Saturday, August 20, 2011

Today I met Jerry—a former high school student of Frank McCourt's


Today I met Jerry—a former high school student of Frank McCourt's! We exchanged banter over the curried chicken and Tuscan melon. Teacher Man, Angela's Ashes & 'Tis. What he told me about self-evaluation was particularly helpful after a customer ripped me a new arsehole for no real reason at all—other than he could. Several women in line went over to the manager and vouched for me, several wanting to come to my rescue but were at a loss as to how. Fecking bully. He couldn't believe I had the audacity to say "I don't need this." And all the frabulous lines I composed in hindsight—alas, he broadsided me.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Speck McAuliff's Bar Burned Down


Lagunitas Lodge 1910

Someone on the Facebook Lost Marin page posted a new photo of Speck McAuliffe's bar that I'd never seen before. When Speck's bar burned down in January of 1983, an institution was lost.

My family knew Frank "Speck" McAuliff from way back when in San Francisco days. He was a retired cop, or was it fireman? His wife bought the place with a nest egg after the Depression, my grandmother said. 

We don't know who owned the bar or what it was called before Frank bought it, probably the Lagunitas Lodge. But we have a photo of my uncle Feilim on Tangerine the blue-eyed pinto, in front of Mariposa Lodge (a dance hall?) that was behind the tavern. It must've burned down before I was born.

Or perhaps a part of it was turned into Speck's home. But I think their home was the 2nd story over the lodge itself. You can see it in the top photo. What's amazing is that part of the old rock pillar fence from 1910, survives to this day. My grandfather bought three lots in Lagunitas, so he would've been familiar with this bar, ca 1910.

Feilim on Tangerine

There was a livery stable out back as well. Our family boarded their horses in winter and my aunts and uncles rode them in summer. Baby Snooks and my glue factory horse, Chiquita were refugee horses from the livery stable that spanned two generations.

I remember Old Pete, the last real cowboy, used to ride his strawberry roan down to the Papermill Creek Saloon in Forest Knolls and he could roll a cigarette one-handed. That horse was decked out in a heavily tooled saddle and bridle loaded with silver. It was something to behold. His lariat was made of braided horsehair. 

Old Pete took care of the rental horses. When they were all sold off, he stayed on in an old Slipstream trailer hidden in the greasewood out back of the lodge. He made Pat Decker's daughter, Marianne a thin ring out of an old silver dime, but he was a dirty old man, always wanted to "play house" with Marianne and me. 

For a short time, when my family was a real modern fifties unit, mother father, child, we lived next door to Pat Decker in Frank's apartments over the Lagunitas post office. Pat was Frank's daughter, and Frank's main barkeeper. Pat's sister, Loretta, my absentee godmother who looked a little bit like Elizabeth Taylor, lived in San Anselmo. 

Pat was married to George Decker, who was a powder monkey out at McNear's rock quarry. First time I ever saw sticks of dynamite was in the trunk of George's car. He'd come home all covered with rock dust, looking like an animated cement statue with bloodshot blue eyes. George was from Arkansas so he talked funny. They later moved to Woodacre.

Someone said the post office and the apartments burned down in early '70's, I don't think so. I was living in Forest Knolls. I would've remembered that. Unless it happened when I was in Europe the summer of 1972. But Roberta Tanzi said 1972 or 73 was the second time that place burned and the 3rd time was the night before Easter, 1988.

I lost touch with Marianne years ago. We spent so much time at Speck's bar, it was a home away from home. All cinder and ash now. 


This was from rough notes, and was extensively revised 8/24/2015, but the original impetus came from 8/11/11, so I filed it here. I need to come up with a better name, or perhaps combine the two blog posts. Meanwhile....

See also
Speck's Bar: Family Watering Hole (2014)