Why not start with the facts:

local-history-01Here is a bit of history to enjoy from Castella and to add a bit more – our very own cottages were also a favorite stay for JFK, an unknown fact to many, resulting from long ties with Castella to President Hoover and William Randolph Hearst. Current owners Brian Theriot and his wife Melissa Crow-Theriot enjoy decades of presence in Castella with Brian’s grandfather and grandmother moving to Castella in the 60’s to become town leaders and beloved friends to all of Castella’s legends and tales.

The upper Sacramento River Canyon found itself a new industry with the establishment of prohibition in 1920, The manufacturing of illegal alcohol. Castella, California became the center of the alcohol business in Northern California. The still operators would pool all their alcohol and then hire a person to haul the load of illegal alcohol to the Sacramento Valley and other large cities to the south.

The Volsteads Enforcement Act did little to reduce the amount of alcohol consumed in the local area. The men in Castella were made up of miners, mill workers lumberjacks and railroad workers, who all had the reputation of being hard drinkers.

local-history-02The alcohol manufacturing stills and bootleggers over the next ten years showed up on almost every creek, spring or water ditches. Most of the alcohol manufactured from a still had names like, Jackass Brandy, Bathtub Gin, or Rot Gut. Jackass brandy was distilled from fruit juices, sugar and wheat, Bathtub Gin was made from high grade alcohol. Gin sold for $2.00 a fifth, Brandy sold for $6.00 and all kinds of wine for $3.50 per gallon.

The saloons all over the upper Sacramento Canyon continued to operate on a regular basis despite prohibition, and by the repeal of 1933 every saloon and tavern owners had been arrested numerous times.

The old timers say the enforcement was by two different authorities during the 1920’s. Shasta County Sheriff’s deputies would make raids in the county, while the District Attorney’s office had a dry squad of its own. An agreement was made with the sheriff officers so that they seldom raided the stills or saloons, but the District Attorney Jesse Carter’s officers conducted their raids on a regular basis.

Then in 1923 Mike Padlua’s Shasta View Hotel was the site of a shotgun shooting, in which a patron was killed and a federal officer wounded. The Federal Offices increased the raids on the stills and saloons forcing the bootleggers to pack up and move deeper into the woods or close down. The arrests at the local saloons increased. The raids continued until the prohibition repeal in 1933. Doing this ten-year period no saloon in Castella, California went out of business.

local-history-04MIKE PADULA’S SALOON
Mike Pudula, 5′-0”, Bald headed and a fine Italian man Owner and operator of Mike’s Place and the Shasta View Hotel,

Mike Pudula build a large saloon in Castella, California in the early 1920’s next to the Castella Post Office which was located across the street from where the Southern Pacific passenger train the ” Castella Flyer” stopped and unload passengers that just arrived at the Castella Station from the San Francisco Bay and Sacramento Valley.

Most of the visitors would ride the train up to for the weekend and stay at one of the many resorts in the area . Sweetbrier Resort, Crag View Resort. The first stop after a long and hot train ride from the Sacramento valley would be Mike Padlua’s Place for a cold refreshment.

Young ladies who were first timers at Mike’s Place were encouraged to climb upon the table and sign their name on one of the many pictures in lipstick or ink pen. The ceiling was covered with names in lipstick of the many ladies who had the honor to stand on the table at Mike Padlua’s Place.

locla-histroy-03Mike ruled his saloon with a hard hand and was tough as they came. Mike Pudula was the proud owner of a four door Rolls Royce that always parked out side the bar.

One of many of Mike’s favor pass times was to let the young girls from the town of Castella drive him a round in his big shiny Rolls Royce. The excitement of driving Mike Padula around town was overwelling, let alone having Mike Padula dressed in his smoking jacket sitting in the back seat and always with a cold drink in his hand. As the young ladies drove Mr. Padula down though the city of Castella people on the street always waved.

