The Barn Interview
Interview Date: Feb. 4, 2014
Interviewed by Mariam Hansen; recorded by Bonnie Thoreen
MARIAM: So, about the barn.
DAVID: About the barn. Alright. Well, the barn existed here, an 1872 barn, existed here when my parents bought the property in 1940. And at that time, it was just a barn. It was a carriage house actually. So, we had room for the carriage in front and the horses were here, and they had a back door which went out into a corral for the horses. And I had the privilege of milking a little jersey cow here when I was 10 years old. So that was the part. But my parents didn’t do anything with the barn besides just used it for an outhouse so to speak.
So, we came back in ’72. When we came back in ’72 we found out it had dwindled some more. I had to jack the corner over here. This is called the, shall we say, the southwest corner. I had to jack it six inches, see, to level it. And we replaced some of the floorboards by the doors, the two-by’s. But the important part is we preserved all the square nails. There were square nails in this barn, so that’s what was the existence on that. So, I jacked the back up and we had to take off the 8 bottom boards off all the way around in order to replace those to make them presentable. So, we did that. We got 40 pounds of honey out of the wall and then we poured the concrete apron both front and back. Then we had the tack room here which was opposite the stalls, and that was converted to a little kitchen of some kind, right here. So that was the tack room.
So next door to this area here we had the drops for the oats from the hopper up on the second floor. And then we had the stairs over here, next to here, where you had to go up, very narrow. So, I had to redo all the stairs to code. So, we were very fortunate to have them match the window, and we were very fortunate to have it fit. So, it made code, as it was. So, we had to do the stairs.
Now, another thing is the door. There was three doors, one at the front, one at the side and one in the back. And they were all sliding doors. So, we made them into swinging doors because they were a little better to handle for humanity. The side door we cut in half, and the city, or the county said, “Oh, You gotta have a fire exit.” Well, the doors at the front and the back were so steep you couldn’t go out, and these, you had to be pushed out, so the side door became the fire exit. We cut it in half, and made the push from the inside for half the door and the other half was preserved on the outside to look like the door from the outside, so you’re preserving that.
MARIAM: Was it your intention to use it as an event space back then, or what was your intention?
NANCY: For our kids. More or less like a play station, for parties.
MARIAM: A playhouse.
DAVID: Our daughter had her 21st birthday here. She’s now 60. The first person who rented the barn, for her 21st birthday.
Anyhow, then we paneled the upstairs with vertical grade fir and put a new floor up there so that was all the same. There was a trap door here by the horse stalls and we hauled a piano up that way and did some other things. And so, the City or the County, rather, said, “You have to have a fire escape.” So, we took the upstairs door, and made a deck, and that was all brand new, for accommodation of County.
NANCY: That was a sliding door too, upstairs.
DAVID: I guess it was.
NANCY: Yes, it was.
DAVID: And that’s where all the hay came in, before. It used to be a hay barn upstairs for the horses. There were drops for the hay by the stalls here. We took the stall in the middle, and made the walls higher on the end stalls and made a double stall here with a pot-bellied stove and used the hay drop here for a duct to go to the ceiling as a chimney. On the two sides, it has “mares and “stallions” here, the restrooms, and we used the hay drops again for plumbing. The plumbing would come down there and do that sort of thing.
Now that pretty much takes care of the first floor. The people made us do a sprinkler system, so we have a fire protection with a sprinkler system along with all the other instructions we had to produce. We put a deck on the back, at the back door so that people could go out. And we had to more recently remodel both the deck and the upstairs access for the fire escape because of the weather and the deterioration. Between 1972 and 2005 we had some deterioration so we had to do a little repair work for the deck which was outside wood.
MARIAM: Wood structures just naturally want to deteriorate.
DAVID: Yeah, right. So, we revised those. When we first built
the deck outside, we had two stairs and then when we were revising, we just put
one stair right at the back. But those were the efforts downstairs here.
Upstairs, as I said, we put in paneling. And we had to take out one post, in
front of the door, so we could get in and out, and we used all sorts of
engineering to support the rest of it. We did use one corner for a restroom
upstairs and then we had to put a window in, to match the other window. We were
trying to preserve the architecture of the old barn. I think we did a pretty
good job on it. So that’s basically what we did with the barn.
We have a little deck out to the side here to accommodate the fire escape. So that’s about it, I think. I think that’s all I can scare up with. Nancy can fill in all the details after that. The outside of the barn, we did redo the lawn for our daughter’s wedding, and we had to put a septic tank in, of course, to accommodate things. That’s here. So, we’ve just ongoing landscaping for the terminology. Every six months we have to cut the grass.
BONNIE: Is that your land, up here on the hillside?
DAVID: No, it’s uh, it used to be…
MARIAM: Connie Corbet ?
DAVID: It’s Connie Corbet’s now. That’s Connie’s vineyard over there. We do go across the creek though. And we have some potential grass, and I got a barn over there and cows and things like that so there is a cultural (?) activity over there.
MARIAM: Are you talking about ???? Creek?
DAVID: Yeah, that’s Eastern?? Creek.
MARIAM: That runs into Sulphur Creek?
DAVID: ???? Creek is 300 yards down from the barn. And it, of course, drains the whole ranch.
NANCY: We have to talk about Joe Query who lived inside the barn in the 70’s.
DAVID: Yeah, after we redid the barn, we did have an artist here, Joe Query, who was a sculptor, and he did a sculpture of a gentleman over here.
DAVID: A self-realization of him out here in the backyard.
NANCY: And the interesting thing is, he used a PUC gymnast. That’s actually done from life.
MARIAM: A life sculpture. Interesting. How do you spell his last name?
BONNIE: I remember him.
NANCY: Yes, Joe Query.
(Unintelligible background conversation)
DAVID: The flat part below the barn here is an open space for growing things. It’s the only flat space on the ranch. It is used for vegetables and whatever comes along.
BONNIE: Where did you grow your corn?
DAVID: Oh, that was probably about six years ago.
NANCY: More than that.
DAVID: Well I grew corn for about six years and went to the Farmers’ Market with it. Half the time it all went to the food pantry afterward.
BONNIE: Good for the food pantry.
NANCY: One particular time he sold, what, $150 worth of corn, and I spent $120 on two decorated gourds.
BONNIE: Why not!
DAVID: Not much of a profit that day. We have an oak tree here, a live oak, that’s gotta be two or three hundred years old, in the back yard of the barn.
BONNIE: It’s a beauty.
DAVID: That’s sort of a significant little addition.
MARIAM: Oh, it’s beautiful.
DAVID: We built a little shed here to match the architecture of the barn, just to hold the lawn mower and the other little equipment that you use to maintain things with.
MARIAM: Tell us about this little house here. Who built it and how long has it been there?
DAVID: The little barn house is there…
NANCY: No, the cottage, David.
DAVID: But the cottage, alright, I’ll get back to the cottage.
NANCY: Who built it? Was it here?
NANCY: When your parents bought the property? It was here.
DAVID: Yeah, that’s what I said, when I was in the 8th grade.
MARIAM: Whoa! Oh, the party was at your place, huh?
DAVID: So, the cottage that we have here, which is about 25 yards from the barn was here originally. So, when we bought the ranch, the only buildings on the ranch at the time was the cottage, the white barn and the red barn, which was down in the vineyard. The red barn…
BONNIE: That’s a beauty.
DAVID: Yeah, well we tried to preserve the architecture on that, too. The red barn was part of the Edge Hill Ranch, Edge Hill Winery. And of course, the Edge Hill Winery is Mr. Rudd’s building now. The red barn had 16 sets of horses, and they used those for doing the vineyard. The vineyard property, at that time, went all the way to Sulphur Creek, so that there was 50 acres, 75 acres that were down in the flat. That one over there, in 1917, they had a phyloxera problem, and they went bankrupt. The Edge Hill Vineyards sold off the three parcels, 25 acres on this side of Sulphur Springs, and two 25-acre parcels over there. And we were supposed to provide water for those, for $36 a year.
MARIAM: So, North of Vallejo Street was theirs too, or are you talking south of Vallejo Street?
