The following snippets of history were prepared by volunteers at the Western Sonoma County Historical Society. For more information about local history, go to the WSCHS website at wschs.com, or email comments or questions about this History Corner to Mary Dodgion at firstname.lastname@example.org.
100 Years Ago — 1919
Telephone girls form a union
The telephone operators’ union of this section was organized, officers elected and installed, and an enthusiastic session was held at Carpenters’ Hall in Santa Rosa. Mrs. Ella Leroux was chosen as the first president of the new organization, which is known officially as Local 61A, International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, Operators’ Department. Seventy-five operators were in attendance at the meeting, and optimism prevailed throughout. The girls feel that they will win the strike and are anticipating an early return to the switchboards. The girls who joined are from Santa Rosa, Petaluma, Sonoma, Healdsburg, Sebastopol and Ukiah. Thursday marked the end of the second week of the strike, and the public is hopeful that arbitration may ensue quickly, which will restore this utility to their use again.
75 Years Ago — 1944
First Baptist Church is Founded
Starting with 11 charter members, the Sebastopol Baptist Mission organized in the First Baptist Church of Sebastopol. Max E. Sedgwick is pastor of the group. Charter members of the church include Mary L. Fetzer, Mr. & Mrs. S.R. Frazier, Mr. & Mrs. Carl von Metnitz, Mr. & Mrs. S.H. Morgan, Mr. & Mrs. Max E. Sedgwick and Mr. & Mrs. Frank Williams. Meetings are first held in neighborhood homes, then at Legion Hall. Six months later a new location at 146 Santa Rosa Avenue is secured. The church wishes to thank Mr. Tocchini and Mr. Gambogi for the use of seating facilities.
50 Years Ago — 1969
They’re kind of proud over at L & L Lanes in Sebastopol these days. The prep division team, 12 and under, moseyed on down to the Northern California championship matches and walked off with first place. In the first place girl’s prep team, it’s Sandy Birkes 478, Karen Almind 398, Suzie Smith 365, Rene Liberatore 482 and Debbie Tavares, 278. Other scores were Bob Smith, singles 651; Arlen and Rusty Johnson doubles 1273, Dave Williams 1626, first in AAYBC, Pam Palmeiri and Marlise Elphick. Over 1,000 young people from all over the state competed in the tournament.
Happenings at West County Museum
Looking at old Sebastopol Times newspapers is really fun and informative. I was looking for a photo for this article and came across more information about bowling alleys in town. In 1940s there were two bowling alleys in Sebastopol.
An advertisement for Frank’s (Atkins) Bowling Alley, which later became the Sebastopol Bowl, owned by Richard and Carl Laforce, was located at 119 S. Main St. (vicinity of KL Bistro) which was later bought by the Sebastopol Times in 1945.
The Ben-Bar Bowling Alley, 175 N. Main St. (vicinity of Sprint Copy), has a little longer history. Originally owned by Max O. Benthal, it was a new two-story building with the bowling alley below and a fountain bar above. There was a contest to name it back in 1945, which must reference the owner name and the bar above. In 1946 it went under new management of Bob Williams, and it was renamed the Sebastopol Bowling Alley. A few months later the building was converted to a Steak House and Blue Room upstairs, owners are Bob Williams and Max Benthall. At the Steak House you could get a full course meal for $1.25.
Management and ownership of the Blue Room bounced back and forth for the next 10 years, but the success of the restaurant and bar was evident. Fires in 1947 and 1951 did damage, but didn’t end the business. By 1949 Max and Molly Benthal retire, and the Blue Room was managed by Pat Geisler, owner of Pat’s Owl Restaurant. For a while it was known at Pat’s Blue Lounge a popular gathering spot.
Suffragist flag sewing bee: There will be an old fashioned sewing bee on July 20 at the Luther Burbank Cottage, 7777 Bodega Ave., Sebastopol. We will be sewing stars on a banner that will be used in next year’s Apple Blossom Parade and displayed at the West County Museum during the Suffrage Exhibit. The banner replicates the 1920 “Ratification Flag” which was used by the suffragists to track the progress of the states who had ratified the right to vote amendment. Drop in between 10 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. to take part or observe.
The Western Sonoma County Historical Society is a wholly volunteer organization and includes West County Museum and the Burbank Gold Ridge Experiment Farm in Sebastopol. Our mission is to preserve the west county’s historic past. We are looking for old photos and stories of families, businesses, farms, etc. Do you have photos or stories to share? Call the museum at 829-6711 or the Burbank Experiment Farm at 829-2361.