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Glen Ellen’s Archie Horton’s life (‘so far so good’) and art

Glen Ellen’s Archie Horton’s life (‘so far so good’) and art
Archie Horton in 2022.Photo by B.J. Blanchard

By BJ Blanchard

Part of Glen Ellen’s charm is the abundance of writers and artists who have settled here: Timothy Dixon, Don Ponte, Bryan Tedrick, Dennis Ziemienski, John Lasseter, and the well-known writers too numerous to mention.

Meet sweet Archie Lee Horton. “I was born at a very young age in a small town called Hermleigh, Texas, population 350, in 1938,” the Glen Ellen resident claims. It was a happy childhood in the 1940s for Archie and his brothers, Lloyd and Bob, because “the kids went barefoot all day long in rural Texas, and that’s all we knew.”

Archie’s father was a farm worker picking cotton and corn, milking cows at local farms. When World War II began, his dad became a defense worker at a bomb assembly plant in nearby San Angelo, Texas.

Meanwhile, Kaiser Shipyards in Richmond, Calif., was hiring welders — welding was stronger than rivets for building military ships. Kaiser offered Archie’s dad welding work and brought the entire household out from Texas in 1944. The family thrived while the elder Horton worked at Shipyard #3 in Richmond, welding metal plates together for the hulls of battleships headed for the high seas of the North Atlantic.

Around 1953, after high school, Archie went into the U.S. Air Force, spending most of his time at Walker Air Force Base in Roswell, N.M. It was here that he ran across a matchbook cover advertising an art contest; so began his art career with the Art Instruction Correspondence School. In time, he took classes at the Art Academy of San Francisco on the G.I. Bill, with visions of illustrating covers of the Saturday Evening Post, Boy’s Life, and Cosmopolitan.

Instead, with a growing family to support, Archie’s professional life was spent working for PG& E in the graphic design department, making safety posters, advertising inserts, and slideshows for community outreach.

Anybody who knows Archie Horton will tell you he’s a sweetheart. Mild-mannered and softspoken, the very kind Archie has a huge talent: drawing.

Archie’s current artwork commemorates historical buildings and sites around Glen Ellen. His pen-and-ink line drawings have illustrated the Self-Guided Walking Tour of Downtown Glen Ellen, written with Bob Glotzbach, and prints of his historical images are sold at fairs and in galleries.

After retirement, when he moved to Sonoma as a single man, Archie began taking ballroom and country dance lessons at the Snoopy Ice Rink in Santa Rosa. “Snoopy and Woodstock are my favorite Schultz characters, but I had no idea I’d meet a life partner there.” It was here, on the dance floor, that he met long-time Glen Ellen resident Marge Everidge, a widow, and after several years, began a committed relationship with her. That union has lasted several decades, and to see Marge and Archie laughing together is to renew your faith in love.

Archie and Marge were two of the many who suffered during the 2017 fires. Archie lost all the work in his little studio on Warm Springs Road, including two in-progress portraits of his grandchildren. Marge, on the other hand, says, “We saved from the fires the most precious thing to me: my Arch.”

Enjoy Archie Horton’s line drawings of the buildings, bridges, and train stations of a disappearing Glen Ellen in future issues of the Kenwood Press. Some of his work will also be featured in a revised version of the Walking Tour of Downtown Glen Ellen, coming soon. There are also plans afoot for a collection of images, in watercolor and black-and-white, to be included in a formal portfolio of frameable images offered by the Glen Ellen Historical Society.