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Life at One Mile an Hour
by Bill Kimberlin

July 28, 2003
Guntley Ranch now

          Frank Guntley's old place is a winery now but it is well kept. It must have been about a thousand acres when it was the Guntley Ranch.I don't know how big it is now but it is still a beautiful piece of property. It seems like if you didn't have at least one thousand acres in the old days you weren't any kind of real rancher. Now most of these old ranches are all broken up.
          When I stopped into the tasting room of Pacific Echo in downtown Philo (which used to be the Guntley farm house) there was only one person on the whole place and I asked if I could walk around. "Enjoy your walk", he said.
  Guntley barn wall
          I remember that Frank Guntley, like a lot of old farmers, drove a green International Harvester pickup. He drove it on his ranch and he drove it to town. He once brought a bull down to my uncle's resort to mate with our cow and he used this pick-up to lead the bull down what is now Ray's Road. He didn't load the bull up, he just tied it to the back of the truck. Seems the bull was stubborn and didn't want to go, so the bull just sat down. That was not a good tactic to take with Frank, because he just drove off. I guess the bull must have gotten his legs under him at some point because he got to the resort in one piece.
          In later years Frank was near blind and had been close to deaf for a long time. None of this stopped him from going to Philo to get the mail though. Frank always drove about maybe one mile an hour. My cousin Mike used to say that Frank put,"that old corn binder in compound and headed for Philo, and God help anyone who got in the way". Well, that was just about the size of it. Hell, Frank Guntley was Philo.
          Why we called these trucks,"corn binders" I can't remember (if I ever knew, which I doubt). But they did have a gear, well below 1st gear or "low", called compound. Maybe it was a substitute for 4-wheel drive; in any event, you crawled in compound but nothing could stop you.
Wildflowers on Guntley Ranch  
          Guntley's old green pick-up could be seen daily heading for Philo, its engine roaring as he crept along the roadway. Everyone knew it was Frank going to Philo, and steered clear of him.
          One of the things that those of us on rural mail routes still have is this process of going to get the mail. To me it is perhaps the one Zen like thing I do. It is so ceremonial, in a way. Rigid structure to small purpose.
          I hop in the pick-up, drive down the dirt road, turn onto 128 and drive to receive whatever messages the outside world cares to send me. Not caring for the messages,I throw them in the trash. However, I do like the process. The process is the message.
           I had a wonderful walk on the old Guntley place and I took several pictures and even some video. It is a majestic setting with Valley mountains jutting up from it's edges and lots of wild flowers spread out in unexpected places.
          The old barn is worth a look, especially it's northeastern side that has a splash of yellow moss set on a ruby red background. It is a wonder of some biological phenomenon that I must have missed in Mr. Rapp's science classes at Boonville High.
Guntley barn with ladder


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