnny Sanchez, pulled a trailer carrying seven Sanchez grandchildren, who ranged in age from 2 to 10. The Sanchez family ranch is located on Fallon Road northeast of town. ________________________________________________________________

A prophet (Beth Koelker of Tomales) carried a “visual alert” that “The End Is Near,” the end of the parade, that is.

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After the parade, most of the crowd repaired to Tomales Community Park where booths sold food, drinks, crafts, and more throughout the afternoon.

Seven women sold tamales to raise funds for the Reading Book Club of Tomales. The private group is comprised of people who enjoy reading books published in Spanish.

Standing at center (from left) are booster club board members Debbie Becera, John Azevedo, and Missy Calvi.

Tomales Booster Club sold t-shirts and sweatshirts to raise money for Tomales High sports. The group, which just put in a new scoreboard at the football field, also raises funds for scholarships and puts on sports banquets.

Festivities in Tomales are always grand fun, and the only serious problem I noticed Sunday was that the park’s two restrooms were about to run out of T.P. Unable to find any park personnel to restock the lavatories, I walked a block to the general store and bought a four-roll package. I then asked the first two people waiting in line for a door to open to each take a couple of rolls in with them. Both were more than pleased to do so.

“Well, I’ve done my good deed for today,” I told a friend from Marshall afterward. “So everything came out all right in the end,” the older man quipped.

Tomales held its annual Founders Day celebration Sunday with a parade up the main street, which is Highway 1 and which was closed to traffic for the duration. The parade, which keeps getting bigger each year, was followed by a picnic in the Tomales town park.

Firetrucks were a major part of the parade. Most were from the Marin County Fire Department although two were from as far away, so to speak, as Bloomfield in Sonoma County. In a booth at the picnic, Marin County firefighters encouraged Tomales-area residents to join the town’s volunteer fire department. The banner refers to the Marin County Household Disaster Preparedness website.

Steve Kinsey, the Marin County supervisor who represents West Marin, rode in a Lamborghini. He had been originally scheduled to ride on a tractor, but it broke down. Bruce Bramson of Tomales got on the phone for three hours and eventually found Kinsey the elite sportscar for his chariot.

Jeff Etamad of Tunnel Hill Ranch in Tomales led his llama in the parade.

Members of the Redwood Empire Harley Owners Group (HOGS) followed a convoy of firetrucks at the beginning of the parade. The group says that by raffling off a Harley Davidson motorcycle each year, it has raised nearly $1.8 million over the past 10 years for the Meals on Wheels program.

Parading in a truck festooned with sunflowers was the Valley Ford Young Farmers Association. Its president, Anna Erickson, described the association as “a group of us in our late twenties-early thirties. We are made of three farms, Hands Full Farm (being mine), True Grass Farms run by Guidio Frosini, and Swallow Valley Farms run by John Gorman. We grow beef, lamb, pork, chicken, eggs, some produce, cheese, preserves — farmy stuff like that.”

Standing on a balcony above the Continental Hotel, Dru Fallon O’Neill (left) and Bert Crews, both of Tomales, were the parade announcers this year as they have been in the past.

A 1931 Ford Model A roadster pickup owned by the Simoni family of Sebastopol, Sonoma County.

Another Norman Rockwell moment in West Marin: two youngsters and two goats were passengers in the bed of a beat-up, old, farm pickup truck with a KWMR community-radio bumper sticker.

The Tomales High cheerleaders stopped along the route to perform as they marched in the parade.

A shack on a trailer promoted Valley Ford bird houses.

Cameraman at work: Kenzmyth Productions is beginning to film a documentary on Loren Poncia of Tomales. Loren’s parents Al and Cathie Poncia for years operated a dairy ranch, which they eventually converted to a beef ranch, beside Stemple Creek. The ranch was established in 1902 by Al’s grandfather, who immigrated to Marin from Garzeno, Italy, in the 1890s. Loren is the fourth generation to operate the ranch.

