We recently saw the passing of an old friend and a man who was also a longtime Lodge brother. It was just 50 years ago that Frank Ward, along with others who have been gone many years, inducted me into the Oddfellows Lodge in Boonville.
We had known for a long time that Frank would go eventually as all people do. But we could always hope for a little more time. It was good to know he was around, even though it had been sometime since he was active. He was always the same and shed troubles and hard tasks as though they were raindrops and he left deep tracks wherever he went and made friends in all those places.
With his good wife Goldie he built a home in the mountains and raised a praiseworthy family and of all people who knew him there are none who would speak ill of Frank Ward.
One time I was up to the ranch on some errand about sheep I think and he had a dog he called “Dan'l” who gathered the sheep for us. Later I had a relative of Dan'l which I called Dan and he also was a very good dog.
Mrs. Ward Sr. had a summer resort called The Pines just across the Navarro River from Philo and so far as I know Frank started from there and it was many years ago. He went up on the mountain and developed a ranch and planted an apple orchard and there he and Goldie raised their family.
When the river was up in the winter they were isolated at times so they built a floating bridge which could be dragged back into place when the water went down. Later when the children were going to school in Philo Frank built a regular suspension bridge high above the water with cables and all which gave them an outlet all during the year.
Some good many years ago Frank was late getting his apples dried or perhaps there was an early fall when the rain came and floated out the bridge. He hauled the dried apples down to the suspension bridge and then wheeled them across with a wheelbarrow to where I was waiting with my truck to load them. There were many sacks and it was a job for a strong man.
A few years back I was interested in writing brief histories of some Anderson Valley ranches and the Ed Guntly ranch at Christine was one of the historic ones. Bobby Glover was very familiar with all that country and he offered to show me around the ranch. We went down by “Old Christine” and he showed me a cut around thee hill where the logging road up Mill Creek was built and he told me Frank Ward built that out with teams of horses and scrapers. They didn't have bulldozers then.
It is likely that Frank did a lot more work on that railroad, maybe on some of those high trestles. One fall, I think about 1925 or 26, I worked with Frank firing at the Smackville Apple drier. There was the boiler and the dehydrator and a little steam engine, so I got the job until he came over and as it happened that lasted quite a while. My shift was from six in the evening until six in the morning. I spent the first day with Frank and he showed me all the details of the work and I operated hte plant with him there.
That first day, was a long one, 24 hours, but the labor was not hard. It just took attention. Frank was a good teacher and he showed me how to work the injector to the boiler and about the fires. There were two boilers and there was some boiling to do.
It was fine that day and everything was going smoothly until that night at six when Frank left. It seemed the furnace roared louder and did and it seemed as though something would go wrong but nothing did. I went from one place to another watching and doing a lot of extra work checking things.
One night something did go wrong. The injector refused to work and I didn't know how to take it apart. I went as long as I safely could and it was well into my shift, near the end. So I called Frank. He was up already and he was soon there. He found the injector was plugged with some animal fur and soon had it going and things were back to normal.
Eventually Jess came to work and George Clow, the Boss put me to wheeling apples to the peelers and doing the cleanup work after hours. I got the same money and a lot more sleep. We remember those days in the apple plant, all those good people and fall was coming to Anderson Valley and we were going to make a little cash money for the winter.
Best of all is the memory of those who were there and Frank Ward certainly heads the list. Wherever he goes he will make out well. He has left us and his descendants with a wealth of stories.¥¥