I read with sadness of the death of Harold Moskowite at 91 in the March 6 edition of the Register. I write to commemorate his life and to extend sympathies to his family.
For me, Harold was perhaps the last living link to the farming community that existed in the Berryessa Valley, long before the federal government ran the families out in the '50s when the lake was filling up. Harold's father, George, had extensive landholdings there, and during the '40s he and my father, Marcus Stanton, partnered on almost 400 acres of rich bottom land near Putah Creek. It is under water now, but I have many childhood memories of that beautiful area.
My father raised Polled Hereford cattle and acres of wheat and barley on that fertile soil. There was no power except to operate water pumps to irrigate. What I vividly recall is the silence; the hiss of the Coleman lantern, the whispering of the night breezes turning the windmill by the barn. Harold was born into this environment, and it shaped him into a man of courage, few words, and hard work.
Harold was probably 18 when I first met him. Even then, he was a straight shooter, right from the shoulder. I know he loved that country as much as I did. He was a rough-and-tumble guy then, and those traits served him well during his life and political career. You might not like what he said, but few had the courage to say it like he did. He exemplified the essence of the farmers in those long-ago days; it was a rough and hardscrabble existence, but folks hung on there because the area was just so beautiful and bountiful.
The Berryessa Valley as it was has disappeared, like "Brigadoon," into the mists of time. Farming in Napa County consists of acres of vineyards and wineries now. The old cattle-ranching families like Meek and Clark are gone from the valley.
For me, I have many youthful memories of those long-ago days for me a magical place. Harold was my last link to that past. I will miss him.