Oral History

Overview

My Carmel Oral History

My Carmel Oral History Come and listen to tales of Carmel’s past, from artists and actors, politicians and firefighters, professors and business owners. Learn what it’s like to grow up during the Great Depression, go to Sunset School in the 1950s, run wild in Carmel Valley, explore Point Lobos before it was a park, be a volunteer firefighter, and much more.

A

Sandra Ammerman-Shoemaker: Interview with native Carmelite Sandra Ammerman-Shoemaker (1940-2012). She was the daughter of Fred Ammerman and Florence A. Reavis, and graduated from Carmel High School in 1958. (AUDIO ONLY - Interview conducted August 25, 1995)

Bill Askew: Interview with longtime Carmel resident Bill Askew, Jr. (1927-2017), about his life and experiences in Carmel. Askew worked for the City of Carmel for 43 years, and retired as the Super Intendant of the Public Works Department in 1988. (AUDIO ONLY – Interview conducted December 14, 1995)

B

Sarah Berling: Born in Hartford, Connecticut, Sarah came to Carmel as a child when her father was stationed at the Naval Postgraduate School. Growing up in Carmel, Sue and her sister Sue attended Sunset school, just blocks from their mother’s retail clothing business on Ocean avenue. She received a BA in history from Stanford University and a Master’s Degree in Clinical Social Work from Denver University and worked as a therapist for over 40 years. Sarah’s love of Carmel and it’s environs has led her sit on the board of many local institutions including the Carmel Heritage Society and the Carmel Foundation.

Don Berry: Born in 1923 in Glendale, California, Berry’s family came to Carmel during the Great Depression. He recalls his childhood in Carmel punctuated with camping trips and outdoor adventures. He attended Carmel high school and served in joined the Merchant Marines in WWII. Married twice, Berry raised his children in Carmel, sharing with them all the joys of Carmel childhood.

Robert Blaisdell: Robert Blaisdell is a celebrated director, photographer, and documentary filmmaker credited with more than 80 films, including “Big Sur: The Way It Was,” “By Daylight & In Dreams,” and the acclaimed film series “Poetry in America.” He comes from a family of photographers who were deeply involved in the cultural and artistic life of the Peninsula and Carmel, and Robert himself worked with Henry Miller, Cole Weston and Robinson Jeffers. His father, Henry Lee Blaisdell, was in charge of creating Point Lobos  State Reserve and Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park. (Interview conducted July 12, 2017)

Ruth Blanchard: Interview with Ruth Blanchard (1903-1998) about her life and times in Carmel. She was active in the Carmel Music Society and the Carmel Public Library Foundation. (AUDIO ONLY – Interviews conducted June 1993)

Ted Brandhorst: (Interview conducted October 18, 2016)

William Brodsley: Born in New Jersey in 1931, Brodsley attended university at Rutgers in New Brunswick and joined the Navy. Brodsley’s uncle, Barney Segal, also known as “Mr. Carmel,” convinced Brodsley to come work for him in Carmel at the Bank of Carmel, and Brodsley has been a Carmelite ever since. Brodsley also ran his own real estate appraisal business for 18 years, and is currently a trustee of the Barnet J. Segal Charitable Trust. (Interview conducted January 26, 2018)

Lacy Williams Buck: Daughter of Henry Meade Williams; with husband Robert, funded the creation of the Library’s Henry Meade Williams Local History Room via the Frank and Eva Buck Foundation. Honorary Board Member of the Carmel Public Library Foundation. Board member of Tor House and the Forest Theater Foundation. (AUDIO ONLY – Interview conducted April 9, 1992)

C

Jack Call: Interview with John “Jack” A. Call (1917-2004) about his life and experiences in Carmel. (AUDIO ONLY – Interview conducted September 26, 1996)

Carmel High School Class of 1951: Interview with Ted Brandhorst, and John and Michele Fortier. John Fortier was a native of Carmel, and his family owned Fortier’s Drug Store. They share stories of growing up in the Carmel area and their time at Carmel High School. (Interview conducted October 18, 2016)

Sybil Chappellet: Interview with artist, philanthropist and longtime Pebble Beach resident Sybil Chappellet (1910-2003). She, along with her husband Cyril Chappellet (1906-1991), was instrumental in founding and running what would become Lockheed Martin Corporation. (AUDIO ONLY – Interview conducted September 28, 1994)

