Living on the Ranch (Part 4)
By Gloria Johnson
The Johnson's had a wonderful big red Irish setter “Nappy” for Napoleon. Nappy went everywhere with Bud and Sis. They told the story of Nappy going for a swim in the canal below the house, they were with him. He swam with the current; they suddenly realized that he could not get out of the canal. They were lucky enough to find some men to help rescue their dog.
Someone on the ranch found two lost baby skunks. A pen for them was built on the grass just below and on the west side of the house. They became Sis's pets. They never sprayed, well, only if alarmed!
We have pictures of Bud pulling Sis in a wagon full of pumpkins. The family had fun celebrating all the holidays. Even later when Olive was teaching, she always enjoyed the holidays. She and her sisters would decorate the house and cook special foods - especially Christmas cookies, that became a tradition. The family enjoyed camping and plant collection trips in the Sierras and the desert to find plants for the Garden. Ernest became a knowledgeable self-taught botanist. They all learned the names of the flowers, trees and shrubs. They likely did some fishing and hiking on these trips.
Owen and Kathleen had the loving attention of an extended family; there was their grandmother, Rosalie, whom they called `Barney' because she rolled her eyes like the comic strip Barney Google with the googly-googly eyes. Which you probably don't know, or maybe you do? They also had two Aunts, Lucia and Hertha.
The family often went to the Hollywood Bowl where Susanna had seats and often offered them to Ernest and his family.
Olive taught school on the Ranch. Susanna had a little one-room schoolhouse built not far from the Ranch house. Olive taught the children of the Ranch and her own two children. The number of children increased so the decision was made to send them to school in Yorba. I don't know who provided the bus, but Olive drove all the children to school and back again. This school went to the 6th grade. She taught English and all the Mexican children learned English. She also taught art and traded with another teacher who taught music. When the school moved to Placentia the children were segregated. She still taught English and all the children learned English but spoke Spanish at home. Our Liz Mead taught with Olive during this time.
There was a great rainstorm in February of '38. The Santa Ana River flooded, all down through Anaheim and Fountain Valley, spreading floodwaters and debris all the way to the ocean. The story is told that Olive drove the school bus on the railroad tracks to take the children home to the ranch. What an adventure that was! School was closed for a few days while the water receded and roads made passable. Following the storm the State of California decided to build a dam up river from the ranch, now known as Prado Dam. The torrent of water that covered Orange County had come down river from the San Bernardino Mountains.
To be continued
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