“We know when we are not wanted, Mr. Buck. We got enough oil, water, tree, and agriculture trouble. We are cashing in our chips. You tell Miss Pierrot – we want nothing to do with that damn gallery. What do we know about art, anyways? When the bank took our land, we knew we were licked!“
The artist, Thomas Hart Benton, did illustrations for John Steinbeck’s ‘Grapes of wrath’. Had my niece, Drew Benton, seen them? Drew needs to do a painting of how she escaped death, when she ended up in the ocean next to my sister. Did she feel afraid down in that cove, in the ‘Jaws of Death’? How much does she know about Dunken The Frog? She can end the Fraud!
Drew and I are kin to Elizabeth Rosemond Taylor – and thus all members of the Getty Family – who The Buck Boys tried to hurt – especially the Governor of California, who I am going to send a message after this post. In theory, Drew and I own the Rich California Literary Deposit. This Benton is old enough to understand. Liz starred in the movie ‘GIANT’ which is the companion book and movie to ‘THE BIG TREES’………with – WELLS FARGO STAGECOACH!
THE NINE MUSES sent me my BIG STAR as I stood on the Venice Pier. Time to cash in my chips. I’m going to try to sellf my Books and Movies directly to Amazon, who have a line of wine.
President: Royal Rosamond Press
Last night Santa Claus gave me a gift. I found a little Bohemian Book on the internet titled ‘Europe After 8:15’ that is written by several authors, and illustrated by my kin, Thomas Hart Benton, who illustrated Steinbeck’s ‘Grapes of Wrath’. Benton’s illustrations resemble the work of my later sister, Christine Rosamond Benton, especially he ‘Story Teller’ series. Christine was married to the muralist, Garth Benton, a third cousin of Thomas Hart Benton.
Here’s the truck that Rena Easton owns. It’s a 2009 GMC Sierra that she dives down the hill of the Vissar Ranch, a small spread that raises cattle with the help of a $100,000 Government subsidy. I chatted with a man my age on a bench who raised Emu for their meat. His Emu ranch was too far off the beaten path so he sold it and moved to Coos Bay where he catches salmon like crazy. I love Oregon!
The Resident God in the White House threw another tantrum today, and the market lost 600 points. What has caused Messiah Trump to really lose it for the last several months, is, Montana threw in the towel. They want out of the tariff wars. The dream is – dead! Playing cowboy, and lying to your bank, are two different things. You can’t put a sail on these becalmed prairie schooners. The Visser ranch – is doomed! Trump tells these yokums he is going to let them get over on the liberal city hippies, and they fell for it, the oldest trick in the book! They are toast!
All I wanted to do was render you as a goddess, and you went to the Sheriff. How about Rhea to Trump’s Apollo – and Caligula! Big bruiser trucks and a perverted Emperor: and now Montana will not be planting soy beans this season? Can’t turn on your truck radio without hearing about the bright future in soybeans! I will author an ode to soybeans and have it published in a local paper.
I see Rena as The Giant American Midwest Woman, and she is the mate of Paul Bunyun. She is cleaning up after the mess Donald made of her beloved State. Now is the time to save her, my beloved blue muse!
I forgive you Rena!
The movie Giant was based upon the King Ranch. My kin, Elizabeth Rosemond Taylor starred as the wife of a ranch owner. I feel my well is going to come in, and, I might buy a ranch……….in Montana! I hear they will be dirt cheap – after Grabby Donald is done.
The movie/series I forever want to make is ‘Ballad of a Soldier’. I will have to have Rena and Starfish cross paths, perhaps at the new Russian gym in town, they coming to own everything after the Great National Wheat Bankruptcy.
“Hey! You’re pretty buff………..for an old lady!”
I’ll have Yulia running naked in a wheat field to complete a old fantasy of mine. Here are my grandfather’s Montana stories.