Lee Crowe: Interview with longtime Carmel area resident Lee Crowe about his work with theater and music on the Monterey Peninsula, and his life and experiences in the area. (AUDIO ONLY – Interview conducted February 1988)

D

Frank De Amaral: Interview with lifelong Peninsula resident Frank De Amaral (1899-1973). Frank was born on Point Lobos to a pioneer whaling family, and stayed in the area all his life. He was a widely known rancher and a grading and paving contractor who built the major roads in the
Carmel Highlands area and the Carmel Valley road, from Los Laureles Grade through the village. (AUDIO ONLY - Interview conducted by the Galante family, June 17, 1971)

Roderick “Rod” DeWar: Rod Dewar grew up in Carmel during WWII. He attended Sunset School, where he founded and self-published the local newspaper “The Scoop”. He graduated from Carmel High School in 1948 and went on to Stanford, where he studied law. Rod was drawn back to Carmel to raise a family of his own and now resides in Pebble Beach. He is an active community member and dedicated patron of the arts and education. (Interview conducted September 7, 2018)

Jean Kellogg Dickie: Interview with author, artist and longtime Carmel resident Jean Kellogg Dickie (1910-1995). Dickie was the daughter of Vernon and Charlotte Kellogg (both writers who helped with civil relief efforts in Belgium during WWI), a founding member of Carmel Art Association, a close friend of photographer Edward Weston, and a supporter of arts and culture in Monterey County. (AUDIO ONLY – Interview conducted April 28, 1991)

Raymond Didyk: (AUDIO ONLY – Interviews conducted in June-July 1978)

E

Nancy Stilwell Easterbrook: What was Carmel like in 1934 and 1935? Nancy Stilwell Easterbrook will offer a glimpse of Carmel in the days when the population numbered just 3,000; when Highway One still was being constructed; and when nearly everyone in town turned out for the carnival and fair at Forest Theater over the Labor Day weekend. The Stilwell family’s stay in Carmel was brief, interrupted when her father — General Joseph “Vinegar Joe” Stilwell — was appointed military attache to China and Siam and the family moved to Peking. Their house at Carmel Point became “home” again just after World War II, but by that time, life in Carmel had changed. (AUDIO ONLY – Presentation given February 26, 1996)

F

Sam Farr: Congressmember Sam Farr represented California’s Central Coast in the United States House of Representatives for twenty-three years until his retirement from office in 2016. Born in San Francisco on July 4, 1941, Farr grew up in Carmel and went to Sunset School and Carmel High School. Farr began his public service career in 1964 as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Colombia. After returning from Colombia, Farr served six years as a member of the Monterey County Board of Supervisors and twelve years in the California State Assembly. Farr was elected to Congress as a Democrat in 1993. During his career in public service, which spanned nearly five decades, Farr was a leading advocate for California agriculture, a champion of the oceans, and the author of legislation to establish Pinnacles National Park. (Interview conducted )

John & Michele Fortier: (Interview conducted October 18, 2016)

G

Peter Gillingham: Conversations between longtime Carmel area residents Colin Kuster (1931-2010), son of Golden Bough Theater founder Edward Kuster, and Peter Gillingham (1930-2001) as they reminisce over old photographs of Carmel from the 1920s-1940s. (AUDIO ONLY – Recorded weekly from 3 April 1997 to 22 May 1997.)

Rosalee Gladney: Interview with Rosalee Gladney (1914-2003), the daughter of M. J. Murphy – Carmel builder and contractor. Gladney was a member of the Carmel Heritage Society and was active in the preservation of Carmel buildings, including the First Murphy House. (AUDIO ONLY - Interview conducted June 26, 1993)

Gordon Greene: Interview with longtime Carmel area resident Thomas Gordon Greene (1907-2004), son of architect Charles Sumner Greene, about his life and experiences in Carmel, local architects, his father’s work and other topics. (AUDIO ONLY – Interview conducted March 15, 1993)

