The Reagan's Visit to Hollister Ranch
When the first phase of 100 acre Hollister Ranch
properties went on the market in late 1971, a small number
of parcels sold to people who had either been waiting for them to
become available or to a few (including some Hollister family members)
who cut particularly attractive deals with Dick LaRue, the broker
who represented the developer, MGIC Equities.
Dick Larue had conceived the concept (based roughly upon the Sea
Ranch development in Northern California) we now know as the Hollister
Ranch Owners’ Association following the default of Macco Development
Corporation. Macco was a subsidiary of Penn Central Railroad which
went bust in 1969 (see “Hollister Ranch – Its History, Preservation
and People” by Nancy Ward and the Hollister Ranch Conservancy for
a more complete discussion of this event).
Dick had incorporated a true environmental component into the Hollister
Ranch development. Way ahead of his time in that respect, Dick can
truly be seen as the father of the Hollister Ranch Owners’ Association.
Nevertheless, following the initial sale of a few parcels, even
very attractive financing options had failed to bring in more buyers.
On the first day of the summer of 1972, Dick called Wendie and
me to see if we would be available to take some photographs of a
special celebrity who was to arrive for a tour in a couple of days.
We had been working to help with sales since the previous year—primarily
as the Ranch photographers. The time and place were determined,
and we agreed to be there.
On June 24th Wendie and I arrived early in the morning at the Granary
(now the HROA office). Dick came out to tell us the client had just
come through the gate, and he should be there in about 20 minutes
(the drive took more time in those days because Rancho Real had
even more “whoop-dee-dos”—Dick’s term for twisting curves
in the road, and it was still a one lane road). He asked us to refrain
from taking photos until their meeting in Dick’s office was over.
We could see the cars approaching while they were still on the
main road. A large black sedan led the way for an even larger limousine.
Both vehicles had the American flag mounted on one fender and the
California state flag on the other—Mr. Reagan was no longer governor
and not yet President. The cars pulled into the Granary parking
lot, and the occupants of the sedan emerged. Three large men in
black suits and dark glasses proceeded to the limousine to open
the doors for those inside. Out stepped Ronald and Nancy Reagan.
Dick came down the stairs to greet them cordially and invited them
into his office.
While we waited for the meeting to end, the Reagan’s security team
chatted amiably with Wendie and me while they cleaned their pistols
that they had pulled from holsters beneath their jackets. I mentally
recalled how I had met (the eventually to be) President Reagan at
the time he was governor of California when, as a group of UCSB
political science students, we had visited him in Sacramento five
After about half an hour the Reagans and Dick LaRue emerged, walked
across the deck and descended the stairs as we began—as discreetly
as possible—to snap a few photos. Following an introduction by
Dick, the Reagans paused in front of Wendie and me for a cheerful
handshake and some brief small talk. Their graciousness left us
with a very warm and positive impression.
Dick then showed the Reagan’s to one of the freshly washed yellow
MGIC Jeeps that were used to drive clients through the west end
of the Ranch that comprised Phase 1 of the sales program. They drove
away smiling and waving as the Jeep meandered out to Rancho Real.
The Reagans didn’t buy property at Hollister Ranch. They instead
purchased their ranch at the top of Refugio Canyon where they could
employ their own personal security measures most effectively. Nevertheless,
their visit to the Ranch was an unforgettable experience for Dick,
Wendie and me.