DAVID: Vallejo Street didn’t exist. It went all the way over.
Everything between Sulphur Springs and approximately to where the winery is, it
went straight to Sulphur Creek. So, all of that was part of that, part of the
vineyard. So that’s what existed here. (INDECIFERABLE) Back to the cottage
again. It was built in 1926 because in 1926 there was a Heath building, by the
Heaths. It was a three-story Victorian house down here, and that burned down in
1926. Another family, they built this little cottage to have a place to live.
But when we moved in here, Johnny Booth owned the whole place, and my dad
bought the ranch from Johnny Booth. And Johnny Booth was living there.
And so, we moved back and I went to school. A really interesting little story about this is, when we came back in 1972, I had to redo the house a little bit and fix it up some, and we were concerned about a septic tank. Well, the septic tank, all the time between 1926 and 1972, existed with a 36-gallon, concrete tile over here with 4 holes going out the side.
MARIAM: So, it was never pumped?
DAVID: I don’t know about whether it was pumped or not, but that was the septic tank was.
MARIAM: 50 years of sewage. Whoo!
DAVID: It went down there and kept all the vegetation green
there. But I was amazed, a 36-gallon little sumpting box. That’s all it was.
Today we had to build another septic tank for this house and we went down and
had to get all these codes, and the depth, permeability and all the other
things for septic tanks. So that now exists as a supplement to my
The cottage was about three bedrooms, a dining room, a kitchen and a living room. The heat on it, right now, as it exists, is just a little fireplace.
BONNIE: That’s it?
DAVID: That’s it now.
MARIAM: The mansion that William Sheffler built, where was it located?
NANCY: I’m going to show you the oil painting in our house.
MARIAM: Where was it?
DAVID: Down there by the juniper tree, beyond the redwood tree.
NANCY: And this was the carriage house.
DAVID: The driveway went from here, diagonally across to the red barn. It did not go down to Sulphur Springs. Sulphur Springs Avenue is brand new, so to speak.
MARIAM: The house was there, the stable was here, and the road between them. Was that always a vineyard? Did the Sheffler build that?
DAVID: No, when my parents bought it, it was a mixture of vineyard and walnuts. And Mrs. Minyagi, who lived over there, on this one parcel that had been sold,
NANCY: The Criners. Mrs. Minyagi was over there.
DAVID: Minyagi was over here, the Criners were over there. Louie Martini was there, but the Crullers owned the winery building which had been converted to a house in 1917. So, between 1917 and when we bought it, it was a house. And Martini bought it in ’52 and it continued to be a house. But of course, his wife, I don’t think, liked the place much because after Louie died, she moved in 6 months or less.
MARIAM & NANCY: Probably cold house! Stone.
DAVID: Back to the vineyard. Mrs. Minyagi made some wine for us the first year we were here and I’ve still got six bottles left.
BONNIE: Really! 1972 vintage.
DAVID: No, 1940!
BONNIE: Oh, that old! That’s as old as I am!
DAVID: Anyhow, my dad decided to take the grapes out and leave the walnuts. Well, when I came back in ’72, my mother was here so I had to help take care of things. The walnuts. We were costing us $1500 to pick the walnuts and prune them and all the other things. We were getting $300 for the walnuts for the year. So, we took out the walnuts and I planted hay for two years and then we put the vineyard in in 1979. That was Zinfandel of George Roots. And it’s now operated by Frog’s Leap.
BONNIE: Oh, is it? OK.
DAVID: But, of course for the red barn… Oh, for the historical part, my dad built that long house by the red barn. That’s called the chicken house. It’s 100 feet by 30 feet and that’s where my son is living now. It was called the chicken house because dad had 3,000 point-legged?? Chickens that went to Dulays??
MARIAM: Oh yeah. That was big business here. A lot of people raised chickens.
BONNIE: Like Nealy over on …
DAVID: He did that for six years, I guess.
NANCY: He made more on the droppings
NANCY: from the chickens than he did on the chickens.
DAVID: the eggs.
NANCY: than he did on the eggs.
MARIAM: A lot of people around here raised chickens because it was something you could do with a short-term small investment. You just had to buy the eggs or the little chickens and raise them up and then you could get eggs.
NANCY: Jenny always has chickens only somehow or other we have a rooster in with the hens.
MARIAM: You can’t always know when you buy them.
NANCY: No. How can you tell?
DAVID: Somebody who knows what they’re doing looks at them like this…but it’s not perfect. Down at Wilson’s they said it was 90% effective. So that’s it, you got one rooster out of 10 chickens
MARIAM: Shall we go up to the house now?
NANCY: Yes, we’re going up to the house. Could you bring that inside?
The House Interview
Interview Date: Feb. 4, 2014
Interviewed by Mariam Hansen; recorded by Bonnie Thoreen
BONNIE: Ok. Go for it.
DAVID: Ok. Regarding the Victorian house that burned down in 1926, I was told by Ken Taplin that he was here at the time. He’s in his 90’s now. He knew the people, the name of the people that were at the house at the time was Gratton, G-R-A-T-T-O-N, I think that shows up in your biography somewhere.
DAVID: And he said that the reason it went like that was because somebody took a shortcut and put a penny in a fuse box, and that’s what happened. So, it burned down with a little electrical fire. So that’s what happened in 1926.
BONNIE: Do you think that’s true?
DAVID: I do, yes.
MARIAM: I think it was 1932, David.
DAVID: So that was Ken Taplin, I believe, is the one who told me. I just thought that was an interesting comment about the house burning down in 1926. The penny in the… what do you have there? (Reading) “Residence completely destroyed by fire this morning”. Does it give a date?
MARIAM: Yeah, 1932 on the margin.
DAVID: 32, well see, I was told it was ’26. But, who me, I wasn’t here then.
BONNIE: And this comes from the St. Helena Star.
DAVID: Yeah, ok, well,
BONNIE: There you go.
DAVID: I can’t argue with history. I’m just telling what I was told.
MARIAM: It’s easy to get a number mixed up.
DAVID: If you two ladies want to look, I can show you a picture of the house.
MARIAM: Oh yes.
BONNIE: Oh my gosh.
DAVID: This is that little fountain that I tried to restore down there. But that was the house that burned down.
MARIAM: There’s the barn. I’ll have to get a picture of this. Can we get that light on?
DAVID: I don’t know how.
NANCY: Oh there. Put the light on Dad.
DAVID: I did put the light on, but…
MARIAM: He did but this one didn’t come on.
NANCY: Oh, you have it on. What’s wrong? Is it burned out?
DAVID: Oh, I guess it is.
NANCY: Oh, S***
MARIAM: It’s ok. I got a flash.
DAVID: I’m sorry dear.
BONNIE: I have that on tape.
NANCY: Oh, you want to move it somewhere else? (giggling)
MARIAM: If you wouldn’t mind taking it somewhere lighter, that would be very nice.
NANCY: How about in the kitchen? The most light’s here. How about over here? I will put on the… Take the other oil painting down, of the vegetables.
MARIAM: Well, I just need to have…
NANCY: Or prop it up there? Move the bowl.
MARIAM: You can just hold it up, David.
NANCY: Oh, OK, whatever. Or prop it with a chair right there. Help him, Bonnie…
MARIAM: You want to stand it up… Perfect.
BONNIE: Wow, that light really makes a difference. It just sparkles.
MARIAM: How nice that you got to keep the painting.
NANCY: Well you know, it was slashed. We had to have it restored. But, didn’t we find that in the barn?
DAVID: I forget where we found it. We were lucky to find it. It’s hard to say.
MARIAM: Well, it’s beautiful.
NANCY: It is a great one.
MARIAM: The painting is beautiful, but the house is beautiful.
DAVID: There was supposed to be a dance, like a ballroom on the third floor.
MARIAM: Oh, yeah?
BONNIE: Who did the painting?
DAVID: I don’t have any idea.
NANCY: Your sister has a painting from ???. She had a painting of the barn too. I’ve never.
DAVID: OK. I didn’t… there’s no signature that I can find.
MARIAM: No, I don’t see a signature. Wow. I had no idea it looked like that. I kinda envisioned it as having more of the touches of the White Barn.