H

David Hagemeyer: David Hagemeyer (1918-2008) was the son of Dora Hagemeyer, Carmel poet and painter, and the nephew of Carmel photographer and artist Johan Hagemeyer. Alum of Monterey High School. Hagemeyer was a U.S. Army captain, and a veteran of the Battle of the Bulge. He was also a board member for Chamber Music Society. (AUDIO ONLY – Interviews conducted June 1993)

Russell “Russ” Harris: Russ Harris was a lifelong resident of the Peninsula. For nearly 60 years, he worked at and managed stores and restaurants all over Carmel and Monterey, including 20 years at Derek Rayne Men’s Store, from 1956 to 1976. He shares memories of growing up, the commercial life of the area, and how the town has changed. (AUDIO ONLY – Interview conducted June 15, 2017)

Herbert Heron: Herbert Heron, founder of the Forest Theater in Carmel, being interviewed by George Robinson. Heron talks about his friendship with writers Sinclair Lewis and Jack London, the early days of Carmel, and the history of the Forest Theater. (AUDIO ONLY – Interview conducted December 1965)

Mariam White Herrick: Interview with longtime Carmel residents Gertrude Rendtorff (d.1975), who was dean of girls at Monterey High School for 30 years, and Mariam White Herrick (1903-1983), about their lives and experiences in Carmel. (AUDIO ONLY – Interview conducted March 22, 1972)

Bill Hill: Bill Hill was born and raised in Carmel. He joined the Carmel Fire Department as a volunteer firefighter in 1964, and eventually served as fire chief from 1988 to 2001. He shares stories of growing up in Carmel, his time with the fire department, his interest in nature and marine biology, and the ways the town has changed. (Interview conducted January 24, 2023)

Lillian Devendorf Hohfeld: Lillian Hohfeld (1890-1990) was the daughter of James Franklin Devendorf, founder of Carmel. Married to Edward Hohfeld. She was a musician, prominent patroness of the arts and sciences including member of the board of governors of the San Francisco Symphony. Other major charities she supported included the Boys Club of San Francisco, the St. Labre Indian School and the World Mercy Fund. She was a member of the Century Club of California and the Town and Country Club. The 140-acre Lillian Devendorf Hohfeld Nature Preserve at Elkhorn Slough is named in her honor. (AUDIO ONLY - Interviews conducted in June-July 1978)

James Hopper: Interview with author James Hopper (1876-1956). Hopper moved to Carmel in 1907 and was one of the founding “bohemians” of the artist colony, along with his friends Jack London, Harry Leon Wilson, Xavier Martinez, Arnold Genthe, Francis McComas, Perry Newberry, Mary Hunter Austin, and Sinclair Lewis. (AUDIO ONLY – Interview conducted in 1952)

Dorothy Howell: Interview with Dorothy Howell and Imelda Walsh on their experiences in Carmel at the beginning of the 20th century. They share their stories of spending summers in Carmel on Professor’s Row in the 1910s and 1920s. (AUDIO ONLY - Interviews conducted September 24, 1990)

I

Janet Ihlen: Interview with Carmel area resident Janet Ihlen. She was secretary to Edward Hohfeld, who was married to Frank Devendorf’s daughter, Lillian Devendorf. (AUDIO ONLY - Interviews conducted in June-July 1978)

J

Juanita: Interview with Juanita, who shares stories of growing up in Monterey during the Great Depression and WWII, the Monterey tuberculosis epidemic, and California’s centennial in 1949. She also tells of her marriage and her family’s life in Seaside and Carmel Valley in the 1940s-1990s. Juanita has requested to remain anonymous. (AUDIO ONLY – Interview conducted on June 16, 2023)

K

Lucille Kiester: Interview with longtime Carmel area resident Lucille Kiester (1891-1995) when she was 103 years old, about her life and experiences in the area. Kiester was born in El Paso, Texas in 1981 and came to Carmel in 1917. She was a textile designer and active in arts and theater , and was made an Honorary Life Member of Forest Theater Guild. (AUDIO ONLY – Interview conducted September 19, 1994)

Colin Kuster:

