After an extended and romantic courtship of about two years or so, Ernest and Olive were married in 1921. He also acquired an interesting, loving and delightful mother-in-law and two sisters-in-law. They became an important part of the lives of the children. After their marriage Olive and Ernest lived in a house across the street from the Ranch house. They lived there until Susanna built the Mansion on the hill in 1927. With their two children they moved across the street to the Craftsman House on the bluff overlooking the Santa Ana River and River.
Owen Bryce was born February 13, 1923 in Fullerton. The Johnson's new son came home to the Ranch in the upper part of the Santa Ana Canyon, which was “way out” in the country at that time. Owen or “Buddy” as he was called by family and friends was well taken care of by his mother, grandmother and two aunts. His father was always near by taking care of Ranch business. He was wise enough to let the women take care of his son. A year and a half later Kathleen arrived so the attention was divided. Kathleen became “Sis” to the family.
They had two big fireplaces made of river rock, one in the living room and one in the dining room. There was a bedroom for Buddy and a bigger one for Sis, a guestroom for frequent visitors, master bedroom and an office for Ernest. The bathroom had a four-legged tub with feet and a basin for hand washing. Also, each of the bedrooms had a basin for washing hands and perhaps brushing teeth. There was an old style washing machine with rollers to squeeze the water out before hanging the clothes, etc. on a line outside for drying. In the service room was a water heater. Also, there was a table, old GE refrigerator and lots of cupboards. The dining room had a huge table to seat at least 12 and buffet and of course the big rock fireplace. The living room had comfortable chairs, couch, end tables and a piano. The open but covered porch had rock posts to hold up the roof. This porch was a wonderful place to sit, visit, eat and enjoy the view across the Santa Ana River. Across the river was the 2-lane Canyon Road that is now the freeway. Buddy and Sis often had lunch on a little table on the porch. The fireplaces were the only heat except the kitchen stove. Central heating was not known at that time. I think they wore warm clothing in the winter. If I remember right they had hot water bottles for warming their beds. To get hot water there was a special heater in the service room. Water was pumped into the heater. To get the water hot the heater had to be lighted an hour or two before it was needed. When the water was deemed hot, a valve was turned so that hot water instead of cold could be delivered by pipe to the kitchen, bath or laundry.
There was (and is) a long hall through the middle of the house with bedrooms, kitchen and office on either side. This was where Bud and Sis learned to roller skate. Can you picture two little kids skating the length of the hall, must have been noisy! There were no sidewalks for them to use and the road was rough or dirt.
They did not have a neighborhood as we in the city have. They were far out in the country and the whole ranch was their neighborhood. Life was a little rugged but they did not know any different until later. There were no streetlights so the night sky was full of brilliant stars and constellations.
Their home was in the upper Santa Ana Canyon, north east of the Riverside Highway (the freeway came later). The hills and canyons were covered with oak trees, sycamores, mesquite, grasses, wildflowers and various natural shrubs, Toyon berries that flowered with bright red berries that the birds loved. There were willows along the river and different types of eucalyptus trees. There was various wildlife, deer, coyotes, raccoons, (still ruining the lawn!), opossums, rabbits, and snakes such as garter, rattle and king. Of course, there were frogs, pollywogs and fish in the river. Oh yes - skunks lived there too; also lizards and squirrels digging holes and running up and down trees.
To be continued
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