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The Julian News
Julian , California
December 2, 2009     The Julian News
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December 2, 2009

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December 2, 2009 Rees Remembered continued from page 1 learned were those I learned from the examples set by others; others who did not preach to me, but led by doing the right thing. Rees taught by example. Well... most of the time. Sometimes a lesson might end severely, with your motorcycle chained to a tree. A lesson about under aged drinking might be as subtle as, "Ya know, your beer would taste better if it wasn't stored warm in your underwear drawer." On May 13, 1977 Rees began his first day as a seasonal .firefighter with the California Division of Forestry (CDF), at Julian Station. At first, Rees had a period of adjustment which included not wanting to get out of bed in the morning. When Rees refused to get out of bed the station cook, Dutch, told Rees if he did not get out of bed he was getting in there with him. One look at Dutch, and not knowing him well enough, convinced Rees it was time to get up and go to work. While Rees may not have always been ready to conform to the rules, he soon proved his worth to the men at Julian Station. Tom Kendall, a former CDF captain at Julian Station, told me how he and my dad, Bud Lewis, used to compete with one another over who got to take Rees to each emergency dispatch. Each held Rees in high regard and wanted him on their own truck. At that time, Julian Station was still run by "old school" firemen. It was a tough place to cut your teeth as a rookie. If you could cut it, there was no better place to learn your craft. Norbert Ralphs operated heavy equipment for the CDF. He remembers how quickly Rees learned the skills that he, Norbert, had taught him. Norbert went on to say that not only was Rees a quick study on the equipment, he also had to learn emergency medical procedures, and again Rees excelled. Norbert was sad to see Rees leave the CDF. Affirmative action was the order of the day, and Rees eventually realized that advancement might be slow in coming, and so he left CDF in September of 1979. Rees can't be harmed now by what I am about to tell you, but people should know this. I share this only now, because under normal circumstances a fella could get in trouble for his actions if he did this. The circumstances were far from normal and people were taking risks and actions in the absence of adequate help. Rees and another person, who shall remain un-named, fought a lot of fire the week of the 2003 Cedar Fire. While the un-named individual graded a fire break along the burning flank of the fire, Rees came along right behind on his ATV and fired out the grass between the break and the fire. They cut close to one half mile of fire breakthat day. I don't know how many homes may have been saved, or how much land was protected, but Rees and this guy got 'er done. Before doing that, they had worked and saved a house which was located further into the valley and surrounded by fire. It was for acts like this that Rees was recognized by the County Board of Supervisors Reese Skinner, 1956-2009 and our local Congressmen in the aftermath of the Cedar Fire. The government citations never mentioned the other things that Rees did in the days after the fire. At that time, my parents could not do many things for themselves. Rees came down and wired their generator into the pump so my parents would have water and lights that week. I don't know how many others he helped. Many I am sure. Rees, like many of us, had his hands full after the Cedar Fire. His mom, Barbee, had lost her home above Cuyamaca Lake. Rees built her a new home, and Barbee was so proud the day they held a party to celebrate its completion. She beamed with pride because it was her boy, Rees, who had built it for her. At the time Barbee lost her home, Rees was in the process of building a new home for Wade and Jennifer Wylie. Wade says he couldn't believe the pace at which Rees built the two houses. Rees could make things happen. During the 2003 Cedar Fire, Rees became of all things, the camp cook. Laura Lewis' house seemed to be the meeting place for those of us who stayed in the valley, our headquarters. My dad, retired with thirty seven years as a CDF fireman, needed the haven that Laura's house became that week, and although his body no longer allowed him to help physically, he needed to be there. He looked forward to Rees' breakfast feasts and he looked forward to sharing his wisdom with Rees and the guys. Dad never called Rees by his first name. At the station, like in the military, everyone seemed to .go by their last name. So, to my dad, Rees was always just called Skinner. "Skinner's coming to see me today," he would say. In an odd way, I am glad my dad isn't here to know what happened last week. It's funny, the things you think about when someone dies. In a conversation one afternoon, there was a sudden realization. What about Santa Claus? Once a year, Rees volunteered to help Santa Claus be in several places at once. Being a jolly man in red Local Eperience Since 1988 * Long Term Forest Maintenance and Planning * Hazardous Removal and Precision Felling * Ornamental Pruning and Lacing * Brush Clearing and Chipping * Stump Grinding FREE ES TIMA TES Fully Insured for Your Protection ERIC DAUBER H: 760-765-2975 C: 760-271-9585 PO Box 254 