It was a lonely, clapboard sentinel, behind the main ranch house. It stood, formidably, as though keeping watch over all the acreage daring anyone to enter the premises that did not belong there. This was only one of many tank houses and windmills built in the early part of the twentieth century on ranches in California.
The reason the tank house was built in the first place was to bring moisture for the parching, cracking earth. If the wind failed to blow, the windmill did not turn, thus there was not water for the apricot and walnut trees. It also brought welcome water for Mrs. Vargasí garden. It was built one long, dry season when dearth had struck the land around Warm Springs. Farmer Vargas knew that though the creek was dry, water could be obtained by digging a well at not too great a depth. This he did and was able to survive the drought. As electricity came to the Warm Springs area, an electric pump was added to the tank house rendering the windmill useless. If the pump failed to shut off, the result was flooding of the area.
In a few years the tank house stood isolated as city water was introduced to the area. The squeaking of the old windmill was silenced. What was to become of the sentinel?
As his family grew, Mr. Vargas, decided to build on to the existing structure, and as his children married, they were able to have a dwelling place until such time that they were able to buy their own home. First to inhabit the tank house was Joseph and Delores. Delores was the oldest daughter of the Vargas clan. Soon this happy couple was introduced to their firstborn daughter, Sharon. They lived there until Mr. and Mrs. Vargas began to feel the pangs of age at which time they moved into the main house to help care for the older couple.
The next to live in the tank house was a couple from Pennsylvania. They stayed there until they were able to get on their feet after World War 2. When Frank, the Vargasí only son married Millie, they lived in the house until they were able to buy a home in another town. When the ranch was sold, the tank house was deserted and began crumbling down as heat and rain beat upon it. It was a temporary home, at best, for the ones who lived there.
The tank house saw a revival of sorts as the property was eventually bought by a large nursery chain. They used it for storage of hewn stones and cement. The main ranch house was used for offices. But, alas, this did not last very long as someone from China bought the property for the purpose of building a shopping center. Soon after the Chinese company bought the property they razed the old home place, along with the tank house. This was the last vestige of ranch life as men of another land trod upon the souls of the Vargas family. The tank house can only be seen in old photos of the Vargas family and in the minds of those who were so closely related to that time and place. The whole Vargas ranch had become a victim of urban sprawl! Where once luscious apricots and walnuts were produced, there stand multi-storied stores and warehouses to feed the habits of those who live in our throw-away society and instant gratification. Landfills become the recipients of loads and loads of trash produced in foreign lands at the expense of cheap laborers! Thus ends the saga of the old tank house.