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In the late 1920s and early ’30s, Depression times, very few Americans had the money or opportunity or necessity to purchase a seat on a newfangled commercial airplane.

For those who did, there was for a time no finer or more spacious experience than flying on a 10-seat, corrugated-skinned, wood-paneled Ford Tri-Motor. A total of 199 of the pioneer airliners, nicknamed the Tin Goose, were built between 1925 and 1933. Just a handful remain.

A beauty is at the Charles M. Schulz-Sonoma County Airport Thursday through Sunday for 30-minute rides and ogling. If you stop by the Sonoma Jet Center between 2 and 5 p.m. Thursday, or between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. any the following three days, you won’t have trouble spotting a member of the hosting Pacific Coast Air Museum and Chapter 124 of the Experimental Aircraft Association.

With a Tin Goose on the premises, they’re walking on air.

VERY FUNNY: Theater critics are deeply tickled by “Buyer & Cellar,” a one-man play about an underemployed actor who goes to work in the private mall of antique shops that honest-to-Pete exists in the basement of Barbra Streisand’s part-time Malibu mansion.

The actor who’ll open a three-weekend run Friday at 6th Street Playhouse isn’t just anybody.

Patrick Varner was a stage star at Montgomery High and about 10 minutes after graduating in 2009 won $10,000 in a scholarship contest by San Francisco’s outlandish Beach Blanket Babylon musical revue.

Now an equity actor in Boston, Patrick is coming home to take on Bab’s basement.

ST. ORRES? The striking, onion-domed inn and restaurant on Highway 1 north of Gualala was brand new the first time I set eyes on the piece of woodworking mastery in 1977.

Forty years later, the getaway built on the 1830s homestead of George St. Ores isn’t merely still there, it thrives and evolves and the redwood timbers, salvaged from a 19th century mill in Philo, are as gorgeous as ever.

Also remarkable: Eric Black, who was inspired by the architecture of Fort Ross and the classic Russian stave church when he designed and led the construction of St. Orres, operates it still, with partner and executive chef Rosemary Campiformio.

Couples who married there have returned for the weddings of their children. Elizabeth Taylor stayed at the almost-historic St. Orres, and also the King of Jordan, though not the same night.

IN THE 1920s in Cloverdale, Annie Balatti was yet another country kid who owned a single pair of shoes, wore them to school and otherwise ran barefoot.

Born in 1915, she’d go on to marry Louis Catelli and live and work in San Francisco before migrating happily back to upper Sonoma County and becoming as indispensable to the Healdsburg Food Pantry as the tuna and peanut butter and shelves.

The other day Annie celebrated turning 102 by visiting an old, one-armed friend, a slot machine at River Rock Casino. It paid off.

Annie never smoked, and she’s a great one for growing her own vegetables. She won’t tell you that pouring a plop of amaretto into her coffee each morning helps her stay young, but plainly it’s not hurting.

Chris Smith is at 707-521-5211 and chris.smith@pressdemocrat.com.

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