Bobby Dayton was born in 1926, the first of Elmer and Bernice Dayton’s 3 sons. Elmer was a he-man type who supported the family as a plasterer. Bernice was a strong woman but allowed herself to be ruled by Elmer. Bill, the second son was later diagnosed as a paranoid schizophrenic. Jimmy, the youngest was Bernice’s favorite. He was killed in a horse riding accident at the age of 13.
Bobby is on the left
The Dayton’s lived in Long Beach, CA, but at the age of 17, Bobby quit school and joined the Merchant Marines. Barb would later tell us many amazing stories about Bobby’s time as a seaman, one of which was an unbelievable story about getting lost in the jungles while on a boar hunt in the Philippines. He spent some time fighting the Japanese with the Moro tribe before ending up in a prisoner of war camp. The only thing that saved him from being shot as a deserter was the shortage of seamen at the end of the war. His skills were needed and he was released to sail on another ship. Records from the merchant marines and letters home show Bobby was suspended and fined for being absent without leave, supporting the story.
While Bobby was at sea the family moved to the Dayton Ranch in Cathey’s Valley, CA. Cathey’s Valley is about 22 miles southeast of Merced. Bobby tired of his time in the Philippines and upon returning home, he immediately began using his many talents and developing new talents to assist in making the ranch more livable. One of the new talents was the use of dynamite. Among other things, he used it to reroute water so Bernice could do her laundry at the ranch house.
Even though Bobby enjoyed the solitude at the ranch, he soon became restless and made several trips to Mexico searching for gold. Often he was accompanied by a friend or by his brother, Bill.
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