  • Walks with Marica Kuster Rider: Colin Kuster and Marcia Kuster Rider, the children of Edward Kuster and longtime Carmel residents, walk the streets of Carmel and talk about the history of the town and some of the buildings. (AUDIO ONLY – Recorded November 1989)
  • Recollections with Anthony Van Riper: Longtime Carmel area resident Colin Kuster (1931-2010), son of Golden Bough Theater founder Edward Kuster, chats with Anthony Van Riper (1926-2001), son of playwright Charles Van Riper who built one of the first homes on Carmel Point, about life in Carmel in the 1930s. (AUDIO ONLY – Recorded April 8, 1994.)
  • Recollections with Peter Gillingham: Conversations between longtime Carmel area residents Colin Kuster (1931-2010), son of Golden Bough Theater founder Edward Kuster, and Peter Gillingham (1930-2001) as they reminisce over old photographs of Carmel from the 1920s-1940s. (AUDIO ONLY – Recorded weekly from 3 April 1997 to 22 May 1997. )

Edward G. Kuster: Edward Kuster, the founder of the Golden Bough Theater and important figure in the early days of Carmel, reminisces about his life and work, about the theater community in Carmel, and about the theaters that he built and rebuilt. His talk provides an important perspective on the formative years of a town that was already known for embracing culture and the arts. (AUDIO ONLY – Recording of a talk given to the Carmel Women’s Club, May 31, 1960)

L

Elinor Laiolo: Katherine Elinor Shaughnessy Laiolo was a teacher and principal in Richmond schools. Early in her career, she worked as a teacher in Department of Defense schools in Germany and Italy. Upon returning to the U.S., she led the first Head Start program in the nation. In 1978, Elinor married Barney Laiolo and moved to Carmel. She was dedicated to preserving and enhancing Carmel history and charm, and actively participated in Carmel’s civic and social life. She participated in the papal visit of John Paul II to the Carmel Mission Basilica in 1987, and in the Sister City program when Carmel welcomed King Juan Carlos of Spain. In 1986 she was elected to the Carmel City Council, and served as vice mayor during Clint Eastwood’s term as mayor. (Interview conducted February 9, 2017)

Hans Lehman: (Interview conducted February 16, 2023)

Barbara Livingston: Barbara moved to Carmel-by-the-Sea with her family in 1936. She graduated from Carmel High School and went on to Stanford University. In 1977 she moved back to the Carmel area and remained an active community member, serving as a member of city council and as a volunteer and board member at various non-profit organizations on the Monterey Peninsula. (Interview conducted August 24, 2016)

Lucinda “Cindy” Lloyd: Cindy Lloyd is a life-long Carmelite, whose family fell in love with Carmel when her grandparents came here in 1911. She shares stories of growing up in town, going to Bay School and Sunset, and all the ways Carmel has changed. (Interview conducted March 28, 2019)

Kurt Loesch: Interview with longtime Carmel area residents Avelino and Walter (1925-2015) Victorine, and Kurt Loesch (1925-2013), about the early days of the Carmel and Point Lobos and their life and experiences in the area. (AUDIO ONLY - Interview conducted in the 1990s)

Karen Williams Lyon: (AUDIO ONLY - Interview conducted September 14, 1992)

M

Sue McCloud: Born in Hartford, Connecticut, Sue came to Carmel as a child when her father was stationed at the Naval Postgraduate School. Growing up in Carmel, Sue and her sister Sarah attended Sunset School, just blocks from their mother’s retail clothing business on Ocean Avenue. Sue received her BA in political science from Stanford University and in 1963 she joined the CIA and spent the next 30 years working with the agency. After the Cold War, Sue returned home to Carmel, where she served as mayor 2000-2012, and oversaw the remodeling of Sunset Center. (Interview conducted August 29, 2017)

Mary McGrury: (AUDIO ONLY – Interviews conducted June-August 1971)

Valentine Miller: Interview with longtime Carmel Highlands resident Valentine Miller, on the Carmel Bach Festival, Dene Denny and Hazel Watrous, and her life and experiences in the area. (AUDIO ONLY - Interview conducted November 2002)

Elizabeth Monning: (AUDIO ONLY – Interview conducted June 10, 1995)

Music & Arts in Carmel: Oral history interview with longtime Carmel residents Enid Sales (1922-2008), Harriet Shaner, Arnold Manor, Bill Cappy, Ann Barrows, about the history of art and music in Carmel. (AUDIO ONLY – Interview conducted in 1993.)

