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Sonoma County Gazette
Camp Meeker Beat by Tom Austin

Get Ready for the Grand Fondo

Sep 27, 2017
by Tom Austin


October! Falling leaves! Rain! Gran Fondo! That’s right! If this issue hits the stands in time, you might be reading this during the Gran Fondo, as you wait until 10:30 for Bohemian Highway to be reopened to vehicular traffic. If so, stop what you are doing and head down to the Post Office parking lot, where the Rec and Park board is serving breakfast – French toast, eggs, sausage, coffee, and a communal viewing experience for the race. More likely, you are reading this a couple of days after the event. I hope you made it. The food was donated by the Gran Fondo folks, the cooking and the love donated by CMRPD.

Speaking of the CMRPD Board…do you remember there’s an election coming up? The seats ofGary Helfrich,Anthony Tominia, andValery Larson are up for re-election. As far as I know now, all three are running for re-election, and nobody has announced an opposition run. If I am wrong about that, please let me know promptly and I will include the information in November’s issue, which will come out just before the election.

Also speaking of the Board, Tony Tominia has been amusing and educating himself by reading back in old CMRPD minutes, going into the way back machine to the early days of Camp Meeker. How early? Back to the days when the actual Meeker family was actively involved.

Before we get to those finds, I will share with you these words from “Boss” Meeker himself, fromLee Torliatt’s fine book “Golden Memories of the Railroad Empire”. Better get your fans ready – this is some hot stuff. I wouldn’t want anyone to get an attack of the vapors. Yes, this, in Boss Meeker’s own words, is an account of his courtship of his wife, Flavia Sayre Meeker. Don’t say I didn’t warn you!

“The previous fall a lady friend of ours came from Rochester (NY – ed) to visit my sister, Mrs. Palmer, of Valley Ford. I called to renew acquaintance, was charmed, and in due time edge up close to her on the sofa, and gently put my arm around her waist, and said I possessed a great fortune. She did not say ‘Oh, this is so sudden!’ No, not much. She waited for me to say something more. I drew her closer to my bosom, inside of which something was beating like the breakers on the ocean beach. When she said she had not heard of my good luck, I told her that it was only this moment that I realized the fact, and that this great fortune was her own dear self. Now we’ve been married 37 years, and we still love each other dearly. In 1870 I built a very beautiful home and furnished it. When a fire destroyed it all, we domiciled in the barn for three years, until I was able to rebuild again.”

He goes on. Oh, how he does go on:

“The Town of Occidental owes its foundation and name to me, I having lead out and built most all of the first buildings, the church first, the hotel next, then stores and cottages.

In May 1898, I laid out Camp Meeker for summer homes. Since then two additions have been added to it, making now the largest summer outing resort on the coast. I never expected to become rich in this world’s goods, but God has prospered me in all my undertakings, until I own over 10,000 acres of land, large interests in mines, mills, houses, fruit, and cattle etc. I don’t mention this to brag of what I have, but to show how success has crowned my labors. I have always been among the foremost of men in all charitable and public enterprises. The opposition I have met in laying out new roads, all of which today are the main avenues of travel in western Sonoma County, and the formation of new School Districts, has only helped to bring out my true manhood, and stay with mine enemy until he became my friend or was subdued. I owe my success, not to my own strength, strong arm, or active brain, but to the Good Lord, who has given these things into my keeping.”


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