(The following is an excerpt from a Napa Valley Register article by Jared Murphy dated October 4, 2014 on the book Run of the Mill - A True Life, Napa Valley Adventure)

Imagine you are eight years old, your dad and the only mother you have ever known (as your real mother passed away, before your cognizance, at only two) are divorcing, your half-brother is no longer in your life as he goes away with your supposed mother, and your dad drops you and your older brother off at his parents house, and leaves, stating he needs to "work on his life." Confusing? Yes. Difficult? Of course, and now you and your older brother are stuck living with "old people"—you are merely eight—and the reality of your parentless situation is now dawning on you. How would these life changes affect you; how would you feel? Oh, and by the way, your grandparents live at a famous Napa Valley Landmark—the Old Bale Mill in St. Helena, California. This is exactly the situation in which the author, Dona (Stanley) Bakker, found herself during the summer of 1959 and is the backdrop for . . . "Run of the Mill." However, this is only the starting point of this tale, "A True Life, Napa Valley Adventure." Along the way there is joy and sorrow, happiness and lost tomorrows, but, through it all, Dona tells it all with a grain of ironic humor that is both admirable and engaging. So engaging and humorous is her tale, that, the reader is apt to both laugh out loud in parts and to feel like they’re right there, part of the family. 

Certainly, if you love history, you will love this book; if you had three sets of grandparents growing up and found out later, as Dona did, why, you will definitely relate to Dona’s experience; if you are interested in the psychological impact of divorce on children, this book will be of interest to you; if you like to laugh, you will; if you wish to learn about the Old Bale Mill during an oft neglected period in its history, you will enjoy "Run of the Mill"—regardless, Dona’s book appeals to anyone and everyone from preteens to grandparents (especially those who remember the 1960’s in the Napa Valley, including the prune orchards).

"A tender, heartfelt account of a childhood that might have been fraught with despair, but instead was taken up as an adventure. The author's positive and playful recollections are deeply personal, but many of them extend beyond the lives of two kids who had the unique opportunity to call the Old Bale Mill home. Hikes and chores, animal tales, testing one's courage, the loving care of grandparents, all these have broad appeal." Hilary Zunin


by Dona (Stanley) Bakker)

"...Truth is very often stranger than fiction.... Cultivating and examining memories can take a person (and a creative endeavor) places they never dreamed of going... Fact is, when we write of things personal, we cannot help but learn new things about ourselves. And, therein lies the beauty of this special book... Regardless of your background, experience or age, you will find a unique 'sweetness' in this book that you will cherish for a long time to come."

Dane Stanley (The Author's Brother)

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Also available at:

Main Street Books - St. Helena, CA

The Bale Grist Mill - St. Helena, CA