Road Trip – Novato, Our Home Town

by Bob Sparrow

The Road Trip – Novato, Our Home Town

Spinnaker in Sausalito

I left Orange County mid-morning last Thursday, hoping to miss the L.A. traffic . . . NOT!  So, the three-hour drive to meet up with Jack in Santa Maria took four hours.  I spent Thursday night at Jack & Sharon’s where they invited Sharon’s daughter and son-in-law, Deb & Steve Rau over for dinner; a very fun evening.  Jack and I embarked on our road trip the next morning around 8:00, getting us to San Francisco in time for their commute traffic.  So, my first road trip accomplishment was to be stuck in both L.A. and San Francisco traffic within 24 hours.  Check.

Jack & I both enjoyed visiting San Francisco while we were growing up in Novato, however, we’d heard not-such-good things about it over the last several years, so we were afraid to see for ourselves what ‘The City’ looked like.  We took major streets through town, Van Ness and Lombard and we were very pleasantly surprised – we saw not one homeless person on the spotless streets and The City sparkled on this beautiful, sunny Friday morning.  We crossed the Golden Gate Bridge and went into Sausalito where we had lunch at The Spinnaker, a restaurant right on the water.  The last time I was at The Spinnaker was for dinner before my high school senior prom, just a few years ago!  We had a window seat which offered us a spectacular view of the San Francisco Bay and the many boats out sailing on this perfect spring day.  I don’t think I’ve ever taken a photo of a meal I was eating, but this one looked and tasted so good, that I just couldn’t help myself.

After lunch, we continued into Novato and to the home of Pete Ferrarese, a former high school classmate and football teammate of Jack.  He is living in the house his parents owned and that he grew up in.  He invited his brother, Paul, who was a classmate and teammate of mine in high school, over for dinner as well as semi-retired lawyer and classmate, football teammate, George Gnoss, who brought a very nice bottle of wine.  Needless to say, the before-dinner conversation in Pete’s beautifully flowered backyard, the dinner conversation over delicious barbequed steaks, and the post-dinner/wine conversation was filled with stories about, “Do you remember when . . .”  A most entertaining and fun evening!

Saturday morning, we met the family of a dear friend of both Jack and mine, Don Stutzman, who passed away several years ago.  We met, Gwenn, Don’s ex-wife and two of his three children, Susan and Mark.  This trip is just beginning, but having the two-and-a-half-hour breakfast with the Stutzman clan will unquestionably be one of the highlights.  The conversation never stopped about adventures that we had with Don.  Gwenn looked great at 84 and the kids were chips off the old block, very nice looking, delightful and totally entertaining.  After breakfast Mark invited us over to his house to see his ‘Man Cave’.  It is unbelievable!  A large room, separate from the house, with a full bar and filled with 49er memorabilia.  The stories continued as we had a cold beer and a toast to Don.

Jack, Paul, Bob, Pete, George

Pete’s garden with 70 foot redwood tree

The Stutzmans: Mark, Jack, Gwenn, Susan, me

Saturday afternoon we visited all the houses (4) that we lived in while growing up in Novato as well as cruised down the main drag of town, Grant Avenue, saying, “That’s where (fill in the blank) used to be”.  We also went by Novato High School and sadly watched part of a soccer game being played on the football field – where Novato no longer has a football team.  We then visited ‘our brick’ at Novato City Hall.   Pete, Jack & I hit a very good Mexican restaurant on Grant Avenue for dinner, then called it a night.

The ‘Brick’ at Novato City Hall

Next week, Suzanne will post her traditional ‘Memorial Day’ blog paying tribute to the Novato men who lost their lives in Viet Nam.  I will return the following week with the rest of the ‘Road Trip’.

Mark’s 49er Man Cave!

Jack & my first home – upstairs on Grant Ave.

19 comments on “Road Trip – Novato, Our Home Town

  1. Sounds like a great trip to Novato. One of my granddaughters will be a junior next year at Novato High School. She lives in the house I grew up in.

    • Thanks for your comment Robert, good to hear from you! Nice to have family still in Novato – a great place to grow up!!

  2. Sounds like fun road trip. Bringing up old memories and friends. So sad about Novato high football. Those were some of the best memories. My best, Jim

  3. It is so much fun to look back, Bob. Sounds like you had a wonderful time. Haven’t been back to “the city” in years. I often look back to the bay area with the fondest of memories. Loved seeing your family on some holidays at Aunt Virginia and Uncle Arnold’s home. Hope all is well. Sorry to hear about Suzanne’s loss. Take care and thanks for the memories. Love your blog. Thanks to both you and Suzanne.

    • Great to hear from you Suzanne; yes we had many great holidays and Gin & Arn’s. Thank you for your comments and for reading our blog, we really enjoy writing it.

  4. I was a pleasure meeting you and your brother! When you asked what happened to Alturas, Ca I went home and thought about it…..still can’t explain it. My daughter often says, now what did you do for fun prior to having us, or what about when we were younger. I simply said, it surely had a bit more to do, but in reality you kids spent more time at your dads place of work playing on the rock piles or we would leave town to go visit family. Now….there’s not much for the younger kids….sad I know. Here’s hoping the pool opens this summer !!! Enjoy the rest of your travels

    • A surprise and pleasure to hear from you, Sheryl; I hope you didn’t take our comments the wrong way. You just seemed so full of life when Alturas didn’t to us, but ours was a very brief visit with both you and Alturas. Thank you for commenting, I hope you subscribe (it’s free) to our blog and follow the rest of our journey.

  5. Loved hearing about your trip. I did not know you ever lived above Dr. Weisman’s office. I bet you can’t believe the traffic in Marin, so many cars.
    I still live in Novato on McClay Road on the family farm.

    • Great to hear from you Sheila, yes that was our first house! Great that you still live in Novato.

    • Yes, we talked about Jim. No team in Novato, because there wasn’t enough interest at the school to field a team. Very sad!

  6. What an amazing trip, Bob! Great that you were able to meet up with old friends, classmates and families.
    I look forward to reading about the rest of the trip.

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