Friends wishes to thank Harold “Hal” Hyde of Corralitos for the generous donation of an antique solid mahogany Faro Table for our collection at the Kimbro House at the Castro Adobe State Historic Park.
“Faro was the most popular card game in the Old West… much more popular than poker because it was amazingly easy to play and odds for winning were the best of all gambling games,” according to the Sharlot Hall Museum. “Nary a saloon in the West was without it between 1825 and 1915…Because the game generally moved fast, it was very easy to cheat.”
The table donated by Mr. Hyde reportedly “came around the horn” in 1868 before completion of the transcontinental railroad. It was used from 1875-1925 at the Five Mile House Saloon at the northeast corner of Corralitos Road and Freedom Boulevard (then the Santa Cruz/Watsonville Highway). The Five Mile House served customers from all over the area and was possibly a stage stop. The saloon was about a mile from the Castro Adobe as the crow flies.
The table was purchased by Mr. Hyde’s parents, Harold A. Hyde, Sr. and Fern Kilburn Hyde, around 1925 after they saw it on a back platform at the saloon. After the elder Mr. Hyde’s untimely death in 1926, Mrs. Hyde used the table in her homes in Watsonville and Berkeley. It was then given to their son, Mr. Hyde, who used it at various locations — including for many years at his Corralitos home and as a conference table in his office at UCSC where he was the first Vice Chancellor of Business and Finance at the university.
Friends is so honored by his gift of this family treasure. We also would like to thank his daughter, Marilyn Hyde, for helping to facilitate this wonderful donation to Friends. One interesting feature of the Faro table design is a special cut-out area where the dealer sat.
We look forward to telling the story of this fascinating table to the public and learning more about the history of this kind of entertainment in the area. Was Faro played at the infamous Fandango dances held at the Castro Adobe?
This blog post was written by Bonny Hawley, executive director, Friend of Santa Cruz State Parks.