Mike’s Place was the favor hangout for the San Francisco newspaper mogul, William Randolph Hearst. Hearst would bring many famous movie stars and friends up from Hollywood and the bay area. Hearst would book Mike’s Place for the night and hire the local band the ” Hottentots”. The saloon would come alive with excitement from the music and drinking Padula Brew. The party with music and dancing would go on until sunrise. Before going William Randolph Hearst made sure everyone at Mike’s Place received a large tip by leaving a twenty-dollar bill under each ashtray in the saloon.

local-history-06During the second world war when every thing was rationed and it was hard to get almost anything without a government ration stamp, Mike always seem to have what ever you may need. Marian Head Anderson who grow up in Castella. Marian tells the story of the time when her sister would knock on the back door of the bar. Mike would come to the door and hand them a chocolate candy bar and they in return would hand him a nickel. Somehow he always had chocolate candy bars.

The United States Army troop trains during World War II would stop at the Castella Depot and the soldiers would seem to find their way to Mike’s Bar. Mike being an enterprising person would have many Ladies of the Night available for their entertainment. The Shasta View Hotel would always recommend the Crag View Resort across the bridge if their rooms were full, which in most cases happen almost every time the train stopped.

A wonderful lady by the name of Emilie A. Frank now deceased, was a staff writer most of life for the Dunsmuir News, she wrote an article for the Dunsmuir News Paper August 22, 1973.

Down At Mike’s Placelocal-history-07
CASTELLA, Almost nothing has changed. At first it looks the same, and then you notice there are a few things missing like the Wall Street Journals that used to be on the table over by the window. Always. And of course this is summer now, but you kind of miss the orange peelings that Mike always put on top of the heater. On a snowy night the tang they permeated was a kind of homey touch. But Mike’s was a homey saloon. You could sit by the round table; turn on the old *fashioned lamp, and read the S.F. Chronicle if you felt like it.

All the paintings and photographs are still in place. There’s Marilyn Monroe, bigger than life, still over there by the door. And all the nudes and scantily clad nymphs, circa 1920, are still dustily provocative.

You almost hesitate to turn and see if the painting” is still This is the supreme test. If it isn’t there, then where is it? Sir Thomas had once said the painting was worth $50,000, maybe more. Thoughts came flying back of how you had thought, a couple of years ago, what a great story that would be a $50,000 painting hanging in a remote and dingy joint high in the northern mountains!

Mike said a lady customer had given it to him years ago. That they had been talking across the bar one evening and she told him she had a painting that would just fit in his place. Mike said he had just figured it was bar talk, but sometime after she had gone home to San Francisco, the painting had been shipped to him. And it had been hanging over the piano ever since.

local-history-08It seems her husband had been a frequent customer at a gaudy old saloon in San Francisco where three pain-. tings of gorgeous nudes hung over the bar. When the saloon went out of business in 1901, he implored the owner to sell him the painting named “Della.” The owner obliged for $5,000. “Della” was taken to his home and hung in the parlor. The canvas got scratched up a bit in the 1906 earthquake, and then, after the husband died, Della was immediately relegated to the basement. And that’s where she stayed until the day she was wrapped and sent to Mike.

A close inspection of the canvas revealed several names. There was an “A.D. Cooper” on it and also “Diriga by Buido.” Even more fascinated, you ask Mike if he would allow pictures taken of the painting. He didn’t mind. The pictures were sent to the De Young Museum in San Francisco and after what seemed an eternity the answer came back from the Curator of Paintings “It’s hard to tell much from the photographs of the painting. It’s probably a typical “bar-room nude” that was so popular around the turn of the century. You’ll have to look is the phone book for a fine arts appraiser; many reputable ones are listed. suspect, however, it is one of those paintings out of favor now, and was worth far more in 1901 than it would be now. Thud. Just another barroom nude. Mike said that was okay. That he didn’t want to get murdered over a masterpiece anyway, if it ever got around that he had one.

Mike has been gone not quite a year, but was the painting still there?

A slow swivel of the head revealed that Della was still very much there. Still hanging over the ancient piano. The massive gold frame measures 30″ x 50″ and a band of cerise velvet runs around it.

