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Bobby Glover
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Keevan: My name is Keevan Labowitz, student historian from the North Coast Rural Challenge Network Oral History Project. I’m here today with Bob Glover. Thank you, Mr. Glover, for allowing us to talk with you.

Mr. Glover: You’re very welcome.

Keevan: You were born here in Anderson Valley right?

Mr. Glover: Wrong! I was born in Albion, on the coast. And one day I said to my mother, "I wish I would have been born early enough to take a ride on the old train that used to run from Albion into Christine."
And she says, "you durn fool! The first ride you ever took in your life was on that train."

I was born in Albion and she went down a couple of days later, took the train, and I rode back to Christine.

Keevan: What was it like growing up here back then?

Mr. Glover: Well, back then, a little later we’ll say, I used to go down over the brow of the hill when I heard the train coming down Mill Creek. And I’d get there till they got real close and it was making so much noise that I’d run in the house. I can remember. That’s some of my earliest memories. Everything that happened then seemed to be real smooth and easy. It wasn’t like now where everyone is waiting for somebody else to make a mistake. Then your mistakes were more or less forgiven and you done better next time, or you got your tail feathers paddled.

Keevan: Why did you decide to stay in Anderson Valley?

Mr. Glover: I didn’t completely stay. I know that after I graduated from high school, I was just dying to get out of this Valley. This was boring. I wanted to get to the city where everything was going on, where there were lots of girls. You understand that don’t you, Keevan?
Keevan: Uh huh. (laughs)

Mr. Glover: All right. I went down and I became a radio announcer on KJBS and then went over to KSAN in San Francisco, then came back and lived here for a while. I got married a first time. Then after five years, our divorce came. She was going to bring suit against me, so I decided it was time to leave. So I went back to see a friend of mine, back in Hammond, Indiana. I lived there for five years, and that’s where I met my present wife.

Keevan: When did you meet her--what year?

Mr. Glover: In 1950. I was working for the General American Transportation Corporation in their plastics division. I was an electrician there, and--you want to hear the whole story?
Keevan: Yep.

Mr. Glover: All right, good. It was a New Year’s night and on New Year’s night everyone who was old enough went out and celebrated. I had a bottle of Old Granddad in my back pocket. I walked into a paint shop on my rounds as an electrician, and I walked up to this girl I’d never talked to and asked her if she’d like a drink of whisky.
She said, "No, thank you."
So we talked for a while and I asked her if she’d like a ride home, and she agreed, and that did it.

Keevan: When did you come back here, soon after that?

Mr. Glover: 1955.

Keevan: You’re known as one of the Boontling experts. Can you tell us how you learned the language?

Mr. Glover: Well, back around 1956, I believe it was, Channel 5- San Francisco came up for the dedication of the Hendy Grove State Park. They heard about this Boontling while they were up. They got a couple of the fellows together (Jack June, Don Pardini) and interviewed them. And I saw a chance for a great ego trip. So I made an in-depth study of the language and it’s put me on television 68 times and I went down to the Johnny Carson show three times.

Keevan: Could you harp a bit for us?

Mr. Glover: Oh, I could harp a wee swib. Suppose I give you a Mother Goose nursery rhyme and you tell me what it is. Would you like that?

Keevan: I’ll try.

Mr. Glover: OK- "The eeld’m piked for the chiggrul nook, for gorms for her bahl beljeemer. But the nook was strung and the gorms were gone, and the bahl belgeemer had neemer." What was that?

Keevan: The Night Before Christmas?

Mr. Glover: The Night Before Christmas? I’m sorry, that’s not it.

Keevan: Say it again.

Mr. Glover: "The eeld’m piked for the chiggrul nook, for gorms for her bahl beljeemer. But the nook was strung and the gorms were gone, and the bahl belgeemer had neemer." The rhythm is preserved in it. You can detect that.

Keevan: Oh, yeah. I know which one it is. I just don’t know the name of it.

