mvhs_review_2007 - Mill Valley Public Library

S0CiETY 388· 8260 HEATING REPAIRS & PLUMBING Outdoor Clothing & Trail Maps
MON -SAT 10-6
138 THROC KMO RTON MILL VALLEY CA 94941 415-383-0127 lh iLL
2006 / 2007
j nlJ/l Leonel I'd
Uel 11
M !/IT"),
Muc h app reciation to J olene W alsh, Ellen Canet Boring and
Lorena McCourtney K locka rs, for ge nero usly sharing their
fami ly memories of rh e Mil l Valley Police Department , and
ro Sheryl Patto n, Community Affai rs Officer of the MV PD
fo r her ass istance.
Acknow ledgement to David Grossma n- Lucretia Litrie
History Room Librari an, Mill Va lley Pu b li c Library for
facilitating access to and reprod ucrion of photos.
Thanks to Al an Nayer, ex rrao rd in ary cyber artist , for hi s
cont inued inspired work on m illvalley historica lsoc
Bil! Devlill
T hanks to Pegg y Che noweth fo r proofread ing and
A lison Owings fo r her creat ive tirie suggest ion.
T hanks to John Selix, thi rd grade teacher at O ld Mi ll School,
for facilitati ng hi s scudents' pub lication of Mi II Valley­
Then & Now.
Tilll A JI/)'x III a rial/lie Bab,,1 Cathy BII/JI/ber;:. PeKKY CbutOll,eth Bm·bard fo rd AlcUi Lee Kd/e MmzieJ Cb"d O/dm lJ/lrg Alison Oil illgs /?dche! /?tidy All historical photos, except where noted below-Courtesy of the Lucretia Litrie History Room , Mill Valley Public Library. Ly tton Barber-Coucresy of Roge r Barber. Ketn'll Metinini
Mill Valley Record g roup photo---Courresy ofS uk i Hill. See sukihillphotos .org or man y of her phoros at the Mill Valley Public Library. •
Mari n Civic Center shootour-Courtesy of Marin Indepe ndent J ournal. M E M B E I{ S HI P C H A I R P E H SON
All current photos-Courtesy of J im Srephenson. EDI TO R
j Oeill MII/TelY
Bar/;llrtl SlIlIlllm·
P I{ 0 0 F RE A D E R
Bib liography-Mill Valley History Room fi les, includ ing irs oral histori es collect ion; rhe Mi ll Valley Record; Barry Spirz . M ill Valley, Cali forn ia: Mi ll Valley: The Ea rl y Years: Porrero Meadow Pub lis hi ng Co. , 1997 . Peggy Chennu,etb
COVER--(rop) The Mill Vc/lley Police Del'm/llletJ/. FrOIli le/t. Lee Sellers.
Chie/j illl McGOII 'CIII. Chc/rles /\lcCOlir/lley. j oe Cellle/. 1947. (borrom) The f irst
iIl ill Valley Marshetl/. Cons/llblej ellnes i\f,-DnllClld. 1906.
Pu bli shed by
Mil/ V"lhy Histori(({/ S()(iet)'
.175 Throckmorron Avenue
M ill Valley, CA 94941
mill va ll ey h istoricalsoc
ER RATA- In rh e 2006 MVH S Rev iew, M ill Va ll eyt an Gu s Cosr iga n, was
m israken ly ide nri fied as rhe bu ilde r of a home ar rh e corne r of Lag uniras
and N orrh Road s in Ross . Mr. Cosrigan·s hom es and bu siness consrrucr ion
are sprinkled rhro ug h Mi ll Va lley. Hi s sryit is eas ily recog nized wirh rhe
use of heavy red wood beams, used brick, a nd so l id Durch doors. Thank
yo u ro Ri chard Torney, Hi srorian for rhe Moya Library/ Ross Hi sro rical
Sociery, (or credir ing rhe com·cr builder. The Ross home was builr by Ray
Thomas Ol esen , in a sry le refe rred ro by him as "Ti m brick ..· M e. O lese n
also huil r rh e Borrlc Hou se ar rh e Marin Arr a nd Ga rden Cenrer in Ross.
III i LL VAL LI: Y H i ~TO R j C AL ~o c i ETY R~ v i EW 2 0 0 7
~ PAG E 3
W e a re forrunare co have a mulrirude of local marerials in
rhe Lucreria Lirrl e Hiscory R oom ar rhe Mill Va lley Public
Library rhar pcovide a picru re of life in years pas r. Newspaper
acco unes, pri mar ily fcom rhe Mill Valley Reco rd , for m a
bac kbone of rhe research for rhi s arricl e abour crime in Mill
Valley s ince jusr before irs inco rpora rion as a ciry in 1900.
The ora l h is ro ry projecr of rhe Mill Va lle y Hi scori cal Soc iery spans rhree ce neuries. O ne of rhe fi rsr ineerviewees was born in [ 880. So me 150 or so incerviews have bee n co mplered , and are avai lab le co be read in rhe li bra ry, o r checked our. 11 Jffl}ffl:ftd
12 :ffi7JJ!!IP~J[~
fo und ed in 1899, rhe Marin Co uney Enee rp ri se lare r
became rh e Record-Eneerpri se, a nd in 19 17 rhe na me
was abb reviared CO rhe Mi ll Va lley Reco rd . Une il 199 1
ir wo uld be rhe major so urce of loca l news and
informari on in cown. Irs mosr renacio us and s uccessful
p ubli shers ca me as a pa ir: K arha rin e a nd Ned Mills .
For over rweney yea rs, rhese
render-aged local children
have gar hered resea rc h in rhe
Hiscory Room ar rh e Mill
Va ll ey Publi c Lib rary, and for
so me , inee rvi ewed a perso n affili a red wir h rh e ir co pic.
