Artists in Paradise

“Topa Topa Bluffs” pastel on paper by Alberta “Bert” Collins.
Permanent Collection, Ojai Valley Museum

This essay by Anca Colbert originally appeared in “Ojai Studio Artists – 3 Decades” a book published in  2013. Colbert is an art adviser, curator, writer, and long-time resident of Ojai. It is published here with Colbert’s permission.  ©2013 Anca Colbert – All Rights Reserved. 

This book offers a glimpse into the lives of 60 artists who live and work in Ojai, a small town, more of a village really, nestled in a fertile mountain valley surrounded by nature of breathtaking beauty and bathed in legendary light. Together as members of the Ojai Studio Artists, yet always alone as individuals, they weave stories reflecting their life and their vision in this magical place.

Consider the spectrum of artists in this group. Stylistically, they represent a vast range of visual arts creativity, from figuration and hyperrealism to expressionism and abstraction, from traditional to experimental, from plein-air to political. They use most media: painting in oil, acrylic, encaustic or pastel; drawing with pen and ink; printmaking; photography; collage; assemblage; making sculptures, ceramics, pottery.

If one of art’s highest purposes is to ask questions of those making it and of those experiencing it, it seems relevant to ask questions about the OSA group: why does it exist? And why here?

Geography and nature have much to do with the group’s existence. Ojai, an old Chumash Indian outpost, was always a land cultivated for its agricultural abundance. In the late 19th century it was embraced by many newcomers for its beneficial climate. During the 20th century it became a magnet for educators, writers, artists, celebrities, creatives in all fields, and seekers of life’s meaning and higher purpose.

By now Ojai is renowned as a fertile paradise for its orchards and its artists.

My first visit to Ojai was an invitation to lunch at Beatrice Wood’s. It was the early 1970s. I had just moved from Paris to Los Angeles, and Beatrice had just moved to her new house and studio in the Upper Valley, facing the Topa Topas. I was mesmerized by Beatrice’s iridescent luster glazes and whimsical sculptures, and charmed by her conversation and personality. On that very first trip I fell under the spell of the Ojai Valley.

Why have so many visual artists chosen to settle here? Ojai is a place unlike most others. Those drawn to this valley have a strong sense of belonging here, of living in an earthly haven. A few other art communities are famous for their singular settings. Taos comes to mind. The Hudson Valley. St. Paul de Vence. Similarities abound: natural beauty, spiritual energy, space, silence, light quality, a protected environment, a gentler life than in the cities, yet a convenient proximity to important art centers.

Artists use their imagination to create worlds: theirs, and ours. The process is fraught with uncertainty and doubts about the purpose of their life work, about exposing it and exhibiting it, about financial survival, about recognition. That takes courage. A support system is essential. Ojai offers a nurturing environment for all creatives, but members of OSA choose to participate in a somewhat structured community of kindred souls. Their homes and studios are within minutes from each other. So they meet, they party, they talk, they bond.

For “Reflections,” an OSA group exhibition organized by the Ojai Valley Museum in 2013, the museum asked participating artists to ponder what it meant for them to belong to the group. The painter Elisse Pogofsky-Harris wrote on that occasion: “Art making for me is a solitary undertaking, which being an only child, suits me well. But as I journey down the path my paintings require I follow, I am grateful that there is an OSA to provide the possibility of having colleagues, peers and even friends with whom to share moments of joy as well as times when the muse is hiding.”

Being an artist carries the central contradiction of a self-enclosed, isolated life trying to connect with others in the world. Not an easy balancing act. As Georgia O’Keeffe famously wrote: “I found I could say things with color and shapes that I couldn’t say any other way – things I had no words for.” Artists tend to favor solitary lives, and usually do not like to talk about their work. Yet here they come together once a year in October for the OSA Tour.

