The Haunted California Bar With a Killer View—and Prison Previous
It will not be the celeb ghost that brings us as much as the Moss Seaside Distillery close to Half Moon Bay. The cliffside view alone is well worth the 50-mile drive from Santa Cruz, a seaside metropolis not missing in inspiring vistas. The kitchen affords a well-executed northern California surf ’n’ turf of fried artichokes, fish tacos, seafood sliders, pastas and extra that put different native eateries to disgrace. Then there’s the intimate artwork deco bar and its tuck ’n’ roll swivel stools occupied by chatty locals in flannel shirts and hoodies, and the curious ceiling fresco of a matador spiking a bull. The place is laid-back panache, a legendary northern California bar and grill that doesn’t want a ghost to place it on the map, however has one all the identical.
The Blue Woman is an area character featured in stacks of newsprint and tv, most notably a 1992 Unsolved Mysteries episode hosted by Robert Stack, famend for his portrayal of Elliot Ness, Chicago’s “untouchable” whiskey barrel-smashing G-man. There are a number of variations of her story, all of which occur throughout Prohibition and contain a love triangle between her, a piano participant, and her husband, and ends within the flapper’s violent loss of life.
Crimes of ardour make for good tales, though there isn’t a historic report of such a homicide at Moss Seaside. There have been, nonetheless, many different crimes dedicated within the space through the roaring ’20s, when small-time racketeers turned legal syndicates and the Moss Seaside Distillery was the cat’s pajamas of native roadhouses recognized then as Frank’s Place.
Earlier than Prohibition, San Mateo County (San Francisco’s southern peninsula) was a rural stretch of untamed coast scattered with artichoke and Brussel sprout farms whereas pines and sequoias had been lumbered within the mountains above. Plans to show beachside Half Moon Bay areas into resorts petered out when a shoreline railway mission was canned, leaving city-dwellers some 30 miles away with solely the precarious Pedro Mountain Highway as a direct hyperlink.
The 18th Modification, which in 1919 outlawed the manufacture, sale, or transportation of liquors, turned these sleepy communities into playgrounds of vice as rumrunners and bootleggers exploited the isolation and hidden coves alongside the coast for clandestine deliveries of alcohol whereas entrepreneurs took benefit of the useful provide of smuggled booze and opened beachside speakeasies. South Bay mobster Sam Termini thought-about San Mateo County probably the most corrupt within the state.
The Coast Guard solely had two steam cutters to patrol the central California coast, which one state senator known as a “smuggler’s paradise.” Most booze got here down from Vancouver, although in his ebook Rum Warfare at Sea, Coast Guard Commander Malcolm Willoughby wrote of a British steamer from Scotland loaded with 25,000 circumstances of Scotch that anchored exterior Half Moon Bay for seven months whereas contact boats hauled liquor off and provides again on. He famous that when “a selected official on responsibility discovered it worthwhile to be unobserving,” 15,000 circumstances cruised by means of the Golden Gate unmolested.
“The dope is that half the booze put ashore by the Pacific rum fleet is put ashore in Half Moon Bay,” Dashiell Hammett wrote in his 1924 story, “The Woman With The Silver Eyes.” Hammett, a infamous boozer, would know. He spent a lot of the Prohibition period writing in regards to the adventures of the Continental Op from his San Francisco dwelling on 891 Publish Road and was a patron of Frank’s Place, which he fictionalized within the story because the White Shack.
“It’s a troublesome gap. Run by ‘Tin Star Joplin’, an ex-yegg who invested his winnings within the place when Prohibition made the roadhouse recreation good. He makes more cash now than he ever heard of in his piking safe-ripping days. Retailing liquor is a side-line with him; his actual revenue comes from appearing as a relay station for the booze that comes by means of Half Moon Bay for factors past…”
The story is probably not Hammett’s most interesting however writing within the New Yorker, Claudia Roth Pierpont asserts that it laid the foundations for movie noir through which “the Op confronts head on the destruction a lady can wreak.” The silver-eyed femme fatale was answerable for two deaths: one within the White Shack car parking zone and the opposite on the highway leaving it—a brutal loss of life the place an area snitch places himself in entrance of the Op’s automotive to guard the attractive dame and finally ends up roadkill. If the Moss Seaside Distillery is the proper scene for neo-noir, it’s most likely as a result of its actual historical past may have come proper off the pages of hard-boiled fiction.
