Vanity Fair Wins The What’s Happening to Our Money Contest: They call it the “Great Repression”

A while back I posted my own contest trying to get a new label for the economic holocaust burning out of control. The winning term: Festering Economy.

The economy is still festering, turning into the dreaded carbuncle.

Now comes Vanity Fair magazine: Instead of the Great Depression 2, Vanity Fair magazine calls it the “Great Repression.” The “Great Repression” because the government isn’t revealing much of anything on the biggest financial crisis ever. Information on the real data is repressed.

The Washington-based press, in my opinion, is to be blamed as well, for not giving a “heads up” of any kind to the American people.

If you like to read political stories, the new issue of Vanity Fair has several good ones.

What I’ve been reading…

These are very strange times. I’m not ignoring them. How could I?

Most important is to take care of yourself and your family.

What a shock, my friends say; friends who have worked all their lives; conscientiously paid their bills on time, and taught their kids to do the same. There is so much to say about that but you know exactly what I mean: the special potion that makes this country work, the magic stuff that made us the “envy” of the world.

Isn’t it mostly the Freedoms that we have enjoyed?

We will certainly know more of the “truth” soon. My visions range from something grim right out of Charles Dickens’ 19th century London, to, to, to, well, my imagination just brakes on Dickens.

(Sometimes I fear not even Harry Potter and his powerful cadre of mad magicians can put us back together again.]

The past couple of months, I’ve read several new “political” books, all published in 2008, before I heard Pres Bush make a very brief announcement on a recent Monday morning, stating that a piece of paper [the original “bailout”] had to be signed immediately, or else, he said, a lot of people were going to lose their jobs.

First I read Scott McClellan’s “What Happened: Inside the Bush White House.”

The author, the former White House Press Secretary, has written a political “tell-all” book but the real value lies in the biography. Most intriguing to me was learning that Mr. McClellan’s political mom is, or was, the Texas comptroller. His sister,  Arizona Governor Janet Napolitano, a Democrat, may become part of President-Elect Obama’s cabinet (Homeland Security.]

Next I picked up “The Dark Side: The Inside Story of How The War on Terror Turned into a War on American Ideals,” by investigative journalist  Jane Mayer. She writes for the “New Yorker,” so it’s a good read.

Basically, her argument is that “terrorists” should be interrogated by the FBI instead of the CIA. Why? It has to do with the “old school” techniques practiced by the FBI, which, in the opinion of Mayer’s sources, produce cooperation without resorting to illegal physical and mental torture.

The Cuban-based American prison, Guantanamo Bay, an offspring off the CIA mentality, is not governed by traditional US criminal justice.

I am still reading “Angler,” by Barton Gellman. “Angler” is White House security’s code name for Vice President Dick Cheney. This book is riveting because Gellman, a Pulitizer Prize winner, offers up many details on how the VP operated at the White House. His Modus operendi. Cheney’s enemies tell us as much as they can.

The vice president was not a newcomer to the world of politics or the White House. He did not drop down from the sky. He served as chief of staff in the Ford administration and as Sec of Defense in the Bush, Sr. White House.

In a bureaucracy as vast, deep and wide as our government is, to have real power, you must be able to move your agenda at lightening speed. Cut out the middle-men and middle-women. Every top notch executive secretary knows the value of a cooperative contact in every sphere of work life. That was one of Cheney’s skills, the ability to cut through all the rules and regulations.

Finally, before becoming president of the United States, George W. Bush was the governor of Texas. I believe it was Scott McCllellan who said the  office of the Texas governor could be described as that of a figurehead, with the real power residing in the lieutenant governor.


P.S. I don’t know if MSNBC’s Chris Matthews knows it but he looks like he is “trying very hard” to get a job in the new adminstration.. Don’t be surprised, if in a year or two, he becomes Obama’s press secretary. Keep hammering on Palin, Chris.

Sat. Nov. 22 Wilkinson School: I hear the sound of tom toms…

I live very close to the Wilkinson School. The school overlooks highway 1 at the Coronado signal light.  I have actually lived on the same patch of land for almost 40 years. Ten more years and I qualify as a bona fide “local.”

When I first moved here, I was overjoyed to see a dirt road leading off Highway 1 into El Granada. A dirt road! With potholes and rocky bumps. On the opposite side of the highway, I saw the Pacific Ocean. Right there. I could almost touch the waves, feel the moist sand on my bare feet.  For me, it was “paradise,”  a description I hear lots of my neighbors use today.

My house was a funky beach bungalow, 800 square feet. Although there was a “new” indoor bathroom, there was also an outhouse in the backyard to remind me of how it was done in earlier days.

The bungalow had been built in 1950, one of the only houses on the block. Behind me the Pacinis, Italo and Rina, farmed. Now Rina, a widow, tends to a small orchard.

Rina Pacini’s neat little home has always reminded me of a small chapel. I hope it never gets torn down and replaced with something big and modern.

