Mike Read/Pages From the Past
(Editor’s Note: This feature presents historical vignettes from the pages of the Novato Advance.)
— The county’s friends of Hans Nielsen, widely known Novato rancher, were shocked to learn of his death at the Emergency Hospital here Monday morning from an injury which he sustained in a runaway accident Friday of last week. The injury which caused death was sustained while Mr. Nielsen was riding in a two-horse wagon with the Rev. Charles Christensen. The horses took fright and started to run. Intent upon gaining control of the animals, Rev. Christensen turned then off the road and into a barbed wire fence, where they came to a stop. Rev. Christensen then discovered that Mr. Nielsen had been thrown from the seat and was lying some distance back near a curbstone. He was rushed to the Emergency Hospital here, where Dr. J. H. Kuser learned that the injured man had sustained a fracture of the skull. He did not regain consciousness before death came. Mr. Nielsen was a highly respected man and had resided in Marin county many years. He was ever active in projects that promised a betterment in civic conditions.
The deceased is survived by a sorrowing widow. Mrs. Susanna Nielsen. Funeral services were held yesterday at the Presbyterian church in Novato and were largely attended by many men and women who had known and admired Mr. Nielsen in his lifetime. The deceased was 72 years of age and a native of Denmark.
75 Years Ago
— E. R. Samuels, Novato pioneer merchant, announced the sale of his store property this week to Matt Malney of San Francisco. The store is located on the I corner of Grant and Reichert Avenues. To what use the new owner is going to put his property, was not learned, but he is making plans for renovations.
— L. R. Knutte, chairman of the Novato Water Conservation and Retention Dam Committee, reports efforts will be made to try and tie-in the Novato project with already approved Novato Flood Control project. The whole project would then be the re-dredging of the Novato Creek channel with a number of retention dams built in the upper hill valleys surrounding the main Novato valley for the purpose of building up the underground water supply, control of flood conditions and conservation of soil.
— Major Charles D. Stafford, Veterinary Corps, U.S. Army, was recently awarded the Bronze Star medal for meritorious service in connection with military operations.
— Black Point has lost one of its old-time fishing clubs. Gimme Club No. 1, vacated its clubhouse on the waterfront near the highway bridge. So far as known the organization is disbanded, or at least will no longer maintain a clubhouse. They have moved their boat to Sausalito.
50 Years Ago
— Parks and recreation commissioners Monday night approved a compromise design for Pioneer Memorial Park cemetery, in which gravestones on the knoll will remain erect and those on the slopes and level ground below will be placed flat. Present at the meeting were Frank Galli, Wilfred Lieb and Peg Coady of the Marin Historical Society and the Novatans to Preserve Historical Landmarks The cemetery reconstruction will be a major feature of second phase development of the park, for which $30,000 has been budgeted. Voluntary labor and private contributions are expected to make possible completion of park development. The second phase includes four tennis courts, two of them night-lighted, restrooms, landscaping and irrigation facilities, as well as a children’s play area.
25 Years Ago
— After almost three decades as a Grant Avenue fixture, Novato Glass is moving — but not far. After 27 years on Grant Avenue, Dick Matthews is moving his business around the corner to 1020 Reichert Ave. conveniently near Novato Builders Supply. The store at the current location will become Old Town Glass. The big move is scheduled for Thursday, Dec. 7. “We’ll be in a different location, but absolutely nothing will change as far as the service,” Matthews emphasizes. They will also find Dick Matthews who now has more than four decades experience in the glass business. A graduate of Tomales High School and College of Marin, Matthews started with Larkspur glass as a teenager and has been at it through thick, thin, good times and bad for 44 years. Novato Glass will continue to be a family affair. At some time or another, all seven of Dick Matthews’ children have been involved in the business and sons Rick and Tom are still key workers at the business as is cousin Rusty Matthews. Dick’s daughter, Jeanne Matthews-Rubino, who now lives in Washington, worked at the shop for several years and will come back to help open die store at the new location. Various wives, grandchildren and other family members will also help with the move and help get things going at the new location.
— Protect Novato’s History – By MARIANNE R. HURLEY I am sorry that your reader, Lily Grossi McWhorter, misinterpreted my attempt at sarcasm to criticize the destruction of Novato’s early schoolhouse. No, Mrs. McWhorter, I did not consider this historic structure a “trash” old building in the way of progress, as its owner apparently did. Quite the contrary. I attempted to decry the lack of respect among Novato’s businessmen and politicians for Novato history and heritage that led to the quiet destruction of the school you graduated from. As a preservation architect, I know that building was salvageable at reasonable costs for several potential uses that would honor its history and memory. A town that doesn’t care about its beginnings or its historic structures is lacking in soul and the town’s leaders who ignore this are shortsighted. Now, Mrs. McWhorter, all Novato has of its early schoolhouse are your wonderful memories and some photographs. Please write down your stories, so when some Novato citizen of the future shows an interest in history, they will have your stories to go by. In reference to Roger Sewing’s letter in the Nov. 8 edition of the Novato Advance, I agree wholeheartedly with his dismay regarding the demolition of Hamilton Gate. Here is another blatant example of destroy our local landmarks now, think about the historical significance later.”