Thursday, 7 May 2009

Clint Interview: Focus on his land and properties, past and present

This Eastwood interview given to John Sammon for Today's Woman in 2007 provides a fascinating insight into Clint's early life and more specifically the homes, property and land owned by the actor, past and present. It's rather unique in that it barely touches upon Eastwood the actor, and, as a result, makes for a highly original and very interesting piece. The original source piece came without pictures. I have added these pictures below, just to make the interview 'look' a little more appealing on the eye.
I did an interview with actor Clint Eastwood. Eastwood is a worldwide celebrity, who rarely grants interviews. He graciously consented to talk about his early career, golf, including the annual U.S. Open golf tournament, his Mission Ranch development, and the frustrations of water and politics in his hometown of Carmel.

Clint Eastwood, actor, producer and Carmel’s former mayor - has been involved in the game of golf for nearly five decades. Eastwood relates his feelings about golf and his attitude toward a few other subjects. Here are the questions and Eastwood’s responses.

Question. Mr. Eastwood. Let’s begin with some background. What was your childhood like?

Answer. I was born in San Francisco, but raised mostly in Oakland. My family moved a lot, and I lived in places like Redding and Spokane in Washington and Sacramento, and Pacific Palisades in California. During the World War II years, my dad worked for Bethlehem Steel in Oakland. I attended Glenview Grammar School. As a kid, I earned a little money selling Liberty and Colliers magazines. Both of these are out of print now. Every magazine I ever worked for went out of print. Then I took a job with the Oakland Tribune, a paper route.

After the war, my father went to work for California Container, a corrugated box company. Later on, Dad was transferred to Seattle, where he became a plant manager. I graduated from high school and joined my parents up there for a while. I was trying to get into Seattle University on a music program, but I applied too late. I was drafted into the U.S. Army at the time of the Korean War, 1951. I came to Fort Ord. That’s how I got used to the Carmel area. I got to spend time in Monterey, Carmel, Pebble Beach and Salinas.

I even used to come to Mission Ranch when I was a soldier earning $75 a month.

Question. Did you dream that one day you would own Mission Ranch?

Answer. No. Back then, I didn’t plan on owning too much of anything. After I got out of the service, I went to Los Angeles where I attended Los Angeles City College, studying business administration. I started taking acting classes in the evening. After I landed a steady job on Rawhide (a 1950s TV western), I came up to the Monterey Peninsula and bought a little house across from the Monterey Peninsula Country Club. A tiny house with all the furniture inside. I’d been coming up periodically at that time, and stayed wherever I could. I loved that house. It was the first home I ever owned. I paid $20,000, and later sold it for $25,000.

Question. When was the first time you played golf at Pebble Beach?

Answer. I used to play over in Pacific Grove where there was a nine hole course. When a friend returned from Korea, we celebrated by playing Pebble. It was overwhelming, a much more difficult course than Pacific Grove, much longer. But Pebble was such a beautiful layout. You knew you were playing on a first-class course. I was 21 years old and I wasn’t very good. My friend and I just went out and tried to hit the ball as hard as we could. The ball would go in a lot of different directions. But we had a good time.

Later, I traipsed over the courses during the Bing Crosby Pro-Am, so I knew what they looked like. I didn’t play too much after that. A lot of years, I’d play once a year, or not at all, because I was busy trying to get a career going. It never gave me much of a chance to be a player.

Question. You bought the Mission Ranch in 1986. One of the proposals at the time was to turn the site into condominiums?

 Answer. Yes. The Ranch was approved to be torn down in order to put in sixty-six condos. There were a bunch of owners at the time, guys and their ex-wives, their girlfriends…you name it. In fact, fourteen people had to sign off when I bought this place. They had to meet a lot of conditions to put up these condos, so I offered them some dough. They agreed on a price, and I had to go and get these fourteen signatures, and sort them all out. Mission Ranch had once been a farm and a dairy. One of the buildings, the bunkhouse, dates back to 1852.

The floors had to be replaced. We just went through the place piece by piece, redoing everything. Like the barn for instance. They used to joke that the only thing holding it up were termites holding hands. The site has also been an auto court (motel), and during World War II, an officer’s club for all branches of the service. When I bought the property, the big barn had a low ceiling. I took the ceiling out and saw that all the windows were painted black. I asked Maggie Denault, who had been the owner, how come the windows were black? She said that during the war years, they used to have dances in there. They were worried about Japanese submarines off the coast so they painted the windows to block the light from showing.

Question. Did you get the site on the historical register?

