Amy Bloyd – November 29th, 2008

100_1730The Bloyd name is very well-known to many people around Anderson Valley and points well-beyond and perhaps Amy, although not born a Bloyd, is the most well-known of the current generation – the phrase, “she offers some local color”, is as appropriate in Amy’s case as anyone’s…We met for a chat last Saturday afternoon, November 29th, at The Boonville Lodge Bar and Grill in downtown Boonville…
She was born, Amy Mea Liljeberg, in Ft. Bragg, a second generation American with Swedish paternal grandparents and on her mother’s side the grandparents had come over from Finland. She was the middle child of five siblings and grew up on the coast in Elk on the Liljeberg Ranch, attending the local elementary school before going on to graduate from Mendocino High in 1971. She was not a good student and disliked sports, but she enjoyed being in the color guard as one of the two gun-carriers accompanying the band on marches and at parades.
For a time after leaving school she had been a baby-sitter, but then she began work as a custodian at the Elk Grammar School, a job she was to hold for nineteen years, from 1976 to 1995, traveling to and from work via the Philo-Greenwood Road even after she had moved to Anderson Valley in early 1978. She made the switch to Valley life after meeting Mickey Bloyd and becoming pregnant by him. They got married and moved in together, living on Monte Bloyd Road a few miles north of Philo.
They had met on one of Amy’s regular visits to the bar in The Navarro Hotel in The Deep End. This was formerly called the Pardini Hotel and situated where the new outdoor amphitheater has been installed this past summer. There was a vibrant scene in Navarro at that time, with many wild nights at the bar, which was frequented by the hotel guests – “loggers and working people – no tourists stayed there”.
Within two years of Amy’s move to the Valley, Mea and younger brother Eric had been born but, shortly afterwards in 1981, Amy and Mickey split up. Her two sisters helped raise the kids with Amy moving out of the Bloyd place and soon afterwards into the trailer behind The Boonville Lodge, where she lives to this day. She continued to work on the coast as a custodian but gradually picked up some shifts at the bar and, living where she did, this obviously was very handy. As a result she has been a bartender at the bar off and on for over twenty years, working for five of its owners in her time, starting with Ron Jones right through to today with Tom Towey – “he’s made this a good place for all Valley people now”…There are many “Amy Stories” about her times behind the bar over the years but, being the “family newspaper” that this is, coupled with a lack of space, you’ll have to ask her for the details yourselves – suffice it to say, alcohol, ‘adult’ discussions, and nudity, each played a big part…
During her early days in the Valley, family and friends would meet for after-work drinking sessions in Navarro outside the store. It was one of her favorite things to do – hanging out with people of all ages – old-timers like Mickey’s Dad, Robin, and his buddy Angelo Bacci with their jugs of wine, working men, kids; all sitting on sofa’s and chairs around a big redwood – ‘The Drunk Tree” as they called it…“Once the Navarro Hotel was gone, there was no bar there. We’d all bring what we could and share it, then we’d pee on the tree to help it grow!”…
Another hangout she enjoyed in her younger days was Mary Jane’s Cantina Bar (now Lauren’s Restaurant) that was primarily a place where the recently arrived Mexican community would gather for a social drink. “The Mexicans welcomed us girls into their bar…Some might find it hard to believe now but yes, I hung out with the Mexicans! But if they wanted a drink with us in The Lodge they were not welcomed – in fact they would often be thrown out on the street. Literally thrown out – flying through the air they went!”
On other occasions, if the bar scene was too rowdy, Amy and friends would gather at John and Linda Hulbert’s place behind what is now the One Horse Espresso in downtown Boonville. “It was a great place for parties and good times without the crazy scenes that were often at The Lodge”…
Overall though, Amy spent most of the time working and raising the two kids. Her wilder days were to come when Mea and Eric were teenagers and she would go out with friends and new companion, Richard Reitz…She met Richard around 1993 when visiting friends in Lake County – he was a barman at The Supper Club in Lucerne and although he had a girlfriend she kept going over there to see him and then one day he gave her the key to his house. Amy knew it wouldn’t be long before the other woman would be out of the picture. She was right. “Richard was good-looking, rugged, and a real professional at his bartending job. It wasn’t until much later that his health became a big issue, and I became his full-time caregiver, that our times together became difficult. It was very hard the last few years. Before that we had a good time and he was a good father to Mea and Eric and they accepted him as their new Dad”…
Mickey Bloyd was charged and found guilty of double homicide and was on death row at San Quentin when he died of cancer in 1997. Amy is convinced he was not guilty – “not his style to tie people up and shoot them” – and had never sought to get divorced. She then waited a year before marrying Richard in 1998. They were together until his death earlier this year and many in the Valley appreciated the couple’s annual Christmas gift of a calendar to family and friends…“We had some good times together. One of our best was the last time we went out together as a family – Richard, Mea, Eric, and me. We went to an Alan Jackson concert this last July at the casino. It was a great concert. Richard died a month later and that last family outing will always be a special memory”…
