Quotidian Scenes…Petaluma

I have not decided whether to continue with this blog site, or to focus (pun intended) more on my photo blog.

So, I will continue to offer a blend of offerings on both sites until I make a decision or inertia intervenes…

For your consideration today, I first offer a view of two Petaluma bicycle racks–one photo gives me pause as to how the bicycles made it to the rack and whether they will depart.  The other photo…a promo for a new store–”Opperfields” ?  Or did someone remove the “C” from the Copperfield’s rack?

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Target on Water St!

Really, you would think Target would take a lesson from Safeway on cart management.  Still you have to admire the tenacity of the person who pushed this puppy all the way to Water St.

Target expanding to Water Street? (Petaluma)

Target expanding to Water Street? (Petaluma)

Finally, if you are interested in photos made for themselves and not expressing a social comment (at least I did not intend to do so), go to my photo blog and check out Scenes about  (Petaluma) town…

History At Your Feet Part I…Petaluma’s Downtown

The buildings on Kentucky St. and Petaluma Blvd. are home to an active business and retail district but they also represent and reflect Petaluma’s past…

Kentucky & E. Washington

Kentucky & E. Washington

From my perspective, this area is also a terrific location for photography and I concentrated my efforts there from February to July in 2012.  See Downtown…Photo Grid

I thought I had thoroughly “absorbed” the area during my photo grid project. However, on a recent visit, I happened to look down.



Granted I had noticed (but did not note) this marble and tile work from my past walks but I now wondered about the thresholds and entry ways of other buildings. So I decided to attempt a photo survey of sorts. I mainly confined my efforts to Kentucky St. and Petaluma Blvd. bordered by East Washington and Western Avenue…


  • Not every building has a marble, granite, or tile threshold or entryway.  Many are simply standard sidewalk concrete presentations.
  • On the other hand, I did find many intricate mosaic tile displays, some mixed with marble or granite.  Some contain the street address or the names of previous businesses from the distant past. For example, Daunt’s, Nielsen’s, S & G, L & M Drug Co.
  • Other locations did have tiled entrances but they were, shall we say, in various stages of deterioration.
  • Some locations reflect modern tile work which is quite colorful.

According to local historian, Katherine J Rinehart, much of the older work was by  E.W.M. Evans: “Evans and his sons are responsible for much of the tile and marble work you see in downtown building entrances. He died in 1942 and according to one obituary, ‘…he took pride in the work of installing monuments, vaults and granite curbing. He also installed many store fronts, tiled floorings and marble work.’”

Over time, more and more of the tile and marble work may disappear as remodeling takes place. In fact, I observed tile being removed and replaced with concrete last week in one location. 

My goal for this project was to try and document some of  what remains. 

For example, this elaborate mosaic tile apron on Kentucky & Western…

Kentucky DSCF1168RAW

…and the scenes in this gallery.

Click on any photo to open the collage to see full sized photos.

  • Navigate between photos using the left and right arrow keys, or by clicking or tapping the arrows on the left and right.
  • Click “view full size” below any image to see the photo directly outside the gallery.

In Part II I will take you to the doorway of a famous Petaluma building>> (CLICK HERE)

Breaking News! Jumping Stilts in Petaluma!

The staff at The Petaluma Spectator (I, Me, Myself & My Shadow) are pleased to be the first to report on the latest pedestrian advancement…first spotted on the East Side…

Jumping Stilts

Jumping Stilts

Jumping Stilts! Think of them, I suppose, as a pogo stick on each leg…

Petaluma DSCF5405cWeb

Granted, we did a triple take when encountering this scene.  For more information check out Jumping Stilts – A NEW Sport With Super Human Abilities!

Rebuilding Together Petaluma–Helping Hands

On October 19th, 120 volunteers from Rebuilding Together Petaluma (RTP) descended upon eight local homes to assist low-income homeowners in need of critical home repairs and maintenance.

I think of RTP events as a kind of coordinated series of community barn raisings in terms of the spirit of the day and the participants from across the community.

Nina Zhito shot a series of photos for the Petaluma Argus Courier and I believe that one of them is particularly symbolic of the day.  I have given it a working title of Helping Hands

Photo Courtesy of the Petaluma Argus Courier

Photo Courtesy of the Petaluma Argus Courier

To see all of Nina Zhito’s RTP photos on Petaluma 360, click HERE

Joan Bunn was also on site with her trusty Canon to capture the spirit of the workday…



And I was there practicing my usual “Gonzo” Photo Techniques…

PHOTO CREDIT--Frank Simpson

PHOTO CREDIT–Frank Simpson

NOTE: To view the complete collection of photos from Joan and others, go to RTP’s Smugmug gallery atRTPetaluma and peruse the top six galleries to see all the action shots!

As a tease for the RTP Smugmug galleries, I offer a brief photo gallery below for your consideration…


  • Click on any photo below to start the gallery
  • The gallery may take a minute to load, depending upon your connection speed!
  • Navigate between photos using the left and right arrow keys, or by clicking or tapping the arrows on the left and right.
  • Click “view full size” below any image to see the photo directly outside the gallery.