Ihill VALLE Y HiS T OR i CA L ,OCiETY Rcv i EW :1007
e are fortunat e to have a multitude of local material s in th e Lucret ia
Little Hi sto ry Room at th e M ill VaJl ey
P ub li c Li brary that ptov ide a picture of
life in yeats past . Newspape r accounts,
pri mar ily ftom the M ill Valley Record ,
fo rm a backbon e of the research for this
art icle about crime in Mil l Valley since
just before its incorporat ion as a city in
1900 . Howeve r, a treas ure trove of loca l
info rm ation is within the oral hi stori es
of two of our prev io us poli ce chiefs
of M il l Va lley, wh ich provid e a rare
perspective of crime in a sma ll tow n
fo r th is article. Since 1':)69, the M ill
Valley His tor ica l Soc iety, (MVHS) h~IS
co ll ected o ral hi sto ries from many of its
cit ize ns. T he chi efs te ll us in t heir own
words, what was im portant during
their te nure.
Wha t wo uld become M ill Va ll ey mu st
have seem ed idylli c to J o hn Reed in
T hefi-rst Mill Valley Marshall, Constable J ames McDonald, in 1906
18 34 when he was granted 4,42 8
beautiful acres here by the Mex ican
govern me nt. However, it would ta ke years to have t he ownership
McDonald should have had an easy time of enforcing the peace.
of Reed's lands set tl ed. O ne of the first reco rded loca l land
The town was found ed and advertised as dry, and alco hol was not
di sp u tes was over six acres near th e present day Park Terrace
to be solei within th e city limits. Ye t, that didn't preve nt it ftom
develop ment. O wnership of t he small parcel was eventually se ttled
being broug ht into town by visitors or ftom saloons being built
with t he ass ista nce of loca l constab les, but it bega n with "fisticuffs
outside of the city limits. At that time, th e eastern town limit
and the draw ing of weapons. " Land was at the toot of many
was near East Blithedale and Hill Avenues, so the saloons marched
altercatio ns then , and t hey increased sig nificanrly afte r the
eastward, wi th Marshall McDonald becoming an owner of one of
th e drinking establishments. As a result of his newly found second
press ures of ptope rty-seeking settlers who came to northern
Ca lifornia afte r th e Go ld Rush of 1849 .
occupation, he was fired from his first.
During the 1890's, summer ca mps dotted Mill Valley 's open
spaces for those hardy enoug h to take a ferry across the bay and
sleep out in th e wilderness. Reports of "crowding , vandalism , and
noi se," at th e camps were a constant. A picture fam iliar to many
ftom the arch ives of the history room at the library is ofJ ames
McDonald, th e town's first Marshall from 1906 to 1907. Astride
his horse in ftont of a redwood stump in Old Mill Park, Marshall
That area, known as J agtow n, was the center of "cockfig hts,
chi cken shoo ts , brawls and the like." Barry Spitz wro te in his
history of Mill Valley, that "jag," was a colloquial term for
intoxication. It is doubtful th at proper Mill Valleyan s would
have bee n seen th ere. Alcohol fuel ed these rec reat ional act iviti es
and the societal impact of alcohol nationally would bring about
the passage of the Volstead Amendm ent, or Prohibition.
i ETY REV i EW 2 007 ~
Marshals would cominue to serve the city until the first Chief
of Police, Alex McCurdy, was hired in 1926. Duties for the chief
extended to serving as the tax collector, building inspector, city
clerk, as well as serving all of southern Marin Couney as a
deputy sheriff.
Prior to McCurdy's hiring, a 1921 crime culled from the Mill
Valley Record reported that a vacuum cleanet salesman pled guilty
in COurt to making improper advances ro Mill Valley women.
And "rowdi es and hoodlums" continued to abound. Hunting
was still common in Southern Marin and poaching was not
unusual. In 1929 it was reported that large plants were illegally
removed from the Outdoor Art Club during the Christmas season.
Murders were rare, and usually occurred outside the city limits.
And, banks were the occasional targe t of robberies in any decade.
Crime continued, whether fought by marshals or police chi efs.
By 1937 , Mill Valley hired former Sausalito police chi ef, James
McGowan, who would serve the city as its police chief until his
retirement in 196 1. McGowan was proud ro say that in his first
tweney-four years as chief, there were no murders in Mill Valley.
U nfortunately, two murders did occur just before his retirement,
one in D ecember of 19 60, and another in January of 1961. It
was shocking for a community of its size and quietude.
McG owan was a warm and fri endly presence, known to almost
everyon e in to wn. H e was also known to g ive errant kids two
chances , but not a third. H e and his wife had a quaint cottage
with a luscious rose garden at
201 Miller Avenue, which was
then the main street in town.
As Chief McGowan was
readying for retirement in 1961,
he described a more rolerant view
of alcohol then. "We had more
drunks in 1937 than now. We would
lock them up awhile and let them cool
off." Often, the beat patrolman would circle the bars in the
downtown area at closing time, and make sure that anyone who
had imbibed roo much alcohol gOt a ride home.
McGowan was respected throughout the community and ran a
tight ship. The rown allotted a small budget and he sruck to it.
The budget did not provide for the head of the department to have
his own car, so a patrolman in th e one unmarked police car would
pick him up in the morning, deliver him home for lunch, pick
him up after he dined, and bring him home again at night. late
in 1953, the departmene acquired a second vehicle and Mill Valley
then sported one green and one red police car. One of the
spotlights on the cars had a red lens, which was the only official
disting ui shing mark . At that time, patrolmen issued at least five
speeding citations each month from those cars!
H eaters for the police cars seemed an unaffordable luxury.
A patrolman would sit downtown at the corner of Throckmorron
and Miller Avenues during the graveyard shift and watch for the
red light on a pole at the bus depot ro f1icker, indicating that a
phone call had been made to the deparrmene . There was no radio
to communicate ro the patrolmen in t he field either. It was so cold
that one poli ceman wrapped hi s chest
and legs in newspaper beneath his
clothing to retain his body heat.
Ap parently, t he chi ef th oug ht that
a heater mig ht make a man drowsy.
After p risoners began bei ng t ransported
to Sa n Rafae l instead of staying in one
of the cells in the M ill Val ley City
H all jail , heaters were in sta lled in
police vehicles.
