The Golden Twenties


September, 2000

The roaring twenties – a time of prosperity in the United States. Barry Spitz in “Mill Valley – The Early Years,” refers to the decade as the Golden ‘20’s. Real estate prices surged, automobile ownership grew and business was booming. What about Homestead Valley? Roaring? Golden?

In 1922 Fred Stolte owned a Reo. But, his commute to The Examiner began with a bicycle ride to Locust Station. Commuters left their bicycles there unlocked. Roads were not paved. They were graded when needed using a Fresno, which was a horse-drawn scraper blade. Dowd’s in Mill Valley did the job. A horse-drawn water tank followed the Fresno to water down the dust. Roads could also be muddy. In February 1925, heavy rain caused flooding from Almonte to Locust and there was no train service.

1920 was the year that Edna Maguire arrived to be principal-teacher of the new Homestead School on the corner of Montford and Melrose. She transferred to Park School in 1927 and had an outstanding career.

Telephones were rare, but most homes had electricity and running water. The arrival of town gas in the 1920’s simplified heating and cooking, but residents waited until the late 1940’s for a public sewer system.

Lush vegetable and flower gardens proliferated. Horse manure was readily available for fertilizer and the public water supply was not metered. Deer were never a problem – if you saw one in the yard you shot it.

Commercial agricultural enterprises included the Joaquin Silva chicken ranch on La Verne, the Harry Okubara chicken ranch on Montford, the Dias Dairy on Ridgewood and the Hillside Dairy on Sequoia Valley Road.

Fred Stolte constructed picnic tables and a barbecue in Stolte Grove where he held parties for the boys from the Examiner. Women prepared the food and then left the boys alone to barbecue the steaks. Prohibition had started in 1920, and it’s possible that home brew and bootleg liquor enlivened the parties. There was a speak-easy at Ethel and Montford and a dance hall on Linden Lane (then called Richardson) just south of Evergreen.

Ah the roaring/golden twenties in Homestead Valley.

If you have comments or questions about this article or other topics pertaining to the history of Homestead Valley,
please feel free to e-mail Chuck Oldenburg.