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Waterfront Newspapers: Part I … The Beginning

By Steefenie Wicks

From the mid 1970’s and well into the 1980’s when the Marin public was reading its newspapers, The Independent Journal, The Pacific Sun and the Marin Scope, there was a need on the Sausalito waterfront to have its own newspapers so that they could tell what was fact/rumor and what was fiction.   The Sausalito waterfront became the front page of many newspapers both local and national with its very public battle between developers and the waterfront community at the Waldo Point Harbor. Many residents of the waterfront community felt that the real story was not being told.  The real story that was being lived by the individuals and families of Waldo Point Harbor, who felt their existence was under attack by their own government.   Today we might call this group of waterfront residents the first to “Occupy” the waterfront.

Original and freethinking folks who tend to not play to the norm have always occupied the Sausalito waterfront.  This original thinking would lead to the birth of the first waterfront newspapers because the feeling was that the “straight” newspapers had no idea of what was happening and how it was turning into a political “hot bed”.   Enter the waterfront newspapers that were meant to serve only the residents who both lived and worked on the waterfront but somehow ended up on the dining room tables in homes on the hillside in Sausalito.  The small waterfront communities of Gate 6, Gate 5, Gate 3 and Galilee Harbor were to be the main recipients of this news that concerned them and their waterfront existence.   For it was during this time that the County found itself in an advocacy position against waterfront dwellers, believing them to be illegals and squatters inhabiting valuable space in this beautiful location.

The Garlic Press, Fresh Garlic, Knee Deep, Scuttlebutt, The Scuttlebutt Bulletin and the HARBORGRAM of Galilee Harbor, were the newspapers printed on the waterfront-by-waterfront residents and told carried the latest facts on the stories and rumors having to do with the political status of waterfront dwellers.

In 1977 the first issue of  ‘FRESH GARLIC’, was produced and its intended purpose was to serve the residents of Richardson’s Bay.  It sold for 10 cents a copy at the local Sausalito liquor store on Bridgeway.  Many waterfront residents felt that the new development plan of adding a new Pier that would house up to 150 new vessels would economically exclude them and their families.   The new plans for the area did not included a playground for the children.  The residents felt that the new developers saw no need to include children as part of the future of their project.

Many who wrote for the waterfront news papers felt that the waterfront was being was being fought over as if it were a favorite toy that was being sought after by County developers while the real residents were being evicted with no rights to appeal this movement.  The waterfront newspapers provided a format to talk back to the developers and the County government and make feeling known that all would not go quietly into the night.

Waterfront residents like Ale Ekstrom, who has lived in the anchorage for the pass 45 years, wrote many of the early articles that appeared in ‘FRESH GARLIC’.  Ale’s article, titled “Arrivals & Departures’ “ gives his insight into what was taking place.

The following is an excerpt from his article:

Arrivals & Departures At Waldo Point Harbor..

 “The week went by, the sounds of industry muted but prevalent.  Last Sunday was profaned by the continuing thump bump of maul and snarl of chainsaws carving the newest pier of green copper oxide treated wood spiked to creosote treated piles.  Someone must be anxious to finish the showpiece, but so far the link to the shore has been held back.  I suppose that last stage awaits the new iron barred and barbed wire gate, fashioned on special order by some delighted local blacksmith with lock and card coded key & alarm system.  Locked gates can stop traffic both ways.  Perhaps the new management will promise to prohibit dogs.  It’s not realistic to expect dog owners to be responsible.  Responsible government and responsible property management are supposed to be expected, but expecting one hand and “bleep” in the other; see which one fills up first.  Tumultuous behavior sure is tiring.  Summer soldiers throwing themselves into the ditch: I would have thought it more fun to pitch someone else into the ditch.  Everyone seems to be missing something, but none agree on what it is.  It it’s not too many dollars and not enough cents, it might be prayer and patience, less tiring than tumultuous behavior.  Repent or perish! How often is GOD on the wrong side?”

In conclusion it should be noted that Waldo Point Harbor is still in the process of development 34 years later.


Collage of early waterfront newspapers.

                                                Photo courtesy of Steefenie Wicks

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