The Old-Name Game: Santa Rosa's Disappearing Landscape

Posted by Gabe Meline on Sat, Aug 16, 2008 at 4:00 AM

Something that us longtime Santa Rosans are known for is calling things by their old names. It’s a little game we play, a sort of secret handshake, delivered with unspoken bond. Call it The Old-Name Game.

For example, here’s two lifelong Santa Rosans discussing traffic:“Oh, man, I had to drive on Santa Rosa Avenue last Saturday,” says Rick Moshier. “Once you get past Zumwalt Magrini and the Ponderosa, it’s just a mess.”“You’re tellin’ me!" replies Jason Kelley. "I got stuck in front of the El Rancho Tropicana for a half hour! I had to stop at Everybody’s Talking afterwards just to calm my nerves!”

Of course, there’s also the “Confuse-a-Tourist” variation of the game, where one gives correct directions based on landmarks that existed fifty years ago:“Hey, you, can you tell me where the library is?”“Sure! Go up Third Street here, you’ll pass the ‘Til Two, and then hang a left on Hinton, you’ll pass the Topaz Room. Go right on Fourth Street, then walk past the Brothers 4 and Rosenberg’s and the Tower Theater, and you can’t miss it!”

Most people find this game juvenile and immature, but what "most people" think is not the point. When you’ve stuck it out in Santa Rosa—while so many that you love have moved away, and so many others have moved here and wrecked things—you need something to hold onto that’s yours. For those who were born here, it’s a way of retaining a handle on their hometown as the city's identity is either slowly sold off or crushed under the wheels of progress.

Here’re a few new contenders for the calling-things-by-their-old-name game.1-2-3 Billiards: The rumor on the street from those in the know is that 1-2-3 Billiards, Santa Rosa’s oldest pool hall, is slated to close. This is a heavy blow to Santa Rosa’s working class, especially after the shuttering two years ago of our last remaining bowling alley, Continental Lanes in Roseland. There’s whispers that the building will be converted into a Trek Bicycle concept store, which seems superfluous considering the great job the Bike Peddler does. To us, it’ll always be 1-2-3 Billiards. File next to: The Wherehouse, Leatherby’s, Acapulco.Longs Drugs: Now that the little drug store chain that could has been sold to CVS Pharmacy, one can only imagine what’s going to happen to the old spot on Mendocino Avenue. Will the checkout lady who always asks what “treasures” you found still be there? Will they replace the late ’60s shingles on the roof? Will they still stock 900 different pairs of flip-flops in May? I know, I know. . . it's a chain, and two of the best things about the place are already gone (the drop-cup vending machine for 35-cent soda and the great jingle, “Take the Longs way home, Longs belongs to everyone”). But no matter what kind of overly sterile environment moves in, to us, it’ll always be Longs Drugs. File next to: MacFrugal's, Rainbow Records, Arctic Circle.Traverso’s: It makes sense for them to be across the street from a lot of old people with money, but Fountaingrove’s gain is downtown’s loss. Now who will spend all day politely dealing with people asking for change for the bus? I was talking with Michael Traverso, one of the friendliest check-out clerks in the world, after they sold the building and started looking for a new location. Here’s my favorite thing about the move: Michael says they’re completely planning on taking the store’s hardwood floor with them. “Really? You can do that?” I asked him. “Sure!” he said. “It’s the original floor! We moved it from our old location when we moved here!” You gotta love stuff like that. I have no idea what the hell they’ll put on that corner, but to us, it’ll always be Traverso’s.Kinko’sCopies: A tough one here, on two levels. First of all, the real Kinko’s location is on Third and D, no doubt. And secondly, its current location on Fourth and D, according to the game, should always be called the Brothers 4, or the Rosenberg’s Men’s Department, or, by all means, Copperfield’s. So what of the announcement that Kinko’s is changing its name to “FedEx Office?” And of the fact that their company policy has been restructured over and over again to inconvenience the customer? Tell you what: let’s not even honor ‘em in the old-name game. File next to: Farmers Drug, Prez Records, Fourth Street Franks.China Light: And so it is closed, the dingiest little Chinese restaurant in Santa Rosa. The best thing about China Light, of course, was the beautiful misspelling on its corner sign: “Lunch Specil.” Anyone remember when a car crashed through the front of the building, and it took the owners 8 months to patch up the gigantic hole? Seriously, for 8 months there was just a pile of bricks and a sheet of cardboard covering the wall. I checked their health code violations on the Sonoma County Food Inspection website once, and they had about 5 or 6 critical violations. No matter—the corner of College and Cleveland Avenues will always belong to China Light. File next to: Black Sparrow Press, Yardbirds’ Distribution Warehouse.The Astro Motel: It is, by far, the funniest sign we’ve seen in a long, long time. Currently posted outside of the Astro Motel, well-known as a hotbed of illicit activity, is this gem: “Coming in 2009! The Wine Country Inn and Suites!” For real! Never mind that the last time I was there, there were razor blade chop marks on the nightstand and a syringe behind the TV, or that people have tried to jump off the roof, or that the cops show up there on a weekly basis. “The Wine Country Inn and Suites”—sounds classy. To us, it’ll always be the Astro Motel. File next to: Brother Juniper's, Me & Em’s Liquors.

