Entries tagged with “Hamlet”.


The Mexican holiday Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) was observed Saturday evening in downtown Point Reyes Station. It’s a day set aside each year for special remembrances of friends and relatives who have died.

Meanwhile up the bay, Tomales Regional History Center on Sunday opened a well-attended exhibition, “The Region’s Lost Buildings: Their Stories and their Legacies.” More about that in a moment.

A Día de los Muertos altar in the Dance Palace held dozens of photographs of deceased family members and mementos of their lives.

Saturday’s celebration began with a procession from Gallery Route One to the Dance Palace. These young ladies wore angel costumes and looked very sweet while some celebrants wore Halloween costumes which were downright ghoulish.

Aña Maria Ramirez, the de facto matriarch of the Latino community around Point Reyes Station, spoke in English and Spanish about Dia de los Muertos. The event was organized by Point Reyes Station artist Ernesto Sanchez, who also created the altar. The Dance Palace sponsored the event with financial support from Marin Community Foundation.

A variety of excellent Mexican food drew a long line to the serving table.

Local singer Tim Weed and his partner Debbie Daly (in white) led some impromptu singing in the Dance Palace.

For many in attendance, including Mary Jean Espulgar-Rowe and her son Joshua, it was a family event.

Elvira de Santiago of Marshall paints the face of Ocean Ely, two and a half, of Point Reyes Station.

Carrie Chase and Diego Chavarria, 10, of Point Reyes Station showed up in elegant costumes. Here Diego waits to have his face painted.

And while all this was going on, photographer Eden Trenor (left) of Petaluma and formerly of Point Reyes Station, was having an opening in the Dance Palace lobby for an exhibit of her works. With her is Dan Harrison, a printmaker who owns a gallery in Olema.

This photograph of ponds is part of Trenor’s show, which is called “For the Yes of It.” _______________________________________________________________

“The Region’s Lost Buildings: Their Stories and their Legacies,” which opened at the Tomales Regional History Center Sunday, is also a photographic exhibit for the most part, but the photos are far older.

Curating the exhibition was Ginny Magan of Tomales, and she did an excellent job, both in her choice of pictures to display and in her captions for them.

The narrow-gauge railroad depot in Marshalls, as Marshall used to be called. The Shields store to the right of the depot still survives and now belongs to Hog Island Oyster Company. “This image of Marshall’s depot shows a style typical of small, early train stations across the country, with its board-and-batten siding and deep eaves,” its caption notes.

The Bayview Hotel, which once stood in this spot on the shore of Tomales Bay, was built by the Marshall brothers in 1870 and was frequented by fishermen and hunters.

When it burned in 1896, the Marshall brothers had the North Coast Hotel (above) constructed on the site. “As the photo shows,” the History Center points out, “the building was a few feet from the railroad tracks.

“The hotel was knocked into the bay by the 1906 earthquake, but pulled out and repaired by the owners, Mr. and Mrs. John Shields.

“Except for its use as military housing during the Second World War, the building remained a hotel under several proprietors until it caught fire in 1971. The 25 guests, all the employees, and owner Tom Quinn and his family got out safely, but the hotel — with only its brick chimney standing — was a complete loss.”

“The depot at Tomales was unusual,” according to the History Center’s caption. “Because of its low-pitched roof, it resembles something built a century later. All Tomales railroad buildings were painted a brick red.

The aptly named hamlet of Hamlet, another stop on the North Shore Railway line, was a village from 1870 to 1987, when the National Park Service bought it.

“Hamlet’s namesake was John Hamlet, a dairyman from Tennessee who purchased the site with gold coin in 1870. He left little but his name. The next owner, Warren Dutton, developed Hamlet as a railroad stop that the Marin Journal described as ‘one of the most inviting places on the bay for aquatic sports.’

“To most of today’s locals, the name Hamlet is connected with the Jensen family, who purchased the land in 1907, and developed and inhabited the village over 80 years and four generations. By 1930, the Jensens were establishing Hamlet’s well-known connection with oyster farming.

The Tragedy of Hamlet.

“In 1971, third-generation matriarch Virginia Jensen was left a widow with five children. She — and eventually they — carried on, though maintaining the oyster farm, its retail components, and the property’s buildings was clearly a struggle.

“A 1982 storm all but obliterated the oyster beds. ‘I never planted [oysters] after that; that was my last tally-ho,’ remembered Mrs. Jensen. In 1987, she sold the site to the Park Service, which then looked the other way as vandals and the elements savaged it. In 2003, the Park Service demolished the last of the buildings.

Highway 1 is the main street of Tomales where it’s known as Maine Street.

“Trotting down Maine Street toward First c. 1890. Originally the Union Hotel occupied this site; after it burned this group of small buildings housed a saloon — one of six or eight in the town — a billiard room and Sing Lee Washing and Ironing. Today the Piezzi Building is at this corner.”

“On a windy day in May 1920, the Plank Hotel caught fire. Despite the best efforts of townspeople at least 16 buildings burned to the ground — two dwellings and most of the town’s commercial center south of First Street.”

