Page 7 - R.G. Percy

My experience in construction work was nil, except what I had learned on the Rincon road job. Looking back over the years I do not understand why such jobs were turned over to me, at the age of 23, except for the confidence in me by Mr. Foster, nor could I have accomplished them without his advice. Before starting the paving job I went to Supervisor Clark and asked to have the County Surveyor set stakes for the 40 foot wide pavement. His reply was, "You don't need a surveyor, you can do it yourself. Measure it off and set your own stakes."

Fortunately Mr. Foster went to the Bank every morning, and I had his advice in doing the job. I hired men and teams, laid out the work, and supervised it. Many of the men working for me were twice my age. Eventually the first pavement job on a County road was completed on the worst part of the Avenue where the water coming down from the east side hills with the winter rains made it a mud hole. It was done to the satisfaction of everyone evidently for there was no criticism about the finished Job.

With the prospect of other road jobs, and our nursery, we were doing well. I had the opportunity to sell and plant 4,000 prune trees and do the planting for a rancher, but would have to buy the trees from a northern nursery as we did not grow prune trees. We received a 20% Commission on such deals. It would cost a little over $600 to buy the trees at the price which we had to pay for them and to do the planting. The stickler was that I would have to take our pay, in horses and hay. I decided that with my County work the value of the horses and hay that they would more than pay for themselves, but I would need $500 which we did not have available. I went to the Bank and told Mr. Foster what the deal was and asked him if the Bank would take a chattel mortgage on the horses for the money. He said, "Gird, the Bank does not like chattel mortgages, but we can let you have it on your personal note."

Now I had two teams of fine young horses of Clydsdale breeding, well worth $400 each and hay enough to feed them for quite some time. It proved to be a good investment. It was through Mr. Foster that I got the next big construction job too.

The State of California had bought a large track of land on the east side of the Avenue for the site of a State school for girls, in fact a girl's reform school. 80 acres faced on Ventura Avenue just across from the new home built by my brother Steve who had married Grace Foster some years before. The balance of the land was hill land the buildings were to be built on the higher foot hill land.

Mrs. Foster, who was active in Women's club work, had been appointed by the Governor as one of the Trustees of the new institution. I had been married in May of 1914 and was now living on a 15 acre farm which Earl and I had bought to expand our nursery, which had a nice home on it. I well remember a remark which Mrs. Foster had said when she heard that we had bought the property for a nursery. She said, "l expect that Gird is now planning it for a different kind of a nursery too." The property was between Steve and Grace's new home and the Foster home by the Avenue school, separated by a barranca.

The State engineer who came from Sacramento to supervise the project wanted some one to do the grading site for the school, and later the buildings. Naturally as Mrs. Foster was one of the trustees of the project, he had consulted the Fosters. Mr. Foster had recommended me for the job.

This was the biggest construction job that I had yet tackled. It lasted for about four months, as I built a road to the building site, graded it and leveled the site for the numerous buildings. I was in charge of the work under the State engineer. I used as many as 40 head of horses, on 4 horse scrapers and a big road plow, and 15 to 20 men.