Then & Now

Thanks to Sylvia Trotter Anderson, in a comment on an earlier post, I was pointed to this valuable resource. Whoever digitalized this deserves our deepest gratitude. Here is a screen shot of the headlines of this gem.


Here is the link: Big Sur Gazette, May 1980.

It is 56 pages, and a lot to digest, but very well worth the time you will spend. For example, you will find this from then Congressman Leon Panetta: Making Big Sur a National Park would “…induce the kind of rampant tourism that would itself destroy the precious and unique qualities of the area.” (Gazette, p.4, last column.) It seems we didn’t need to become a National Park for that to happen. But then, no one could have anticipated the effect that Social Media would have.

Doug Madsen described Big Sur this way: “Big Sur is really a spiritual retreat, a place wher you can live in harmony with animals and trees and the sun and the moon.” (Gazette, p. 15, “Spiritual Retreat.”)

May this now historical document help you take a look at the changes we have seen. Even if you don’t read all of the testimony before congress regarding turning Big Sur into a State Park (which I would love to see you do) You will get a kick out of the ads from back then. Anyone remember Tom Nash’s (now an attorney) Taxi Service??? Some of us will remember that, but not until that old memory is startled into recognition. I hope you enjoy this as much as I did. I will be using it as a background for other posts and considerations in the future.

I’ll leave you with the extemporaneous quote by Senator S.I. Hayakawa, Big Sur is a “crazy place inhabited by rich & poor hippies…unique bohemians…who are zealous conservationists.” (Gazette, p. 36.)

If you are interested in reading any of the 4 years of issues of the Gazette, one can find the Index here.





10 thoughts on “Then & Now

  1. There are tidbits of treasures tucked in here, it will take me awhile to get through it. As always, thank you Kate

  2. These pages from the Big Sur Gazette offer a window into other days along these cliffs we love….it was created by Gary Koeppel, its editor and publisher, to resist the “Federalization” of big sur, and it ultimately succeeded….it was an authentic old fashioned newspaper, sincere and essential journalism….it covered all the bases of life in big sur….you will recognize many names, originals each, who offered themselves to protect this coastline from being taken by the federal government….this newspaper reflected life as we knew it some 37 years ago….all things considered it is as wondrous to live along these cliffs today as it was then….big sur’s essences remain untouched and vital, still wild and untamed, still possessing its ferocious beauty…but also it was different then in many ways, and the Big Sur Gazette reflected how it was very elegantly…..thanks, kate, for bringing forward these pages, these reminders….

  3. yes, if Big Sur had become a National Park, it would be a lot more crowded and in worth shape. The argument was that the Big Sur people took great care of the land and did not need government “help” If you get a chance watch the movie: “Big Sur….A world apart” narrated by Betty White. It has a lot of contemporary history including the fight that we had against the Feds 37yrs ago.

  4. Thanks for the index link! A keeper. I downloaded the first one mentioned in the earlier post – most entertaining.

  5. Kate,

    Thank you for exposing the current residents of Big Sur to the Big Sur Gazette, which I published from 1977 to 1981, in order to give voice to the people of Big Sur and beam a spotlight on those trying to federalize Big Sur as a National Park. Between the efforts of the Friends of Big Sur and the Gazette, we successfully fought off the attempt in a historic David versus Goliath victory.

    However, your quote from Leon Panetta is misleading. Despite his public comments of support, Leon was not a friend of Big Sur. In fact, it was he who authored the legislation (HR 7380) to make Big Sur a National Park.

    In July 1980 I commissioned Carmel cartoonist Bill Bates to create a cartoon currency of Leon’s legislation, the $100,000,000 Big Sur National Park Bill, and published on the front page with my editorial, “Panetta’s Counterfeit Bill” (

    Leon’s Big Sur Bill was defeated by the sustained efforts of the Friends of Big Sur — especially those of the late Paula Walling — by the investigative reporting of the Big Sur Gazette and, ultimately, by President Ronald Reagan, whose election killed the bill and ended the battle. Leon and his supporters lost big time.

    It heartens me to know that someone has discovered the Big Sur Gazette online at that, for historical purposes, I posted several years ago. As quoted by Edmund Burke and two centuries later by Winston Churchill, “Those who don’t know history are destined to repeat it.”

    My hope is that the history contained in the Big Sur Gazette’s “Battle for Big Sur” will continue to enlighten its residents so they may resist future attempts to federalize Big Sur, which would not only destroy its delicate ecosystems but also wrench the American Dream from those hardy souls who reside in these hallowed hills and who protect both the coast and their dreams from those who would spoil it with their egoistic ambitions shrewdly couched in illusions of preservation and grandeur.

    Kate, thank you for providing such a functional forum for the people of Big Sur.

    As Harry Dickens Ross would say when departing,”Kindness”.

    Gary Koeppel

  6. Gary, I can’t thank you enough for the labor of love – the first in the original publishing, and the second in making sure it was all digitalized so everyone had access. I plan on spotlighting other aspects of the Gazette in future posts. It is such a jewel and joy to share.

  7. Kate,

    Need some historical background answers to these Q’s…

    Has a car free day on Hwy 1 (Carmel to SLO N County line) ever been discussed? Has there ever been a bike shop in Big Sur?

  8. I found Alan Perlmutter and Ansel Adams in the opinion and letters pages. Wow.

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