Robert Pearson
Full time in a 31' RV.

Hollister, CA

You can't go home again.


On my way South decided to stop in Hollister, CA where I was born. I stayed at the Elks on the airport. Both my father in the 1940s and grandfather and grandmother in the late 1920s flew out of this airport.

The first 6 years of my life were spent on my grandfathers ranch in the hills outside of Hollister above the mission town San Juan Batista. (Hitchcock shot part of Vertigo here.) In 1947 the 55 room house and others around the lake were sold to the Franciscans for a retreat and the rest of the 2,400 acres were sold to a rancher.

The original house was built in 1863 but when my grandmother purchased the ranch in 1922 she added several wings causing it to look like a 20s house. According to the local newspaper she "also hired landscape architects McLaren & McElroy, famous for their work in Golden Gate Park and Villa Montalvo, to add many lovely features in the landscape—stone walls with grand pillars, gardens, and an arched bridge to a small island in the pond."

Most of that was gone when I arrived but I remember finding stone bridges and ponds in the fields around the lake.


Wasn’t sure I wanted to visit the ranch again because a few years ago the Big House as we called it burned to the ground. The paper said it was an electrical fire but "insiders" say it was caused by someone smoking. I used to have dreams where I was rich and bought back grandpas ranch. After hearing about the fire I never had that dream again. To me the house was the defining feature of the ranch.

Here's an early drawing of the original Flint property.


Shelia and Verona of the San Benito Historical Society met me at their office and allowed me to copy several newspaper articles, photos and other documents pertaining to the family and ranch history. Verona on the right is a Flint which gave us a common interest.


Went to the ranch for lunch with Verona. The Big House of course was gone but the servants quarters where we lived because the Big House had been shut down survived the fire. The lake is still there but no water. Here is a quick then and now using 8mm movies from 1947 and photos I shot October 22, 2016.

I'm parked at the Elks lodge on the Hollister airport. Elks closed most evenings so pretty lonely and creepy the first few days. Now there are two other rigs in the lot.


In the little airport museum they have a poster for a May 1929 airshow. My grandfather is one of the two program chairmen.