Margaret Hindorff Ray, considered one of the most valuable sources for Fallbrook history, is preparing herself for a bittersweet goodbye. In June, Ray is moving to the mountainous state of Idaho.
Ray, 84, decided it was time to move closer to family.
“It’s getting to the point where it’s hard to do things for myself,” she said. “I need the extra help now.”
Ray is moving in with her eldest son, Otto III. In fact, he’s adding an extra room to the family home just for her.
The biggest challenge, she said, has been sifting through over 80 years of family memorabilia. Ray has four generations of it – far more than the average person.
Part of this treasured collection is a chair her great grandmother Gird sat on during a covered wagon trip to Fallbrook. She was pregnant during the long journey and needed the extra comfort.
For Ray, Gird Road and Gird Valley aren’t just location names in town – they’re family landmarks.
“I’ve always been interested in my family members and their history,” she said. “Their stories have been so important to me.”
Ray’s Fallbrook family roots are planted so deeply she received the Fallbrook Historical Society “Pioneer of the Year” award in 2002.
Ray has always called her father, Eric Hindorff, a “jack of all trades” sort of man. Along with being a furrier, bee inspector and Reche Grove manager, Hindorff built all the original cement picnic tables at Live Oak Park.
Her favorite memory from her childhood, Ray said, was going to school. Her family lived on seven acres, complete with a garden, chicken coop, and livestock.
“My family didn’t have much money, but we kids really didn’t know that,” she said.
Ray said she and her siblings did their fair share of chores.
“We learned how to cook, sew, and garden,” she said. “When I was nine years old, I remember milking a cow all by myself and told everyone I’d do it all the time – the next morning, my arms were so sore I never did it again.”
In 1944, Ray met her future husband, Otto, at a USO dance. They were married three months later and raised two sons, Otto and Eric.
As an adult, Ray worked over 20 years at the Petrolane Gas Company on Main Street.
“I went into that job as a novice not even knowing what propane was, and ended up managing the place,” she said.
Even with a busy schedule, it was important for Ray to be involved in her community. She helped establish the unofficial Lioness Club, and continues to be a longtime member of the Reche Club and Fallbrook Historical Society.
“In my eyes, Margaret is indispensable,” said Yolande Jackson, president of the Reche Club. “We had a farewell dinner for her and [the turnout] was even larger than expected. Margaret is going to be missed.”
The Fallbrook Historical Society also hosted a warm farewell party, on Tuesday, May 18, for Ray.
“Margaret has known more about Fallbrook than anyone I know because she’s been here her whole life and kept records of all her relatives,” said Jack Story, president of the Fallbrook Historical Society. “She has really helped us through the years, especially with the old original Fallbrook, which was down at Live Oak Park.”
Ray said what she’ll miss the most are all the wonderful friends she has made over the years. But one thing she’ll always have is the memories.
While Ray prepares to start her new life in Idaho, she hopes that one thing never changes in regards to Fallbrook.
“Years ago, we came up with the ‘Friendly Village’ slogan and I want that to continue,” Ray said. “I always want Fallbrook to be considerate to others.”
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