Saturday, January 13, 2007

Granddaughter remembers Red Bluff cattleman Charles F. Stover


Cheryl Conard Haase lives with her husband, Bill, on some 11 acres near Red Bluff. Though plagued by medical difficulties, and no longer able to ride, her love for the ranch life, and for her grandfather, "Charley" Stover, whom she called Papa, are unabated. For two years, Haase (pronounced "hoss") worked on compiling pictures, documents and memories surrounding Stover, who in 1944 was instrumental in organizing the now world-famous Red Bluff Bull Sale.
Stover was honored in 1960, when he was 81, as California Cattleman of the Year and honorary president of the Red Bluff Roundup Association. The Sacramento Bee reported Stover owned 35,000 acres of ranch land in Tehama County, raised "2,500 head of purebred Herefords" and held the yearly Chester Rodeo on his Big Meadows Ranch from 1920-1939.

Stover died in 1961 but left a rich family heritage beautifully captured in "Too Many Irons in the Fire: The Life and Times of Charles F. Stover and the History of the Ranching Families of Tehama, Lassen and Plumas counties, 1850-2006." (The book's cover pictures brands registered to family and friends.) The large, 300-page paperback is available for $34.98 at Shasta Western Shop in Cottonwood. You can also visit B & B Booksellers in Chester, Facts & Fictions in Red Bluff and The Bookworm in Oroville or write Canyon Vista Ranch, 12561 Wilder Road, Red Bluff, CA 96080.

In the introduction, Haase writes that she and her brother Dean "learned to ride before we could walk. ..." "It was Papa," she says, "who gave me the opportunity to live my life in a way that made me happy and feel worthy of the legacy that he left me." Dean, she continues, "was the apple of his eye, and the grandson he always wanted. We never knew our biological grandfather and did not realize Papa was our step-grandfather until we were teenagers. He was our Papa always."

Cheryl was not exactly an angel. She remembers taking her older sister's collection of Shirley Temple dolls for a bath in a house trough. And "during my first grade year at Lassen View School, in Dairyville, I was relegated to stay in the classroom every recess and lunch hour for cussing. My poor mother came to school chagrined and apologetic to my teacher ... explaining I'd been raised in a corral around the cowboys. As a rule the cowboys never swore in front of women, but hiding behind the corral, where they didn't think I could hear, I learned it all!"

Every page of the book is full of black and white family pictures, newspaper clippings, or large photocopies of various documents, from grocery lists to an invoice for Charley's 1917 Cadillac ($2,250 for the car plus $95 for "extras"). A page from his diary, dated Sept. 26, 1917, lists steers branded from eight owners; Haase notes that "when branding calves, each owner needed to bring at least two of his irons, so that there would always be a hot one when the time was right. When several owners were present, there were a lot of irons in the fire! The cowboys had to be wide awake, paying close attention to remember which one was 'ripe' and ready to grab, and which iron belonged to whom. ... In cowboy lingo, 'too many irons in the fire' means that a person has too many things going on at the same time."

It's a nostalgic read, and that's no bull.

Dan Barnett teaches philosophy at Butte College. To submit review copies of published books, please send e-mail to Copyright 2007 Chico Enterprise-Record. Used by permission. Posted by Picasa

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