Corralitos History Home

Eloise Tindall Wilson

Eloise is a fourth generation Corralitos Tindall. She was born during the Great Depression to Allen and Alice Johnson Tindall. They were living near the Five-Mile House at the time, but soon after moved to a new home by the Corralitos store.

One of my earliest memories is of my dad working at 4-H camp up in Eureka Canyon. His job was to ride a horse through the woods to watch for fire during the summertime. My mom and I would camp up there with him. Because I was allergic to milk, she would bring a goat along with us. When the time came for me to attend school, I went to a four-room schoolhouse in Corralitos on Aldridge Lane. Two grades were taught in each room, from first to eighth grade. I lived close enough so I could walk to and from school and come home for lunch everyday. When I was seven years old my sister Janet was born. I went to Sunday School at the Free Methodist Church on Brown’s Valley Road. I was a Corralitos 4-H Club member and raised rabbits. My mom didn't work outside the home until Janet and I were grown.

Although my parents weren't members, they and many other local people were active in the Farm Bureau. They were, however, members and very involved in the Grange. I have memories of my parents taking me along to the dances, where I would sleep on a bench in the back. They helped maintain the Grange Hall. It was also used as an auditorium by the school. I remember when the school got hard-boiled eggs from the government and when the Work Project Administration was formed. They worked on dams and built ditches, making way for people to eventually get into county or city jobs. They provided room and board for some. Because there were more people than jobs, the WPA received a nickname, ‘We Piddle Around.’ (People also found a nickname for the women's liberation movement, ‘Women's Lip.’) The WPA donated dresses to the young girls, but my father wasn't a member so I wasn't able to receive them. I traded dresses with other girls at school. My family along with many others had the bare necessities yet nobody complained or wished they had other things. ‘Keeping up with the Jones(es)’ was not a priority.

Time passed and by 1941, the country was in the middle of a war. The massive production of war materials ended the depression. Most Americans tended to be isolationists, yet when Pearl Harbor was bombed on December 7, 1941, Americans got ready to protect their country at all costs. Everybody played their part in supporting the war effort. Patriotism flourished and no one was free from the effects of war, whether they had to give up their routine Sunday drive because of gas shortages, or send their sons off to war. Everybody, young and old, played their part by saving bacon grease, aluminum foil, tire rubber, old nylons and the like to be made into materials for war. Sugar and coffee were the first to be rationed starting in 1942. Processed foods followed next, then meat, fish, and dairy products. Every person was issued two ration books each month. One had forty-eight points for canned goods and one contained sixty-four red points for fish, meat, and dairy products. A housewife buying for a family of four had one hundred-and ninety two points to use as she chose. The number of points for every food item fluctuated depending on availability. One month applesauce would be ten points, and six months later it could be twenty-five points. Making points redeemable for only a certain period of time, prevented hoarding of stamps. Gas was rationed by assigning windshield stickers with a priority letter from A to E. Pleasure drivers got A stickers which were worth three to five gallons per week. Commuters got B stickers worth varying amounts of gasoline based on their distance from work. L stickers were for emergency workers, policemen, clergy and farmers. These were worth unlimited amounts of gas. The average citizen was issued ten gallons of gas per month. Many stores posted ‘No cigarettes’ signs, although many had ‘stoopies,’ the kind you stoop behind the counter for.
‘Make yours a victory home’ was the slogan that unified neighborhoods everywhere. Victory gardens were promoted by the Secretary of State. Families were encouraged to make themselves into a fighting unit on the home front so they could earn the ‘V’ home certificate. By conserving food, salvaging materials, buying war bonds, and refusing to spread rumors that could divide the nation, a family could receive this honor. When we had to practice air raid drills at school, we would have to get wet paper towels to hold in our mouths and run for the flume, a deep ditch on the property outside the school. ‘Now how would an open flume protect us?’ I wonder. The teachers made name tags out of oilcloth tablecloths and hung them around the student's necks with yarn. Communities had lookouts for planes and people would take turns being ‘observers.’ In 1945, the year FDR died, I was in seventh grade. I was out playing baseball at school with some friends and some of the mothers came and delivered the news. The moms and teachers were crying, and everybody was wondering about ‘what we were going to do.’

When I was in the eighth grade, I babysat for Jim and Barbara Prendergast. Jim asked me to work in the store as a clerk. I worked there all through high school and for about three years after. I ran the butcher shop and T.J. Wisdom ran the store when Jim was ill. Jim had taught me how to cut meat, grind hamburger, and use the smokehouse. Then, I knew just about everybody in Corralitos. They came in to shop and visit. People could charge their groceries and pay by the month.

Eloise on far right with eighth grade class and Elma G. Bradley

When I was a freshman at Watsonville High School, my family moved to the property on Hames Road where I live today. Roy Wilson was in high school when I was. I knew of him because he played football and also because one of my friends was dating him at the time. I found out everything I could about him from my friend, my motive being to meet him. I got chances to spend time with him at the Corralitos Grange dances and liked what I saw. We soon started dating and ‘that was the end of the other girlfriend.’ Roy lived with his family in Aromas. He worked on a farm bailing hay and working with cattle. We saw each other at school and on the weekends towards the end of my sophomore year.

