Sausalito Historical Society
Mignone Trouette Conner was born in Sausalito in 1908 and lived here until her death at age 99. She was a historian, and a part of Sausalito’s history herself. In 1987, she recalled her childhood here in an oral history with the Historical Society’s Betsy Kraemer. Her French grandparents had immigrated to swampy New Orleans, but her grandmother suffered from anemia, and – desperate for a cure – visited a slaughterhouse to drink hot cow’s blood.
“Finally,” Mignone recalled, “the doctors told her that if she stayed in New Orleans she wouldn’t stay long.” Her grandfather, Paul Jean Trouette, had heard about Sausalito from his cousin, Jean Baptiste Baraty, head of a pioneer Sausalito family since immigrating here from France in 1878. The Trouettes arrived in Sausalito in 1883.
Mignone’s earliest memories provide an intriguing look at early Sausalito through the eyes of a young child. Here are some edited excerpts from her recollections:
My mother’s sister lived in Oakland, and when my aunt and uncle came to visit my parents in Sausalito they used to say “Oh, this is the last place on earth, it’s so dull.” It was very quiet.
But downtown at the corner of what was then Water Street and Princess Street, they used to have carnivals. As a little kid I used to go down there, but one year I had the measles and couldn’t go. My aunt and uncle went and brought me back a kewpie doll.
Sausalito was like a little village. We knew everybody in town. On Sundays we would walk downtown in the early evening and sit on the plaza and watch the ferryboats come in, and the electric trains ran in those days. The hikers would take the trains up to Mount Tamalpais, and when they came back, they had ukuleles, and they would be singing. It was a great joy to watch them as they boarded the ferries back to San Francisco.
When the Northwest Pacific Ferry Boat started taking on cars in the early 1920s, the cars used to line up almost to Mill Valley. People stayed in their cars all night to get on the ferry. My brother would gather wildflowers, go along where people were waiting to get on the ferry boats and sell them bouquets of flowers.
Around 1917, our home was on the corner of Turney and Girard. My father went to work for Ed Baraty (son of Jean Baptiste) as a butcher, and then bought him out. Papa had a cart and a horse, and he would take orders by telephone and deliver them by horse and cart.
Grandpa’s lot went from Litho Street to Locust Street and he had a barn with two stalls, one for his horse Belle and one for my father’s horse Jim. There were no sidewalks, just dirt.
When I went to Central School, there was an entrance on the West side for girls and one on the East side for boys. We attended classes together, but we were separated otherwise. When the bell rang, we marched in and the girls went up their stairway and the boys went up theirs.
When I started school, I was at a real disadvantage because we only spoke French at home so I had to learn English.
As an adult, Mignone married her longtime admirer, Royal J. Conner, in 1931. The couple raised two girls, and Mignone became active in local politics as the voice for keeping “Sausalito’s small-town charm.” She served on the PTA and in 1944, as president, was an honored guest at the Marinship yard for the May, 7 launching of the USS Mission Capistrano.
According to her obituary, “After Roy’s death, she continued to love and help the family and witnessed the marriages of all her grandchildren and the births of her great-grandchildren, and was happy to share all the wisdom 99 years of life had to offer.”
Mignone’s full oral history can be heard via www.sausalitohistoricalsociety.org