Ok, let’s circle back to the Italian dairy farms that took root here in 1860’s… I painted this small dairy farm building one afternoon from beside an old ranch house where a not-so-Italian* friend of Wade’s was living.
Another not-so-Italian* fellow had long ago purchased this land and set up operations here all the way back in 1867. He first lived in the very ranch house where we were staying** (right behind me as I painted this scene), set in this picturesque valley, and began overseeing the dairy operations behind the house with a mind toward something bigger than the dairy. A former ship captain himself, his interest was in shipping and commerce and not long after settling here, he built the town’s pier straight down from this dairy (along with a fancy new house right beside the pier that still stands today as a registered landmark, leaving this small ranch house and its dairy in its historical shadow).
You can’t see the ocean or the pier from here anymore, the new coast highway has been laid on an embankment built up across this valley, separating the coast from this small dairy farm that has long since ceased dairy operations altogether. But their pasts are inextricably linked together. The isolation now provided by the highway has perhaps also helped to preserve this piece of history.
On this bright summer afternoon I couldn’t resist attempting to tell its story. It’s not a public place, I was only here because of Wade and his friend that was living here at the time, so this was a rare opportunity to paint an ordinarily off-limits piece of history. I’m sure I botched parts of the story, but I tried to keep it straight.
*Just a guess, maybe they both had veins full of raging Italian blood and I just didn’t know it?
**Holy moly, one evening we were treated to a steak dinner in the very ranch house dining room that rivaled any steak I’ve ever had. The walls, wainscoting and trim all covered in umpteen coats of proper lead paint, old and darkened wood floors, nothing fancy by our standards, but the effect was nothing short of time travel. History never tasted so good.