Dan Norwood of Dan’s Automotive Repair in Tomales again this year entered a car that fell apart during the parade. Clowns jumped out of the vehicle and put it back together, so it could continue. The entry’s motto was: “If we can’t fix it, we won’t!”

A breakdown in literacy: The Marin County Mobile Library, which was helping bring up the rear of the parade, broke down for real along the route and — after some delays and jokes from the parade announcers — had to be towed most of the way.

The Hubbub Club Marching Band from the Graton-Sebastopol area of Sonoma County was a hit of the parade. At the end of the parade they gave a brief performance at Highway 1 and Dillon Beach Road and then moved on to the beer garden at the William Tell House for a full set.

The Ancient and Honorable Order of E Clampus Vitus marches past the food and crafts booths set up for the picnic in Tomales Town Park. The Clampers, a fraternal organization dedicated to the study and preservation of Western heritage, has memorialized events in Tomales history.

Many picnickers in the park took advantage of a dining tent to escape the heat of the sun.

The band Wagon, whose members hail from Tomales, San Rafael, and Oakland put on a good show for picnickers in the park.

For a town with only 85 residents, Duncans Mills, which is on the Russian River just upstream from Jenner, contains a surprising amount of history from the Marin and Sonoma county coasts.

West Marin oldtimers may recognize this narrow-gauge passenger car from the North Pacific Coast Railroad, which operated from 1875 to 1930 between Sausalito and Cazadero. Point Reyes Station’s present post office was the town depot, and the Red Barn (now painted green) was the engine house.

For the rail line’s first year and a half, the northern terminus was in Tomales, but after a 1,700-foot-long tunnel was dug through “Tunnel Hill,” the line was extended to Valley Ford and Occidental (then called Howard’s) and on to the Russian River area.

After the line shut down in 1930, this passenger car, which is now being repainted, was the Point Reyes Station library until 1957. The late Mike Contos bought the car in 1957 and kept it at his trout farm, which was located where Point Reyes Station’s Caltrans corporation yard is today. The late Toby Giacomini, who at one time owned Toby’s Feed Barn and Toby’s Trucking, bought the rail car in 1975 and moved it downtown to where West Marin Storage is now located.

Millerick Brothers of Sebastopol purchased the car in 1981 and kept it at Millerick Brothers Boat Yard until 1983 when Duncans Mills Trading Company bought it. The old rail car was then moved it to the Duncans Mills Depot Museum, where it is currently being restored for the fourth time.

After a ceremony that took note of the history of this 140-year-old barn in Duncans Mills, Clamper Kevin Dixon of Vallejo (at left) from Sam Brannan Chapter 1004 indicated with a gesture what a great day it was.

On Saturday, two chapters of E Clampus Vitus dedicated a plaque in Duncans Mills, memorializing another piece of coastal history, Moscow Barn at Casini Ranch Campground. The structure is so old that President and former Civil War General Ulysses S. Grant is believed to have stabled horses there at one time.

The “plaquing” was carried out by Sam Brannan Chapter 1004 (Napa, Glenn, Colusa counties “and protector of Solano”) and Yerba Buena 1 (“the Mother Lodge”), which is based in San Francisco.

It was the second time a group of Clampers had dedicated a plaque in Duncans Mills. Back in 1989, Yerba Buena 1 placed a plaque on the Blue Heron Restaurant and Tavern, recalling an odd bit of town history. In 1877, Black Bart for a second time robbed the stagecoach between Fort Ross and Duncans Mills. The outlaw would eventually rob a total of 28 stagecoaches while never firing a shot. What made the second robbery worthy of Clamper recognition is that for this heist, Black Bart wrote a short poem and left it with the stage.

Clampers, by the way, have also left their tracks in West Marin. In 1998, the two groups dedicated a plaque to Tomales’ historic downtown, mounting it on a traffic island in front of the William Tell House. In 2008, they placed a plaque in Tomales Town Park, marking the site of the house of Warren Dutton, a co-founder of the town. The house was destroyed in the 1920 town fire. Yet another plaque was mounted at the Point Reyes Lifeboat Station.

