May 27, 2018
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The 100 years celebration at 85 La Plaza

By: Irene Hilsendager
February 23, 2018

The old and beautiful building was built in 1910 as a clubhouse. Through the years it held many different venues. This was a center of social, political, spiritual and musical life for the people of Sonoma County.

At one time it was known as the Cotati Cabaret and was the club for famous and soon to be famous singers and bands. Many couples spoke of meeting their “soon-to-be’s.” Bob and Alice Larsen were such a couple and many laughs came from the crowd as Bob spoke about meeting Alice and taking her home that night and as Bob mentioned it has been 56 ½ years later and still together with a happy life on the Larsen ranch. 

Bruce and Helene Norwitt also met at the cabaret 22 years ago. Even RP Councilman Jake McKenzie announced that he had met Barbara 25 years ago at a dance held at the cabaret.

Susan Comstock Swingtet performed music that started in 1938 and went on to the 1968s. Everybody was tapping their toes and many couples were seen on the dance floor. 

Marie McNaughton told the history of Cotati’s Women’s Club. Every so often you could hear gasps from the audience as little snippets were being told and either they had faded from memory or it was all new history. 

Frank Hayhurst from Zone Music was a hoot. He brought back memories of going to SSU and starting his own band and playing for crowds in the La Plaza Park until the heavy handed law of Cotati told him to move on. Frank kept the crowd in stitches with his little antidotes and old tunes. 

The afternoon wound down with the musical performance of Laurie Le’ah Lippin, Susan Comstock and Lorenzo Valensi. Rabbi Irwin Keller from Ner Shalom along with the Team Torah led a presentation of the Torah scroll to the front of the building. Rabbi Irwin and his team sang or read some of the Torah. All in all a very pleasant and historical afternoon for the little price of $10 for lunch and entertainment!

Irene Hilsendager’s column each week touches on moments in the history of Cotati, Rohnert Park and Penngrove.