Cliff House in San Francisco

The original Cliff House in San Francisco was built on the bluffs above Ocean Beach in 1863. It was extremely difficult to reach and only the rich and famous could afford to pay the $1 fare to use the toll road. By the end of the 1870s it was losing money so gambling and liquor were introduced, much to the detriment of the establishment’s reputation.

In 1883 San Francisco Mayor Adolph Sutro bought the beleaguered Cliff House and set about refurbishing both the building and its reputation. He also commissioned a railroad to improve accessibility for everyday people. Unfortunately, the entire place burned to the ground on Christmas day 1894. Sutro replaced it with a $75,000 replica of a French Chateau that soon came to be known as the Gingerbread House.

The new Cliff House that opened in February 1896 featured an observation tower 200 feet above the Pacific, various restaurants, an art gallery, a gem exhibit, private dining rooms, several bars, and (lucky for us) a photo gallery. The establishment regained its family-friendly reputation and soon other attractions were being built nearby, including the amusement ride called Chutes at the Beach. Eventually more rides and attractions would be added to create the popular Playland at the Beach amusement park several decades later.

At the turn of the 20th Century, the good citizens of Healdsburg, California made periodic visits to San Francisco. As these tintypes attest, the Cliff House was one of the sights they took in.

Cliff House October 1899
John Taeuffer and Mae Congleton at Cliff House in October 1899

 

Cliff House
Standing: William H. Smith, Amelia Jane “Aunt Jennie” Congleton Smith Cook, A. Claude Congleton(?) Seated: Sarah Congleton Greaver(?), Agnes Call Congleton Wilson

 

Shoot the Chute
A yet-to-be-identified relative documenting his visit to Chutes At The Beach

 

 

Sources:
Wikipedia
Mashable.com – “c.1900 The house on the cliff” by Chris Wild
thevintagenews.com – “The long & peculiar history of the Cliff House in San Francisco…” December 26, 2016 by Ian Harvey
National Archives

 

HATS!!!

George Eastman pretty much created amateur photography when, in 1888, he introduced the Kodak #1 camera to the world. This camera was sold pre-loaded with a roll of film.  Once film had been exposed, the entire camera was returned to the factory in Rochester to be processed. The camera would be refilled with new film and returned to the owner while they waited for their prints. But when the economical “Brownie” camera came out at the turn of the 20th Century, the hobby exploded in popularity.

Hats were also all the rage at the turn of the century. And the ladies of Healdsburg were more than delighted to use the new photographic technology to document their fine plumage. Mae Congleton Taeuffer, Maggie Pauli Fischer, and Katherine Pauli Grabner are featured in the top row. Sophie Scheuer Taeuffer is at the bottom right of this grouping.

But the ladies were not the only ones wearing and photographing hats. Babies, children, and basically the whole family got into the act. The young man in the middle is Fritz Grabner. The family grouping includes Mae and John Taeuffer, Maggie and Alvin Fischer, and the youthful siblings Fritz and Katie Grabner all sitting on the back porch of the Taeuffer house on Magnolia Drive.

And, of course, getting silly with hats became a part of it as well. As, apparently, did the phenomenon that would come to be known as “hat hair.” So far the identities of these ladies remain blessedly anonymous.

 

 

Taeuffer Baseball

The Mendocino Township Nine


In April of 1895 the newly formed baseball team, the Mendocino Township Nine, began playing on a recently built diamond located “just across the railroad track in Heald’s addition.” George “Monk” Taeuffer played center field while his brother John Taeuffer held down left field. The Healdsburg Tribune, Enterprise and Scimitar stated that “John Taeuffer…is referred to as the coming ‘phenom.’” In April 1896, George was starting pitcher in the first game of the season against Windsor. By 1898, John was playing first base and George was covering third.

Healdsburg Grammar School

Norman Taeuffer circa 1930
John Taeuffer’s son, Norman played on the grammar school team beginning in 1930. He started playing first base, then moved to second base. By the time 1932 rolled around he was the team’s pitcher. In May 1932 the Healdsburg Tribune reported “Taeuffer for Healdsburg pitched an airtight game, allowing only three hits.”

Practice on Magnolia Drive

Bobby Harris and Norman Taeuffer circa 1931
Living next door to each other provided plenty of time for Norman Taeuffer and his nephew Bobby Harris to hone their batting and fielding skills.

Healdsburg High School

Norman Taeuffer circa 1934
Norman Taeuffer’s career in high school baseball began as a freshman playing first base in 1933. On May 4th the Healdsburg Tribune, Enterprise and Scimitar reported his season-to-date stats were a batting average of .500 (16 at bats) and a fielding average of 1000 (35 outs). It was a championship year for Healdsburg when, on May 25th they clinched the North Bay League northern division title. By then, Norman’s batting average had slipped to .384 (29 at bats) which was the second best on the team. Unfortunately, the squad was prevented from taking the overall North Bay League title when, on May 26th they were bested by the team from Tamalpais High School.

Norman Taeuffer Injury
Norman began his sophomore at center field. But his baseball exploits were cut short during the first league game of the year when, on April 4, 1934 he broke his leg sliding into second base. The article detailing his injury was featured on the front page of the April 5th edition of the Healdsburg Tribune. He would spend the rest of that school year on crutches.

The 1935 season started in April with Norman at first base, but by the end of May he was playing right field. The team ended that season in second place in the league, their dreams of a championship once again thwarted by the superior playing of the Tamalpais nine.

Most of the 1935 team graduated that year, so the 1936 team consisted of mostly new members, with only five on-going players anchoring the squad. Norman started his senior year at center field, but was soon doing service out on the mound. The local papers described him as the “big right-hander” and “probably the strongest chucker the locals have.” The team played several practice games against Santa Rosa Junior College that year, in addition to their league games against other high schools. Norman ended his high school career with the fifth highest batting average on the team of .333 with 42 at bats.

I.O.O.F Team


In April 1941, the Independent Order of Odd Fellows (I.O.O.F.) team from Healdsburg held try-outs. Among the new comers was Norman Taeuffer who earned a spot on the pitching staff. Before long, his nephew Bob Harris (no longer Bobby) joined the team. Soon Bob was outshining all others from the mound, his pitching described by the Healdsburg Tribune, Enterprise and Scimitar June 16, 1941 edition as the “brilliant hurling of youthful Bob Harris.” And this while he was holding down similar responsibilities on the Healdsburg High School baseball team. The Odd Fellows just missed the first place spot that year when they were bested by the Sonoma Athletic Club on August 31, 1941 in a ten-inning game.

 

Sources:  Healdsburg Tribune; 25 April 1895, 11 May 1930, 23 March 1933, 4 May 1933, 11 May 1933, 25 May 1933, 3 May 1935, 12 March 1936, 19 March 1936, 26 April 1936, 28 May 1936
Healdsburg Tribune, Enterprise and Scimitar; 27 June 1895, 22 May 1930, 23 March 1933, 4 May 1933, 11 May 1933, 24 May 1933, 25 April 1935, 23 May 1935, 7 May 1936, 21 May 1936, 17 April 1941, 16 June 1941, 29 August 1941, 4 September 1941
Sotoyome Scimitar – 29 May 1930, 9 March 1933, 23 May 1933, 29 August, 1941
Press Democrat; 30 March 1898

 

I want to give a special shout out of thanks to the Healdsburg Museum and Historical Society, without whose project to digitize their collection of historic newspapers this story could not have been written.

Georgi Family Wedding Photos

We are so very fortunate to have wedding photos for Giacomo and Agnese Giorgi and all their children.

Click on an image to enlarge.

 

 

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