Tag Archives: meadowood

My BCE Bus Driver 4 Decades Ago – Also Skypark and the Boardwalk

What started as a spontaneous history talk in a local store once again turned into me scanning more pics on each side of the album page from where I had originally sought just one picture.

My bus driver from many moons ago who virtually all children that went to Boulder Creek Elementary in the 1970s and 80s will remember – was Mrs. Young. I ran into her this week and we had some fun moments remembering how things were long ago. The people listening were fascinated to hear about how different the buses were before they all went to the “suicide” fronts later in the 80s (no engines in front anymore).

This was the famous Bus #32 doing the Highway 9 route and picking me up at what the front entrance to Meadowood used to look like…

As I looked through the surrounding pages of this particular family album I noticed some backgrounds that have drastically changed since the time of disco and Woodstock buses.


This one of Skypark when people could still fly into Scotts Valley caught my eye. Our family is shown here being flown out by another family member. The barren hillside (from the quarry) behind the plane is something I always recall as a kid driving through the sandhills. The following pics are from the Boardwalk.

Shown here are some of my cousin Greg Miller, friend Tim Wells and mom. This is looking towards East Cliff and that park hill. I am going to try and shoot this spot and see how much of the housing and fauna have changed in four decades. The reason I included this other one (with my great-grandma Lyon) was the cars in the background. That was the best part of the Boardwalk; those cars you could actually drive on the track (where that kids area is now). Those were the only vehicles I drove outside of the ranch until I was old enough.


Santa Cruz Boardwalk – 1976

I showed this one more for the fun of the clothing than the trestle and what was the new building overlooking the river mouth. Jennifer Miller, Kathryn Robechaud and Jerryne King (Philleo) also shown here. I will keep this one short…just thought a few of you might like the backgrounds…


My Favorite Superbowl Memory

I often think about the fun and amazing memories my parents made in those heyday times decades ago at the golf course; that story-filled era when Boulder Creek held host to a variety of the Oakland Raider contingency. From the 1960s into the next decade the team and staff would come stay at the fledgling golf links – of which dad had built the original 100 condos and club house. Some of them even had ownership on a couple of the new condos.

Dad’s group of friends in those times became part of a circle that still communicates today; and later into the 1980s the most famous of that group: John Madden, had retired from football and had started his foray into major broadcasting and video gaming. We were having a Superbowl party and John and Virginia were invited along with their core group of local friends. John had announced the Raiders Superbowl the prior year, but he had this one off.

Now, the reason I tell this story is not some semblance of any claim to something, just insofar that it is a memory I hold dearly of how my life was before the house burned down; so many thoughts and feelings that cannot be replaced nor replayed no matter how much I dream.

These two pictures survived the fire – hence the condition of how they appear. But when taking photographs like these as a teenager, I had no idea of so many things about photography and capturing famous people in ordinary moments, I was just trying to do something right for my dad right then.


Hearing John talk during the big game about what was transpiring will be something I wish I could remember in greater detail; but several moments that day will be etched. One of them was my best friend here winning a bet. Even then I was using a Canon – definitely the days when you better get it right because it might be another two weeks before you see the results.


Shortly after this picture was taken a fun moment of John breaking that chair in grand fashion occurred. During halftime they played golf into the arena, teeing off from the house as Todd and I chased the hits down to say who was closer to pin – would love to know the amounts being bet between the players. The Niners won that year, but I am pretty sure I listened to everything else going on in that group – lots of golf course history in these pics; Wayne Stigall, Hal Wells, Bob Lyons, the Casilli family, my dad.

I got asked this year as with most years if I have any special memories of the Superbowls…I smile and think and feel I got pretty lucky; Superbowl rings on the hands of arguably the brightest personality and career the sport has shown, sitting in my old living room as we watched the sport he coached in two other Superbowls – amazing.

As the souls started to die through the years, one in particular that loved the sport and will be a another story on another day, comes to mind. Hal Wells passed away three years ago this week, and two years later my dad – but one thing they both had in common was the love of the Raiders and of the couple that are John and Virginia. These two pics are from Hal’s funeral.

On the left are Hal and John holding a familiar trophy at the clubhouse, on the right are four of the people that were sitting in my old living room a few decades before in that first picture. As I look at these, I wonder if I will even know such friends that fifty years later they would show up at my funeral…hard thing to find.