The Amazon forest
burns hot tonight
there will be no oxygen
in the air
To breath, my love
my love of air
is no equal
to my memory of you
In the last
in the consuming sparks
that dance around the moon
I save my last breath
my last sigh
Montana could be caught in the spillover effects when China levies higher tariffs on U.S. products.
It’s another step in the ongoing trade war between China and the United States.
Last year, tariffs nearly knocked out Montana’s wheat exports to China.
The market has been less than stellar since, according to farmers in the state, which includes Lyle Benjamin, President of Montana Grain Growers Association.
Two days ago I posted on the Black Mask stories that were published by H.L. Mencken, who is the main author of ‘Paris After 8:15. The mind-blower, is, Willard Huntington Wright is S.S.VanDine who wrote the Philo Vance detective series. Philo may be the model for James Bond. Ian Fleming is my kin via the famous actress, Elizabeth Rosemond Taylor. Philo is a foppish dandy who I want to raise from the dead in a series of books or mini-movies for I-phones. Royal Rosamond Press is going to re-publish ‘Europe After 8:15. The text and illustrations fall under my copyright. I believe I am the literary embodiment of Martin Eden, who was conjured up by Jack London.
The true history of the Presco family is told by John Steinbeck who wrote famous books about fictional characters. We are……The Real McCoy!
President: Royal Rosamond Press
There is no sadder tale to tell then when one begins their life story with the betrayal of their daughter. It is a long road to haul a tragedy with no happy ending. Where is the redemption in the scheme of things? What justifications drove children to betray their parents, a parent? All the good and great work is ruined, even the telling of how it happened has lost the reader, the audience, before the curtain opens. For this stage they maketh is for real scoundrels who have no love for beauty, art, and even money: for they made all the money vanish, all the hard work, is destroyed.
I awoke feeling the core of my pain wondering how they exspect me to endure the isolation they dread? Have they no mercy, no pity? They identify me as the source of the talent and Rosanond’s success when they do this. Could it be they feel they will be left out, and thus there is a bond between thieves to make sure they get a piece of the cake.
I have been putting my self in Merian Salyer’s shoes. How did she feel when her son took her and his father to court? Fred Salyer grew cotton and was in a fierce rivalry with J.G. Boswell who is titled ‘The King of California’ in a book that wonders if he brought to California the South and a brand of slavery with him. John Steinbeck made the San Joaquin Valley famous in his novel ‘The Grapes of Wrath’ and ‘East of Eden’. The latter was required watching in the Presco household. In 1962 Rosemary Rosamond revealed to her three oldest children she was making porno for Mafia boss ‘Big Bone’ Remmer who came over to our home in San Sebastian to meet ‘The Presco Children’. We were informed our mother was a prostitute for Remmer, and thus the scene where Cal introduces Aaron to his mother was of huge importance as to how Vic Presco’s two sons saw themselves, how they maintained their self-esteem. When my package and offer to my seventeen year old daughter and her mother was returned ‘To Sender’ with no forwarding address, I immediately saw an image of my brother, the neo-Nazi and neo-Confederate. Had he help lure Heather Hanson away from me? Was he behind Stacey Pierrot coming to own our sister’s artistic legacy, it his style to lurk in the shadows so he can enjoy the most severe and destructive impact. Here is his blog. The Hanson family empowered a racist and misogynist. They see themselves as promoters of Black Power and leaders in the Women’s Empowerment Movement.
When I look at the photograph of Rosemary at the Rucker Company Christmas party, I see Big Bones lurking in the background. Rosemary competed with her sister to be ‘The Belle of the Ball’. They hung around Errol Flynn when they were around the age of eighteen. Having driven our father from his home after stabbing him between the eyes with a steak knife, we were entreated to her ‘Rosy Lineup’ of the men she should have married.
“How would you like to have been the children of this guy?”
I believe we were shown a photograph of one of the sons of LEWIS who bought the ranch that belonged to the Cabrillo family who bred white horses. LEWIS loaded up twenty box cars with his name on it and shipped a shit load of Lima Beans to Chicago replicating the scene where Cal tries to help his father realize his dream, that fails, and this Rebel Without a Cause is anointed ‘The Family Scapegoat’ who could do nothing right. Here is the LEWIS home movie.
