1951: “Ma Frey”: Bartendress & Hotel owner’s daughter (4)

Lizzie McCormick, the hotel owner’s daughter married Herman Frey, the town constable and owner of the Elkhorn Saloon. For ten years the happy couple lived at Lobitos*.

During that time the ship ‘Colombia‘ ran aground and broke-up near Pescadero. The villagers rallied and rushed to the scene where they liberated its cargo of white paint. For many years afterward Pescadero was known as “The Spotless Town” because all the houses in town had a fresh coat of the same color paint.

Which brought Ma Frey back to the topic of her vegetable garden and some practical advice.

“The moles have been bad,” she said. “You have to take the corn and dip it in coal oil–that’ll keep the moles away. And you put mothballs where their runs are.

“There’s nearly an acre,” she went on. “Jim, the deputy sheriff, plowed it. You can’t get horses anymore. You either have to spade it or use machinery.”

There were other things on her mind. “I’ve answered a puzzle,” she said, “and I’m gonna get rich. There’s a contest and it doesn’t close ’til the 31st of May–that’s my wedding anniversary. They sent me a form to fill out and I got it all perfect.

“I’ll get $50,000 for the first prize, I think. When I get it, I’m going to do good. I have lots of friends that need operations.”

And that was just like Ma Frey to care about her friends and neighbors in Pescadero.


*Lobitos: “The farming district hereabouts was so named from the creek around 1870 (in the ’60s the name had been Bald Knob…) The Lobitos Station of the stagecoach line was established in 1878, and within a year or so turned into the present hamlet. (The 1941 Army map very mistakenly calls the place Tunitas, and the USGS, against the advice of its field engineer, has repeated the blunder.)–From “Place Names of San Mateo County” by Dr. Alan K. Brown

**Lobitos Creek: Land grant records of the late 1830s call this the ‘arroyo de los Lobitos’ (Seals creek). Deeds of the early 1850s have an alternate Spanish form: ‘arroyo Lobos Pintos’ (spotted seals; the two terms mean the same thing, seals as distinguished from the large unspotted sea lions). According to Pablo Vasquez, the name comes from the fact that there were large seal rookeries on the shore here. This would be hard to disagree with. A small branch going off the creek a mile and a quarter below Bald Knob has long been regarded as the South fork.–Place Names of San Mateo County, Dr. Alan K. Brown

***Bald Knob: (West of and above Tunitas Creek road 2.4 W of Skyline…) The name has been in use since the late 18550s. There is now a growth of young pines on the summit which before was conspicuously bare. ‘Knob’ is not a regular word for a kind of hill in this part of California, so the effect is semi-metaphorical; Bald mountain has always been an alternate form. In the 1860s Bald Knob was also used as the name of the ranching district down to the west. Wheeler’s San Francisco County map of 1855 has the name Zaremba mountain, for totally unknown reasons.–Place Names of San Mateo County, Dr. Alan K. Brown

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