First Person: I know I’m from Sonoma County when ...

You know you're from Sonoma County when wild turkeys wander your neighborhood. (John Burgess/The Press Democrat)


“You know you’re a local ...,” a story about many of the things that make Sonoma County unique, generated a lot of mail. Some letter writers contributed their own items to the list. One voiced her opinion about the wisdom of making fun of Sonoma County drivers.

If you missed it, the story is posted at

Here’s what they had to say.

I know I’m from Sonoma County because:

I remember when Santa Rosa had a population of 50,000.

I remember my grandfather asking my parents, “Why are you moving up to the country?”

I remember when the land where Coddingtown is was a prune orchard that flooded every year.

I remember when you could drive the backroads anywhere in the county and be the only car or bike.

I remember when Rosenburg’s was the only department store in town.

I remember when wine wasn’t “an industry.”

I remember when Sebastopol was about the apples.

I remember when there was “nothing” in Healdsburg.

I remember catching frogs and pollywogs in Santa Rosa Creek with my friends.

I remember when all the houses on our street had a Santa Rosa plum tree planted near the curb. When they were in bloom, you could look down the street and see a line of pink blossoms.

I remember walking to Village School with my friends and never being afraid.

I remember when there was a Sonoma County Public Library in Montgomery Village. That was before the downtown branch was built.

I remember the old court house that used to be in Court House Square. They said it wasn’t earthquake safe, but when they went to knock it down it wouldn’t budge.

— CYNDI ROGERS , Cloverdale


A traffic jam was 12 cars stuck behind a farmer’s tractor on 101.

You could cross 101 to get to SRJC from the west side.

Our congressman was a Republican and proud of it.

Your great great grandfather gave his name to a creek in 1864, in what was to become Guerneville.

Your great grandfather was married in Occidental in 1877.

Your grandfather was married in Santa Rosa in 1912.

There were no wild turkeys.

We were part of Northern California and not part of the Bay Area.

I could go on and on but I won’t.

— KENT WHITED , Santa Rosa


I loved the list and was delighted to qualify on quite a few of the items. Our family moved to Petaluma on New Year’s Day 1980, but I still feel like a newbie around some folks in town.

I had a woman inform me, shortly after I moved here, that only people whose families had been here for several generations could be considered native Petalumans, and so the twins I was expecting could not be called native. She wasn’t kidding.

There is one more item to add to the list: You have a “turkey whoppin’ stick” that you need to chase the wild turkeys out of your backyard garden. It fell off the neighbor’s eucalyptus tree.

— THERESA HAIRE , Petaluma


While it’s true that deer will graze our gardens here in Petaluma and elsewhere in Sonoma County, sometimes they disappear, such as when a mountain lion is around. A few years ago our front yard rose bushes were being grazed routinely, but for the 6 or so weeks after I spotted a mountain lion going up our street, no deer.

— TOM WILSON , Petaluma


I really enjoyed your article on “You know you’re from here when......” and got a laugh out of most of them. There were, however, a couple of items I took umbrage with. “The City” was, is and probably always will be San Francisco. As big as Santa Rosa has gotten, it still does not make the cut.

But my big issues were with two other items, the first being “Turn signal, what turn signal?” I am a native Sonoman, and yes, I was born in the “winery.” That gives a clue as to my age.

When I learned to drive back in the dark ages, using turn signals was a must, and it still is legally required. I live on a two way county road where most people drive far too fast. (Maybe “Speed limit, what speed limit?” would have been good.) We share a driveway with three other houses, and I often wonder if the driver behind me is going to stop because it seems like no one pays attention to our turn signals.

A few months ago, my husband was turning into our driveway and the three cars behind him stopped, but car number four slammed into the back of driver number three. Over the last 10 years, five of our neighbors’ friends and relatives have been rear-ended while waiting to turn into our driveway.

Several years ago, my husband was towing a trailer and was using both the vehicle’s signal and an arm signal, and a “rocket scientist” tried to pass him at a high rate of speed. Fortunately, my husband glanced out his side mirror just as he began the turn and pulled back to the right. The “rs” hit him, but had my husband not seen him, he would have hit him directly in the driver’s side door.

Fortunately, no one was injured except the “rs” pride as my husband informed him in not so nice language that there is a double line you never cross and two turn signals that he ignored.

When CHP arrived, the officer enjoyed my husband’s lecturing and then reiterated (without the cussing) what my husband had told him. Maybe the “rs” learned his lesson and will drive more carefully. And yes, all the people who were hit were signaling.

My really big issue was “You abide by the four cars get to run the red light rule.” No, they do not. I’ve noticed that three or four cars usually do run the red, particularly at the large intersections in Santa Rosa, but it’s illegal. Totally illegal. When the light turns yellow, if you are partially through the intersection, you can proceed.

If you had ever had a close friend or family member hit by a red light runner, you would not think that this “rule” is particularly funny.

I am certain that you meant no harm in printing these. Keep the fun stuff coming, but just take a moment to think about the message of legality that may be coming with it.