.What Is Sausalito? Take a Closer Look

By Peter Laufer

The glorious photograph illustrating the delightful “Spotlight on Sausalito” article in the Feb. 16 Pacific Sun sure ain’t the Sausalito waterfront, despite the caption’s claim. That’s a picture of the gorgeous view from Fort Baker. I know because I’m a lucky guy: I grew up in Sausalito.

And a different Sausalito it was when I moved to Spencer Avenue in 1960 and enrolled in the fourth grade at Bayside School. Tourists packed the town only on the weekends. A stroll for a block along Bridgeway north from Princess would take a flâneur such as me past Ole’s Bakery, the Purity Market, the Gate Theater, the hardware store, the five & ten and the Rexall with the soda fountain. Tourists came for our village atmosphere and waterfront, not T-shirts, ice cream and glitzy galleries.

In fifth grade a couple of classmates and I decided to start a newspaper, The Sausalito Sun—a few years later, when the Pacific Sun launched, we always figured the founders stole our name. We prowled the streets looking for news and selling ads, two bucks for a full page. Sally Stanford advertised her Valhalla restaurant with us; I played Little League for the Giants she sponsored and the madam’s Rolls-Royce was our team’s car for opening day parades. The old Kingston Trio-owned Trident always took a full page—after high school I was employed for a brief stint as a member of the overnight kitchen cleanup crew. The mayor called our Sun the best newspaper in town, an easy call since at that time we were the only paper.

When I moved back to town after a short interlude studying at Berkeley—of course I dropped out for a spell, it was the ’60s!—I moved into the Chicago, Burlington & Quincy Pullman business car parked at Tiki Junction. The Big G was our grocery store, before it became Mollie Stone’s, and across the street was the pungent distillery after which the Whiskey Springs housing development is named. Just before Bridgeway ends, Juanita held forth at her Galley on the Charles Van Damme, grounded at Gate Six.

So, with as much modesty as an adopted son can muster, I cover the Sausalito waterfront and can say with historical certainty that we don’t need our picturesque Fort Baker neighbor to play our double.

Peter Laufer lives in Sausalito.

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