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Eats: 1975

Eats: 1975

Can it be that a mere 36 years ago it was still a world of neon signs, diners that offered "eats," public telephones and gigantic vinyl-roofed hardtops? It was on Water Street in Petaluma, California. Already those days were numbered. Beasley's, in the c.1850 Wickersham Building, had only 5 years to go before being replaced by a fancy Italian restaurant - at which I enjoyed many a zabaglione, it must be admitted. Water Street, formerly an access alley of tar, asphalt patches and plain old dirt, is now a cobbled promenade, though the now-unused railroad tracks are still there. The rest of the business district is populated by boutiques, wine shops, shabby-chic antique emporia, nail-, hair- and skin-care parlors and lots more upscale restaurants. Somehow it all makes me want to belly up to a counter for a burger and a shake. Car is a Ford LTD, film Kodacolor II, photographer me. View full size.

I have the original sign!

I stumbled across your picture posting in a search for the Beasley Eats history. I have had the original 2 sided neon sign for a few years now. I live in the Bay area. I was wondering if you or your family was interested in owning the sign again since it is a part of your family history.

[Fantastic! -tterrace]

Thanks for the post

Sorry to be late to the party, I just came across this by chance. I am the grandson of the former owner Jack Beasley. Most of my family worked in the restaurant, although before my time (I was born in '84). My mom actually curses losing her childhood to working so much in this place!

We chose to get rid of a lot of the things, like the jukebox, since we had no places for it and my mom remarked that it wasn't the "iconic" jukebox of the era since they had upgraded to that one at the restaurant. She mentioned they sorta regret the upgrade. I also remember growing up on our farm property with random signs from the restaurant and other memorabilia.

I really appreciate the post and it gave me fond memories of my grandfather. If any of you would like any more information just let me know.


Pictographic Content

"Beasley's Beasley eats public telephone" is the not so hidden message here.


Payphones aren't gone. Here in Hawaii, they're all over the place! In fact, I know of five just on my street alone.

LTD = Loves To Die (I'm not a Ford fan)

Another LTD fan!

Ahhh, the memories. We once bought a '72 LTD for a hundred bucks! Yep, you read that right. No, it wasn't a mess. We got it in 1986 and had it for several months until an old lady rear ended me at a stop light and totalled it. It was avocado green--icky color, great car. I got a '71 Tbird with a 429 and four-barrel carb after that.

As for the clothing shown? Hellll-o, pimp wear!

Tterrace, would you like to go with me for a quick bite to eat at this place? Looks like a lot of fun!

The great payphone difference

Payphones still exist in many parts of Canada not because people don't have cellphones but because some provinces have laws requiring that the local phone company continue providing them for public safety purposes. And in some provinces the provincial government still owns the local phone company!

tterrace's talent

I'm not one to fawn excessively over most things, but I never stop being amazed by the humanity of the photos submitted by "t". They all seem to coincide with moments in time with which most of us can easily relate. In this case, just last night we dined at a restaurant where we had to park in the back like this. Three kitchen workers were on their break sitting outside on the back steps in sweaty, sleeveless white t-shirts and aprons, obviously exhausted, drinking cold liquids and smoking, and my mental snapshot of that scenario was very similar to this behind-the-scenes glimpse into the workings of a restaurant. I have no doubt that tterrace is a "natural", a photographer who stirs emotions in most viewers and his pictures will live on as have those of the other greats on this wonderful website. Such a simple yet mind-stirring photo. I think "t" was born to take pictures and to share them. I certainly appreciate them and thank you.

Bars- on windows that is

Did Petaluma, California circa 1975 really need security bars on the windows? Or is this shot in So Central LA?

Yeah, I sure do want 1975

Hi Dave

I was there too and you're right about stagflation (remember that term) and Viet nam. We do seem to have a tendency to block out less wholesome bits when looking at this period through through the rose coloured lens of our nostalgia. But as a teen during that period, i can honestly say that the only complaint i have about the 70's are disco music and the fact that miniskirts were out of style at the time when i really would have appreciated them.

