When Bonne first laid eyes on Jack, the two college students were holding pitchforks, shoveling cow manure. Jack was assigned to the Hereford steers; Bonne got the short horns.
“Really romantic, isn’t it?” Bonne asked with a laugh.
And yet despite that (ahem) romantic setting, it wasn’t quite love at first sight.
Bonne had no plans to date. And Jack seemed aloof.
“Jack had a little white dog,” Bonne remembers. “I love animals, and I asked him if I could pet the dog and he said no. It’s amazing our relationship went farther than that.”
But here they are — 60 years after they were bonded by beef.
Bonne (pronounced “Bonnie”) and Jack Scott, this year’s Colony Queen and King, have spent decades close to each other. But they started out 4,500 miles apart.
While Jack grew up in tropical Hawaii, Bonne and her family braved the cold Lake Erie winters in Ohio. There they lived in a quaint neighborhood, where neighbors were also watchful relatives.
“You couldn’t get away with anything because someone would tell on you,” Bonne said.
But those cold Ohio winters took a toll on Bonne’s little sister.
“She had pneumonia five times before she was six years old,” Bonne said.
When doctors said she wouldn’t make it through another Lake Erie winter, the family went west, to California, where Bonne’s father worked as a bricklayer in Fontana. Growing up in California, Bonne, who was nine when they left the Buckeye State, became known for a string of firsts:
“I was never good at listening to people telling my why I couldn’t do something,” she said.
Since she liked animals, she decided to study animal husbandry at Cal Poly. And then Jack arrived with a pitchfork.
“When I went to Cal Poly, I wasn’t interested in dating,” Bonne said. “I wanted to get my degree. I was planning on being a vet.”
As it turned out, she wasn’t quite committed to that. She went through multiple majors before settling on architecture and design — graduating 20 years after their wedding.
“The same year our oldest son graduated from high school,” Jack said.
“I said it took me a while,” Bonne added. “I had one husband, four kids and five majors.”
Bonne had several jobs: She created education exhibits at fairs. She was a morning DJ for easy listening station KIQO. She taught art. She sang in a country and Western duo.
“I sang for a number of years, from Solvang to Vegas,” she remembered.
While some might say she broke barriers — such as becoming the second woman to join the Kiwanis Club — her main motivation was just being near Jack.
“I sort of like the old dude.”
Jack doesn’t remember his first date with Bonne but he assumes it was something as simple as a cup of coffee and a slice of apple pie.
“We were real, real poor then,” he remembers.
But in the late 50s, the Madonna Inn was still a work in progress, providing the young lovers an opportunity to bond over a life’s passion,
“We’d go in and wander around and watch what the woodcarver had done that week,” Jack said.
Eventually, Bonne and Jack Scott — this year’s Colony Parade royalty — would build on their own property. But they started out 4,500 miles apart.
While Bonne’s family lived in Ohio, Jack was born in Hawaii — his father, formerly of the Scottish army, was recruited to work in sugar plantations there. When he was 3, Jack’s hometown was attacked by Japanese planes.
“I remember the planes going over,” he said. “I remember seeing some of the dust from the planes strafing there. Air raid warnings came after that.”
Too young to be afraid, Jack survived the Pearl Harbor bombing. And he went on to lead an agricultural lifestyle in Hawaii.
“I’ve never been on a surfboard in my life,” Jack said, bucking the island life stereotype. “And I don’t play the ukulele either.”
A track athlete in high school, he delivered newspapers, was an R.O.T.C. officer and hauled feed from the Port of Honolulu. But he was more interested in animals than pineapples and sugar. So he went to California to pursue an agriculture degree.
In June of 1961, Bonne turned 20 on the 17th, Jack graduated on the 18th, and they got married on the 20th.
It was a momentous four days.
After getting his teaching credential, Jack taught high school for five years, then agriculture at Cal Poly for the next 33.
“Loved every bit of it,” he said.
Along the way, Jack was heavily involved in community activities, serving as livestock superintendent at the California Mid-State Fair and president of the Kiwanis Club in Atascadero. He also helped build the Faces of Freedom Veteran’s Memorial, the bandstand at Atascadero Lake Park and the restoration of Pine Mountain.
But some of his most memorable building was at the Scott home in Atascadero.
When Bonne first showed him the simple two-bedroom house, its lawn filled with weeds and trash (“It has potential!” she insisted), Jack was taken aback. But through the years, the couple went to work, hammering beams side-by-side.
They doubled the square footage of their home, built a barn, sheds, and a studio, learning how as they went.
“There was always a house being built at about that stage,” Jack said. “We’d just go prowl through the (other) house and see how they anchored that corner down or how they fastened those walls together, and we’d go back and do it ourselves.”
Bonne, trained in architecture, drew up modest plans and submitted them to the county for approval.
“We never had the money in the early days to hire an architect, to hire someone to build a barn,” Bonne said. “So we just did it ourselves.”
Needless to say, they work together well. And when the Colony Days Parade starts, the two will work together again. But this time, the work will be a little more laid back.
“This year I don’t have to do any work on the parade,” Jack said. “We get to ride in one of the first cars that goes through. That way they can get us back to the viewing stand so we can sit there and clap as everyone goes by.”