More Tijuana River Valley History
Bob Taylor, Class of ’57, Mar Vista, has some wonderful tidbits to add to our collection. He comments about the pictures: “You’ll get a feeling how large the farm was by the numerous white rail fences and the openness of the land in the mid to late 1930s. One thing that author Laura Hildenbrand didn’t mention in her book “Seabiscuit” was the Stock Farm itself and the fact that Bing Crosby and other luminaries were frequent visitors there, yet she went into great detail about the Tijuana Racetrack and Agua Caliente, where Seabiscuit won a race in 1938.
“My folks and grandmother told lots of stories about those days when we kids were growing up. I can still hear my Grandma Brown coming across the yard and telling my Mom, “I just got a letter from Marcella Howard (Charles Howard’s wife) . . .” But, alas, to hear names such as those when I was 12 years old didn’t mean much to me then. The Howards and others like them were treated as normal folks, not as someone famous.
Bob also said:
I’m here in Eugene, Oregon, but what caught my eye was the mention of “the controversial rumor that Seabiscuit was boarded in the valley.”
There was no controversy about it, as far as I know. My father, Wayne C. Taylor, was irrigation foreman at the San Ysidro Stock Farm from 1929 to 1941, which was owned by Charles Howard who also owned Seabiscuit. Dad said he used to see the famous racehorse every now and then when Howard and Silent Tom Smith brought it to the farm, which could have been for breeding purposes, or when Seabiscuit was preparing to race at Agua Caliente or Del Mar in 1938. That was also the year I was born and when I lived on the stock farm until I was three years old, a period which I vaguely remember. I documented my family’s involvement about those years in “Taylor’s Square,” a memoir which I had also sent you some time back . . . I was also in contact with author Anna Lee Waldo who wrote “Sacawajewa” and “Prairie,” the latter book which recounts the life of Charles B. Irwin who owned the stock farm in the Twenties until his untimely death in 1936, after which Charles Howard had bought the farm. My father and step grandfather also worked for Irwin during those years, throughout the Depression. Anna Lee Waldo said she would have used some of my family photos of the farm in “Prairie” if only she had known at the time they were available.
Also, if you ever get a chance to read “Rainbow’s End,” you’ll see that same period with Seabiscuit being boarded at the San Ysidro Stock Farm, even though the story line itself is fiction with real life characters such as Charles Howard and Tom Smith, Seabiscuit’s trainer.