Why the post now? Anniversaries I guess; Superbowl month, people passing, golf season starting for my son, moments in time. I know that is why I became a photographer before I even knew what that meant – moments in time.

Meadowood Fire: June 9, 1986

I have been asked many times why I chose the path I did of the fire service when I had reached the age to drive. Including on a winter evening in 1987 at my interview to get on the Boulder Creek Fire Department (the infamous panel that included Dan Kuhnlein and Pep Rocca). My answer follows in a short story version, but this time I get to share the pictures of that day few people get to see outside the family.

This is the home I grew up in that my dad built, and (as most of you know and visit) has been called Meadowood since inception c. 1973, for our now 5th generation family ranch (1st:great grandma Lyon, 2nd:Grandparents Robechaud, 3rd:mom & dad, 4th:me, 5th:my kids).
Top pic was winter 1985, bottom pic is June 1986.

We had a large family reunion on Saturday June 7th, held in part to honor the matriarch of my mom’s family who also lived on Meadowood. Some of you have heard my story of not being able to sleep the night of June 8th and into the morning of the 9th (which I had never experienced that issue really). That Monday was finals day at SLV High School, and without divulging too much into how miserable my freshman year already was – I tried to convince my dad I wanted nothing to do with school that day. I was tired and something had kept me up all night. He said no way. The parents were building another home at our subdivision at the Boulder Creek Golf Course so I could not be home alone and sick, especially during finals. We will never know how things might have been different had I stayed home and slept, but we all left to be about our busy days by 8 AM. At approximately 10:34 AM, this was the scene that had come to change our lives indefinitely (taken by a relative staying at the other Meadowood house above ours).

The smoke was seen all the way to Scotts Valley. Now, I had heard the smoke rumor ever since that day, but it never really sunk in until 20 years later; A gentleman walked into my video store in Ben Lomond and handed me a picture he took from the Safeway shopping center on that June 9th, and sure enough there was the column of smoke (was a strange trigger for me to see a version of something you thought you had seen from every possible angle). It was already a hot summer morning so the fire was spreading around the nearby grasslands. People were stopping on the highway and a bleacher-style row of gawkers filled the hill above our burning home.

Pictured here was part of the first wave of firemen from Boulder Creek to arrive, and unfortunately within short order a fireman was injured and had to be taken to Dominican (I have always thought this picture shows him being helped away from where he was overcome).

The alarms were sent through most of north SC county for help, and there were so many actions taken that day and afterwards by the firemen and officers that could be a book all in themselves. The only one I will mention here at the moment is Ricky Gehrmann. I thank you for everything you did that day, not sure if I ever conveyed that enough (that is why you have always had my support for everything in our time shared at BCFD). Having been on the other side for the next 20 years, I know things go wrong on big fires, one of those always have/always will kind of things. People got hurt, there never seemed to be enough water, quite a few animals died both in and around the house, and in the end – the entire home, barn and surrounding outbuildings were destroyed.

This was taken some time later as the fire worked its way around the buildings, this is the barn and stalls.

To keep this from prolonging into a mesh of fire, personal and Meadowood histories, sufficed to say my path was made clear to me on that day. It took 18 months to figure out how to get on BCFD, followed by 18 years of doing something I loved every day. Meadowood was rebuilt, grandma passed away 6 months later, and life as they say continued.

I often think I should find another way to help those affected by fire, just not sure how yet. I eavesdropped on a conversation between two dads at my daughter’s soccer game this fall, one of the guys was talking about losing their home in a firestorm in Southern California a few years back. The other guy was asking the worst questions you could to someone who has lost so much. When I interjected with questions only those that have gone through it would understand – they were taken aback. He opened up into a flood of things he apparently has never been able to share with someone. Hmmmm…anyway – this picture represents the next 30 days of salvaging and receiving help from those that stepped up when they didn’t have to…Todd Hitchman is crouched down digging next to me. He also got on the same fire department just before me.

Thanks for reading…guess it helps to share sometimes. Plenty of stories from that day I have been privy to, including ones from Sam, Bud, Scott Lipperd, Randy Robison, Ricky Gehrmann, Chris Harper, Carl Kustin, Tim West and a few others. I thank everyone that was there, even the engine that would become my secret love in life – 2110; your first big fire, and if it is any solace I was one of the most vocal proponents for YEARS to get your hosebeds changed to a modern distribution so days like my home burning would see you at the fire, not at a hydrant..*wink wink*.


Getting lucky with taking pictures is sometimes all I have