Ray Pool is one of the most enigmatic ranchers in the Valley. It is difficult to tell whether he is a flyer or a farmer at heart. To be sure, he is one of Madera County’s outstanding farmers, and there can be no doubt that it was his flying that made it possible for him eventually to earn his living in agriculture.
Today, however, one is hard pressed to determine precisely what makes him tick — farming or flying, unless one considers a third turning key. Maybe Pool is mostly a gambler. That would explain his fascination with both farming and flying.
After his graduation from Madera High School, Pool entered the service where he learned to fly B-17s. With the War over, he decided to go to Nevada where his father owned a cattle ranch. While there, Pool decided to take a gamble and herd wild mustangs with an airplane. Unfortunately that endeavor ended when he hit the side of a mountain and lost a leg and an eye.
By 1950, Pool decided on another gamble — this time in farming. He took a chance and purchased 150 acres at a cost of $137 per acre on Road 18 in the Berenda hardpan area. There he tried growing cotton, corn and alfalfa on half of the land and put the rest to pasture. He continued that until he almost went broke, but he wasn’t quite ready to admit defeat. What gambler ever is? ...