It seems that being a newspaper delivery boy can have a profound effect on a man’s avocation. Warren Buffett and Sam Walton both began their business careers as paperboys. And Pacific Grove’s Randall “Randy” Reinstedt gained a lifelong fascination of the history of his native Monterey Peninsula while running a route for the Monterey Peninsula Herald. Eventually that passion led him to pen more than 20 books that have collectively sold more than 400,000 copies to date.
Reinstedt has deep Peninsula roots and just about every corner holds a significant memory for him, personal or historical. Gregarious, charming, energetic and curious, he appears much younger than his years, despite his snow-white beard. Oddly enough, for a man of his literary accomplishments his academic years were nothing special. “I was a terrible student,” Reinstedt recalls. “If I came home with straight Cs it was cause for a family celebration.” He managed to earn a degree from San Jose State University, however, and landed a job as a supervisor with the Vallejo Recreation District.
During this period, Reinstedt also worked as a guide for an international tour agency. “The more I traveled and the more of the world I saw,” he says, “the more I realized how amazing the Monterey area is.” While he enjoyed his rec job, he told his wife Debbie that it wasn’t what he wanted to do. Monterey was on his mind: “the beauty, history and culture of this place called to me and I felt that kids should learn about it.”
More than Memories
Returning to school—this time with a goal and purpose—he earned an education credential, then landed a gig teaching fourth grade at Patton Elementary School on the former Fort Ord. Why that grade? “Because that’s when the schools began teaching California history.” He quickly grew frustrated with the required textbooks— and wrote the story of Monterey himself. “More Than Memories: History & Happenings of the Monterey Peninsula” was first published in 1985. In a unique, nonprofit publishing scheme, scores of businesses and individuals, inspired by Reinstedt’s passion, donated funds to allow 30 copies of the book to be distributed—free of charge—to every fourth grade classroom in the area.
Recently, Reinstedt reenacted this feat, but with a twist. “Over the years I have been approached by parents who became acquainted with the book when their children brought it home from school,” he says. “They loved it and wanted copies of their own.” So, after securing funding, a call went out to the community, asking potential recipients to submit a few sentences stating why they wanted a copy of the book. The response was huge—and heartwarming. He had no idea how beloved his book had become. “Every time I feel a little down,” the author says, “I just read some of those notes.” Some examples:
“I can think of no one better to write about our history than Randall Reinstedt. After reading his books and knowing how much effort he puts into each I don’t just enjoy them; I devour them. The book will be treasured and passed down to my great grandchildren.”
“I have lived in Monterey for over 35 years and thought I knew its history. Boy was I wrong. Randy Reinstedt and his book will no doubt teach me a thing or two.”
“What a wonderful thing you are doing.”
“As fans of Randy’s writing and storytelling, we would be honored to have a copy to share with our grandnephew and, hopefully someday, with our grand-children. As owners of many of Randy’s books, we know his ability to bring history alive.”
While a teacher, Reinstedt was contributing articles to history-based magazines such as True West and Frontier Times. “I was approached to produce a piece about the Monterey adobes,” he remembers. “My first thought? No one but a history nut like me would be interested in reading it.” That’s when he remembered his paperboy days. “While doing collections, I got to know a lot of the old-timers and they shared their stories.” Many of those stories involved ghosts and strange happenings in and around the spooky looking mud brick buildings that survive from Monterey’s Spanish era. “I incorporated ghost stories into the magazine article, and that brought it to life. The ghosts were a hook: they got people in and then they learned their history.” Soon, people were seeking him out to share their own spooky tales. And the stories are legion: With its often fog-shrouded, spindly, lichen-dripping Cypress trees, this stretch of California coastline is prime territory for creepy occurrences, actual or imagined.
Those stories were compiled in “Ghosts, Bandits and Legends of Old Monterey, Carmel and Surrounding Areas”, the first of what would become a series of books about mysterious events in and around the Peninsula: “Shipwrecks and Sea Monsters of California’s Central Coast”; “Tales, Treasures and Pirates of Old Monterey”; and “The Strange Case of the Ghosts of the Robert Louis Stevenson House” are among the titles Reinstedt publishes under the aegis of his company, Ghost Town Publications. Ironically, Reinstedt has never personally experienced a ghost or supernatural event. “But I’m totally convinced that they’re real. There are happenings that we just don’t understand.”
An aspect of Randy Reinstedt’s life that his readers have no inkling of is the fact that he’s a big-league “car guy.” He’s attended every Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance since its founding in 1950. In fact, he showed his Jowett Jupiter there for many years, finally winning a blue ribbon in his class in 1969. When Concours officialslearned about this long-running love affair, the Reinstedts were presented with lifetime passes— and, perhaps more coveted to devotees of the crowded car show, a lifetime parking pass.
The Reinstedt garage is testament to his automotive obsession. Resting under dust covers are a Fiesta Red 1956 Thunderbird and a 1948 MG. Both are in immaculate showroom condition, as is his daily driver, a 1971 Toyota Land Cruiser. He purchased that classic new and has logged more than 400,000 miles behind its wheel.
But it’s through the sharing of his love of the Monterey Peninsula and its rich history that Randy Reinstedt is rightfully famous.
“There are two things a writer should possess before sitting down to write about nearly any
subject,” wrote author R. Wright Campbell in his forward to “More than Memories”. “He should know it and he should love it.” Clearly, this dedicated writer does both.
For more information or to order Reinstedt’s books, visit www.ghosttownpub.com