It was October of 1950 when we married. We rented a little house across the road from where the Rowlee’s had once lived in Buzzard Lagoon. A storm came and washed out the canyon and they had to haul our new presents out by wheelbarrow. Since we didn’t have access to our house anymore, my mom set up a little cabin on their property for us. It had no bathroom and it was small, but it gave us a place to stay until we could find another place. We soon found a house down the road to rent for forty-five dollars a month and moved in there. Meanwhile, we began making plans to build a house on my parents’ property. We started building in 1951, with all the lumber coming from the Tindalls’ Eureka Canyon ranch.


Leona Jensen Miller

It was 1884 when Christian “Chris” Jensen, originally of Denmark, purchased 146 acres on Eureka Canyon Road about four miles above the town of Corralitos. He bought the property from Watsonville Mill and Lumber Company when they were selling at a “reasonable price” after taking the choice redwood trees. Chris moved from Watsonville to the property with his wife, Anna (Storm), and son, Homer, who was seven years old. Homer attended the first Eureka Canyon School which was a little farther up Eureka Canyon Road. Homer worked with his father in the lumber trade until he was eighteen. While at their box mill making boxes with a steam powered saw, Homer cut all his fingers on one hand. His father took him in their wagon and rushed to Watsonville to a doctor. All the fingers were lost. Since he would no longer be able to work in the lumber business, they planted apple trees and started a new business.

The Chris Jensen property was between Clipper Gulch and Cookhouse Gulch

When Maria Holmer was seventeen, she traveled to the San Francisco bay area from Denmark. An older brother, who had previously come to San Francisco, sponsored her. She was five years older than Homer, but when they met at a party in San Francisco they began a courtship. After they married, Homer brought her home to the Eureka Canyon property. Their daughter Leona was born on July 14, 1907 at home. Dr. Easterday came to the house from Watsonville by horse and buggy to assist.

Leona seated on Sam the family work horse

When Leona started school, the second schoolhouse was on their neighbor's, the Tindalls', property. Her friends at school included Lloyd Miller, Carl Lemon, Hugh Holmes, Baucoms, Allen Tindall, Greta and Ray MacDonald. Her best friends were Edna Pruden and Annie Tindall. A new schoolhouse was built on her parents' property when she was in second grade. Her father leased the property to the Eureka Canyon school district for $1.00 a year. Adelaide B. Coan, referred to as “ABC” by the kids, was one of her teachers. Spring water from the Little Eureka that ran into the Eureka Creek nearby the schoolhouse was piped into a holding tank. The playground had swings, teeter-totters, and rings hanging from a center pole. The kids played baseball in the road.

School children standing on Eureka Canyon Road bridge with third Eureka schoolhouse in the background

Leona, third from left, with eighth grade class

Leona attended Watsonville High School. Each day she rode their black saddle horse down Eureka Canyon Road to the Jensen's packing shed . (Location was across from present day filtration plant / Water Works) She would leave her horse at their barn then take the school bus into town. After completing a two-year commercial course, she worked at the family ranch helping her parents with their apple business. In their orchard they had Black Twig, Bellflower, Newtown, and Missouri Pippin. Newtown was their main apple to market. Leona worked with her mother sorting and boxing apples, and occasionally helped in the orchards. She thinned apples and sometimes would drive the horses with the spraying rig. Her father's apple label on the end of the apple boxes had redwood trees and red apples.

Leona's grandfather, Chris, is watching as a car salesman demonstrates a new 1914 Buick. Leona is in the back seat with her mother and grandmother and Homer is in the front. Homer bought one for the family.

Leona with her parents and grandparents c1917

For fourteen years she had dated William Jensen's brother, Lawrence. This Jensen family was well-known apple growers in the Corralitos area. They were not related to the Homer Jensen family. William Jensen's wife, Bodil, was always very kind to Leona. Their daughter, Edna, and she had been very close friends since high school. They often stayed over night at each others' homes and went out together for parties. Lawrence had made no indication of wanting to marry, and in fact never did. In 1940, Leona married her childhood friend, Lloyd Miller. Lloyd had moved to San Francisco and married. During the depression, he and his wife moved back and lived with his parents on Buzzard Lagoon Road. He went to work for Leona's father.

Buzzard Lagoon

In the early 1930s, Lloyd and his wife moved to a cabin that he remodeled on the Jensen property. Their son, David, was born on Homer's birthday in 1934. When David was four, his mother passed away. Lloyd needed someone to care for David while he worked so Leona became David's babysitter. Eventually, Lloyd proposed marriage to Leona and she accepted. Lloyd, Leona and David moved to the Bay Area and stayed there for several years.

It was 1974, when Lloyd bought a parcel of the Allen Tindall property on Hames Road and built a house so that he and Leona could return to Corralitos. He drew the plans and did the inside work himself, including a beautifully tiled fireplace. The day the house was completed, he locked the door and went fishing near Crescent City. Fishing and dancing were Leona's and Lloyd's favorite pastimes. They had even gone fishing after their wedding in Reno in 1940. Lloyd passed away July 9, 1999 right after their fifty-ninth wedding anniversary. The family still owns a portion of the original property where David and his wife, Juanita, one of the friendly clerks at the Corralitos market, live. Leona continues to live in her home as Corralitos' most senior citizen.

Leona and Lloyd at their 50th wedding anniversary party


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