Horse & Dog Adventures in Early California: Short Stories & Poems

Animal, nature, and outdoor stories (mostly autobiographical) set in the early 20th Century when people worked on--and were sustained by--the land. More

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About Ransom Wilcox

Ransom “Doc” Wilcox was born in Taber, Alberta, Canada, in 1907 to David Adrian and Agnes Southworth Wilcox. He was the sixth of seven children. Because Rance was sickly, it was suggested that the family move to California. The family was part of a group of Latter-day Saints (Mormons) that bought land in Vina, north of Chico in 1907. Financial hardship forced the family to move often in search of work: Vacaville, Pope Valley, Gridley, Ukiah, Redwood Valley, Sebastopol, and Oakland. They farmed and tended livestock: sheep, cattle, horses, pigs, turkeys, and hens. They cured ham in a smoke house and did a lot of hunting and fishing in the Sierra Nevada Mountains. Once, to escape a charging boar, Wilcox stuck a pole he was carrying in the ground and climbed up!
One season the family lived in a tent while the men worked cutting hay. At harvest time everyone picked apples. Another year, Wilcox joined his father and brothers in Arizona, building a school on an American Indian reservation. Many elements of Wilcox’s stories come from his early experiences.
In 1935 Wilcox married and began studying to be a chiropractor. But the Great Depression put his studies on hold. He tried several enterprises to support his family—most failed. So did the marriage.
In 1943 he enlisted in the army. Because of his hunting background they had him train soldiers in gunnery and target practice. Just before his unit was to go overseas, Wilcox got the flu. He missed the boat—literally—so was honorably discharged.
Between more failed marriages, Wilcox completed his studies and opened a chiropractic practice just off Union Square in San Francisco. He took his kids to see Coit Tower, Fisherman’s Wharf, Seal Rock, Smugglers’ Cove, the Presidio, Fleishhacker Zoo, and football games at Kezar Stadium. Later he moved to Hayward and opened a practice on B Street.
Wilcox’s friends called him Ray (for R.A.) or Doc. Besides writing, Wilcox enjoyed singing and was an excellent dancer. He was good with his hands. He loved to walk in the great outdoors. Near the end of his life, he joked about leaving his body to science; “I’m sure they can use my brain. It’s in perfect condition—never been used.” In a letter to his daughter, he wrote “In my heart I have no hatred or dislike for anyone. In my career I have eased many a person’s pain and suffering.” Wilcox died of cancer in 1992 and is buried in Ukiah, CA. His short stories and poems are published under the title, Horse & Dog Adventures in Early California.

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