The former hayfields where Art and Selma Cader established their successful Cader Farms egg ranch has changed dramatically in the past 50 years. Although the couple still resides on the same knoll that used to overlook the hen houses and slopes toward Sonoma Mountain Parkway, the modest house where they raised four kids has been radically remodeled and the surrounding landscape, which Cader expanded to 60-plus acres before selling to developers in the mid-1970s, is now blanketed with upscale homes.
But more than just the scenery has changed in Petaluma since Art?s parents, Morris and Mary Cader, arrived in Petaluma in 1915 and Selma?s parents, Sam and Sarah Fishman, started a poultry business here in 1919. Morris Cader and his brother, Charles, operated a hide business, always paying in silver dollars, and established Cader Brothers Tallow & Soap. Business prospered and they were in the process of adding a warehouse on North Main Street when Charles died in 1926.
Just prior to the Depression, Morris Cader cashed in his stocks and purchased, for $13,000, a stately new brick home at the corner of Seventh and C streets, where he and his wife and four children lived. As a teenager, Art was a ?pretty good all-around athlete? on Petaluma High?s track and tennis teams before graduating in 1941.
Piloting a B-24 bomber during World War II, Art was sent to Guadalcanal, where he participated in 46 Asian-Pacific combat missions. While on the longest bombing mission of the war, more than 15 flying hours, Cader and other pilots of the 5th Bombardment Group came under heavy enemy fire. When the lead bomber was shot down, Cader, despite damage to his own aircraft, provided cover from enemy fighters for the downed crew until help arrived. For this act of bravery and heroism, Cader was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross in a ceremony at Travis Air Force Base last year.
?Everybody is affected differently by war. I was lucky. I came home with no lasting bad effects,? notes Art, who admits he sometimes gets emotional when remembering the past.
After the war, Art returned to work for his father. He met a former classmate, Selma Fishman, a secretary for Kresky Manufacturing, and in 1949 the couple married. In 1958, with the intention of going into the poultry business, Art and Selma purchased 17 acres from the Cory family, for $1,000 an acre, on Ely Road.
?I thought it was overpriced,? remarked Art.
They built a state-of-the-art, all-mechanized egg ranch that was home to 40,000 laying hens. Art was a smooth-as-silk salesman, providing a high-quality product, and Selma often drove the Cader Farms delivery truck to the best hotels in San Francisco?s and the Bay Area.
?The reason we were so successful was because we marketed our own products,? said Art of the small but efficient operation. ?We made money because we were direct, and we both worked seven days a week.?
The Caders sold their business to one of their suppliers in the mid-1970s, but continued to operate a small store on their property, selling poultry products and fried chicken until approached by a developer with an offer too good to resist. They sold all of their property except for the parcel they have lived on since 1958.