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Read some of Petaluma Argus-Courier columnist Bill Soberanes’ best column excerpts

FIRST COLUMN. This being my first column for the Argus-Courier, I would like to tell you just what you will read in this daily space. We will tell you about local happenings, about the many people we chance to meet from all walks of life, the famous, the near-famous, the characters and the everyday citizens. We hope to gaze into our crystal ball and predict what will happen from time to time. All in all, we hope to give you a variety column that will be of interest to everyone. (June 2, 1954)

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SOME THINGS DON’T CHANGE. Take the case of Tom Louderback and his son, Tom (Butch) Louderback. When Butch was young, the folks referred to him as Little Tom and his dad as BIG Tom. Today, Butch is a couple of inches taller and 20 pounds heavier than his dad, but Petalumans still call Tom Sr. Big Tom and Big Butch Little Tom. (Dec. 19, 1962)

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MONKEY BUSINESS. Betty’s Pet Shop on Kentucky Street was closed on Wednesday, and a sign in the window said because of sickness. If Betty was sick when she left, I’ll bet she’ll be really sick when she reopens her shop and here’s why. That charming little monkey, “Battleship Gus” that has been on display in the window of this shop escaped Wednesday and really went on a spree. He scattered things all over, tipped over the bird cages, sampled all the foods in the shop and kept a large audience of young folks entertained all afternoon. (Jan. 18, 1963)

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FROM DESERT DAN DELANEY. Today we have another letter from our mysterious and fascinating correspondent, Desert Dan Delaney. For years, Desert Dan has been mystifying this columnist and readers of the column with letters that have a true ring of genius. For the first few years, all of these letters came from Las Vegas, but the last two have arrived from a new locale: Palm Springs. Desert Dan’s true identity is as big of a mystery to this columnist as it is to readers of this column. We hope that you, too, will join in and help find out who he really is and why he chose to correspond with this columnist. (April 12, 1965)

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OLD-TIMERS CORNER. You’re a real old-timer if you remember when there was a grocery store called Murphy’s on East Washington Street. You’re also an old-timer if you remember when there was a fire substation on East Washington Street. You’re well on your way toward becoming an old-timer if you remember when Tom Caulfield ran two butcher shops in Petaluma. One of these shops was located on East Washington Street, the other on Bodega Avenue. (April 12, 1971)

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DAPPER DAN CLUB. Latest member of our Dapper Dan Club: Dennis Pooler. Dennis is a natty dresser, and he’s one of the younger members of this club … Over the years, the best-dressed men in Petaluma have been made members of the Dapper Dan Club and I’ve been very select in selecting them. (April 20, 1971 and Oct. 12, 1972)

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WHERE IS SCISSORS SAM? A number of Scissors Sam’s Petaluma friends have asked me if I know his whereabouts, and here’s why they’re asking. Scissors Sam is a hobo who makes his living by traveling and sharpening saws, scissors, knives, etc. During the month of May, Scissors Sam always paid a visit to Petaluma, and this year he didn’t show up. If anyone knows the whereabouts of the Scissors Man, I’d sure appreciate hearing from them so I can pass the word along to his local friends. (June 5, 1973)

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SHORTAGE OF FISH. I don’t know if there’s a shortage of fish, but I’ve heard many top fishermen in this area say lately, “No, I don’t catch any fish.” Now I can remember the days when these fishermen couldn’t wait to get home so they could tell all about the fish they caught. (Feb. 22, 1974)

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PETALUMA LOOK-ALIKE CLUB. The way things are going, Petaluma is now eligible to start a famous Look-Alike Club. For years, our own Emile Mane has been doubling as Charlie Chaplin. Jim Frisbie is making news as Clark Gable’s look-alike, and now Bob Guelfi is being touted as Elvis Presley’s look-alike. (Sept. 12, 1978)

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CHARACTERS ABOUT TOWN. There are a lot more people in Petaluma than there were 10 years ago, but the number of real colorful characters is diminishing. Over the weekend, Cigarbox Johnny stopped in town. The Cigarbox Man will be remembered by many local horse players as the guy who always carries his winnings in a cigar box. Like most horse race characters, Cigarbox Johnny said he was sorry to see that Gilardi’s Corner had vanished from the Petaluma scene. He was also disappointed over the fact that there are no more bookmakers in Petaluma. (March 4, 1980)

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ABOUT PETALUMANS. Chef Leo Albertoni of the Spa is known as the “Hamburger King.” Some people also call Leo the “Spa Burger King” … Hank Simoni is now known as the “Petaluma Clockman,” and his clock shop is rapidly becoming a Petaluma institution. One thing for sure, Simoni clocks keep better time than our old town clock … Guido Boccaleoni, the Petaluma accordion maestro, says he’s getting close to playing for his 1,000th wedding. Guido has been playing the accordion since he was a teenager, and that was a few years ago … Earle Bond, who plays the organ at Sonoma Joe’s, is the only Petaluman I know who can say that he played at the Palace in Honolulu. Earle also played at the MGM Grand Hotel in Las Vegas and on the luxury liner Lurline … Marian Sheehy worked at Fundas’ Soda Fountain when it was the No. 1 hangout for the local young set … Freddie Katen, the sparkplug of the Little Gnomes, was once known as the “King of the Petaluma Icemen.” In those days Freddie delivered ice to many local homes ... Former Mayor Patty Hilligoss is a tip-top ice skater … Maurice Quigley is the only person in this area who can say he once guarded Harry Truman. Maurice worked for the Buffalo, N.Y. Police Department before becoming a private eye. (Aug. 22, 1984)

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THE PETALUMA BEAT. The guy walking around Putnam Plaza Friday with what looked like a metal football helmet on his head said he was preparing for an earthquake … On Friday I also spotted a man carrying a sign near the Petaluma Fairgrounds that read, “Doomsday is just around the corner” … Did you notice the strolling accordion player around Walnut Park Friday afternoon? It’s been a long time since I’ve seen a strolling musician in Petaluma. (April 11, 1990)

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THE B.S. HEALTH KICK. Every year, I start a new B.S. (Bill Soberanes Health Kick), and I’ve just started my 1992 health kick. Walking is the No. 1 part of my program and I walk many miles a day. I now do around 10 pushups a day and at least 10 bendovers, in which I stand straight and then bend down and touch my toes with both hands. I also do a little shadow boxing, which consists of going through the motions of boxing without an opponent. (Jan. 31, 1992)

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MY HOBBY. People are my hobby and finding out all about them is my profession. That is why I coined the terms “peopleology” and “peopleologist.” Now I’d like to have people out there in readerland send me their lists of people still alive and those who are gone and even those who they would most like to meet. I’m also recruiting members for my People Meeters-People Finders Club, a club that will bring members in contact with fascinating people from every walk of life imaginable. Join the club and help me find the most fascinating people in the world. I’m sure the club will add zest to your life no matter what age category you are in. (June 27, 1995)

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MY GARDEN. My garden was plowed and planted April 19 by the Rebuilding Together-Christmas in April volunteers. The garden is growing vigorously. Everything looks great except for the crabgrass, which my wife Jane pulls daily. (June 4, 2003)

Excerpts compiled by former Argus-Courier editor Chris Samson.

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