NANCY: Did you think it was more ornate?
MARIAM: It’s more ornate and, I don’t know, I just envisioned it being long rather than tall, you know.
NANCY: Um-hmm. It looks quite large.
MARIAM: Yeah, William Sheffler spared no expense.
NANCY: Yeah, interesting that it curved, too, around here, like a wrap-around.
MARIAM: So, you must have had a lovely view from up there. From up there on this ?
NANCY: Yeah, it’s wonderful that we have it.
DAVID: Warren Haynes and Ray Lewelling used to walk to school together in 1905.
MARIAM: So, tell me about the name Otranto?. Where did you get that.
DAVID: That comes from my parents. Alexander Garden was in Charleston, South Carolina, and he was at Castle Otranto there. I don’t know how he got related to Otranto, but my parents thought “Otranto” was “Rancho”, it goes pretty good, “Rancho Otranto”
MARIAM: Actually, yes.
DAVID: So, they decided to use that motif. My parents’ idea.
NANCY: We’ll show you something in the other room. Our oldest granddaughter did an art project on Dr. Alexander Garden who had a home called “Otranto” and it was turned into a hunting lodge in Charleston, South Carolina. He was a botanist and a physician. So, we’ll show you the art work she did.
BONNIE: Is that Susan’s daughter?
NANCY: No, Yes! Susan’s daughter. Excuse me, Yes!
MARIAM: Melissa Streblow?
NANCY: Yes. Melissa. Here David, you can take the tray. I’ll take this.
BONNIE: You don’t have to do that.
NANCY: We’ll get some warmth. Oh, Bonnie, you have to see my hat. I went to the Mad Hatter’s. This is called a nest.
BONNIE: Oh, that’s a good one. I like it.
NANCY: Everybody made beautiful ones, and I said, “Forget it!”
BONNIE: I thought it was going to be next week!
NANCY: Well, the tea is, but we were supposed to make hats for the tea.
BONNIE: I know. I missed it. Again.
MARIAM: Do you have any other artifacts, or anything else from the property? (In the background, very quiet)…. in your collection?
NANCY: That’s Melissa. And, I don’t even know if we can get that. Can you…
MARIAM: I can get it.
NANCY: There, there it is. That’s the one on Dr. Alexander Garden.
BONNIE: Of Charles-town.
MARIAM: Southerners, were they?
NANCY: Yes. Charleston. You know we went to Scotland, trying to research Alexander Garden, and there must have been 25 Alexander Gardens.
MARIAM: Oh yeah, that’s the tough part about having a name that’s not unusual enough.
NANCY: But the amazing thing about this, and you can get it. But this is all hand done.
MARIAM: It’s a watercolor, isn’t it?
NANCY: Yes, that is. But even the picture, I think, she copied of the hunting lodge.
MARIAM: That’s amazing.
NANCY: Well, have a seat ladies. How much time do you have? David’s talked a lot.
MARIAM: Well, we’ll have all the time that you have.
BONNIE: Depending on how long our recorder holds out here.
MARIAM: Bonnie, do you need to be back at a certain time?
NANCY: Actually, we just don’t know that much about the history, but you’re making us…
MARIAM: Well, I did do as you said.
NANCY: Oh, great.
MARIAM: I forgot, but I did do a bunch of research for Leslie Rudd, of which I sent you some and I have more. I have all of the articles from the Star in this binder.
NANCY: Oh, how splendid!
MARIAM: So, I can make you copies, or if you had a copier, I will make them for you.
DAVID: We have a copier.
MARIAM: I do have the story in here of when your parents bought the property.
DAVID: 1903? 1943?
NANCY: Is this from the book you were talking about that Rudd…
MARIAM: No, that’s from just…
NANCY: No, but I mean what you have there.
NANCY: Is that IN the book?
MARIAM: What I did, is I tried to add to the book. They kind of skimmed over certain things, you know, in the book. They refer to, “This happened on this date”. Well, I went back actually to The Star and found the article of when that happened on that date. So, I went back and I found, you know, in The Star, and then I found the actual articles. So, the booklet that Rudd had produced didn’t have the actual articles in it. I have more on it.
NANCY: That’s fabulous! David, this says June, 1932 it burned.
DAVID: I know. That’s what they say.
NANCY: I was surprised. I thought it was earlier.
DAVID: I’ve been told ‘26 by all the people that were theoretically here, so…
MARIAM: Here it is, August 9, 1940. “The sale of the 820-acre Edge Hill Farm, for many years the property of John Booth, both Sr. and Jr. The purchaser is Nelson D. Garden of Berkeley. The beautiful estate is located just outside of the city limits. It has a fine vineyard and walnut grove and a poultry plant.” I’ll give you a copy of that.
DAVID: They blended the vineyards. They had all kinds of different grapes growing at the same place. So, you just picked them and they all went in the same box together. So, they blend in the field instead of at the winery.
MARIAM: Yeah, I heard that.
(In the background)
BONNIE: Thank you.
NANCY: Well you don’t want that one.
MARIAM: Umm. That’s yummy tea.
BONNIE: Thank you.
BONNIE: So, David, you and Nancy, or Nancy, you and David used to live up the hill?
NANCY: In the large home.
BONNIE: When was that built?
BONNIE: That was built in 1940.
NANCY: That was a huge house, yes.
BONNIE: I remember that.
DAVID: Dad says, I love this story, the road was going up like this, and he’d be in the ditch, with the rain, you know. And the people would come up from the town and want to see this big fancy house going in. So, they’d drive up here, and they saw him and ask, “What do you know about this house?” He says, “I don’t know. It’s a nice place,” he said. And they said, “Oh that Mr. Garden! He must’ve spent 5 million for this.” And Dad said, “Well, not quite that much.” (laughing). And they said, “Who are you?” “I’m Mr. Garden.” (laughter)
MARIAM: He must’ve not looked the part.
DAVID: No, no. He was in his jeans, with a shovel, doing manual labor. That was a fun thing.
BONNIE: What year did you sell that house?
DAVID: Must have been ’84 or something like that.
NANCY: ’83 or ’84.
DAVID: We had it for a time. We saved it til Susan’s had her wedding there. And then during escrow then, and we had the wedding before we moved. And then we were going to move down to the cottage.
BONNIE: Oh, really?
DAVID: But the Klotz’s were here. See my dad built this house in 1954 for my cousin, the Klotz’s. Well,
MARIAM: What was the cousin’s name, David?
DAVID & NANCY: Klotz, Alexis Klotz, Katie? and Alexis Klotz. K-L-O-T-Z
DAVID: So, they had this house, and he was renting it for $200 a month, you know, which wasn’t too bad.
BONNIE: I would have liked that.
DAVID: So, then he moved down to the…, it wasn’t Vineyard Valley, no that was after. He moved to the one on Spring Street first. It was little apartment things there. He moved there first. So, I thought, well, we’ll move here. Of course, that was, we did a little more work since. This was all brand new for me.
NANCY: He was a pilot for TWA. He flew in the open cockpits and delivered mail.
DAVID: He delivered mail down in Los Angeles.
NANCY: He wrote a book. What’s the name of the book? We have it. “A hundred…”
DAVID: “Three Years Off this Earth”
NANCY: What is it? “Twenty Years??”
DAVID: “Three Years Off This Earth” Not a hundred years, “Three Years Off This Earth”. He’s just talking about the hours he was off the ground.
NANCY: You should have a copy of that because there’s some history in there about John Daniels and…
MARIAM: Wait a minute, I’m lost. Who wrote the book?
NANCY: Alexis Klotz. I can get you a copy of it because it talks about Alexis and John Daniels flying into their airstrip.
BONNIE: On Whitehall?
MARIAM: Oh, I’d love to read that.
NANCY: Yes. And it has a lot of history about the early, you know, ‘40s and ‘50s, ‘30s, ‘40s and ‘50s.
MARIAM: Are there multiple copies available?
NANCY: It’s probably a limited edition. There weren’t too many people who were really interested in it. But it does have a lot of history of the valley. So, I will look that up for you, for sure.
MARIAM: Thank you. That would be great. Somehow that name is familiar to me, vaguely familiar. But I don’t know why.
