FAIRFIELD — Montezuma Marina is the kind of place where people may drive past it their whole lives and not know it’s there.
It’s tucked away behind Belden’s Landing, the popular Grizzly Island boat launching spot for anglers and hunters. Just up the dirt road sits a small home and two docks leading in to the peaceful waterway filled with wildlife and serenity.
Looking directly at Mt. Diablo, the docking area has been known to some since the late 1950s when a barge housed a beer bar and place for fisherman to fill their bellies after a day on the water.
All that history is set to be passed on to a new owner after longtime proprietor Elverta “Bert” Jones died last year. Her three children made the tough decision to sell the property that they grew up on.
“It just won’t work any more,” said Donna Hurst, who recently moved back into the residence. “Unfortunately, it has to be done.”
The 1.1-acre site is smaller and just east of where it once stood. Originally purchased around 1957 from the Belden family, a large grain barge sat not far from where the bridge is today. At that time, a six-car ferry was the only way across the waterway.
John Hurst, son, said he can remember exploring the area and the mud ball wars he had with friends. Being so far out had its disadvantages as they had to use a party line for phone calls. That meant any of the three houses in the area had to wait for the other to be off the phone.
He said their marina was a perfect stopping point for those traveling between Rio Vista and Suisun City.
“That was the big draw,” John said. “To go to a destination and have somewhere to stop.”
When the Rush family eventually sold to the state, Bert had the house moved down to where it sits now. The best explanation of why the inlet was previously cut was for hay barges to pull in and get loaded up.
It wasn’t long after the docks were built, with hunters and fisherman lending a hand. Bert’s relationship with the guys was always strong. That is, Donna said, unless you got out of line.
“Frankly, my mother ran it as a private club. If she didn’t like you, you didn’t get in. She ran it the way she wanted,” Donna said. “If you were rowdy, you were out.”
Bert had a tradition of making minestrone soup on opening day of duck season. That’s something John continued this year in his mother’s absence.
“They loved her. We had to continue the tradition,” he said. “She liked everyone being around. That’s what kept her going in the final years.”
“They took care of her and she took care of them,” Donna said. “A lot of the guys were at her funeral.”
The children know it will take some time before a buyer is found, and that’s fine with Donna, who enjoys being back at the property.
“I can’t stay away. I’m the original boomerang child,” she joked. “It’s going to have to be someone that falls in love with the place.”
Reach Danny Bernardini at 427-6935 or [email protected] Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/dbernardinidr.