Early in his career, Alfred Priest worked in the Oxnard area.
“If it wasn’t a school day, mother and I would go along. We drove a long way through orange groves to a house and waited while he talked to a rancher who wanted to build a new home,” said Ruth Priest, now of Santa Barbara.
Several years ago, she discovered that her father’s earliest designs were done in Oxnard, predating his first Glendale house, done on Putnam Street in 1910. When historian Jeffrey Wayne Maulhardt called, he asked if she knew her father had designed a park pagoda in Oxnard and told her he had found other structures designed by him as well. His book “The Oxnard Pagoda, a Community Gathering Place,” tells of the architect’s work there and in Glendale.
“I learned a lot about my father from that book,” she added.
He worked at home, Ruth Priest said.
“He had a drawing board in his den and worked at night. I would climb on a stool beside him and just watch him draw. I was kind of a tomboy. We lived at the end of Central and would go hiking up to the top of Mt. Verdugo. My dad and my uncle did a lot of hunting next to Brand’s ranch and my dad taught me how to shoot a gun.”
As a young girl, she walked to school, first to Eugene Field Elementary, then to Toll Intermediate, which her father had designed. Toll had opened in 1926.
“He took me to school my first day. Carrie Noble was the principal and she had worked with him, so she always said ‘hello’ when she saw me. At that age I was embarrassed by that attention, but I think he was proud of his work on that building.”
Her father also created her high school. She was still at Toll when Herbert Hoover High School opened to students in 1928, but she went to Hoover’s football games, especially the games with Glendale High School.