Don DeWolfe, who died in 1987, published The Point Reyes Light/Baywood Press from 1957 to 1970 in what is now the Coastal Marin Real Estate building. He wrote the first part of this Bob Worthington retrospective as a column for the Jan. 19, 1984, issue.
By Don DeWolfe
“Former resident Bob Worthington was in town. Bob built a number of homes here. The first was George DeMartini’s home on Highway 1 north of the school.
Worthington (seen below in 1970), died in 2001. He was a World War II vet with a Purple Heart, as well as a former contractor, prison guard, and police informer.
“He built a cluster of homes on the Mesa, including his own, which is now owned by [Krauth Brand].
“He also built the apartment house on Mesa Road behind The Point Reyes Light building.”
“Worthington bought the lot from Burt Jensen, who owned Sunbeam Motors, and had it surveyed. [Sunbeam Motors was located on the main street where Cheda’s Garage is today.]
“Through the years as the county road crew replaced the blacktop on Mesa Road, they had rounded out the corner so much that the corner of Bob’s lot was now right in the center of the road. He took a pick and dug a hole in the blacktop at that spot. Sure enough, he found the old surveyor’s monument, and Bob needed every square foot of the lot for his building [to have enough setback from the road] to qualify for a building permit.
“On a Friday afternoon from the back window at my printing shop at The Light, I saw Bob appear, along with Walt Kantala and his backhoe.”
Don DeWolfe (right) pretending to type a column at the bar in the Old Western Saloon, which he frequented.
“Walt proceeded to tear the blacktop off the road. I walked back and said, ‘Bob, you’re fixing to get into a heap of trouble. You can’t just tear up the county road.’
“‘The hell I can’t,’ he replied. ‘It’s on my property.’
“‘But, Bob,’ I explained, ‘By right of eminent domain the county is going to claim they now own the road part of the lot.’
“‘Look, Don,’ he said. ‘It’s Friday afternoon. All the big wigs at Civic Center have already left for the weekend. By Monday morning, I’ll have the forms all in and be ready to pour the foundation.’
When I first came to Point Reyes Station in 1975, the fence to the right of the tree had not yet been erected, and more than a few inattentive motorists drove over the then-small sapling, usually breaking a bunch of limbs.
“Monday morning came, and so did the county. After a few words they departed. Next morning the road crew appeared and moved the road back over where it belonged. Bob built a monument on the corner and planted a tree in it.
“Later Bob did some remodeling for Sally Stanford at her San Francisco home. [Sally Stanford had been a brothel madam in San Francisco and later opened the Valhalla restaurant in Sausalito, where she was elected to the city council and became mayor.]
“One night on the way home Bob stopped at a bar in Sausalito for a drink. He overheard a couple of guys at the bar plotting to break into Sally’s home while she was away and steal her valuable jewelry. He tipped off the police, who put a stakeout on the place. A couple of nights later they nabbed the two guys trying to break in.
“Later someone fired a shot at Bob while he was driving along the road at Nicasio. The bullet went through the open window of his pickup right in front of his face and out the closed window on the other side. So Bob moved away.”
Sally Stanford in 1947
At this point, San Francisco Chronicle reporter Ralph Craib picks up the story. In a Nov. 4, 1966, report, “Good Citizen Pays High Price,” Craib described the many ways criminals exacted revenge on Bob Worthington for his informing the police about the impending burglary. Here are some excerpts from the article. By coincidence, Craib, who died in 1995, was the reporter who nominated The Point Reyes Light for its 1979 Pulitzer Prize for Public Service.
By Ralph Craib
“An armed but frightened man recited yesterday the harrowing personal price he has paid since serving as a police informer.
“His [contracting] business is dead; he has been ambushed and shot, and his wife and two children live in constant fear and almost continuously on the move, said one-time San Quentin guard Robert Worthington.
“Worthington provided police with their first tip of the impending burglary of the home of Sally Stanford at 2324 Pacific Avenue in April of last year . Police Officer Salvatore Polani and three others were later convicted after falling into a trap which Worthington, then a Point Reyes contractor, helped set.
“Once his identity was revealed, he said, police were immediately assigned to guard him, his wife, and his daughter, 13, and son, 11.
“But his business began falling apart. He couldn’t go out to a lot to inspect a prospective building site, he said, until police had checked out the person he was to meet. He had to have his telephone disconnected because of ominous calls received by his wife.
Ralph Craib (right) celebrates with Cathy Mitchell and me in the Point Reyes Light’s newsroom on April 16, 1979. She and I had just learned that, thanks to Craib’s nomination, our little weekly newspaper had won the 1979 Pulitzer Prize for Public Service.
“He has moved his family home five times and has had to send his family out of town on several occasions when police warned him that there was danger. Two cars he owned have been repossessed. Three homes which he had built and in which he had substantial investment have been foreclosed.
“On a couple of occasions, I was followed by strange cars,” Worthington said. “One night I was followed by a car without lights and went up to 100 miles an hour. At night time you can’t see back and the only thing to do is run.”
“Worthington was provided a gun by police — and used it once. He was ambushed on Lucas Valley Road in Marin County, Sept. 5, 1966, and grazed by a bullet. He fired two shots back at his attackers. ”
In 1999, Bob Worthington belatedly received a Purple Heart, having suffered PTSD and having developed a serious heart condition while fighting on Guadalcanal in World War II. He died in 2001 in Coos Bay, Oregon, at the age of 76.
The advent of email roughly 20 years ago created a new phenomenon in humor: jokes that quickly get forwarded and re-forwarded to an ever-expanding crowd of Internet users worldwide.
