Big Sur Saturday Tidbits, 4/6/19

Sylvia Trotter Anderson has sent me a number of historical articles she has run across in various early newspaper reports, so I am starting this new Saturday tidbits column for a few weeks. Here is the first one.

You think your town trips are challenging? I don’t want to hear it. Listen to this account:

Sep 4th 1958 MPH – Peninsula Parade by Prof. Toro

Shopping Day.  This month’s issue of the Big Sur Roundup is, as usual, full of fascinating items, including one by M. W. {Marge Welch, I think} about how the Big Sur folk used to get their shopping done in the days when Big Sur was really wild.

“During the homesteading days of the Harlans, Danis, Lopezes, Smith, Wheatons, Bedales and others of the Lucia area, supplies which were needed were brought in by boat.” Reports M. W.

“This ‘boat landing’ was preceded by a trip to San Francisco by Mr. Wilbur Harlan the elected buyer for the community.  With a list from each family of supplies to be purchased, Mr. Harlan would set out on horseback for King City, which was the nearest railroad town.  From there he took the train to San Francisco and then began the lengthy process of filling the many and varied orders.  After the purchasing was completed, Mr. Harlan would make the necessary arrangements in chartering a freight boat to take the supplies from San Francisco to Lucia.”

Aaron and the Mule.  “In a few days, the ‘Santa Cruz’ or the ‘Bonita’ would be nearing its destination, blowing its whistle along the line to let all know that the unloading was soon to begin. After reaching Harlan Rock, the freighter would lay out about one fourth of a mile from shore and the supplies would then be brought in by small boast to a platform which was suspended over the water by a cable, the cable running from the steep, rocky shoreline out to the Harlan Rock.  This mode of transportation from the small boat to a ‘high and dry’ spot on shore was constructed and installed by Mr. Harlan and Mr. Gabriel Dani.”

“After the platform was loaded from the small boat underneath, Mr. Harlan (who named the platform and supervised the loading) would give out with a mighty “Ho!” which was a signal to his son Aaron and mule who were waiting on the nearby beach.”

Bringing Home the Bacon. “The mule, attached to the platform by a heavy rope, was then directed by Aaron to proceed steadily and cautiously up the beach so as ‘not to upset’ the precious cargo which it was slowly pulling to shore.  This was a delicate operation and Aaron prided himself on the fact that he was able to handle the mule in such a manner that never by jerks or sudden stops did any of the supplies (or Mr. Harlan) go careening into the water.  As the cargo was unloaded from the platform, it would be placed in family stacks or piles and most always covered and left for the night. “

“The next day the families would come with their wagons or pack horses for the last sate in ‘bringing home the bacon’.”

Oh, yeah…all day every week or two is so tough. We are wusses compared to earlier times. Next week? Litterbugs. Sound familiar?

12 thoughts on “Big Sur Saturday Tidbits, 4/6/19

  1. Nice article (tidbit)! Looking forward to the next one! Saludos!

  2. Love true-life stories of the “good ole days”… and what a reality check. Bet your ass feels better in that adjustable heated leather driver’s seat with some tunes going… that AC feels great but oh – you’re chilly? Let me push a button… better? Good. Roll up your window (push another button) wanna keep those nasty bugs out… We’ll hit up a drive-thru because shopping hungry is always a bad idea… and remember, you DO have to carry all those goodies you just paid for with a VISA/debit card and get them in the freezer… Did you see the price of gas??? bitch-bitch-bitch 😉😁

  3. Had to run over to Starbucks real quick, after reading this. 😉

  4. We do take our conveniences for granted, don’t we. I am one of those rare people who has only been to Starbucks once, and that was when someone else driving just HAD to go there for a morning coffee! LOL

  5. The sad part of reading these historic elements is the loss of Jeff Norman, who had so much of the history in mind and ready for paper. Grateful, nonetheless for the reading.

  6. That was a good story about travel to San Francisco to acquire necessities.
    It would have been a major undertaking for Wilbur Harlan, & all involved.
    Survival energy never comes easily, and never did.
    The homesteaders must have felt it was worth the struggle to live on the rugged South Coast.
    They would have appreciated being surrounded by beauty, the peace and the environment sounds.
    They would have inhaled the spirit of Big Sur. Intoxicating as it is.

  7. Okay, I’ll stop complaining about the hour drive to Costco!🤪

  8. Not be picky, but a long standing mis-understanding of where Harlan rock is located–It is about a half mile south of Point 16′, Seen on most present day maps. The rock used for landing is located directly under Lucia Lodge and is (was) called the Chute Rock. A corral and chute were constructed on top of the rock for loading pigs, consequently the name. Excellent entry!

  9. Great, Stanley! Thanks for the info! R and I are still coming up to see you. I’ll see if he wants to come up with me on Weds when I have a number of Monterey Errands to run!

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