Della is lovely and almost demure. Not age, nor the earthquake, nor a lifetime of hanging in smoky saloons has dulled her beauty. Painted as she was, suspended in the heavens with fleecy clouds adrift in the background, she looks too ethereal’- to be just another barroom nude. Could it be that the curator was wrong? Oh well…

You keep remembering little things about Mike. How he kept, by the door, a special counter with nickel and penny candies so the kiddies would come in during the day. How he had a reputation for having the best Socked bar in the county. How he never forgot a name, even 4ien he was well into his 70’s.

70’s he served brandy Alexander in Coca-Cola glasses. And his penchant for expensive cars his last Silver Mink Rolls Royce convertible “as the only one of its type its type in the United States. And before that he had owned several Jaguars and an Austin-Healy. Mike Padula wasn’t always a millionaire. Born near Naples in 1894 he came to America with his parents when he was five. He arrived in Castella in 1919 and got a job as a busboy in the old Castella Crag View Hotel.

Those were the days. Castella wasn’t the sleepy little hamlet it is now. It was a thriving town of many businesses – Basham’s General Store; Amos’ General Store, Hotel and Barber Shop; Lancone’s Grocery Store and Service Station; Ammirati’s Grocery Store and Boarding House; the Engle Inn Resort. Inn Resort; The Crag View’ Resort, and finally Mike’s Place.

local-histry-05The Crag View Resort, where Mike first went to work, was a hotel complete with restaurant, cabins open -air dance hall; tennis courts and swimming pool Remnants of its former glory are still there.

The Engle Inn Resort (now the Country Craftsmen) was also a center of activity and was we’ll-known throughout the state. It had a dining room, many stone cabins and two mineral springs, each with a

different type water. City folks bathed in it and took jugs of it home. The stone cabin, which is now closest to the river, was originally a bathhouse. Herbert Hoover, an avid fisherman, was so taken with the beauty of Castella that he stayed a week at the Engle Inn.

Right down the road from Amos’s Hotel was Mike’s Place. It was the good old roaring twenties and it was also the beginning of his fortune -slaking the great public thirst caused by prohibition.

Castella supported a few remarkable bootleg joints. One, north of town on the old road, was complete with a dumb-waiter for stashing away booze in case of a raid. And it was rumored that one saloon had two bars in the same building so that if one side was closed down, the other could be opened in a matter of minutes when the heat was off.

Mike had a couple of close calls with death. He had one narrow escape in the old Castella Hotel during a prohibition raid only this time he was a customer. But he ducked just in time the bullets went over his head and killed a United States Marshal.

He was robbed during his 50 years behind the bar—once bound and gagged for six hours after a stickup by three men who were never caught. A friend wanted to take him to the doctor, but Mike said, “The hell with the doctor, how’s the cash register?” Mike had always lived modestly in several rooms behind the bar and no one seems to know for sure how he amassed such a fortune. His attorney said the estate in*cluded $1-5 million worth of stock in Lucky Food Stores; real estate and other assets ~ unknown value. Plus the $38,000 Rolls Royce. (His crypt in the Mount Shasta mausoleum bears Mike’s name, birth and death dates, and a photo of his Rolls Royce immortalized in ceramic.)

Mike never married. During the last years he kept the bar open simply because he liked to have people dropping by. He liked to tell stories of by-gone days when he had, through the years, entertained everybody from madams to duchesses in this bar, and once had even had a romantic fling with a movie star. In the old days all of the “night people” would gather at Mike’s after hours when all the other places’ had closed, and Mike would cook steaks for everyone. They came from all over the county every night. Mike’s Place. Tucked away for over a half century against a pine-studded cliff, loaded with atmosphere and the faded nostalgia of- another era. And it’s a funny thing—you get this feeling that he’s still there. Still standing short behind his bar, 78 years old and sharp as a shot of’ tequila.

To Discover Even More, check out Castle Stone Inn University Regional History