King of the Windmills.

King of the Windmills

Field review by the editors.

Stockton, California

Frank Medina is 94 years old, and has never had a cavity. He still has all his teeth. But he no longer has all his windmills.

For more than twenty years, Frank has been the undisputed King Of The Windmills, and his ranch was once home to hundreds of them. Most are gone now as part of a divorce settlement. His ex-wife was a younger woman -- ten years younger -- and they split after 45 years of marriage.

"She's working for a doctor and his wife. She's living high on the hog. Pretty damn expensive collection, but anyway."

The Wonderful World Of Windmills has seen better tourist days. Out front, there are a couple dozen or so planted six-feet-high in a muddy tire-tracked garden. Some rusting bladeless frames are overturned. A guard dog (also with big teeth), chained in the middle of it all, keeps up a steady bark.

But there just isn't critical mass. Careless drivers have flattened five or six, in addition to those taken by Frank's ex.

But no one can take away his teeth. Ripley's acknowledges him as the "Oldest man in the world with all his teeth who has never had a cavity." Stuffed-shirts at the Guinness Book of Records do not recognize such a category.

Wonderful World of Windmills.

He opens his mouth wide to show off an immaculate, only slightly yellow set. The windmills must've kept Frank young, for with a slight mustache and taut farmer skin, he looks at least twenty years younger than he is.

The fields off to the side of his house contain his remaining few furrows of full-scale windmills, big spinning sunflowers, which give a glimpse of what this place looked like in full bloom. As Frank walked among them, he recounted his recent activities, including a visit to his ancestral homeland. "We went to Portugal, Azore Island, and everyone's named Medina. And it was founded by a priest! Can you believe that? Took the nurse who took care of me when I was in the hospital for five weeks with blood poisoning from the windmills. Mashed a finger and got that black galvanized poison."

Back home, Frank maintains what he still has. "I fix my windmill and fix this hose. I keep busy." But why does he continue? Even as greedy ex-wives and certain townspeople who will not take no for an answer paw at his waning legacy? Frank pauses, a blank look and a few fumbled words as he feels for the right gear. Then the mental teeth mesh, and the answer comes out at ninety miles an hour:

"Because I'm known all over the world. I'm known all over the world. See! They write to me from London, England, Geneva, Switzerland, Ireland and Spain. All over Canada they come down here to see the windmill man. The windmill... KING Of The Windmills, the man with the most windmills in the world. I've collected over...two...THOUSAND of these things, yeah, and I've had to sell my whole, my famous collection to pay my wife. See. She took me for $134,000. I've got my attorney working on it now." The gear disengages, and Frank's back to his old calm self.

Nov. 2008: Frank passed away a few years ago; his son Gary is apparently now on the property.

King of the Windmills

Address:
6553 E. Waterloo Rd., Stockton, CA
Directions:
Windmill Ranch, E. Waterloo Rd, east of town.
Phone:
209-607-2992
Admission:
Donation - about $5.
RA Rates:
Worth a Detour
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