Petaluma’s Shollenberger Park…Spring has sprung!

Petaluma’s Shollenberger Park presents a variety of vistas, views, and wildlife. Saturday, before Easter, we walked a portion of the wetlands trail to take in the experience.

I am not an experienced bird watcher and certainly am not an expert on identifying the various species that inhabit Shollenberger.  However, this walk did present many great photo ops including seeing swans OUT of the water! It was the first time I had an opportunity to see their feet! You don’t want them stepping on you!


  • Click on any photo below to start the gallery
  • The gallery may take a minute to load, depending upon your connection speed!
  • Navigate between photos using the left and right arrow keys, or by clicking or tapping the arrows on the left and right.
  • Click “view full size” below any image to see the photo directly outside the gallery.

Merry Christmas & Happy New Year! A time to look ahead…

EmojiMerry Christmas & Happy New Year to One & All! Emoji


Year-end is the usual time for most of us to engage in some level of reflection on the past…and to plan for the coming year.

As for me, I am presently reflecting on the fact that after all these many years I have finally discovered…

 The Great Truth

There are more things

That I do not know…

Than there are things

That I have forgotten…

And…I have uncovered two competing corollary truths…

  • You are never too old to learn something stupid
  • You are never too old to learn something, stupid

As you can see, adding a comma is everything!

Looking ahead to 2013, I have decided that at this Fork in Life’s Road* I will leave the ranting and opinion rendering to others and will focus (pardon the pun) on playing with my camera toys making photos…


The above notwitstanding, I will offer one “snarky” photo obervation about the difficulties of trying to breach Petaluma’s East Side/West Side border crossing in 2012…

E Wash Traffic 2012Web

For 2013 I plan to concentrate on different locations and scenes to build photo grids. A few photos may show up on this site or on its companion site, THE PETALUMA SPECTATOR PHOTO BLOG—if I am so motivated to post!  It may be some time before I do so because at the moment I am more interested in making actual prints than digital postings. Time will tell…

Frank DSCF2120Web

*Speaking of “forks in the road”…You may want to peruse A Fork in the Road: Carlsbad Officials Deal with Fork Rebellion


While I have been “silent’ since June–and intend to remain so for the foreseeable future–you may want to check out a new photo post, Why did the turkey cross the road…or street?

In addition, the Petaluma Downtown…Photo Grid is now available.


PLEASE NOTE:  Signs & Scenes Gallery 2012 is NOW available.  Simply click on the tab at the top of the page!

American Alley WPA Murals–A PostScript

Past articles regarding the WPA murals by Charlie Roetter & Fernando Nugent are filed under American Alley

Last in the series about Petaluma’s American Alley

A collaborative project with Independent Journalist, Frances Rivetti

A constant feature of our collective search for the history behind the murals, was encountering the unexpected. During the interview with Frances Rivetti in the alley, Fernando Nugent mentioned, almost casually, that the artwork also extended into the store.  He took us inside Copperfield’s and led us downstairs where he pulled boxes away from the wall to reveal…

© Frank Simpson

Now here comes the embarrassing part for me.  The above photo is the only one I intended to publish from inside the store.  As I was organizing my files for archiving, I noticed another photo I had made inside the store–one that I totally disregarded, but which really caught me off-guard when I really looked at it. I completely missed it…

© Frank Simpson

 Did Fernando predict that someone would come along 18 years later and photograph him on site?

© Frank Simpson

Rebuilding (A Community) Together…Petaluma

“I believe that it is only by sharing our stories that we truly become one community.”

The Newlyweds by Nell Freudenberger

(New York Times Book Review, April 29, 2012)

In the spirit of this quote, I will attempt to share some of the stories from Rebuilding Together Petaluma’s workday on April 21st.

On April 21, 2012, Rebuilding Together Petaluma (RTP)* volunteers once again spread out across Petaluma to  assist five qualifying homeowners with major home repairs and modifications. In addition, RTP and Daily Acts conducted an educational work project to enhance the City Hall Gardens planted in 2009. The City Hall project was sponsored by Sonoma Bank and the Paula Lane Action Network.

While I have never seen a barn rasing, RTP workdays are, most likely, quite similar in terms of energy and human spirit.

In the past I have attempted to show a portion of these RTP projects through photos.  This time I will first provide some feedback  from two of the homeowners:

  • ” (We had)…all about gave up on humanity. We were in despair – until all of you came. Thank you for giving us hope and faith. Thank you also for your hard work, efforts, kindness and compassion. You’re truly our heroes. From the bottom of our hearts, THANK YOU! With Joy and love.”
  • “The kindness of the volunteers meant much more than words could ever thank you for! It is humbling to receive this kind of help. Bless you all. My home is lovelier than it has been in years and years.”

Jane Hamilton of RTP reports that in one location: “The work day generated so much activity in the neighborhood, that several other homeowners started working on their places and within days all of the leftover compost and mulch were distributed into many yards.   Often when repairing a person’s home we inadvertently end up affecting the whole neighborhood as well!”

