The Bohemian Club of Crockett


I am a Journalist. I own my own newspaper that is registered in Lane County. The Bohemian Club of San Francisco was founded by Journalists who soon admitted Artists. I am also an Artist and Poet. I am not famous. To be famous, or, become famous, defeats the idea of being a Bohemian – a True Bohemian! For this reason, on this day, May 24, 2016, I found the Bohemian Club of Crockett California, the BCCC. Soon I will make available Certificates of Bohemian Authenticity, and present them to those who pass the test. This will include a portrait and brief biography.

It is my intent to move to Crockett and set up Royal Rosamond Press in a Gallery and History Room. In 1980, Mary Ann Tharaldsen, the sister-in-law of Christine Rosamond Benton,  and I, looked at the old Crockett Bakery as the potential site for an Art Gallery with studio space for artists. I predicted this city would become the new Bohemian Colony. Hence, it has become an Art Colony. I will be the Curator of this Gallery-Museum, and Caretaker of my creative family history, as well as the history of Crockett. I will stroll about my Art Colony as Captain Gregory. Gregory is my full middle name. I will get the latest scoop.  I will be the premiere Crockett character. I will make a Virtual Crockett and promote this town and my newspaper. My biography is now on hold. Our Bohemian Tales are too big to be confined to a book.

Here is a photograph of the house my father’s father, Hugo Victor Presco, was living in when my father, Victor William Presco, was born. For awhile, my grandfather lived in San Francisco and was a business partner of his brother, Oscar. They remodeled houses and built cabinets. Hugo is listed as a house painter on Vic’s birth certificate. Rosemary told me, after the brothers went their own way, Hugo ended up living in a tar paper shack under the Carquiniz Bridge  in Crockett, where Hugo made a living gambling. I had a talk with the old curator of the Crockett Museum who knew my grandfather. He told me he was one hell of a nice guy. Rosemary said 5,000 people came to his funeral, including the Mayor of San Francisco. The curator told me there were scores of gambling joints and whore houses. This is the City of the Golden Setting Sun. Hugo also gambled in the Barbary Coast in San Francisco.

When Vic was delivering produce to Crockett one day, he took his two sons down to the wharf to meet his father who lived in a houseboat. When Hugo answered the door, in a gruff voice my father introduced his sons to the man who had abandoned him, and walked away, we never to see this man again.

Rosemary told me Vic took the money Hugo’s friends had given him to buy a headstone and got drunk. What he did with the body, is a mystery. I would not put it past my father to have weighted his father down with rusty chains and dumped him in the bay. Captain Vic never paid a Vet bill if he could help it.

Victor’s father, Wensel Anton Prescowitz, came from Bohemia Germany. My father’s lineage is true Bohemian that took root in the city by the bay that would become world famous for its Bohemian flavor. The name Victor Hugo suggests Wensel was an intellectual. His history blends with that of Jessie Benton, Bret Harte, Jack London, George Sterling, and Joaquin Miller who established Oakland, Carmel, San Francisco, as Bohemian Meccas. Add Crockett to this list.

Captain Gregory

President: Royal Rosamond Press

Copyright 2016

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Wensel Braskewitz

 Born in Bohemia on 1851. Wensel married Christine Marie Roth and had 3 children. He passed away on 1921.


Wensel Braskewitz

Born in Bohemia on 1851. Wensel married Christine Marie Roth and had 3 children. He passed away on 1921.

Gregory Roth

Born on 1824. Gregory married Kristine Krause and had a child. He passed away on 1894.

The Bohemian Club was originally formed in April 1872 by and for journalists who wished to promote a fraternal connection among men who enjoyed the artsMichael Henry de Young, proprietor of the San Francisco Chronicle, provided this description of its formation in a 1915 interview:

The Bohemian Club was organized in the Chronicle office by Tommy Newcombe, Sutherland, Dan O’Connell, Harry Dam and others who were members of the staff. The boys wanted a place where they could get together after work, and they took a room on Sacramento street below Kearny. That was the start of the Bohemian Club, and it was not an unmixed blessing for the Chronicle because the boys would go there sometimes when they should have reported at the office. Very often when Dan O’Connell sat down to a good dinner there he would forget that he had a pocketful of notes for an important story.[6]

