Mike Read/Pages From The Past
(Editor’s note: Pages From The Past is compiled from past issues of the Novato Advance.)
100 Years Ago
— Mrs. Elizabeth P. Sutton, one of the pioneer residents of Novato, died at the family home at Novato, New Year’s Day. The deceased was the beloved wife of Frank Sutton and devoted mother of Thomas F., John M., Arden A., Milton J., and Frank M. Sutton, of Yuba City; Mrs. S.P. Cavanagh of Pt. Reyes; Lulu M. Sutton, Margaret L. Sutton and sister of Jemina Murphy. She was a native of Ireland and aged 75 years. She came to Marin County in 1852 from County Wexford, Ireland. Her six sons acted as pallbearers at the ceremonies. She was the mother of the well known Constable Tom Sutton.
75 Years Ago
— Al Bowman announces that his 600-seat theatre will be ready for occupancy the latter part of March.
— Possibility of addition of another 11.9 miles of four-lane divided traffic in Sonoma County south of Petaluma. The State Department of Public Works announce low bidder as A.G. Raisch Co., San Francisco, and Harms Bros., Sacramento, with a bid of $1,555,096 for “four-laning” 11.9 miles between one mile south of Petaluma and the Ignacio wye. The project includes construction of bridges across San Antonio and Novato creeks.
— Sergeant Carlos Valim wired his mother, Mrs. A. Valim, that he was at camp Kilmer, N.J., just in port from Europe and hoped to be flown to Camp Beale for further assignment. He was one of the paratroopers who landed behind German lines in the Italian, French and Belgian campaigns during his two years’ service in Europe.
50 Years Ago
— Novato Postmaster Harry Overly is retiring. After 30 years, and eight months in the postal service, 17 of these years in Novato. Bill Almeida, assistant postmaster, will become acting postmaster. Overly says he’s certain that Almeida will be named Novato postmaster, Almeida joined the postal service here on March 1, 1953.
— Revival of the Western Weekend parade is assured this year, members of Western Weekend Inc. learned at their meeting. It was announced that the Novato Jaycee have agreed to handle arrangements for the parade. The parade was restored to the celebration in response to public demand. It will be a small parade limited to local entries and will not be as costly as previous parades.
— It’s now official that Novato Auto Sales has bought the former L.J. Dervin Ford business at 6995 Redwood Highway.
— Robert E. Ecklund was elected chairman of the city plan review committee and James R. Gordon was named vice chairman. Ecklund succeeds, John Stuber as chairman. Architectural designs for Sambo’s Restaurant on the conner of Novato Blvd. and Seventh St. were approved. John Angeloni’s plans for an auto service center at 1029 and 1033 First St. across from Nave Dodge, were also okayed.
— McKeon Construction Co. of Sacramento won planning commission unanimous master plan approval for a planned residential townhouse and apartment complex with a maximum of 528 units on the former Crossroads site of 50.5 aces. The residential development of the site, located on the northwest corner of South Novato Blvd. and Highway 101, actually would occupy 44.5 acres of the site and a neighborhood shopping center would occupy six acres on the South Novato Blvd. at the southwest corner of the site.
25 Years Ago
— Members of the Novato Chamber of Commerce Ambassadors join American Cancer Society Discovery Shop staff and volunteers at a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the new Cancer Information and Resource Center, now available at the Discovery Shop, 874 Grant Ave. The center offers a community service to patients and their families by providing current information on cancer through literature, pamphlets and services and access to an array of supportive services in the county.
— Gnoss Field is taking off. As Marin County’s only municipal airport serving more than 200 aircraft, the field recently underwent a host of safety improvements and construction projects designed to attract more fliers to the North Novato air strip. So far, county funded Gnoss Field has enjoyed a nearly $2 million facelift, and more improvements are on the way, according to airport manager Jim Stanfill. “Last summer we completed the improvements to the runway, which included resurfacing it, replacing the runway lights, and widening it from 60 to 75 feet,” Stanfill said. “The county built 29 hangars for rental. That was done in two phases and completed in October.”
Msgr. James P. Keane
— He’s been a priest for 50 years, performed hundreds of weddings, baptized thousands of babies and buried hundreds of parishioners. He has done so with grace, humor and humility. And, most of all, faith. Msgr. James P. Keane, who has served Our Lady of Loretto Church as pastor and administrator for the past 20 years, is retiring. Retirement at age 75 is now a Church rule. The Rev. John J. O’Neill, until only a few weeks ago the Roman Catholic Chaplain at San Quentin Prison, will be installed as pastor of Our Lady of Loretto on Sunday, Feb. 18. Msgr. Keane’s retirement will leave a void in many lives. He visits patients at Novato Community Hospital daily, takes communion to the housebound, visits friends who aren’t parishioners, drops in on the young charges of the parish daycare center named in his honor, and plays golf. He will be making his home with his brother on the Peninsula.
— Earle Swensen learned to make ice cream in the galley of the troop carrier U.S.S. Admiral Capps while crisscrossing the South Pacific during the war. Making ice cream was the coolest job on board. And it was undoubtedly the most pleasant. In short, it suited Earle Swensen. Mr. Swensen, the founder of Swensen’s Ice Cream, a man who radiated good nature and brought out the best in others, died of heart failure. He was 83 years old. His beloved wife of 53 years, Nora Mae Swensen, died on Nov. 21, 1995. The business grew and the Swensens began selling franchises. Today there are 350 Swenson’s Ice Cream stores in the United States, Mexico and the Far East. The Swensens lived in San Francisco, where they were active in St. Gabriel’s parish, until 1965, when they came to Novato. They were among the founding families of Bel Marin Keys and were charter members of the Bel Marin Keys Yacht Club.