When McGowan retired in ] 961, the
department totaled twelve men . H is
successor's challenges would be very
different and he would fig ht to add
men to the force. Cri m e was minimal ,
alt houg h there was t he occasiona l
burglary or car theft. For t he most
part, it was a peacefu l t ime.
Police Chief Alexander Steele
McCurdy, / 934
A LLEY Hi ~TOR i cAL ~OC i ETY REViEW 200 7
Over th e years, one important advantage
for the safety of M ill Valley's res idents
and property is that all of the chiefs since
McGowa n 's retirement have worked th eir
way t hro ug h the ranks. They all served as
patrolmen, lea rn ed abo ut the community,
and what made it unique, befo re be ing
placed in t hat impo rta nt pos it ion of
res pon sib ility.
Dan Te rzich was hired by McGowa n and
se rved as chi effro m 1961 to 1972 . It is
important ro place in historical context
that Mi ll Vall ey's first blac k family
moved to M ill Va ll ey in 1956, and its
fi rst black teacher was hired in 1960.
Th e te nsions between w hi te and black
stud ents wou ld sur face at Tamalpais
Hig h Schoo l and M ill Va ll ey wou ld
share in the pa inful racia l awa ren ess
with students from Mar in C it y, as well
as wo rk in g for racia l reconc iliat ion.
From left, Lee Sellers, Chief Jim McGowan, Charles McColtrtney,Joe Canet, 1947 ,
I n the earl y 1960's, officers were called to Tamalpa is H ig h Schoo l
or C s D rive-I n on Mi ller Ave nue to break up racially mo tivated
fi g hts. No fata liti es res u lted, but an undercurrent of viol ence
cou ld be felt on the campus.
Locals sa id th at children no longer respected law enforce ment and
legal restri ct ions prevented police from p unish ing a student by
havi ng him was h po lice ca rs or sweep t he poli ce station as they
had unde r the prev ious chief.
From left, Joe Canet, Albert Canet, Harold Henry, Charles McCourtney, H . Tomlinson, ChiefJim
Swonger. Mill Valley Police Department, 1943.
llli LL VALLEY Hi STOR i CA L SOC i ETY REviEW 2 007
Ben Hartwell,
However, th e most dramati c event to
occ ur while Terzich was in office, was
wh en he made a routine trip to the
San Rafael Civi c Center with parking
tickets and two arres t reports. The date
was Aug ust 7, 197 0, and th e poli ce
invest ig atOr who was schedul ed to m ake
the trip was on vacati on. Dan tOok a loca l
m erchant with him to th e new Hall of
Ju sti ce to g ive him a tOur. As th ey were
walking down a hall , a sheriff's d epuey
ran toward s th em calling , "T here's a man
in Jud g e H aley's court with a g un. " D an
rep lied , "I'll g o with yo u." H e then tOld
th e merchant who was with him to stand
over again st t he window.
"Ju st th en, the judge, the jurors, and
th e ass istanc distri ct attOrney, all wired
tOg eth er, came out of th e courtroom with
five m en holding g uns on them . One of
Police Chief Dcm Terzich looking at mClrijuana plants with Officer \Villictrn Walsh, 1964.
th em was onl y seventeen years old. They
were all blacks, threatening ro kill everyone in sig ht and ordering
came ro work. A bomb also exploded at Tamalpai s High School in
the same week, slightly injuring a student. A student at the high
us to put up our hands. One man put a 357 Mag num in the back
of my head and the seventeen year old slammed a mac hine g un
school was later arrested for borh of these incidents. Two
inco my stOmac h and relieved me of m y revolver. "
unmarked police cars were later targeted with different types of
bombs. It was fortunate that there were no injuries as a res ult of
Carl Mosher (long time Mill Valley resident , merchant and
the later bombings .
MVHS interviewer), "Were you in uniform / "
Dan Terzich: " 0, I was in civilian clothes . If 1 had been in
uniform, I think I would have been taken. The judge was
murdered, three of the black men were killed, the assistant
di strict attOrney was sh ot throug h the spine and paralyzed
from the wai st down."
The picture included with thi s article of th e
"San Rafael Civic Center Massacre," foretells a
heartbreaking srory that would tefl ect the national
angst over racial issues between white and black
Bill Walsh was a hometOwn boy who began at the Mill Vall ey
Police Departm ent (MVPD) in 1955 as a patrolman. Raised
in Homestead Valley, he grew up hunting and fishing
locall y. H is caree r would span four decades. Intensely
loyal, Bill was appreciative of the opportunities
afforded him by former chief McGowan and
FO rlller Police chiefi
would visit him after his retirement.
: nll
Billlr~"sh .: i'erzich,
& Pete Brilldley
....... Budget pressures would cause the city to explore combining police and fires services, thereby
eliminating the salary of the fire chief. Walsh
In April of 19 71, a bomb exploded at the Bank of
America in downtOwn Mill Valley in protest of the U.S.
served as police chieffrom 1972 ro 1976 and Chief
involvement in Vi etnam. The Bank of America had been a
of Police and Fire from 1976 to 1986. Combining the
targe t throug hout th e state for th ese types of protest. The bomb
twO most important public safety functions was a huge
went off just after 8:00 a.m., moments before employees normally
challenge. At the time, only a few communities in the nation
considered such a strategy.
....... Mill Valley Police Chief
Dan Terzicb, convict
James iHcClain, and
Judge Harold Haley just
before the Ma'r in County
Civic Center Shootout on
August 7, 1970. McClain
and Haley died soon after
tbis photo was taken.
One memorable event for Lieutenant Walsh was in early January
1966. Merchant Ted Holmbee of Strawbridge's, located at 86
Throckmorton Avenue , accepted a 50 traveler's check from a
customer, but noted that the signatures did not appear to match.
Excusing himself from the store to get change, he qui ckly walked
to the police department at city hall to ask for assistance
(newspaper articles don 't explain why the merchant returned ro his
stOre alone without police assistance). On the way back to
ThiLL VALLEY Hi STO Ri C AL SO C i ET Y RE V i EW 2007 , ;
Straw bridge's (with the custo mer still waiting), he stopped off­
dut y Bill Walsh and asked for his help . With the customer's
driver's license in hand, Bill observed that the two stap le marks
that were a standard in all lice nses at the time were not vi sible.
