Posts Tagged ‘Upper Mattole’

An Upper Mattole mill, by George Post, 1936. Courtesy of Carlin Christensen

Carlin Christensen emailed me this bright picture today. He says he is not sure of the location, but it’s somewhere between Roscoes’ and the Grange… perhaps it was the Willings Mill, at the Trout Farm (recently the Hoyles’)? Carl expressed hope that someone seeing this photo might recognize the place. (On second thought, the Willingses were there in the 1950s logging boom… though perhaps the place had held a lumber mill before they became the owners.)

George Post, 1906-1997, was a well-known California watercolorist. He was born and died in Oakland. Here is more information if you are interested: http://www.calart.com/Data/featured/George_Post.asp


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In 1999, Kenneth G. Nelson, born February 20, 1921, and raised in the Honeydew area, presented his seven grandchildren a book of his memoirs. The cover photo of Thoughts of a Boy Growing Up shows young Ken with his brother Roy, Mildred Lindley, Jack Smith, and Leland Hadley, laughing in the sunshine of a long-ago school day outside the Upper Mattole School. It’s a great photo, truly eliciting the “era of ‘boyfoot boy with cheeks of tan’,” as Ken describes that time, in the volume’s dedication.

The cover photo from "Thoughts of a Boy Growing Up," both editions

I loved the book, which has not been widely available, though i wished it contained more pictures. I can’t quite recall where i picked up my first copy, a hardback book. The first 69 pages concern Ken’s days in the Mattole, which ended when the family, due to Depression-generated financial difficulties, was forced to move to Lodi in 1930. Ken’s mother, Sue Black Nelson, had been raised there and Ken’s maternal grandparents gladly welcomed the family into their home until they got themselves set up, eventually as dairy farmers.

Ken Nelson’s paternal grandparents were Steven D. and Grace Nelson, who in the 1920s built the camp long known as Nelson’s, then as the Mattole Resort, and most recently as the Mattole Country Cabins. The scenic retreat is between Upper Mattole and Honeydew. Maud Nelson Hunter was Ken’s father Roy’s sister; she and her husband Ray Hunter took control of the Resort when Steve and Grace passed away. Maud and Ray’s daughter was Virginia Hunter Mast (also a Curzon and Tuxon in there, though i am not sure of the order), who finally sold the place out of the family, i think in the 1980s. Another daughter of Maud and Ray (and thus Kenneth G. Nelson’s first cousin) was Velma Hunter Childs Titus, who is as regular as she can be at MVHS events, and always quick with a fact, a story, or a picture whenever i’ve asked. These cousins are a pair of dynamos– you would never be able to guess their ages by their energy and sharpness of mind. I spoke with Ken on the telephone tonight, and he was, as they say, sharp as a tack, with his 90th birthday in a month. He gave me permission to reprint whatever i wished from his book.

The book! That’s the good part. He recently republished his memoirs with a great selection of photographs. Just a couple of days ago i received a signed copy in the mail, via Velma Titus. What a wonderful surprise! The book itself was already delightful reading; Ken’s is a very honest and humble voice, and he’s an enjoyable, smooth writer. But the photographs– well again, as they say, a picture is worth a thousand words.

Here are a few of the photographs from the book, along with Ken’s own captions. Please excuse the funny textures… something seems to happen when my pixels interact with the book’s pixels.

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