…”Heartstrings”…. Story by Michaele Benedict

When Raney teared up at news of the generous gift, one irreverent orchestra member called out “It’s a one-way ticket, Kay.â€?….Michaele Benedict***


Story by Michaele Benedict

ragtimers-19852_2.jpg (Photo: Pacific Coast Ragtimers at Harmony, California
in 1985. Front row, from left: Ian Whitcomb, Sara Lomax, Claudine Schwarz-Minton, Skip Tenney, Noni Naughton, Michaele Benedict, Dick Zimmerman. Back row, from left, Mike Hart, Lloyd Connors, Jim Rogers, Jim
Tillotson, an unidentified violinist, Joe DeFelice, Jack Gerkin and Nonda Trimis. Lomax, Benedict, and Hart still play with the Coastside Community Orchestra. Hart still plays with the Ragtimers.)

The Coastside Community Orchestra (CCO), founded in Spring 1983 with only a violinist, flute player and a pianist, is celebrating its 25th anniversary, as a smaller group formed earlier with some of the same players turns 28.

On Saturday, Feb. 2, flautist Sara Lomax of Moss Beach, one of the founding members of the Coastside orchestra, will perform the Mozart flute concerto in D. Several other members of the original orchestra will also be playing.

The official 25th anniversary concert is planned for Saturday, May 3.

In its 25 years, the orchestra has presented at least three concerts a year, as well as special children’s concerts, awarded countless scholarships to young music students, and has included at various times an estimated 300 players, from age twelve to eighty-plus, and ranging in ability from novice to professional.

In at least three instances, orchestra members have married each other, and there are several orchestra babies. The original group has grown from about a dozen members to nearly fifty.

In a way, Ragtime may have had something to do with the early meetings of the Coastside Community Orchestra. In 1980, a group of Coastside music teachers met, calling themselves the Pacific Coast Ragtime Orchestra. Several of the Ragtimers were founding members of the symphonic group, and three of the original Ragtimers including Sara Lomax still play with the Community Orchestra.

Meanwhile, the Ragtime group, now called Pacific Coast
has branched off into national performances
and has made many recordings.

The CCO’s Music Director, Kay Raney, began playing with the orchestra in its third year, became assistant director in 1988 and was appointed music director in 1991. On his tenth anniversary as director, the orchestra presented him with airplane tickets to Salzburg, Austria, Mozart’s birthplace.

When Raney teared up at news of the generous gift, one irreverent orchestra member called out “It’s a one-way ticket, Kay.â€?

The orchestra has premiered a number of Kay Raney’s own compositions, some of which were written to showcase the talents of specific orchestra members. For the Feb. 2 concert, Richard Gordon will be a guest conductor, but Raney has, as always, written all the informative program notes. Gordon has directed the Woodside Village Band since 1988.

“The first group [of the CCO] was very small, maybe
15,â€? flautist Sara Lomax says. “We played middle school arrangements of Handel’s Water Music and rehearsed in the Methodist Church’s old Sunday School room. Robert Smith [the Cunha Intermediate School music teacher] and Bill MacSems [music teacher at Half Moon Bay High School] traded off with the conducting. A first concert that I remember was behind Obester Winery in the Christmas tree field. I remember straddling a small Monterey pine between my feet as I played.â€?

Another founding orchestra member, Carole Tillotson, now a resident of Colorado, recalls that the three players and Tom McArthur, then pastor of the United Methodist Church, placed an ad in the Half Moon Bay Review asking people interested in forming an orchestra, to attend a meeting.

“Nine people showed up, including Sara, Claudine [Schwarz-Minton, the first concert mistress, who still resides and teaches on the Coastside], Derek [Evans, who still plays clarinet with the orchestra], and Joe DeFelice [whose widow plays first violin.]â€?

McArthur’s daughter, Tracy, played clarinet. At the winter Obester Winery event, “I remember playing percussion standing in the dirt between two Christmas trees,â€? Tillotson adds. “I played cello parts on the piano for at least two years,â€? she says. “Melinda Wagner [a professional cellist who lived on the Coastside and later became president of the San Francisco chapter of the Musicians’ Union] played the concerts for free. Tom McArthur’s daughter Tracy played clarinet for a while.â€?

Derek Evans, who was still in high school during the early meetings, married orchestra cellist Donna Musick several years ago. The orchestra’s timpani were donated in memory of Joe DeFelice, who died in 2001 at the age of 86, having played with the CCO for almost 17 years.

Two other members of the original CCO group, Jim Tillotson and Christy Zarate, now play locally, and abroad, with the San Francisco Scottish Fiddlers.

In addition to the flute concerto, the Feb. 2 concert will include Joseph Haydn’s Overture to Il Mondo Della Luna and his symphony No. 104, one of the “Londonâ€? symphonies.

