I grew up in northeast Shafter less than a half mile away from Fred Starrh's home. His fields and table grape vineyards surrounded our neighborhood. When the cotton behind us got tall in the summer, we kids would sneak through it to cross the road and steal grapes. Others would also steal potatoes, carrots and tomatoes, but I had no interest in those. We played wherever he tried to grow crops, much to his ire. He traveled around in a pick-up truck with several German shepherds in the truck bed that would jump out and chase us off. They never bit anyone to my knowledge, but I never hung around to find out.

At age 6 or 7, with my short Tomboy Pixie haircut and pants and shirt, I ran into the house one day and hid under my bed. Starrh came to the door and spoke to Mama about catching her "son" in his alfalfa field (I was looking for baby bunnies). She told him he must be mistaken because her son, my older brother, Travis, was on a work trip with Daddy. Ha! She'd never heard me come inside, so I sneaked back out and went elsewhere to play.

Another time, Starrh had dug a huge pit in a field near us, which we assumed was for a new reservoir. Half the neighborhood kids were in it climbing the sides and having dirt clod fights. Somebody saw Starrh coming with his dogs in his truck (The guy must've used binoculars). We "spazzed" out and refused to pay attention or answer questions. We all just wandered off into different directions, too many for him to follow. So he just yelled at us, again.

Tommie Sue Self, Bakersfield