Answer. No. I didn’t put it on the Historical Register. We wanted to keep the site historically accurate, however, so I went ahead restoring from what I knew about the place. Maggie was my source of information. She’d owned the property for many years. We took this false ceiling out and scraped the paint off the windows. The roofs have all been replaced. We went from a shake roof to fire-proof roofing materials. We moved some units out, five little cottages that were built in the 1950s. They looked like agricultural buildings, and they’re out in the (Carmel) Valley now. They’ve been painted and fixed up pretty nicely, I think. We used the space to build a four-plex that looks like it goes with the area. The tennis club had a 1950s type building sort of flat and low. I took that out and replaced it with a building that looks like it belongs here, an early American style farm.

There used to be a swimming pool there. We’ve got pictures of gals sitting around the pool during the 1930s, and they had a big polo field farther out. We’ve preserved those areas as wetlands. That way it can’t be built on. I’d like to see it stay like it is, forever.

Question. When did you start the Hog’s Breath Inn in Carmel?

Answer. That would be in 1972. Malcolm Moran owned the building, and one day he was showing it to me, and he said, “wouldn’t this make a great place for a saloon?” One thing led to another. Walter Becker and I started the business as sort of a lark.

Question. Didn’t you buy the building housing the Hog’s Breath Inn during the 1980s?

Answer. Yes. Malcolm was moving (to Port Townsend), so he sold me the building.

Question. You done some things with other properties that a lot of people aren’t familiar with. I believe you owned a piece of land with James Garner. Is it true you gave that land away?

Answer. James Garner and I had 360 acres up in Carmel Valley. We owned that for some time. He loved the area, and I think he thought about moving here. We had donated some money to save Jack’s Peak from development. Finally, we decided to give the property to the County Housing Authority for a senior housing program. Pacific Meadows they’ve named it. A beautiful property. Very pristine. I owned that and another piece called Canada Woods.

There's also more than 200 acres down the coast that’s been permanently preserved, Odello East too with all the artichoke fields. The Big Sur Land Trust holds a big portion, and the county has some. It’s agricultural use only.

Question. Outside of preserving a lot of property, the only thing you’re really developed is Tehama Golf Course (mid-Carmel Valley)? And Tehama is an 18-hole golf course, with 34 units?

Answer. It was contiguous to a piece of property in Canada Hills that I had in the Valley. The property was approved by the people who owned it, for 139 units, which I thought was rather dense. My business manager, who doesn’t play golf, asked, “what about a golf course?” I said, yeah, that sounds interesting. We checked out the feasibility, bought the property from my neighbors, extinguished plans for the 139 units, and put up the golf course.

Question. So Canada Woods now has a modest development density?

Answer. Yeah. Forever.

Question. Even though you had the right to build more than 200 units?

Answer. We reduced that number considerably. That property is interesting. Years ago, they talked about a county road through there. They thought the road would take heat off Highway 1 for people coming from Monterey, but then they got rid of that idea. When I was mayor of Carmel, we offered the county the property to build a holding reservoir for water. At that time, everybody was concerned about the water issue, as they are today. But water is such a tricky issue. The objections to improving water situations are usually based on trying to suppress development, and they sometimes get off track and don’t stay on the track of preserving water for everybody who needs it. Everybody worried about increasing the amount of water for more development in the area, so water became a political football.

I thought the reservoir was a good idea, and we offered to give the property to the county for that purpose. They studied and surveyed it a little bit and said, “yeah, you could put a dam across there, and pull water in.” But nobody bit. The pro-dam people didn’t want it because they thought it might discourage building a big dam, and the anti-dam people didn’t want it because they didn’t want to improve the water supply…period. The proposal got meshed in there with desalinization and all the other things that went down the tube.

Since then, the county has spent a horrendous amount of money, and we’re back where we started. I guess I’m na├»ve. I just thought it would be interesting to have a better quality water supply, not just more.

Question. How did you come to purchase the Pebble Beach Company?

Answer. The company was owned by the Sumitomo Company of Japan, and had been through quite a few different owners and situations. I always expressed an interest. There were rumors they were going to sell, but nobody had much faith in the rumors. Peter Uberroth (former baseball commissioner) and I discussed the situation. Peter called and asked if I could stop by and visit. We sat and talked. He said there’s a little bit of interest on the part of the Japanese owners. He said it’s probably a long shot, probably won’t happen. But he said he wanted me to be part of the deal if I was interested. I said I was.

Our philosophy was that we didn’t want to get into a bidding war, but just to put together a proposal. One day Peter came and said, “it looks like it’s coming together.” I said fine, tell me where and when. He did a splendid job, and had the idea of getting together a group who really like Pebble Beach, and who were in a position not to have to roll the company over and take the first offer that came flying along.