BONNIE: So, you’ve lived in this house since the ‘80s.
NANCY: Right. About 30 years in this house. Before here, the ‘40s.
MARIAM: Between the 1940’s and 1972, you were living where?
DAVID: My parents were here all the time, of course. But for me, I graduated from Lehigh in ’52, and then I was working at Oak Ridge for two years, came back to Davis for two years, went back to Pittsburgh for about 35 years and finally came back out here again after my parents died. My dad died in ’69, my mother died, I came back out to take care of her, she died in ’76.
BONNIE: And Nancy, where were you from? You were from the East Coast?
NANCY: Pennsylvania. Bethlehem.
BONNIE: Bethlehem. I love it.
NANCY: And he went to school at Lehigh University when it was all male.
DAVID: That’s how I found her.
MARIAM: And you were hanging out cause that’s where all the men were.
NANCY: That’s where all the cute boys were. A little more excitement with the proms and dances and house parties.
DAVID: But the house parties, she always tried to ditch me. I brought her, and she was always…
NANCY: We don’t have to go through all of this. Let’s just… (laughter) We’re talking about other history.
MARIAM: During those 35 years, where were you working? What were you doing? Were you working?
DAVID: I was in a family business. For the steel castings.
NANCY: Metallurgical engineering
MARIAM: Oh, really?
NANCY: And as the foundries closed, we moved. You know, on the East Coast, there wasn’t much left.
DAVID: OSHA was closing everybody.
BONNIE: And here you are!
NANCY: Here we are. I wasn’t very happy to come out West.
BONNIE: You thrived though.
NANCY: Yeah. Oh, yeah. Wherever you go, you just…
MARIAM: But you left your parents, and everybody you knew.
NANCY: Right. And moved to the Wild West!
MARIAM: So, when you first came from there, you lived in St. Helena, or where? After your wedding…
NANCY: After our marriage, he went to Davis, for the second two years. Two years we were in Oak Ridge, Tennessee. And then he came back to school for Animal Husbandry at Davis. So, we did have two years here, and then went back to the East Coast again.
NANCY: I didn’t want to go to Bakersfield.
BONNIE: I can’t blame you. (Laughter)
NANCY: You can go to Bakersfield alone. (Laughter)
DAVID: I didn’t even ask her! I just knew better.
MARIAM: You knew she didn’t want to go to Bakersfield, right?
BONNIE: Why did your family decide this was the place to be?
DAVID: Dad thought it was a lot like the East Coast, he thought.
DAVID: That’s what he said.
NANCY: Well, he also worked at the University of California in Berkeley.
DAVID: What does that have to do with picking Napa County?
NANCY: Well, did he have a job before they moved out here, or what?
DAVID: Well, no…
NANCY: Chemical engineer with Livermore?
DAVID: Well, no, that was after he got out here, dear.
NANCY: Oh, OK.
DAVID: In other words, he came out here in 1940, and I guess he worked with Lawrence in Berkeley and they had the house on Cragmont Ave. in Berkeley, so…he moved back home to his house that he already owned in Berkeley. And then he was doing that and he wanted to get away from the war because the Bay Area, he thought, was risky.
BONNIE: A little bit of a target.
DAVID: He wanted to get out of the way of the war so to speak, and he came up here and then he commuted, you know, on weekends, up here and down there. But he was with Lawrence. When they started the Lawrence Livermore Lab, he was in on that, I guess.
BONNIE: So, he actually worked with “The Lawrence”?
MARIAM: What was his first name?
NANCY: And he was at Los Alamos.
MARIAM: So, were they on the Manhattan Project?
NANCY: He had a heart attack in the tower overlooking the…
DAVID: on the water tank.
MARIAM: Was he working on the Manhattan Project?
DAVID: Yes, he was on the Manhattan Project.
MARIAM: Oh my gosh!
NANCY: He developed the…
MARIAM: Lawrence did, but now I’m talking about Nelson.
NANCY: the artificial… what do you call it??
DAVID: The glove box.
NANCY: The glove box.
DAVID: He designed that.
MARIAM: What was Lawrence’s first name? His last name was Lawrence, his first name was___?
DAVID: He was at Health Chemistry too, after that, and his office was there on the University campus there on the hill.
MARIAM: Are you saying that Nelson worked at Oak Ridge?
NANCY: No, no. He was at Los Alamos in New Mexico. He was on the Manhattan Project. He knew all those scientists.
DAVID: Both Oak Ridge and Los Alamos. He had his heart attack at Los Alamos at 49.
NANCY: I couldn’t have been ’49… oh, at the age of 49. And at that time, you didn’t get out of bed for six weeks.
DAVID: Eight weeks. They wouldn’t even let him sit up in bed.
BONNIE: Those were the days, huh?
NANCY: Yea. A little different.
BONNIE: No kidding. Get you out and going. So, what was your mother doing all this time? She was raising you kids?
DAVID: Raising the kids, but my sister was ten years older than I was. I was here, then I was away at boarding school, I was away, you know, at college, and then married. She was working with the veterans.
NANCY: Guide dogs. She did do that.
DAVID: At Mare Island and Treasure Island. She knew the generals and the admirals and all of that. She got the people to come up here to the ranch and have a day out from the hospital and Mare Island.
MARIAM: Dogs for the Blind?
NANCY: Yeah. We have a picture of her with the…. Didn’t you call them “guide dogs”?
DAVID: Yes, yes, she worked with them.
MARIAM: What was her first name?
DAVID: Her mother was Louise Evelyn and mother was Evelyn Louise and her daughter was Louise Evelyn and her daughter was Evelyn Louise.
BONNIE: If you can get that….
MARIAM: Well, I know she was Evelyn Louise… I got that part!
BONNIE: Well, that’s rich. That’s rich stuff.
MARIAM: It’s interesting.
NANCY: It really is. In fact, the kids have seen a lot about Nelson Garden on their computers, which is interesting, which we don’t, haven’t collected, and we should have. We’re not very good historians, Miriam.
DAVID: He’d go to Hanford, Long Island. He’d do a lot of Health Chemistry activity, in other words, safety projects from the radiation. So that’s what he was supposed to go around and do that. He put in these power plants that were supplemental so if the generator went out, you’d still be able to do things.
NANCY: Can we get you a chair?
BONNIE: No, no, I’m following your voice. How was it for him, and for you, to change from being engineers and big business people to being farmers, basically.
DAVID: Dad, he was an electrical engineer from Cornell, in 1922. And then he worked for Pennsylvania Power and Light for a while, you know. Then, I don’t know, he met my mother in New York somehow. My mother lied about her age by five years, and she was 45 when I was born, and you weren’t usually that long…
MARIAM: That’s unusual.
DAVID: You don’t have babies at 45 too often.
NANCY: This is Louise Evelyn Jones.
MARIAM: (2nd conversation going on in the background) Don’t you love that part? That ???
MARIAM: The lace, is it all handmade?
MARIAM: That lace is probably all handmade.
NANCY: Oh yeah. In fact, we went to Scranton and saw the house. (Unintelligible) We have pictures of the house and the Victorian furniture.
DAVID: And then he worked with the brokerage companies or something like that. I don’t know, I didn’t know all that. I was too little to understand. Then he moved out here to the Lawrence thing in 1940. He owned the Salinas Inn in Salinas for a while. He bought it in 1932 or something. Then he just owned it and then we came back and would visit that every once in a while. You know Salinas, right?
BONNIE: Um, hum.
DAVID: He owned a business here, I don’t understand all that, I was too young. He went with radiation and he was with all of them all the way up to 67. He had a heart attack at 49 and then at 67, and then at 69 he had a third attack and it took him.
NANCY: He also had cancer, and you wonder about Los Alamos.
MARIAM: Oh, yeah!
BONNIE: No kidding.
DAVID: But he turned grey overnight when he got the cancer. But anyhow, 69 is still pretty young.
MARIAM: When did he pass away?
NANCY: What year? ‘69?
DAVID: July 7, ‘69. Cause he was back at our house on July 4th and he came out here. They were having a situation where he would bring one of our children, one of our five children, and each year he would bring one child out. He brought Ann out the first year.