The leader of each chapter or lodge of the Clampers is known as the Noble Grand Humbug. Here Jim “Woody” Morton (at left), the Humbug of Sam Brannan 1004 jokes with Nils “Hagar” Anderson, Humbug of Yerba Buena 1.

The “right temperament” to be a Clamper, said Dean Hamlin of Santa Rosa, ex Humbug of the Sam Brannan chapter, “means you have to have a sense of humor, the ability to laugh at oneself and with others, and have a sense and appreciation of history.”

Loren Wilson, who once lived on the Cereni Ranch just north of Tomales near Fallon, is an ex “Sublime Noble Grand Humbug” of all the Clampers, as well as a past Noble Grand Humbug of Sam Brannan Chapter 1004 and a current Clamper historian.

Gina Casini and her brother Paul Casini own Casini Ranch Campground where historic Moscow Barn is located. Paul noted their grandfather once managed a dairy ranch for the LaFranchi family on the site. In 1928, he bought the land from them. Gina said her grandfather then started the campground “and charged two bits.”

In 1919, the Christian Brothers had bought the neighboring land where the barn was located to start a retreat for boys. The barn’s stalls were converted into a recreation hall that was also used as sleeping quarters, Paul said, and the hayloft was converted into a chapel. By 1973, he added, the barn was no longer being used and was in disrepair, so the Christian Brothers decided to have it torn down and offered the Casinis the lumber.

However, his father had been baptized in the chapel and played in the barn as a boy, and he was fond of the building, Paul said. His family then moved the barn 1,500 feet to their property. On the way, the barn had to travel down a slope, and Gina said she’d been amazed it didn’t shake apart. Fortunately, the barn arrived safely and her father then restored it.

Humbug Morton and Gina Casini during the plaquing.

Gina told the crowd of almost 200 about going to movies in the barn as a youth. More recently she’s taught line dancing there and would like to do it again, she added. Nowadays, however, the former livestock barn is primarily used for weddings and other group events.

Following the comments from Gina and Humbug Anderson, he in accordance with tradition asked the group, “And what say the brethren?” In unison they shouted back, “Satisfactory!” Anderson then read the plaque to the crowd and again asked, “And what say the brethren?” Again the response was: “Satisfactory!”

The two humbugs then “anointed” the plaque with bottles of beer.

Tomales held its annual Founders Day parade and picnic Sunday. Steve Rosenthal, superintendent of the Shoreline School District and principal of Tomales High, was honored as parade marshal. Bert Crews and Dru Fallon O’Neill, both of Tomales, were the parade announcers.

Seen here passing a lineup of motorcycles at the main intersection in Tomales, a noisy caravan of fire engines led the parade, their sirens drowning out this cell-phone call.

Slide Ranch, which is located between Stinson Beach and Muir Beach, provided a contingent of two goats and a llama.

Indian Valley Carriage from Novato carried a jug band. At the very back sat Ingrid Noyes of Marshall playing an accordion and kazoo.

The Sanchez family in a 1950 McCormick Farmall. Three generations of the family took part in the parade.

Maryann Diaz-Romero, vice president of the board of the Tomales Regional History Center, wearing a pink blouse from its collection, with the Martinelli family and a wagon that promoted the historic dairying exhibit currently at the center.

Antique cars driven by the Traversi and Simoni families, with three generations from each family, were among the highlights of the parade. From front: Myrna and Al Traversi with their grandchildren Matthew and Jacob in a 1928 Model A Ford, Steve and Michelle Traversi in a 1913 Model T, Wayne and Kimberly Simoni in a 1912 Studebaker EMF, and Troy and Mary Ellen Simoni in a 1931 Ford Model A roadster pickup.

Among those riding in the line of antique cars were a family of five who showed up from Dubai. Troy and Mary Ellen Simoni have lived in the United Arab Emirates for the past year and were home on vacation with their children — Olivia, 12, Nathan, 10, and Sophia, “nearly 8.” The children rode with their grandparents, Wayne and Kimberly Simoni of Sebastopol.

The Tomales High cheerleaders drew heavy applause from bystanders.

