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Remembering the Whitney Ranch Before the Developers Came (First Person)

By Bonnie Hughes
Monday October 18, 2010 - 09:09:00 PM

Seeing a developer of the Whitney Estates as a supporter of Measure R brings back memories of the years I spent on the Whitney Ranch as a very young child. In 1932, when I was 3 years old, my father, who was in the sheep business, leased the 18,000 acre Whitney Ranch as pasture for his vast herds, from Beryl Whitney Blaine who lived in the beautiful old Victorian on the ranch. He moved our family there for 3 years leasing out our home in Woodland in the Sacramento Valley . Beryl wanted us to live in her mansion but my father insisted that the manager’s quarters would be adequate for us. Actually she needed her mansion because she had 9 giant mastiffs. They were always fighting and she had scars on her arms from trying to separate them. She also had dyed bright red hair, which was rare in those days, and always wore kimonos. She died in 1935 and we moved back to Woodland. 

My two older sisters loved the freedom of riding their horse over the foothills, but for my younger sister and me being confined behind the picket fence that surrounded our house because of the free range afforded to “Bully Bully Baker” the bull who roamed the area, it wasn’t that much fun. I couldn’t go to kindergarten because it was 18 miles over a dirt road to Lincoln where my sisters went to school and my mother was understandably unwilling to make the trip twice a day. Finally, when I was 4 years old she got a friend of hers, Viva Sandsted, who was a retired teacher, to come out and teach me to read. I was rescued but also destined to a life of being advanced beyond my years. When we returned to Woodland in 1935 and I was 6 years old I was sent to the 2nd grade because I already knew how to read. 

When Ralph Sandsted, who was a turkey farmer, died Viva married the owner of Gladding Mc Bean, tile makers in Lincoln. The tile hand-made for the Heywood Building at 2014 Shattuck Avenue was made by Gladding McBean. 

A few years ago I was going through Rocklin and asked someone about the Ranch--which was being sub-divided. I was sad to hear that the Mansion had been torn down. Would the backers of Measure R have the same regard for the Heywood Building that they had for the Mansion on the Whitney Estate?