There were plenty of railroad misadventures along the banks of the Russian River of old. The first wreck of the Fulton and Guerneville Line (an offshoot of the SF & NP R.R.) was in 1898. While a locomotive was switching over to the turntable in Guerneville, it gave a nudge to a string of flats. The brakes bled and the cars started off on the slight downgrade to Guernewood Park. At the same moment, the Bully Boy was coming from Mission Gulch (present day Old Cazadero Rd.) with six loads of logs. On the curve (where Old Caz Rd & Hwy. 116 meet), a head-on crash sent Bully Boy airborne. (more…)
The Russian River flood of 1986 brought both sadness and humor to the scene. One story relates how the Pink Elephant saloon in Monte Rio kept its doors open despite the presence of three feet of muddy water inside. Patrons continued to play a game of pool while in their boats. Others fished from atop bar stools.
There were also stories of bewilderment and sadness. The bartender on the night of February 18th, closed the Pink Elephant and tried to walk through the flooded street to his home. However, somewhere along his journey he lost his way and fell into the raging waters and drowned. The family of the deceased complained to the folks at the Guerneville mortuary when their relative appeared in his coffin without his favorite leather jacket as requested. The mortician’s assistant said that the victim arrived from the local authorities without any such apparel. Two weeks later inside the town’s Safeway, one of the family members spotted the son of the mortuary’s owner wearing the leather jacket. A struggle ensued and the treasured item was forcibly returned to the family of the deceased. (more…)
In the historical fiction novel, Stumptown Daze, we go back to 1960 and find our two lovers, Lani and Jake, visiting Angelo’s Resort (also formerly known as Angelo’s Sandy Beach Resort and Restaurant) in the backwater town of Monte Rio, California. Jake, a germaphobe, is repulsed by the sight of customers feeding raccoons and he goes on a tantrum. Needless to say, this causes newfound friction for our offbeat couple.
I remember my parents taking us kids to Angelo’s during the 1950’s (see image of dining-dancing lounge above). My favorite dish to order as a ten-year-old was veal parmesan. I would scrape off the cheese and eat it and leave the rest for the local critters. This bewildered my mom to no end not to mention my father who had to fork out the money for such a waste.
Stumptown Daze, a romantic comedy novel, has a scene at Monte Rio’s Village Inn.
In Stumptown Daze, our caregiver Lani and her new boyfriend Jake have a mishap at the Village Inn on their way to another iconic restaurant–Angelo’s. To this day, the Village Inn is not only a favorite spot for the wife and me, but also for luminaries from the nearby Bohemian Grove.
In older days, the Russian River Rat Pack consisted of Bing Crosby, Bob Hope, Phil Harris and Danny Kaye–all fine Catholics until they arrived at the summer retreat. The annual variety show was a fundraiser for the local Catholic church, St. Catherine. Many an hour was spent by these Bohos at the Northwood Golf Club. Phil Harris would rent a house near the ninth hole and roast passing golfers. Bob Hope’s one liner regarding the course still holds true today: “The fairways at Northwood are so narrow you have to walk down them single file.” (more…)