The tour has drawn thousands to Ojai over the years. Most art lovers cherish the opportunity of being welcomed into the artists’ studios, to connect with them in an intimate manner: It’s a highly charged personal experience, one of immersion into that individual life, work and environment. The power of images in an intimate setting has a singular quality far different from their effect in public museum spaces, or in the often desensualized world of big city galleries, or in the all-encompassing, fast-paced, consumer-oriented international art fairs, which in recent years have changed the nature, geography and economics of the art world.

Picasso’s comment about art being “just another way of keeping a diary” rings true as one looks at the stories told by this group of OSA artists. As painters, sculptors, photographers, et al., they leave a palpable trace of what they see and what they feel. Yes, artists do tell stories: about fruits and vegetables; mountains and skies; their loved ones, dreams and visions. The thread of a singular life’s story interwoven with others creates the fabric of their connection. It keeps changing slowly under our eyes, just as do the shifting rays of light in this valley.

Familiar face, old recollections

The following article was first printed in the Friday, September 12, 2008 edition of the “OJAI VALLEY NEWS” on page B4. It his reprinted here with their permission.

Familiar face, old recollections
Mashburn’s life has been a “Bee” movie

Nao Braverman
nao@ojaivalleynews.com

If your ever see a flash of yellow go by on Ojai Avenue it might be Barbara Mashburn.

The lifetime Ojai resident has frequently been seen driving a bright yellow electric vehicle around Ojai. It’s yellow now, but freshly decorated every season. On Christmas it has splashes of red and green, and on the Fourth of July it’s patriotic.

“For Halloween it’s going to have autumn leaves and pumpkin lights,” she said.

“It was just an old yellow thing when I got it,” she adds dryly, “But people were about to run me over, so I decorated it for safety.”

She says all this with a smirk that suggests she might know something that you don’t, but she isn’t about to tell you just yet.

If we’re lucky Mashburn will get dressed up as a bee for the holiday. But if not, her electric vehicle, dubbed “Barbara’s Hummer” as if says on her license plate, has its fair share of black-and-yellow bumble bee accessories. The contraption has a built in heater, powered by solar energy, and is always lt with solar powered lights that she put in herself.

“There are probably a lot of people wondering who’s driving around town in this little yellow hot rod, but don’t have the nerve to ask,” she said. “Of course the kids always do.”

Up until this year when the school district had to make budget cuts, the school bus would stop right in front of Mashburn’s house and the children getting off would stop to marvel at her eye-catching front yard display. The lawn is crowded with porcelain bees, stuffed bees, plastic bees of all shapes and sizes. There’s even a wrought iron bench covered in toy bees, and a wreath that says “bee happy”. Sometimes her manx cat, Bee Bee, wanders in and out.

“I used to hide in the carport and listen to the kids making comments about my yard,” she said. “But it don’t bother me.” The front yard is nothing according to Mashburn, “You should see the back yard and the inside of the house,” she said.

People have been giving her bee toys ever since she acquired the nickname, “Bar-bee.” In high school there were seven Barbaras in every class, so they called her “Bobby Bean Pole” because of her tall wiry frame. Then there were too many Bobbys. So when she started to tend bar, Bar-Bee just stuck, she said. After getting so many bee gifts, she decided to add to the collection herself.

For those who have seen the Signal Street home that belongs to the “Duck Lady,” with an impressive toy duck collection in the front yard, strikingly similar to Mashburn’s bee garden, that’s one of Mashburn’s best friends. She was the one that Mashburn called on after suffering a heart attack several years ago, Mashburn said. And, of course, they shop together.

Mashburn says she’s lived in only two places her whole life. The first house in Mira Monte had a farm with pigs, cows, and old mule, and one of Ojai’s first organic gardens. As a young girl she climbed Mount Whitney with the Suphur Mountain Girl Scouts and helped found the Frazier Park Girl Scout Camp. At 27, she moved out of that house into the home where she has been living for about 40 years. That was when Ojai was known for having a church, a bar and a gas station on every corner, she said.

