Tuesday, August 20, 2013


Update:   This is what the sky looked like this morning from the front porch.

Fire still raging - has burned nearly 14,800 acres and is 49% contained.

The smoke is still filtering into the foothills every morning and lasting most of the day.


The Captain and I are avid television viewers.  We enjoy nothing better than to sit down, with a good treat,
(we probably enjoy the treat just as well)
and watch a movie or one of the many TV shows that we follow.

I can't abide sitting through a commercial anymore since the advent of the DVR.  We have two DVR's recording at the same time so we have quite a selection for our viewing pleasure.

One of the popular shows that we watch is Mountain Men.  The series follows the lives of 3 or 4 men, some with a family, that live off the land in different parts of the US in the deep wilderness areas.

As we watched last evening, Eustace, in the wild of the Blue Ridge Mountains, was replacing his tool shed that had taken a hit from a falling tree during a storm.  He works with his hands with minimal tools and old-fashioned ingenuity.

My grandfather around 80 years of age

My dad around the age of 19

My grandfather and my dad also worked with their hands.  My grandfather owned and operated a shook mill in his early days and my dad followed suite with his own saw mill, both of which were located on the ranch property.  They both built their homes and worked the land as well, harvesting and falling and milling their own trees for lumber.

These are pictures of remnants of my grandfather's shook mill.

In this particular picture we climbed up the ladder and across the platform we jumped into a large pile of sawdust that always piled up from sawing the lumber. If I remember correctly, the thin tree truck that you see in the foreground was a wild cherry tree. The ripe fruit was very bitter but my mom used to make some killer cherry pies from it.

As you know from my last post, my family didn't always have the most modern conveniences at their disposal.  Looking back, I have to come to the conclusion that maybe this wasn't always due to necessity.  I think my grandfather and consequently, my father, enjoyed living close to the land and, to be honest, think they considered themselves somewhat Mountain Men.

My great-grandfather's blacksmith shop

My great-grandparents came over from England.  They settled on land situated in the Santa Cruz mountains in the time of Abraham Lincoln.  My great-grandfather was a smithy and carried out his craft in a shop that he built on the property.  I never knew my great-grandfather but I do remember my great-grandmother although she passed away when I was quite young.

From left to right:
My maternal grandmother
My paternal grandmother
standing in front of my grandparent's log home

My grandfather was raised on the ranch and when he married my grandmother, he built their first home, a log house, on the property.  My dad was born and raised in that home and, sadly, it burned down sometime in the 1940's.  I was just a little girl but I can still remember, to this day, how that smelled right after it happened.  My grandfather then built another house for them to live in on the ranch.

This is the second bridge built on this site. You can barely make my Dad out, on the right side, in the shadow of the trees.

My grandfather and my dad built the original  bridge that spanned the Soquel Creek.  It was the only access to the ranch after you turned off of the county road.

  In 1955 the Soquel Creek over ran it's banks and debris from above stream, washed down and took out the original bridge.

We lived about a mile up the county road at the time and came down to be with my grandparents during the storm.
My dad and grandfather rigged up a seat on a pulley across the creek so we could have access to the county road.  They had moved the car to the other side before the bridge was swept away.  All of Santa Cruz county was greatly impacted by that storm that year.

A small grove of redwood trees at the ranch.

What looks like a small grove of redwoods was really my "house" from the age of 12 to the age of 17.

It started out as a 'fun summer experience'.  My parents were remodeling the house that my dad had built when I was a tiny baby.  It was going to be so exciting to live down at the ranch for the whole summer!

He strung canvas around the trees, 'divided' up rooms; a kitchen/living area with a wood burning stove, a small refrigerator (oh, we did have power) and a picnic table with attached benches.  A bedroom for my parents, a bedroom for the three of us kids, and a closet for storage, supplies and clothes, rounded out the well-stocked habitat.

Outside the canvas was a bench that held a large tub for fresh water that we took turns carrying, by the bucket full, from the main water tank that was situated across the field from the 'camp', as it was affectionately called!  We heated water on the wood stove for doing dishes and baths, which were taken in private, in the closet.

Oh, right! You can laugh at it now!
My dad and myself. What was I pointing at?

Remember when I was a little girl and had to use the 'facilities' at my grandparents?  I considered that fun!  When you are a teenager and using those same type of 'facilities' for a little more than just 'one fun summer' - NOT SO MUCH!!