NANCY: For a summer vacation.
DAVID: The second year, Susan was with him, so Susan was here when he died.
NANCY: Yeah, that was not a good experience.
MARIAM: He’s buried in St. Helena Cemetery?
MARIAM: Was he buried at St. Helena Cemetery?
NANCY: Ah, no. He’s buried back in Scranton.
DAVID: New Brighton, Pennsylvania.
NANCY: Oh, excuse me. You’re right. New Brighton, Pennsylvania.
Yeah, there is an obelisk, isn’t there.
DAVID: Yeah, the Barkers. My mother’s name was Barker, so they had a lotta people back there in New Brighton, Pennsylvania. My mother… they didn’t settle the estate for three years, so I came back out because I was co-executor, supposedly. But his secretary had been with him for 40 years, so I figured she knew what she was doing. But I came back out here and what she was doing, she had four drawers full of Social Security checks that weren’t cashed!
MARIAM: Oh, my goodness. (Laughter)
DAVID: So anyhow, I settled it and then I stayed here to take care of mother and I did the cows because I thought maybe it was a good idea, maybe or maybe not. Anyhow, so this is the first time in 40 years that we haven’t had any cows on the property.
BONNIE: You have no cows anymore?
DAVID: No cows at the moment.
MARIAM: So, when you started with the cows, how did you start? Did you buy some from someone?
DAVID: I’ll tell you how I started…I went out and I was going to get some young cows, and then I was gonna let them get a little weight on and then I was going to breed them. You know, get a bull and breed them. Well, I bought the cows. I bought 20 head, I think it was, from somebody over there in Lake Berryessa or somewhere. And they were just little calves, is what they were. So, I’m waiting for them, but the guy left the bull in all year long and all of a sudden, these babies were having babies.
MARIAM: Oh my. Painful.
DAVID: So that was the first…
BONNIE: You kinda learn the facts of life in a hurry.
NANCY: Right, right!
DAVID: So, I was a little disturbed with that. So, in ’72 I went to Simmental, they had Simmental cattle down at the Cow Palace.
NANCY: They’re a Swiss cattle. Breed them all, Simmental.
MARIAM: My parents had some cows.
NANCY: That’s right, you had cows.
DAVID: They were a good cow. They were weaned at 750 lbs. off their mother and at 6 months, so that’s not too bad. Born at 50 lbs., gain that much in 6 months.
MARIAM: Wow, yes.
DAVID: Everybody made a fuss about a calving problem, the calves being too big,
NANCY: They did have some.
DAVID: but I never had any trouble. One year I had seven sets of twins.
MARIAM &BONNIE: Wow.
DAVID: So, I was doing cows. Nancy was holding one down at the Cow Palace for me one time, and let it go. And that was the end of that.
MARIAM: Pennsylvania girls holding calves… (laughter)
DAVID: So anyway, I had another one, I had some more. Who was the couple that owned the Stelli, Stellis had property down there.
DAVID: Dick Wharton used to have a little house, a little property over here on the Dean York Lane area.
NANCY: He was on the highway.
DAVID: I had a cow over there. He had three acres or something and he wanted me to graze it, so I went over there and I fixed the fence there. And he had a gate, a sliding bar gate, you know. So, the cow got out the sliding bar gate, there were two of them. And one went up to Meadow, not Meadowood. What was…
MARIAM: White Sulphur Springs?
DAVID: One went up the road to… What’s the name of the housing there on the…
MARIAM: On Riesling? Madrona? Sylvaner?
DAVID: Sylvaner. Yeah. They all got out and went to Sylvaner. And then one went up and then out and back towards Sulphur Springs, and the other one went up to Bobby, Buddy Myer’s place and he caught it for me. So that was that.
MARIAM: No more grazing!
DAVID: All these experiences! Well, if you want more stories…We had cows and they went down, got out and went down Sulphur Creek, under the bridge in town.
NANCY: I thought that’s the one you meant.
DAVID: Under the bridge in town and came up down at Pope Street on this side of the bridge and I’m down there trying to get this cow, and I couldn’t find her and it’s at 10:00 at night. So, we went in the morning, at 7:30. Oh, there you are. Ran back up there to Pope Street, where I owned the property, and we were going through the vineyard like this and I said, “Shoot this bitch, will ya.” So, we shot her right there, and I called Sunshine Meat, and I said, “Help me get this animal on a rail, so I can eat it.“ And they said, “Call the tallow company.”
NANCY: Yeah, they did.
DAVID: And I went over and I was so mad I bought Sunshine Meat!
DAVID: I went over and bought Sunshine Meat. The plant. You know, the slaughterhouse. And so, we took the one cow we had, we had to get our pickup, take it here, brought it up and put it in the cooler at the old house there and I was able to eat it.
BONNIE: Did you butcher it yourself?
DAVID: Yeah, we cut it up. I mean
NANCY: I thought that’s the one we had the head in the trunk of my car because we thought it went berserk or some damn thing and I said, “If anybody stops and looks in my trunk, they’re gonna say, ‘Oh these two are really different!’” (Laughter)
DAVID: The County said you…
MARIAM: Oh, Mad Cow Disease!
DAVID: It was a County requirement.
MARIAM: You were breeding these animals for meat? And selling them then? Or butchering them?
NANCY: Not in the beginning.
DAVID: I was selling them. For steers, you used to sell them “on the hoof” and you’d go to an auction, unless you could get a person you could sell direct to. In fact, all right, the story… I don’t know why you’re talking about my history; we’re supposed to be talking about something else.
BONNIE: Yeah, back then
DAVID: I bought 400 head of Bill Bishop’s
NANCY: 400 head?? When?
DAVID: Way back when I had the slaughterhouse. And I bought 400 head at 50 cents a pound and I was going to kill them through the slaughterhouse, you know. You could get 50 a day or whatever it was, and 50 a day wouldn’t last very long, right? But I didn’t have enough feed here, so they went up, they were being fed up at another feed lot, and they were gaining and I couldn’t keep feeding them because it just cost too much. So, I could get 72 cents out of San Francisco on a rail, so I sent them to Idaho to kill them.
NANCY: Jesus, Where was I?
DAVID: I don’t know.
BONNIE: You were probably raising kids.
DAVID: You weren’t interested.
MARIAM: Where was your slaughterhouse, David?
DAVID: The Sunshine Meat.
NANCY: Rasmussen’s Winery.
MARIAM: O.K. Kellers.
DAVID: It was Keller’s Slaughterhouse way back when Leo Keller had it. So, Bob Crowslie and Dale Smith bought it and restored it a little bit and I restored a little more. Business was a little sparse. 2%.
NANCY: But you did kosher kills, too, remember?
DAVID: Sure, we did kosher kill for some people.
MARIAM: The Health Dept. shut Keller down.
DAVID: Pardon me?
MARIAM: I’ve been told the Health Dept. shut Keller down, and that’s why you were able to buy it, probably.
NANCY: Oh, for Heaven’s sakes.
DAVID: I bought it from Dale Smith and Bob Croslie.
MARIAM: No this was before Dale Smith.
DAVID: They were the ones operating it. They got it from Keller.
MARIAM: Right. ‘Cause the Health Dept. shut Keller down.
DAVID: Yeah. Because of the blood.
MARIAM: It was dirty. It was bad.
NANCY: We even had Amy, he thought Amy, when she was in high school, should be working. So, she had to work at the slaughterhouse. I don’t think she was on the floor, but doing office work . But I’ll never forget, what was his name? Sal? Whatever. “Little lady, I’d like to date you!” (Laughter) I said I think we’d better find her other employment.
MARIAM: Don’t forget I grew up down the road. On the Trail, at Zinfandel. So, we knew what was going on over there.
DAVID: The other time, one of the cows got out of the corral at the slaughterhouse, you know, and went up Taplin Road. So, we go up the Taplin Road thing there, and the USDA inspector is not too enthusiastic about this, you know. So, here’s the cow, so these guys, they shot the cow, put it in the back of the pick-up and brought it back down there, and the USDA inspector was really pissed. He was really pissed. (Laughter)
MARIAM: You weren’t slaughtering under approved conditions, were you?