“George wanted me to marry him. He is an actor. Isn’t he good looking. Imagine how more good-looking you would be if George was your father, and you grew up in Hollywood instead of Oakland. Your son-of-a-bitch father destroyed our lives!”
My daughter was born on Rosemary’s birthday. Her mother suggested it was her choice to ditch me – for good – and go get in the ‘Rival Biography’ that Mark insisted I support. When I told him to go fuck himself, and repeated what I said to Lilliam Rosamond after she gave Tom Snyder a interview, my racist brother threw me out of his family.
“You betrayed me you fucking cunt!”
Mark asked me if I could include some of his rants in my autobiography. He wanted me to cherry-pick what I found pertinent. When he told me he got to read the rough draft of ‘When You Close Your Eyes’ wherein Rosemary and her famous daughter are demonized, I was incredulous.
“You allowed the report that members of our family looted our sister’s house after the funderal?
We met for the last time at Rosamond’s house in Pacific Grove. Garth and Drew Benton were not at the funeral. However, I noticed a stranger lurking about in the dark dining room eavesdropping on our conversation.
“Who’s that?” I asked Vicki Presco.
“That’s Garth’s good friend. He volunteered to be here to make sure no one takes anything.”
My brother kept popping in, and leaving. I wonder where he went. It is revealed the McCurdy’s live next door. They are my brother and sister in Alcoholics Anonymous. They are mentioned in the pages next to the report Marian Sayler gave about owning ‘Dunkin The Frog’.
J.G. Boswell married Ruth Chandler the daughter of the man who owned the L.A. Times who helped secure the water rights of Tule Lake. I am sure Fred Sayler felt ‘The Cotton King’ had an unfair advantage due to ‘The Press’ that was never on his side.
I am a newspaper man. I am the President of Royal Rosamond Press. Today the news is filled with stories about the dismantling of all Confederate monuments including the statue of Robert E. Lee, who is in my family tree. If my brother is alive, I believe he wonders what our President wonders. Is it true?
“Every dog has their day!”
I have written a story about John and Jessie Fremont at least once a month. I am in their family tree. No one else gives a shit, and choose to call me insane. When it comes to a Family Dynasty that includes many land grants and the seizure of the Oregon Territory and California, there is no bigger war over real-estate and the family fortune.
According to another anonymous official, the nation’s top military officer, General Mark Milley, got into a ‘shouting match’ with Trump after the president spoke of his wish to end the country’s protests by bringing in active military forces.
The official told The New Yorker that Gen. Milley is said to have stayed firm, responding: ‘I’m not doing that. That’s for law enforcement.’
It’s unclear whether that incident took place in the same White House meeting on Monday where Trump told Esper that he wanted 10,000 troops.
A Virginia judge has issued an 10-day injunction that prevents Gov. Ralph Northam’s administration from removing an iconic but controversial statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee in Richmond.
The governor, however, won’t be deterred, a spokesman told The Progress-Index, a member of the USA TODAY Network.
“Governor Northam remains committed to removing this divisive symbol from Virginia’s capital city, and we’re confident in his authority to do so,” press secretary Alena Yarmosky said in an email late Monday night.
On Monday, Richmond Circuit Court judge Bradley B. Cavedo granted a request by attorneys for William C. Gregory that would halt any of the preparation work involved in removing the statue from its 130-year-old residence on Monument Avenue.
Is this the end for other Confederate memorials? Richmond is taking down Confederate statues
n Sunday, Black Lives Matter protesters in Bristol, UK, pulled down a statue of 17th-century slave trader Edward Colston and rolled it through the streets before dumping it, unceremoniously, into the River Avon.
Some applauded the move, while others decried what they called “mob rule.”
