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May 24, 2022

An old-timer reminisces

Bud Garrett shares his life in his own words


Special to The Pinnacle
Editor’s note: Bud Garrett, 93, asked to share with Pinnacle
readers his written memories of growing up in Hollister.
First I want to thank my mom and dad, Mr. and Mrs. R.E. Garrett,
for bringing me into this world. They were married in Watsonville
in 1896. My life as I remember began with my birth on July 31,
Bud Garrett shares his life in his own words


Special to The Pinnacle

Editor’s note: Bud Garrett, 93, asked to share with Pinnacle readers his written memories of growing up in Hollister.

First I want to thank my mom and dad, Mr. and Mrs. R.E. Garrett, for bringing me into this world. They were married in Watsonville in 1896. My life as I remember began with my birth on July 31, 1910.

I was delivered by a midwife somewhere on Fifth Street in Hollister. At this time Dad was farming. He grew hay in Santa Ana Valley about two miles south of Santa Ana School. The work was done by horses. In 1912 we moved to Quien Sabe Ranch. Dad grew hay and shared the profits with the owner. At that time the ranch was owned by Mr. DeLaveata Ranch, the father of Mrs. Somaira.

At the age of 4, I remember we had no electricity or telephone. We had a cooler on the north side of the house. It was covered with burlaps and water dripping over it to keep it cool.

We raised all of our vegetables and mom canned everything and also baked on her woodstove. Dad had a good wife, like all the other farmers. At that time everybody was poor but they pulled together. They lived for their family. We had no bathroom. I remember taking a bath in a round tub in the kitchen. The toilet was outside. We never had ice cream until the water froze over in the watering trough. We put the ice cream around the ice cream freezer. We had plenty of milk, cream, eggs, and sugar. It made real good ice cream. Ranchers would get together at the one-room schoolhouse at Castle Rock, move the desks out and have a dance. My folks had an Edison Record player with a long horn and played records. I remember one night coming home to the big valley. Dad woke us kids up to see thousands of fireflies all shining red, like small lights. I guess by now the spray has killed all of them.

I remember the hay was as high as the fence; the bale weighed about 500 pounds. Hay was in big demand, as everything was pulled by horses even fire trucks and trolleys. My dad loved to farm. I remember about 1914 or 1915 we had about 22 inches of rain. The whole valley was covered with water.

My older sister drove us kids to school in the cart. My dad rode horseback on the levy so that my sister would stay on the levy. The water was so deep over the levy that once we lost our lunch pails and we had to put our feet on the dashboard to keep them dry.

We kids had a horse named “Pete.” We would get on him altogether. If we fell off, Pete would stand there until we got back on. We had a lot of fun in those days. I was the last child my parents had, so I didn’t get to help my dad on the ranch. When I was about 3 years old, I remember dad milking our cow. He gave our big cat a squirt of milk and also squirt me. I watched the cat wash his face. So I did the same. Later mom had to clean me up.

Mom washed clothes by hand on a washboard. It was real hard work, my sisters would help her.

In the evenings we used coal oil lamps. We had a grainery building where the seeds were kept for the next year. Sometimes we would empty the grainery so that all the ranchers could come together and have a dance.

I remember one day there was a fire in the field. All the ranchers came to help. They wet burlap sacks and put the fire out. In those days all the ranchers helped one another.

One night a meteorite fell from the sky into the field. Everybody looked for it but it was not found.

Dad and the other ranchers hauled hay to the three warehouses in Tres Pinos. From Tres Pinos it was shipped on a train where ever it was needed. I remember coming from the Quien Sabe ranch to Hollister and there were no paved roads. We wore dustcoats over clothes because the roads were so dusty. We rode in a buggy with fringe around the top. It was pulled by two horses. I remember we spent the night somewhere on Third Street. On East Street, where the telephone company building is now, was a stable where our horses were taken care of while we did our shopping. Upon returning home, we started early in the morning. It was an all day’s drive of approximately 16 miles.

In 1916 mom told dad that my sister had to go to high school, so we had to move to Hollister. Dad did not want to stop farming. Mom and dad talked it over. Dad got rid of all his farming equipment, horses and wagon. In the same year 1916, Dad bought a big passenger touring car. It seated seven.

In 1917 or 1918 we lived on Fourth Street across from the old Grammar School. It was a two-story boarding house. It was where the old jail is now. Mom rented out rooms. I remember coming at Christmastime seeing all those stockings hanging up filled with nuts, candy and fruit. What a Christmas that was. Mom cooked on a woodstove all the time and baked bread.

I remember in 1918 seeing men gathered at the front step of the old Court House. People were wishing them farewell as they were going off to World War I. In 1918 we had the biggest flu epidemic in the United States. We lost a lot of people in San Benito County. People wore covers over their mouths to keep from passing germs. In 1918 dad wanted to go back to farming. Mom and dad bought a 10-acre ranch on Sunnyslope Road. The ranch had four big hen houses for laying hens, an orchard with different fruit trees and vegetable garden. We also had a big hay barn where we kids use to play.

For the first time our house had electric lights and a party line telephone. Sunnyslope Road was all gravel with no streetlights. We kids all had chores to do after school. My chore was to gather eggs. On Saturday mornings I had to clean the hen houses out using a wheelbarrow.

