Jack Cheechov

By Teri Stevens

Jack CheechovJack Cheechov grew up in the home where he still lives. In 1921, the house was towed by horses to its present location from Cement Hill Road. Movers hauled the structure over gravel roads and used telephone poles to slide it over a stream on its way to Cheechov land.

Jack “didn’t have to look for something to do” when he was a boy. His parents farmed, which was “an act of survival.” They kept chickens, ducks,
geese, and cows. They milked twice a day, and the children helped with the milking, too, as soon as their hands got strong enough. They separated the milk and hauled it to a farm that served as a Crystal Dairy pickup point.

When Jack was young, the whole Vacaville area was covered with fruit trees: apricots, peaches, cherries, prunes, and even a few pears. There were also nut trees, of course, especially walnut. One of his early memories is of his mother, cutting fruit for drying. He and his siblings stood on boxes and cut fruit alongside her. The fruit was placed on flats and sent through the sulphur dryer and then stacked on ground outside.

Kids “made their own entertainment” then. There weren’t many “boughten” toys, but Jack had tools and made simple wooden earthmovers, and then played with them in the dirt. Jack and his friends did a lot of bicycling—downtown for a movie and popcorn (he loved westerns), or to the Vacaville Creamery, a favorite spot. Sometimes they rode their bikes as far as Winters.

In the early 1940s, there was one policeman with one police car in town. The police station was on East Main, where the old fire house stands now. This was sufficient law enforcement for a place without much crime. Most people were too busy making a living to get into trouble. Oh, teenagers might occasionally make mischief, but it was “mostly in fun.”