Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Warmth Band and Mural at The Cooper House in Santa Cruz

The Cooper House in downtown Santa Cruz used to house shops and restaurants. In this picture, you can clearly see the Cooper House Sidewalk Cafe, with their house-band, "Warmth" playing with their mural in the background. The Mural of Warmth in the background was done by James McFarlin, which was unfortunately torn down and destroyed by later owners of the Cooper House and carted away to the dump.

The long-time leader of the iconic Santa Cruz jazz Band was Don McCaslin, always at the keyboards, and his son, Donny McCaslin sometimes sitting in as a young sax player. Donny McCaslin has continued in his career, and now has a number of Jazz music CD albums out!

The Cooper House was damaged in the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake, and torn down shortly thereafter.

The classic 1970s summer afternoon was spent hanging out at The Cooper House, or nearby on a bench under a tree, listening to the jazz music of Warmth drifting through the air. Band Members of Warmth included Jim Baum, Don McCaslin, Wayne Goodwin, Franco, Wesley Braxton, and many others that came and went in a hang-loose style. Don McCaslin started playing at the Cooper House on a daily basis, starting in 1972. His legendary upbeat, Latin-tinged jazz vibes filled the air of the Cooper House sidewalk café all the way up to 1989, when the Cooper House was torn down.

Warmth was the heartbeat of downtown Santa Cruz from 1972 to 1989.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Hocus Pocus, The Santa Cruz Clown

Santa Cruz was home to the famous clown, Hocus Pocus, played by Denmark native Carl Hansen. Carl also played Santa Claus at Santa's Village park in Scotts Valley for five years before leaving for television to become the clown Hocus Pocus.

My memories of Hocus Pocus are from two separate events: the first was being in the studio audience of the Hocus Pocus show at the Group W building on Soquel Drive. Hocus Pocus asked people what they wanted to be when the grew up, and when he came to me, I said, "I want to be a captain" -- meaning a miltary officer (I guess), but he took it to mean the captain of a ship and I went along with it and nodded.

The second event was the annual Santa Cruz Halloween Parade from Branciforte Elementary school to Gault School. I was in the Branciforte Jr. High School marching band, and Hocus Pocus was one of the local Santa Cruz celebrities featured in the parade. He sat in a cool old car from the 1950s, and waved to the crowd as we marched in front of him.

Carl's wife, Florene Hansen, crafted all of his clown costumes that he used on the Hocus Pocus children's TV show, which aired on KNTV Channel 11 in Santa Cruz, from 1961 through 1971. Carl was a magician clown, with a number of magic tricks in his repertoire. He was born in 1904, and passed away in 1998 -- his obituary was published in The San Jose Mercury News.