12 June 2015: We didn't know that we were going to the San Gregorio General Store. Perhaps few do. We had been north the day before from Berkeley to Sacramento and back. I don't know if I walked through any molecules of ancestors in Old Sacramento, My father's father's stepfather's mother married his stepfather in San Jose in about 1873, Cornish tin-mining people who had gone to California for gold and found themselves widow and widower each with three children. Just one of the boys of the widow taking the Argall name of the widower, then moving later to Australia where he came upon my paternal great-grandmother, arrived from England, domestic servant whose prize for pregnancy was to be sent to the other end of the world in a boat. How modern. We had left Berkeley in cool, not as cold and foggy as we could see San Francisco to be. I had on long underwear. In Sacramento the temperature had risen to 99 degrees. Next day, after checking out of our Berkeley airbnb studio we resolved to scoot east, through the fog, to get over the bridge before the Friday afternoon traffic, to be positioned to get comfortably to the airport for evening flight to Sydney... so east we went
heading for Half Moon Bay, south, down the coast from the city.
where we saw the carpark overflowing at Sam's Chowder House and took that as a good sign.
Service lugubrious but then we were not rushing; food good—California-populist-bulky rather than nouvelle-cuisine-dainty.
We turned left from the coast highway in Half Moon Bay, but still needed to spend some time out in the air not in the airport. In this wood carving establishment a cheerful young lady whose sister is doing a PhD in Australia gave us clear and unambiguous intructions: go back to the coast road, continue south to San Gregorio, go to the General Store.
So we did as recommended and found it. This is Ms Google's street view photo.
We were pretty well camera-ed out.
If we had found this place quite a lot earlier, we might have stayed quite a lot longer.
This, from their website, seems reasonably comprehensively accurate.
Saloon, lanterns, seeds, no television, U.S. Post Office, cast iron cookware, aspirin, advice, wines fine to rot gut, western and work clothing, groceries, hardware, bullshit, toys, cowtechnician hats, international beers, beeswax, cheesecloth, piano in-tune, books (literature, poetry, gender and environmental politics), homemade sandwiches, diapers, crockery, weather analysis, coal hods, raccoon traps, tequila (18 flavors), posters, cards, tee shirts, buttons, candles, rain gear, organic garlic, apples and butternut squash in season, live music (Irish R&B, bluegrass, original everything else).
We alas could not stay for the music, we did not need the diapers.
But I spent quite a while among the books. I bought a copy of the mysterious B Traven's novel Rebellion of the Hanged (nice student web site), set in Mexico just before the 1910 revolution. It proved to be readable on the plane, an unusual attribute for me, the nearest thing in its terrifying straight reporting style that I had read to Upton Sinclair's The Jungle. On which I reflected while reading Traven, on the plane from San Francisco, wondering what might have happened if Upton Sinclair been elected governor of California in 1934. Screwed by FDR, as I now find nicely recorded by Greg Mitchell. And discussed more thoroughly in The Nation.