Page 13 - R.G. Percy

Occasionally he would pick me up and we would make an inspection trip of the Parks or the tree planting on the Highways. He was also interested in the County acquiring more Parks. On one of our trips we went out to the Simi Valley, where we stopped at the Strathearn Ranch to see Robert Strathearn who owned about 13,000 acres; mostly cattle range, but including farm lands too. He persuaded Mr. Strathearn to give a tract of land of about eighty acres to the County for a Park. I later planted more trees among the oak trees on this site, and it was then called Oak Park. It was between the Simi Valley and the little village of Moorpark.

We returned through the Conejo Valley. It was then when he pointed out where his head quarters had been when he was in the sheep business. We inspected the palms which I had planted in the Camarillo area, and visited Adolfo Camarillo. Not far from the foot of the Conejo Grade there was a nice grove of oak trees, which he wanted to interest Mr. Camarillo to also give for a Park. We had an interesting visit, but did not get a commitment that day. Today it is a Park. However we did decide that day that I should plant trees on both sides of the State Highway from the top of the grade to the Los Angeles County line. I did plant that section of several miles to a variety of trees, pepper trees, elms, and a special variety of eucalyptus.

These were busy days for me, supervising the Park improvements, tree planting, and at the same time supervising the work on the Santa Ana Ranch where I had three good men. I had moved with my family to the ranch, and my hours were long. I spent my Saturdays and Sundays on the ranch and the rest of the week as County Forester. During this time I was always very close to Mr. Foster. I did not neglect either job.

This was also during the time of World War 1, and although I was subject to the draft I was not called because I was married and now had two children. When the war ended in 1918, I had been on the job for four years and I wanted to give more time to my ranch operations. After talking with Mr. Foster, I put in my resignation to the Board of supervisors, and they refused to accept it. I explained my reason, but they told me to keep on the job and give it what time I could anyway and my salary would continue.

The Parks were now well developed and the tree planting was mostly completed. I had a good man at Seaside Park whom I thought could take my place. I continued as Forester for another six months, and with my recommendation this man took my place, and from then on I became a full time rancher. However, my friendship continued with Mr. Foster as long as he lived.

After I resigned as County Forester Mr. Foster was instrumental in getting Mr. Steckel, a Santa Paula Banker, to donate what is Steckel Park on Santa Paula Creek, to the County. With the help of Supervisor Clark of Ojai, Dennison Park at the top of the grade in upper Ojai was donated by the Dennison Family. Mr. Foster never lost his interest in the Parks. He and K.P. Grant had donated the first Park, Camp Comfort, as I mentioned before. K.P. Grant owned an acreage on the hills above the City of Ventura where the Mission Cross is, and donated that to the City of Ventura. Although I do not know if that was at Mr. Foster's suggestion, I do know that the trees which were planted there came from our Seaside Park Nursery, and that Mr. Foster was interested in having them planted.

He never lost interest in any civic improvements. Beside he and Mrs. Foster giving the library to the City, he was instrumental in raising money for the Foster Hospital and when they lacked enough he made up the difference himself. In earlier years he had been Grand Master of the Masonic Lodge in Ventura, and when the Masonic Building was built he donated to that and also to the Elks Lodge building.