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Barbara Taylor showed at California State Fair 85 years ago

Barbara Bristol Taylor of Fallbrook showed her cattle at the California State Fair 85 years ago. That may be longer ago than any other Fallbrook resident.

Taylor lived at the Bryndunne Ayshire Farm, her grandfather John Hanner’s dairy cattle ranch in Franklin, which is about 15 miles south of Sacramento, when she showed her cattle through the local 4-H Club in the 1930s.

"I probably started when I was about six or seven showing our registered Ayrshires," Taylor said.

Taylor was born in Sacramento on January 22, 1923. She is the daughter of William Bristol and Mary (Hanner) Bristol. Taylor's grandfather, John Hanner, was the head of the Sacramento County Farm Bureau. "He was well known throughout the state," Taylor said.

The main ranch house, where Taylor’s family lived, was a large two-story house built in 1863. "We were pretty self-sufficient," said Taylor. "We had running hot and cold water in marble sinks in little marble niches within the bedrooms."

The ranch also had living quarters for hired help, which included a bunkhouse for the ranch hands, and a room in the main house for a maid. Taylor did not have ranch duties in her early childhood.

Franklin had a grocery store, a saloon, a gas station and a Grange Hall. "The post office was in the grocery store,” she said.

Franklin Grammar School, which she attended, had four rooms and four teachers, each of whom taught two grades. "Students were also bussed in from other towns around us," Taylor said.

"As a child I was allowed to roam the ranch either on my horse or on foot," she said. "I roamed the ranch without fear.”

Taylor was a member of Elk Grove 4-H. Taylor's brother, William Bristol, was two years older than his sister and the two were competitors at the fair. “He had his heifer and I had mine," Taylor said.

Taylor originally showed an Ayrshire calf named Red Lassie.

"We didn't have any cattle that were not registered," Taylor said. "We had a show herd and also others that we just kept on the ranch."

The family usually took between 15 and 20 head of cattle to fairs while leaving the rest on the ranch for milking. "The milk was picked up daily," Taylor said. "They milked by machine.”

“As the milk came from the cow it was poured into a steam-cleaned can, then it was taken to the ranch’s creamery to be poured over cooling coils, then it was poured into other cans, which went directly into the refrigerator," said Taylor. "It was really top of the line."

Taylor's grandfather, acting as the head of the Farm Bureau, pushed for testing the cows for tuberculosis. The cows were tested at what is now the University of California, Davis.

“If a cow tested positive for tuberculosis it would be destroyed," said Taylor. "It was not a popular program with some of the farmers."

Tuberculosis was personal with the family. Glen Hanner, Taylor’s uncle, died of tuberculosis, which he contracted while serving in France during WWI.

Although Taylor did not have actual farm duties, she put significant work into showing her cattle. "I enjoyed it," she said.

That included changing the texture of the bovines' horns from rough to fine.

"I spent a long time sanding their horns," said Taylor. "They never objected. In fact, they would usually lie down and let me fiddle with them. They were my friends."

Elmer Hanner, John Hanner's eldest son, also lived on the ranch property in another house. He was the ranch manager and also showed cattle at many fairs, including the Los Angeles County Fair in Pomona.

"During the summer he would rent a railroad car," Taylor said. “The railroad car was used for overnight lodging by my uncle and his hired hands when they were on the show circuit. They partitioned off a place for sleeping, but were in the same car as the cattle.”

A foundation called the Heifer Project provided cows to families in Africa. “My grandmother Hanner was one of the first to donate a heifer to this project," said Taylor.

Taylor's activity at the state fair included first-place ribbons in 1932, 1933, and 1934. "I have other ribbons too," Taylor said.

The 4-H barns were across the fairgrounds from the show rings, and Taylor walked around the fairgrounds by herself. "I felt very safe," she said.

“As a 4-H member we had duties at the 4-H barns,” Taylor said. "We would take turns policing the barns, and making sure they were clean. This was in addition to showing our animals.”

The fair activities also included a parade in front of the grandstand. "A couple of times I rode a white stallion at the head of our Ayrshire herd," said Taylor.

Taylor not only showed Red Lassie in the 4-H competition, but also in Open Dairy competition.

“I had to lead her across the entire fairgrounds to the Open show," said Taylor. "She placed in Open Dairy, which was really good because there were professional herds from all over."

That may have been more of a highlight than her first-place 4-H awards. "It's probably more of a thrill because you have really stiff competition," said Taylor.

Taylor graduated from Elk Grove High School in 1940. She was the student body secretary and a cheerleader, and she also participated in drama. Taylor attended what is now the University of the Pacific, where she obtained a bachelor of arts degree in speech/drama in 1944 and also earned a secondary teaching credential in 1945. She also earned a master of arts degree. "Even when I was in college, if my uncle and his cattle came anywhere near Stockton, I was there helping him," she said.

Barbara married Lee Taylor in 1943 and they lived in military housing in Imperial Beach during World War II, but after his discharge they moved to Vallejo, Calif. Taylor continued to help her uncle after her marriage.

"I would go to every county fair I could and help my uncle show cattle," said Taylor, who helped out at the Solano County Fair, San Joaquin County fair, and the Stanislaus County Fair. "Any time he was anywhere around, I was there. I just loved it."

Taylor's current fair activity consists of attending the San Diego County Fair. "One of my yearly pleasures is to go to the fair," she said. "I still love the fair."

 

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