Local History and Genealogy Notes

Palm Trees in Petaluma

Palm trees at Golden Eagle Shopping Center June 9, 2012

Have you noticed the palm trees recently planted by the new owners of the Golden Eagle Shopping Center on East Washington Street? Believe it or not palms were once used as street trees in Petaluma as can be seen in this Sonoma County Library photo taken in 1926.

Looking north on Main Street (what we know today as Petaluma Blvd. North) at Lakeville Street 1926. SCL Photo 15401

Petaluma Depot on Lakeville Street 1945. Courtesy Evelyn Lawson

Who knows maybe it won't be long before we see a palm or two planted at the depot site on Lakeville Street.

My Milkman Memory

Unidentified Petauma Cooperative Creamery Driver 1955. SCL Photo No. 9766

National Dairy Month brings to mind my favorite (and only) milkman, Stan, who delivered Clover dairy products to my Fairfax, California neighborhood when I was a kid - only 5 or 6 years old back in the 1960s. All the kids would race out to meet Stan and his big white and green truck. Afternoon was when ice cream was delivered. Sometimes he'd have Clover coloring books or other fun stuff to hand out. That's about all the memory I have, but it has stuck with me all these years. The fact that I knew and remember our milkman's name amazes me and is a testament to the impact these men in white had on their customers.

It was while sitting in on an interview between Petaluma Argus Courier columnist, Harlan Osborne, and Bob Isaac - Petaluma's last milkman - in 2010 that I discovered that Stan was still around and had a last name - Wells. Both Bob and Stan drove for the Petaluma Cooperative Creamery. Bob suggested I contact Herm Benedetti at Clover Stornetta who he suspected could put me in touch with Stan and he was right.

Stan and I exchanged a few emails. Although he didn't remember me, he agreed to meet for lunch. Next thing you know I was sitting with Stan and his friend and fellow retired milkman, Joe Tallariti of Cotati and their wives at San Rafael Joe's. My friend Rayne Wolfe was with me. Rayne is a professional journalist and I wanted her help getting the story down.

Both Stan and Joe are wonderful story tellers. I learned that they met while working for Lucas Valley Dairy which was later purchased by the Petaluma Cooperative Creamery.

Stan was the first African American man to deliver milk in Marin County starting in 1964 when he was hired by Bob Grady at Lucas Valley Dairy on Ida Street in San Rafael. His route covered Sausalito, Marin City, part of Mill Valley, Larkspur, Corte Madera, part of San Rafael, San Anselmo and Fairfax. Route A was Monday, Wednesday and Friday and Route B was Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. Each route had about 125 customers. Back then trucks were not refrigerated and you had to make sure you had enough ice on hand - a major chore. Glass bottles, not cartons and wood crates, not plastic were the norm. It was a very physical job to say the least.

Joe Tallariti and Stan Wells April 19, 2010 San Rafael, Calif.

Stan was born in Texas and came to California when he was about three years old. He and his older brother, James, came by train to meet up with their father's aunt, Madeline Starks, who ran the Lighthouse Cafe in Sausalito. This would have been around 1942. Stan's father worked for Marin Ship at this time.

In 1956 Stan graudated from Tam High and then attended College of Marin and later San Francisco State. During college he worked at the Sunny Hills Institute in San Anselmo until he was drafted into the Army and went to Germany where he served as an MP in the Honor Guard.

When not delivering milk, Stan could be found playing the bongo drums at such old time Marin County night clubs  as Ondine's and the Trident in Sausalito where he remembers meeting Danny Kaye. Stan's wife, Mardelle sang at Zack's.

It's been 12 years since Stan retired and yet sometimes he'll wake from having a dream in which he is still manuevering the narrow and hilly streets of southern Marin County in his milk truck.

June is National Dairy Month!

Window display at the Petaluma Cooperative Creamery. Photo taken by Decker & Deckter Studios.

75 years ago this month the National Association of Chain Drug Stores sponsored a milk promotion, a gesture of good will to dairy farmers. Special sales efforts were made at soda fountains of the chain stores to help dispose of an existing milk surplus. The promotion was from June 12 to July 10, and was known as National Milk Month. "Keep Youthful -- Drink Milk" was the theme.

 In 1938 a more widespread milk campaign was planned under the sponsorship of the National Cooperative Milk Producers Federation and the National Dairy Council. Participation was solicited and pledged by the Institute of Distribution, representing the chain variety stores, also by the chain drug stores, the food chains and restaurant chains.

At the request of the sponsors and co-sponsors of this second National Milk Month, the National Dairy Council served as national headquarters and prepared the campaign poster and other materials for use by the chain stores, about 6,300 in number. The 1938 campaign was "Drink Milk -- Benefit Yourself--Speed Recovery."

The official campaign name was changed from National Milk Month to June Dairy Month in 1939.

More June Dairy Month historical hightlights to come in the coming weeks. Stay tuned!

New genealogical databases. Thank you Friends of Santa Rosa Libraries!!

The History and Genealogy Library is delighted to announce that, through the great generosity of the Friends of the Santa Rosa Libraries, by the end of June we will be offering access (in the History and Genealogy Library only) to the ProQuest database of the San Francisco Chronicle, 1865-1922, and also to the marvelous GenealogyBank set of databases.

Genealogy Bank
GenealogyBank provides subscription access to historical and genealogical records in the United States from the 17th to the 21st century. Provides digitized access to over 3,000 American newspapers, 1690-1977 [often smaller cities and towns], obituaries, marriage notices, local histories, casualty lists military records Revolutionary War through Desert Storm. GenealogyBank offers access to many historical documents that aren't available elsewhere online.

ProQuest Historical Newspapers
San Francisco Chronicle (1865-1922)

These splendid new resources will greatly enhance the research capabilities of our historical and genealogical patrons.

Many, many thanks to the Friends of the Santa Rosa Libraries – “friends” indeed!

Sonoma Marin Fair Photos

Photo No. 7


The Sonoma County Library has approximately 40,000 photographs in its collection. Often times photos are given to the Library with little or  no identifications such as these taken at the Sonoma Marin Fair in Petaluma. If you see anyone you recognize please let us know. Thank you! 

Photo No. 1


Photo No. 6 Judy Herrerias and unidentified man circa 1973

Photo No. 7

Photo No. 8

Photo No. 3

Photo No. 5 Fred Jorgensen (right)

Photo No. 2