With a colonial history spanning centuries — and a mania for erecting statues in the 19th century — Britain’s towns and cities are dotted with monuments to figures like Colston.
For some, the statues have melted into the background of daily life, but many people are now questioning whether they should still stand on their pedestals.
On Tuesday, the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, announced a commission to examine the future of landmarks around the UK capital, including murals, street art, street names and statues.
The Commission for Diversity in the Public Realm is aimed at improving “diversity across London’s public realm, to ensure the capital’s landmarks suitably reflect London’s achievements and diversity.”
Washington (CNN)Attorney General William Barr said Monday that the US Secret Service recommended moving President Donald Trump to the underground White House bunker during late May protests, contradicting the President’s earlier assertion that his visit to the bunker was for “inspection.”Barr told Fox News that the June 1 action to expand the perimeter around the White House and Lafayette Square was a reaction “to three days of extremely violent demonstrations right across from the White House — a lot of injuries to police officers, arson.”“Things were so bad that the Secret Service recommended that the President go down to the bunker,” Barr said, referencing protests on May 29. “We can’t have that in our country. And so the decision was made. We had to move the perimeter one block. And that was what we were doing (on June 1).”Last week, Trump sought to explain his time in the bunker during clashes outside the residence on May 29 as an “inspection,” rather than a retreat for his own safety, telling Fox News Radio’s Brian Kilmeade he was only in the safe room for a “tiny” amount of time.
There is one thing I know for sure
In the tale, a spoiled princess reluctantly befriends the Frog Prince, whom she met after dropping a gold ball into a pond, and he retrieves it for her in exchange for her friendship. The Frog Prince magically transforms into a handsome prince. In the original Grimm version of the story, the frog’s spell was broken when the princess threw it against the wall, while in modern versions the transformation is triggered by the princess kissing the frog.
In other early versions, it was sufficient for the frog to spend the night on the princess’ pillow.
The frog prince also has a loyal servant named Henry (or Harry) who had three iron bands affixed around his heart to prevent it from breaking in his sadness over his master’s curse. When the frog prince transforms into his human form Henry’s overwhelming happiness causes all three bands to break, freeing his heart from its bonds.
Marian Rae Salyer. December 1, 1922 December 6, 2005. A memorial service will be held on Monday, Dec. 12, 2005, at 2 P.M. for Marian Rae Salyer, age 83, at the Community Church of the Monterey Peninsula. Marian was the daughter of Mildred and Ray Mahaffey, and was raised in Chicago, Illinois by her loving parents Mildred and H.R. “Bud” Bollman. She was a graduate of Stephen’s College in Columbia, MO, and later became a registered nurse having attended St. Luke’s Hospital School of Nursing. Marian brought love and joy to every life she touched and will be sadly missed by her family and many friends in Pebble Beach, the San Joaquin Valley and the Palm Desert area. Marian’s survivors, include her husband of 56 years, Fred Salyer of Corcoran; daughters, Christine Salyer and Linda Lee of Fresno; son, Scott Salyer of Pebble Beach; grandchildren: John Lee, Patrick Van Wyk and his wife, Kim, Traci Van Wyk, Noelle Van Wyk and Stefanie and Caroline Salyer, and her constant little companion, “Mac”. In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations be to: Beacon House, 468 Pine Avenue, Pacific Grove, CA 93950 or to your favorite charity. Arrangements are under the direction of The Paul Mortuary in Pacific Grove.Mark AraxLos Angeles Times
AFTER 70 YEARS OF rivalry, the world’s largest cotton grower is buying out another California dynasty.
CORCORAN, Calif. – The Boswells and Salyers, two of the richest and most powerful farming families in America, have ended decades of rivalry and rancor over their California empires with a huge land deal in which one colossus will swallow the other.
Fred Salyer, 72, has agreed to sell his cotton and grain empire – an estimated 25,000 acres of fertile San Joaquin Valley soil – to J.G. Boswell for tens of millions of dollars, according to business associates.
