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Holidays at the Barracks

My earliest childhood memories of holidays in Sonoma were centered in the Sonoma Barracks, which was the home of my grand-aunt and uncle, Celeste and Walter Murphy, until their passing in 1962.

Aunt Celie was the editor and publisher of the Index-Tribune until her retirement in 1949. Both she and my uncle Walter were great collectors of antiques, old paintings and historical artifacts. Their home on the second floor of the barracks was a virtual museum.

It was in my aunt’s dining room that our family spent many Thanksgiving and Christmas Eve dinners. Everyone dressed up, and I was expected to be on my best behavior because my mom worried I’d break something.

Guests at these holiday gatherings included R.R. “Dal” Emparan, grandson of Gen. Vallejo; Henri Maysonnave, whose Maysonnave house is now home to the Sonoma League for Historic Preservation, and Jerry Casson, the primary founder of Vintage House senior center.

I was way too young to remember, but I understand that Gen. Hap Arnold and his wife Eleanor (Bea) were also guests for some of these holiday dinners, as was Louisa Emparan, Gen. Vallejo’s last surviving daughter.

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