Best. Teacher. Ever.

In October 1966 I turned eight years old and was attending Mrs. Naber’s third grade class at Healdsburg Elementary School. That December I came down with yet another case of what my mother affectionately referred to as “the flu bug.” I seemed to catch every virus that passed through town and would typically miss one or two weeks of school a couple of times each year. My mother had developed a procedure to ensure that I did not lag behind in my school work. She would visit my classroom every few days to pick up my assignments, bring them home for me to complete, and then return them to my teacher to be graded. Since I was going to have to do the work anyway, there would be no benefit in malingering to extend my time away from school, so I was usually back up and around in a week or ten days. But this time my flu bug wasn’t clearing up.

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Family Charts – Taeuffers in Alsace

The Taeuffer line goes back several generations in the Region of Alsace, Department of Bas-Rhin in France. Or sometimes in Germany. It all depended upon which country happened to have possession of the region at the time. The patriarch from each generation of the family going back at least 250 years has served as Mayor of the small town of Frohmuhl. Or sometimes they were Burgermeister, if Germany happened to be in charge.

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Prune Harvest Memories: Cast of Characters

Prune season was a major event in the annual cycle of our lives. It was the culmination of our economic year and always a communal experience. These are my memories of harvest on the Taeuffer Ranch, 788 Magnolia Drive, Healdsburg, circa 1955 – 1970. –- Joanne Taeuffer

The Scotts, our harvest crew as far back as I can remember, were an African American family who lived in Corcoran in California’s Central Valley. I was told they picked cotton in Corcoran and then they would come up to Healdsburg. They would arrive weeks or even a month before prune season and live in the picker’s cabin, an old house just over the levee from our house. They would work in the beans and maybe picking other stone fruit or pears. They would go up to Lake County and fish. They would pick our prunes and stay around to cut grapes. Then they went home for the winter. Continue reading

Prune Harvest Memories: Getting In the Harvest

Prune season was a major event in the annual cycle of our lives. It was the culmination of our economic year and always a communal experience. These are my memories of harvest on the Taeuffer Ranch, 788 Magnolia Drive, Healdsburg, circa 1955 – 1970. –- Joanne Taeuffer

Back in the day, prunes were shaken off the trees and then picked up off the clod-strewn ground, put into buckets and then boxes. The fruit was dipped in lye water and spread on trays to be dried, originally lying on the ground in the sunshine and after the 1950s in concrete block dehydrators that circulated dry, 180 degree air through trays (about 6 feet by 4 feet) stacked on rolling bases. The prunes were then dumped into bins that held about a ton, which were eventually picked up by the packing house. Continue reading

Prune Harvest Memories: My Mother the Morale Officer and More

Prune season was a major event in the annual cycle of our lives. It was the culmination of our economic year and always a communal experience. These are my memories of harvest on the Taeuffer Ranch, 788 Magnolia Drive, Healdsburg, circa 1955 – 1970. –- Joanne Taeuffer

A couple of times every harvest season, my mother would help boost everybody’s energy with a shot of sugar. Continue reading

Prune Harvest Memories: The Food, The Food!

Prune season was a major event in the annual cycle of our lives. It was the culmination of our economic year and always a communal experience. These are my memories of harvest on the Taeuffer Ranch, 788 Magnolia Drive, Healdsburg, circa 1955 – 1970. –- Joanne Taeuffer

Mother had yet another job during prune season. She was the chef de cuisine. As a good Italian girl, she was a firm believer in the importance of eating to keep your strength up. She would always say she had to be sure Daddy ate enough or he would wear himself out. Of course, the rest of us were maybe not working so hard, but we enjoyed the mealtime abundance nevertheless. Continue reading