She knew Dante Dianda and John Patroni, respectively, the “Artichoke King” and the Prohibition “kingpin”. Dante’s immediate province was El Granada and Patroni was headquartered in Princeton-by-the=Sea. They also owned land together. Of the pair, John Patroni may have been the flashier, often seen driving his shiny black Cadillac around Half Moon Bay—a polite man who would stop to offer a ride to Rina.

Didn’t she tell me that her cozy house had been moved from the north side of El Granada to its permanent position near the Wilkinson and El Granada Schools? I think Dante helped with the move.

When I moved here, we called El Granada, “El Gray,” because the sky was rarely blue. Luckily, having grown up in the misnamed “Sunset District” of San Francisco, I grew to love fog. There I said it: I love fog.

I like a moody sky. Clouds, wind, rain….and sun, but not too hot.

Linda Wilkinson was living down the street when I started placing my collection of abalone shells in the garden. It looked funky but the Coastside was funky. That’s what I liked about it. The folks were real, no pretensions.

Linda Wilkinson’s home featured beautiful exterior rock work; it was the former home of a California legislator. Linda was teaching at El Granada School, and later, along with husband Ed,  she opened a private school. The students took classes in the family home as well as in the blue buildings across the way from the house.

Although the Wilkinsons sold the house a few years ago, they continue to operate the school. And this Saturday, November 22, between 10 am & 2 pm,  the Wilkinson School is hosting a “Hopi Arts & Culture Day,” with Bernard and Frances Dallasvuyaoma. For more info, please call 650.726.4582.

The Johnston House: It’s the Roof

When you travel south of town, you’ll see the Johnston House, on the hill to the east.  It’s a famous architectural and cultural landmark, Cultural because James and Petra Johnston were of American and Spanish heritage (1850s.)

When I arrived here, the Johnston House was deserted.  Its wood was gray and weathered. It was over 100 years old. The neighbor kids told me a ghost lived there; it was definitely a scary place.

Truth be told, hardly anybody drove up there although there was no one around to stop them.

As I recall–and I admit that memory distorts as we grow older–Deane & Deane/Westinghouse/Half Moon Bay Properties purchased the Corral de Tierra and the golf course near the Johnston House. Earlier, the house and surrounding land had been owned by the Cassinelli family. Through the decades many plans were floated for this property: San Francisco County Jail, College of San Mateo and as a possible home for the Giants baseball team.

When I was doing research (satisfying my own curiosity about the mysterious Coastside) at the county history museum in the 1970s, I came across historic work  that had been done by someone working for Deane & Deane. It’s not often that land developers produce impressive  historic materials but Deane & Deane did exactly that.

Via their historic research, a decision was made to “develop” the historic potential of the old farmhouse south of Half Moon Bay. The Johnston House. Renowned cultural historian C. Malcolm Watkins was brought in, and he lifted the dilapidated Johnston House out of obscurity. Mr. Watkins was fascinated with the idea of the Johnstons, James and Petra, and their origins, Ohio and South America, the perfect marital union that epitomized old California. Until bad times hit the Johnstons, the farmhouse was painted white and was visible to passengers in sailing ships That was the cultural historical part.

On the architectural front, Mr. Watkins noted the unusual roofline, and how time and again he had seen it on the East Coast but rarely on the West.

Back east builders called that design  a “salbox roof,” which means the roof extended downward from a second floor to cover a first-floor addition. This was an inexpensive way of connecting two sections of a house without having to create a gutter between them.

I’ve always known the Johnston House as a “saltbox” but there’s another name for the roof: CATSLIDE ROOF. If you visit the Johnston House, let me know if you think a cat could slide down the roof.

C. Malcolm Watkins authored an excellent publication (1972) for the Johnston House Foundation called : The White House of Half Moon Bay: James Johnston’s Homestead, 1853. It is available at the San Mateo County Hitory Museum in Redwood City (650.299.0104.)

I know firsthand how long it took, from fundraising to restoring the house, not because I was personally involved; I was not, but because I watched the Johnston House virtually rise up after rivers of heavy Coastside winds blew it down. The farmhouse completely collapsed.

The Johnston House was rebuilt, and, while under construction, I remember visiting, amazed at the restoration, including period furniture in the rooms. There may be pieces that the Johnstons actually owned when they lived in the house. Petra Cooper, a descendent of the Johnstons was living in Redwood City at the time, and she was extremely helpful and excited about the restoration.

Today the Johnston House, once home to an early Coastside family,  is an historic landmark. The saltbox looks out at us from the hill it stands on.

But what happened at the farmhouse  during the years it was “down in the dumps?” Those are the stories we may never know.