Mr. Glover: How ‘bout Old Mother Hubbard?

Keevan: Oh, yeah. There’s no bone. (laughs)

Mr. Glover: OK, now can you say it in English?

Keevan: Old Mother Hubburd went to the cupboard to fetch her poor dog a bone. But when she got there, the cupboard was bare, and then her poor dog got none.

Mr. Glover: All right, now I’ll do it again in Boontling and you follow me in English, OK? "The eeld’m piked for the chiggrul nook, for gorms for her bahl beljeemer."

Keevan: Old Mother Hubbard went to the cupboard to fetch a dog for her--a bone for her dog? (laughs)

Mr. Glover: (laughs) But the nook was strung and the gorms were gone."

Keevan: But the cupboard was bare and...

Mr. Glover: It isn’t easy!

Keevan: (laughs) Yeah! The cupboard was bare.

Mr. Glover: "And the bahl belgeemer had neemer."

Keevan: And so the dog had none.

Mr. Glover: Yes. You see the reason you can’t do it is because Boontling is a figurative language and English is a literal language. Do you understand what those two words mean?

Keevan: Yeah.

Mr. Glover: OK. If I unboont’ it directly from, or do it literally from Boontling it would go: "The old woman walked to where the food was kept for food for her good rabbit dog." There’s where you got lost. (laughs) "But the house had been stolen and the food was gone and the poor dog had no more." So you see it’s really figurative. It’s like we say something that comes close to it and the listener figures it out.

Keevan: You said you were on TV a lot. How many times did you say?

Mr. Glover: 68.

Keevan: Did you do the same thing every time?

Mr. Glover: No, No. I would be interviewed just like you’re interviewing me now.

Keevan: From like where did people come from to talk to you about Boontling?

Mr. Glover: They came here. The only time I left was when I went down to the Carson Show.

Keevan: Where did they come from though?

Mr. Glover: Well, I got one coming tomorrow. It’s a man who’s name is Susumu.

Keevan: Where’s he from?

Mr. Glover: Well, Yoko called me and set up the appointment. Can you tell yet where they’re from? Yoko, and Susumu?

Keevan: (Laughs) Japan?

Mr. Glover: Right! That’s it. It’s for a newspaper that is published in Japan. And we’re gonna see if we can mix some Japanese (laughs) into Boontling.

Keevan: We saw one of the tapes of someone interviewing you about ten years ago. When did most people interview you, like recently or along time ago?

Mr. Glover: The answer to that is yes. Boontling is cyclic. It’ll cycle up and then they’ll all come in here, maybe two on the same day come in and interview. Then it dies down and, there’ll be hardly any for a long time. Then it’ll all cycle up again. It’s starting to cycle up again now.

Keevan: Can you tell us a little bit about your family?

Mr. Glover: Well of course I can, sure. Well I had a mother, and a father, and a grandfather, and a grandmother, and an uncle, and they all lived at the same house. You know which one, it’s Handley Winery now. That big house that’s there.

Keevan: Everybody lived in the same house?

Mr. Glover: Yes. Oh, it had bedrooms everywhere.

Keevan: Is Chipmunk Lane named after you--on Holmes Ranch?

Mr. Glover: Yes, it was named by Rod Bayshore. It used to be named after T.J. Nelson’s wife. And the people living on the subdivision weren’t to thrilled about T.J., so he had it changed on the County records.

Keevan: What do you like about Anderson Valley?

Mr. Glover: Well, it’s really an old elephant’s burial ground. People are born here, and they go to school here, and you’ll have to pardon me Mr. Mendosa, they get so bored with school that they want to get out of here. They leave, and they’ll make their fortunes, and when they get old and crotchety, they come back here and they die. One of our cemeteries is completely full, and can accept no more burials. The one down at Shields, by George Gowan’s. As an example, Sid Ward. He was born here and went to school here, and then he left, and became a realtor. He was the one who started the name Tarzania. I believe it was Johnny Weissmuller, bought the first structure there in the subdivision. He lived and he died here. And there are lots of people the same way: Lester Bivens, Alvey Price. Just worlds of them that could be named.

