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October 10, 2006 > The Bauhofer family and Cloverdale Creamery

The Bauhofer family and Cloverdale Creamery

Joseph Bauhofer, Sr. came from Switzerland to Wisconsin in 1903.  His brother, Nick, later joined him and they moved to San Francisco.  They lost everything in the great earthquake of 1906 and moved to Alameda.  Joseph bought a horse and cart and delivered milk to Alameda residents.  He married Emma Kinzli, another recent immigrant who had come from Switzerland in 1906, and they ran a creamery and milk delivery business called the Golden Eagle Dairy.  Their four children, Emma, Joseph, Jr., William Nicolas (Bill) and Lily were born in Alameda.  The family moved to Centerville in 1927 to operate the Innes-Cloverdale Dairy on the Chadbourne Ranch.  Emma, who had married Charles Alesso, stayed in Alameda.  She had a career as a realtor in San Pedro for many years.

Family members and hired hands farmed about 127 acres of land that is now the Hub, put up some 600 tons of hay, milked 120 cows by hand twice a day, made home deliveries of milk and started the first processing center in Washington Township.  The workers and the two brothers slept upstairs in the old carriage house while the parents and their sister Lily slept in the carriage house wing.  The office, kitchen and long dining table, where everyone ate, were also in the carriage house wing.  Lily helped in the kitchen where Emma, Sr. was the cook.

The Bauhofer family bought property on north Main Street in Centerville in 1938 and established their Cloverdale Creamery.  They erected storage buildings and a Modern Style creamery and fountain and opened for business on June 25, 1938.  The route drivers wore white uniforms and later switched to green trousers with white tops.   

The modern plant pasteurized milk and after 1948, produced popular flavors of Cloverdale brand ice cream made "the old fashioned way."  The fountain in front provided a variety of sandwiches, cakes, pies, fountain specialties and other foods.  The main Oakland-San Jose highway, just outside the front door, brought hungry, thirsty travelers to Cloverdale where fountain workers served up to 700 or 800 cones a day.  Area residents met here, and the creamery became a social center of the valley.  Trucks delivered milk to homes around the township seven days a week, and some 2000 school children a year toured the bottling plant.

Joseph Sr. built a family residence on an adjoining parcel on Maple Street.  Emma Sr., or "Ma" Bauhofer, as she was known, and Joseph completed raising their family and lived out their lives there. She walked to the creamery every afternoon and visited patrons as the "Queen of the corner booth" until she passed away at age 90.   Mary, the daughter of Bill Sr., still lives in the home with her family.

Joseph, Jr. and William, Sr. joined their father in the family business and eventually became partners and owners.  They continued to manage the operation with the help of family members and a crew of veteran employees.  Bill, Sr. and Joe, Sr. ably kept the business running during World War II while Joseph, Jr. was serving his country in the South Pacific.  They closed the milk processing plant in the 1970's, but they still operated the fountain, and continued to serve the milk routes, buying their milk from the Edelweiss and Berkeley Farms dairies.

Joseph, Jr. married Ruth Mau, a 1930 graduate of Washington High, in 1932.  They were divorced in 1939.  Joe later married Lorna Jones from Brisbane, Australia and they raised two children, Rhondda and Robyn.  Joe, Jr. personally served his loyal customers until he was age 84.  Robyn worked in the fountain four summers.

Bill married Frieda Wipfli who became the fountain manager.  She worked there until about 1994.  Their children are Bill, Jr., Carol, Linda and Mary.  Bill, Jr. married Marlene Bowen and their children are Michelle and Elisa.  Bill divorced Marlene and later married Marilyn Storelli who also helped run the fountain.

Carol married Chuck Kappen and operated Carol Kappen Realty but dedicated Monday evenings to working in the creamery for many years.  Linda was a popular waitress until she moved to Washington upon her marriage to Lyle Schaefer.  Mary gave many years to the fountain but later became a nurse.

Bill, Jr. worked in the creamery and became a partner with his dad and Uncle Joe in 1976.  He ran the business after his dad and uncle retired.

Lily married Johnny Wipfli in 1938.  She was a bookkeeper at the creamery until she and Johnny moved to Carson City, Nevada to be near their children, Tom, Dick and Colleen.   
Employees were very attached to the creamery and the Bauhofer family, often coming in for coffee even on their days off.  Long-time workers included Dorothy Tyler, Lucille Scheuller, Elly Roche, Gene Ramsell, Tom Imholz, Nick Reina, Erma Schrank, Sam Cortez, Olga Salo, Toby Plimmer, Rita Brown, Dick Texeira, Fred Ruckli, Lloyd Harmon, Andy Anderson, and Gertrude Gutierrez.

Joseph, Jr. and Bill, Sr. took family members into the business, taught them how to serve the public, treat everyone with respect and give them a fair deal regardless of their situation.  Customers respected the family for all they did to help the community.  They never met a stranger.  They just hadn't met the friends that were to come.

Bill, Jr. bought the business in 1995 and decided to close the restaurant in 2001 because he wanted to retire.  The creamery continued to make ice cream for local restaurants and schools for a while, but for many residents it was the end of an era.  Their "home away from home" was just a building now, but it would remain in their memories forever.

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