MII.. L V'-'LL E Y, C ....
It ,.>rl.l,2I''53
Even with the police depart ment just a block away, one mig ht
wonder why an armed rob ber and ex-convict, who had stolen
75,000 worth of traveler's checks in Hawaii, would wait atound
for change . Yet, wait he did. Asking the profess ionall y dressed
man to accompa ny him to the police statio n, an arrest was quickly
made of t he ex-convict who sa id to \X!alsh, "You've got yourself a
big one t hi s time, Lieutenant."
Oth er events would encroach on the usually quiet town that would
pun ctuate a decade or a career in the MVPD . In 1973, a tee nage
boy hiking above the g olf course found a sma ll jawbone. No tifyi ng
po li ce , they di scovered the scattered remai ns of a fiv e-year old
child who was never identi fied . Fore nsic specia lists were called in
to ass ist the M VPD, but alt houg h they could identi fy the age of
t he child , they were unab le to dete rmine the cause of death.
P ro bably the mos t personally wrenching event for all members of
the MVPD when Walsh headed the d epartment was the 1974
shotgun murders of a longtim e reserve police offic er, his wife and
son, by a local tee nager. Almost every member of the force was
involved in the inves ti ga tion, although criminologi sts and ot her
local police age ncies were recruited. Walsh formed five d epart­
ment inves tigative tea ms and the suspect was swifdy arrested
without incid ent. Thi s sad event had a reverberating impact on
many peo ple in the community for years to follow.
An event of national signifi ca nce that occ urred during Bill's
tenure as chief was the theft of a few boxes from the Mill Valley
home of form er Pentag on Analyst, Daniel Ellsberg. ElIsberg was
kn ow n for the release of the Pentagon Papers, a top-sec ret study
of the United States' military involvement 111 Vietnam. The FBI
expected Walsh to supply information abom the burg lary and
exacdy what was stolen, but he maintained that he would not
release any documentation until ordered to do so by the courts or
given permissio n by Mr. ElIsberg. The perperrawr of the theft
was arrested and the boxes and contents were recovered. Ellsberg
said that he would not object to the contents' release, and also
fully supported the information being made public. Four
briefcases, one small zipped case, and one cardboard box were
given to the counsel of the House Subcommirtee on Foreign
O perations and Governm ent Information . The burglar, who was
later convicted of the robbery, was a local man
who had co mmitted a string of home robberies.
Building the public safety building is a sto ry 111
itsel f, and one of W alsh's significant
contributions. H e kn ew from talking with others
who managed similar proj ects that the
community's needs would soon Outgrow the
MILL VA LI.!;r ·
Police ChieflVilliam Walsh, 1970.
Memo fmm ChiefJames McGowan to Mill Valley City Manager; Al Almcrantz, dated 1953, seeking a/J/Jroval to hire a n ew patrolman, Dan Terzich. Terzich would succeed McGowan as police chief in 1961. proposed building, so he lobbied for one that would suit the city
for years to come.
In 1978 Walsh conducted an analysis of crime in Mill Valley, and
our city with a population of 12,000 had a crime rate relative to
that of a city of 35,000. For a fiv e-year period in the 70's, there
were four to fiv e hundred residential burglaries eac h year. Cl early,
it was not a crime free tOwn.
Crime outside the city limits certainly had an impact on the
MVPD, even if its staff wasn 't directly responsible. The Trailside
Killer 10 the late 70's and into the 80's killed twO Mill Valley
,,'omen on Mt Tam, which required some involvement from the
MVPD, but Mill Valley remained protected in its cul-de-sac ftOm
many nearby crimes.
It was also when \1ifalsh was in office that technolog y became
a significant tool to fight crime and educating the force in
contemporary prevention and enforcement techniques became
an important goal for him. The evolution made for a radi cally
different police presence than what lone Marshall James McDonald
represented on his horse. After Walsh's retirement in 1986 ,
another homegrown policeman would lead the fight against the
next century of crime.
fl1iLL VA LL EY Hi sT8 R i c AL s8c i ETY ReViEW 2007
PA G E 9
e're listening . In a sense, the
ora l hi sto ry proj ec t of th e M ill
Valley Historical Soc iety spans
th ree centuries; one of t he fi rst interview­
ees was born in I SilO, and here we are in
2007. We are, it seems fa ir to say, ma ki ng
g reat stri des slow Iy.
W hen I was conviv iall y ca jol ed a yea r or so ago into head ing up rhe oral hi story d ivision , it was my in rention- indeed, it re mains my Intention- to branc h our (not an un fi t tin g m etap ho r in a fi eld brimmin g with fa mil y trees). In ad dition to interviewing individual res id ents largely on t he bas is of t he ir long- t ime associat ion s wirh in M ill Valley, I thoug h t it woul d be interesting to interview people aro und t he stru ct ural bas is of t heme . O h, abo ut a hundred such them es p resented themse lves : from rea l es ta te to teachers to env ironmenta li sts to yupp ies to .. As benefi cent dictato r of the projec t , I chose two themes t hat inte rested m e th e mos t: Roc k and Ro ll , and War and Peace . Unde r t he firs t t heme, I pictured the well­
know n slew of rocke rs , and rocker ......
relarives, and rocker han ger on ners, and
recovered rock ers. U nd er the second
theme, I p ict ured vete rans of any war,
and peace act ivis ts of th e same .
. ... . . . . . . . .
Well , I'd say we are st ill at the opening
actlin it ial skirmish stages of bo rh . We
have completed an in terview with J ohn
G oddard of Village M usic (see excerpts),
wh ich was completed just before h is
anno un cement he is (o h nol) closing shop,
fig uring t hat 40 p lus years behi nd hi s own
counter is eno ug h. And we h ave co mpleted
an interview with World Wa r II nurse
Berrh a Cash in .