The two men themselves aren’t talking about the deal that would end one of the most protracted family feuds in California history.
Salyer confirmed the sale, effective March 1, in a terse letter to city and county officials. Boswells and Salyers have been fighting over control of this part of the state since their forebears – “The Colonel” and “The Cockeye” – first squared off in the early 1920s.
In this two-company cotton town, where most everyone’s bread is buttered by Boswell or by Salyer but rarely by both, it was always thought that too much venom and pride stood between the two clans for any such deal. But over the past decade, as his fortunes waned, Salyer grew more open to overtures.
Last week, on the heels of another disappointing crop for Salyer, James Boswell II, the largest cotton grower in the world, traveled from Los Angeles to meet with Salyer.
Salyer wanted to sell only part of his empire, sources said, but soon everything was on the table. Boswell sealed the deal with a sum that, by some accounts, exceeded $26 million. “It’s the end of a long chapter,” said Corcoran Mayor Jon Rachford.
Few small towns in the country boast so many millions with so little flaunting of wealth. Perhaps that shyness has something to do with the federally subsidized water that for decades has flowed the cotton giants’ way, and the paper games that both land barons have played to get around the law that limits acreage of farmers who get that water.
The town itself has nothing but pride, proclaiming to visitors in bold letters: “Welcome to the Farming Capital of California.”
It is no idle boast. Boswell is not only the world’s largest cotton grower but America’s largest grower of wheat and seed alfalfa.
Such abundance is a testament to the vision and guile of two pioneers of California agriculture: Col. James Boswell, a military and cotton man driven out of Georgia by the boll weevil; and a Virginia hillbilly named Clarence Salyer who skinned mules and bore the cruel epithet “Cockeye” for a fake eye.
Vision was needed because this land, in wet years, was at the bottom of the largest body of fresh water west of the Mississippi – the Tulare Lake. In dry years, the land could sustain any and all row crops.
Guile was needed because the trick was to control the water.
The fight over water and politics often required one to subvert the other. A half-century later, both patriarchs dead, the battle raged on.Louis Warren, W. Turrentine Jackson professor of Western U.S. history at the University of California at DavisCHICAGO TRIBUNE
The King of California: J.G. Boswell and the Making of a Secret American Empire
By Mark Arax and Rick Wartzman
PublicAffairs, 558 pages, $30
California. The word brings to mind beaches, Hollywood, Disneyland, even colossal redwoods–but seldom cotton. In fact, in a state where farms are so big and modern that their owners call themselves growers rather than farmers, cotton growers are the biggest of all. And one of them, Jim Boswell, was the biggest grower in the world until his recent retirement. “The King of California” is his biography. It is also the story of the San Joaquin Valley, just over the low coastal mountains north of Los Angeles, where Boswell cotton spreads over 300 square miles.
Journalistic exposes of grower greed are a staple in California. For decades, the spectacle of dirt-poor migrants toiling for San Joaquin Valley land barons has inspired numerous social critics, most famously John Steinbeck in his classic novel “The Grapes of Wrath.” But Mark Arax and Rick Wartzman, reporter and business editor, respectively, at the Los Angeles Times, a Tribune Co. paper, have no truck with Steinbeck or his ilk, an “angry pack of agrarians” who have portrayed big agriculture as “a single-dimension bad guy” without ever interviewing “a single big farmer.” If their mission is to trace the career of California’s most successful farmer and his international “secret empire” of real estate and agriculture, they claim their interests are less reformist than investigative. How, they ask, has the valley become so dominated by such a powerful few? And if its farms are so rich, why are the towns so poor?
