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Title Oral History of William Provines
Collection Oral History
Scope & Content William "Bill" Provines was born on July 4th, 1908 in Willits, California. His father was a locomotive engineer on the Northwestern Pacific Railroad operating from Sausalito to Willits. In 1916, they moved to Mill Valley to provide more advantages for the family. Bill attended Summit School and Old Mill School and was part of the first eighth grade graduating class from Old Mill School in 1921. He then attended Tamalpais High School and Marin Junior College, ultimately graduating from the University of California, Berkeley in 1932 with a Bachelor of Science in Economics. Bill went on to work for the Royal Globe Insurance Company, where he stayed for 39 years. In his oral history, Bill recounts working during high school and college on the Mount Tamalpais and Muir Woods Railway as a fireman, brakeman, and gravity man. He shares thorough, technical knowledge and vivid accounts of railway operations, as well as his memories of early Mill Valley, including the Fire of 1929, the layout of downtown and school experiences. Bill's detailed descriptions bring to life a vision of what Mill Valley was like in the earlier part of the twentieth century, when the train ran up the mountain and East Blithedale Avenue was the "disreputable" part of town. Bill lived in Mill Valley for over ninety years, and passed away in 2009 at 101 years of age.

Editor's note: The transcript for this oral history differs slightly from the recording and appears to have been modified for narrative flow.
Audio and Transcript Click here to hear recording.
Click here to read the transcript.
Dates of Creation 1973-08-08
Narrator's name Provines, William
Interviewer Mosher, Carl
Extent and Medium Transcript: 42pp
Recording: 02:02:38
Search Terms 1929 Fire
Arden, Eve
Business - Mill Valley - History
College of Marin
Depression (economy)
Developments, Housing
Downtown districts
Electric railroads
Golden Gate Bridge
Gravity cars
Grocery stores
Mt. Tamalpais
Mt. Tamalpais & Muir Woods Railway
Muir Woods National Monument
Nagel, Freddie
Northwestern Pacific Railroad
Practical jokes
Quedens, Eunice
Road construction
Smith, Charles
Suey Kee
Tavern of Tamalpais
World War II
Object ID 2017.047.001
Object Name Recording
Copyrights Transcript and recording copyright Mill Valley Public Library, 1973. Materials are made available for research purposes only; all rights are reserved to the Mill Valley Public Library. Requests for permission to quote for publication or for any other usage must be obtained from the Library.