We hope soon ro schedu le more inte rv iews
with veteran s and peace activi sts
(somet i mes both a re t he sam e in one
p erson) and wi t h the mo re t ha n local
lumin ari es in music. Whoever can ge r
Bo nni e Raitt to sit sti ll for hal f an hou r
for us ge ts a free yea r's mem bership in
th e M ill Valley H istori cal Soc iety. How's
that fo r temptat ion )
Mean while, interviews wi th th e Mill
Va ll ey elde rs conti nue apace. W hat is
"I saw James Brown when "Try Me" was his current record,
and ] saw the Everly Brothers when "Wake Up Little Suzie"
was their current record. ] saw people like Buddy Holly and
Richie VaIens, and] saw Elvis Presley before he went in the
Army in his gold lame suit, and my parents used CO let me go, and they were nuts CO let
me do it. But as a resulc of it, ] got real involved in mus ic. I've been a collector all my
life. I used to collect rocks and] used co collect bird nests. I collected comic books . . .
coins, and] collected stamps; then music happened and I started collecting records and
I starred working for Village Music because] got a discount on my records."
[hi L L VALLEY Hi ST OR i C A L SO C iETY R EV i EW 2 007
holding us up
from maki ng
great strides
rapid ly)
Two t hing s: .
Loose ends
'. : and t ime.
First , as my
.... ONLINE .. '
colleag ue and
historical society
board member
Cathy Blumberg and I have fo und , there
were a good deal of loose encl s to set
ar ig ht- s uch as interviews cond ucced but
nor transcribed, in terviews transcribed,
but not proofread by th e interviewee,
intervi ews proofread but correc ti ons not
retyped. We do feel we are nea ring the e nd
of the pas t, and emergi ng blinking into
th e prese nt, and future.
Secondly, wir h on ly a finite amount of
time for twO voluntee rs to devote to th is
ongoing proj ect, we also needed to step
back to : do a general houseclea ning
involving rest ing eq uipment (usab le and
not), and trying to orga ni ze va ri ous
m ysterious sc raps of effl uv ia (us), co nducc
a training for intervi ewe rs (me ), bu y
di gital recorders to aug ment our old ­
fas hio ned ana log reco rders (Cathy),
fi g u re how to lise same (us, with
man y t han ks to Dav id G rossm an
in the H istory Room), li ne up
transcribers (paid or volu nteer), who
work with either cassette or M P3
dig ital fil es (us), ready release forms,
title pages , and so forth (Carhy). Oh,
and assign ing interviewers to do imer­
views (mostly me) . O h , and doing rh e
indexing (Cathy).
Orga ni zi ng all the above ) Keeping track
of whi ch interview is at which srage of
being ready for Mill Valley prime t ime?
PA GE 10
Don 't ask. But do feel ready to hop in and help: with sugges ti ons of people to be interviewed , with doing some interview­ ing yourself, with index ing, or with, need I be more blunt, organizational skills. Where) oral-histori es@ mill vall ey h istOricalsoc is the place to find us. Some [ 50 or so imervi ews have been compl ered, and are available to be read in the library, or chec ked Ollt. Our goal, among others, is to make rh em, and the new o nes, ~va ilabl e to be read , and li stened to, on line. T hey are, in a word , a mixed bag, refl ective of rh e circumsrances of th e imervi ewer, rh e inrervi ewee, and rhe circum stances that effect both. Som e may be mined for loca l hi story, others for sociolog ica l opinions of an ea rli er era, ochers fo r a wider worldview. Ma ny show wh ar g ood ora l h isto ri es should : that one person's world can be a m icrocosm of a wider o ne, and that wit hin rh e wide r one arc rhe intimate con nect ions tying us to a place, and to each other. o
I \\ ,l'
I \\e1
of <Ii
"For a long
we cam e ()\
\'1/1.' camped in a tt nt und er t
the first hou se. I k buil t it pa
overnight and p,lrtiy so he cou
scartcd building loom s."
Amwers (em be fOllnd on www,17l.illvaffey
historicalsociety,o'rg; in the 2000 Mill
Valley Historical Society Review, available
in the Mill Valley Library's History Room;
or on page 12 of this isme.
H ow many phones were there in
Mill Valley in 1900)
Don't ask. Bur do feel ready co hop in and
help : wi th sugges tions of people co be
imerviewed, with doing some imerview­
ing yourself, with index ing, or with, need
I be mo re blum, organizational skills.
EXC, PT ..
This boy's orga ni za ti on was founded
in Mill Valley in 1910.
What elememary school ope ned
in Mill Valley in 192 [I
Where) oral-histories @
millval ley is the place
co find us. Some 150 or so imerviews have
bee n completed , and are ava il able to be
read in the library, or checked out. OUt
goal , among others, is co m ake them,
and the new o nes, ava ilab le co be read,
and li ste ned to, o n line.
They are, in a word, a mixed bag,
re flect ive of the circumsta nces of
th e intervi ewe r, t he in te rviewee,
and the circumstances that effect
both. Some may be mined for local
history, others for soc iolog ical
opinions of an ea rli er era, others
for a wider worldv iew. Many show
what g ood oral histories sho uld:
that one pe rso n 's world can be a
mi crocosm of a wider one, and that
w ithin t he wider one are the in timate
connections tying us to a place,
and to each other.
"I went and saw Little Richard when
When people cou ld drive over the
Golden Gate Bridge, many more
people moved to Mill Valley. What year
was the bridge completed)
1 wa!> 1.'1 and it changed my life.
rock-and -roll show
I went to. I gO[ that feeling the first
time I saw Janis Joplin. I got that
feeling the first time I saw Ry Cooder,
' ,....
. ....,,,' ,:,"'.
, .,
. ','",
What yea r d id passenge r tra ins srop
coming to Mill Valley)
I saw Jerry Lee
got it the first time
\f ;l:', .
Lewis, got it the first
In 1954, it cost a q uarter fo r the
Seq uoi a Theatre's K iddie Matinee.