Mashburn, who served Ojai’s oil rig workers at two of the valley’s oldest bars, The Hut and The Hub, claims to have worked her way down the streets of Ojai as a bartender and waitress years ago. Back then there was only one cop and he wasn’t even a cop, really, just a constable, she said. “He drove an old Ford Model T pickup. And he didn’t look like a cop but more like the Lone Ranger with a white hat and all those guns on his belt.”

Since then a number of establishments have changed names or closed down but Mashburn served plenty of drinks at the Elbow Room bar in the Arcade, which was next door to the Mighty Bite hamburger joint with a card room in the back, and she also had shifts at the Hitching Post. She later waited tables at Boots and Saddles, a bar and grill where the Golden Moon restaurant now stands.

After so many gigs, Mashburn designed a float for the Independence Day parade dedicated to Ojai’s veteran waitresses, called “Old Waitressess Never Die, They Just Lose Their Tips.”

Only waitresses who had served tables for 25 years in Ojai were given place on that float which was adorned with T-bone steaks made of Styrofoam. Little kids would throw change onto the float as tips.

“We never planned it that way, but by the end of the day there was enough money for each of us to ge a drink at the Elbow Room,” she said.

By the time Mashburn was managing the snack bar at the Soule Park Golf Course, she was raising her two kids, Icy and Kevin Mashburn. Icy is now a teacher at Mira Monte School and Kevin manages a Carrows in Camarillo. Icy’s real name is Isaline, she added, but since her grandmother was Isa for short, they had to give her daughter a different nickname so there was no confusion.

“I went into labor on my mother’s birthday,” said Mashburn. “I was supposed to have my daughter by midnight. But I didn’t, so to get out of the doghouse I named her after my mother.”

Mashburn also had a stint at the O-Hi Frostie. “I went to City Hall more than once to protest when the owner got run out,” she said. She knew owner, Rick Henderson when he was just a busboy at The Oaks at Ojai and she was a waitress. “I was his first boss,” she said.

The Frostie was one of the last remnants of the old Ojai that Mashburn remembers as clear as day. Back then, few people had fences and you could pick an orange or an apricot form their trees because they could get a peach from your yard, it didn’t matter, she said. You could also swim an day in the Ventura River because it never dried up. There was more for the kids to do back then, she said, with the bowling alley still thriving and a miniature golf course across the street where the fire station is now. When she first got a job at The Hub, it was owned by old-time Hollywood actor Rory Calhoun and his friend, Specks Edde.

Edde left the bar to his ex wife, Verna. Verna’s ghost was later blamed for anything in the bar that was missing or wasn’t put where it was supposed to go. “But she also bought you drinks on your birthday,” Mashburn adds. Those were the days when almost every bar was owned by a woman, she said. Mashburn claims to have known everyone in town and said the only real celebrity visits, aside from Calhoun, were from actresses Loretta Young and Ann Miller.

For her last working years, Mashburn was an occasioanl care giver. She also done a lot of plumbing around the valley. As a single mother she laid the shingles on her own roof, and did all the handiwork herself.

“I’m also know around town as Josephine Plumber,” she said. “That’s my other nickname.”

Now it’s just her, her miniature cat, and a vegetable garden she tends out back.

“How are you going to get almost 70 years in that little space in the corner of the newspaper?” she asked.




Barbara Mashburn pauses in front of The Hub, just one of many places she has worked in nearly 70 years of living in the Ojai Valley. (Photo by Nao Braverman)

Intangible Spirit of The Ojai (No. 1)

The following article first appeared on June 6, 1961 in a newspaper that became the “Ojai Valley News”. The article is reprinted here with the permission of the “Ojai Valley News”. The author is Ed Wenig. Wenig wrote a series titled “Intangible Spirit of The Ojai”. He did not title each of his articles. Therefore, the “Ojai Valley Museum” has added “(No. 1)” to the title to distinguish it here from other articles with the same name. 

Intangible Spirit of The Ojai (No. 1)
by
Ed Wenig

DENNISON ENTRANCE — Earl Lively, caretaker of Dennison Park, points to a huge 40 ton rock pushed into place at entrance to park by pioneer Tom McGuire.

