Capturing Murieta’s history on videotape

Published September 23, 2002, by

A program on the history of the Rancho Murieta development premiered Thursday evening before a crowd of about 30. They were the invited guests of the four residents who labored on their own for almost a year to produce the show.

As aerial footage of hills dotted with oak trees unrolls, the voice of rancher Stan Van Vleck is heard describing the land he knew and loved. It’s an affecting moment for those in the audience who knew the rancher. Van Vleck died in a helicopter accident two years ago. On screen, he talks about what was here, all around his own ranch, before Rancho Murieta came into being. Then lilting music comes up on the soundtrack, the picture takes on color, and the community as it is today comes into view.

It’s a perfect cinematic moment. It’s also a perfect summing up of the project residents Marion Cravens, Dixie Eudey, Frank Falusi and Ralph Frattura embarked on last December. Van Vleck’s words are taken from an interview with Cravens and Eudey in 1998. It was one of a series of interviews they conducted with people who were prominent in Rancho Murieta’s development – Ray Henderson, who came up with the plan for the original development; Dale Marr, the Pension Trust Fund of the Operating Engineers representative, and Bill Rippon, the sales manager for the development in its early years, and others.

The 35-minute program covers the period from the start of the development in the 1960s through the 1970s.

Frank Falusi, who produced and edited the program, said, “Had it not been for Marion and Dixie doing (the interviews) in 1998, we wouldn’t have had our show.”

Falusi took “the wealth of videotapes” and used them as the foundation for the program. He incorporated pictures from the early years, recent interviews and graphics to tell the story of how a turkey ranch grew into a community of homes, lakes and golf courses, as well as a training center for heavy equipment operators.

The group met every other Saturday morning for months. In between meetings, they did research, gathering pictures, documents and memorabilia.

“We had a really great group,” said Eudey. “It’s surprising that the four of us seemed to fill every need. If there’d been more of us, it would have been a disaster and if there’d been one less, any one less, it probably wouldn’t have happened.

“We absolutely could not have done it without Frank. He was the one indispensable. The rest of us could have been replaced with someone else, but he worked wonders. He was great. He was more than great.”

“Dixie said when she saw what he came up with for (the opening) the first time, it took her breath away,” said Cravens. “That was it. It couldn’t be better. And I agree.”

“That was my ‘Eureka!’ moment for sure,” Falusi admits. But another contribution he’s proud of is something most people won’t even notice. And that’s the point. He labored to come up with “pleasing, non-jarring” transitions from one topic to another. “If they’re done right, you don’t even notice,” he said. “It’s a very important element.”

Falusi credits Eudey’s script for the success of the project. “Without a good script, you just don’t have it. Hats off to Dixie Eudey. … She kept the script real tight and interesting. .The community owes her a lot of thanks. Had it not been for her helming this thing, we probably would have had a two-hour production and it would have been real boring.”

What everyone in the group brought to the project was a willingness to share their skills and work together. Falusi manages a field service organization for repairing computers. He transferred to Rancho Murieta from Arizona in 1997.

He’s been building and repairing computers “all my life.” Computer video editing provided him with a creative application of computers, a dimension beyond business applications. “I’ve always been interested in film work. … Computer editing has basically opened up a lot of doors to a lot of people, and fortunately I’ve been one of them,” he says.

Eudey has experience writing radio and TV commercials. Like Falusi and Cravens, she was part of the volunteer staff that produced Channel 5’s “Rancho Murieta Lifestyles” show, a monthly production that ended last December.

As far as writing the script goes, she prefers to describe it as an outline. As for keeping the project on track, she says, “That’s a fault. Somebody has to do it, and I’m always willing to volunteer. The standard joke in my family is at some point I took an aptitude test and it turned out I should have been an officer in the military. One of my daughters said, You didn’t need to take a test. We could have told you that.” Eudey has lived in Rancho Murieta since 1983.

Cravens has been a resident since 1980, and a property owner since 1977. She was involved with the Community Services District from its inception in 1982, when she was elected director, until her retirement in 1997 after 10 years as the general manager. Her husband, Don, is currently a CSD director.

Her network of contacts proved invaluable to the project. She was expert at locating people, pictures and documents, and often turned up at the meetings with a satchel full of finds.

Ralph Frattura was just moving to the community from Sacramento around the time Cravens and Eudey were doing their interviews in 1998. A career news and information executive, he brought research and computer design skills to the project. He created the online piece of the project, which will be a permanent part of, and he and Cravens anchored the TV show. He is married to Karen Muldoon, the editor and publisher of