What movies were playing there)
time I saw Otis
Redding, I got it big
time when I
Judy Garland, got it
big time when I
Frank Sinatra. It
covers a lot of an~ a"
What was t he pop ulat ion
of M ill Va lley in 1962'
In 1974,]enny Fulle became the
first gi rl in M ill Val ley to p lay
this sPOrt. W hat is the spo rt'
there 's a couple of
gospel shows that just
turned l11y head around, There's a lot
of different kinds of music that ha,e
A film about Mill Va lley's crooked
railroad to the East Peak of Me. Tam
was made in 1988. What is its name'
done that to me through the years."
How many children did the Mill
Valley Soccer and Little League
Clubs have enrolled in 199'1.1
"For a long t ime we cam e over here [M ill Vall ey} on wee kend s.
We ca mped in a tell( under the oaks whil e Mr. G ravander buil t
the first house. I Ie built it partl y so we wo uld have a place to stay
ove rnig ht and pa rtl y so he could have hi s workshop here. H e
starred buildi ng looms."
!h i ll. VAl l EY H i HO R i cA l , O
i E1Y J< Evi EW 2 00 7
t the eurn of the 20th
ceneury t here were a
handful of newspapers p ubli shed in M ill Valley. T he M ill Va ll ey T imes was the town 's first pub l icat io n In 1893 and targe ted the summer res idents who ·would swe ll the loca l popul ation when schoo l let out , and anyone who could, escaped th e summe r fog of Sa n Fran cisco. Fo und ed in \ 899, th e Marin County Enterpri se later became the Record-Enterprise, and in 19 17 th e name was abbreviated to the Mil l Valley Reco rd . U nt il 1991 it wou ld be t he ma jor source of local news and informat ion in tow n. 1926 by newspaper publishe r Ellen
Browning Scripps. Katha rin e's
mother had met Ms. Scripps at th e
time she was talking abo ut her id ea
for a women 's college. The founde r
co nfided that she didn 't know if
anybody wou ld come, but Katha­
rin e's mother assured her tha t she
had two daug hters and that they
would come. Ka tha ri ne would at­
tend , but her sister wo uld grad uate
from Vassar.
By early 1963, thirteen di ffe rent
pub lishers had applied th eir various
sk ills and talents to prod uce th is
local wee kly paper, bu t its m ost
tenac ious and successfu l p ub li she rs ca me as
a pair: Kat harine and Ned M ill s. Their
combined profess io nal backg rou nds, as we ll
as t he spirit of th e time, led th em ro create
a new li fe in a small no rth ern Cali fo rni a
tow n , p ubl ishin g a week ly newspaper.
W ithin a few weeks of purchasing the
Record, t hey bega n publi shing the cit y
counc il age nd a p ri o r to th e meet ings.
Within a few months, Katharin e was
writing her Notes: For the Record, a ser ies of
homey common se nse vi g net tes that wou ld
co ntinu e until they so ld th e pape r in 1987.
\'<' hile Kat harin e wo uld exe rcise th e
editori al content a nd control, Ned
wo ul d beat the streets for newspaper
advert isem ents, always with th e goal to
in crease circul ation. Katharine's Notes was
usually t he first page t hat readers would
turn to a nd th a t fue led Ned 's success with
his impress ive 25 % ci rculation increase.
It seems natural that Katharin e
beca me a journ ali st , even a
newspaper pub li sher, wit h her
attendance at Scr ipps commi tted
ro by her mother. Afte r
g raduat ing from co llege in
L9 39, she went back to
Beat ri ce to be wi th her
fat hcc and yo unger sister.
H er mothe r had di ed five
years earlie r. She became
th e women 's editO r of the
Beatrice Times at a t ime
when jo bs for women we re
scarce a nd her newspaper ca ree r
was launched.
If yo u as k Ned, as I d id ,
he' ll te ll yo u th at o ne of
th e Reco rd 's acco mpli sh­
ments of which he is mOSt
proud was influe ncing the
change of ci t y council meet ings from
Wednesdays to Mo ndays, so that the Reco rd
could repo rt the proceedings in time for its
midweek pu bl ication . Few small towns
received that level of com mitted reporting
from a local newspaper. Another innovation
chat the Mills' introduced was to bring th e
Reco rd to n ewss~a nds, instead of just the
custOm ary home delivery.
To learn more about the Mills, one can read
tht:ir shared ora l history at the library, or
even borrow it. Katharin e Sherwood was
rai sed in Beatri ce, Nebraska, close to where
her great-g randfath er had homes teaded. She
g raduated from Scripps College , a women's
school at Claremont, California found ed in
Illil l VAll EY Hi STO R i CAL SO C i ETY REViEW 2007
H e r sister, te n yea rs yo unge r than she,
acco mpani ed Katharine to New York a yea r
after th eir banker farh er died in
1944. "Throug h a seri es of lucky breaks"
Katha rine was hired at the Ne wspaper
Enterpri se Assoc iation, (NEA). Althoug h
she eventually qUIt working full time after
having chIldren, she co ntinued writing a
column for th e NE A until her work at th e
Mill Valley Record required toO much of
her time and effort.
N ed is a nati ve Californi an and attended
public school in Los Angeles. However, his
family's Virginian roots caUed him back to
PA GE 12
the University of Richmond in Virginia . H e
was hired by the Ri chmond N ews-Leader
upon his college graduation. After a fiv e-year
stint th ere, he joined the Army Air Corps
and when the war ended joined th e NEA,
where Katharine and des tiny awaited him.
Karharine's marriage to N ed Mills was the
res ult of an office tomance. They met just
after the war in 1946 , since tbeir desks were
ac ross the room from one another at tbe N EA.
She headed the wome n's desk, a nd Ned , the
sports desk. They were marri ed in 1947.
N ed describ ed the headiness of t he t ime
d uring t heir lives in Ne w Yo rk . T hey
enjoyed atte nding tbe flood of functions
avail able free to journali sts at t he time.
It was du ring t hat pe ri od that Ned moved
from ma nag ing the spo rts desk to tbe busi­
ness aspect of newspapers. Thi s expe ri ence
wou l I become cr ucial when the M ills' late r
purchased t he Mill Va lley Record. They
moved w it h t he N EA to C hicago, b ut
N ed 's p lan to becom e president of t hat
organ izat ion d id n't com e to fru ition , so a
subseque nt move wou ld b rin g them W es t.