Join us for the concert that takes place at 8 P.M. at Community United Methodist Church, 777 Miramontes Street, Half Moon Bay.

The Coastside Community Orchestra is a nonprofit group, governed by a five- member board and is offered as a class by the Half Moon Bay Parks and Recreation Department. The group rehearses at the Ted Adcock Center in Half Moon Bay, performing there and at the Methodist Church. No auditions are required.

***Michaele Benedict’s beloved daughter, Anna vanished from her Purisima Creek home in 1974. Please visit Michaele Benedict’s (searchingforanna.com website)– click here

1947: End-of-WWII Letter to R. Guy Smith

(R. Guy Smith was visiting in Charleston, Arkansas when this letter from Montara was written). Gives insight into local goings-on, Mills Air Field and politics after WWII.
From: Giles. R. Johnson, P.O. Box 113, Phone Moss Beach 2411, Montara, California


Monday Nov. 3, 1947

Dear Guy:-

Thanks for all the Cards–enclosing few clippings which may interest you moe than they might if not in foreign (?) lands–grand weather here, mostly, rained a couple of days–not much else of interest, except, I understand your assistant is getting fed up with house-and-kids cares and running the government also–saw Harry last eve while in Reds* last evening—said he rambled all over Tunitas hills and meadows Sunday gathering mushrooms–said he never thought he could “take” the hills any longer, but found he could.

If you will let me know Flight number and date will call up Mills Field to learn hour of expected arrival there, and if at not a convenient hour for you to hitch a ride home on a Bus will try and meet you at the field.

Everyone around here o.k.

Suppose you fixed up everything politically while in Washington. [President Harry] Truman seems to be scrambling around for some way to unload the bad results of his policies. More and more I am wondering if all the Billions they are sending over to Europe and Asia, by Santa Claus, does anyone any particular good, except the Junketers. And to waste more money–Frank’s [President Franklin Roosevelt] was to waste as much as possible so he could borrow some more–Harry doesn’t seem to know the war is over, so he keeps right on “coppy-cattin” Frank.


When Moss Beach Ruled: R. Guy Smith: The Man Who Said He Could Do Anything…

and he did…. do everything. Where are men like Raymond G. Smith today?

Photographer/Electrician/Postmaster/Coastside Leader/Realtor…and so on.

Here’s a brief visual history of R. Guy Smith’s life.

There’s R. Guy Smith posing beside his Moss Beach home, still standing and still looking like the original gem that it was. That’s Smith’s automobile; he kept it in pristine shape as you can see in the other pictures below. He arrived in Moss Beach in the 1900s–his uncle was already there, selling real estate during the Ocean Shore Railroad era. R. Guy set up his electrical business in the building along Highway 1, recognizable today. Later it housed the Moss Beach Post Office, where R. Guy was the postmaster, famous for balancing accounts to the nearest penny.

At one time, the Moss Beach Post Office was also the place where you’d take out a book to read, a local lending library.

In the lower photo, I am sure the pile of bags contain photographic postcards, most scenic pictures of the Coastside, all shot by R. Guy Smith. Note the glass window: “Kodaks,” it says, I assume, referring to the film.

R. Guy set up the Moss Beach Coastside Chamber of Commerce which makes me think that the “Moss-Backs,” as the locals call themselves, intended to run the entire Coastside, that Moss Beach was the center of power, where major decisions were made. R. Guy championed an alternative route over Devil’s Slide, a tunnel, even. He intended that Moss Beach control the HMB Airport.

Today the “Moss-Backs” wonder why the Marine Reserve was not named the “R. Guy Smith Marine Reserve.”





In the City: Moraga Stair Walk…

The “Moraga Stairs were not as creative-looking when I was growing up near them in the Sunset District. Lynn Kalajian McCloskey walked up and down them for us and took the great photo.


Meet Brinkley…………


I met “Brinkley” 20 years ago when she was my chiropractor Mark Reis’s sweet dog. Brinkley accompanied Mark everywhere, including his over-the-hill office. Brinkley’s gone now but she’s remembered in this lovely painting as she watches over Mark’s patients in Room #1.

The Wonders of Moss Beach………


“Where Nature, unadorned, her handiwork reveals
“In lofty span, in jutting rock
“which raggedly conceals
“The bounding, breathing, living swell
“of the unfathomed deep,
“Where he who plows no furrow leaves
“nor ever stays to reap.
“Not that I love man’s work the less,
“thus do I seek thy shore,
“But that I love the handiwork
“of untouched Nature more.”

From Moss Beach Realty brochure, circa early 1900s

…What are the odds…

of running into your across-the-street neighbors at the same restaurant in San Francisco at the same time? We did, at lunch today, at Greens, at Fort Mason near the Golden Gate Bridge. Carole Delmar and Jim Elliott were just as surprised to see us as we were to see them.