DAVID: No, not really.
BONNIE: So, David, when your father bought this property, how many acres did he buy?
DAVID: It was 850, like I said.
BONNIE: 850 acres.
DAVID: Of course, there were 80 acres over in Sonoma County that they didn’t mention because it goes like this, like this, square lines. And Mother Nature doesn’t, doesn’t, you know, you got a hill here and you don’t pay attention to whether it’s north or south. It’s a hill. So, they paid… I bought a hundred acres next door, adjacent to the property to, just to fill in, so it was all one. So, then we got… So, then I went to Land Trust on the upper parcel, and we made 607 acres so that it… including the 100 acres that I bought. So, what I had to do was take seven acres off of the one parcel and add it in order to have 40 acres. I had to take 7 acres off of the 600 acres in order to do that. So, we did that. And they gave me a hard time. I said well look, the 600 acres… I also gave you another 100 acres, so what are you complaining about? You know.
MARIAM: Does your property meet up with McCormick Ranch?
DAVID: Not quite. Not quite. It goes to Sugarloaf. Where it takes it to Sugarloaf.
MARIAM: So, McCormick Ranch is north.
DAVID: Right. That’s at the end of… what’s the road?
MARIAM & BONNIE: Langtry.
DAVID: Langtry. Right. And you go up Spring Mountain Road and turn left on Langtry, right?
BONNIE: I had a tour of that property not too long ago. It is unbelievable.
NANCY: The McCormick Ranch?
NANCY: Oh, it’s wonderful.
BONNIE: It really is.
NANCY: I was so saddened when Acorn Soup couldn’t make it, because it really was a good idea to have our young people involved in agriculture and ecology.
MARIAM: To be able to go up there .
DAVID: Cain Cellars now up there. And I don’t know whether it was Cain or who, hired Laurie Wood to do the vineyard up there. But Laurie Wood said it was too steep and all that stuff, but they hired him and they got floods, tremendous floods up there, in the one area. And then Laurie, then they sued Laurie for something. He said, I told you so to start with.
NANCY: Do you know, did Rasmussen sell their winery?
DAVID: Oh yeah, that’s…
MARIAM: It’s Hill, Jeff Hill.
NANCY: Oh, so they did sell it.
MARIAM: Yeah, I think so.
DAVID: Jack Schultz, Jack Shultz converted it to start with.
MARIAM: Jeff. The man who has it now is Hill Wine Company, or Jeff Hill…
NANCY: William Hill?
MARIAM: No Jeff Hill. He’s somebody else.
NANCY: No, I don’t know him.
MARIAM: Not related to William
DAVID: But see, I bought that from Dale Smith and Bob Procise? And I operated it for about six or seven years or whatever it was. And then this Rasmussen bought it and I had a pretty good thing going. I had a $400,000 note at 12%, you know, which was still pretty good. 12% is what you’d get from real estate, but things have changed a little bit. And then I gave him a 2% discount after about four years.
BONNIE: 12% that’s…
DAVID: 10%’s still not bad.
MARIAM: So, you sold the slaughterhouse to Rasmussen.
NANCY: No, no. You sold it to Jack Schultz, who was really into hard liquor, both consuming and promoting. So, I was surprised.
DAVID: He was with Beringer.
NANCY: But wasn’t he from the South and he had liquor stores before that? I mean he was not really in the wine business until he bought the slaughterhouse.
MARIAM: Was it he who converted the slaughterhouse, converted it to a winery?
DAVID: Yeah, he converted it to a winery. And then Rasmussen bought it from him. And then this other Hill people, whatever they are, they got it.
BONNIE: So how many acres do you have today?
NANCY: How many in the land trust?
NANCY: There we go.
DAVID: There’s 80 in Sonoma County that I don’t pay taxes on, but you don’t count, I guess. But it’s there. And then there’s a… we’ve got 40, 40, 48, that’s 128, plus 172 so 300 acres. So, 300, 607, that’s 907.
MARIAM: 907 all together?
DAVID: I guess. That plus the…
MARIAM: Are they all contiguous? Or are they here, there…
NANCY & DAVID: No, they’re contiguous.
MARIAM: Do you own any other property in other parts of town? No, I don’t any more.
BONNIE: Not Pope Street anymore?
DAVID: I had Pope Street for a while.
NANCY: No, we sold that.
MARIAM: I remember the fire department burning down the house that was there.
NANCY & DAVID: Yeah, that’s right.
MARIAM: Whose house was that?
MARIAM: I know you owned it, but do we know the…
DAVID: Well, here’s the story…
NANCY: When did you buy that property?
DAVID: I don’t know. It was around in about ’75, or ’74, ’75 somewhere in there, because that’s when I bought this other. Anyhow I can’t give you an exact date.
Now back to the… I bought it from Ed Baroldo is who I bought it from, and I had it for 10 years. And I paid off the mortgage, $10,000. I paid $150,000 for it, which was a pretty good deal for 20 acres.
MARIAM: Those were the days!
DAVID: So, I paid $50 thousand down and 10 thousand a year for 10 years. And then I had it.
NANCY: What got you into the ecumenical housing bit. Who talked to you about that?
DAVID: Well, Bill… what’s the guy’s name…
NANCY & MARIAM: Bill McKeun (McEwan?)
MARIAM: His brother was in my class in high school.
NANCY: Oh really?
DAVID: He was talking about it, and then Fr. Brenkle and all that stuff. We had that, I mean, that was 20 acres. The house, who lived in it… Susan was living in it for a while.
NANCY: Tony Knickerbocker. They lived there.
DAVID: So, I said, OK, I’ll put another… she was going to have Doug. That was 28 years ago. OK, well I’ll put another room on for you. And then, well you’ll have to expand the septic tank. Well, ok. Then I was at the City Council meeting, oh hey, you can do that for less than $10,000 can’t you Dave? Oh yes. So, they were gonna let me go away without a permit or something. But anyhow, then the next day I get a letter from Gouveia, says you have to join the sewer district for $20,000. I says, well if I do that, then I don’t have to put in a septic tank, I can just tie into the sewer, right? Oh no, you can’t do that; you have to… So, Susan moved up to the ranch, and I rented it to Tony Holzhauer.
DAVID: Knickerbocker, rather. Tony Knickerbocker, and then his helper moved in after that.
NANCY: Shannon Kelly.
DAVID: They got… Moved away, or whatever. And then there was a guy, the house burned down up in Calistoga, and I let him live there for a little while til he could, you know, after his fire at his house. And then he moved some place. Then the fire department said, well, let’s burn it down. OK.
MARIAM: Was there two houses on the property?
DAVID: Yeah, there was a little one in the back. The back one was rented to one of the waitresses at one of the restaurants in here and she had guys coming in there galore.
DAVID: What do you mean, “Shhh”? Kicking the door down, and I had to fix the door.
NANCY: That’s true.
MARIAM: Cause I remember there was a building in the back that seemed to have, like concrete walls. The house in the back.
DAVID: Well, yeah, there was a dehydrator for walnuts.
NANCY: Oh, ok.
MARIAM: It had concrete walls. So, there was a house and there were people living in it until Montessori bought it and then Montessori demolished it.
DAVID: Well there was a dehydrator there when I got it. For walnuts.
MARIAM: Oh, ok.
DAVID: A little one. So, we raised grapes and Dave picked the grapes and Bob’s got some bottles downstairs called “Ain’t life hard Colombard”.
DAVID: That was that, then the guy burned it down, then we went into the housing thing. The guy that lived across the street wanted me to sell him an acre in the middle of the field, so he could have vineyard all around it, and enjoy all the open space. So, I told him, forget it, buddy. I was the one that, when we were doing Stonebridge, I got a $970,000 grant from the state to put a road over to Howell Mountain, you know.
NANCY: Here he goes…
DAVID: It would have cost about a million and a half, so the City came up with $200,000 to get a new bridge over to Howell Mountain, but we had Toller, Savidge…
NANCY: Oh boy, these names are ingrained in…
DAVID: Yeah, Potter, and Gard was on there and they voted three to two, “No we don’t want that.” So Savidge…
MARIAM: You were going to build a new bridge across the Napa River?
