While researching the history of the Sonoma-Marin Fourth Agricultural District Fair which is celebrating its 75th anniversary this year, I came across a Petaluma Argus Courier article dated July 19, 1947, that I thought readers of today might enjoy. The choice of words and style of writing paints a picture that will surely bring a smile to your face and for many spark memories of a hotel that was once a social hub for Petalumans and visitors alike. The following text is a retyping of the original article.
At least one famous Hollywood flickers star has endorsed the Sonoma-Marin Fourth Agricultural district fair to be held in Petaluma, July 25, 26, and 27. He is Edward Arnold - the Diamond Jim of the screen. In Petaluma Friday afternoon on his way to Bohemian Grove, Arnold with a group of friends stopped off at the Hotel Petaluma "to see the fish in the ponds on the back bar of the Lanai room." Instead they were shown a beautiful painting of a restful scene in the Redwoods to the north.
This scene, a mural in the Redwood room of the hotel, emphasizes not only the redwoods, but the Redwood highway on which Petaluma is located. This fact was brought home to Arnold by Harold Eckart, proprietor of the hotel and while he was doing this, Chappie Carpenter walked in on the scene looking for a bromo. He was wearing a ten-gallon Stetson, a western shirt and tie -- boosting the fair.
In this hat hangs the tale - for Chappie has been sporting it for the past several years at about fair time, and inevitably it has been autographed by many of the brighter lights -- and lesser ones too. One of the lesser ones was the city editor of the Argus-Courier who was given the privilege at this auspicious gathering, followed by Eckart who called on Arnold for his signature.
"What for?" queried Arnold. "For a junior stock show? Why sure, anything for the kids, and for a fair." And then with great pains he affixed his "Edward Arnold" to the sombrero, drew a deep breath and let go with one of those famous Arnold laughs winding up with "Good luck to your fair."
And we take that as an endorsement.
The mural referenced above is currently in the possession of the Petaluma Museum. It was first hung at the Hotel Petaluma in 1945 as part of a $75,000 remodel project initiated by Harol Eckart. Among other "improvements" a cocktail lounge known as the Lanai Room was replaced by the 150 seat Redwood Room.