Keevan: Do you remember any other neighbors or residents that you or your family knew?

Mr. Glover: Yes. The Curatons used to live across the road from us. They lived in the oldest house in Anderson Valley. That’s where Earl and Esther Clark lived. And I remember them, and old Hank Curaton. He lives up at Albion. And then there was the Dightman family, lived across the way.
There was Joy, and Bill, and Max and Claire. And I used to play with Bill. From our house, on the outside porch across to Bill Dightman’s, was about a quarter of a mile. And I’d get out on my porch, and Bill would get on his porch, and we’d shout back and forth at one another, and communicate. My mother got tired of listening to that and took me over and had my tonsils cut out, in the hopes that it would lower my volume. It didn’t; it made it better! (laughs)

Keevan: Why do some people call you Chipmunk?

Mr. Glover: Well, that name was given to me by Johnny Carson. What does a chipmunk do in the fall of the year?

Keevan: It gathers up a bunch of nuts.

Mr. Glover: Yeah, food. It gathers food. He’s a saving person, isn’t he? Well, my grandfather was a very saving person. He started out with 280 acres, and by the time he died it was 1581 acres, and he died with over a quarter of a million dollars cash and everything paid off--no indebtedness. So I inherited his capabilities, except for saving money. I’m not too saving. He always said, "It’s not the amount of money you make that counts, it’s the amount that you save." And that sure is true. If you notice the people that have money, it’s hard to get a nickel out of them even. But those that don’t have money, they’re very free with their money.

Keevan: You save old jars and things like that.

Mr. Glover: Do you mean antique jars?

Keevan: Yeah.

Mr. Glover: OK.

Keevan: That could be another reason someone might call you a chipmunk.

Mr. Glover: Yes, that could be. I’ve been saving antique canning jars since 1963. In my front room, you saw the case they’re in. We inventoried them the other day, and there’s a little over $85,000 of my cost in that case.

Keevan: How old is it? About what year?

Mr. Glover: Well, the oldest jar I’ve got is about 1853, before John Landis Mason done the patent on his screw-top jar.

Keevan: Wow. Can you tell us some old-time stories about Anderson Valley?

Mr. Glover: Do you want true or false ones.

Keevan: True, true stories. (laughs)

Mr. Glover: That’s very difficult. (laughs) Almost all the stories were stretched so far. Let’s see now, that gives me a real problem. Well, Ray Pinoli used to have a Model-T Ford. You know what a Model-T Ford is.

Keevan: Yes.

Mr. Glover: All right. Ray didn’t like to drive, and so I’d go over there, on his ranch, and we’d drive around. We were coming back and we got on a hillside. It was leaning over so far that the upper wheel didn’t have no weight and it was spinnin’. We couldn’t get out of there. So Ray had to go up to the barn and get the tractor and come down and pull us back out of there. I tried to figure out where that Model-T Ford is now. They stopped using it. He took a front-end loader and he set it up on top of a tall stump. Then he went in partnership with his brother. He thinks his brother took it and threw it in a dump which is on Nash Mill Road. I don’t think you’re old enough to remember the dump where you go up the hill and people dumped off the side.

Keevan: Wasn’t that on, not on Nash Mill Road, but further down close to Holmes Ranch?

Mr. Glover: It was on Nash Mill.

Keevan: ‘Cause I remember an old dump on the road where we used to live.

Mr. Glover: Gschwend Road?

Keevan: No, it wasn’t Gschwend, it was further down. It was just a little bit further down from Holmes Ranch.

Mr. Glover: Well, Gschwend Road is a mile below it.

Keevan: Yeah, but not as far.

Mr. Glover: Not as far. Hmm.

