Donna Crocker told us that Marj graduated from San Jose State in 1954 before receiving her Masters from Santa Clara. At one time she worked in a Maraschino Cherry factory. Not many people can make that claim.

How many people do you know who can say they grew up with Hearst
Castle as their playground? Well we heard from someone who did just
that! Marj Sewell told us about how her family wound up in San
Simeon when she was a young girl. Her father William, an army brat,
moved from London to Canada to Australia before coming to the
United States. They took a train from San Francisco to King City where
they had to take a pack train across the mountains to the coast. Marj’s
father was thrilled to be hired to work on Hearst Ranch in 1927. As the gardener on the hilltop, he planted 500 begonias a year and worked in the 5 heated greenhouses where he grew orchids.

Marj was born in 1932 and the family, including Marj, her older brother, Keith, mother Lois and her dad lived in a house along the same road as the schoolhouse.

During the war the Army would set up a temporary encampment for war games out on the point. About 40-50 vehicles full of army guys came every month or so for two weeks at a time. On Saturday nights, the Army boys would play music in front of Sebastian’s and girls from Cambria would come to dance. The Army also provided the boys with first run movies and townspeople were invited to attend. Having the

Army there brought a sense of security as well as the “merriment” they brought along.

The Ranch, as Hearst referred to the castle, had the largest private zoo in the world. As kids, Marj and her friends would frequently see many of the 87 different animals including polar bears, tigers and lions. When driving up the hill, one would often encounter camels that would stand by the gate and spit at the cars going by.

Polar Bear’s enclosure

When Marj attended Coast Union High School, there were 87 students but
they had a full band and a drill team, something the school does not have today.

Marj gave a very entertaining talk and we learned quite a bit about what it was like growing up in San Simeon. If you would like to know more about this, local Michele Oksen wrote a book entitled “The Reid Family’s Journey to San Simeon: Memoirs of Marjorie Reid Sewell”. It is available at the Cambria Historical Museum and on Amazon.