That reminds me of a story.
Which reminds me that reminiscences can be a sign of impending dotage; or, according to Sigmund Freud, symptomatic of hysteria. (Take your pick.)
Nonetheless, my persistent reading of daily newspapers provides constant reminders of old stories rattling around in the recesses of memory.
Take for example, the recent headliner about the use of stimulus money for the Napa Wine Train.
I cannot read any story about that train without thinking back 20 years to the glory days of the Sonoma Valley Wine Patrol, a band of merry men, led by Lance Cutler from Gundlach-Bundschu Winery. Wearing black Zorro capes and white masks, Cutler and his crew boarded the Wine Train in May 1990, armed with Sonoma Valley wines, which they poured liberally for surprised (and delighted) passengers, suggesting that they throw their Napa wines "out the window" and try some of the real stuff.
Then, four years later, in a burst of territorial enthusiasm, the same jolly crew -- augmented by a helicopter, a Jeep and a phalanx of motorcycles -- hijacked a tour busload of European wine writers in the Napa Valley and directed the driver to Sonoma, where they performed a "cleansing ceremony."
The passengers, on a tour sponsored by England's Virgin Airlines, took it all as good fun. Among them were Virgin's owner, Richard Branson, and his mother, Eve. Mother Branson told reporter Tim Tesconi, "This is wonderful. We are seeing dirt, dust and the people are so friendly. Napa was so antiseptic."
Richard Branson also took it with beyond good nature, saying, "It's been a delightful surprise. I think this is definitely the highlight of our day." He particularly liked the part where the patrolees performed the ritualistic "cleansing" of Napa's influence by pouring wine at the feet of a couple of virgins (as in airline) representing Sonoma's "purity."
"Of course, after all this, we will come to Sonoma on our next trip," Branson said, although there is no evidence that they did.
Cutler made a brief attempt to re-establish his promotional troublemakers in 2006 when they dropped printed cards protesting outrageous mark-ups on wine lists in offending restaurants. Nothing has been heard from them since.
I think it's time for the Sonoma merry men to regroup and hijack some of that stimulus money to the SMART train.
ANOTHER STORY that reminded me of another story was the late December news that developers are planning to put a hotel and restaurant in the classy old red brick building on Petaluma's Lakeville Highway that may be the most important historical structure in a town filled with historic homes.
The Georgian Colonial Revival was built in 1892 as the Carlson-Currier Silk Mills. Entrepreneurs like Adolph Spreckels were, at the time, exploring sericulture -- the cultivation of mulberry bushes for the raising of silk worms -- as an agricultural pursuit for Sonoma County.
While the silk worms didn't like our climate, the mill prospered well into the 20th century.
In 1940, Sunset Line &amp; Twine expanded its fishing line business from San Francisco northward and grew its products to include specialized cordage for parachutes, life rafts and the Apollo spacecraft. Sunset, owned by the Agnew family, closed in 2006 and Petalumans have been seeking salvation for the building since that time.