Meet Frank Celestre of Able Body Pet Care

I felt lucky to run into Frank Celestre at the El Granada Post Office this morning. He was about to take Rocky, Matzo, Jasmine and Amy for a hike on the nearby trails. Made me want to go, too. (Photo above is of Frank with Amy.)

Quite the couple: Here’s Matzo and Jasmine:

More Frank (You can’t see him but that’s Rocky in the backseat)

To see Part II, pop over to

1912: Road Rage over the hill in San Mateo (4)

I wrote this in 2001.

Prominent oil executive’s son collides with irate chauffeur

Captain Barneson was also known for his stores of another kind of lubricant.

During Prohibition it was common knowledge that the Peninsula’s wealtheir residents kept vst stocks of fine wines and imported whiskies in secure vaults, and it was no secret that Capt. Barneson’s inventory was among the best.

When rumors spread that an afternoon blaze was about to “lick up” Barneson’s illicit treasure at his beautiful San Mateo County home, volunteer fire fighters piled into automobiles, hopped onto motorcycles and rushed to the scene.

The fire fighters broke all previous records in the dash from San Mateo to the Barneson home. It was clear they were motivated by their civic duty to protect life and property.

“It was not every day that the populace of San Mateo was given an opportunity to aid in the saving of a vast store of liquor such as was reported to be housed at the Barneson county residence,” said one newspaper.

When the firefighters got there, they found nothing ablaze. The alarm was due to a defective flue on the upper floor of the Barneson home. How disappointed they were to discover that Captain Barneson’s liquor stock, valued at $50,000, remained safe in the fire-and-burglar-proof vaults in a sub-basement.

They went home sober and sad.

When Captain John Barneson passed away in Hillsborough in 1941, this son of a Scottish ship owner was heralded as one of the pioneers in the development of California’s petroleum industry. But on that Sunday in 1912, when frightened by his son’s automobile accident in San Mateo, he reacted like any other father.

1912: Road Rage over the hill in San Mateo (3)

I wrote this in 2001.

Prominent oil executive’s son collides with irate chauffeur

Captain John Barneson, borin in Wick, Scotland, in 1862, descended from men who had followed the sea. At age 21, Barneson was put in command of one of the family’s ships sailing on the American-Asian run.

Thirty years later Barneson moved from the bridge of the ship to establishing his own shipping business in San Francisco. During the Spanish-American War he returned to the sea as captain of the transport, Arizona, carrying troops across the Pacific.

At about this time, it was said, Captain Barneson became fascinated with petroleum, believing that the day was near when all ships would be propelled by oil, rather than the coal used in early steam engines.

In a successful experiment, he persuaded Captain William Matson of the famous shippng family to use the new fuel on the Enterprise, a vessel plying between San Francisco and Honolulu.

It took about 20 years for Captain Barneson’s prediction to come to pass. Oil-powered ships became well known and accepted throughout the world.

The dynamic Barneson then turned to a new challenge, the problems involved with getting oil to the consumer. He was credited with building an oil pipeline between Coalinga and Monterey, the first of its kind in California. Against the advice of many experts, he followed with construction of another line from the valley fields southward over the Tejon Pass.

He then began operations in the Los Angeles area, forming the Grand Pipe Line Company and becoming associated with the Esperanza Consolidted Oil Company.

By 1912, when son Harold collided with the vehicle driven by the chauffeur, Captain Barneson had become the dominating force in the founding of the General Petroleum Company.

The General Petroleum Company was doing just fine, but it fell under the shadow of giants like Union and Standard Oil. Standard was on the move, controlling much of the marketing, distribution and oil production in the West.

While California had been viewed as a major oil province in the 1900s, the Rocky Mountain range presented a geographical barrier, cutting the state off from the rest of the nation where the bulk of oil customers resided.

To some experts it appeared that California’s future oil production would be marketed to Asians rather than those domestic markets east of the Rockies.

Captain Barneson remained an executive with General Petroleum until 1928 when he resigned due to ill health. Interestingly, he was also a vice president of the Standard Oil Company of New York.

(next, Part 4)

1912: Road Rage over the hill in San Mateo (2)

I wrote this in 2001.

Prominent oil executive’s son collides with irate chauffeur

After hearing testimony fro Captain Barneson, his son, Harold, and Gallois, chauffeur James Irving pled guilty to speeding within the city limits and was fined $15 by San Mateo’s City Recorder.

But James Irving had countercharged Harold Barneson with breaking the county’s speed laws, and this case was tried before a jury in Justice of the Peace H.W. Lampkin’s Redwood City courtroom.

The socially prominent Barneson and Gallois families attracted many local spectators to the legal proceeding. There was no shortage of stylish young ladies in the audience whose loyalties to Harold were evident.

Enlivening the proceedings was the testimony of Captain Barneson, who described the chauffeur as a “pinhead,” but was quickly admonished by Justice Lampkin, who advised the witness to hold his opinions and simply answer the questions.

