Le Club Lafayette was founded in San Francisco in 1913 with the purpose of helping French immigrants settle in America.
In 1933, the Marin chapter elected to become independent from the San Francisco headquarters while keeping the name Club Lafayette.
In 1968, newly arrived Louis Toulon (then aged 30) and a certain Alphonse Fortino started a Club Lafayette “pétanque section” in Marin County.
It was mainly composed of Basque and Béarn natives. It had no American members and the only language spoken was French.
La Pétanque Marinière was born in 1972 during a friendly bull session.
It owes its name to the conjugated efforts of René Di Maio, Charlie Davantes, Marcel Parnell, Jean-Louis Bontemps and Louis Toulon.
They first thought of calling it La Boule Marinière, but it sounded too much like “moules marinière” and they settled for Pétanque Marinière instead.
Louis Toulon became its first president and kept the job for many years.
The club members (numbering about 20) first played at the College of Marin and at the San Anselmo Memorial Park.
They then started hankering for a place of their own and that where a certain Cecile Kosky played a crucial role.
Pierre Joske was then the powerful first general manager of the Marin County Open Space District and an early ecologist. It was around 1975 that Cecile who was the club’s secretary, met Pierre Joske through her father and became the linchpin between the nascent pétanque club and the Marin County administration. She worked with Pierre and was instrumental in securing the piece of land that is now our beloved pétanque court.
The 20 or so members of LPM rolled up their sleeves and without any financial support from the county, they rented some landscape equipment and cleared and leveled the field.
They also dug trenches and brought water to the courts.
The average age of club members was then around 40. Today it is closer to 65 and it might explain why it is a little more difficult to get things done than 30 years ago.
In 1973, the FPUSA (Federation of Pétanque USA) was founded under the impulse of Alfred Levitt, a pétanque enthusiast and a prolific painter/photographer who ran an art school in Provence.
Marcel Parnell, René Di Maio, and Louis Toulon (representing La Pétanque Marinière), Jacques Biscaye and Jean Krauer (representing La Boule d’Or) and Leon Mardorisian (representing Le Chat Noir) voted immediately to join the FPUSA.
In 1976, the year of the America Bicentennial, trees were planted on the court and have provided a blessed shade ever since.
Also in 1976, René Di Maio, Marcel Parnell and Louis Toulon went to Luxembourg for the Pétanque World Cup.
The Golden Age of La Pétanque Marinière, according to Louis, was around 1980. The club numbered around 50 members and was composed of young couples with children.
Entire families came to the field for lively outings. Since the French were at the time very macho, the women didn’t play then but enjoyed getting out of the house and meeting with their friends.
Today the club and its atmosphere are much different from the thrilling time of its humble beginnings. It is made up now of varying cultural backgrounds,
played by both men and women and is looking to increase it's membership.
Writen by Alain Efron/History from Louis Toulon