“The William Tell was established as a hotel and saloon in 1877. The original building burned in the 1920 fire but was rebuilt within the year. This photo was taken in the mid-1950s.

“The Fallon Creamery, built near the end of the 19th century, used state-of-the-art, steam-operated machinery. The creamery exhibited a 500-pound wheel of cheese at the 1894 California Midwinter International Exposition in San Francisco.” ________________________________________________________________

By the end of the weekend I was again thanking my lucky stars to be living in West Marin. Everybody had been on their good behavior — even the cops.

When a sheriff’s deputy needed to use his patrol car to create a buffer for the Día de los Muertos procession marching down Point Reyes Station’s main street, I walked over and with feigned indignation exclaimed, “They’re all jaywalking.” The deputy replied with a laugh, “They are all jaywalking. And everyone is going to get a ticket.” And soon he drove off.

What a contrast with police in Saint George, Utah. At least according to the Daily Kos website, police last week raided a Halloween party at a family fun center simply because the event included dancing.

One can only imagine how St. George’s police would have reacted to the Aztec Dancers (left) in Point Reyes Station.

They weren’t just dancing, they were dancing on the main street.

How a sewer district came to run a park is one of those idiosyncratic West Marin stories.

Tomales Community Services District was created in 1998 to take over the town’s sewer system from North Marin Water District. At the time, Tomales already had a park, which had opened in 1982. However, after state government inspected the park’s playground equipment and found it unsafe, the district with grants and volunteer labor by townspeople took on making ambitious improvements, including — appropriately — creating the town’s first public restrooms.

Development and maintenance of the park continue to be financed by a variety of grants and fundraisers, with one of the fundraisers held this past Sunday: the third annual Party in the Park.

Giving particular importance to the fundraiser was the Dean Witter Foundation of San Francisco, which had agreed to match dollar for dollar all the money raised up to $10,000.

Having fun selling Tomales Community Park wine glasses, as well as tickets for oysters and drinks.

Among the musical groups entertaining the crowd was the Gary Foster Trio from Sebastopol. Foster (center) also happens to be the organist for Tomales Presbyterian Church. He delighted the crowd by singing rhythm and blues such as What’d I Say, rock ‘n’ roll such as Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On, and country music such as Route 66. But what dazzled many of us was his unexpectedly breaking out of this repertoire to sing a bit of grand opera, giving a masterful performance of La donna è mobile from Verdi’s Rigoletto.

Hoop dancing to most of the music (except Verdi’s) were young people led by Lilea Duran (center in red and black). Lilea teaches adult classes and performs throughout the Bay Area with her company Sunglow Hoop Dance. She also takes part in Vegetable Circus whose mission is to get kids excited about eating their vegetables and staying active in fun, creative ways. Working with schools, youth groups, and other community organizations, Vegetable Circus teaches the kids circus arts like hula hooping. Photo by Lynn Axelrod

Tomales Regional History Center raised funds by selling raffle tickets for a quilt. Alex Mitchell (center), president of the center’s board of directors, is seen here manning the ticket booth.

Sounding like he was auctioning livestock, Sam Dolcini with help from Deborah Parrish raised money by auctioning such prizes as two nights at Donna and Marc Clavauds’ Marinette Cottage in Tomales and a day at Dillon Beach for 20 people.

Among the prizes auctioned was this oil painting by Kathryn LeMieux of a cottage in the Tomales Bay hamlet of Hamlet. During the days of the North Pacific Coast narrow-gauge railway line (1875-1930), Hamlet was a whistlestop with its own post office, restaurant, oyster beds, and cannery. Notwithstanding the rail line’s closing, the homes, oyster beds, and restaurant remained in use.

Sadly, the historic village was acquired by the National Park Service in 1987, thus preventing any commercial or residential use of Hamlet’s buildings. Unoccupied, they were easy prey for burglars who stole furnishings. Hamlet had always been in the line of storms on the bay, and the Park Service made no effort to maintain the old buildings. Some collapsed, and in 2003, the Park Service took a bulldozer to those that remained.

Another prize Dolcini auctioned was this model of a Victorian home, which Barbara Taddei of Tomales created over four years working off and on. Liz Miller of Dillon Beach made the winning bid of $350. Photo by Lynn Axelrod

Tomales Volunteer Fire Department used the party as an occasion to recruit new members. The firefighters reminded me they will hold their own fundraiser, a “country breakfast” from 7:30 a.m. to noon Sunday, July 21, at Tomales Town Hall.

At a popular booth selling books, my partner Lynn found a book she’d always wanted to read, A Distant Mirror: The Calamitous 14th Century by Barbara Tuchman. The author is perhaps best known for The Guns of August, a history of the beginning of World War I.

And what festival in West Marin would be complete without face painting? Youngsters chose designs that ranged from cats to ghosts to super heroes. For some kids, getting their face painted was a highlight of the jovial afternoon.

By my lights, Tomales with a population of only 200 has a disproportionate amount of fun. The community services district website observes, “Tomales is the town that West Marin forgot, and we like it that way. A few times a year the park comes alive with activity, but most of the time the pace is pleasantly slow, the dogs friendly, and good food close at hand.”