by Mary Bordi
Among some family papers, I found an invoice dated 1918 to 1919 from
"Cavalli Bros. General Merchandise" in La Honda,. When people made
their living out here farming and ranching, they did not have a weekly
paycheck. So the storekeeper would simply keep track of what they
bought. When you sold your crop you paid your bill. This one actually
covers over a year and a half of purchases.
Mom and Pop Bordi moved to the Alpine in 1913 and by the time of this
invoice they had two children with another on the way. Once a week or
so Pop might ride his saddle horse the seven miles to La Honda to get
the mail and pick up anything they might need. Or Mollie, their Stanford
Trotter, would transport Mom in the buggy. Today it takes me around 15
minutes in the car. Back then it took about a half an hour by saddle
horse and perhaps 45 minutes with the buggy or spring wagon. I've heard
that Ernest Hildebrand could get there much faster with his wagon and
mules when he lived up here on the Dale ranch.
What sorts of things would a family of four in 1918 purchase at the
store in La Honda? (Remember too, that a family might go "over the
hill" a few times a year to make their bulk purchases, much as we would
go to Costco today.)
Two cans of tomatoes were 40 cents; honey 15 cents; 5 gallons of peanut oil 75 cents.
Christmas Eve 1918 they purchased a gallon of whiskey for $8.00, wine for $1.00 and cheese for $1.30, perhaps anticipating a celebration.
Other items purchased throughout the year were: sardines (20 cents); 25 pounds chicken feed ($1.25); soap (10 cents); tobacco (65 cents); yeast (5 cents); rennet (85 cents); overalls ($6.50, later returned). And of course occasional treats like cakes, cookies, chocolate and candy.
You can also see a larger image of the whole invoice at