Gray to Tom: El Granada Hardware & The ShoreBird

Tom,My  name is Gray Gardner,I communicate with June ,Time to Time.I lived on the Coastside  1967 thru 1975,I was the first Occupant of  # 4,on top of The El Granada Hardware in 1970,and my friend Farris Wilson ,from Missouri also  ,lived in #3.Up to that we had Studios in Lewis Apts to theEast.Rex and Margaret Thomas were good friends of ours.My friend,Bill Ruth,Who lived in #3 &  later #4 still sees Rex’s Daughter in Chico.June,Bill was building the Sail Boat off the back of the Hardware Store,when you moved to El Granada

Tom,Dean & Dean,who built the Housing Development on the north side of El Granada,also built the Shore Bird,probably in 1972 or  early 1973.I’m thinking that Westinghouse bought the Housing  development and the  “Bird” in 1974.I remember,because ,Westinghouse was Firing the entire staff shortly after that ,and  we had a”Humungous” “ Meal-all the  “Locals showed up the last night,and the Staff kept bringing free  plates of Crab Legs  and Pitchers of Wine all night.We paid a small bill;and left a huge tip.

I’ll get in touch with

Farris,in  Hawaii,and see if he has any photos of the Shore Bird he can E- mail to you.


Gray Gardner

Excelsior Springs,Mo.

Email Gray:

Now & Then: Grizzly Bears and Mountain Lions

Last night I received this “Coastsider alert”  from

A mountain lion was sighted at 4:30pm today in the area of Bernal Ave at
Ocean Ave in Moss Beach. If you see a mountain lion, contact the Sheriff’
at 911. or Sgt. R. Johnson at Moss Beach substation 573-2844.

There’s a map of the area on Coastsider:

Here’s a good story from Pescadero, May 2, 1862:

“Friday, the 11th inst., Thomas Dale, Rufus Morgan and others were in pursuit of a grizzly bear, which had been committing depredations on the San Gregoria and vicinity. Finding the bear, with two cubs, on the Pomponia, some two miles from this place, they succeeded in killing one of the cubs, and wounding the old bear in the neck, which retreated, as they supposed, down the hill to the creek. They had pursued but a few paces when they came upon her, and so suddenly that she succeeded in catching Rufus Morgan and mutilating him in so severe a manner that all hopes of recovery seemed impossible. Dr. Goodspeed was called and rendered immediate aid. Finding the skull badly fractured, by the bear biting him so as to tear away the temporal bone, opening to the brain–also destroying one eye, which eye, luckily, he had lost the use of some years since–and shockingly mangling his left arm and hand; the wounds were dressed by removing a portion of the superior maxilary bone, which was displaced. Dr. Goodspeed has hopes of recovery, if the wound should not be complicated with erysipelatous inflammation.”

Tom Andersen: From El Granada Hardware to Model Train Kits

Hi June,

I chanced on your web site while trying to find information on the Shorebird’s origins. I read a bit about you seeing Jack King at El Granada Hardware when I owned it. I married Cheryl Parsons in 1968, but my name is Andersen, not Parsons. I can see the confusion, as I employed Cheryl’s brothers, Mark, Brent & John Parsons at various times through the years at El Granada Hardware.

I first met you when I was just getting into riding waves, and John Morrall wanted to teach me to ride a surfboard at the El Granada Jetty. I was riding Boogie Boards. On a day of particularly good surf, we hooked up & paddled out at the Jetty, John, myself, and you. You and I were the novices, and relegated to just watching John & the other capable surfers have a great session.

I went on to open a hardware store in Santa Cruz in 1980 to follow my passion for riding waves. I advanced in the Boogie Boarding pretty quickly, making several trips to the islands riding some serious Hawaiian surf, and in 1984, won the Boogie Board contest at Steamer Lane for men’s age 30 & over division. In 1981 I learned to ride stand up surfboards at Pleasure Point in Santa Cruz, and by 1985 was riding 25′ wave face surf at Steamer Lane in SC on a 7’2″ board I had made to my specifications. I surfed avidly for nearly 30 years. In the mid-1990s I traveled to Kauai and went surfing with John & his daughter, and John dropped off & picked up myself and my then girlfriend for a back packing trip into Kalalau along the Na Pali coast.

My present wife and myself live on El Granada Blvd. and have started a business creating model kits & trees for model railroading. You can see our stuff on We are actively creating new kits

to market, and Julie wants to market a kit depicting the original Shorebird. If you know of any photos we would love to get them. We can create the model kits from photos. The church in Taos on the web site was done from photos.

Anyhow, sure glad to find your site. I remember Jack King fondly, one of my favorite people to come in the store, as certainly was yourself.

(Image: Model Kit with adobe church in Taox, New Mexico.)

Email Tom Andersen (

1891: Before its time? The Cyclone Windmill was sold in HMB

(The first image is of William Ewing’s ad for his product, the “Cyclone” windmill. It appeared in a November, 1891 issue of the “Coastside Advocate,” a local apper. [The second image is of downtown Half Moon Bay, circa 1900. Note the windmill at the far left. Was this one of Mr. Ewing’s “Cyclone” Windmills?]