For all the authors’ protests, these questions certainly sound like the same ones that “angry pack of agrarians” asked all those years ago. Much of their search for answers is devoted to lively corporate and family history. Boswell Co. was founded by Lt. Col. James G. Boswell, who learned the cotton business in his native Georgia before relocating to California in the 1920s. With venture capital from Cecil B. DeMille and other southern California investors, Boswell and several other growers crafted a new landscape that resembled the South in some ways (huge plantations and plenty of racism) but was more modern in its dependence on vast sums of capital and technology (in recent years, Boswell technicians used laser-guided scrapers networked to global-positioning satellites to level their cotton fields prior to planting for ease of harvesting). Boswell’s farm long kept pace with California agriculture, which has advanced through accumulation of vast acreages, relentless pursuit of intensive mechanization, devotion to applied chemistry (fertilizers and pesticides) and a preference for near-powerless migrant workers.
Indeed, Boswell’s early dominance came as much through political mastery as business savvy. Family members spent less time on the farm than in the exclusive neighborhoods of Pasadena, where they built lasting alliances. Boswell eventually married Ruth Chandler, daughter of the Los Angeles Times-owning Chandlers, the most powerful family in southern California. The Boswell political reach grew long indeed.
In 1850, the land that was fated to become California’s cotton kingdom had been under water. Each spring, snowmelt rushed from the Sierra Nevada into the San Joaquin. There it recharged the abundant breeding grounds and habitat of birds, fish and clams in Tulare Lake, the biggest body of fresh water west of the Mississippi River. Early efforts to drain the lake and turn the land to agriculture culminated in the 1930s, when the Boswells and neighboring growers persuaded federal authorities that the lake was a flood, which officials then checked with a taxpayer-funded dam.
The effort has never been wholly successful. Even now, in wet years, parts of the lake briefly return. Jim Boswell, nephew of Boswell Co.’s founder, took advantage of the situation after he assumed control in 1952. He bought out competitors who could not sustain the fight against the resurgent lake, and as he expanded his valley holdings to monster size, he diversified into numerous other businesses. He sold unprofitable Arizona cotton fields to developer Del Webb, then partnered with him to build Sun City, the nation’s first retirement community. He bent Australian laws against foreign ownership to consolidate a 60,000-acre cotton spread. Back in California, the company finally prevailed in a 50-year congressional fight to gut federal laws that would have broken up the farm and reduced the Boswell latifundia to a yeomanly 160 acres.
This is a great story, but the authors’ devotion to the growers’ perspective is a tricky proposition. The book’s most persistent witness to the valley’s history is Jim Boswell himself, a charismatic figure whose capacity for distortion is suggested in his claim, early in the book, that there has never been any significant black presence in the town of Corcoran, where Boswell Co. is based. In fact, there were once four black churches in the town, and Arax and Wartzman provide a remarkable history of the area’s black and Mexican labor camps and communities, much of it drawn from their own interviews. Similar discrepancies between Boswell’s version of the past and the authors’ interpretation energize the book with a constant sense of revelation and intrigue, the uncovering of the secret American empire promised in the book’s subtitle.
But, played out over more than 400 pages of text, the continual scramble to correct or fill in Boswell’s distortions and half-truths seems to exhaust the authors. Nowhere is their simultaneous effort to cajole and critique the growers more troubling than in their account of Boswell’s neighbor, Clarence Salyer, a transplanted Virginian who careers through the book trailing mistresses, fist fights, drunken car wrecks and family feuds. For all Salyer’s failings, his “savage temper and rascal ways” met locally with a “willingness to forgive” that was “almost universal.”
The folksy synopsis of Salyer’s career sits uneasily near the end of a book whose early chapters include an astounding revelation. On Oct. 10, 1933, Clarence Salyer was in a crowd of growers confronting a peaceful picket line, when somebody opened fire on the strikers. Two workers were shot down in cold blood. While there were indictments, nobody was convicted of the crime. But, as Arax and Wartzman discover, Salyer was convinced he had killed somebody. He returned home that day with his gun, which he melted down in the coal forge in back of his house.
Salyer’s escape from possible punishment might be ascribed less to the goodwill of his neighbors than to his wealth and power. His fortune was second only to Jim Boswell’s. He kept a local constable on his payroll. It is to the authors’ credit that they uncover Salyer’s involvement in a long-unsolved murder. But the resort to local color veers toward whitewash when they dismiss Salyer as a “rascal” and his untouchability as “forgiveness.”
