Saturday, June 14, 2008
Here's the way I heard it. A young crewman on a ship in the Mediterranean met a young woman from one of the "better" Willits families on a cruise. The two married. He came with her to live in Willits. They bought the Hotel Van, one of the swank accommodations in town at the time. She died at some point, and he moved away. But he kept the hotel, the upstairs all vacant, and has it maintained only just barely up to code standards, so it can't be condemned. It is rumored he always felt snubbed by the people in his wife's circle, the white gloves and hats set. On just about the most prominent corner in town, this empty shell of a building was how he responded, apparently. He must be nearly a century old, somewhere, if he still lives. If this happened, it was a very long time ago. I wonder about such old stories, and how many embellishments have been added over time, since this one sounds so much like Romeo and Juliet. It seems to be the handy answer whenever conversations come up like, "Wouldn't that make a great International Youth Hostel?" or culinary school, or elder housing, or... But after all, it might just have earthquake problems. Who knows?
The few shop spaces that are currently occupied, at street level, are now, finally, all leased by immigrants. Thankfully for the town, because they all have fine businesses.