Saturday, February 27, 2016

Where I Live


I have lived in the town of Petaluma off and on for the past 33 years, the most recent stretch beginning in 1998.

It was founded in 1836 and incorporated in 1858. The Coast Miwok (pronounced me-wock) were the indigenous people who lived here for at least 4,000 years before the Columbian period. Apparently "Petaluma" means "backside of the mountain" referring to Sonoma Mountain nearby. And it's pronounced pet-uh-LOO-muh.

General Mariano Vallejo (pronounced vuh-LAY-ho or vuh-LAY-yo) acquired the area as part of a Mexican land grant in 1834. This land also included the town of Sonoma, on the other side of the hills from Petaluma, about a 20 minute drive away. I went to high school in Sonoma.

The current population is approximately 60,000. Highway 101 runs right down the middle of town. We are divided into Eastside and Westside. On the west you can find "downtown" and many older houses including some fabulous Victorian era homes. The Eastside used to be full of chicken ranches and has been built over with subdivisions over the last 40-50 years.

In the early 20th Century Petaluma was the "Eggbasket of the World" supplying eggs to the Bay Area and beyond. There are several brick buildings still standing that were once hatcheries. These have all been re-purposed for other businesses today.

Today Rocky the Free Range Chicken is raised and processed by Petaluma Poultry Processors.

Every year in April the Butter and Egg Parade is held through downtown. All of us, Thor, CPA Boy and I, have marched in the parade at various times: Thor with junior high and high school bands and CPA Boy and I as part of the Bank of Petaluma (where I worked as a controller in the 1990s) float entry.

Our other claim to fame from 1952 through 2003 was the World Wrist Wrestling Championships. Even Snoopy attended! (He was disqualified for not having thumbs.) The championships are now based in Europe, specifically Bulgaria and Romania!


Many movies have been filmed here. The biggies are "American Graffiti" and "Peggy Sue Got Married". I showed Thor the final drag racing scene from "American Graffiti" which was filmed on the road bordering our neighborhood (which was a field in 1973) and you can see the familiar hills and the PG&E substation which is still in the same location. It's funny to know that your home is like an 1/8 of a mile from there!

See the PG&E substation on the left? Our house will be 1/8 mile to the left someday!
What else is Petaluma known for? How about The World's Ugliest Dog Contest? Every year in June at the Sonoma-Marin County Fair a new victor is crowned. This event has gotten to be a big deal over the last few years. This is same fair where I won Best of Show for my crocheted afghan in the 1990s. It's also held right next to the library so I avoid it for the 5 days of the fair because there's never any parking!

One hidden treasure in Petaluma is Rancho Obi-Wan, the museum featuring the largest collection of Star Wars-related memorabilia. It is about a three hour tour (heh!) with the man whose collection it is, Steve Sansweet. My brother K2, who hasn't even lived in Petaluma for over 25 years, found out about it and when he visited last year he and I went on the tour. It isn't cheap, about $60 per person, but it is thorough. I can only imagine what the future holds as the newest movies come out.

Petaluma is also the location of Mrs. Grossman's, a large sticker manufacturer. I remember taking the factory tour about 20 years ago with my sister-in-law Jillybean. 

Lagunitas Brewing Company moved to Petaluma around 1994. It has apparently grown in recent years. They are currently building a huge new parking lot near their taproom because people have been parking across a very busy street and then jaywalking their way to Lagunitas. And by busy I mean BUSY: it's a four lane main artery on the Eastside of town. Nothing like beered-up people trying to dodge traffic after their dinner at the brewery! Scary for us drivers.

Come visit us! Snoopy did!

1 comment:

  1. The Sonoma-Marin County Fair is where we saw "Weird Al" Yankovic. Thank Lyman Byce and his chick incubator for the poultry industry and Fred Wiseman for the first airmail flight (to Santa Rosa). Petaluma was our marriage home.

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