This same road that took us down to the 'washroom' was also the road on which I learned to drive.  We had a 1949 Studebaker, the ones with the pointy nose in the front.  I was able to drive by myself up and down this road but there was really no place to turn around and I couldn't back out between the trees.  By the time I learned to drive that poor little car didn't have much of a pointy nose left!

I can't remember if I was pointing to the front of the tree I always hit, or the back of the tree where the outhouse sat!

My Grandpa, Grandma and their dog, Cindy. Taken in front of the old barn where Grandpa milked Old Bossy and let us squirt fresh milk into the mouths of the barn cats.

My grandfather passed away and my grandmother moved into a retirement home until her death.

The ranch was sold around the early 1980's and this is what that big open field, where we picked apricots from a few trees and loquats from a huge tree and watched deer graze, looks like now.  Another family lives there and they operate a family nursery.

The beginning of the driveway to the ranch.

It was around this corner where we used to ride our bicycles, climb cherry trees, swim in the creek, squirt fresh milk in the barn cat's mouths, and had the most wonderful childhood imaginable...

All those years that the ranch was in my family's possession, it never had a name.  It was just known as the Allred place by everyone in the community or by the ranch when any family member mentioned it.

Most of the old timers in the community are gone now and anyone new passing by on the county road is not aware of the history that was made down this country lane.  

Because of the generosity of the present family that live on the ranch now, a glimpse into the past is offered as you turn off of the county road and make your way down towards the sweet cherry orchard and the old swimming hole.


I'm sharing this bit of history with:


  1. Your pictures are just precious! Angela

  2. I just read every word, Judy. What a wonderful tribute to your family with all the pictures and history. I hope you preserve this for future generations so that they, too, can know their roots. You lived in those trees in tenting. Were winters mild enough to do that then or did you just stay for summers and move back into the house for the winter? Amazing story. xo Diana

  3. Beautiful. I am sad the property is still not in the family after seeing those lovely photos. But the memories were priceless.

  4. What a beautiful story of your family So many lovely
    Pictures and Memory of your roots.
    I enjoy so much your family story

  5. Oh Judy what a wonderful story and it brought back so many memories of my childhood. My family is from Buchanan, VA and the Thrasher Farm as it was called hold so many memories for me. I only went there in the summer. We also had a mill that ground wheat and a Lumber Mill close to the James River.
    What a wonderful childhood you had doing all the fun things that we did in that era. I love all the pictures that you took. What a wonderful story for all your family. Thanks so much for sharing this beautiful story.
    Have a great week.
    PS I'm sure some of my relatives were Mountain Men too.

  6. Judy, I really enjoyed reading about your early childhood and the lives of your grandparents and great-grandparents. The photos are wonderful and the memories are treasures. I think your great-grand and your grand were true mountain men and lived off the land to survive. What a wonderful legacy! I'm glad you are able to re-visit this place in person. Thank you for sharing. Pam

  7. Dear Judy,
    Even though I am not amongst the people that you are sharing with.. I have to tell you , that I cried reading this beautiful post. I closed my eyes and read it twice.. I could see you all running around and squirting the milk..and could feel the happiness and energy through your writing of the love for both grandparents ..paternal and maternal..
    What a shame the Ranch couldn't have gone to you.!
    Would love to read more about your childhood..
    Our memories seem to become closer and more vivid to us as we get older.. A super post Judy.. love val x x x x

  8. Oh that is lovely - I read it over and over - what memories. Childhood should be sweet and lovely like that. Thank you for sharing.

  9. Judy, this is a thoughtful look back. Very special! Thanks for sharing these sweet memories.

  10. This brought back memories of my grandparents' cottage that I spent a good deal of time at during the summer growing up. Outdoor facilities, a wood stove that churned out the best roast beef and homemade pies and throwing the dishwater out the back door onto the flowers growing there.
    I don't think kids today have as much fun as we did climbing trees, picking fruit and spending daylight hours outside.
    Thanks for sharing this homey feeling post.

  11. I loved seeing your grandfather's old mill. So nice to hear some of your childhood memories too. Have a blessed day.

  12. Aaaah Judy so sweet and wonderful to visit through these, thanks for sharing, I'll have to look up that program you were just mentioning, looks interesting.

  13. You have such beautiful memories. There's such gratification in working with your hands. I loved reading about your family.