Comments (15)

Showing 1-15 of 15

Maybe Trek feels the need to move in a Trek Concept store because The Bike Peddler has stopped selling Trek bikes. I think they might have a few left in stock, since it's a recent development, but they seem to have moved on to selling other brands and dropped Trek entirely. If you're strange enough to care specifically about getting a Trek branded bicycle, now you need to go all the way to Rincon Valley or Sebastopol instead of a convenient couple blocks from downtown.

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Posted by Eric on 09/06/2008 at 8:22 PM

Maybe the Bike Peddler stopped selling Trek because Trek was planning to open a concept store around the corner from them.

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Posted by JB on 10/18/2008 at 6:20 PM

I stumbled upon your site as I was looking up references to my families old resort The El Rancho. I love the reminders of old business but have to tell you I am really feeling my age now. I can remember when a doughnut shop sat where China Lite now sits! We lived on Cleavland ave and on Sunday mornings my mother would let us walk to the shop for fresh doughnuts. I was so sad when it closed down.

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Posted by Sari Nichols on 12/28/2008 at 1:57 PM

Trek and the Bike Peddler decided to part ways for a number of reasons, one of which being the owners of that store also own a Specialized Concept Store (NORCAL). Can't have your cake and eat it too I guess. The new Trek Store is independently owned and operated by a Santa Rosan (Me). We have investing a substantial amount of capitol to raise the bar on customer service and create a non-intimidating place to buy a bicycle. The owners of 1,2,3 Billiards are great people. They just wanted to retire & are extremely happy to be so. Feel free to email me if you have any questions. We are very excited to get started and get more people on bikes more often! -Bret bgave@trekstoresantarosa.com

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Posted by Bret on 01/22/2009 at 1:16 PM

YES THIS HOTEL IS FINALLY GOING TO BE RENOVATED

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Posted by Greenleaf Boutique on 02/25/2009 at 11:07 PM

YES THIS HOTEL IS FINALLY GOING TO BE RENOVATED YOU CAN SEE FOR YOURSELF OR MAYBE YOU ARE POSTING INFO THAT YOU ARE ABSOLUTELY UNAWARE OF. PLEASE DO YOUR HOMEWORK BEFORE POSTING RUBBISH BECAUSE YOU DONT HAVE THE PROPER KNOWLEDGE TO FIND OUT THE REALITY OFCI WHATS GOING ON IN SANTA ROSA. FOR YOUR INFO PERMITS ARE ON FILE WITH THE CITY BUILDING DEPT. YES GO SEE FOR YOURSELF. HOMEWORK HOMEWORK HOMEWORK BEFORE U DECIDE ON POSTING RUBBISH ON THE INTERNET.

