Eileen, Bill and Anna Jensen at the family’s ranch
Highway 101 was a little two-lane road when 81-year-old Anna Jensen was growing up in Ignacio, located just north of the Golden Gate. In this month’s program, we’ll hear her talk with her son Bill about growing up there in the 1930s and 40s, when the restaurant down the road ran a bootlegging operation, and Hamilton Field was a thriving military post during WWII. The soldiers bought eggs and turkeys from her family’s ranch, before the military took it over; Tomales Bay was also used for bombing practice during those years. Anna also describes what it was like to move to the remote town of Tomales as a 19-year-old bride, where she helped her husband drive cattle trucks. The Jensen family, formerly the Irvin family, was one of the first to settle the town. Today Bill runs sheep and cattle on the ranch that has been in his family since 1856.
Two teenagers eloped to California from Italy in the late 1800s. Guiseppe Martinelli had a dream of making wine, and once he and his young bride Luisa arrived in the Russian River area he began scouting for the place he would eventually plant his first vines, on a few acres cleared from the forest. Today, his descendents are still farming, and growing grapes (as well as some apples). In this episode of the Story Shed, we will hear from Lee and Carolyn Martinelli, in conversation with two of their four children. Listen here for stories of how grape vines took the place of apples–as well as tales of smuggling illegal fruit in the dead of night, and how one of their premier wines came to be called Jackass Hill.