Keevan: Well, I don’t remember the name.

Mr. Glover: Well, I know you don’t because that’s all Holmes Ranch clear down to the Christine Woods and that’s a quarter-of-a-mile wide and then there is Gschwend Road. Now Kathy has a home up on Gschwend Road.

Keevan: Well, maybe it is Gschwend Road.

Mr. Glover: And there was a dump on a turn down there, yeah. That was the old dump. Everybody dumped in that. That, and the dump up on Nash Mill Road. They got very energetic, the Board of Health, and they flew over and plotted where all these illegal dumps were. Then they had the District Attorney write them a letter and give them an alternative, either cleaning everything up in the dump and taking it to the legitimate dump, or to put two foot of clean earth on it. You got that, clean earth? I didn’t know earth was clean. Didn’t you have to wash your face every time you got dirt on it? (laughs) You had to put two foot of clean earth over the fill and that’s--Wilbur Nash came down and covered it up and we think that’s where the Model-T Ford is, covered up down in the bottom of that.

Keevan: So you haven’t actually found it?

Mr. Glover: No. I’ve talked to Earl Peterman and he’s agreed to go down with his deep metal locator and see if he can locate where it is.

Keevan: How has Anderson Valley changed since you’ve been here?

Mr. Glover: I’d say very little except for the 14 wineries that have came in.

Keevan: How many wineries do you remember before all these new ones came?

Mr. Glover: There was none. No legal wineries.

Keevan: A lot more apple orchards right?

Mr. Glover: Yes.

Keevan: Any other businesses besides-

Mr. Glover: Sheep. Yeah, sheep was one of the main things here. The sheep and apples and there were a few cattle raised. There was no logging done. I remember my grandfather would go out. Up on top of the Holmes Ranch, there’s a place called The Lowback. They cut down all the firs and redwoods and drug them together in piles with horses. We’d burn them. Sometimes them piles would burn for two weeks. So timber wasn’t worth anything. Frank Rue went around and girdled the bark, cut the bark off at the base, of about 40 acres of prime big fir--three and four foot diameter fir.

Keevan: Another thing that has changed is the name of Octopus Mountain? You were telling us before that it wasn’t actually called Octopus Mountain.

Mr. Glover: I refuse to admit that it has been changed.

Keevan: What is it actually called then?

Mr. Glover: It has been injected by, pardon me Mr. Mendosa, a teacher. The school had an art class and they were out there drawing that mountain. One of the kids said it looks like an octopus. The teacher then latched on to it. She, not knowing the name being Tarwater Hill, used that name and it sorta caught on with all the newcomers.

Keevan: What was the origin or the cause of Boontling?

Mr. Glover: Well, Boontling started in 1888. There was a quite wealthy family in San Francisco that had a young daughter. And she became pregnant without benefit of clergy. I said that one time at an historical society meeting and Judge Gibson spoke and said, "Is that the only way to get married?" So I got put in my place on that. So these folks didn’t want any smirch on their family name. So they asked a lady here in Boonville, she was known as Aunt Jane Burger--she was a kindly lady, if the girl could come up and stay with her until she had the baby, and then make arrangements to adopt it out. Then the girl could return and there’d be no smirch on the family name. So this went along and the girl was scheduled to come up here during hop picking time. There used to be hops raised on the McGough field down at Farrers and down at Gowan’s, and in Bell Valley at the Wallach place. So at hop picking time, all the farmers really loved it. They would get all their work caught up, get their wagon out there and get a stove on it, and beds and tables and everything, and they’d go to the hop fields. They’d set all this stuff up in a row out on the edge of the field and have a regular camp there. At hop picking, the ladies and the children would pick on one side of the field and the men would pick on the other side. So this pregnant girl was working there and it was hot, and everybody was sweatin’ and boy it was terrible. And the ladies of Anderson Valley wanted to talk about this girl, but they didn’t want to hurt her feelings. So they invented a few coded words, of which none, to our knowledge, remain today. And then in the evening, they’d come in. The ladies would quit picking early and they’d go to the camp, and they’d cook big pot luck dinners and everybody would sit down and they’d eat. Then afterwards somebody’d break out a fiddle and they’d all dance in the dust. And it was quite a festive affair.