Everybody understood this would be a long-term deal, maybe somebody’s great granddaughter or son would see some profit some day, but all the other people would enjoy taking part anyway. They’re people who love the area.

We could of built up to 890 housing units there. The former owners presented a plan that would have had 315 lots, and put in a golf course. Our compromise eliminates the 315 lots, and has us staying in the visitor service business. The plan will include an 18-hole golf course, approximately 60 additional hotel rooms (at the 161-room lodge at Pebble Beach), and another 80 rooms at the 270-room Inn at Spanish Bay, and 38 residential lots averaging two acres each, to be sold to private buyers in the Pebble Beach, Poppy Hills and Pescadero Canyon areas. In addition, the project would install a golf cottage of 24 suites, 60 housing units for employees of the lodges, and 425 acres of permanent open space. Approximately 54 units deemed as more affordable will be located in Pajaro.

I believe this is better for the county. It increases the tax base, diminishes traffic, and uses less water. One politician who heard the proposal said, “are you crazy? You’re giving up 898 lots at the prices they’re going for today?"

Question. You played Pebble Beach at 23 years old, and you had to scrape together some cash just to get on the course. And here you are, one of the owners. How did you do it?

Answer. You hang around and a lot of stuff happens. You just outlive everybody.

Question. In 1916, Pebble Beach was known as the icon of American golf. At that time, the Big Four in San Francisco were gentlemen named Huntington, Stanford, Crocker, and Hopkins. Today, the Big Four are Richard Ferris, Clint Eastwood, Peter Uberroth and Arnold Palmer. Your careers were all different, but you all made it to the top, right?

Answer. We made it each in our own odd ways. Ferris is a Bay Area self-made guy. Uberroth went to San Jose State. Palmer is self-made. I went to Los Angeles City College. Who knows where you will end up in life. I think this must be fate driven.

Question. What changes have you noticed over the years?

Answer. In 1991, they changed the rough to rye grass. Some complain about how hard it is to get out of the rough, don’t they? I’ve played the course, and when you get in the rough, you might as well hit the ball out in this (Mission Ranch Hotel) empty field. The guy who can keep the ball in the fairway does the best. The fairways and the greens are great. But the rough. That’s tough.

Question. What would you consider the best part of your game?

Answer. The best part of my game is realizing that nothing comes easy. When I’m on my game, chipping is the best part. But that’s a very fleeting romance. It can leave you quick.

Question. What are your final thoughts on the U.S. Open?

Answer. It’s gotten to be really big. The enthusiasm is there. It’s a much bigger business than it once was. It was a nice tournament, sort of sedate. But golf has increased in popularity because of Payne Stewart and his involvement, and Tiger Woods. There’s a lot of interest among people in Central California. This means a lot to our economy. I’m glad to be a part of it.

THE MISSION RANCH, this was recently sent to me by my good friend Jerry Whittington, who has has eaten there and tells me it serves wonderful food!
Clint Eastwood bought the historic Mission Ranch property on the Carmel River in 1986
More than a few local residents breathed a sigh of relief when Clint Eastwood bought the historic Mission Ranch property on the Carmel River in 1986. It wasn't just the threat that the old ranch would be torn down and replaced by condominiums. That was bad enough. But the possibility of losing the restaurant that had been a favorite local hangout for as long as some of them could remember made it doubly distressing.
Going back to the early '50s, when Eastwood himself, then stationed at Fort Ord, had started coming there, Mission Ranch Restaurant was the place for "good food and good fun." All you had to say was "meet me at the ranch" and everyone knew that you meant the Mission Ranch Restaurant. Families and honeymooners who came to stay in the cottages that dotted the 12-acre property ate many meals there, but it was the locals who laid claim to it as their own private watering hole and family restaurant.
The food was never the fancy gourmet fare you could get at some of the restaurants in downtown Carmel. This was real food steaks and chops and ribs and potatoes. The drinks were generous; there was always music of some kind in the bar (even if it was only an impromptu group sing) and best of all, you met up with your friends and neighbors to discuss the weather, the tourists, golf scores and politics.

