Wednesday, Jul. 17, 2019

Memories of a Picnic with Rose Verrall

By Laurie Thompson · August 09, 2018

Rose Verrall on the cover of the Marin Magazine section of the Marin I.J., Jan. 26, 1957 <span>&copy; Marin I.J. </span>

Rose Verrall on the cover of the Marin Magazine section of the Marin I.J., Jan. 26, 1957

Rose Verrall at her place in Tiburon, Jan. 26, 1957 <span>&copy; Marin I.J. </span>

Several months ago, I had the pleasure of meeting Sylvia Thoelecke who grew up in Corte Madera and recounted what life was like in Marin during the 1930s and 40s.

Sylvia also compiled some of her memories for her grandchildren and was kind enough to share them with us. One memory –that evokes summer days of yore- recalls a picnic with Rose Verrall, at Rose’s place on the Tiburon Peninsula:

“The family knew Rose from childhood. They had spent many summers vacationing at the Reed Ranch and had remained friends through the years. We went to Rose’s many times for picnics; to play on the beach; to play with her goats and other animals….”

“I remember a friend of Uncle Mario coming to pick us up in his big car. It was black with a folding roof (an early convertible!) and there was a large trunk strapped to the back. I remember Dad putting the picnic things in this trunk – one was a large pot of potato salad my mother had made. We cousins had a great time playing on the beach; swimming in the shallow Bay water; running all over the place. A huge table of planks and sawhorses was set up under the trees for the feast. Afterwards, in the evening, seated around a bonfire telling stories and singing – I remember leaning against my Dad’s knee and watching the moon over the Bay and thinking it the most beautiful night I’d ever seen….”

“We went to Rose’s many times as we grew up until the war when people didn’t get out as often because of gas rationing…. The last time I went there before Rose died was when my own two boys were little and I drove over one day. She was quite old then and I don’t know if she really understood who I was, but she let the boys roam and they were fascinated with her goats.”

Rose Rodrigues da Fonta Verrall (1883-1964), of Azorean-Portuguese descent (& later known as the Goat Lady, for her large herd of goats), grew up on the Reed Ranch where her parents were tenant farmers. Before John Paul Reed died in 1919, he deeded parcels of land to Rose and to other long-time tenants of the Reed Ranch.

Rose lived on her ten-acre parcel on the Tiburon Peninsula her entire life. In 1957, she was inspired by conservationists Caroline Livermore & Elizabeth Terwilliger to donate her valuable acreage to the Marin Conservation League. The parcel was later transferred to the Audubon Society to become the headquarters for the Richardson Bay Wildlife Sanctuary

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