The center photograph above is a typical view of hillsides that frame the Petaluma valley and some of the surrounding rural ranches as it looked in the 1960s. This is where I was born, raised and where many of my early adventures took place. You might enter the valley from the south, via a wide slot cut by the Petaluma River.
To the northeast, the valley is framed by the Sonoma mountains which provides residents with a constant view of the high ranches and grazing fields. Not far to Petaluma’s southwest are the similar mountains of Marin County and the common passage through the valley is via Highway 101 which enters at the river, becomes the dividing line between west and east Petaluma, then exits to the north via an uphill slope known as the Cotati grade.
The valley is literally peppered with dreamy ancient oak trees – begging for a company of young climbers and our steep slopes designed by God himself for box sliding when the grass dried each summer.
To the far right is a vintage photo of the large department store that used to be the prime source for clothing and home goods in the 50’s, 60’s and early 70’s. My mom for much of my childhood was the Assistant Manager of the store and in that role guided much of what happened at the store.
Petaluma is growing, carefully, while trying to protect its environment and lifestyle and while it is getting crowded, there are still adventures to be had for those rowdy young boys and hearty girls who want to find them.