Moments in the Life of Charles Dailey
FIRES AND BACK FIRES
Before my time, Franklin Boulevard was called Lower Stockton Road and was the stage coach route between Sacramento and Stockton. During my years, there were some horse-drawn vehicles on the road, but no stage coaches.
We were the first house west of Franklin Boulevard on Fruitridge and it was one of the nicest houses in the immediate area. There was a very large field of wild wheat between our house and Franklin Blvd. It was a big event when the grain caught on fire in the summer. The Fruitridge Fire Department would send observers to sit on their fire truck at the corner of Franklin and Fruitridge and watch the neighbors fight the fire by hand. We were outside of their taxing district. I heard rumors that they would have helped if a house caught on fire.
On occasions when the fire was too hot to approach, the men on the fire lines would drop back a hundred feet and start their own fire towards the out-of-control one. This was a last resort and was called a back-fire.
I was too young to handle the work, so the men would usually give me some little job to do. No one was ever hurt and no houses were lost that I can recall.
We lived mostly in the back half of the house including the kitchen and my bedroom. The front room was forbidden territory as was the front bedroom where Mother Dailey slept. They were not heated in the winter except rarely. There was a screened-in back porch that covered the back of the house. It may have been added after the photo was taken, because the end it should be showing.
Space heat came mostly from the trash burner on the kitchen range. We burned "blocks" (probably mill ends). One or two truck loads were delivered each fall and it was my job to stack them neatly in the woodshed attached to the back of the garage.
The old house must be gone. I could not locate it in 2002 by driving through the now busy area. A two bedroom house with a large, screened back porch, it was built about 1928.
Before I arrived, chicken raising was a major source of income for Mother Dailey. As I recall, the chicken house was built to handle 300 hens, primarily for eggs. The picture shows they were White Leghorns.
During my time, we usually had 10 - 20 chickens, mainly Rhode Island Reds. Occasionally one made the supreme sacrifice for us.
The area is turning to a commercial strip, so the land has probably become more valuable than the house that was on it.
It was during these years that I got a powerful lesson on keeping one's word. A neighbor - Ward L. Booth as I recall - frequently invited me over to "help" work on a house that he was remodeling. A part-time preacher, he lived on the next street to the south of us. One day while we were working on repairing the mechanism of a sliding window, Mr. Booth took out a $10 bill and said, "If you can tell me whose picture is on this, you can have it." Mother Dailey had been tutoring me in such trivia, so I immediately answered "Hamilton." Stunned, he handed the bill to me.
Later Mother Dailey tried to get him to take it back, but he refused. Ten dollars was a major part of his week's income in those depression years, but he kept his word. And his example taught me to keep mine, even if it hurts. That's once when I got paid while learning.
I owe so much to people known and unknown who protected and trained my life and character.