By th en, th ey had tbree childre n.
Katharine and Ned shared a dream of own­
ing a sma ll tow n newspaper and were read y
for life's nex t ad ve ntu re . Searching for a
small town paper took Ned to Soledad,
Califo rni a, dust y Salinas Va ll ey hom e to a
state pri son. Eve n tbou g h Jo hn Steinbeck's
nove l, O f M ice and Me n is set in oled ad , it
was n't t he cu ltura l sett ing t hat Katharine
and N ed wa nted fo r their fa mily.
Al cho ug h Ned had not bee n to Mi ll Valley
before, a newspaper broker wanted him to
learn abo ut th e possibility of purchasing the
Reco rd , even t boug b it wasn't for sale yet.
Ned repo rted tbat, "We came up at abo ut
3:00 o'clock in th e afternoon. It doesn't
take a sales man to sell Mill Valley's bea uty."
Aft er the move, th e Mill s immersed
themse lves in the newspaper and their pride
in the Record is refl ected in their 1978 oral
hi swry. Katharine: "One of the changes that
was exc i ti ng to us personall y is the change
in our production methods. When we
boug ht the paper in 196 3 it was in the
building at 2 1 Corte Made ra, and the old
Maso ni c Hall had g rown up aro und it. The
((It was a marvelous sight when they pulled out the old linotypes and mounted them on a big truck in front of the Mill Valley Market. To see them going down the street . .. they looked exactly like old dowagers going to the opera. Great bosomed linotypes sailing down the street.
press was an old fl atbed and was forever
breaking down . You 'd call the welder in the
middle of the nig ht to weld it together
again . Then we began w g row and in 1966,
we moved to 78 East Bli t hedal e. We had
to break up tbe old fl atbed, and we bought
an old rotary press in Sacramento."
Forme r Mill Valley Record employees
report tbat working th ere was an excep­
ti o nal expe ri ence . Matt Staffo rd, who is
no w tbe Entertainment Editor of the Pac ific
Sun, sa id "The bands-on experie nce was, of
co urse, priceless; and working at t he Record
was easily t be bes t job that I ever had."
"It was a marvelous sig ht when they pulled
out the old linotypes and mounted them on
a big truck in front of t he Mill Valley
Market. To see them g oing down the
st reet ... they looked exac tly like old
dowage rs going to the opera. Great
bosomed linotypes sailing down the street. "
Katha ri ne wrote poeti call y, even abOllt
a printing press .
The Mills were acknowledged for their
conrriburions to the creative life of M ill
Valley with a Milley Award in 1997 . Even
after they so ld the newspaper in I 9i:l7 ,
afte r twenty-four years of service to the
com m uni ty, they continued ro part icipate
in th e activit ies of th eir adop ted hometow n.
The Record would survive for a few more
Wh il e Ned was lead ing
th e charge to make th e
business vi able, Kath a­
ri ne steadfas t! y held t he
ed itori al vi sio n to a hig h
standard , mentori ng
many young wom en a nd
men along th e way. N ed
said that it was a con ser­
vat ive paper when th ey
came ro it , and th ey
steered it in a mu ch
mo re moderate direc ­
cion. They championed
women's rig hts, afford ­
able housing , a nd ot her
causes not previously
associated w ith th e
Record. They suppo rted
bLlilcling the midd le school and the public
safety budding , and cheir causes were not
always popul ar.
They lacer moved from East Blith eclale ancl
forres t to 43 8 Miller Ave nu e, where Ned
could report by 1978 chat all they had in
that building were people, typewriters and
a X erox; no printing press. The newspaper
publishing business clunged dramatically
in the twenty-four years that they were
there to guide it,
mill VALL EY Hi sT0R i cA L S0 c i ETY RE Vi EW 2007
years, but cl osed sad ly and abrup tly in
Sep tember of 1991.
Katharine died in April 2006, and N ed still
lives in the family home in Mill Valley. As
form er em p loyee, Matt Stafford, sa id in a
tribute after Katharine's death, "That was
a newspaper.
'f!tI17Jl liO
'81i!-Cfl/d f.IJlf'Jrfl/Q,( U06
8111/(11/,115 "6 '/I/')(PSJ.l f] ~lItgt.J:r7
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'Of 'J!JN/l'lUOI..l. tin
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fa " .cmllJq:; p lm ' IIJ IV Jlll~fl'.1 "I' W ill'") ·9 ·0176 , ., ·L[6' ·17
'loocPS W IV 1'10 ·[ ·" IJOJS ,(o [j "II ·Z 'II ., :S1l 31X.\SN V VIAI\LL
PA GE 13
t's spring t ime in M ill Valley and
th e acacia t rees have spent their
ye llow bloo ms ant.! th ird g raders'
parents have sped off ro t heir wo rkdays .
T he Mill Va lley Sc hool D istricr's fifteen
t h ird grade teachers are p reparing the ir
srudents fo r an an nual research and writ ­
ing ass ig nment about t he ro wn's h isrory.
For over twenty years, th ese tender-aged
loca l ch ildren have ga th ered research in
the Hisrory Room at t he M ill Vall ey
P ub lic Lib rary, and for some, interv iewed
a person affi liated wit h t heir ropic.
T he History 0
fSco ut Hall
II's hIstory because
I'm a scout and my
to wnte about
TOday Scout Hal[ .
[ P
IS used f(
, ack I, Pack 33
or many otheniJin
Play, and it can be ,and Pack 34. It is also us gs SUch as Scou t Troop
neigllborhood m rented out fOr a dance c[ cd fOr the Mountain
storage closets eetIngs. On the seCond
ass and the loca l
Oar there are a bUnch of
Readied fo r research by their teachers , the
Ch ildren and Hisrory Room Librarians, as
we ll as vo lunteer docents, over t hree
hundred students will explo re M il l Valley
hi story. They are offered m u lti p le to p ics
from wh ich to choose. For many, it is the ir
first resea rch und ertaking . Pare nts are also
req uired to p ut forth some effort in th is
important lang uage arts proj ect.