I asked Amy about what she liked most about living in the Valley – “The people who live here – definitely. They would give you the shirt off their back to help you, even if they didn’t have one!”…And what don’t you like about life here? – “Those kids and their fuckin’ boom boxes. Why so fucking loud – no wonder they can’t learn stuff – they’re deaf and can’t hear the teachers!”…
Amy helps out at various events, particularly the annual Woolgrowers’ Fair and BBQ at which she sells t-shirts or helps prepare the food. She was briefly a member of The Grange but “I forgot the password and never went back – oh, well”…She attends most of the Valley’s events and her favorite is without doubt the County Fair. “I had a great time this year,” she says with a grin, sipping her drink before adding, “Richard wasn’t there!” as she burst into a loud throaty laugh…
I next asked Amy to give me her brief thoughts on various Valley entities/institutions…The wineries? – “Too many”…KZYX & Z? – “Pretty good”…The A.V.A. – “It’s good at times”…Tourists? – “Terrorists!”…What about the changes to the Valley in the past twenty or thirty years? – I would love to see more sheep and apples like the old days but the changes have not been as bad as some say. Anyway, I guess I’ll stick it out here now”…
With that in mind, Amy has never been much of a traveler. She has been to Colorado to see Richard’s family and friends and has also visited Oregon. She would love to go back to Colorado to see Richard’s older brother but doesn’t think she’ll get round to it anytime soon. She has never left the States but “I’d like to go to Finland to see where my family is from but that’s not likely to happen”…Despite not being a traveler too far from home she does like to go to the barn sales, etc. in this area, at which she is a compulsive buyer and adds to her collection of “useless stuff” all the time. “I am a junk collector – just lots of crap. My Mum was like that having being raised in a depression – collect and save, collect and save – my brother and sisters are the same. I collect all sorts of stuff but particularly boxes of all shapes and sizes and, of course, out-houses – all kinds. Yes, my out-house collection is the best part of my junk”…
Numerous Valley folk may be aware of the rumors about Amy’s “flashing” of her breasts in public and so I asked her about this. “Oh, yeh, I have got my tits out many times in public. I even streaked once when the song ‘The Streak’ was playing on the jukebox. That shocked a few people in the bar I was in out at the coast – The Beacon Light in Elk. I have showed my tits many times around Boonville too. I like to do it for any of the young guys turning twenty-one. I tell ‘em to take a look but they can’t have any more!…Showing ‘my girls’ is no big deal…I flashed the County Sheriff at The Fair this year. He tried not to smile and then I realized why – his wife was sitting next to him – I didn’t know that. It’s o.k. though – the Sheriff and me, we’re good buds! He comes around here sometimes to see me, to check that I’m not doing something stupid… I am outgoing. I speak my mind. I don’t care what most people think. I’ve always been like that”…
I then asked Amy what she would do if she was Mayor of Anderson Valley for a day, if there was such a position, and could implement any change to life in the Valley…”I’d hate to do this, and I know people would get pissed, but I’d put in a stoplight at the crossing in Boonville; or at least have it better lit than it is now – getting to the Post Office is dangerous…I’d also do something about the tire-screeching some people do at 2am in the morning… I’m glad we’re going to have two more deputy sheriffs soon – Dennis Miller is one – he was a good cop when he was here before. I know there was some shit that happened in Covelo with him but that’s history – I thought he was a good and friendly cop”…
Who would you vote for Mayor, Amy? – “I’d vote for Tony Pardini. He can stir up all the bullshit around here and then sort it out. He’d keep everyone on their toes if he was in charge”…
To end the interview, I posed a few questions from a list originally devised by French Interviewer and Culture “Expert”, Bernard Pivot, and featured on television’s “Inside the Actors Studio with James Lipton”…
What is your favorite word? – She leaned forward and said slowly – “Fu-ck!” – giving the word two syllables…
What is your least favorite word? – “Work”
What turns you on creatively, spiritually or emotionally? – “Well, not much to be honest with you…but at this moment the thought of seeing my new born nephew is exciting”…
What turns you off creatively, spiritually or emotionally? – “Life in general”, she replied, giggling to herself…
What sound or noise do you love? – “Good country music”…
What sound or noise do you hate? – “Kids crying – put ‘em in a freezer and let them out when they’re twenty-one!”
What is your favorite curse word or phrase? – “Fuck you!”
What profession other than your own would you like to attempt? – “I was briefly an x-ray technician at a dentist office. I really liked that but it closed down and I never did it again”…
What profession would you not like to do? – “Anything to do with computers – I am completely computer illiterate”…
Finally, if Heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the Pearly Gates? – “About time you got here!”
We stood up and hugged. Amy is a good woman who certainly has a kind heart beneath the intimidating exterior – and, as I mentioned, she undoubtedly provides “some local color”…

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Published in: on December 1, 2008 at 11:00 pm  Leave a Comment  

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