Diekmann’s General Store, Tomales.
The building that now houses Diekmann’s General Store, built in 1867, was, in its earliest years, Newburgh & Kahn’s, whose stock included groceries, dry goods, hardware, clothes, hay and grain, coal, gun powder, lumber, wallpaper, and furnishings. After three more owners Walter Diekmann purchased the business in 1948.
One of the four Diekmann brothers to make a mark on the North Bay grocery business (older brother William owned the 405 Market in Santa Rosa, Herman operated Diekmann’s Bay Store in Bodega Bay, and Ed Diekmann would later be proprietor of Valley of the Moon Market in Glen Ellen), Walt Diekmann was a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of the University of Iowa. He and Mildred Bartels had been married less than two years, and had a new baby boy named Billy, when a phone call came from the older brother, William, bringing a message echoing countless others that had been crossing the country for a hundred years: “there’s money to be made in California!”
After an investigatory trip to look over a Tomales general store that was for sale, Diekmann returned to Iowa, where he and Mildred auctioned most of their household goods , packed the rest in a tiny, one-wheeled trailer, and set off with 1 ½ year-old Bill for California. The Diekmann family eventually included three children, Bill, Mark and Kristin, and even after Mildred’s sad and unexpected death-Kristin was only two years old-Walt managed, with help from relatives and neighbors, to raise the kids and work 6 and a half days a week. As the children grew they took part in the business, absorbing the finer points of small town storekeeping along the way.
Everyone, it seems, has memories of Diekmann’s General Store: the ice water-filled, lidded barrel with bottles of soft drinks inside, the post office at the rear of the store, and the well-filled comic book rack at the front corner, where the patient proprietor put up with the frequent reading-and not so frequent buying-of local kids.
After Walt Diekmann died in 1972, Bill and Kristin took over the business (which they sold, while maintaining ownership of the building, in 2000). In the late ‘70’s Bill oversaw the rehabilitation of the venerable building, which included restoration of some original cabinetry and other interior details. The store, a focal point of the village’s commercial district, has deservedly become a beloved icon of Tomales. Kristin now runs the Two Silos Mercantile on the second floor which offers antiques, consignment and selected seconds merchandise.
Excerpted with permission, from the Tomales Regional History Center Bulletin, October 2006. Editor Ginny Magan
Strange beach visitors
Is it global warming, odd ocean currents or goodness-knows-what that is causing all the creatures to wash up on the beach in the last three or four months? Full size crabs have been washing up since February of this year, the vellela (little sailors) have been washing up since June, and now odd little creatures, maybe an inch long, resembling teeny tiny crabs, odd looking bugs with eight legs or even trilobites, I kid you not, have been washing up all week. Our correspondent in Monterey, Adam Niehuser, says he’s been seeing the same little guys washing up on Monterey beaches as well. A little googling leads us to creatures called mole crabs or sand fleas (http://fishingdestinguide.com/baitSANDFLEAS.html) and apparently they are great fishing bait. Judging by the great catches made all summer, as noted in Lawsons Landing’s excellent fishing report, Pacific fish love them too! http://fishlawsons.blogspot.com
Tomales mourns Phil Williams
Saying goodbye to another long-time Tomales resident is hard. So long to Phil Williams, a talented builder, carpenter, hard worker, storyteller and all-around person of good cheer. News of his passing made the rounds on Facebook in late August and many of his friends and former neighbors mourned his loss. Former Tomales Deli owner Sally Parks wrote, “So sad to read this. I loved it when Phil would come into the deli. Yes, a lovely man.” Lee Mehlman said, “He was my first neighbor and he showed me what it was like to live in such a special place. Thank you! For being my Tomales face I will always think of you as my neighbor.” Roger Brink offered, “Our prayers to the girls and his grandchildren. Phil had a good ride, may he RIP. He will be missed.” Williams is survived by his two daughters, Sarah and Rebecca, and his grandchildren.
Annual Dillon Beach Road Cleanup
Every year the fine folks of Lawson’s Landing host a great way to spend the day, by cleaning up Dillon Beach Road and having lunch afterward. This year, Friday, September 19, is the day chosen for this fun get-together. Lawson’s Landing says, “Meet at the Boat House at 10 p.m., lunch will be served at noon.” Call 707-878-2443 or see www.lawsonslanding.com for more information.
Two Rock fund raiser
The Two Rock Valley Presbyterian Church is hosting their 68th Annual Harvest Festival Fund Raiser on Saturday, September 20, from 10:00 am to 3:00 pm. Come shop for handmade quilts and crafts and home-baked goods. Fresh produce, potted plants and flowers will be available along with interesting silent auction items and a drawing for other hand-made treasures. Stay for the delicious BBQ chicken lunch served from 11 -2:00, with home-made potato salad, beans, fresh tomatoes and lemonade.
Tomales Elementary PTA drive
News from Tomales Elementary School PTA: “Tomales Elementary School PTA is having a membership drive! The first primary (K-3) class and the first upper grade (4-8) class to get at least one person from each of their families to join PTA gets a party! Support your student by joining PTA. Keep an eye out later this week for our posters that show the progress made by each class!”
I’m excited. Those who have been around me over the last few weeks know that I am overusing this sentence, but I don’t care. It’s true, and for good reason. A lot of great things are happening at Tomales High School, and it has made me excited to start this school year.
We are welcoming wonderful new staff members to join our team. Our new counselor, Connie Marx, comes to us with a wealth of experience in academic planning, college admittance, career prep, and making meaningful connections with students. Becca Bishop joins our English department, well trained and full of enthusiasm to develop relevant, engaging curriculum for our students. The addition of Erin Saunders to our Spanish program allows us to offer dedicated, appropriately leveled courses for both our English and Spanish speaker programs. Martha Johnson will bring her expertise to our Art program while art teacher Rachel Somerville is away for the fall semester, and Cesar Lopez joins our custodial staff in support of a clean, well-maintained THS campus.
These new folks have folded in nicely with our returning staff members. The halls are abuzz with discussions of project-based learning, technology as a learning and engagement tool, cross-curricular collaboration, and making education relevant for our students. This year will be a big year for Tomales High, as we prepare for our accreditation visit in the spring. Last year, we identified two critical areas of focus for our curriculum: writing in every subject area and the development of more relevant, real world learning opportunities for our students. This year, as we pilot, experiment, and adjust, we will finalize our action plan towards these focus areas.
So as you can see, I am excited. Great things are happening at Tomales High School. And they will only get better when the kids arrive.
Tomales High School