Robert W Applegate (Bob) was born at a very young age to parents Frank and Doris Applegate of New Jersey in 1945. At about 6 months of age, being a Navy brat, he was brought to California, where he has since resided. Living in a coastal community of Pacific Beach, at approx age 5 he caught his first snake. It was snakes and lizards from that time on. At age 10 when the family bought a house and moved to El Cajon Bob had a collection of a few snakes and lizards. But that is when he had his first room alone, and soon the walls and any open space had a cage with some sort of herp. Not allowed to keep venomous, Bob caught his first rattlesnake at age 12, and kept it and others coming at a later date, hidden in nearby fields. In Junior High Bob decided the local stuff was not exciting enough anymore, so he started collecting on a large scale and trading with dealers or selling to dealers and using the cash to purchase what he wanted (ie the first Boas, pythons, etc). I suppose you could say that is when he became commercial in a small way.
Things continued this way until a graduation from High school and a marriage to his high school sweetheart. His daughter Michelle was born within a year. For about 6 years the reptiles were second to family considerations, but for a short time he shared rent with an animal importer and dabbled in importing herps from a small shop near Lakeside. At age 21, after being a door to door salesman, he landed a job on the fire Dept. In 1970 he bought his first home, a 3 bedroom house in El Cajon, and left apartment life forever (He hopes!). Soon the garage was a snake room and there was a concrete block snake pit in the back yard. Both commercial collecting and import/exporting became significant additions to the family income. In 1974 a divorce left him much more broke, but the sole owner of the three bedroom house, so one of the bedrooms quickly became another snake room (the one with drawer cages featured in many TFH books!)
About the mid to late 70's laws were changing and it was getting much more difficult to acquire wild caught animals, so Bob and many of his contemporaries decided to try to breed reptiles, mainly snakes, in captivity. Starting with the Burmese pythons and Argentine Boas, Bob had some successes, and started actually having some surplus cash in hand, for the first time in his life! Looking towards the future, and realizing that trouble with the neighbors over his reptiles and mouse and rat breeding would continue to be problems, Bob started buying the houses around him, figuring he could evict anyone who gave him trouble if he was their landlord! At this time people from other countries were traveling to the USA to purchase breeding stock, so Bob figured if he rented his houses to other breeders, all would benefit from the drawing power of many reptile breeders in the same place. Good idea until one of the other breeders was successful, wanted to buy his own house, Bob wouldn't sell, so he moved nearby and became a competitor (Bob "suggested" what each should breed so as not to compete with each other in the "conglomerate"). So he started renting to "normal" people. That went on for a few more years.
Yes, Bob was the one who advertised for a girl friend in some of his price lists, but after 15 years of single life, Bob was introduced to Marilee through mutual friends. After a long courtship, Bob finally convinced Marilee snakes weren't so bad, and that she should marry him. It was decided that, instead of her moving into his "cave" and disrupting his established environment, they should buy a new house and both start fresh. So Bob retired from the fire Dept, bought a new house and married his sweetie (Oregon Farm Girl) Marilee in a short period of time. The new house is quite a ways out in the country, so Bob asked Marilee if she wanted to continue making the 45 mile drive to the bank she worked at, or retire and stay home and take care of Bob and help with the snakes. She turned in her 2 weeks notice the next day! And to this day they continue to work together raising many fine snakes and "Heloderma" Lizards.
John: First picture should be labeled "New house from the West, second New House from the South, 3rd New house from above from the East
|The New House From The West
||The New House From The South
|The Nwe House From Above From The East