Journalists were to be regular members; artists and musicians were to be honorary members.[7] The group quickly relaxed its rules for membership to permit some people to join who had little artistic talent, but enjoyed the arts and had greater financial resources. Eventually, the original “bohemian” members were in the minority and the wealthy and powerful controlled the club.[8][9] Club members who were established and successful, respectable family men, defined for themselves their own form of bohemianism which included men who were bons vivants, sometime outdoorsmen, and appreciators of the arts.[5] Club member and poet George Sterlingresponded to this redefinition:

Small and seemingly timeless, Crockett has a thriving artist community, is rich in early California history, and is surrounded by thousands of acres of scenic parkland. Yet, it has managed to remain a secret in the bustling Bay Area.

According to Rita Szeto, who recently moved to Crockett, the town’s 3,100 residents move at their own pace, and nobody is in such a hurry they can’t stop and chat for a little while.

“Even the pumps at the local gas station are the slowest ever,” she said. “One day, I asked the attendant why, and she just shrugged and said, ‘This is Crockett.’ “

“It’s very picturesque here, but more importantly it’s affordable, and that’s always important to artists,” she said.

Over the years, the presence of artists has resulted in a number of galleries, photography studios and woodworking shops concentrated on Pomona Street, the town’s main drag.

A good place to begin a gallery-and-shop tour is the three-story Epperson Building, a former car dealership that now houses the Epperson Gallery, a gift shop and showcase for regional painters, sculptors and potters. The Nash Gallery specializes in custom framing and the Peel Edgerton Gallery features fine sliver jewelry and American Indian art.

Farther down the street is the 1314 = 9 photography studio that specializes is photos of Crockett, and next door is solYluna, a gift shop that features authentic folk art from Mexico and South America.

The Valona Market and Deli, besides serving a good breakfast and excellent sandwiches, acts as an unofficial community center and performance space. Every Sunday evening, the deli transforms into a jazz club and patrons nosh on sandwiches and sip wine while listening to local musicians.

Sterling became a significant figure in Bohemian literary circles in northern California in the first quarter of the 20th century, and in the development of the artists’ colony in Carmel. He was mentored by a much older Ambrose Bierce, and became close friends with Jack London and Clark Ashton Smith, and later mentor to Robinson Jeffers. He is depicted twice in Jack London’s novels: as Russ Brissenden in the autobiographical Martin Eden (1909) and as Mark Hall in The Valley of the Moon(1913). His association with Charles Rollo Peters may have led to his move to Carmel. The hamlet had been discovered by Charles Warren Stoddard and others, but Sterling made it world famous. His aunt Missus Havens purchased a home for him in Carmel Pines where he lived for six years.

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Sterling, posing with caricatures of himself at the Bohemian Grove, 1907

George Sterling posed for an illustration by Adelaide Hanscom Leeson which appeared in a printing of the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam.

Kevin Starr (1973) wrote:

