Cheaper by the Dozen

A Tribute to Mom 1926 – 2013

A wonderful video by Patsy Templeton showing the very full life and incredibly good times of CLMD12.


Carrie Virginia Vannoy 1889-1976

1974 - grandmother

What a remarkable woman.  Born Feb. 4, 1889 in Dinuba, California.  Died Feb 3, 1976, Bakersfield, CA, at 86 years.

Fond memories of Grandmother-
Shared birthday with Caroline, Dodge dart, Dracena apt with patio garden, smile.

1964 - macdonald cousins (frick and gardner)

The Macdonald cousins, 1964.  Dickson’s, Frick’s and Gardner’s.

Carrie Vannoy Macdonald with daughters Louise, Marian and Constance

Grandmother Carrie Virginia, far left with her three daughters, top, Marian, Louise, and Constance.

1976 - grandmother in Dracena apt.

Grandmother Carrie Virginia sitting at her kitchen table in Dracena apartment.  May have had a bridge party later that day.

img225 3


Always an integral part of our family.  If our dining room table could talk…..

Happy Thanksgiving 2012

Here are pictures I’ve found in my “box” of photos.  Plus, the posting of Dickson’s mashed potatoes.  (Posted earlier, but worth re-posting).  My most favorite picture is the one with Mom surrounded by all of us. Taken by Mitch in 1998.  Happy Thanksgiving!




1st day of school

Labor day weekend was always the turning point.  The weekend that went from enjoying the care-free days of summer to getting back to much needed routine days of school.  I’m not sure it wasn’t any less care-free for Mom.  Clothes had to be washed, dried and folded.  Lunches made and packed, and get us down to the end of the driveway in time to catch the school bus.   I found a few pictures of 1st day’s.

Name sakes; Grace Smith- her story

I had forgotten Zayna’s middle name was Grace.  I know that Gretchen named her first born daughter Grace as well.

Jane Borg who lives in Watsonville and part of the Pajaro Valley Historical Association, interviewed Grace in the summer of 1988.  She published a book entitled Grace Dickson Smith.  I’d like to share a few of the conversations and pictures.

The first part of the book shows two views of the Dickson Ranch, Buena Vista Road, San Andreas District, near Watsonville, California.  This is what Grace had to say about them.


Borg:  “The home you are describing was on Buena Vista Road?
Smith:  “Yes, Buena Vista…….We had a beautiful view of all the valley from where our house was, because it was up high.  It looked down over all of Watsonville.”

 This photo was taken 2012 and is taken from the top of the hillside.  Yes, there is a view of Watsonville in the distance.  The area just below the buildings (used to be the milking stanchions) is where the house used to sit.   The property is now owned by Murakami Farms and they farm solely strawberries.

Smith: “…We had an orchard on the side, and up above was about 30 acres of strawberries.  In the front of the house was pasture where my father had cattle.  I can see why my folks bought that house, because they were both born in Vermont, although they didn’t know each other back there.  They were raised in a rural district in Vermont.”

Borg:  “Was (the ranch) pretty much always strawberries and dairy?”
Smith:  “No, no.   At first it was dairy, for many years.  We had help who helped milk.  As I remember, it was put in big cans and put at the foot of the hill, and they picked it up.  My father raised a lot of hay.  The farm was 110 acres, and in the front it’s hilly, with eucalyptus trees as you went to the house.  It wouldn’t be good for cultivating (on the front), and that’s where the cattle were.  The place where they grazed was all in front.  Above the house, it is flat, and that’s where the strawberries were and are now.  they weren’t put in unitl about 40 years after they lived there.


Robert Knox Dickson,                                   Gene Elizabeth McLellan,
born in Ryegate, Vermont                             born in Greensboro, Vermont
Grace (and Howard’s) father                       Grace (and Howard’s) mother
Smith:  “…My father had come and was working in San Francisco.  He was born in Vermont.  His name was Robert Knox Dickson.  He was working at a creamery in San Francisco.  The milk business at that time was a very big business.  My uncle (Bryce McLellan) that my mother came to visit had a big dairy near Richmond, near old San Pablo.  My uncle met my father through the business.  When my mother rand father were married, they found a place in Watsonville that seemed a lot like the homes in Vermont.”

Borg:  “Isn’t that interesting!  Were they married up in Richmond”
Smith:  “They were married in Richmond, at my uncle’s home there.”
Borg:  “They had apparently traveled down here and learned of the Pajaro Valley.”
Smith: “I can see why the chose that after seeing the old home in Ryegate where my father was raised.  it was on a hill, too.  a big farm.  He was one of 12 children.  He was the third from the youngest.  The youngest was a dentist in Montana.  another brother was a doctor in Ogden, Utah.  the older brothers and sisters stayed in Vermont.”

Robby, aren’t you the third from the youngest out of 12 children?  Do you think Mom and Dad waited to name the third from the youngest Robert Knox?


Dickson Farm, Rygate, Vermont                           McLellan Homestead, Greensboro, Vermont

August birthdays

Bob Dickson, Brynn Becker Dickson, Leah Templeton, Rich Peckham, and of course Grace Mildred Dickson Smith.  I hope I haven’t forgotten anyone!!!

Grace Smith, a.k.a. Aunt Grace was born August 16, 1902.  Here she is with Mom in 2005.

Aunt Grace was 103 years old at the time.  Mom looks pretty good herself!

Tidbit info- Mom used to get a bouquet of flowers for Aunt Grace on the 16th of every month.  I don’t remember exactly how old Grace was when Mom began that tradition, I think Grace was around 95.  Little did Mom know that Grace would live until she was 104!  May you rest in peace, Aunt Grace.

Summer- getting ready for fair, built so much character, no?


1967                                                                                               1975

What’s really amazing is in 1975, Dad beginning to feel the ills of cancer, Mom keeps things going.  She gets everybody to the fair, there were 5 of us showing that year.  Not sure why Chet wasn’t, I know that we finally got to decide for ourselves after a certain point.  Fair time is crazy.  Everyone needs their animals weighed, clipped, washed, fed etc.  Not to mention finding white pants in Sept/Oct.  But Mom did it. Year in and year out.  Even after 1975, Mom continued to have us raise and show animals.  I’m pretty certain Virginia showed when she was an FFA member.  Mom, you deserve of sooooo much more.  I wish I could give it to you!

1975 – Dad and Robby                                                              1978 – Mom and Mickey

Of course it doesn’t mean that we loved every minute of it.

Patsy, didn’t you set up some deal with Chet to train your springer heifer one year?

Before and After -1976 pool

A summer ritual.  The only thing misleading about this picture is that there are no girls photographed.  I know we were there.  Perhaps after the boys finished brigading the water from the bottom of the pool, then the girls scrubbed the sides.  Sounds rather sexist though.

And of course we had help from Mr. Manuel Garcia.  “Mr. Cigar”

The Boys 1974

1974 – Look this way and smile.  And Robby says, “Wait, wait, take it again, I wasn’t ready.”

Both are definitely on the same day, not sure which photo was taken first.  Maybe Robby remembers the real story.

Grandmother and the keyboard – some things you never forget

I have been down visiting Mom and saw a wonderful display of flowers and presents that had been sent to Mom for her birthday.  One of the presents was from Emily and it was a piano keyboard.  Mom took to it like a fish takes to water.  Watch and see.

Grandmother playing the keyboard