Mini-Interview with Writer Rob Tillitz

Mini-Interview with Rob Tillitz (RT)

[We’re talking about the 1960s-70s]

1. You were born on the Coastside? Where?

Rob Tillitz (RT) I was born, actually, in Oakland. We moved to Pescadero when I was in the third grade. Had Mrs. Strom as my first teacher. Moved to Half Moon Bay area, Montara, in my Sophomore year.

2. Pescadero must have been very isolated then. What was it like?

RT: We were especially isolated living up in Native Sons Park, a bumpy trail, rutted and rife with chukholes, muddy about half the school year. There was a wooden car bridge that washed out every fall, and didn’t get replaced until early summer. We didn’t have a jeep on the other side like neighbors did: Meant packing groceries a mile or so up the dirt track. Looking back, I think years sometimes went by that I did not leave the Pescadero Creek watershed. No reason to. For many it was that way. Grow your vegetables, buy what you need at Williamson’s Country Store or Norm’s Market, and that was that. The Grammer school showed movies on Friday nights….old ones! There was an occasional dance for adolesents, but the big thing was Chamarita. We lived for the Chamarita’s; the parade and auction, free beef, and giggling all the way down the hill-slide. Kids still do that, I believe.

3. Did you often play at Pigeon Point?

RT: We did most of our playing in Pescadero Creek. But summers would go to the beach, or rock fishing various places between Horseshoe Rock and Pigeon Point. Times we went fishing around Pigeon Point, but getting right down underneath it was either not easy, or there was not a decent spot to fish there. I remember someone, a diver, talking about a ledge dropoff right in front of the light that is rich with abalones, but did not ever get to fish (nor play) there. Do remember hearing the fog horn some days. Though it was not a great distance, about 6 miles. Sound carries very well in the fog. Also remember finding a CB radio at the dump. It only recevied, and I hooked it up and was able to listen to the fishermen anchored at Pigeon and Ano Nuevo talking.

4. How did you first find out about Bootlegger’s Cove? Did locals say illegal booze was unloaded there during Prohibition?

It was common but whispered knowledge that many of the old-timers, mainly farmers, were able to make it through tough times because of Bootlegger’s Cove, and smuggling booze. There was one old guy, Al Adino, that everyone joked had to go dig up another coffee can when he ran out of hundred-dollar bills. Read my book…

5. What do you know of Ken Kesey?

RT: When I lived in Pescadero, Ken Kesey was up at the Cuckoo’s Nest. Did you know the place he lived was called that before he moved there? My parents looked at it before Kesey did, and that’s what the previous owners called it. But for awhile he took a green pup tent and mounted it on a wood platform, stuck a light with a long cord inside, and hoisted it high in one of the redwoods. It was eerie in the dark and ghostly trees, supernatural like a UFO or a specter.


[Note: Remember that Ken Kesey & the Pranksters made an as- of today-unseen movie at Ano Nuevo in the 1970s. Here’s the latest update, 12/10.2008 from Kelly Grami: “The Kesey collection here at UCLA is now protected in a state-of-the-art facility.   We’ve also been fortunate to secure a grant to help preserve some of the material.  This endeavor is currently in the planning stage and we expect it to be a long-term project due to the scope and condition of the collection.”]

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