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One reason Think in the Morning exists is to catalogue our memories and the memories of others about the Sea Gull Restaurant and Cellar Bar of Mendocino. This is a very personal endeavor as the Sea Gull played such an important role in our lives. It is gratifying to know that the restaurant played an important role in the lives of our many friends, customers and crew as well.
Recently we discovered a small cache of letters that we tucked away at the time of the fire. Many letters have been lost over the years and we were happy that these few survived. [Some letters to the editor and verbal recollections were collected in The Sea Gull Saga I and The Sea Gull Saga II.]
We have transcribed a few letters for your amusement, to jog your memory about times past, and to confirm what we hope you already know—that the best and brightest parts of the human spirit survive even in the worst and darkest of times.
The Conkey Family
Dear Mr. Jones:
We have just read of the fire that destroyed the “Seagull” in this morning’s California Living Section of the “Chronicle”.
I teach at Western Nevada Community College and when I take my Ecology class to the California coast for field trips I make it a point to have breakfast or other meals at the “Seagull”. As you can see from the letters enclosed from my children, the “Seagull” has meant a lot to us.
I hope that another “Seagull” is in the planning stages, we will miss the old one, and where will the regular patrons from the local area now go; where will those of us that have been able to share a little of Mendocino go?
Dear Mr. Jones,
Hi, How are you? My name is Karen Conkey. I’m from Reno, Nevada. My dad is a science teacher and when he took his class down to Mendocino for breakfast I can remember all of the old seamen stuff. Know its my favorite restaurant and I hope you will rebuild the Sea Gull II.
Dear Mr. Jones,
My name is Mary M. Conkey. What happened to the Sea Gull really made me feel unhappy. I wish that you could rebuild it because I would really miss it if you couldn’t. It was a very nice restaurant.
Mary M. Conkey
Dear Mr. Jones,
My name is Jayna Conkey and I live in Reno, Nevada. I heard about the Sea Gull burning down and I really hope that you will rebuild it because it is my very favorite restaurant. My dad took us to Mendocino five years ago and that was the first time that I had been in it. We all loved every bit of it.
Dear Mr. and Ms. Jones,
We cannot imagine Mendocino without the Seagull Inn and are pleased and relieved to hear from friends in the area that you are planning to rebuild. Please accept the enclosed which is intended to help in some small way. You have all of our best wishes, because your Inn has been an important part of our lives.
Very Truly Yours,
Risa and Bruce Nye, Albany, California
Dear David and Cathy,
Over the past 9 years the Sea Gull has made a real contribution to our lives. Thus we wish to make this small contribution to yours.
While we haven’t stayed at the Sea Gull in 4 or 5 years (we always bring our dog) we have many happy memories of cozy accommodations and never do we venture up there without at least one Seagull cheeseburger and slice of apple pie. You have carried on the tradition of the Halls. Thus we were dismayed to read in the Beacon of the fire just before we left San Francisco.
We were married in 1966 in the Haight Ashbury and it wasn’t until Christmas of 1967 that we could afford a honeymoon. I was teaching in Willits that year and Lynn was recovering from having both his legs broken by a passing motorist. We spend 3 days and 2 nights in Mendocino and on Christmas Eve went to the Sea Gull for dinner. We were the last patrons in the restaurant I guess—at least we were the only two—and it was cold and blustery outside. The Halls served us the two biggest steaks and baked potatoes I’ve ever seen and their calico cat (who had sneaked in the back door) cuddled by my feet & politely munched steak scraps. We felt like lords having the steak, the cat, the service and the antiques to ourselves.
We had lunch in the Sea Gull when we stayed in Little River in June for our 10thanniversary and enjoyed the good meal & happy memories.
Please accept this check with our love and thanks.
Lynn and Jill Willis
Dear Mr. Jones,
God’s love is pouring out on you right now. This statement must seem to you a bad joke at a sad time like this. What sorrow you must be feeling now. Jesus has touched my heard and it cries with compassion on what you must be going through right now. I want to share with ou a devotion that I pray will help [Long Devotion follows, not copied] … When I heard on the radio about your restaurant burning down, God’s love just filled me for you and witnessed to me the many blessings that will come of this if you will only ask God to reveal them to you. God has blessed me through your tragedy and I don’t even know you. If God can do this for me being so removed from your situation, I know how mchj He can bless you since you are directly involved. I would like to share with you my small blessing in hopes that it would help uplift you. I am a person with DEEP roots in my home (meaning house, land, church, friends, town). I feel secure and safe. For the last five months everything has been turned upside down and it looks like we will lose everything, but since I’m still here I’m hanging onto everything with my heart and not giving it up to God. That fire (because we loved your restaurant and took all our out of town guests there—and how they raved) made me realize how everything in this world is so temporary. Like the devotional says, only the Lord is unchangeable. We should keep our eyes on Him. So I thank Him for the blessing coming from the ire to help me give up what I have and if we end up moving to look for the blessings H has in store for me. I knew this teaching already, but now I know it with my heart !
May Jesus bless you with His perfect Love,
Mrs. Janet Wright
We are all behind you for a new Seagull (you have the sign, at least !) so we hope you plan to rebuild. I want you to have one of my paintings for décor in the new building; or, if you prefer, you may have it earlier to sell. The choice is yours. I shall be in Mendocino Jan 24-28 and again March 29-Apr 1. So we can confer on your choice at that time. You can leave a message at the Art Center or I’ll contact you.
All good wishes, Hilda Pertha
Dear David Jones,
Although I have lived in Mendocino for two years now I have not had the pleasure of meeting you. Your tragic disaster prompts me to write anyway. The integrsity of your operation comes through in your consistency and the warm atmosphere which permeated the Seagull. It was like a club, an easy gathering place for the people of Mendocino; one that I sincerely hope you will see your way through to replace. In some small way I would like to offer my service to that end by donating a stained glass window to your specifications for a new Seagull. Max Salkin is a part time assistant to me as he was to you. I hope he thinks as highly of me as he does you. His sense of loss is tremendous.
After the fire we received many donations of labor, money, and help in various forms for which we will always be grateful. These few letters are only a small sample of the support we received but they do help explain why I am generally an optimist in spite of the many good reasons not to be. I like people and while I have been disappointed at times I have more often been rewarded. I try to remember William Blake’s Proverbs of Hell: A fool sees not the same tree that a wise man sees. He whose face gives no light, shall never become a star.