  14. I for one loved your story. I call them the good old days. If only kids could have lived like we did. They would have more out look for our country. I'm so sorry for the fires that are burning. Its a horrid thing to go though. I would rather go though two Katrinas than a raging fire.
    Good luck and may God bless,
    Marie Antoinette

  15. Hi Judy,
    Thank you for sharing your memories and family history with us. How neat. Thank God for memories, right?
    Oh that bridge does bring back the memories. We had a couple like that out in the country where I lived in the 70's. I was always scared when we drove over it, it was so loud and clanky sounding.
    I read your comment on Kitty's blog, I didn't know you had lost a son. My heart goes out to you Judy, I know that has to be a pain that truly never goes away.
    Thanks again for sharing,

  16. Judy,

    These are such wonderful memories! It is so good that you are including them in your blog. It is leaving a legacy to your family. I enjoyed all of the pictures too.

    Amy Jo

  17. Such a wonderful post, I loved reading about all the memories of your sweet family!

  18. What a delightful post about your childhood memories, Judy! I enjoyed all of it. I love hearing stories like yours and photos too. There is so much family history in those places.
    My father's home that he grew up in has been torn down and the site where it sat looks so forlorn to me. I remember many family picnics there when I was growing up. The railway tracks are still there though. My mother's home where she grew up and where I also lived for a few years has been turned into a fabulous family home complete with a swimming pool. However, one could miss it as you drive by because the trees are so big that they obscure the view of the dear place. All of that land that my maternal grandparents' farm sat on has been subdivided and so as you can imagine, looks very different from the way I remember it. I'm glad we have our memories stored away in a special place where no one can interfere with them! Thank you for sharing at my HOME.


  19. Sounds like you had a magical childhood! Love the "camp" in the redwoods. My great grandfather, Charles Holcomb was born in Soquel in 1858. Along with his 8 siblings. I'd imagine your family new my family back then. We might even be related. Mimi

  20. Judy, I so enjoyed reading about your family history and your wonderful memories there on the ranch. So nice that you have so many pictures that help you remember and share that time with others. I loved walking down the lane with you!

  21. Hi Judy, thank you for the comment on my blog. You asked about putting the facebook icon on to your blog but I'm afraid I dont know! I really am not computer literate, the fact I write my own blog mystifies some people I know!! I dont understand all the technical jargon at all so maybe you could appeal on your next blog post to see if anyone can tell you in easy to understand terms. I would love to change the font on my blog postings but it might as well have been written in Chinese, I dont understand any of the tutorials.Really sorry Judy!!

  22. Thank you for taking me down Memory Lane with you. My father's family moved to California in 1920 and most of the family was on adjacent property when I was a little girl. Everyone moved to "modern" houses by the 60s. My parents' home is the oldest of the family homes and it is still in the family, but it was built in 1950.

  23. Yes, I will say it, those were the good ol days. I loved reading your story and seeing the family pictures. I had fun riding my bike up and down our old dirt road and picking blue berries on the hill when I was young.
    We watch just about everything DVR'd; can't stand the commercials, tons of commercials.
    Glad to hear that the wild fires are 49 percent contained, still that smoke smell gets sucked into the HVAC and into the house I am sure.

  24. Judy what an amazing story.I wish I knew more about my family history.This is wonderful thing to pass down to your family.I know I would cherish this always!

  25. Hi Judy, just stopping by to say how delightful your blog is. Thanks so much for sharing. I have recently found your blog and am now following you, and will visit often. Please stop by my blog and perhaps you would like to follow me also. Have a wonderful day. Hugs, Chris

  26. Hello Judy. Just stopping by to say hello. And what a pretty story. Such wonderful history and how fortunate you are that you get revisit your childhood memories..



  27. What a nice tribute to your family-especially your father and grandfather. Thanks for sharing these precious memories and family stories. Thanks for your nice comments on my blog.

  28. What a nice tribute to your family-especially your father and grandfather. Thanks for sharing these precious memories and family stories. Thanks for your nice comments on my blog.

  29. This is marvelous, Judy - reminds me of my dad's family. My great-grandfather built their home and it is now an antiques store - you've made me want to go to Virginia to visit - beautiful tribute post - I do appreciate you sharing with Home and Garden Thursday,

  30. Such a wonderful post Judy! We have such similar history in our families. It is great when we have this history behind us don't you think? I appreciate the strength of my g-grandparents and grandparents who brought their children up to know how important it is to work hard for your family. I loved all the photos of some of the history of your family. Just wonderful Judy!

  31. Loved the memories. My grandparents didn't have running water either so we had an outhouse out past the smoke house thru the hay field. Every time my mom went down the path a big black snake came out. She is deathly afraid of snakes. We'd always know where she was when she screamed.


Your comments are so special to me...Judy