NANCY: Yes, and keep the old one for bicycles and pedestrians.
DAVID: I wanted to leave the old one for bicycles and, pedestrians and bicycles on the old Stonebridge. And drive to Howell Mountain, and put in a light like they have at Deer Park so you can control the traffic, and make it wider so you don’t bump into each other going across there, but they said no. OK. But it took me five years to get that Stonebridge and the college together. Five years to get it through that.
NANCY: To even approve it.
DAVID: They found an Indian skeleton down there
MARIAM: So, you were working on the college project and the apartment project at the same time?
DAVID: Oh yeah.
NANCY: One apartment.
DAVID: It was one permit or so-called application for a subdivision or whatever you want to call it. I went to the City Council even prior to that and said I want, how about giving me four 5-acre parcels. Oh, well, what are you going to build? I’m not going to build anything, I just want to get four parcels, before you down somebody to A-20.
MARIAM: Oh yeah, well it’s A-5 now. The surrounding parcels are A-5.
DAVID: Is it A-5 now? I don’t know.
DAVID: And then I drilled a well, you know. And I said, OK, City, you can’t tell me we can’t have housing because here’s water for you now. Can’t say, “no water”. And then they built the plant. I sold an acre to the city.
MARIAM: So that’s where the Stonebridge Well is now? Down there?
DAVID: Yeah, yeah.
MARIAM: Is that the one you dug, then?
MARIAM: Wow. Really!
DAVID: Yeah, it was 250 gallons a minute. But it was tested at 800, 800 gallons a minute. But it’s 410 feet deep.
MARIAM: Wow. That’s a good well.
DAVID: Then they were going to treat it. Browlgy Rays, over in Sonoma County put the well in, I mean he put the pump in. He put in overhead, 5 horse overhead. And the shaft, pumping, was 88 feet deep. He had an 88 ft. shaft that was like this, see. And I said, “why don’t you put a submersible in?” “Oh, no. We’re engineers. We know what we’re doing.” But with a 5-horse overhead, they bummed it up a little bit and they finally put a submersible in.
BONNIE: What does “a 5-horse overhead” mean?
MARIAM: A 5-horsepower overhead pump?
BONNIE: What does that mean?
DAVID: A 5-horse motor, at ground level, with a shaft that was 88ft long.
BONNIE: We’re running right up to an hour.
MARIAM: Is that a digital? You can’t switch tapes or anything?
DAVID: One more story.
BONNIE: No, no, it’s fine. Keep going.
MARIAM: No, we love it! Go ahead.
DAVID: I said, we have to put a storm drain in here to take care of the things like this, and I suggested they make it so, a design so that anybody over where Molinari had his housing, so that this storm drain would take care of the water from there when they decided to do something with it. So, I said, “it will take a 48-inch storm drain, right? That’s what it will take.” “Oh, Mr. Garden, you don’t have a license, you aren’t a licensed engineer. You don’t know what you’re talking about.” So, it cost me $8,000 to get a licensed engineer to tell me I needed a 48-inch storm drain. (laughter)
DAVID: So, we did that, and then Corps of Engineers wanted their say, too you see. So, they were going to have all the instructions, the perimeters, you gotta do this…
Then I had to get the traverse of the river. Every 50 feet, I had to make a drawing, you know, of the river, what it’s like. I had to get the flood history of the river in that area. So, I did all this, and I got the drawings and I got everything. And I took it to San Francisco, “please expedite”. I got a Fish and Game permit to put water into the river, and they gave it to me for $25. Thank you. OK. Then Corps of Engineers took two and a half years to approve it.
DAVID: So, we finally got it done, and after the okay, it took me two weeks to put it in, see. Done! And the only thing Fish and Game wanted was riprap on the end of the pipe so it didn’t cut. So, we put that in, got everything going, and two and a half years, a second permit for Fish and Game was $120 the next time.
MARIAM: You know, I’ve walked along there quite often and there’s a big old pump, I guess it is, or a motor out there, housed in a wooden shack, right on the river edge.
BONNIE: More toward Molinari’s.
DAVID: How far down is that? Now you may be down there where Ernie vonAsberg used to be.
MARIAM: I’m talking about, right about where McGowan’s house is, on the end of Mills.
DAVID: OK, yeah. That’s where Ernie Von Asberg, that’s Ernie von Asberg’s pump. Ernie von Asberg owned that 29 acres which was right next to me, just down the street. And that French people put a vineyard in there. And I think Omega or somebody had it done.
MARIAM: Oh, Paul Birebent
MARIAM: Birebent (French accent) B-i-r-e-b-e-n-t
DAVID: Yeah, the Frenchman. So anyhow, during the drought, they took the water from Ernie’s well and ran it up to Pope Street and put it in the City’s system. But they had to get a pipe across my property to get it there. So that was fine. And then we got the housing and the college and everything was fine. And of course, I was left over with the six acres, which is now Wappo Park, I guess.
MARIAM: Was that part of the original plan? To have Wappo Park there?
DAVID: Well, I had six acres there.
DAVID: That’s where I grew the corn. I grew corn there for three years. But it was open space and it was out of the floodplain supposedly, or at least it was protecting the housing. And so, I just used it and I put water in there. Used the water from the well, you know. I asked the city… I had a 60,000-gallon stainless tank for water, for irrigation. I said, City, you don’t have to put treated water into that tank. You can just pump water from the well into there and I can use it to irrigate and it should cost less because you’re not treating it. Well, they couldn’t figure that one out. The Browsly-Rays people that put the 5-horse thing in, well, they couldn’t figure out how to handle that. So, I ended up… the City charged me for the water.
MARIAM: For your corn?
DAVID: So, we talk about the $115 corn compared to the, $150 corn that the City would charge me $11,000 for water that I had put the well in and tank and everything else.
MARIAM: And you think today’s City Council is bad! (Laughter)
DAVID: So, we finally did that, and then they said, Oh, Mr. Garden, we’d like to buy that from you because we want to put in another well. OK, OK, so I sold it to them. I got ??? them for $90,000. OK, Wappo Park, you can handle this. And they drilled another well and they haven’t used it yet, I don’t think. But I planted redwood trees down there.
NANCY: Here we go…
MARIAM: Oh, yes.
DAVID: I planted a big bunch of redwood trees down there. Tried…
MARIAM: They’re still there.
DAVID: Right, right. But have you been over there to look at them? How close they are? They’re grown down so low, nobody prunes them or cares for them or does anything.
MARIAM: No. No, they don’t.
DAVID: It’s a complete and absolute mess.
NANCY: That’s a shame.
MARIAM: I walk there quite often.
DAVID: I mean, it’s, it’s. I walked over there and they put that dog pen in, and somebody put some little oak trees or something. I was told, I was told by the red-headed guy at the city, that they spent $350,000 to put in the picnic tables.
BONNIE: Oh, come on.
MARIAM: They got a grant for it.
DAVID: I’m just telling you what he said.
NANCY: You’re kidding.
MARIAM: It wasn’t just the picnic tables. They put in a walking track and a fenced-in dog park.
NANCY: Oh, a walking track.
DAVID: Oh yeah, right, right. was in a lifetime, right?
MARIAM: Yeah, some kind of crushed rock.
NANCY: And didn’t I hear they didn’t even have any water for the dogs, or something?
MARIAM: Yeah, they finally put a water fountain in for the dogs.
NANCY: Did they? OK
MARIAM: And the fountain is now broken.
DAVID: I mean, I put all kinds of irrigation in along there. All they’d have to do is connect it. But the trees; they could handle those trees a little better than they’re doing. I had it set up; they could have had two soccer fields there.
MARIAM: Yeah, yeah. Well, apparently the problem is the city staff is too low.
DAVID: Okay, okay. Kathy Carrick was the recreation person and I gave her a map of all of the… I planted… I took different trees from around and planted them there along the creek so that you could make a little walk there and you could see a madrone and a “Doug Fir” and you could see a Ponderosa, and you could see all these different kind of trees along the bank of the river, which I thought would be an enhancement for a park, you know. Well, I don’t think half of them have survived. But Kathy Carrick… I had a map; I gave her the map. And Albion Savidge, you know Albion?
