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Penngrove Station by Lyndi Brown - January 2016


Penngrove Station  - January 2016

by Lyndi Brown

Penngrove’s Gerald Haslam, with 28 books and hundreds of articles to his credit, has just experienced a first: His article on philanthropic investor Bonny Meyer (“Making an Impact”) will be printed in the forthcoming issue of North Bay Biz which is now edited by none other than Haslam’s older daughter, Alexandra Russell. The father-daughter team earlier co-edited Where Coyotes Howl and Wind Blows Free: Growing up in the West (1995) and co-wrote Workin’ Man Blues: Country Music in California that won Rolling Stone’s Ralph J. Gleason Award as the best book on music in 1999. The elder Haslam is retired from Sonoma State University and now writes op-ed pieces for the Sacramento Bee. Haslam and his wife Jan have been Penngrove resident since 1986.

Janice Haslam reminds me of the annual bird count being organized for kids ages 8 to 15, and parents, at Shollenberger Park on January 2nd from 9 am to 1 pm. What to bring: binoculars (if you have them), hat and layered clothing, comfortable shoes or boots. $3.00 per person for pizza lunch will be collected at check-in. The contact is Al Hesla at 486-9030 or Rain cancels. Sponsors are Petaluma Wetlands Alliance (a committee of the Madrone Audubon Society) and City of Petaluma Parks and Recreation.
Janice is a bird lover, and reports: “I’m watching and counting the birds in my front yard (not just the turkeys),” she said. “There are lots of bird feeders, finch sacks in particular everywhere I look. I’ve had to put up my hummingbird feeders because I have no flowers for them. Last year in January/Feb we had the migratory Rufous hummingbird take over my feeders and I ended up with 6 feeders around the yard so the resident hummingbirds could get some nectar.”

The Bank Building
Have you ever wondered about the classic “bank building” on Main Street – the one painted redwood, green, black and cream? Lew and Janet Baer always admired it. In 1978 they noticed a For Sale sign on it, and continued to daydream about it. One day, the sign was gone. They knocked on the door to find out if they’d missed their chance. The owner told them: “No, it hasn’t sold. We took the sign down because no one seemed interested.”
That was all it took for the Baers to call a real estate broker, and buy it the same day.
“This was before sewers were put in,” said Baer. “Downstairs was condemned.”

After a lot of work, the building was ready for occupancy. Pangea Silkscreen was the first tenant, with 25 people working there daily. Over the years, other commercial tenants included clothing operations Making It Big and Mishi Apparel.

“The activity sort of brought Penngrove to life,” said Baer. This was during the period when the Peoples General Store in the downtown McNamara building was a “hippy store” with a sprung dance floor upstairs.

When times and requirements changed, the Baers fixed the building for two living spaces. The Baers are wonderful stewards of the property, and I hope their loving care continues for many years. If you’re interested in the Penngrove Historical Society, email its president, Lew Baer at A January meeting is planned.

Village Network of Petaluma – Jan. 9
Adults aged 50+ in the Petaluma/Penngrove area are invited to an meeting on January 9th at the Village office, 402 Petaluma Blvd. North from 10:30 – 11:30 am. This innovative and affordable concept has caught fire across the county. Members enjoy living active, vibrant and connected lives in our own homes as we age. Join by the end of January to receive 1 month free. Learn more at

Thanks From Janice Haslam
Thank You to the hardworking post office during the holiday season. The lady in front of me mailed 8-9 packages to Russia. I used to say that the Penngrove Post Office was the best kept secret in Sonoma County. The workers were just about buried under packages. Yet I didn’t hear a grumpy word from workers or waiters in line. And, a Thank You to the Penngrove Social Firemen for their Christmas drive.

Please email your Penngrove news or idea by the first week of each month.
I’d love to hear from you!

Please email your Penngrove news or idea by the first week of each month.

I’d love to hear from you!