O ld M ill Schoo l teac her, John Sel ix , has
sharet.! samp les of srudents' wo rks . Vis it
www.mill va lley hisrori ca fo r the
third graders ' 2007 hisrory projects afte r
thei r com p let ion. Here are just a few
samp les of t heir work .
em "nung abo ut
Hall IS
Hall used
ck l ea , .
t np, IS
dad 15 the pa t fl ail has an Interes I NIlII Valley reSIdent laundry
because Sco
Mr OoughtY, a
n example IS a
saloon operated by' ut hall" as used for - a a stable m mIll valley
other thltlgs tha~ SC~able Can yOU ImagIne
place and a ho r,e s
The H,story ofScou! HaLl
by Laird Grant
By Bridget Lowry
by B ridget LOll'ry
d October 1899 and coveredevery
The Mill Valley Record start
race plus it was written m
_""_g [rom school to the DIp
lin type machine . After
bought a
hand until C.E. Esse syne
the next year it took over the
that the Record grew fast. Btben the Record got sold to Ne;:,ell
Belvedere-Tiburon RecO:~ 1935 it began its "Golden Age at
French DouglaS and th
la sold the paper to Fred Drexler
the same tiroe Newell IXlU!,n: could take over it. In 1939 It
who took over It until his
and won a few awards, for
r .
'", of lllinois School of
beC " ~e a twice a week n ewspapeu
ar the ruverSh.,I
example, in that same ye d' the leading three commuruty
Journalism put the Recor ill
ord changed for the 'worst of all
Then came the day t h e Rectaff member. The Record stopped
reasons, money" states a s
Wednesday September 4 , 1992.
By Bridget Lowry
The Herald start d
befo re the Record s to e e~s a weekly newspaper in 199 1,
The Herald d id n 't ha';"Ptro~~~t ~ Record was stopp ing.
Pau l Ande rso n the d irect
f th g.
director of The Ros s ' VaLl R or a
e pa per IS a lso the
and Fa irfax) Twin C' li
e porte r, (ror Ross, San Anselmo
I es
es (Lark sp ur C t M
, and Greenbrae) and 3 th
' or e a d e ra , Ken t
sold the papers then got call~ ber nk;.wspapers. He also sa id "I
Th d '
ac .
~ e .Itor of these new spa pers is An e la M
the Publi shing Company is ca lled M .
ard an, and
2400 Bridgeway in SaUsalito.
ann Scope and IS loca ted
Th i l l VA ll EY Hi ~ TO R i c A l ~ . C i ETY Rr: v i EW 2 0 0 7
PAG E 14
by J a mes
The Mill valley police D<l'""",e.'
By James 1rombadore
The fust pol'ct1 :JIl for Mill V.lley ,,'as called a Mmhal !-!Js nom' 'sas James
McDonald. He "as elected ugust
\900. He !ode a torse \;ec.use cars ",reD l
lIl,en<ed He ,,'as M."hall for 29 ye"'. The flISt Mill valley Pobce Chief"'.'
McCurdy frotn 1929 lO \931. Other Chief. "ere.Jaro<" P. !VI_Sowan (1931­
(\ 961-1972), Willi8Dl Walsh lI912­
, and pete arindley
(1981- 99 ). The police ",er<: in Cit)' Hall in do"""OY'" Mill valley until 1997 . ln
1 police
1997, the
moved to a neWbuildinS called the Willi"" Walsh Public SafelY
19(1), Dw TerD
Buildins oear Hauke Par'<- It haS the police and Fire Det>artIJloolS. A long tiJIle ago
before poli=en had waUri-talJcis , Mill Valley Police had ' red flag on lOP 0['
building o<ar 7-Eleveo. They would raise it when it was w emergenCY·
TheMjjI VaIle
Apn1 28, 200 _ .
). I Ill/en
By JllltJe; POlice DepTrombnd artment
Wa ' . em. He gave
?eWed Capta '
) nlllTOr and I
me a lour of
Ul Angel Bero
Police nWent in a "
lbe statioo I
3/ of Ibe""
- -ellItm.
jad cell
. saw .
ull VaIl
Ritter. Now enl IS across fr
fo r bolding s
an Inlerview r
ey Pobce
' <he POli
om H...,- .
uspects "
00tn ",i,L
co olIi
co bav
""e Fr eId
. "ow. lb
'" a one_
cen . Now
e CCmpule '
. The Chi
e M ill V
' lbe dis
n In the'
efnow '
ey. Now, lbe
. PO lcber and
I I ' palJ'ol en".
IS Cruef Ro"-Ce
nre Un
the j ail
use a s
are In M
un" v lD""
' ptain B
for Mill V
cBnoer for fu,g
Brin Co
also lire
<mal and lean, ,L
aIley becaus
er prints in.
ty offices nOI .
"'. his lory of th e lbeYprolecl -lead ofink. Th 10
e!vlill Valle
us. I I was fun I
YPOlice De
0 meel
The PI
aZa is the
You w
ant to kn
of Mill Vall
. ek, Climb
fide a
trees ana re Ow WhY? Sec e y' It IS
. Ihe m .
can meet S Wheel bike ad bOOks at IhaUSe You can aln Place 10
o ana
anta Cia
there! O . e OepOI
Play hid
Us a
. lIe
' ana rest
na he giv
amea ho
nd-g .
and mUsic. 110: urants aroun:SthYOU candY: there is s/e:a Skip and
e the
nes T
Ing a
square b
qUare. S
. here ar
na You
ecause it's l ome dayS th e banks,
Un !
n, i L L VAL LE Y H i sTORi c A L SO C I. ETY REViEW 20 0 7
ere are art
Serving Mill Valley Residents & Business Owners Since 1921 PEe
Insurance Agency, Inc.
174 E. Blithedale Avenue
PO. Box 459
Mill Valley, CA 94942
415-388-2236 ext. 18 phone
4 15-388- 1868 fax
David R. Peck, President
[email protected] .com