A Canadian cousin and her husband, both of whom shall remain nameless so they keep me on their email list, send me one or two jokes almost every day. Believing that clever humor — including blonde jokes and the like — should be shared, I’ve decided to pass along a few.
Turkey in the straw outside Mitchell cabin last week.
• An old man lived alone in the country. He wanted to dig his tomato garden, but it was difficult work as the ground was hard. His only son, Vincent, who used to help him, was in prison. The old man wrote a letter to his son and described his predicament. Dear Vincent,
I am feeling pretty bad because it looks like I won’t be able to plant my tomato garden this year. I’m just getting too old to be digging up a garden plot. I know if you were here, my troubles would be over. I know you would be happy to dig the plot for me.
— Love, Dad
A few days later he received a letter from his son. Dear Dad,
Don’t dig up that garden. That’s where I buried the bodies.
— Love, Vinnie
At 4 a.m. the next morning, FBI agents and local police arrived and dug up the entire area without finding any bodies. They apologized to the old man and left. That same day the old man received another letter from his son. Dear Dad,
Go ahead and plant the tomatoes now. That’s the best I could do under the circumstances. — Love you, Vinnie
• A sign in the bank lobby reads: “Please note that this bank is installing new drive-through ATM machines enabling customers to withdraw cash without leaving their vehicles. Customers using this new facility are requested to use the procedures outlined below when accessing their accounts. After months of careful research, male and female procedures have been developed. Please follow the appropriate steps for your gender.”
1. Drive up to the cash machine.
2. Put down your car window.
3. Insert card into machine and enter PIN.
4. Enter amount of cash required and withdraw.
5. Retrieve card, cash and receipt.
6. Put window up.
7. Drive off.
1. Drive up to cash machine.
2. Reverse and back up the required amount to align car window with the machine.
3. Set parking brake; put the window down.
4. Find handbag, remove all contents onto passenger seat to locate card.
5. Tell person on cell phone you will call them back and hang up.
6. Attempt to insert card into machine.
7. Open car door to allow easier access to machine due to excessive distance from car.
8. Insert card.
9. Re-insert card the right way.
10. Dig through handbag to find diary with your PIN written on the inside back page.
11. Enter PIN.
12. Press cancel and re-enter correct PIN.
13. Enter amount of cash required.
14. Check makeup in rear view mirror.
15. Retrieve cash and receipt.
16. Empty handbag again to locate wallet and place cash inside.
17. Write debit amount in check register and place receipt in back of checkbook.
18. Re-check makeup.
19. Drive forward two feet.
20. Reverse back to cash machine.
21. Retrieve card.
22. Re-empty handbag, locate card holder, and place card into the slot provided.
23. Give dirty look to irate male driver waiting behind you.
24. Restart stalled engine and drive off.
25. Re-dial person on cell phone.
26. Drive for two to three miles; release parking brake.
• Two Virginia hillbillies walked into a restaurant. While having a bite to eat, they talked about their moonshine operation. Suddenly, a woman who was eating a sandwich at a nearby table began to cough. After a minute or so, it became apparent that she was in real distress.
One of the hillbillies looked at her and said, “Kin ya swallar?” The woman shook her head no. Then he asked, “Kin ya breathe?” The woman began to turn blue and shook her head no.
The hillbilly walked over to the woman, lifted up her dress, yanked down her drawers, and quickly gave her right butt cheek a lick with his tongue. The woman was so shocked that she had a violent spasm, and the obstruction flew out of her mouth. Once she started to breathe again, the hillbilly walked slowly back to his table as his partner said, “Ya know, I’d heerd of that there ‘Hind Lick Maneuver,’ but I ain’t niver seed nobody do it!”
• A blonde was on holiday and driving through Darwin (Australia). She desperately wanted to take home a pair of genuine crocodile shoes but was unwilling to pay the high prices the local vendors were asking.
After becoming frustrated with the no-haggle-on-prices attitude of one of the shopkeepers, the blonde shouted, “Well then, maybe I’ll just go out and catch my own crocodile, so I can get a pair of shoes for free.” The shopkeeper said with a sly, knowing smile, “Little lady, just go and give it a try!” The blonde headed out toward the river, determined to catch a crocodile.
Later in the day as the shopkeeper was driving home, he pulled over to the side of the river bank where he spotted the same young blonde woman standing waist deep in the murky water, a shotgun in her hand. Just then, he spotted a huge, 3-meter croc swimming rapidly toward her. With lightning speed, she took aim, killed the creature, and hauled it onto the slimy banks of the river.
Lying nearby were seven more of the dead creatures, all on their backs. The shopkeeper stood on the bank, watching in silent amazement. The blonde struggled and flipped the croc onto its back. Rolling her eyes heavenward in exasperation, she screamed, “What the hell? This one’s barefoot too!”
• The stoplight on the corner buzzes when it’s safe to cross the street. I was crossing with a co-worker of mine. She asked if I knew what the buzzer was for. I explained that it signals blind people when the light is red. Appalled, she responded, “What on earth are blind people doing driving?”
No joke, something similar actually happened to the late Ralph Craib, the San Francisco Chronicle reporter who nominated The Point Reyes Light for its Pulitzer Prize. Ralph came home from World War II legally — but not totally — blind, and his family got a Disabled Veteran license plate for their car.
The plate permitted them to park in handicap spaces, but one day a San Francisco policeman upon seeing Ralph get into the car accused him of parking in a blue zone without having a handicap placard. Ralph pointed out the car’s Disabled Veteran license plate and noted he was legally blind.
If you’re legally blind, the cop demanded, what are you doing driving a car? With great patience, Ralph explained that the license plate allowed his wife to drop him off and meet him close to his destinations.