Memories from Paul Schmidt:
My earliest Monte Rio memories were of the annual summer Variety Shows put on by the Bohemian Club and local community at the Roller Rink. One particular show I will never forget was Art Linkletter as emcee with Ray Bolger (the Scarecrow from the Wizard of Oz) re-enacting his entire dance sequence from that movie with nothing more than a broom as a prop as we kids sat on the floor and watched in awe. Even then, there was the violin solo of “Ave Maria” which brought tears to many eyes. At the time, Art Linkletter was a national TV star with his show “Kids say the Darndest Things” and seeing him at the Roller Rink was a particular thrill.
Years ago, there was a small bakery in Monte Rio called Stella’s Pastries, a favorite of my grandmothers. She had been a teenager at the 1915 San Francisco Panama-Pacific Exposition and told us stories of how everyone used to say “Have you seen Stella?” (Stella at the Fair being a nude painting over a bar). So every time we drove through Monte Rio we would say, “Have you seen Stella?” and, of course, the Pink Elephant brought the same kind of laughter.
There was also a bit of celebrity watching during the Bohemian’s “High Jinks” period but for us “townies” it was rare. One incident I will never forget was when President Eisenhower played golf at Northwood one year. We went to the Union Hotel for dinner as a family and when my grandfather came out, one friendly inebriate thought he was President Eisenhower and had to point him out to everyone around the hotel and sidewalk. We had a good laugh at that. One other year, Nikita Khrushchev, Premier of the Soviet Union, was also a guest of the Grove. And of course, we were told the story of how the Manhattan Project and A-bomb were conceived at a Grove Encampment in the 1940’s or how the singer/star Bing Crosby first recorded “White Christmas” at the piano in the Village Inn. *
On Saturdays, when I was in High School and could drive, it was off to the Monte Rio Roller Rink for dances, the theater for movies, or down to Rio Nido for the beach scene and music. There were even trips to Healdsburg for a round of golf on Fitch Mountain, but it was always the beach that drew us back to the River.
*Editor note: There is no historical support for the Village Inn legend, although it is a good story!
MRVS 2010 Art Linkletter Tribute
From Chris Z – Production Crew 1997-2007, Show Director 2008-2011
A great Variety Show memory that keeps popping to the top is the tribute to Art Linkletter at the 2010 show. Adam Felber (of NPR’s Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me) wrote a beautiful piece and it was read by Jamie Widdoes (of Animal House fame.). It captures everything about Art Linkletter as a person and supporter of the annual Monte Rio event.
1990 Photo of Last Roundup for Chair Ladies at the Old Monte Rio School
The photo is from the 1990 Old School chair set up. Community volunteering doesn’t fall far from the tree – Pictured are Jeanie Torr (Mother of our current MRVS Committee Chair, Michele McDonell); Jane Perussina and Ruth Marall (Mother and cousin, respectively, of our current MRVS committee member, Michele Perussina); and Phyllis Smith (Mother of current MRVS volunteer member, Geff Smith). Also pictured is Margaret Mitchell Maritzen. Not pictured and likely the photographer is Jan Markey (Mother of current MRVS volunteers, Robin Markey and Joan Barbero).
The 101th Monte Rio Variety Show Program (2012)
A blast from the past – This brochure was distributed for the 10th Monte Rio Variety Show. Can you find any relatives in the 1940’s picture?
Russian River Historical Society – Memories that Will Always Linger
Jane Barry, President of the Russian River Historical Society, offers some insights over the past decade. The Russian River Historical Society is preserving the history of our event through their support and keeping our community engaged in understanding our legacy and rich traditions.