Page 8 - R.G. Percy

Mr. Foster frequently came over after supper to spend an hour or so with their first grand children, Eugene and Margaret, the children of Steve and Grace. On his way home he sometimes stopped in our home to talk with me about how the work was going.

The job was almost finished when he stopped by one night and came in to visit a short time as usual. "This evening, Gird, I have something else to talk to you about." And then he told me that the State Legislature has recently passed a new Bill to provide Counties to have a Forestry Commission for the development of Parks and for planting trees along the new State Highways and county roads to beautify the country. The new State Highway through Ventura County would be completed early in 1916. The Forestry Commission for Ventura County would be a man from each Supervisors District appointed by the Board of Supervisors, and a County Forester would be appointed by the Commission to be in charge of the work, and paid by the County.

"I have been asked by the Supervisors to become the Chairman of the Commission," He explained. "The other four will be A.C. Hardison of Santa Paula, Tom Rice of Oxnard, Fred Snyder of Somis, and Mrs. L. B. Hogue of the Saticoy District. What I want is for you to become the County Forester, and to be in charge of the work. The salary will be $150 a month, if you are interested."

My personal ambition was to work for myself and to eventually become a rancher on my own, but that could not become a reality yet. I didn't have the money to become a rancher for some time in the future. The salary involved was very good for the early 1900s. Neither could I refuse to do anything that Mr. Foster wanted me to do.

The other members of the Commission were all very prominent people of the County. He went on to explain that as Forester I would also be the secretary of the Com-mission and attend all meetings, and that he was sure that the other members would approve of his choice and so would the Board of Supervisors.

And so I became Ventura County's first County Forester. My brother Earl could continue with our nursery as he had been doing while I had been doing the construction work. As Mr. Foster had said, the others on the commission approved of his choice, and so did the Supervisors. As Mr. Hardison told me years later, "Mr. Foster and you were the Forestry Commission. You two made the plans and the rest of us agreed to what was suggested." The commission met once a month.

During the next four years Mr. Foster and I worked very closely together. Parks and trees were his big interest outside of Banking. We planned the development of the three County Parks, and were frequently together. The first thing that we did at his suggestion was to start a nursery at Seaside Park to grow trees for planting in the Parks and on the Highways. I planted seeds of palms, oaks, a few different varieties of eucalyptus, acacias, Monterey pine etc., in flats. When the seedlings were four or five inches high they were transplanted into special cardboard open containers, open at each end and treated with a solution of tar until each one was about three feet high and ready to be planted in a permanent place. The container would quickly dissolve in the ground, (correction - I did not plant them, but supervised the work of our Park employees). Mr. Foster and I decided what kind of trees and shrubbery we thought best.

The County had the three Parks, Seaside Park, Foster Park and Camp Comfort, all in the area of Ventura and Camp Comfort near Ojai. Mr. Foster wanted others in different parts of the County also. First we wanted to begin the improvement of Seaside and Foster Park. At his suggestion, I would have a large concrete barbecue pit built in Foster Park to accommodate a large group such as the Pioneer Society which had a big picnic each year. With that, was to build tables and benches for the use of such affairs and then to build small barbecue setups for family use. These we made of cobblestones, cemented together.

Both Seaside and Foster Park had caretakers and the necessary help as needed.