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THE ERNEST (JOHNSON) AND OLIVE (LAUFELD) STORY PART 1by Olive Laufield Johnson,
June 26, 1921 - We were married in Mother's home in Bellflower. Attending the wedding were some of Ernest family and my family. Sister Lucia sang “I Love You Truly”. We spent our Honeymoon in Yosemite. We camped, fished and hiked to all the waterfalls and El Capitan.
We moved to Rancho Santa Ana and first lived in a little house with a big-screened porch. In September I was hired to teach the children of the workers on the ranch. While a little schoolhouse was being built I taught seven grades on our screened porch.
Then I quit teaching and Owen was born on February 13 1923. I stayed home with my family until Owen was 6 years old. And Katie was five years old. Then I began teaching again in the same little school. There was one room vacant in the Yorba School. I visited the trustees and suggested we move to the Yorba School. So my classes were divided and I took the middle room - second, third and fourth grades.
Owen was in my room and Katie in the first grade. How did we get to school? I suggested a bus. The board got one in about one week and I drove it, picking up the children and others along the way. The next year Yorba School was discontinued and we all went to the Richfield School, which was in the Placentia School District.
After two years because of the earthquake damage, the Richfield School was closed and the children were bused to Placentia. I drove the 60-pupil bus from the Ranch to Placentia for a year. I went on teaching until I retired in 1950.
Going back to Ernests' story;
He loved the Ranch life - the mountains, flowers, trees, shrubs, birds and all of nature. When we were dating we would song along as we were riding “Home on the Range”, “Little Home in the West”, etc.
Ernest helped Mrs. Bryant choose a place on the hill overlooking the orchards, to build a beautiful home. The Mexicans made adobe bricks for the walls and its red tile roof.
In 1926 Mrs. Bryant conceived the idea of the Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden as a living memorial to her father. John W. Bixby was a pioneer and nature lover. She donated 200 acres around her home on the hill. Ernest surveyed and built the road to the house and through the garden area.
The first botanist was Dr. Thomas Howell. He and Ernest traveled far and wide throughout the state collecting seeds and plants for the garden. The goal for the Botanic Garden was to develop and maintain every species of all the plants, shrubs and trees native of the whole state of California.
A potting shed was built where the Mexican workers on the “Ranch potted the various plants developed from the seeds collected (Here is where Katie found two baby skunks, which she raised and played with as pets. Ernest made a cage for them in our backyard and she would sit in it to pet and play with them. Later on she found a four-foot gopher snake which she carried around as a pet. It ended up in a pillow slip to U.S.C. the year she attended there. It was put in a laboratory for study. To be continued.
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