The ranch, built in the mid-1880s, was a diary farm until the '20s, and what is now the restaurant was once the dairy's creamery. It was first turned into a private club in the '30s; then Bert and Maggie Dienelt took it over and ran it as a restaurant and resort for 40 years. During World War II, the ranch became an officers' club, but was still open to the public for $1 a year. By the time Clint Eastwood bought it, Mission Ranch and its restaurant were badly in need of help. Locals who had come to know Eastwood as a man of his word during his two-year term as mayor of Carmel were confidant he would do what had to be done to restore it mainly invest big bucks.
Actually, he went beyond restoring. Even in their heyday, the buildings that house guests never looked more fresh and tidy than they do now, nor were the grounds quite so manicured and lush, nor the restaurant as spacious and airy. A large, airy dining room was added with one wall of windows overlooking a soothing view of sheep grazing in the meadow and the wetlands beyond stretching to the sandy shores of Carmel River beach, Point Lobos and the sea. For an even more unobstructed view of this pastoral scene, one can eat outside on a wide deck with umbrella tables.
The dining room has a comfy ranch look, with checkered tablecloths and a huge stone fireplace designed to look like it was built 100 years ago. There's also an antique, pot-bellied stove that was used in Eastwood's film "The Unforgiven." The bar is just as popular a hangout for locals as it ever was. The crowd is lively and there is piano entertainment seven nights a week. Customers are not in the least bashful about joining in for a chorus or two when old, familiar melodies are played.

The basic menu concept hasn't changed, possibly because locals didn't want it to change. It's still hearty, ranch-style food with emphasis on prime rib, steaks and BBQ ribs. But Craig has moved it into the '90s with touches of modern California cuisine (if I may use that much-maligned term), such as a tapanade of black olives, artichokes, capers and sun-dried and fresh tomatoes served on loin of lamb or salmon served on a bed of lentils and fresh herbs.

Fresh fish is also featured. In addition to the salmon, there's always a catch of the day (on one occasion, the grilled mahi mahi was excellent) and a delicious version of jumbo scallops, sauteed in brown butter with baby artichokes, capers and tomatoes. Roasted chicken and beef brochette are also available and for the vegetarians, meatless lasagna with layers of vegetables, cheeses and a tomato-basil sauce.
Baby back ribs can be ordered as an appetizer or an entree. Either way, they're lean, cooked till the meat is ready to fall off the bone and finished with a sweet-tangy sauce. Many regulars won't order anything else.
Sunday brunch is always a popular time at the restaurant, especially when the sun is shining and the skies are clear and one can sit outside and revel in the joy of being in a place where nature's beauty is bestowed so generously.


Alex said...

I have always had the greatest of respect and admiration for Clint Eastwood. A decent man who made an "Honest" living in Hollywood, unlike so many others who are constantly displayed all over the media. Another incredible soul, is the person responsible for this incredible site. I was here once before while on my search for a "true" Eastwood autograph. Which I haven't found yet! Regardless, I have to thank you again for making me aware of "secretarial autograph's", which I wasn't previously aware of. Hopefully all is well with you and many thanks again for providing this incredible Clint Eastwood resource!

Best Regards


P.S. I've grown a little older today, but apparently no wiser! :)

Clint's archive said...

Alex, how wonderful of you to leave such a gracious comment, as for 'incredible', well, I've not even scratched the surface yet! Should be a pretty good resource, once finished ;-)
Alex please stop by anytime, you bring up a good point actually, as I think I will quickly put together a new post showing an example of a genuine autogragh, I have a couple that I know are genuine as the man himself signed them for me, in front of me, hopefully this will also help others in their search for the real thing, a difficult task these days I'm sure, with the amount of fakes that flood the market.
Thanks again Alex, your comments are always welcome here.
The Clint Eastwood Archive

Metro Denver said...

All I can say is WOW. I had a great time reading your Archive about Clint Eastwood.

Unknown said...

I always love him as an actor!, he seems to be very humble man and his eyes say a lot about him, window to his soul... I live in Missouri and I heard that he has a ranch on hwy 5, is this true? God bless you Clint!!

Talisman said...

He is nice, very normal and unassuming. My wife and I did have the pleasure of meeting him when we stayed at Mission Ranch a couple of years ago (going back this year!). We chatted briefly,shook hands,and got him to autograph a couple of things. He was in a hurry, running late for his tee time.

Talisman said...

He is nice, very quiet and unassuming. My wife and I did have the pleasure of meeting him at Mission Ranch when we stayed there for her birthday a couple of years ago. We chatted briefly, him wishing my wife a happy birthday, shook hands, and got him to autograph a couple of things. He was running late for his tee time.

Clint's archive said...

Thank you for your comment Talisman - and you're right, I have had the pleasure of meeting Clint too - a wonderful, courteous guy. Please let us know how you got on when you return back.
The Clint Eastwood Archive

Rach said...

We hope to stay at Mission Ranch this September Clint is my lifelong idol I would truly be thrilled if I met him ! Does he go in Mission Ranch? I respect his privacy like anyone else but lifelong dream to meet him one day love ya clint !

Clint's archive said...

Hope the trip went well Rach :)