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Valentine’s Day in Marin
Valentine's Day in Marin has always been celebrated with flowers, candies and cards to show that special someone you care. For Mexican-born Californians, February 14 is known as El Día del Amor y la Amistad, “The Day of Love and Friendship,” and includes all close friends and family.
During the early 1900s, merchants decorated shop windows with red hearts and cupids, florists stocked up on bouquets, while postmasters and carriers prepared for unusually heavy mail deliveries. Young people planned Valentine's Day dinners at private homes, couples attended Masquerade Balls at fancy hotels, clubs hosted Valentine’s dessert parties and children made cards for friends and teachers. During WWII, young ladies sent photos to their favorite GIs - in 1942 four photos cost $2.95. In the1950s, newspapers ran recipes for red velvet chocolate cake and coconut cupcakes with maraschino cherry icing.
Roses were the classic choice if your sweetheart liked flowers. From 1922-83, the Niven greenhouses in Larkspur grew some of the state’s most beautiful roses and orchids. Red roses meant love; pink roses, “I like you” and yellow roses, friendship. Giving an exotic orchid, a rare flower treasured by royalty, was said to show even deeper love and affection.
Source: Susan Cluff
Candy was popular then too. Back in the days of rail travel, every Marin town had at least one confectioners shop, often doubling as an ice cream parlor. From 1906-1921, Stocking's in San Rafael specialized in handmade filled chocolates in different shapes.
Stocking’s Candy Store Source: MHM
For cards, store-bought ones are most convenient, but there’s nothing like a one-of-a-kind love letter. Local stationers like Standler’s in San Anselmo carried the makings for elaborate homemade cards - cutwork lace, ribbons, trimmings, etchings of birds, butterflies, hearts and flowers. Now what to write inside?
Valentine to Louise Boyd,1931 Source: MHM
Printer’s assistant Joe McNeil who faithfully courted teacher Ellen Redding through the U.S. Mail must have written something right, the couple eventually married. We’re lucky enough to share Ellen’s pleasure in beau Joe’s envelopes, forty-six of them, beautifully illustrated.
Source: Anne T. Kent Room, Civic Center Library
Sausalito poet Daniel O’Connell (1849-1899), still in love with his wife after seven children, penned this:
“And so our love – beyond the rim of storms it glows forever. Nor rolling cloud nor fog wreaths dim, nor sun or sea may sever.”
Then, as now, it’s the thought that counts. Happy Valentine’s Day!
By Susan Cluff
JOSEPH D. McNEIL
(1898 – 1975)
Joe McNeil self–drawing
SOURCE: Anne T. Kent Collection, Civic Center Library
Between 1925 – 1933, Joe McNeil wrote faithfully to his fiancée Ellen Redding in San Rafael. Joe worked for a lithograph company in Los Angeles and carefully illustrated and colored each envelope, adding comical notes and directions.
Joe would draw scenes from their daily life — him at his desk working, a favorite picnic spot, a trip to the beach, a rainy day. One shows Ellen on horseback in west Marin, another, in a classroom with children. Ellen was a teacher at Burdell Ranch, a one-room schoolhouse, and rode there daily from her family’s farm. Later, she taught fifth grade at 4th Street Grammar School. Anticipating their wedding date, Joseph drew a picture of the two of them driving away “just married” with tin cans clattering along behind.
Joe and Ellen were married at the old St. Mary’s church in Nicasio. They had two daughters and two sons. After Joe died, Ellen was interviewed in 1980 about her early life and family. Her oral history and Joe’s illustrated envelopes are in the Anne T. Kent Collection. By Susan Cluff
Source: Susan Cluff
Scotsman James Niven moved to Larkspur in 1921 after working on the Henry Bothin estate in Ross as a gardener. An avid baseball fan, he’d scouted the county wherever he went to watch baseball games for the best climate and hours of sunlight for flower growing.
James and sons Walter and George constructed dozens of glass and metal greenhouses on a sixteen-acre site near downtown, becoming one of the state’s largest growers and suppliers of orchids, begonias and roses. When horticulturist John McLaren who built Golden Gate Park visited in 1928, he pronounced the nursery “perfect, second to none.” In 1932, one of Nevin’s prize-winning orchids was valued at $10,000.
In 1929, James’ son Walter died tragically in a boiler accident. James passed away in 1933 leaving George Nevin (1900-1962) to carry on the business. The Nevin family continued to run the nurseries until 1983. The greenhouses then became derelict and in 2013 were torn down for the Rose Lane subdivision. By Susan Cluff
CHARLES F. STOCKING
Detail from Stocking store photo Source: MHM
Charles Stocking was a merchant in San Rafael who operated a candy and ice cream store in the Dubois Building at 726 Fourth Street. Born in Oregon, the son of a California Pioneer and Forty-niner, Stocking opened his first confectioner’s shop on Polk Street in San Francisco in 1887.