Frank Torres left his native Peru on the tender age of 14 and labored in galleys throughout the seven seas, honing the cooking expertise he would sometime be acknowledged for. Ultimately, he disembarked in San Francisco the place he cooked in a number of eating places all through town. After being fined $300 for promoting alcohol in 1923, he moved all the way down to Moss Seaside, married a local East Coaster named Fanny Lea, and bought into the “the roadhouse recreation” as co-proprietor of the Marine View Tavern. In 1927, he opened his personal joint subsequent door, Frank’s Place, on the bluff above the crashing waves. Meals and drinks had been served upstairs, a roulette wheel and slot machines had been performed downstairs. Fanny was rumored to run the bordello in adjoining cabins.
Smugglers used the seashore under Frank’s to shuttle booze off speedy skiffs by means of the safety of night time and fog. Frank saved his provide in a storage whereas the remaining circumstances went to San Francisco, thought-about the second wettest metropolis within the nation after New York. Native historian, June Morrall, famous an incident a day earlier than New 12 months’s 1926 when smugglers unloaded a cargo of 4,000 circumstances of liquor on Moss Seaside to a lot celebration. They’d paid $3,000 for details about an 18-agent raid that will happen a whole bunch of miles away in Weed that day.
Amongst noteworthy speakeasies within the Half Moon Bay space had been the Patroni Home, Montara Household Membership, Ocean Seaside Lodge and Chateau LaFayette–all of which had been no strangers to raids. In 1921, police confiscated $50,000 ($745,000 in right this moment’s worth) price of alcohol on the Mori Level Inn, one of many largest busts within the county. Torres, nonetheless, by no means fearful about raids. Native and state politicians had been common patrons, together with the Sheriff of San Mateo county and Colonel George White of the Prohibition Company, who assured whiskey can be returned within the occasion of a raid. William Randolph Hearst knocked drinks again at Frank’s, as did Charlie Chaplin, Mary Pickford, Fatty Arbuckle and different Hollywood elites.
Frank’s Place went legit after repeal of Prohibition in 1933 and maintained a wonderful fame for its fare, being featured in meals author Ruth Thompson’s 1937 ebook, Consuming Round San Francisco. Torres, she famous, “led a lifetime of romance and journey which makes the lives of unusual stay-at-homes fairly pale beside it.” Frank retired within the Forties, passing the enterprise to his son Vic who ran it till his loss of life of a coronary heart assault in 1964.
The roadhouse modified arms a number of instances and have become the Moss Seaside Distillery within the Nineteen Seventies. Present proprietor, John Barbour, has maintained the integrity of what’s now a historic landmark, having gone as far as to influence the Torres household to promote him three unique hand-painted stained glass items Vic had commissioned within the Forties from San Francisco artist Otto Dressler. He additionally painted the Haberdasher Coat of Arms on the Hostess stand. Little is understood in regards to the matador and bull on the ceiling. It was found in 1974 when the proprietor eliminated a canvas of dolphins, harps and clovers and had it restored. Supposedly, Frank Torres had as soon as supposed to construct a bullfighting ring on the premises.
The Blue Woman made her first public look in a 1981 San Francisco Examiner interview with new homeowners, in keeping with journalist Katie Dowd of SFGATE. Whereas ghostly pranks, like trick mirrors, hidden audio system and self-ringing telephones have since been revealed, some individuals insist the place is certainly haunted. Throughout transforming within the Nineteen Seventies, a contractor staying in a downstairs room noticed an apparition that frightened him a lot he bolted again to southern California and by no means returned to complete the job.
Haunted or not, the Blue Woman isn’t as a lot a bogeywoman as she is a medium to the likes of Candy Georgia Brown, Gin Rickeys, and Mannequin Ts. She is an area mascot of an period when eggs and dames knocked on the door of the Moss Seaside Distillery again when it was a juice joint and mentioned behind their arms, “inform ’em Joe despatched me.”