Beautiful, oak-covered Dennison Park is known throughout the Ojai Valley as a “family” park –– a place where people can come for quiet and rest. Earl Lively, park caretaker, points out that while other parks, by demand, have concessions in food and drinks and facilities for games and entertainment, there is only great natural beauty to lure the visitor to Dennison Park.

From the several lookouts on the 33 acre expanse at the top of the Dennison grade, one sees two entire Ojai Valleys — Lower and the Upper — simply by turning around. It is no wonder that in 1924, when the Dennison family deeded the property to the county the local paper stated, “A more beautiful and charming park site could not be found in the county.”

There is some significance to the picture above showing Mr. Lively pointing to a spot on the huge rock at the park entrance. For he, along with members or the Dennison family and other pioneers have often wondered why the plaque that was promised by the supervisors of 1924 was never made, or, if made, was never fastened to the rock 37 years ago.

In 1924, the year the county supervisors accepted the property as a park, and Tom McGuire of the Upper Ojai was ordered by the Board to bring this 40-ton rock from the east to the west side of the new grade road, as a unique and permanent entrance marker. “This I did,” said McGuire recently, “and what a job it was for my cat of that year! I understood that a special bronze plate was to be securely fastened to the rock explaining, and commemorating the generous gift of the Dennison family. Why it was never completed I, nor anyone else, has ever found out.”

According to Mr. Lively, the park site seems to have been a favorite camping place and home for at least three different and unrelated Indian cultures. While historians may write their speculations of the long, unrecorded past, Mr. Lively takes pleasure in showing visitors the mortars on a huge rock made undoubtedly by the Oak Grove Indians, the first Indian culture of 10,000 or more years ago. Then he describes the second culture, the so-called Hunter Indians, who, with bow and arrow and stone ax were able to hunt large animals for food, clothing and housing.

But when caretaker Lively talks about the third Indian culture, the Canalinos or Chumash, a note of sadness creeps into his voice. “With the coming of the white man, with his impatience, his faster way of living, and his disregard of nature’s balance, the Chumash disappeared. But, with real enthusiasm, Lively concluded: “I Like Dennison Park. It’s still a little world all of its own, high up here between two lovely valleys, just as it was for the Oak Grove, the Hunters, and the Chumash. When I occasionally find artifacts of one or the other of the three cultures, I go back in my imagination to the days of long ago when this little mountain top was a real paradise for the Indians.”

Chariot races were exciting events

The following article first appeared in the “Ojai Valley News”. The exact date is unknown, but its author, Ed Wenig, wrote a regular history column for that newspaper in the 1970’s. The article is reprinted here with the permission of the “Ojai Valley News”.

Chariot races were exciting events
by
Ed Wenig


“One of the outstanding incidents of the (Ventura County) fair was the winning of the chariot race by Tom Clark of Ojai in the world’s record time of 52 seconds. Tom claims that, knowing he had the race well in hand, he held his horses up. If he had chosen to let them go his time would have been somewhere around 51 seconds.”

This was the exultant report in THE OJAI on September 24, 1926. The colorful county supervisor for the Ojai district had once again distinguished himself in the field of horsemanship. This time his achievement was significant enough to warrant a special article in the Boston Globe, which told of the new world record.

In those days chariot races were truly exciting events. The drivers were garbed in ancient Roman costumes, and the chariots, patterned after the ones used in the Colosseum of Rome, rattled magnificently by on their wooden wheels.

Stage Coach Driver
Tom Clark, whether dressed in a Roman toga or in conventional modern attire, was always a colorful personality. As a teenager he had become a driver of stage coaches between Ventura, Ojai, and Santa Barbara. To the fashionable winter patrons of the Foothills Hotel the ride in his stagecoach from railroad station of Santa Barbara or Ventura was a much-anticipated event.

Many were the holiday expeditions piloted by Tom Clark. No matter how tortuous the road or how many streams there were to be forded, no one ever had the slightest doubt that Tom Clark would be in complete control of his horses and stagecoach. His livery stable at the corner of Signal Street and Ojai Avenue was the starting point of many trips both by stagecoach and horseback throughout Southern California.

