Vacaville Fire: Restoring Papa's Family Roots

This last week of fires has been a brutal, devastating wave of destruction. Vacaville, California was hit hard and among the damage done was Darwin "Papa" Painter's family land or "the shop" that has been part of his roots for over 65 years.

Papa Painter grew up with his family on 60+ acres of land in this rural part of Vacaville. This land raised him, his grandfather and father taught him everything he needed to know.  When his father passed away the land was divided up into parcels that were sold or given to his children and this was the only piece of it left. 

This land was more than trees, rocks, and soil. Papa Painter put his blood, sweat, and tears into his land. As a Vietnam war veteran, Papa used this land as his refuge from the storms of life, a place of peace to restore himself.

Everyone in the town brought anything and everything to this land for Papa to fix. And he did it without anything in return, no questions asked. If you know Papa Painter you know that his hands are never idle. 
His dreams came true on this land building and fixing his racecars. Papa and his racecar buddies would be out there for hours on end working on their cars. Papa and his life-long friends would get together there to share stories, catch up, and talk about the past. Family gatherings and cookouts happened frequently. Every time anyone came to visit from out of town you knew to set aside an entire day to spend time at the shop looking at his new collections, collecting rocks, building fires, gardens, and building handmade pools. 

This land helped raised his kids and so many others the way of life on the land. We were taught to shoot guns, bows, and arrows, ride 4-wheelers, harvest walnuts, work on cars, and just allowed to be kids. Every Eucalyptus tree that was planted down the driveway was done as a family, planted by hand. This piece of property was built the family from the ground up and was the place that brought the family back together after everyone went their separate ways.

He lost his trailers, cars, sheds, boat, countless tools, and equipment, valuables he had for over 65 years. He lost all of his racecar momentos, fishing, camping, hunting gear, family heirlooms, childhood pieces from his life, and his children. 

He has no fire insurance and is too humble of a man to ask for any help. We are doing this without his knowledge in hopes of restoring at least a piece of what was lost. 

This land was more than just the shop. It was HIS place. It was the place where he knew himself best and where everyone else knows him. You don't know Darwin "Papa" Painter without The Shop.


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Taylor Brown 
Provo, UT
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