At that time Sunnylope Road had fences and gates on both sides so the ranchers could drive the cattle down to the railroad on Prospect and Sunnyslope to be shipped out.

In 1920 my sister Helen was killed at the railroad at the age of 16. Mom had already lost three babies, so losing this daughter was another tragedy in her life.

I remember going to the silent movies on Saturday afternoon. It cost 10 cents for a big bag of popcorn. In 1922 at the ranch dad gave me four $10 gold pieces. He said I had earned them.

Mom made out an order to Montgomery Ward for a bike called a High Flyer. Dad helped me unpack it from a wooden crate and assemble it. I thought it was flying on the High Flyer. We had a lot of fun in those days. Kids made their own fun.

In 1925 dad bought another touring car. Dad wanted to go back to Ashland, Ore., where he was born in 1872. Dad, mom, my sister Frances and I went. Dad put in the Ashland paper an article asking if any people remembered him from his school days. I think it was three people that came to see him. The beautiful park in Ashland used to be my dad’s father’s ranch. This vacation to Ashland was the only vacation my mom and dad ever had. Dad has some relations named “In-laws.” They lived far out in the “Boondocks,” and we went to visit them.

In 1925 my folks bought the house on the corner of Santa Ana and McCray Street. In 1926 I got a job at the Poly Ana Bakery in Hollister. I began with cleaning pans and started learning how to bake. Before working at the bakery all of us kids worked at the Hollister Cannery. There was no union to tell us that kids couldn’t work. We worked all summer canning peaches, spinach, apricots and tomatoes. I went to work at the Poly Ana Bakery for less money but it was a trade to learn. At that time Hollister had six bakeries. I worked six days a week from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. I worked alongside of a man named Bill. We got along fine. One day he told me he had to quit. I was really upset. Some time in 1929 Bill phoned me from Jackson. He said his boss wanted to go back on the delivery wagon and needed a bread man. Bill told him about me. So that same year I went to Jackson and started working as a bread man.

In 1929 it was the beginning of the Depression. I worked six nights a week earning $40 per week. I would start at 1:30 a.m. and would quit when all the orders were out, sometime between 11 a.m. and noon.

In 1933 I got married and moved up to Red Bluff. My son was born there in 1933. My boss was very hard to work for. At that time bread was 10 cents a loaf. In 1935 I went back to Jackson and in 1936 my daughter was born.

In 1942 lots of people were out of work. Then World War II started. I went to work in a shipyard in Oakland working on a sub tender for the Navy. I had to pay the Union $25 to get a job. There were over 80,000 people working in the shipyard. I got a job working on a Liberty ship. There were some real good welders – they called them “tackers” because they were learning. Lots of the tackers were women. When they got real good they were put on board ship to welded. One day one of the lady tackers told me her husband was bagging steam lines. He was making $2.50 an hour. Boy, that was big money in 1942. I went to night school to learn how to bag steam liners with asbestos. After a couple of weeks I went to work for a private asbestos Company in Richmond, California. I bought a house with $100 down. I made two payments a month to the loan company at 18 percent. The other payment went to the bank. The house cost $5,000 brand new.

A man that worked in the shipyard told me that after World War I there were no jobs and to get out as the war was winding down in 1945. I joined the Hot Carrier Union and went to work for a brickyard carrying hod. He told me that before the war he could build a fireplace for $175.

In 1946 my mother in Hollister was getting real sick. I came down here to be with her before she passed away. She worried about dad, so I stayed here. My wife stayed in Richmond with the kids until school was out, sold the house and then came to Hollister. I got a job with Buzzie Young, and he started contracting after the war. He was making cement blocks. I grew up next to him and his folks on Sunnyslope. I asked him for a job carrying hod. He did not have a bricklayer after the war. He told me to get some tools and he’d make me a bricklayer. I started at $1.75 an hour.

Buzzie Young stopped working in 1952, so I got my contracting license and started for myself. The main thing was plastering houses and building good fireplaces. I built a lot of them. I built a lot of block buildings at the old K&S building, Brown and Chappell building, Paines Restaurant building and Johnny’s Bar. I also built lots of gas stations. We had at that time a good town, but not much work in those days. Wages were $6 an hour or less. The contractor that I worked for built good homes and I’m proud of them.

In 1950 I lost my son with leukemia. At that time not much was known about leukemia. In 1954 it was hard times looking for work.

In 1960 I went on my first hunt to Alaska. Cost $500 for 10 days. In 1962, I went to British Columbia for two weeks, $70 per day with 18 horses, a guide and three helpers. The guide’s wife baked and cooked on a tin stove.

In 1970 I got a phone call from Clineburge Tax. A dorm for tiger hunting in India. They told me it was the last year to hunt a tiger. At that time the airfare was $1,200 round trip.

Later I hunted in Mongolia for sheep. I saw a lot of places not destroyed yet. I would not go back. We have a lot to see in the United States, Canada and Alaska.

In the last five years I’ve helped the Hollister High School Band for new drums and uniforms and big horns. Some of you people helped me make it. I just wanted to put something down in paper.

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