Reading Peter Rafael Anderson’s column in the Marin Independent Journal was part of my daily ritual during the 1980s. With the distinction of being the first child born in Greenbrae in 1947, Anderson’s perspective on Marin was always uniquely personal, insightful, and interesting, and I felt like I knew the guy. Today I’m proud to say that I do and I’m honored to have his thoughts and memories appear on this website.
A little bio: After graduating from St. Patrick’s College in Menlo Park in 1969, Anderson entered California politics, organizing two U.S. Senate races. From 1976 through 1980, he wrote a Sacramento-based column for the Pacific Sun in Mill Valley; in 1978, he became a daily columnist for The Sacramento Union, covering an array of controversial issues, humorous musings and celebrity interviews; in 1985, he returned to Marin to write a similar daily column for the Marin Independent Journal. In 1990, he wrote 100 Faces of Marin a coffee-table book profiling an assortment of Marin luminaries, then followed it with a 2004 addition. Today Anderson still works as a professional writer and can be contacted by EMAIL.
Anderson on Pete Carroll, The Weinermobile, and growing up in Greenbrae during the 1950s
“For us Greenbrae kids in the 50’s, entertainment was outside and plentiful. We had the hills, the cows, the Corte Madera Creek that made us feel like Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn when me created makeshift rafts. We had Indian relics, flints, campsites, soap long buried just beneath the surface. We had the Hutchinson Quarry, the Greenbrae Boardwalk and the Arks; and we had Marin Catholic football field where we’d fantasize about being 49ers.
I actually met then-49er great Matt Hazeltine there one Saturday morning.
He lived in San Anselmo, and he was watching a bunch of us playing a pick-up game. I was the quarterback, and he took me aside, and said, “Kid, I have no idea how old you are, but you have great hands for a quarterback.” I was only 10, and his remark just about sent me to heaven.
One of the kids I played with was Pete Carroll, who this week (January 27, 2014) is the Super Bowl coach for that wretched team up north. I made it as far as a 49er ballboy, just before Dan Fouts, so Carroll ain’t the only NFL celebrity from Greenbrae!
But, while 90% of our entertainment was outside and healthy, once in a while we’d be treated to some contrived fun. The Bon Air Shopping Center was a big deal at the time. I think it was just about the first-ever “mall” of its kind anywhere in America. To help celebrate the opening of the Bon Air Supermarket — there is a popular Wells Fargo branch there today — owner Jim Kilpatrick brought in the very famous Oscar Mayer Weinermobile pictured here.
Kilpatrick sold many Oscar Mayer products in the store, and he had set up a little BBQ out front to roast some wieners and warm some buns. As we Greenbrae kids gathered near the store’s front entrance, lining up our shiny Schwinn bicycles in neat rows, this enormous Weinermobile vehicle pulled up alongside the curb, and, while a band played a parade tune, this tiny little person — a famous dwarf purported to be one of the Munchkins from “The Wizard of Oz,” if I recall correctly — popped out of the Weinermobile and started passing out to all of us these little plastic Weiner Whistles. Not the most earth-shaking, groundbreaking type of ceremony you’ve ever heard of, but for us Greenbrae kids with our very limited global view in 1950’s Marin, this had all the pageantry of a big time Hollywood movie premiere.” — Peter Rafael Anderson, January 27, 2014