One half-century ago I was in high school and on a mission to buy my first car. It ended up being a well-used British roadster with a soft top and a manual transmission. In the years that followed, cars have become safer and easier on the environment. The internal combustion engine has become less popular and electric vehicles are “mainstream,”,” but I digress.

That first car was purchased from a Kensington resident on a spring weekend day when I was working at the nursery. Being 15½ years old and possessing only a learner’s permit, my dad (Ken Doty) sat in the passenger seat as I drove home through Tilden Park, grinding gears but overjoyed. For over one year that black & white beauty was my pride and joy, taking me on trips to the ocean and to the mountains. I named her Beulah.

After high school I worked at the nursery to support my habit of restoring VW Beetles. I took classes at Merritt College and DVC, dabbling in both sciences and arts, eventually landing a job in music with a traveling band. The band Rainbow’s End had been around for a few years. They were auditioning for a bass player/vocalist. I tried out, got the job and spent two and a half years on the road playing covers of Earth Wind & Fire, Bee Gees, Stevie Wonder, Steely Dan, The Stones, and just about anything else heard on popular radio in the 70’s.

Discovering that I’m really a home-body I settled in Davis in the 80’s. There, I finished college and made the decision to take over the family business full-time. I had discovered that I loved working with plants and people! Marriage was in the stars, and 1990 saw me buy my first mini-van to accommodate family plus dog.

Fast forward to my retirement age and I am ready to pass the torch to other family members so I can spend more time gardening and playing music. I’ll still be around in the background, writing or advising as needed, but the drive time from my home in the Sierra Foothills will limit in-person time at the nursery starting in 2023. Until then I plan to celebrate.

Fifty years after my first car, the nursery motors on; safer and easier on the environment. Happy 100th Birthday, Berkeley Hort!