“The uncrowned King of Bohemia (so his friends called him), Sterling had been at the center of every artistic circle in the San Francisco Bay Area. Celebrated as the embodiment of the local artistic scene, though forgotten today, Sterling had in his lifetime been linked with the immortals, his name carved on the walls of the Panama-Pacific International Exposition next to the great poets of the past.”
The Carmel Bohemians
by Stephen LindsleyIt was mid-November, and after a week of perfect weather in Carmel the fog had rolled in to stay. Cold and moisture hung in the air, turning midday into a protracted dusk. Nora May French sat alone on the front porch of George Sterling’s bungalow, listening to the ocean. All she could see through the pine trees between the house and the beach was a few pearly sparkles of water, but the sound of the waves rolling onto the shore, now soft, now booming, was strong and constant.It had been a glorious summer in the little village of Carmel-by-the-Sea in the year of 1907. Yet, only the year before the great San Francisco earthquake had brought tragedy into the lives of thousands. George Sterling was the first poet laureate of San Francisco, a dominant literary figure whose close friend Jack London called him “the Greek.” Sterling was at the center of a small group of artists and writers who frequented the Bohemian Club and trendy cafés such as Coppa’s, exchanging ideas and planning periodic dramatic works and “High Jinks.”When the earthquake struck many of their favorite haunts crumbled and burned. Sterling and his wife had built a cottage in Carmel the year before. Now they were trying to convince friends to abandon the city and forge a rustic community among the cypress trees and eucalyptus groves. Nora May had been among those who accepted. She came not as a wife or a lover, but as a literary peer to these Homeric poets and artists, the last of the classical romantics.At night they gathered on the beach in small groups, roasting abalone and mussels over driftwood fires, drinking wine and singing songs. They could not help but be inspired by the pure spectacle of their surroundings – a place where the perfect commixture of elements reveals nature’s full dynamic grace. Grand romantic epic poems were dreamed in their entirety in those evenings on the beach, and other kinds of romance blossomed as well.The romantic life had been a blessing and a curse for Nora French. She was young and lovely, with a strong nose, piercing blue eyes and wispy blonde hair that seemed to glitter with moonlight, even in the daytime. She loved horses, walking on the beach and strolling the needle-strewn paths that threaded Carmel’s old pine forest. Her poetry reflected her coastal life, but also betrayed a melancholy that few recognized as portentous. She had followed her star where it would take her, and by the time she arrived in Carmel by way of San Francisco, Los Angeles and originally Albany, New York, she had already loved and lost more than once, and seen much that the world could offer. And now she was deeply in love once more, but she knew the man she loved thought of her only as a friend and nothing more. At the age of just 27 years she had the sense that her life was already behind her.She had carried the cyanide with her for some time. Sterling and several of his close friends all had identical vials they carried in little envelopes marked, “Peace.” It sharpened Nora’s senses to know that death was just an impulse away, though she had already seen death in many forms, from the devastation in San Francisco to the termination of her unborn child. In her life and in her writings she celebrated art, drama, literature, the beauty of the land and sea, the wonder of life and the mystery of death. Her poems had been published alongside those of the best of her age, and she had eaten, drunk and slept among many of them.But this afternoon she was wistful. The melancholy had seeped back into her mind, propelled by the fog that had shrouded the Carmel River valley. It left her strangely calm. She had done nothing half way. Her life had been lived to a romantic ideal that could not be matched with words on paper. And now, with love lost once more, Nora May had come to a moment of peace. She knew that at this moment, sitting alone on the edge of the continent in the most beautiful, magical spot imaginable, she was as happy as she was ever likely to be.Ten minutes later she was dead.When they gathered at Point Lobos to scatter her ashes into the sea, emotions ran high. This small group of men had lived their lives by the example of the gods of Olympus. Yet they seemed to have forgotten how much tragedy and destruction the Olympians wrought. They called her “sister,” but failed to treat her as one. Through their hubris and narcissism these men had calmly condemned this young beauty, and also themselves, to a terrible fate. The cries of the seagulls and the sound of waves crashing on rocks below swept past them as they faced the cold November wind. There were sharp words of contention, and a scuffle broke out among them. Nora May’s dust returned to the world in a moment of passion. Her influence remained strong, even then.Caroline Sterling endured her husband’s philandering for another 10 years, and then she left him for good. Soon after, she followed the tragic example of the woman she had most admired and reviled. She was the next one to open her envelope.Eventually George Sterling returned to San Francisco permanently, where the Bohemian Club became his only residence as the years wore on. He continued to publish his writings and the work of others, mostly without notice. By November 1926, when Sterling was to host a dinner at the club for noted author H.L. Mencken, the measured life of the businessman had long supplanted Sterling’s former bacchanalian ethos. In the process he had become marginalized, while more modern authors such as Mencken garnered the favorable reviews.The night of the party Mencken was late in arriving, so Sterling retreated upstairs to his rooms alone. He poured himself a glass of brandy and paced back and forth, thinking back on his career, the life he had led and the people he had known. In a crystalline vision he saw what lay before him – a slow descent into obscurity and death. His hand reached into his pocket to touch the small envelope, now worn with age. The word “Peace” was faded but still legible. Those best acquainted with him knew it was only a matter of the right moment for him to make use of it. They wondered why he had waited so long. His wife and former lovers were now a faded memory, and most of his closest friends had followed them beyond the pall. Ambrose Bierce had drifted alone into Mexico in 1913, perhaps to join the Zapata revolutionaries, but never to be seen or heard from again. Jack London had died a painful death a decade ago at the age of 40; the victim of a life lived in utter disregard for any of his body’s needs, save the most superficial and carnal ones. And Nora May French had shattered her own fragile beauty so many years before, while drawing a fey vapor down upon her entire generation as her light expired.At long last the moment was right. The time had come. Suddenly the brandy tasted sharply of almonds as Sterling sat back in his favorite chair.For a scant few days thereafter, George Sterling was once again foremost in the minds of the San Francisco literati. And as a result, perhaps for the last time, the name Nora May French was once again briefly upon the lips of those few who knew her and cared to remember.