His daughter, Elizabeth, now living in Santa Ana, recalls the joyous expedition of her Nordhoff High School graduating class to Wheeler’s Hot Springs. Two tallyhos were employed, one driven by her father, and one by her uncle, William Clark. The road was so winding that often the lead horses could not be seen by the passengers as they turned the corners. She recalls that at a moment of great excitement came when a Stanley Steamer approached on a blind curve, and it required all the skill of the drivers to keep their horses from bolting at the encounter.

THOMAS S. CLARK 1865 – 1940
Ready to race is Tom Clark.

District board nixes landmark status

The following article first appeared in the Saturday, June 21, 1986 edition of the “Ojai Valley News” on Page A-1. It is reprinted here with their permission.

San Antonio School
District board nixes landmark status
by T.C. Mitchell


A building commonly recognized in the Ojai Valley by residents as being a historical landmark will not get that official designation from the Cultural Heritage Board if the Board of Education has its way.

WHILE MEMBERS of the Ojai Unified School District school board believe as a group that it would be nice to have the San Antonio Elementary School recognized officially as a landmark of historical significance, the board will not willingly let that happen.

In discussing the designation at last week’s board meeting, Boardmember Robert Tholl said he felt the designation would restrict the district’s ability to make changes in the future. He said he didn’t want to commit future school boards to the limitations for construction, rebuilding and remodeling that the historical designation presents.

According to ordinance, before any building designated a historical landmark can be altered, notification of specific plans must be given to the Cultural Heritage Board 12 months prior to any work ever being done. School boardmembers last week said they feared that would limit changes that could be made in the future to the school, and it would require future boards to go through the county Cultural Heritage Board to have changes made at the site.

David Mason, member of the county Cultural Heritage Board, said last week that the board’s decision is not a major setback. “I don’t think there’s any danger of them (school district) tearing it down. I doubt anybody would make an issue of it. It’s important to the Ojai Valley, and I would fill the board meeting room with protesters if I heard they were going to bulldoze it down. But I don’t think it’s going to happen.”

MASON SAID the school was built in 1926 and was designed by Santa Paula architect Roy Wilson, a noted designer in Ventura County. The school replaced a Victorian design that was built in 1892, said Mason. The Victorian replaced the original school moved there in 1887 when the San Antonio School District was formed. The first school, according to Mason, was a granary.

So the school site is nearly 100 years old, adding to its significance locally. But Mason said the school board assured him during its June 3 meeting that the school was not going to be torn down.

“If they (school district) do decide to sell the property, I would like to do something. Maybe meet with the new owners or something,” Mason said. Beyond his duties as chair of the Ojai Cultural Heritage Board and as a member of the county Heritage Board, Mason also has a personal interest in the school. He attended there through the sixth grade, and so did his mother before him.

By law, the Cultural Heritage Board is not required to have the property owner’s permission to designate a building a historical landmark. But Mason said he didn’t think the county board would make an issue of designating the school as long as the school district is in possession. Should that change, Mason said designation proceedings can take place very rapidly in order to spare one of the Ojai Valley’s historical assets.

DISTRICT BOARD gave thumbs down on naming San Antonio School a landmark. (T. C. Mitchell photo)

Technology vs. nature’s wisdom


The following article first appeared in the Sunday, February 26, 1978 edition of the “Ojai Valley News” on Page A-12. The article is re-printed here with their permission.

Technology vs. nature’s wisdom

————————-
Our environment
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by John E. Nelson, M.D.

As the torrents of water which fell from the sky eased a bit and we all surveyed the damage to the manmade artifacts surrounding our lives, we could not help but be reminded of our closeness — and vulnerability — to the forces of nature.

Especially sad was the story of the family who lovingly labored with their own hands for nearly two years to build a beautiful new home near a picturesque stream. They had moved in a scant two days before that stream turned into a raging river, severely damaging their house and converting much of their property into a rocky wasteland.

