In 1905, when James Hughes came out from New York
to visit his Aunt Maggie in San Francisco, he wasn't expecting
to be a part of an historical event. Shortly thereafter the
great quake of 1906 struck the City and armed with his little
blue notebook James kept a day-by-day diary of what was happening
in the City during the aftermath. He recorded facts that must
have been an absolute adventure for a young 15 year old boy;
Van Ness Blvd. being dynamited to stop the raging, out of control
fires and camping with his family in Golden Gate Park. Finally,
weary of the destruction that lay before them, the family boarded
a ferry to cross the bay, then traveled by train "to begin
their life here" in Sunol.
James finally returned to New York and on July 27, 1947 married
Grace Heath. Grace was born on October 27, 1905 in Chaumont,
NY. Grace had been previously married to Chester Lashway, who
fathered a son, Al Lashway. She worked as a clerk at McCarthy's
Cigar store, which was also a soda fountain and newspaper stand,
and then as a manager for 14 years at Traver's Cigar Store in
the Paddock Arcade in Watertown, NY. According to Grace's son,
Al, she was a "very hard worker, sometimes working 13 hours
a day for 6 days a week".
James Hughes was chief storekeeper at the Northern New York
Division of the New York Central Railroad and after 42 years
of service, retired on September 30, 1955. Two days later James
and Grace left Watertown bound for their Aunt Maggie's home
After the Hughes family moved from San Francisco, they acquired
a substantial amount of property in Sunol. Their first home,
which still stands on Main Street, was built in 1907. When James
and Grace arrived in Sunol they found their Aunt Maggie living
in a nursing home, but immediately brought her home to care
for her there. Aunt Maggie was very grateful to Grace for taking
good care of her in her last years of life and when she passed
away she left the property she owned in Sunol to Grace and James.
The current property consists of the main house, two smaller
cottages in the back, a tank house and an additional home that
was converted into a cafe. But Grace always said that Al owned
the front porch because whenever he visited her he would always
go and sit out there.
"She always liked people around her to talk with and talk
to and for years she went across the road at noontime to the
cafe when the girls owned it, Char and Lil. The place was always
packed so she would go over to help", said Al.
After James died on Oct. 4, 1966, Grace worked as a volunteer
at Valley Memorial Hospital for about 20 years, driving her
64' Ford every day but didn't get out much in her later years.
According to Al she just "loved for people to come sit
and talk to her".
Grace Hughes Kazel passed away on November 18, 2003, at the
age of 98 years old; her son Al and daughter-in law Helen of
Ukiah, a grandson and two great-grandsons survive her.