We’ll start this week’s episode with a few misunderstandings and corrections that are reprinted in The Light on the Coast: 65 Years of News Big and Small as Reported in The Point Reyes Light.

The Tomales Regional History Center published the book in December, and this week my co-author Jacoba Charles and I are pleased to report that it’s now in its second printing. But more about all that in a minute. For now, let’s get back to some misunderstandings and corrections that originally appeared in The Light.

Here’s a correction from the era (1970-75) when Michael and Annabelle Gahagan published the paper:


Last week in a report we received on the Bolinas-Stinson Beach School Trustees meeting an item slipped by our normally alert censors and copyreaders here. The article stated that the “last agenda item passed unanimously giving school board members $25 per meeting with an additional $5 for every successful motion proposed and $2 for a second.”

This information was completely erroneous. We know that the school board in Bolinas does a lot of innovative things and thought nothing of the accuracy of the proposal.

Our switchboard lit up with complaints. Did they really do it? Even if we wanted to, we couldn’t do such a thing; it’s against state law, said a school spokesman. Chuck Hancock, school board chairman, called to say that such a radical notion was discussed but not until after the meeting and only then as a humorous way of stimulating more interest in board meetings.

Judging from the response we have already received, people are watching Bolinas school board activities very carefully.

— February 2, 1973

Here’s a correction The Light published while I edited the paper:


Because of an extraordinarily involved typographical error, an account in last week’s paper of the “Miracle of the Virgin of Guadalupe” became even more amazing. An English-language caption to a photo was supposed to have read: “According to legend, the Virgin Mary appeared outside Mexico City to an Indian named Juan Diego, leaving her image on his cloak.” Instead the caption read: “leading her in on his clock.” An accompanying Spanish-language version of the caption was correct.

— December 27, 1985

Of course, people in the news can also be confused. Here’s an excerpt from a story that ran in The Light while Rosalie Laird and Ace Remas owned the newspaper:


As wrong numbers go, it was a big one. A fire had been reported in rural Marin. At the county firehouse in Woodacre, a radio dispatcher called on a substation to respond. Unbeknownst to him, the message also bounced across the country and was picked up by a rural fire department in Pennsylvania.

“They went out looking for it, too,” recalls Paul Hanson, a radio electrician for the Marin Sheriff’s Department. Relying on the Marin report for directions, the Pennsylvania firemen, needless to say, got hopelessly lost.

What happened was a radio skip, a meteorological phenomenon keyed by sunspots that crazily boost certain radio signals with power. North-South radio skips can be picked up around the year. East-West skips occur more frequently near the fall and spring equinoxes. With the equinox only two weeks away, the skips are increasing.

— October 8, 1981

Here’s a minor misunderstanding that lightened the news while I published The Light:


A surprisingly resilient wild turkey downed power lines in Tomales last week, causing a four-hour blackout. The turkey, by all indications, is still alive and at large.

Tomales residents Margaret Graham and Walter Earle were drinking tea and reading the paper shortly before 6:45 a.m. last Friday in their home when they were startled by a loud explosion and brilliant flash of light from outside their window.

Running outside, they discovered three downed power lines and a dazed-looking turkey [which had flown into the lines] walking in circles on Highway 1. The couple watched as the turkey ambled into the field across the road from their house, disappearing into the brush…

“Earle immediately reported the downed powerlines to the Tomales firehouse. “Some turkey just took out the power lines,” he recalled saying. Fire Captain Tom Nunes of Tomales told The Light he assumed at the time that Earle was referring to a drunk driver rather than a bird.

Now getting back to the party… Saturday will be the 66th anniversary of the first issue of The Baywood Press, as The Point Reyes Light was called from 1948 to 1966.

In honor of the occasion and to celebrate the publication of The Light on the Coast, the newspaper will hold a public open house in its new quarters behind the Inverness Post Office on Saturday from 3 to 6 p.m. There will be book signings, a few readings from it, and a Q&A about the history it describes. Refreshments will be served.

A highlight of the event will be a reunion of roughly three dozen former staff and contributors who worked for the paper during the last 40 years. A number of them plan to come from hundreds of miles away, including from out of state, to attend the event.

After the party ends in the newspaper office, it will move around the corner and continue in the banquet room at Vladimir’s Czech Restaurant. In case of rain or cold weather, the banquet room will be available during the afternoon as well.

Two other book readings are also scheduled. At 3 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 9, in Point Reyes Presbyterian Church, Point Reyes Books will sponsor readings from The Light on the Coast and from Point Reyes Sheriff’s Calls, Susanna Solomon’s book of short stories inspired by Sheriff’s Calls in The Light.

At 4 p.m. Sunday, April 27, in its Corte Madera store, Book Passage will sponsor readings from The Light on the Coast. Refreshments will be served.