JULIAN, CA. 92036 was right up Rees' alley and each year a number of Julian's children went to sleep on Christmas Eve believing in the magic that is Santa. I am always surprised at how many things I don't know about people I have known for most of my life. Did you know this? 1. Rees was a very good singer... Sinatra at Karaoke was a standard. (Say what?) 2. While figuring his contracting bids, Rees enjoyed listening to Bach or Mozart. (Rees?) 3. Rees could play the piano and taught others to do so. 4. Some Saturdays were spent helping Aunt Sinna (Virginia), and making sure the facility's staff was supplied with Julian pie, just to make sure Sinna was taken care of. 5. Rees was a sailor...a good sailor, sailing was the one place Rees could let go of everything and relax. Rees would rent a sail boat and set out for Catalina, leaving at midnight. If you have ever sailed at night, you know what an adventure that was for his novice crew. Funny thing though, Rees suffered from seasickness. Rees spoke with his family daily, and as Wade says, "He could be on the roof of a house when you called him, with things going wrong, and he would drop everything and be cheerful. The conversation could be about the most trivial thing, but Rees always had time for them. If he was working in Ramona, I would quickly finish my lunch and go visit him. Rees was the center of our lives. He was the best father." It would be hard to travel about Julian and not see Something Rees had laid his hands upon. I look across the street every day and I see the remodeled store front of the Julian Hardware, Rees did that, and now every time I walk beneath the protection of that covered porch I think of Rees. If he met me under that porch, he would ask me how an old man like me made it all the way across the street by myself. Rees made a career change of sorts a while back. For some reason he decided he would become an electrical contractor. I worried about his decision. Specializing could narrow his potential cliental, but it was not long before Rees had more work than he could handle. I called Chuck Marin Saturday evening to have him share what it was like to be with Rees at the Julian CDF station. Chuck said, "Funny you should ask. Rees was to be here today to wire my garage." There is not enough room in this issue of the paper to share the stories of all those people whose lives Rees touched or changed. People ask me if they should send flowers or contribute to some cause in the name of Rees. I think the best way to honor Rees is this; be a friend people can count others. It's what Rees would do. Barbee asked of me, "What will I do without him?" I had no answer for her. Now her armor too is fragile, a frightening hole slashed through it. Surrounded by family as I left her, what remains of Barbee's armor will protect her, but as with mine now, there is a cold hard wind blowing through it. Woman's Club Holiday Home Tour The Julian Woman's Club is hosting their annual Holiday Home Tour on Friday, December 11, 2009. There will be two tours. We will meet at the United Methodist Church on Hwy 78. At the Church you will have the opportunity to purchase gifts for Christmas from our wonderful crafters. Home-baked good will be sold as well. Refreshments will be served before each tour begins. The cost of this tour is $20.00. The first tour leaves promptly at 9 AM, but be at the church at 8:30. The second tour leaves the church at 1 PM, please be there at 12:30 PM. Come earlier if you wish to shop. Afternoon tour members should shop before they go on tour because the Crafts and Bake goods will not be set up after the last tour. Tickets can be purchased at Julian Tea and Cottage Arts on Third Street in Julian-760-765-0832. Each guest will be assigned to a car with a driver that knows the route to each home on the tour. No guest will drive on the tour on their own. We will tour five fabulous places. This year we are celebrating the Centennial of Apple Days in Julian. In keeping with this one hundred year theme we have tried to select locations that are one hundred years old or close to it. One of the places on the tour is the beautiful old Pine Hills Lodge that was built in 1908. It burned down soon after it was built and was rebuilt in 1912. Another home is Dorsa O'Dell's wonderful Stone Hill Farm. Dorsa is gone now, but her niece kindly agreed to let us tour the unique home. Dorsa's former husband was Scott O'Dell author of "Island of the Blue Dolphins" and several other great children's books. Our Mr. and Mrs. Centennial Apple Days, Woody and Jane Barnes, have also agreed to let us tour their wonderful home located among acres of lovely oak and pine trees in Pine Hills. The fourth place belongs to the Orchard Hill Country Inn. This cute little cottage was completed restored by Darrell Straube, owner of the Orchard Hill Country Inn. It was built in the 1920's. The fifth home is located on the Menghini Winery grounds and is known as Julian's first mobile home. It is actually the Vintner's Cottage owned by Toni and Mike Menghini. It was originally owned by Bud Farmer's uncle. The Julian News 7 OU We Carry Stove Pellets 2902 Washington Street 760-765- ! 2 ! 2 Winter Hours: Mon-Fri 8:30 to S:00, Sat 9:00 to S:00 CLOSED on Sunday There will be a sheet stating the history of each location given to each guest who attends the tour. If you have any questions about the tour or about anything relating to the tour please call Diana Garrett.--760-765-3647.