Here are some recorded memories of caretakers for Dr. and Mrs. Daily, former owners of Rodgers Ranch. The current farmhouse was used as a residence for various caretakers of the farm, while the Dailys lived in a different house, which still remains, behind the farmhouse and up the hill, next to the urban farm.
1944 – 1955 - Orville Holmes (b. 1/19/1890, d. 1/31/1955) and Syrena Gladys Graham
On March 27, 1993 at Rodgers Ranch, FORR members, Brenda Levy and Bill Healt interviewed Dewey Graham, son of Orville and Syrena.
On a cassette tape of the interview, they talked about some photos of the ranch when Dewey’s parents lived there. Dewey said there were almond and walnut trees over most of the property and a pear orchard which later was torn out due to the pears getting a disease. Dewey mentioned the Daily’s swimming pool and how he and his family were able to use it from time to time. He also had an accident which injured his leg, so Dr. Daily had him swim to strengthen it and sit on the diving board to stretch out the knee. The Daily’s did a lot of entertaining at the house and by the pool. The Grahams stayed at their home during these times unless Mrs. Graham was needed to help out. When Dewey, Brenda, and Bill entered the farmhouse, Dewey said the house was always painted white and there was an old washing machine on the porch next to the kitchen door. (We believe the white washing machine planted with flowers in the back of the house was this machine – we found it in the barn.) The big room was the same, but without the wood paneling later put on the walls by Bob McAdam, Jr. The fireplace was covered up and an electric heater was placed in front of it. His parents slept in the middle room next to the bathroom and he slept in the back room. Another heater was once in a space next to the interior door in that room. Dewey told a story about a 12 gauge shot-gun kept in the space next to the stairs. They were having trouble with a mole in the front lawn and one day while eating dinner, his father jumped up, ran for the gun, went outside, and shot a three-foot hole in lawn. Upon entering the house, he looked at a startled wife and son and said, “Well, I got the mole!” Brenda, Bill and Dewey went over to the barn and commented on how the items inside the barn would need to be stored when the barn was restored. There was a tractor kept in the barn and Dewey said every harvest time, the huller would be dragged outside to sort the almonds and walnuts. It was on ski-like runners to make it easier to drag out, then in after harvest. Dewey’s dad also had a 1950 Ford which he kept in the barn. The chicken coop held chickens and a cow that his dad wanted. The Dailys told him he could only have a cow if he took care of it. Mrs. Daily said she would buy milk from them. There was a redwood water tank up on the hill. Dewey’s dad eventually tore it down.
That was the end of the tape.
(According to a letter from Mrs. Daily, Mr. Graham got cancer in 1955 and became so distraught he shot himself in the head. Dr. Daily was called over, but could do nothing for him. Mrs. Graham left soon after that.)
1955 – 1966 – Mr. and Mrs. Paul Poulignot and her daughter, Gae Dolman, now Gae Mora who provided the many pictures of the farmhouse and site at that time and has been a member for many years. She has been back to the ranch many times.
According to information from Mrs. Daily and Gae Mora, Paul loved the place and maintained it with pride. Gae also loved the place and got married behind the house under the old oak tree. The Petersons were the nearest neighbors. Mr. Peterson built their house on two acres of the old Rodgers property in 1950. One day Paul went over to return a tool he had borrowed from Mr. Peterson and died of a heart attack on the way. Mrs. Poulignot stayed a few months then moved away.
1967 – 1976 – Jess and Atrice Todd (RRHC received a phone call in July, 2019 from Robin Cantu (maiden name Carroll). Her sister, Donna, married Darwin Todd, son of Jess and Atrice in 1966. Soon after that, Donna and Robin’s parents died within one year of each other, so Robin,(she was 6 or 7yr.old) Donna, and Darwin moved in with Jess and Atrice at Rodgers Ranch. They only lived there a few years before getting a place of their own. Robin said the Todds treated her like their own child (or grandchild) and she loved living with them. Robin now lives in Pittsburg and said she often thinks about the ranch. She saw something in the paper advertising a Rodgers Ranch event and finally came over to visit, prompting the phone call. Denise spoke to her for a while and got her contact information. Robin promised to write down her experiences at the ranch and would stay in touch. Here is the initial information she gave.)
The Jess and Atrice had five sons and two daughters. Darwin was the youngest and the rest of the kids were grown when their parents move to Rodgers Ranch. Some of the other kids would occasionally stay at the ranch for short periods of time. Atrice was barely five feet tall and she played a stand-up base fiddle that was bigger than her. Robin said the family was very musical and they were always playing music and singing. The Daily’s let them use the pool a few times a year for family functions, but otherwise they were to remain near the farmhouse. Robin remembers spending many hours swinging on a rope swing on the old oak tree in back. Jess proudly took care of the many rose bushes on the property and there was a rose maze on the hill. Even though she was not allowed up there, Robin would sneak through it often. They had a German Shepard dog named Smokey. At harvest time, the sons would come over and knock the almonds off the tree, then everyone would work at sorting and setting them out to dry. Atrice worked for Mrs. Daily as a housekeeper and cook. They remained there until Dr. and Mrs. Daily sold the house in 1976 and moved to Moraga.