• ronaldtownsen

Remembering Where I came from


This post I decided to think about where I came from.

I was born and raised in El Cajon, CA a small city east of San Diego, CA. My mother and father met while building aircraft during WWII. My father had arrived from Texas and my mother moved from a small town north east of San Diego, CA.

After the war, my father began to lead a team of painters for a company building homes around San Diego. On the side, he built his own houses in El Cajon and we moved from home to home until my father sold a house for some ranch property (10 acres) on the outskirts of El Cajon. He began transitioning from a painter to a chicken farmer (eggs, not meat).

Over my younger years, the ranch grew from a few chickens till eventually when I was in high school, my father bought property in the town of Ramona (north east of San Diego). As he continued to build the ranches, I slowly became convinced farming was not a life for me. Turns out I was allergic to chicken bird dust. I had to wear a dust mask to work around the birds.

While I didn't have many friends, there were plenty of things to do with my collie dog Midnight. I built a go-cart that I could race up and down the hill and had a course laid out over a small bridge over our small creek. My dad bought a horse and we could go horse-back riding over the local hills; there were very few homes around at the time.

My dad bought a home from San Diego and had it moved to the ranch. We had a long driveway and as the house was coming up the driveway, something went wrong and the house rolled down the hill and off the trailer. They eventually got the house reloaded and winched up the hill. It was an exciting moment.

Another time, I decided to prove to my dad that I could work as hard as any of the ranch hands. I took on the task of cleaning the chicken manuer out of one of the chicken houses...well I learned my lesson, and while doing ok, couldn't match the speed and work that it took for the job...and heard about it for quite a while.

After my father bought the ranch in Ramona, I was asked to take my car and run up to Ramona for an erand. While passing on a small bridge in the town of Lake Side, even now I remember the image of a body flying in the air two cars in front of me. A young man was trying to cross the road and catch a truck ride. Not paying attention, he ran into traffic and was hit. A number of us stopped and I tried to hold his head as he bled from his mouth and nose till the ambulance arrived. I never really learned what happened to him, but I don't think he survived.

When I was in high school, one day we noticed Midnight wasn't around. We search for him for a couple of days with no success. A week later, my dad found Midnight in the bushes at the bottom of the hill. He had decided it was his time to die and didn't want to die around the family, so went off to a place away from the house to die. We buried him on the property. I will always remember him as my best friend when I was young.

There were fun times, like playing shuffleboard on the parking area by our house during family celebrations. There were times as I grew older when we would take dune buggies down to San Felipe Mexico. We had trips to Disneyland (2.5 hours up the coast) and my dad was the coach for our little league baseball team. I remember we had a Mexican restaurant as a sponsor and after one season, out team had all the taco’s we could eat (I am still looking for a taco that was as good as the ones I remember).

During a vacation to Vancouver Canada, as we crossed between Vancouver Island and the mainland there had been a bagpipe band contest on the island and they were returning on the same ferry. During the crossing, the bands collected on the bow of the ship and formed a large circle. The dancers collected in the center of the circle and while we watched, the collective bagpipes played and the dancers danced. It was a memorable time of unplanned enjoyment for a young boy.


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© 2013 by Ronald Townsen