By book’s end, though, even the most powerful of California’s growers seems to be on the verge of becoming an anachronism. Competition from Chinese cotton makes Boswell’s fields ever-less economical. Just over the hill, thirsty Los Angeles promises top dollar for Boswell water, which may be their next commodity. A neighboring grower has already foregone cotton to compost sewage for the City of Angels, a service that brings in millions of dollars a year and obviates the need (or ability) to grow any kind of crop at all.
This may not be such a bad thing. Arax and Wartzman may want no part of that “angry pack of agrarians,” but by the book’s end they sound a lot like them. Cotton farming has all but destroyed the valley’s great wetlands. The spray of pesticide makes the whole basin smell “like rotten flesh,” and dire residues and runoff cause horrendous mutations in the remnant flocks of egrets, ducks and other waterfowl.
The region’s people have not done well either. Jim Boswell is a philanthropic man who has funded college scholarships, a park and a YMCA in Corcoran. He paid his workers well. And yet, precious little of Boswell Co.’s immense wealth flows downstream. The highly mechanized company produces fewer jobs than ever, and town residents are desperate. In the 1990s they agreed to host a new high-security prison. Nonetheless, their community remains a slough of despond. Unemployment hovers above 15 percent, gangs murder to control the drug trade, and the teen pregnancy rate is higher than Haiti’s. It is a sad contrast to neighboring towns like Kerman and Kingsburg, where a preponderance of smaller farmers have produced a persistent middle class and viable downtowns.
In the end, then, Arax and Wartzman’s careful research and sharp analysis of the local scene correct Boswell’s many distortions. For readers seeking a weave of corporate history, family biography and insight into the devil’s bargain Americans have made with big agriculture, there is no more colorful a tale than “The King of California.”.Jim Boswell built the state’s first giant agribusiness, swaying water and land policy.(Matt Black / Public Affairs Books)By Jerry HirschApril 7, 200912 AM
James G. Boswell II, the intensely private businessman who transformed his family’s cotton holdings into California’s first giant agribusiness and one of the nation’s great farming empires, has died. He was 86.
Boswell died of natural causes Friday at his home in Indian Wells, Calif., according to a statement from the family.
As head of the family-owned J.G. Boswell Co., Boswell ran a company that has dominated California cotton growing for generations and has used its clout to influence land- and water-resource policy throughout much of the state.
He was just 29 when he inherited the company following the death of his uncle J.G. Boswell, the family patriarch. Over the next half-century, he transformed the business and more than tripled the size of the family farm, which peaked about 200,000 acres and now spans 150,000 in the San Joaquin Valley town of Corcoran. Boswell’s labs created new, more productive seeds. Technological improvements to his gins boosted their capacity to 400 bales of cotton a day — enough to produce 840,000 pairs of boxer shorts, according to a 2003 Times article.
Historians and agriculture economists credit Boswell with creating the template for large agribusiness concerns.
The Boswell business remains one of the world’s top sellers of “the extra-long staple cotton that goes into fabric blends and both soft and high-end apparel,” said Don Villarejo, director emeritus of the California Institute for Rural Studies in Davis.
“His legacy is quite impressive,” said Villarejo. “He was a brilliant business leader beloved by many of his employees. At the same time, his company was able to be ahead of and often acquire his chief farming competitors.”
Boswell also was legendary for using a combination of political clout and legal strategy “to outwit many of the environmental groups that have tried to restrict water deliveries to California agriculture,” Villarejo said.
He was an innovative water user, one of the first to employ lasers to level fields so that water flowed evenly and efficiently, said Richard Howitt, an agriculture economist at UC Davis.
Careful water management, including employing agronomists to determine when and how to water, allowed Boswell’s farms to produce more cotton with less water than competitors, Howitt said. Many of his techniques were later adopted by other farms.