DAVID: OK, well she told Albion to send the disk over to the landscaper in Santa Rosa. Then next thing I know, I got a bill for $450 for my disk. I said, well what’s this $450? She said, well I just sent the map over there. I said, well I would have been fine if you’d asked me for the map. I would’ve been glad to give it to you. But she just told Albion to send it over there and I got a bill for $450.
NANCY: That’s past history.
DAVID: Well, it’s past history, but everything is past history because yesterday is history. Isn’t that true?
NANCY: What’s the size of Wappo Park?
DAVID: Six acres.
NANCY: Oh OK.
MARIAM: You know, just to change the subject for a minute. When we came up the hill, past the gate, came up the hill, it’s… there like a big sort of valley right there, that you can’t see from Sulphur Springs. I was very surprised. And then there’s like a hay barn on one side and then there’s a house there.
NANCY: That’s our daughter’s.
DAVID: That’s Amy’s house.
MARIAM: So that’s your property down there.
NANCY: Yes, yes. It’s all… yeah.
MARIAM: So, you have Amy in that house. Susan in the little cottage…
NANCY: Jenny in the barn, and David’s in “La Coop”.
DAVID: David’s in the chicken house.
MARIAM: David’s in the doghouse, no the chicken house.
NANCY: The chicken house.
BONNIE: And how about Ann?
NANCY: Ann’s down in Greenbrae. (laughter)
MARIAM: Good thing you got so many acres, you know, so they don’t have to see each other!
NANCY: Right, right. Well, yeah, we…
MARIAM: Now did you change the stables where Jennifer lives? Did you change that into a residence or did someone else do it?
NANCY: You mean the barn?
MARIAM: The barn.
NANCY: that she’s in? No, no, that was here when we came. But you did a lot of work on the red barn.
DAVID: I did a lot of work to try and preserve the architecture.
MARIAM: But it was a residence when you…
DAVID: No. It was a barn.
MARIAM: Well, who converted it to a residence?
NANCY: Well, if you want to call it a residence.
DAVID: It’s not a residence. It’s just a place to sleep, hang your hat.
NANCY: He did that, added on. The two sections were open, from the basic structure, then he filled it in.
MARIAM: From the center?
DAVID: I had to spend a lot of time getting custom windows to match the architecture of the barn.
NANCY: That’s a great barn. I love that barn.
MARIAM: I’d love to see it.
MARIAM: So, is it just one big, large room, in the middle where she is?
NANCY: Downstairs, yeah. And then when he added the little sections, that’s where her bedroom and bath is. And then David uses the other section for storage.
MARIAM: So, is there a hayloft, up above?
NANCY: Yes, there was, before.
DAVID: There’s a second floor, yeah. That’s where the hay was, before.
NANCY: Ann had her studio up there but in the summer it’s just too hot.
DAVID: The one big room upstairs, and then downstairs there’s the little kitchen area over here and then a bedroom. I had two bedrooms there, but one’s a bath and one’s bedroom. I was going to make it two baths, you know, Men’s and Ladies’, you know, so if you wanted to…
NANCY: No, you thought I was going to make another White Barn, and I said, forget it!
DAVID: It would be a Red Barn, dear.
NANCY: Well, whatever!
DAVID: I set it up for plumbing to have two restrooms. But the one ended up being a bedroom. So anyhow, both the White Barn and the Red Barn, I spent like a lot of time trying to preserve the architecture, and I think I did pretty well.
BONNIE: Beautiful! Beautiful buildings.
MARIAM: They are. How many acres do you have in vineyard?
MARIAM: Fifteen acres in vineyard. Have you ever thought of planting more? Have you got room for more vineyard?
DAVID: I’ve got places for vineyard.
NANCY: There’s little areas, like below the barn, and across the creek.
DAVID: There mostly three, four, five acres maybe. But the terrain is such… I mean it’s a possibility. I’ve got a place up in the other 600-acre parcel. There’s probably room for about eight acres there.
MARIAM: Yeah. Sounds like a lot of trouble and you’d have trouble getting up there, and getting equipment up there.
NANCY: Yeah, that’s the problem. But there is a nice level area going up that road.
MARIAM: So now, do you have hiking trails up there? Do you go for hikes up there?
DAVID: No. We have access but that’s why we have an electric gate down there and that’s why we get, “Stay the hell out of here will ya.” We’ve got too many visitors coming up.
MARIAM: We saw a sign right here by your driveway that says, “Wax this way, Gardens”
NANCY: That’s to the old house. The old large house.
DAVID: They bought the old house.
MARIAM: Yeah. Who are they?
NANCY: Richard Wax and Hildegarde Wax. He’s an entrepreneur, a developer. Mostly in…
DAVID: $5 million houses.
NANCY: $5million?? More than that. Mostly in Colorado. Where do they…
DAVID: Over there in Aspen, Colorado.
MARIAM: So, they don’t live there all the time? Is this a second home then?
NANCY: More or less.
DAVID: Well, it could be.
MARIAM: Or just to have it for fun? They never go there?
NANCY: They’re here, but he’s always developing property, either in Puerto Vallarta or in Aspen. So, they’re gone a lot.
MARIAM: How much, how many acres is involved in what Wax owns?
DAVID: No, 20, dear.
NANCY: 20. I’m sorry. Before they changed it to 40.
DAVID: I got it done down to the wire.
MARIAM: Yeah. So that’s interesting. When you come from the barn, you know, there’s just this landscape back here. It’s so unexpected. You just think it’s going to slope up the hill, right?
DAVID: That’s why we’ve got a gate, to discourage visitors.
MARIAM: Before you put that gate in, did you have tourists that just decided they’re going to take a little ride up your property?
DAVID: A lot of high school kids used to neck up here.
MARIAM: Oh really?
BONNIE: Down at the end of the road.
NANCY: Yeah, at the end of the road.
MARIAM: At the end of Sulphur Springs.
NANCY: They spread their blankets.
DAVID: When I went to school, I thought it was a good idea too, but I couldn’t find any girls to neck with me. (Laughter)
NANCY: The best one, the best story of all, we were in our large home up there and we had Katie Micheli as the cook. And Katie, she had a boyfriend. What was his name?
And Katie was in her 60’s then I think. And one-night David and I are coming home and here’s Katie necking at the bottom of the hill with her boyfriend. (Laughter). And I thought that was so cute. (Laughter)
MARIAM: That’s great! Is this Anthony’s mother?
NANCY: Yes! Wasn’t it Anthony? Wasn’t that her son?
NANCY: No that’s the wrong one.
DAVID: Mike Micheli, from Central Valley.
MARIAM: Oh, this Micheli. So that was her son? So, was she married at the time?
NANCY: No. She was… I don’t know if she was widowed or divorced, but no. But I thought it was so cute. ‘Cause I thought, “Oh my God, necking at 65! I mean, Geez! You’re pretty old.”
DAVID: It’s still fun.
MARIAM: It’s never too late.
NANCY: That’s what I mean. But when we were 40…
BONNIE: It seems younger and younger these days.
NANCY: That was cute.
MARIAM: Hey, I live in Vineyard Valley. I see all sorts of stuff. I like cheering them on, “You go! You go! Go for it!” (Laughter)
NANCY: Well I always hear that when a woman dies at Vineyard Valley, boy he gets a lot of casseroles and what have you.
MARIAM: Oh, yeah.
NANCY: The widower.
MARIAM: Except if they’re gay, which is the case with several people. Dieter Doublefield, do you know him?
BONNIE: Oh, Dieter’s an old buddy of mine.
NANCY: Well, ladies.
BONNIE: Shall we wrap?
MARIAM: Thank you so much for inviting us up here.
BONNIE: Let me just say that we are here with Nancy and David Garden. It is February 4th, middle of the afternoon. We’ve been at the White Barn, and now we’re at their home. Mariam Hansen is doing the interviewing and Bonnie Thoreen is doing the recording.
DAVID: I don’t want this to appear on “60 Minutes”.