By (the late) Donald R. Richardson
For a variety of reasons, it took several decades to bring this collection of vintage tales to fruition as their author, Donald R. Richardson, passed away in 1983; but his daughter, Donna Richardson Robbins, was determined so Tractors, Trains & Shipwrecks – Yesteryear Recollections of Sonoma County (DRR Press, 132 pages, $18.99) is now arriving in local stores, a collection christened “Tom Sawyer-like” by leading historian/Press Democrat columnist Gaye LeBaron (her full quote appears on the book’s back jacket).
Spawned by his daughter finally receiving his handwritten stories recounting his youthful exploits while growing up in the seaside hamlet of Stewarts Point, these originals of his comprise Part 2 of the book and are accompanied by vintage black/white photos dating back to Richardson’s birth in 1914 which are sprinkled throughout—creating a memorably immersive experience for the reader of these step-back-in-time tales set in the 1920s, 30s & beyond.
The grandson of Herbert Archer Richardson who arrived in Sonoma County from New Hampshire in 1876 with 40¢ in his pocket and went on to amass 25,000 acres, Richardson was one of nine students attending the one-room schoolhouse in Stewarts Point, rode the train from the coast to Santa Rosa High and back weekdays, and modern conveniences were decades away – for example, they stored their ice packed in sawdust while he was growing up.
Having served as Stewarts Point Postmaster along with running the family’s longtime general store there, Richardson was also County Supervisor, president of the Farm Bureau and Wool Growers Association, and a professional forester in addition to holding other agricultural leadership roles, both locally and on a statewide basis. A rancher by trade, Richardson was also an early and avid environmentalist and dedicated steward of the land. He spent his entire life in Sonoma County and the book includes reflections on his later years as well as he penned this collection after falling ill a short while before his death.
His firsthand anecdotes include memories, yarns, and tall tales and provide a truly unique backward glimpse into a bygone era right here in our coastal backyard. The new title is being retailed at four Copperfield’s Books locations, the Sonoma County Museum, and the Classic Duck in Montgomery Village et al.—nearly 30 locations in Sonoma and Mendocino counties thus far. For more information on Tractors, Trains & Shipwrecks – Yesteryear Recollections of Sonoma County and to see the growing roster of retailers, please visit: www.DRRpress.com