Distinguished artist Alice Rankin Beard has seen a lot of changes in her life. Born in 1915, she has a strong passion for her ancestral roots embedded in the Kern River Valley. A third generation California cattle rancher, Alice was born in Isabella, California to Mary and Walker Rankin, Jr. Four children, seven grandchildren, and three great-grandchildren later, Alice wants to keep her heritage alive for her posterity.
As a little girl, Alice loved to listen to stories about "early day life" in California from her grandmother, "Nana," (Lavinia Lightner Rankin). Her grandfather, Walker Rankin Sr., founded Rankin Ranch in 1863. The Lightner and Rankin Ranches are two of the oldest continuously run family cattle ranches in the state. In 1999, the Kern County Cattle Women's organization honored Alice with the title, "CattleWoman of the Year." "It is such an honor to be recognized by your peers in the industry," she says.
A member of the Golden Girls of the Kern River Valley, she enjoys her monthly meetings where there are no motions, no minutes, just good old-fashioned fun. "We recount old times," she says. "They are the grandest bunch of ladies."
She began her education at a one-room school house in Southfork, and then moved to Bakersfield during her teen years where she graduated from Kern Union High School (now Bakersfield High School) in 1933. Her high school art teacher, Ruth Hyle Emerson, encouraged Alice to pursue her artistic talent.
|"I am so grateful I got to raise my kids on our ranch. At an early age, they got to participate and learn so much."|
She graduated from UCLA in 1939 with a degree in education and taught Physical and Health Education at Bakersfield High School until she met and married her husband, Air Force 1st Lieutenant, Robert "Bob" Beard, in 1941. Together they raised their four children – Rob, John, Walker, and Mary Lou – on the family ranch in Walker Basin.
When her children were a little older, she taught once again at Bakersfield High School. Then, she and Bob relocated to run a ranch outside of El Paso, Texas. She took advantage of local artists' workshops and became a member of the Rio Bravo Watercolor Society, where she received both recognition and encouragement for her works of art.
After 25 years, the Beards returned to Kern County, and sadly, Bob lost his battle with emphysema in 1996. She continues to live on Lightner Ranch where she loves to paint scenes depicting nature and her country lifestyle. She also volunteers her time at the Bakersfield Museum of Art.
As the matriarch of her family, Alice knows she has a responsibility to be the kind of example to her children and grandchildren that her ancestors were to her. She remembers her childhood fondly, and says she "came from a lot of very honest people, who were patriotic and loved their country." "My ancestors thoroughly respected children and they were respectful in the way they handled animals," she says. "I try to just continue what they started."
Sukiyaki Steak BBQ
3 lbs beef, rump, shoulder or round
1 – 6½ ounce bottle soy sauce
Add Sugar to taste to balance salt (Will take a lot of sugar!)
½ tsp ginger spice or 1 Tbs fresh grated ginger
½ cluster of garlic, chopped fine
¼ cup melted butter (for rolls)
Cut beef across grain, ¼ inch thick, about the size of a woman's palm. Trim tough outer edge to keep steaks from curling. Mix sugar, ginger and soy sauce. Let stand until sugar is dissolved. Layer steak in a dish and sprinkle with garlic. Continue with meat and garlic until all is used. Pour soy sauce over the meat, loosen with fork to let soy sauce get between steaks. Soak for about 3 hours.
BBQ over hot coals. Steaks are thin so caution should be used not to over cook. Turn and brush with melted butter. Serve between hot buttered home made rolls, with tossed green salad, scalloped potatoes, apple sauce and dessert. (Serves 6-8)