After the earthquake and fire of 1906, Stocking moved his business and family to San Rafael. His shop was a real old-fashioned soda parlor with plate glass windows, marble and wood trim, white tables and chairs. Stocking made chocolates and hard candies using hand-cranked and electric machines. He also made ice cream. In 1912, he encouraged readers of the Marin Tocsin to try “the new drink Malted Milk... the most healthful and delicious drink you’ve ever tasted.” It was a concoction of ice cream, chocolate syrup, milk and malt powder, mixed and frothed in an electric blender.
Charles Stocking ran the candy store for fifteen years, his wife Nettie and daughter Abby working beside him. He passed away in 1949 in Napa at the age eighty-three.
By Susan Cluff
Wednesday, February 6, 2019 7:00 PM - 9:00 PM
Mill Valley Historical Society
Mill Valley Library
The Mt. Tamalpais Scenic Railway thrust 19th century Mill Valley onto the world stage. In 1930 the railroad was swept from the mountain, its cars burned, rails sold and relics scrapped. Today, one piece, the last locomotive purchased, survives. Historian Fred Runner will talk about the lost railroad and the project to save engine #9. With special musical guests Dore Coller & His Millbillies!
Fred is historian of the Mt. Tamalpais Scenic Railway and the West Point Inn. He is author of Mount Tamalpais Scenic Railway.
Saturday, February 9 1pm-2pm
Ship Operations in the Bay
Join Captain Craig Thomas of Agile Marine as he provides a better understanding of commercial shipping operations and movements in the Bay. The program includes the types of ships, ship construction and layout, commercial considerations, types, and locations of terminals in the Bay Area, manning requirements including careers and International, U.S. and California Regulations. A typical voyage for a tanker and container ship will be tracked from outside the bay, into a terminal, carrying out cargo operations, and departing to sea towards the next port.
Dr. Judith M. Taylor, author of The Olive in California: History of An Immigrant Tree, will trace the tree’s journey, beginning in the sixteenth century, when it arrived in Mexico, through the present day.
IN THIS ISSUE:
Museum News, Events, Feature Article, Faces of Marin, 100 Years Ago, Community Events, and From the Collection
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Candy Roller used in Stocking's Candy Store
Cast iron “drop” candy roller with brass rollers and wood handle, c. 1900, manufactured by Thomas Mills & Bros., Philadelphia.
Victorian-era hand-operated machines, like this one, produced fruit-flavored candies in a variety of irresistible shapes. Confectioners of the day would hand-feed strips of warm, pliable sugar through interchangeable brass rollers. Hard candies emerged, separated by a thin layer of brittle sugar. Candy makers lightly dropped the cooled sheets to separate the candies. You can watch the process here.
Our records indicate that Charles Stocking molded delicious drops with this roller at his cherished confectionery and ice cream shop once located near the corner of Fourth and B Streets in San Rafael.
Sources: Marin History Museum, mentalfloss.com
By Heather Powell, Collections Manager
From the Marin Journal
Hunters of Skunk Shoot Mt. "lyin"
We have just read a Marin county "Lyin" story in the San Francisco Chronicle.
Residents of the county need fear not, for the beast is a dead one. He was mistaken for a skunk by some mighty hunters from across the bay and was dispatched by their trusty big game rifles.
The animal was shot in a vital spot somewhere between San Anselmo and Wood acre. They didn't leave it "lyin" there; they took it to San Francisco, along with the tale of the beast, which they took off and told to the newspapers.
hunters who have denuded Marin county of its first and last mountain
lion in twenty-five years are O. C. Barrymore of San Francisco and F. W.
Eckert, of Oakland. It measured 7 feet and 2 inches - the lion. The
story in the papers measured 2 inches.
VOLUNTEER JOB OPPORTUNITIES
We can use your help! Have a little time on our hands and looking to help a local non-profit? Below is a list of some of the volunteer positions we need to fill.
Please let us know if any of these look interesting to you by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or calling 415-382-1182. We would love to hear form you!
We are starting to create a lot of content for our eNewsletters, social media sites, and future traveling exhibitions and publications. If you like to do historical research and write short articles, we could use your help.
Along with writers, we need editors to give the final article its blessing before it goes to print. This volunteer job can be done from home or on site. Let us know if you have that required eagle eye and grammatical tenacity to tackle this job.
Capture the moment for us! Your photos of the Museum’s special events and exhibitions will be invaluable for public outreach, future fundraising campaigns and our institution’s historical record. We could use your help documenting our history!
Are you a student looking for community service hours? Know a student who needs hours before graduating? The Marin History Museum is a 501(c)3 and can grant students their community service hours.Let us know and we’ll take care of it!