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Christmas Time at Rancho Santa Anaby Eddie Castro,
Between Times October 2005 pages 5-6
When our family moved to the Ranch in March of 1938, we were refugees of a once in a hundred year flood which hit Atwood and South Placentia on March 3 and 4. Our family home was washed away and we were left with only what we had on our backs. Family records, pictures, etc. etc. were lost. My father, Pedro, had been an employee of the Santa Ana Ranch since 1931. Therefore, Mr. Ernest Johnson, Superintendent of the ranch, found out about my Dad's bad luck and offered him a one bedroom small house which was the only place available at the time. So we moved! In March when we made the move, as you can imagine, we had very little but the Red Cross furnished us with pots and pans, blankets, a lot of clothes, a sack of white flour, a sack of beans, a large can of lard, and lots of canned goods. My mother, Victoria, really went to work in the small kitchen and she fed 3 boys and 2 girls really well.
Our family really came together during these hard times and not many complaints were heard. Soon after, we moved into a larger home and could move around much better.
As time went on, we became used to living at the Ranch and when 1939 rolled in, time went by fast. The summer months were lots of fun, swimming in the canal, and the now friendly Santa Ana River was flowing really nice. We kids spent time there. Summer was over, days were short, and now it was getting close to the end of November. For Thanksgiving we had chicken. Mom fixed a great meal in her great wood burning stove.
After Thanksgiving, my Dad was approached by the Ranch Superintendent and was told that Mrs. Susanna B. Bryant had requested a list of names of each family living on the Ranch. This list would include the head of the family and the age of each child in the household. The reason given was that ever Christmas she would fill wicker baskets with gifts for everyone in the family including my mother and distribute these baskets Christmas Eve day. 
After our Dad told us that this wonderful thing would happen, it seemed as if we kids could not forget and did we ever look forward to Christmas.
When Christmas Eve day finally came and it was the day that the baskets were to be passed out, of course we were all excited. My Dad came home at noon time for lunch and he announced that the Christmas baskets would be dispersed from the back of the truck which was waiting in the maintenance yard in front of the Ranch's main office and the fun would begin at 2:00 P.M. that very day. We kids went up the hill and waited on the lawn area of the mess hall which was located near the maintenance yard. Also, from where we sat we could see this white van which we knew did not belong to the ranch. While we waited for Dad we played on the nice green lawn with the rest of the kids.
Finally, Superintendent Ernest Johnson and his assistant Mr. Lippey walked over to the white van and opened the back doors. It seemed as if this large van was full of beautiful Christmas wrapped wicker baskets - one for every family! What a nice thing to see on this cold brisk day before Christmas. As the crowd of workers and children of the Rancho crowded in so as not to miss all the fun, names of workers were called as they appeared on the baskets. This was really exciting to watch as one by one all baskets disappeared and let an empty shell. We saw our Dad with this huge wicker basket and we all wanted to help Dad carry it home. But after all baskets were dispersed, all the workers received a full carton of cigarettes. They had a choice of Camels, Chesterfields, or Lucky Strike. (Of course they did not have filters.)
We went home to see what was in those beautifully wrapped gifts from Mrs. Susanna B. Bryant, which she did not wrap. To us they were very elegant and expensive looking.
All workers were sent home after the Superintendent read a note from Mrs. Bryant, thanking all for a great job throughout the whole year. Everybody was very happy for her kindness, as the Super shook hands with all the workers.
We had a very nice Christmas Day. Our family had a great chicken dinner and we played with the toys we received from Mrs. Bryant.
P.S. My mother, Victoria, received a beautiful set of post holders. My Dad did not smoke and later sold his carton of Luckies. 
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