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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Fred Wagner: Blacksmithing and Life in the Santa Cruz Area, 1890-1930

  • Author(s): Wagner, Fred;
  • Calciano, Elizabeth Spedding
  • et al.

Wagner was born in Santa Cruz and became an apprentice blacksmith at the age of 17. By 24 he was the owner of his own shop. He discussed all the aspects of blacksmithing and horseshoeing and also gave an excellent account of the skills possessed by the jerk-line teamsters and six-in-hand drivers. In the middle portion of the book, Mr. Wagner described his boyhood years on his father's diversified farm situated at the edge of Santa Cruz--the crops raised, the foods prepared at home, the game and fowl acquired by hunting, and the family's account book at the town grocery store. He also discussed his schooling and the various ethnic groups that were living in Santa Cruz during his youth. The final third of the interview focused on Santa Cruz in the years around the turn of the 20th century. Popular forms of entertainment were mentioned, as were early travel conditions, gunfights, medical and hospital care, and city and county government. The book concluded with a tour through the portion of the Henry Cowell Ranch that is now the University of California, Santa Cruz. Wagner reminisced about the ranch as he knew it in his youth.

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