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Posted by Greenleaf Boutique on 02/25/2009 at 11:12 PM

Gabe, I always dreamed of re-opening China Kitchen at as a nightclub that kept the decor and served Chinese.

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Posted by Caroline on 05/06/2009 at 3:30 PM

Wait a sec . . . you're talkin' the Chinese Kitchen, next to Gene's Bar on Mendocino? Across the intersection from Sambo's? Down the street from Record Factory? Yeah, that'd make a great nightclub. Let's advertise on KREO for employees. I hear the soundman from Joe Frogger's is looking for work; you should ask him. He's usually at Muffin Street in the mornings.

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Posted by Gabe Meline on 05/06/2009 at 11:38 PM

Oh! I just saw this!! I'm so glad I'm not the only one who's so amused by the woman who refers to everything you buy at Long's as "treasures." She even referred to my tampons as treasures once. And yes, on that day, they were truly treasures.

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Posted by Kate on 05/13/2009 at 10:58 AM

some stores have really bad customer service while others have topnotch custmer service -`~

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Posted by Post Nasal Drip Treatment on 12/12/2010 at 9:07 AM

i love food and drinks that are very tasty. i do eat a lot and drink a lot of alcohol these days ':;

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Posted by Laser Marking Devices on 12/12/2010 at 9:38 PM

landscaping can give a great look to the garden lawn that is why i a change in landscape each year ,*"

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Posted by Optical Systems Forum on 12/14/2010 at 8:56 AM

I think im gonna eat at taco time while listening to 92.9 KHTT the heat. Haha.

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Posted by greenbiltdan on 07/29/2013 at 11:43 PM

I went to Santa Rosa Junior College back in 1968-70. We used to eat at the Artic Circle Drive-In. I remember that big plastic white chicken statue called " Acey Bird" When did that place leave Santa Rosa ? Also I remember eating at Rocky,s Pizza Parlor in back of the college on Steele Lane.

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Posted by Glenn Zoslaw on 09/29/2014 at 5:19 PM

I suddenly had a memory of "going out to coffee" at the old El Rancho Tropicana, and wondered where the heck it went.....I guess that's Target now ?
You forgot another SR icon - the funky red oriental-shaped Chinese restaurant on Mendocino near what is now Adel's.
And Holliday Bowl (though Old Mexico and their bowla's are still there).
And downtown "the hill" that was leveled, next to "Wolf Coffee," where silly "alternative" teenagers hung out, some panhandling.
Jalisco's is still around, as is Lincoln Arts Center, and the good old Flamingo Hotel !!
How we lost Petrini's I cannot understand - I remember WE eves were the "meet-market."
And the funky old Molsberry's Market (A&B?) on Yulupa eventually became Food For Thought and now Whole Foods.
And Crystal's Corner on Yulupa is still there.....
**but alas, the "Milk-Stand" was torn down long time ago - I'd buy $.10 Jolly Ranchers there after school.**
I remember when the 7-Eleven and Baskin-Robins sat next to a field in Bennett Valley.
And the Payless across the street.
We had a Long's over there too - I miss Long's.
And the "castles" at the top of Medica Rd. that my friend lived next to - I think still there, but accessible from a different street.
How about those sewer pipes one could walk through in Roseland ? (always wanted to try that one).
How about the "Baby Tree" in the old Community Hospital ?
I went up there shortly after Sutter took over the premises to see my pic on the baby tree, and sadly it was gone - a nurse said it was removed and put in storage only weeks before.
My old park on North Street is no longer the fun little place I remember.
I still call the LBC the LBC. Ode to Luther Burbank !
What a shame the Copperfield's building was renovated - SHAME SHAME SHAME !!!
Oh, the list goes on......

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Posted by S on 12/01/2014 at 6:24 PM
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