So then in the evening they’d go to their tents and go to bed, and maybe if we listened closely, we could’ve heard mother and father tittering and laughing in the tents, as mother told father about these coded words.
Well, the men sort of caught on. On sheep-shearing expeditions, up on the side of Bald Mountain in an old cabin made of split stuff lumber, there’d be a table and the fellows would come in from shearing and they’d have their long-handled underwear on and they had bib overalls on and the front of ‘em was just yellow from lanolin and wool where they’d been shearing. And they’d sit down and they’d have a jug of port wine in the middle of the table and they’d all drink. And they’d try to shark one another or deceive one another by inventing words. Well these words fit with a natural mechanics.

We may wonder how people that could hardly write could invent a language. But they were well-read. You see in those days there wasn’t television. There was nothing to interfere with the learning process. So they invented words until sheep shearing time was over.
Then they’d come down to the old Any Time Saloon. And one day a buggy came rumbling into Boonville. And the old boys that was sittin’ in the old Any Time Saloon all got up and went outside to see who came into town. And a beautiful young lady stepped off. And as she stepped down on the step, a vagrant breeze elevated her skirt and they saw her ankle. Well, now we have to invent words to describe the female anatomy. OK, so it further got developed in the old Any Time Saloon. And each individual family, as they worked on it, invented different words to mean the same thing. But now Boontling has been integrated into one natural, incomplete language. It’s a substructure of English and there’s about 1360 words in the total vocabulary.

Keevan: Wow. (long pause) Can you tell us a little about the Little Red Schoolhouse Museum?

Mr. Glover: Yes, I can. That is one of our proud artifacts here in the Valley. Was there anything specific you wanted to know about it?

Keevan: Whatever you want to tell us.

Mr. Glover: Well, the museum used to be the--I guess it was the Boonville School, yeah. It was where the freeway was gonna be and they was gonna tear it down. All the farmers got together, and got some tractors and some rollers and stuff, and jacked it up, and put it under it, and pulled it over where it is now and set it down. Then the Community Services District came up with the funds to make it into a museum. And so everybody started donating stuff to the museum--everything they didn’t want: old tin cans, old jars, bottles, can lids, something they don’t want. Because, we don’t wanna really part with what we have that’s precious, because, you see, we’ve got to keep things from the past. That’s very important. That’s one reason that people collect usually, is to keep things that are part of their past. ‘Course, I have nothin’ to do with fruit jars, so I don’t know why I collect those. (Laughs). So, the museum--as people died then, their heirs would donate stuff, and we started getting better stuff. Then another building was built called the Tuttle Building. Shine Tuttle and Delmar June built it. The Mailliards donated the lumber, and my mother donated money for, oh, nails and all the stuff that had to be done. And it now is full. They dedicated one room, in there, to my family and there is a large mural in there, 22 feet long and 11 feet high, of the ranch.

Keevan: Wasn’t there a time capsule they put in the ground, and--

Mr. Glover: Yes, a time capsule, and that was done, I don’t remember what year, probably around in the ‘70’s--the 1970’s. And it is a large caliber--I’d say it’s a shell from a cannon. It was stuffed full of material, and then the top was soldered closed and it was buried, and there’s a brass plaque over the top of it.

Keevan: What kind of stuff was in it?

Mr Glover: Well, I put in a tape that has about 200 of the older people who are now dead, and I told stories about them. All those were true stories. (laughs)

Keevan: Thank you very much, Mr. Glover for talking with us. This has been Keevan Labowitz, student historian for the North Coast Rural Challenge Network Oral History Project.