Jane also advises that the work on a  mobile home of a disabled veteran was particularly gratifying: “(Mr. R’s) mobile home (is now)…a cleaner, safer, more water and energy efficient, accessible home. Most of (the RTP volunteers did not) get to see the final product of (their) exceptionally hard work, because it took a few more days to finish, but the results were stunning. (Mr R.) asked me to express his deepest gratitude to all of you and let you know he feels he is living in a whole new world. He is exercising up and down the hallway 4 times a day with his new grab bars, able to use his kitchen and bathroom with ease, and he is extremely motivated by the amount of stuff gone from his home and yard.”

And now the photos!

Photographers Joan Bunn, Victor Kunkel, Guiseppe Lipari, and Joe Chatterton covered four of the work sites and I was at two homes in Leisure Lakes.

All photos are available by clicking on RTP’s SmugMug Page

PLUS…A Brief Slideshow

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Please take note of the businesses and organizations that sponsored and/or volunteered their expertise or goods to help make these projects a success:

Sears Heroes At Home Program; S.C. Barns; Jeff England & Associates; Lon Wiley Construction; Doug Sanders Painting; Craig Riddle Handyman; North Bay Corporation; Velasco’s Restaurant; Whole Foods

Larry Hillblom Foundation; Petaluma Realtors; Circle Bank; Podesta Builders; C & J Properties Services, Casey Hopkins; City of Petaluma; Just Floor Covering, Mike Roesner; JF Electric, Jamie Freedman; Moore Heating & Air-Conditioning, Jon Diamond; North Bay Corporation; Strom Electric, David Freedman; The Floor Works, Robyn Perry

Redwood Credit Union & Volunteer Team;  Summit Bank; Adaptive Pest Control; Casey Hopkins; City of Petaluma; C & J Property Services, Jim Gemperline; Design in Wood, Andrew Jacobson; Fine Home Tuning, Rick Edwards; Just Floor Covering, Mike Roesner; Icon Plumbing, Jeff Martini; JF Electric, Jamie Freedman; Moore Heating & Air-conditioning, Jon Diamond; Nick Ryan Construction; Tony Capretta

American Alley’s Mural Array–Whodunit?

Fifth in the series about Petaluma’s American Alley

A collaborative project with Independent Journalist, Frances Rivetti

Past articles are filed under American Alley

Also See Hidden in Plain Sight on Petaluma Patch

Finding the answers as to the “who, what, when and why” behind the artwork on the back of the present day Copperfield’s required the collaboration of several people.

Mattei Brothers Clothing Store

Bill Hammerman was able to come up with the first breakthrough in solving this art history mystery when he established that the man behind the artwork was Bob Mattei of the Mattei Brother’s clothing store. Briefly, Mattei’s had been in business in Petaluma at several downtown locations for 87 years. It occupied the building now known as Copperfield’s from 1965 until the business closed at the end of 1994. (For background on the store, see SF Gate*)

Armed with this information, Frances and I visited with Bob Mattei on March 27. Mattei told us that the clothing market  was changing in the early nineties and he was searching for ways to meet the shifting trends of the marketplace: “I was going for the high school business…jeans, etc. I always had kids from the high school working in the store.” Mattei worked with them to come up with a plan for a separate teenage department or store in the basement and involved them in the advertising and inventory selection. They also came up with the name, The Underground Clothing Store.

According to Mattei: “A lot of the teenagers did not like coming into my store because it was like their father’s store, So I came up with the idea of putting the entrance in the alley…[to provide an alternative entry].”  As a means of attracting customers to the back of the store, Mattei decided that some artwork over the back door was in order. Consequently he connected with two local artists who eventually produced the work.  He did not discuss the concept or the design in the interview except to say that the artists “…ran some ideas by me and came up with the work theme.” To carry out the project, Mattei brought in portable lifts to enable the artists to work and to be able to exit the alley when vehicles needed to pass.

The Artists

We were able to get a better feeling for the timeline of the artwork after Frances established contact with an artist who worked on the project. He provided a critical piece of information–the date of a 1995 Argus Courier article regarding the murals.** 

Armed with this information, Katherine Rinehart located the article on microfilm in short order. From the information contained in the Argus article, it appears that the artwork was completed a few months before the store closed in 1994. This may explain why so few people have any memory of it, or its origins. We did learn from the article that the artists researched and were heavily influenced by the WPA style artwork of the 1930′s when they designed and laid out the project.


*On December 13, 1994, the Argus Courier published an article by Jay Gamel on the store’s closing. Katherine Rinehart wrote a retrospective article about Mattei’s for the spring 2008 edition of Petaluma Magazine: Kentucky Street Suited Mattei Brothers. These articles are not available online but are available at the library. My interpretation of the copyright laws precludes their inclusion with this article.

** I did not attach a copy of the 1995 Argus Courier article or the accompanying photo of one of the artists for the same reason as stated in the above note. The article did report the names of two artists commissioned by Mattei as Fernando Nugent and Charlie Roder.

This series will resume later next month.

So stay tuned!


In the interim, enjoy a brief slideshow documenting the multimedia aspects of the work.

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