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Pages from the Past

Stories from the archives of the Novato Advance

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Posted: Wednesday, February 16, 2011 12:00 am

Compiled by Mike Read

85 Years Ago

February 1926

The James Gage Breeding Farm is now one of the established chicken breeding concerns of this country. By careful selection and experience in handling birds, this farm has gained an enviable reputation and is the pride of Novato. Some 15 years ago, Mr. and Mrs. James Gage with their family settled in Indian Valley, and after pioneer work went into the chicken business. Soon afterwards Dr. W.H. Busher, the noted veterinarian, also located in this beautiful valley and became interested in the chicken business, and today the breeding farm of James Gage is known throughout the United States. Large numbers of baby chicks are shipped from this hatchery each year to poultry-raisers in different States of the Union.

The local sanitary board met in regular session Tuesday afternoon. The matter of securing a dumping ground for garbage was thoroughly discussed, and J.W. Cain and William Hanen were appointed a committee to look into the matter and report at the next meeting. By a unanimous vote, Fred DeLucchi was elected health officer for the sanitary district.

A.D. White is having Scott’s hall partitioned off into offices.

75 Years Ago

February 1936

With approach of the spring kite-flying season, the PG&E will this week undertake its sixth annual safety campaign to teach the youth of central and northern California the rules of the game. Do not fly your kite near light, telephone or trolley wires, or near high voltage transmission tower lines. Do not use wire of tinsel cord with any metallic substance. Use only cotton string or cord. Keep your kite string dry. Wet string is a conductor of electricity and is dangerous when it falls across electric wires. Keep your kite away from radio antennae. Do not climb power or other poles to recover fallen kites. Do not attempt to dislodge an entangled kite with sticks or stones, but telephone to the company’s nearest office. A good kite flyer obeys the rules.

A Kraft cheese factory is likely to be established here in the near future, rumor has it.

One subject that is captivating the general conversation of the average individual these days is the 1936 Olympic Games which are to be held in Germany this summer. For a while it appeared that some interests in the United States would try and stop our entry into the Olympics this year, but all present indications point to full participation on the part of America. We Americans are a sport-minded, sport-loving people. We love the thought of athletic competition. We like to see the best man and the best teams win.

50 Years Ago

February 1961

One of Novato’s most colorful “old timers,” Ernest R. Vogel, for many years known as Novato’s “unofficial mayor,” died Sunday at Novato Hospital. He became the first person to die in the new institution. Mr. Vogel, 75, had apparently suffered a heart attack which climaxed a two-year illness. He had resided in Novato off and on since 1909, and until incapacitated by illness had been a regular visitor at the meetings of Marin County Board of Supervisors, scarcely ever failing to attend. For several years he ran the salvage shop which formerly stood at the northeast corner of Grant and Reichert Streets and also was proprietor of a “fixit” shop across the street.

A five-year-old boy flying a kite with a metal string yesterday afternoon plunged a whole section of 400 Novato homes into darkness after the kite struck a 12,000 volt line. Suffering burns was Joseph Secchitano, son of Mr. and Mrs. Joesph J. Secchitano Jr., of 856 Pine St. He suffered a burned right hand and burns on the heels of both feet – where the nails in his shoes were located. The burns were not considered serious, according to a PG&E spokesman. The boy said he released the kite immediately when it brushed against the 12,000 volt line on Diablo Ave. just south of the intersection with Novato Boulevard. Flying a kite with Secchitano was John Frank, 12-year-old son of Mr. and Mrs. Bert Frank, 860 Pine St., neighbors of the Secchitanos. Mrs. Frank reported her son felt a “jolt” but apparently released the kite string a moment before the Secchitano youth did.

25 Years Ago

February 1986

History fans who delight in dollhouses and miniatures will want to see the miniature version of the Trumbull home now on display at the Novato History Museum. Jim Harris spent 18 months constructing this magnificent dollhouse. The roof of the model is covered with hand-carved shingles. The Novato resident built the home to benefit a San Marin scholarship fund established in memory of his son, Jeffrey, who died in an accident.

Novatan Allan Wann, who won the model, said his two daughters both wanted the dollhouse. He donated the model to Novato History Museum to keep family peace. The dollhouse is an actual reproduction of Sweetser-DeLong home, also known as the Trumbull mansion, the Home Place and the Novak Home.

The Novato landmark was built in 1865 by Francis DeLong and Joseph Bryant Sweetser who bought the 8,870 Rancho de Novato in 1856-57. DeLong’s son Frank Coye later became a state senator, but neglect of the ranch and his expensive lifestyle led to his filing of bankruptcy in 1883. The Novato Land Company was formed by Coye’s creditors.

Robert Hatch was named manager of the company in 1894. He lived in the house until 1905. Robert H. Trumbull Sr. was the next manager. He lived in the house from 1905. He purchased the home in 1916. The Trumbull family stayed in the home until 1952. John Novak purchased the home in the mid-1950s. The home changed hands several times after that.

The historic home was the main home in the 22,000 acre Novato Rancho. It is Victorian, with a high gabled roof, 12 foot ceilings, a veranda and 10 fireplaces. It boasts three stories.

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