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Grassroots Graton - July 2015


Grassroots Graton - July 2015

by Heather Granahan

Our village, rather like a pomegranate, looks cute enough in a lightly weathered way and reveals jewel-like talents when peeled back a bit. Local creators of nuggets of real art, crafted foods and wines, and a few published writers of prose and poetry grace us with the fruits of their labors; we are lucky that they can still afford to live here in our escalating housing market – or maybe that we can, so we can enjoy those fruits! 

Celebrate Real Independence

On a recent summery afternoon, HolLynn D’Lill, my predecessor in authorship of this column, hosted a gathering to celebrate her birthday and announce the release of her new book, Becoming Real in 24 Days. Faces and candles glowed in the company of her friends and supporters as HolLynn modestly showed off her large-format paperback full of wonderful pictures. (Please see the review by our venerable editor Vesta Copestakes). HolLynn ‘s book tells the tale in rescued photographs, documents and witnesses words of a demonstration in 1977 by a group of disabled protestors who took over a floor in the San Francisco Federal Building for 24 days. These pioneers succeeded in getting President Jimmy Carter to implement Section 504 of the 1973 Rehabilitation Act. HolLynn’s subsequent life work of many years of advocating for the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) has opened access for people all over the country. I have heard a woman say, “A couple inches of curb can keep me out of somewhere open to everyone else and feels like such discrimination.” I was on crutches once for most of a year and one day while a gal in a wheelchair and I were navigating a clunky doorway (into a medical supply store no less), she looked up at me and said, “Don’t forget this”, knowing at a glance that one day I would be abled again. I never forgot. Read HolLynn’s book, and learn of a vital struggle and open your awareness a bit wider.

Also Unforgotten

Our family recently got our paws on a very worn old book with interesting treasures inside when peeled open. Back in 1915, a local paper took it on themselves to publish a “Miscellaneous Directory” all public offices, schools, churches, banks and every soul they could record the name, residence and occupation of in “Santa Rosa, Petaluma and Sonoma County”. As most did not have telephones, this is simply a listing of who you might find in a given town, and what they claimed as daily activity. It was quite valuable – priced at $5.00 at the time. 

Naturally I flipped straight to the Graton pages, capturing some 92 persons. The town is described as, “A station Petaluma and Santa Rosa Rlwy, between Sebastopol and Forestville”. At first glance, Graton was rife with farmers, carp and labs. Carpenters and laborers, that is, not fish and dogs. A goodly number of goodwives were Hswf or even Hskpr . What about the women listed as Dom? No, we did not have a healthy trade in dominatrix action – these were “domestics”, probably for other families. Graton also boasted a Toastmaster (one Thos Green), Herman Hallet - a barber whose brother Charles was the Postmaster and Merchandiser, a blacksmith, Alfred Neep the liveryman, a jeweler, a physician and a nurse, shoemaker named G.W. Walker (no lie). A Mr. J.M. Brush managed the Green Valley Canning Co., the only business so claimed – and whose name graces the street on my corner today. Lucy Hessel was the town’s teacher, and oddly, we had a hotelkeeper but no hotel listed. Perhaps he worked on the Russian River: a bit further down the rail line and one was in the virtual boomtown of Guerneville, wherein you could meet winemakers, hotelkeepers, sawyers, a butcher, a druggist, a horticulturist and of course, boatmen. All attended to by the ever-presents doms. Of course , thanks to Graton author Leesa Tanner’s book on Graton in the “Images of America” series, we do know some deeper tales about some of the families that dwelled here as the town evolved. I still like knowing just enough about the Reverend Clutterbuck and Mr. Singmaster the carp to fire my imagination. Now imagine this: actually getting a shoe fixed in Graton.