But even during this period of growth and success for the enterprise, which included diversification into tomatoes and other crops, real estate development and farming in distant Australia, Boswell remained an intensely private man at the head of an intensely private family business.
A rare 1999 interview with two now-former Los Angeles Times writers gave outsiders a sense of Boswell’s character.
For years staff writer Mark Arax and business editor Rick Wartzman had attempted to meet the cotton patriarch. But each letter and call was rejected. The two were writing “The King of California: J.G. Boswell and the Making of a Secret American Empire,” a book about the family’s cotton business, and they needed to talk to him. Finally he agreed.
J.G., as Boswell liked to be called, wanted to meet them on his land rather than in some sterile office. His intent was to show them that the business was only as good as its earth.
Boswell, the pair wrote, “wore a Cal Poly Ag hat tucked low, frayed khaki pants, a flannel shirt and Rockport shoes.”
“It was all part of an image that Boswell loved to play up. He had earned an economics degree at Stanford and sat on the board of General Electric and other big corporations, but he fancied himself a cowboy,” they wrote in a 2003 Times article.
Boswell attended the Thacher School, an exclusive private boarding school in Ojai, graduating in 1941.
He served in the Army during World War II in the South Pacific before graduating from Stanford in 1946. That’s where he met his first wife, Rosalind Murray. They raised their three children in Pasadena, far from the farm. She died in 2000.
The company remains headquartered in Pasadena.
Fancying himself a cowboy and living like a city boy, J.G. proved to be a complex figure. When he reached out to shake the writers’ hands, they noticed the missing fingers on his right hand, the result of a cattle-roping accident.
They jumped into an aged Chevy truck for a tour of his holdings. The writers said they traveled half a day and 150 miles but never left the farm. When they asked Boswell how much land he really owned, he responded, “What are you, a tax collector?”
“I’m the bad guy in agriculture because I’m big,” he said later. “I’m not going to try to fight it. I can’t change an image and say, ‘Well, I’m righteous and good and all that.’ But I’m telling you . . . I’m not going to apologize for our size.”
Wartzman, now director of the Drucker Institute at Claremont Graduate University, said he was sad to learn of Boswell’s death.
“He was an immensely complicated guy, someone who knew every inch of his land but whose company did some pretty awful things to the land,” Wartzman said. “It is just hard to farm in an environmentally sound manner at that scale.”
The company used its political clout to encourage the building of the Pine Flat Dam to shut the flow of water to Tulare Lake, which at one point was the largest freshwater lake west of the Mississippi River. The drained lake bed is now farmland, located at the heart of Boswell’s sprawling enterprise.
Boswell was born March 10, 1923, in Greensboro, Ga., the son of William Whittier Boswell Sr. and Kate Hall Boswell, and moved west with his parents and his uncles.
He was named after his uncle J.G. Boswell, who married Ruth Chandler, the daughter of Los Angeles Times Publisher and real estate baron Harry Chandler.
With no children of his own, J.G. Boswell picked his nephew to take control of the company he had founded in 1921 with the help of his brothers.
In the early 1980s, Boswell and the company would spend $1 million to defeat the Peripheral Canal, a system proposed to move water to Southern California. He thought it would hurt farming interests.
During the same period, Boswell helped farmers outflank state and game regulators and pump water from excessive snowmelt into the north fork of the Kings River. The move prevented farmland from flooding but also introduced the nonnative predatory white bass into the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta.
At times profane, Boswell liked to be in control. For many years his company extended its influence throughout the San Joaquin Valley by lending money to other growers.
He served as chairman, president and chief executive of the company from 1952 until his retirement in 1984. He remained on the company’s board of directors until his death. His son James W. Boswell now runs the business.
In addition to his son, he is survived by his wife, Barbara Wallace Boswell; daughters Jody Hall and Lorraine Wilcox; and five grandchildren.
A memorial service is planned for April 22 at 1 p.m. at the Corcoran High School Memorial Stadium.