First Hand Sources: Marin County

 

John Lynch writes how their move to the boardwalk came about.

“Our introduction to the boardwalk was rather involved. In 1949, Phyllis and I were living in San Miguel Allende, Mexico. I was doing graduate work supposedly at the art school there. We met and became friends with a couple, Ray and Mariam Rice who had been art teachers back in the states. Ray wanted to study mural painting with Sequeros who was teaching there at the time. The Rices had two small daughters who came down with dysentery and were advised to leave Mexico as soon as possible. We kept in touch as they moved around the West, and eventually when we arrived in San Francisco had a reunion with them in Fresno.


Next we heard that they were in Boyes Hot Springs, then eventually living in an ark on Peterson bridge. This colony consisting of about a half dozen arks, was located just east of Highway 101 very close to where the antique store now sits. To escape the fog in the Western Addition, where we were living, we generally took off weekends to Sonoma or Marin. When we caught up with Ray and Miriam at Peterson Bridge we were attracted to the life style.


A neighbor of theirs, Charley Flynn, was supposed to be moving shortly so we staked a claim as his successor. Many months later when the Shultz interest exercised their claim to Peterson Bridge, people were forced to move. Charley Flynn was the last one to go. One Saturday Phyllis, Ray and I were in Larkspur. We stopped in a small real estate office run by the Culpeppers to see if there were any vacancies.  They said, “yes.” They had a rental on the boardwalk and brought us down to “Ward B”, now the Greengate. At the time the boardwalk began in the vicinity of what is now the Texaco station (now part of a shopping area across Lucky Drive). There was a hard dirt road leading to the Larkspur dump, now the site of Hall School and Piper Park.


The ark still rested on the original hull and we were told that it had originally been a farmhouse in Petaluma. We moved in a week later. Some of the wall had huge tracks which we proceeded to fill with a paste made of newspaper soaked in flour and water. We painted the walls in garish and contrasting colors, a fad of the time, and we settled in.


Phyllis found employment as a lab technician, and I went to work as a draftsman for a title insurance company. Incidental to our moving in, when we had our stuff piled up at the end of the slough and were toting it by hand. A tall gentleman approached and asked if we didn’t have a boat. When we replied in the negative, he said he would come back later with help. Time went by and I wondered where he was.  At that time the slough was about ten feet wide and choked with tules. He was waiting for enough water  to float on and showed up with his dog aboard. We loaded and had about three inches of clearance. The dog refused to ride with us.


When we finished, I fest we should offer something to our benefactor, assuming he was a local and, perhaps, not too well off. He declined but did accept a drink of bourbon. That was our introduction to Andy Jorgensen who I later learned was as successful painting contractor from San Francisco. He owned two arks, which were originally located on the Greenbrae bank not too far from what later became a Larkspur fire station. Andy’s ark was later razed and Sara Harned’s house built on the site. The other ark, The Gloccamorra, now occupied by Laura Nixon, had as tenants Howard and Betty Gilbert. Howard, a trained tenor and former performer in concerts, kept mind and body together by doing occasional real estate appraisals.


Shortly before we moved in in 1951, the Arkites Association had hired Dave McDougall, a contractor who had recently moved into Edie Bixbee’s ark to replace the old boardwalk. The original walk remains, of which were still visible when we moved in, had gone in a straight line from about our house to the end of the arks. This entailed long laterals for the people living in the middle. The new walk followed the water line at that time a three quarter inch pipe. The present walk was built some time later under the leadership of George Washburn and conforms more to the actual property boundary.