A report on an exploration of the country lying between the Missouri River and the Rocky Mountains, on the line of the Kansas and Great Platte rivers [1842].- Catalogue of plants collected by Lieut. Fr{acute}emont in his expedition to the Rocky Mountains. By John Torrey.- A report of the exploring expedition to Oregon and north California, in the years 1843-’44.- App. A. Nature of the geological formations occupying the portion of Oregon and north California included in a geographical survey under the direction of Capt. Fr{acute}emont; by James Hall.- App. B. Descriptions of organic remains collected by Capt. J. C. Fr{acute}emont, in the geographical survey of Oregon and north California; by James Hall.- App. C. Description of some new genera and species of plants, collected in Capt. J. C. Fr{acute}emont’s exploring expeditions to Oregon and north California, in the years 1843-’44; by John Torrey and J. C. Fr{acute}emont.- Astronomical observations made during the expedition of 1843-’44.- Meteorological observations made during the expedition of 1843-’44. Astronomical observations made during the expedition to the Rocky Mountains in the year 1843.- Meteorological observations [1842]

John C. Frémont’s official report on the 1842 expedition he led to the Rocky Mountains reads like a great adventure story. Frémont’s father-in-law, Thomas Hart Benton, a powerful senator from Missouri and strong proponent of western expansion, was a major supporter of the expedition, whose purpose was to survey and map the Oregon Trail to the Rocky Mountains. The senator hoped it would encourage Americans to emigrate and develop commerce along the western trails.

The party that included some twenty Creole and Canadian voyageurs and the legendary Kit Carson, started out just west of the Missouri border, crossed the present-day states of Kansas, Nebraska, and Wyoming, and ascended what the men believed to be the highest peak in the Wind River region of the Rockies. Frémont’s report provided practical information about the geology, botany, and climate of the West that guided future emigrants along the Oregon Trail; it shattered the misconception of the West as the Great American Desert.

Upon his return home to Washington, DC, Frémont dictated much of the report to his wife, Jessie Benton Frémont, a gifted writer. “The horseback life, the sleep in the open air,” she later recalled, “had unfitted Mr. Frémont for the indoor work of writing,” and so she helped him. Distilled from Frémont’s notes and filtered through the artistic sensibilities of his wife, the report is a practical guide, infused with the romance of the western trail.

The Seacoast of Bohemia, Carmel, California

In 1869, he became good friends with travel writer Theresa Yelverton.[5]

In 1873 he started on a long tour as special correspondent of the San Francisco Chronicle. His roving commission carried no restrictions of any kind. For five years he traveled through Europe and went as far east as Palestine and Egypt. He sent considerable material to his newspaper, much of which it never printed, though some of it was among his best work.

Around 1880, Stoddard served co-editor of the Overland Monthly with Bret Harte and Ina Coolbrith.

Stoddard was homosexual.[9] He praised the South Sea folks’ receptiveness to homosexual liaisons and lived in relationships with men.

From San Francisco, late in 1866, Stoddard sent his newly published Poems to Herman Melville, along with news that in Hawaii he had found no traces of Melville. Having written even more fervently to Walt Whitman, Stoddard had been excited by Typee, finding the Kory-Kory character so stimulating that he wrote a story celebrating the sort of male friendships to which Melville had more than once alluded. From the poems Stoddard sent, Melville may have sensed no homosexual undercurrent, and the extant draft of his reply in January 1867 is noncommittal.

About Royal Rosamond Press

I am an artist, a writer, and a theologian.
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1 Response to The Bohemian Club of Crockett

  1. Reblogged this on rosamondpress and commented:

    The stem of my Bohemian Rose was severed, and I was spliced to God and the Creation.

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