Anna Erickson, a 5th generation member of a local ranching family, drove the Hands Full Farm float. The farm is in the Valley Ford area.

The Ancient and Honorable Order of E Clampus Vitus, a fraternal organization dedicated to the study and preservation of Western heritage, has memorialized events in Tomales history. As the organization, which is known for pranks, paraded up Highway 1, a Clamper broke away from the group. To bystanders’ amazement, he grabbed a spectator, whose name is Debbie, and gave her a passionate kiss on the lips. When she laughed, so did everyone else. It turned out that the Clamper, Kevin Dixon of Vallejo, is married to Debbie. The kiss, he told me later, was a spur-of-the-moment idea.

An All Terrain Vehicle (ATV) driven by young people pulled the Tomales Elementary School PTA’s float.

Marissa Thornton of Tomales drove a float promoting the Tomales Farm and Flea Market, which will be held from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Oct. 23.

Redwood Empire Harley Owners. The parade contingent said their 300-member group has collected $1 million for the California Council on Aging’s “meals on wheels” program.

Dan Norwood of Dan’s Auto Repair in Tomales drove a wobbly car that kept coming apart only to be reassembled by clown mechanics.

DT Motor Sports of Bodega Bay with Miss Bodega Red, Tia Minto, 11.

The crowd picnicking in Tomales Park enjoyed a variety of fare, as well as beer and wine. Crafts and used books were also on sale. Madam Zublatsky (Roberta Vinck, a marriage and family therapist in Tomales) read palms, with all proceeds going to the park.

The Greg Rocha Band provided entertainment for the picnic. From left: Chick Petersen on guitar, Greg Rocha on drums, Lyn Carpenter-Engelkes on vocals, and Steve Christoffersen on guitar

The Tomales Elementary School PTA raised funds with face painting.

Hundreds of people showed up Sunday when Tomales’ Community Services District held an Independence Day party in the town park. A variety of fundraising booths sold fare that ranged from German to Mexican to East Indian. There was music, crafts for sale, a silent auction and raffles.

The weather was the best it’s been in weeks, with children and dogs having at least as much fun as adults.

Entertaining the throng was the group Hill Williams with Pammy Lowe.

Tomales residents have spent the last 35 years developing the park. At first, they leased the land and then acquired it in 1992 with help from the Trust for Public Land. Eventually, it was deeded to the Tomales Village Community Services District. With development of the park beginning in 1979, the town landscaped the site and built restrooms, a gazebo, and this play structure.

Rancher Bill Jensen (left) and cabinetmaker Bruce Kranzler, like many other Tomales-area residents, took advantage of Sunday’s “Party in the Park” to catch up.

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County firefighters manned a table where they taught CPR to anyone interested in learning.

Beth Koelker (at left) spent much of the afternoon selling fundraising raffle tickets.

Three years ago the “Clampers” set a plaque in the park, describing the early history of Tomales. The 165-year-old group E Clampus Vitus memorializes historic sites that are too small for state historical registers in the West. The fraternity alternately describes itself as an historical drinking society or a drinking historical society.

It is perhaps best known for a hoax in which it recreated Sir Francis Drake’s 1579 “plate of brass,” which claimed this area for the queen of England. The Clampers’ plate was discovered in Marin County during the 1930s and for 40 years was assumed to be authentic.

Only after it was shown to be a forgery did it come to light it was a hoax perpetrated by some Clampers decades earlier.

One of the marvels of Tomales’ town park is this “Spider Shack,” which Henry Elfstrom (at left) mans most Sundays.

The shack contains numerous tarantulas in bottles and terrariums.

Elfstrom, who unhesitatingly picks a tarantula out of a terrarium to display it, said the spider’s bites hurt because its fangs are big.

However, he added, the amount of venom from a bite is about the same as what one gets from a bee sting.

The hairs on the tarantula’s back, he said, are also a defense mechanism and can irritate the skin of would-be predators.

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In the park’s gazebo, highly regarded blues singer Rick Pepper of Marshall entertained the crowd of partiers. A good time was held by all.