N

Clayton Neill, Jr.: Interview with longtime Carmel Valley resident Clayton Neill, Jr. (1929-2009), about his life and experiences in Carmel. Neill was the son of Clayton Neill, who served as Carmel’s city engineer for many years, and Civil Engineer for Neill Engineers. (AUDIO ONLY – Interview conducted July 5, 1995)

Smith Newberry: (AUDIO ONLY – Interview conducted in the 1990s)

R

Niels Reimers: Niels was the last baby born at a hospital within the city limits of Carmel, in 1933. He went on to Oregon State University and served in the U.S. Navy aboard the USS Bon Homme Richard. He founded Stanford University’s Office of Technology Licensing in 1969. Reimers worked at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the University of California at Berkeley and the University of California at San Francisco, before returning to his beloved hometown of Carmel after he retired from academic life in 1993. (Interview conducted )

Gertrude Rendtorff: Interview with longtime Carmel residents Gertrude Rendtorff (d.1975), who was dean of girls at Monterey High School for 30 years, and Mariam White Herrick (1903-1983), about their lives and experiences in Carmel.  (AUDIO ONLY – Interview conducted March 22, 1972)

Marica Kuster Rider: Colin Kuster and Marcia Kuster Rider, the children of Edward Kuster and longtime Carmel residents, walk the streets of Carmel and talk about the history of the town and some of the buildings. (AUDIO ONLY - Recorded November 1989)

Harriette Rowntree: Interview with longtime Carmel area resident Harriette Rowntree (1910-1995), about the early days of the Carmel, local artists Ida Johnson and Josephine Culbertson, and the local manifestation of the Arts and Crafts Movement. (AUDIO ONLY – Interview conducted April 4, 1995.)

Harriette & Cedric Rowntree: (AUDIO ONLY – Interview conducted April 15, 1995)

S

Deborah Whittlesey Sharp: Deborah was born and raised in Carmel. She was in the last graduating 8th grade class at Sunset School and attended Carmel Middle and High Schools. Her father was Eben Whittlesey, who was on the Carmel City Council from 1960 to 1972, and served as mayor for 1962-1964. In 1963, the Whittleseys were invited to Mallorca, Spain to celebrate the 250th birthday of Junipero Serra. (AUDIO ONLY – Interview conducted February 3, 2023)

Ivy Sinclair: (AUDIO ONLY – Interview conducted June-August 1971)

Sunset School Kindergarten Class of 1939: Five members of the Class of ‘39, Clara Cherry, Bruce and Diane Hanger, Schatzi Joy, and Niels Reimers, share their memories of growing up in Carmel.  in the 1930s and 1940s. They tell stories of Sunset School and the Harrison Memorial Library, and share remembrances of the Great Depression and of World War II. (AUDIO ONLY – Interview conducted January 15, 2020)

T

Vince Torras: Born and raised on the Monterey Peninsula, Vince Torras came from a long line of Carmelites; his grandfather worked for M. J. Murphy and his father was the Fire Chief for Carmel for many years. He attended Sunset school and Carmel high school. Vince fondly recalls the golden era of Carmel and all it’s colorful characters. He joined the Marines and served in WWII before returning home to Carmel and working downtown at the Carmel Dairy and raising three children in Carmel. (Interview conducted July 6, 2016)

Charlotte Townsend: Born in Tacoma, Washington, in 1925, Charlotte moved to Carmel-by-the-Sea in the 1930s with her family. Charlotte recounts what it was like growing up in Carmel during the Great Depression, and riding her pony, Charm, around town. She attended Sunset school and later Stanford and the Sorbonne. Charlotte’s love of Carmel led her to run for Mayor of Carmel in 1982. She served two consecutive terms.

V

Anthony Van Riper: Longtime Carmel area resident Colin Kuster (1931-2010), son of Golden Bough Theater founder Edward Kuster, chats with Anthony Van Riper (1926-2001), son of playwright Charles Van Riper who built one of the first homes on Carmel Point, about life in Carmel in the 1930s. (AUDIO ONLY – Recorded April 8, 1994.)

