Anton “Tony” Trigeiro is gone now. In letters to me he recalled working for Bennett’s Nursery which was on Highway 116 where Andy’s Fruit Stand is now. The John Bennett Family lived in the big home on the hill and the nursery was all around and out in front. Tony worked for John Bennett at the field nursery growing grounds up on Cherry Hill (later Cherry Ridge) 4 miles northwest of Sebastopol. All his ornamentals were field grown there, labeled and shaped and taken into town. Later Tony worked in town selling and overseeing the retail nursery. His wage: 25 cents an hour. After some experience in this field “Tony” asked for a 2-1/2 cent an hour raise. He said “Old John” huffed and puffed - he always had a pipe in his mouth. He never got the raise.
His biggest job was moving a small forest of living Redwood trees to Treasure Island for the 1939 World’s Fair. Rodney Miller did all the hauling. His wife Georgia (Borba) was helpful with the TI project as was Bill Carr.
Tony recalls lots about Ragle Lane, as it was called. It had a small reservoir for the dairy cows. The kids used it for a swimming hole. Native azaleas grew near the Sylvester Martin corner and they’d break them off and take them home. Blue wild lilac (ceanothus greseius) grew on the red clay banks of DuFranc Avenue near the Railroad tracks. His life was all about botany and he became a State Park Ranger.
As a man was walking through the Luther Burbank Farm he stopped to talk. We discussed the plants and I could see he was very knowledgeable. He congratulated the volunteers for all that they did. Then he started to tell me why he was there.
He was visiting his sister who had just recently moved into Burbank Heights. He told me he had gone to high school in Petaluma and when he graduated in 1935 he was awarded a Luther Burbank scholarship of $100 that allowed him to go to Santa Rosa Junior College. His teacher was Joseph Keil (who was a caretaker at Burbank’s Experiment Farm in Sebastopol). He said he often visited the Burbank home in Santa Rosa and he and Mrs. Burbank became good friends. He was astonished to learn Mr. Keil and his family had lived in the cottage. He told me how much he had learned from Mr. Keil and what a small world it was to find someone who knew some of his classmates from Santa Rosa Junior College.
I opened the cottage for him to enjoy. He signed the register and promised to be back. It was a great chance meeting. One more of the reasons for being a volunteer at the Farm.
By Laurie Horn
Luther Burbank Gold Ridge Experiment Farm
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