TTerrace. Once again, thanks so much. I look at your pictures, close my eyes and I'm there, the heat of the day beading my forehead with perspiration, but with the odd summer breeze providing a most welcome relief. My throat feels oddly constricted. I wonder why


I'm not that old!

Payphones haven't been gone all that long. I clearly remember late '97 to early '98 as the moment when every day laborer who cashed his paycheck at the Money Box suddenly had a prepaid cell phone. Payphones definitely hung on for a few years after that. The blue-and-white Bell sign has certainly been a collector's item for as long as I can remember, though.

We had a '70 LTD. Ours was a four-door, butter yellow. We had it until I was about ten. And I think of an "EATS" sign as something you see in a Popeye cartoon.


This may be a dumb comment, but I know I've seen plenty of Bell payphones around where I live - I'm from Canada, so maybe that makes a difference; also I'm only 19, so I don't know if payphones were somehow different back then...?

Anyway, cool photo, I also love the "Sanitary Lunch" sign!

Payphones lost and so forth

While it is true that Japanese cars eventually put most Detroit iron on the back lot for years, let's keep in mind that the wide open nature of America allowed a family of six to climb into their LTD/Caprice/Roadmaster and GO someplace. Maybe three or four hundreds miles -- easy like -- to see Grandma. Try that in a Datsun Fairlady/Toyopet/Honda 600. Also keep in mind that the Japanese learned a lot about mass auto production from Americans. And now here comes China.

Hygienic Eats

Here in Indiana, the town of Rossville has a place called Sanitary Lunch, which bears some resemblance to Beasley's.

Beasley's fixtures

Last year, a bunch of Beasley's fixtures, including the juke box system, went up for sale. The family had stored them away since closing. Read about it here. Also, I hasten to point out that this was the rear entrance. Haven't come across a picture of the front online yet, but this one already shows up in Google Images.

You want 1975?

About the 1970s, kids. I was there, and lived to tell about it. There was inflation, and there was Watergate. There was Vietnam. But worst of all, there was ... Polyester. Chest hair. Disco shoes!

75 LTD

My first car was a '75 LTD that was green. I called it the Tank. It was my grandparents' last car, and so had less than 30,000 miles on it when I got it as a senior in high school in 1986.

I loved that car. It had a 429 engine that could pass semis on hills. A top speed of around 120 mph. Lots of power.
Sometimes I wish I still had it. Oh well!

Hello, operator

Far more telling of how long ago 36 years really was, than the cars, or the neon, is the vintage Bell "Public Telephone" sign. The Bell System has been gone since 1984. And the pay phone? I still see its credit-card-reading descendants at odd places like international airports, but inside neighborhood eateries or at gas stations--nope.

You know that you are really, really old when you can remember the pay phone.

LTD flashback

When I was about 10 years old we had a 1970 Ford LTD we had bought from my grandparents. Same car as in the photo -- two-door, white vinyl hardtop, but in a nasty canary yellow color. However, it did have a honkin' Ford 429 engine under the hood and didn't let any grass grow under its tires. And each door weighed about the same as a Smart Car.

Unfortunately it only ran best on leaded gas, and when that fuel was done away with, the car never ran quite the same, so off to the used car lot. Thanks tterrace for the automotive memory.


Beasley's looks both intimidating and intriguing. I'd have to know what kind of "eats" they served before going in, though. I have a feeling they were limited on vegetarian options, although I'd be happy with a grilled cheese and an iced tea.

The loss of payphones and comfort food

I suppose gentrification is better than urban decay, but it is a shame to lose these little places where you could relax and enjoy "comfort foo.d" One thing I do not miss: those huge rust buckets shown in this photo. Compared to the Japanese cars that were overtaking Detroit, these "boats" were a sad reflection on American automotive engineering and manufacturing.

Great picture

I just love these Kodacolor/Kodachrome pictures. Brings back memories I can relate to. The cars are probably fence post now. Keep these pictures coming. Thank you.

Oh, the Memories.

Oh, TTerrace, I just love these pictures of my old stomping grounds. Beasley's used to supply the food to the Petaluma Police jail. Rumor has it that upstairs was the towns red light, er house of ill, er, well, you get the idea.

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