Richard Varlay: Interview with Richard Varlay, who shares stories of his grandmother, Grace Parsons Douglas, and Douglas Camp, memories of Carmel High School in the 1950s, tales of Fish Ranch, wild boar in Carmel Valley, and fishing in Monterey Bay. (AUDIO ONLY – Interviews conducted August 23, 2023 and September 7, 2023)

Avelino Victorine: Interview with longtime Carmel area residents Avelino Victorine (1898-1989), his son, Walter Victorine (1925-2015), and Kurt Loesch (1925-2013), about the early days of the Carmel and Point Lobos and their life and experiences in the area. The Victorines were descendants of Antonio Victorine, who sailed from the Azores Island of Portugal to settle near Whalers Cove in Point Lobos in c1860. (AUDIO ONLY – Interview conducted in the 1990s)

Walter Victorine: Walter Victorine (1925-2015) was born on the family ranch just south of Mal Paso creek along the Carmel, coastline. Walter was a descendant of the legendary Victorine family that sailed from the Azores Island of Portugal to settle near Whalers Cove in Point Lobos around 1860. His great grandfather Antonio worked putting roofs on the mission to earn enough money to buy the first 100 acres of the ranch. Overtime the ranch grew to almost 1,800 acres and stretched from just south of the Carmel River past San Jose creek and included all of the Yankee Point area. (AUDIO ONLY – Interview conducted October 31, 1996)

W

May Waldroup: May Waldroup was the longtime owner of the Thunderbird Bookstore in Carmel Valley and the founder of the Barnyard Shopping Center at the mouth of the Valley. She shares stories of the ups, downs, ins and outs of the different incarnations of the Thunderbird, and the creation of the Barnyard. (Interview conducted May 19, 2023).

Imelda Walsh: Interview with Dorothy Howell and Imelda Walsh on their experiences in Carmel at the beginning of the 20th century. They share their stories of spending summers in Carmel on Professor’s Row in the 1910s and 1920s. (AUDIO ONLY – Interviews conducted September 24, 1990)

Ruth Warshawsky: Interview with actress and longtime Carmel area resident Ruth Warshawsky (1915-1996) about her acting career, the career of her husband, artist Abel Warshawsky, and her life and experiences in the area. (AUDIO ONLY - Interview conducted January 2, 1995)

Earl & Mrs. Wermuth: Interview with longtime Carmel area residents Earl (1905-2002) and Mrs. Wermuth, about the early days of the Carmel and their life and experiences in the area. (AUDIO ONLY – Interview conducted March 29, 1993)

Cole Weston: Cole Weston, renowned California photographer and son of photographer Edward Weston, shares personal reminiscences of his life and family in Carmel in the 1930s and afterward. These stories provide both a portrait of the Weston family at home and a view of Carmel as it was beginning to grow. (AUDIO ONLY – Lecture given May 24, 1999)

Francis Whitaker: Memories of Carmel’s pre-eminent blacksmith, Francis Whitaker, from his son Stephen Whitaker, daughter-in-law Suzanne Whitaker, and family friend Joan Vandervort. They share stories of how Francis came to Carmel, his work as a blacksmith, his political life, hobby as a photographer and much more. (AUDIO ONLY – Interview conducted January 26, 2023)

Stephen Whitaker:

Virginia Williams:

Rick Wilkerson: (AUDIO ONLY – Presentation given February 25, 2000)

Helen Wilson: (AUDIO ONLY – Interview conducted June 26, 1993)

Lillian B. Woodward: Interview of Lillian Baker Woodward, author of “Moss Landing.” Conducted by John Bassett McCleary in the late 1990s as part of his Monterey Peninsula People project. (Posted with permission.)

Z

Blanca Zarazúa: Blanca’s father, Aquilino, came to the United States in 1945 when he began working as a Bracero or guest worker in Chualar, California.  The Zarazua family came to Carmel Valley in the mid-1950s, and has been based here ever since. Blanca grew up in the valley and attended Carmel High School. She worked for the Peace Corps Headquarters in Washington, D.C., and as a law clerk with the California Supreme Court in San Francisco, before coming back to Monterey County and starting her own law firm. In 2003, she was appointed as Honorary Consul of Mexico for Monterey and Santa Cruz counties. (AUDIO ONLY – Interview conducted January 10, 2023)

ALL