The packed courtroom buzzed with excitement, then fell silent as the jury’s verdict was read. Harol Barneson was acquitted and the courtroom exploded with applause.

But the case was not over for the chauffeur. He pled guilty to going around corners without regard to the rules of the road. Justice Lampkin, displaying remarkable judicial restraint, suspended the additional fine, remarking that many had been guilty of similar offenses.

The final accounting showed that Captain Barneson, besides landing the big upper cut, was instrumental in having Irving fined $15 for speeding and $5 for not following the rules of the road in going around a corner. Captain Barneson also scored a technical victory in the acquittal of his son on the speeding charge.

1912 was a very good year for Captain Barneson. By then, he had earned the reputation as one of the largest–if not the largest–individual owners of oil properties in California.

Although his varied business interests were rooted on dry land, Captain Barneson would much sooner have been at sea. He was established as one of the country’s leading yachtsmen. While in New York he purchased the handsome 85-foot schooner, Edris, outfitted with a Craig engine that enabled the vessel to move at about eight knots.

Bringing the Edris to her home berth in San Francisco required sailing around the Horn–a dangerous and challenging voyage.

Arriving in San Francisco safe and sound, Captain Barneson made a wager with a man named Commodore Mitchell that he could beat the commodore’s Yankee Girl in a race from Long Beach to Coronado Beach, with the loser paying for a $1000 dinner at the Hotel Del Coronado.

On the day of the yacht race, a 20 -mph breeze churned the sea. Following the yachts along the seashore were several automobiles filled with the socially prominent from the Peninsula and Los Angeles. One of the automobiles was equipped with a wireless apparatus enabling the occupants to communicate with the yachts throughout the race.

While Commodore Mitchell chose to stick close to the shore, seaman’s luck was with Captain Barneson, who took an outside course and won the race by half-an-hour.

A year later, now commodore of the old San Francisco Yacht Club, Barneson took over responsibility for major yacht races, including the Presidential Cup featured at the 1915 Panama-Pacific Exposition in San Francisco.

(Part 3 coming)

1912: “Road Rage” over the hill in San Mateo (1)

I wrote this in 2001

Prominent oil executive’s son collides with irate chauffeur

By June Morrall

Scraped and bruised, Harold Barneson, stunned automobile crash victim, stood in the middle of quiet Hayward Avenue near San Mateo’s Central Park in 1912. The 17-year-old was the son of socially prominent Peninsula yachtsman Captain John Barneson, a California oil industry pioneer, and the young man would soon rely on his father’s influence.

A few feet away from young Barneson, chauffeur James Irving fumed. The chauffeur’s passenger and employer, John Gallois, also shocked by the accident, looked on. Gallois was the son of the owner of the White House, the famous Union Square store that catered to San Francisco’s affluent.

Moments earlier on this warm sunny Sunday, Harold, without a care in the world, motored along Hayward Avenue near the luxurious Peninsula Hotel. Then, seemingly out of nowhere, a car operated by chauffeur James Irving turned the corner and collided head-on with Harold Barneson’s vehicle.

There was the sickening, unmistakable sound of metal crunching, followed by an eerie silence, and the shaken, disheveled occupants of both vehicles emerged from the wreck to survey the damage to man and machine The cars were smashed beyond repair.

The finger pointing began in earnest. The livid chauffeur, certain that he, a professional driver, was not at fault, shouted that Harold had been speeding. Gallois concurred, and bolstered by his employer’s support, the red-faced chauffeur placed total blame for the accident on young Harold.

Harold was equally certain that he was not at fault and had not been speeding, and the chauffeur’s attitude irked him. He felt self-righteous and indignant but realized he was no match for these angry adults.

The Barneson’s residence ws nearby, and Harold rushed home to his famous father, Captain Barneson, a director of the highly anticipated Panama-Pacific Exposition. He would know what to do. Harold poured out his story, blaming the chauffeur for the collision. The senior Barneson was easy to persuade.

The vision of seeing his bruised and bloodied son caused the 50-year-old oil company executive to almost lose control. Captain Barneson wasted no time and headed for Hayward Avenue. The chauffeur and Gallois were still at the scene of the accident as a boiling mad Captain Barneson approached them.

The captain walked up to the chauffeur and without a word avenged his son’s wounds by landing a stiff upper cut to James Irving’s nose. Terrorized, the bloodied chauffeur fled but son returned with a constable in tow. With the policeman at his side, the chauffeur charged Captain Barneson with battery.

Barneson rtaliated by filing a charge against Irving for exceeding the speed limit on Hayward Avenue. Gallois continued to defend his chauffeur.

Captain Barneson was released on his own recognizanc as he pled guilty to a charge of battery and was fined $10. Then followed two trials.

(to be continued)

Neighbor Carol Delmar Shows Us Her Gigantic Cacti

HalfMoonBayMemories asked Carol: Where did you get these humongous plants?

They’re on loan, she told us. They had been growing, for years, at Princeton-by-the-Sea.

Carol Delmar: I’m just babysitting them. The aloe looks like it’s 200 years old!

