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

[I wrote this in 1993]

One of my favorite Pescadero characters is Lizzie McCormick Frey (affectionately known as “Ma Frey,” pronounced “Fry”). But I never met her. Yet I can almost hear the bespectacled 70-year-0ld widow chatting –in her trademark, deep voice–to a San Francisco reporter in 1951.

It was spring and Ma Frey and the journalist conversed outside her 8-room white house located next door to the Native Sons Hall. In Pescadero.

Her garden was “coming up fine,” she said, and she “had chickens and ducks, and I don’t know how many rabbits and somebody threw off two female cts here–and now I’ve got ten cats.”

Ma Frey had five kids and they were still keeping her busy. To help pay the bills, she rented to one boarder and took in the wash.

“I’m washing now,” she told the reporter. “I’ve got two tubs and no time to talk to anybody. A person can’t walk and walk too.”

But talk she did, her choice of words revealing a longing for times past, the way it used to be–apparently an action-filled town. Ma Frey didn’t go so far as to say that Pescadero was turning into a ghost town–but she did say that it wasn’t humming as much as it used to–back when she used to tend bar at the Elkhorn Saloon, today the location of Pescadero’s post office.

“It’s going downhill all the time,” Ma Frey said. “I hate to see it. Why they used to celebrate the Fourth of July and everything here. They’d even shoot off the cannon.”

….to be continued…

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