Cops and Cows: Chino in its Hay Day


Ann’s obsession with cows and butter makes me think of my hometown. Just seeing (or smelling) cows takes me back to my growing up days in Chino, California.  Although I moved away from Chino over 50 years ago, I still can’t separate it from who I am.

In each of the university classes I taught for over 40 plus years my opening lecture was about me. This naturally included stories of my Chino roots. I tried to convince my students, and myself, that I did this because it was only fair that they know something about the person at the lectern who controlled so much of their destiny (I liked the dramatic sound of that). But really, how many professions let you talk about yourself uninterrupted – sometimes for up to two hours?  (Well, not always uninterrupted. There was the one time when in the midst of presenting  my “self” lecture a student raised her hand and asked if I could “fast forward” my life story. I have never recovered fully from that one).

Fortunately for our blog readers I have been instructed by the editor-in-chief to keep this short and to the point, which to me sounds a lot like “fast forward” your presentation – even retired professors get no respect at BigLittleMeals. So I will restrict my comments about growing up in Chino to two major points.

The first has to do with the then wildly popular TV cop show, Dragnet. Even my more recent students who had never heard of Dragnet recognized the theme music. If you don’t know or recall or just want to hear it again, click below.


What does this have to do with Chino? At the end of each episode  (Sgt. Friday and his sidekick always caught the bad guys) the credits would roll and the “Mark VII Edition” logo would appear followed by an account of how the perps were sentenced. Nine out of ten times they would end up serving time at the Chino Institution for MenFor me, to see the name of my hometown displayed on Dragnet, one of the most popular tv series in the country, was cool. Hence, by association, being from Chino made me somewhat more special than someone from, say, Corona or Pomona (at least in my adolescent brain).

In addition to Dragnet there were the cows.  During my childhood, Chino’s claim to fame was not only for its Dragnet connection, it was the home to a world renowned dairy industry. You might say that I grew up in Chino’s Hay Day. In a relatively short time the Chino valley dairy industry grew from hardly anything to being the largest in the country. The rapid post-WWII urbanization of the greater Los Angeles area forced the mostly Dutch and Portuguese dairy owners living in the rural fringe of LA to sell out (for very handsome profits).  Many of them relocated about 40 miles east to the then rural Chino Valley area where these industrious dairy farmers reinvested their huge profits into state-of-the-art technology and the best herds available.

methane blaze

No caption needed.

According to a 1999 NY Times article,  there were “about 880 cows on average on each farm in Chino, with many having 2,000 or so, compared with a national average of fewer than 50 cows per farm.” That’s a lot of bovine congestion, not to mention bovine waste. Somebody told me that back then Chino had the highest pile of cow manure in the country, which was totally believable given the ever-present eau de methane. It is probably just as well that I didn’t realize that methane was highly flammable.

chino hills

Former dairy land in the now incorporated Chino Hills

Although my childhood memories of Chino are full of cows, the reality is that there are few cows left today. Sprawling urbanization and inflated property values have forced (enticed?) most of the dairy operations once again to move to where the grass is greener. An LA Times article published in 2006 –  at the peak of the dairy exodus – reported that “developers are offering $400,000 to $500,000 an acre, and sometimes more, for land farmers purchased decades ago at just a fraction of that price”.  Five years earlier, the same land sold for $50,000 to $100,000 an acre. Milk producers were reinvesting their huge profits  in California’s Fresno, Kern, Kings, and Tulare Counties and even New Mexico and North Texas.

I like to think that there is a child somewhere in one of new booming dairy centers who will one day grow up to be a sociology professor and regale his or her students with stories of cows from the past. With luck, no students will ask that the story be fast-forwarded.



  1. Helen Weaver says:

    Ann should have checked with Jo Dee for a cow pie recipe. Her job one summer at the Ag Experimental Station in Holtville, Ca. was to collect cow pies from the cows there & cook it. A shitty job but I am sure she still has a recipe to share.


    • theRaggedys says:

      Looks like we have a potential guest blogger in the wings. Moving from cow pies to hemp was quite a change forJoDee. We’ll have to ask her about the possibility of hemp pies.


  2. Bill Falk says:

    Udderly cute biographical note! I was mooooved by it! Who knew how handy your rural sociological training would be? Don’t farm out this blog whatever you do!

    Liked by 1 person

    • theRaggedys says:

      Thanks for the flattering, pun-filled comment. Too bad the Ag Experiment Station didn’t fund bloggers in those days. I tried to get Ann to include a pie recipe in addition to the cake recipe in the main blog section, but she was afraid that it would have been off-putting to include something about a cow pie. Clearly she has no rural sociological training.

      Liked by 1 person

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