South Coast: Is it a Manmade Tunnel? John Vonderlin Reports

Story & photos by John Vonderlin

Email John ([email protected])

Hi June,

Some time ago I posted a story*** about what I consider the most viewed Sea Arch on the San Mateo coast.

I maintained that this arch was the one on the promontory that forms the southern bank of Pescadero Creek where it flows into the ocean. There was some mention by someone that the arch was actually “a hand dug tunnel.” Curious, I went to look for myself, checked it out, took a lot of photographs and opined that it wasn’t regular enough to be manmade.

Besides why would somebody go to the trouble of digging a seemingly pointless tunnel?

Well, last week I was showing my neighbor the California Coastal Records Project (CCRP) website. I was demonstrating the Time Comparison feature when he commented that he and his high school buddies used to party at the beach pictured on the screen. They knew it as “Hole in the Wall Beach.”

That Hole in the Wall is none other then the sea arch opening? tunnel? at Pescadero Beach. Only my neighbor informed me that he was sure it was a tunnel because in the Seventies the sides were much more regular, demonstrating its manmade origin.

While I’m not one to question the hazy, thirty five- year- old memories of a drunken youth, I was still having trouble wrapping my mind around the idea of somebody going to the trouble of digging a tunnel in that spot.

A few days ago while reading the transcript of a “Pescadero Oral History Project” interview with Ron Duarte, the owner of historic Duarte’s in Pescadero, I got my answer. Sort of.

“A bunch of old timers made that tunnel,” said Ron. “ It is not natural. Everybody thinks it is natural but it is not. They thought that was going to keep the mouth of the creek open. Maybe it did and maybe it didn’t. But, most of the time I don’t think it did much good. That was man-made, that tunnel.”

In another interview, also on the Pescadero Oral History CD, Marty McCormick was asked the same question.

Interviewer: Do you remember the tunnel at the mouth of the creek?

Marty McCormick: Out by the beach. Oh, yeah. It is still there. We used to crawl through there. There were some years where it was totally filled in with rock and then there were other years when you could go through there without having to do a belly crawl. I have pictures of my kids inside when they were pretty young—twenty-five, thirty years ago.

They’ve convinced me. It’s a tunnel. The battering surf has naturalized the opening over the decades. And while, to me, it seems obvious that a tunnel is as likely to sand up as the creek mouth itself, somebody, a long time ago, thought excavating one was a good enough idea to invest a lot of hard work. At least they’ve left us a durable monument to the futility of trying to make Mother Nature do our bidding.

I guess it’s also Sea Arches Minus 1, Beach Tunnels Plus One and Oldtimers 1, Young Whippersnapper 0. Enjoy. John

Hi June,

This was the main posting I did about what I thought was a Sea Arch at Pescadero Beach. I’m going to revisit it and see if there is any sign still left of its manmade origin. Enjoy. John

Re: Pescadero’s Pride & Joy
Hi June,
I think of all the Sea Arches on the San Mateo coast, the one just south of Pescadero Creek, is the most well-known and one of the most photogenic. It is visible from the Highway 1 bridge that crosses the creek and easily accessible by pulling into the most northerly parking lot of Pescadero Beach. It is not that difficult to climb down and walk through it, provided the creek is not raging and there is a reasonably low tide. If you are not handy jumping from rock to rock you should be ready to get your feet wet. Looking at the 1972 pictures of this arch on California Coastal Records Project (CCRP), my guess is that unlike many other sea arches on our coast, it will be there a long time. Picture #6257 on CCRP gives a nice overview of this area, helping put the pictures I’ve attached in better perspective. Please note that that Picture #6257 was taken in September before the winter rains which open the creek to the ocean and remove much of the visible sand. Enjoy. John

What’s the difference between a Zome and a Dome? We get the answer

from Russell Towle.

(From the “Whole Earth Catalog”)


Russell Towle, mathematician, amateur geologist, local history writer, currently working on an article about zonotopal tilings.

Which reminds me that you actually mention zomes versus domes on your blog. Zome is a word coined by Steve Baer as I recall, based upon “dome,” the difference being that the geodesic dome of [Buckminster] Fuller was formed upon a network of triangles, wheres zomes are bounded by zonogons, a zonogon being a convex, centrally-symmetrical polygon. A rhomb is a zonogon, so are all regular polygons with an even number of sides, but a zonogon need not be regular.

Honorary Chairs at the Ocean View Lodge, IOOF Bldg on Main Street

The Ocean View Lodge is located on the top floor of the IOOF (International Organization of Oddfellows) building on Main Street in town. Above M. Coffee and Tokenz.

Members of the lodge, led by Tony Pera, have turned the upstairs rooms into their original splendor–the way it was in the 1870s when this was the most important organization in Half Moon Bay.

When I use the word, “splendor,” I don’t mean “fancy” or “luxurious.” The main room is of simple design with well made furniture reflecting the solid nature of the town’s citizens.

The three chairs were reserved for the officers of the lodge.