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Ask a Townie

Jenna Scatena | September 29, 2014 | Story California Destinations

READ MORE: Tiny Towns

Martin Seiler, Marshall
Shellfish shucker, Tomales Bay Oyster Company

What’s the scariest animal lurking in Tomales Bay?
A lot of huge bat rays and leopard sharks...I’ve heard stories of great whites sneaking in, but that may just be a fisherman’s tale.

What’s a misconception about your job?
That we’re harming the bay. We’re stewards of the bay; it’s in our best interest to take care of it.

Where do the local fishermen hang out?
You can count on seeing the locals talking over shrimp cocktails at Tony’s, an old seafood shack on the water.

How does Marshall compare to the other Tomales Bay towns?
We’re on the warm side. When Inverness is cold and shady, we have the sun.

Liz Smothers, Julian
The pie queen, Julian Pie Company

Where did you learn to make pie?
In my mother’s kitchen as a little girl, making small jar-top pies. I opened up myshop on the end of town in 1986. Now my two sons work for me.

What local gem do visitors often miss?
The Julian Pioneer Cemetery. It’s really spooky, with craggy tombstones from the 1800s that overlook the downtown.

Where’s the best place to get a drink around here?
Oh dear, no. We go cider sipping or apple pie hopping. Or shopping from one specialty foods store to the next. That’s our pastime.

Joe Koches, Ferndale
Fire and iron slayer, the Blacksmith Shop

What’s Ferndale got over a place like San Francisco?
We get to know our neighbors here, even the assholes. That’s more than you city folk can say. Plus, we’re small enough to get shit done without a protest or corruption.

Is blacksmithing obsolete?
Hell, no. We make all the tools for the other trades— the wood shapers, stone carvers, everything. Blacksmiths are at the center of all the world’s crafts. They wouldn’t exist without us.

How can I fit in with the locals?
Go to Poppa Joe’s for breakfast. It’s where all the farmers and merchants go for greasy bacon and eggs. Or dinner at Curly’s—I love that guy.

Dave Baird (aka Dirty Dave Skoalfield), Pioneertown
Gunslinger, Gunfighters for Hire

What’s your weapon of choice?
A 12-gauge shotgun loaded with blanks and a stick of fake dynamite.

So you’re not a real gunslinger?
We’re mostly retired law enforcement and military folk who perform Western shoot-’em-up reenactments.

Why do this?
As a tribute to the town’s origin as an Wild West Hollywood film set—it was established in the ’40s for that reason alone. And to keep Pioneertown on the map: Not to blow our own horn, but we’re one of the town’s main attractions.

Chuck Brown, Nevada City
Guitar wielder

What instrument would Nevada City be?
A vintage acoustic guitar with an effects pedal, because the historic is featured, but in a fresh way.

Originally published in the October issue of San Francisco

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