Caballero Sells Eucalyptus Wood in Idyllwild

Samuel Perez, 77, from San Jacinto, shows off his roping skills while he sells hard wood in Idyllwild

By Marcia E. Gawecki

Most weekends, you’ll see him in a cowboy hat throwing his rope next to his truck full of wood near Strawberry Creek Plaza in Idyllwild. Lean and handsome, he looks like an extra in a Hollywood movie. But he’s the real McCoy.

Samuel Perez, 77, came by train to the San Jacquin Valley from Guadalajara, Mexico, in 1961 with the U.S. Bracero Program, which brought in thousands of “strong-arm” contract laborers after WWII.

He said about 2,000 of them lived together on the farm and picked strawberries.

“It was hard work,” he said, shaking his head.

Since then, there have been better times for Samuel and his family.┬áHe has a new home in San Jacinto now, but the eucalyptus wood that he sells comes from his 3-acre ranch in Winchester which is now rented to another family. There’s only horses there now, but he used to buy and sell cattle at the San Jacinto Auction until the accident.

“I broke this bone,” he said in halting English, pointing to his femer bone on his thigh. “There are two pins in there.”

He also had his hip replaced.

Samuel sells a half cord of eucalyptus wood for $130 in Idyllwild

The accident happened when Samuel was herding cattle through a corral, and one of the steers panicked and gouged his leg.

Now he has two horses, a quarter horse named “Mr. Perez,” and an Andalusia named, “Napoleon.”

On weekends, he loads up eucalypus wood that he cuts from trees on his ranch (less than 18 inches in diameter) and comes up to Idyllwild. He charges $130 for about 1/2 cord and will deliver to any home here.

He has no regular customers, but would like to build up some clientele.

From September to October, he was coming up about twice a week, but in November, everything came to a halt.

“I wasn’t selling anything in November,” Samuel said.

He took December off, but was back in a different roping spot near Mountain Harvest Market on Saturday, Jan. 7. He looked like a vision standing in the sunlight with his cowboy hat and rope.

One Idyllwild resident offered to buy Samuel Perez's rope

Just then, an Idyllwild resident came up and asked how much he wanted for the rope.

“This one is not for sale,” Samuel explained. “I brought it from Guadalajara, and it cost me about $200, that I cut into pieces.”

He told the guy that he’d bring him another one next Tuesday.

It looked like regular rope to me, something that you’d buy by the yard at Forest Lumber. But cowboys know ropes, and both of these guys knew the true value of it. It will likely cost one as much as a truckload of wood.

Samuel will stack the wood for elderly women, he said, if they offer him a $10 or $20 tip.

“But not for the guys,” he said with a laugh. “They can stack it themselves!”

However, one elderly woman asked him to deliver the half cord of wood, and stack part of it near the front of the house. Then she told him to drive around to the back of the property and stack the rest of it.

“She was expecting too much,” he said.

The woman also had a big dog that was part wolf that she kept inside the house. When she wrote him the check, Samuel couldn’t wait to get out of there. He said the wolf-dog’s head came up to waist level.

Samuel will take cash or local checks for the eucalyptus hard wood. He’s up in Idyllwild most weekends, but you can reach him directly at (951) 692-2084.

Copyright 2012 Idyllwild Me. All rights reserved.


the attachments to this post:

Perez Rope 3

Perez Rope

Perez Rope 3

Perez Rope 3

Perez Wood Truck

Perez Rope

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