Mankind has traditionally viewed itself as a species whose technology could potentially free it from such whims of nature. An illusion to be sure, this way of thinking has been carried to extremes in our cities where it is possible to exist for weeks without seeing a tree.

Isolated in concrete apartments and steel vehicles, citydwellers feel safe from nature, but vulnerable to each other. So they reinforce their windows with bars and watch television, only to witness scenes of freeways clogged with miles of cars buried under snow and of their neighbors freezing to death in their apartments when the electricity failed.

Here in our rural Ojai Valley we have so far been able to keep in close enough contact with primal energies to know better. We can see firsthand that the primary rule of all nature is change, and that this rule must be respected at all costs.

THIS VALLEY’S RECENT floods began in a monumental change witnessed by no human. The awesome energy of the water we all watched pass through our lives was actually imparted to it hundreds of millions of years ago when the Topa Topa mountains to our north were thrust above the ocean floor by forces we can barely imagine.

Since that time, nature has changed those mountains and our valley with each rainfall, etching first rivulets in the hard rock which became gorges which became canyons in the foothills, finally emerging as fertile alluvial fans covering most of the valley basin.

And simply because we have built houses here in the last 150 years, these changes will not cease. Our best technology will not stop them. We can only seek to understand them so that we ourselves may change in harmony with them.

One means we have developed to help us understand how man-made changes relate to natural changes is the Environmental Impact Report (EIR). By law, an EIR must be ordered by any agency who must rule on changes which may have a “substantial adverse impact” on our environment. A well-prepared EIR will bring expert minds to bear on the potential problems inherent in any anticipated change.

A good idea. But obviously, the words “substantial” and “Adverse” are open to interpretation by the powers-that-be who can file a “negative declaration” allowing them to bypass this vital process. This is often done with shortsighted impunity, such as recently occurred when the city and county planned to chop down 17 trees to widen and reroute South Montgomery Street.

Fortunately, a public outcry put a halt to that misguided project.

BUT MORE CHALLENGES are forthcoming. The recent floods will undoubtedly renew efforts for concrete channelization of the waterways which course through our valley. Those who seek to establish the primacy of technology over the wisdom of nature will argue that these sterile Los Angles-type canals are necessary to protect our homesites.

The futility of such thinking was recently demonstrated on Old Creek Road where the county decided to “improve” a natural river-bed crossing with a high concrete edifice. Although a lot and homesite just downstream survived the great floods of 1935 and 1969, this time the water cascaded across the new obstacle in its path, crashing down to opposite side with such force that it formed a giant whirlpool which swept away 20 feet of the lot.

Such events make clear the fact that all the desirable and safe homesites in the Ojai Valley are already filled. The only way we can cram more people in is to put then in precarious perches or destroy the few remaining undeveloped green belts and natural water channels.

Rather than changing nature to create an illusion of safety, wouldn’t it be better to let nature’s inevitable wisdom shape our future changes?

THE EXTREMES of nature which turn a peaceful river valley into a raging flood path help to teach us the need for thorough environmental planning. (Seba photo)

Water candidates tackle key issues

The following article first appeared on the front page of the Sunday, February 26, 1978 edition of the “Ojai Valley News”. It is reprinted here with their permission .

Water candidates tackle key issues
Editor’s note: At 7 p.m. on March 1, Candidates George Purvis and Earl Hansen will square off in a candidate’s night sponsored by the Ojai Valley Chamber of Commerce at World University.
by Tom Murphy

In the March 7 election, voters in District 4 of the Casitas Municipal Water District (Oak View and surrounding areas) will vote on a recall movement against their representative to the district’s board. Earl Hansen is a man who does not want to be recalled. His opponent, George Purvis, claims to be a man who does not even want to run, but has led the move to have Hansen ousted.

Purvis started working on water issues in 1945 when he first moved to Oak View with his wife and realized there was very little water to be had. In 1952 he became publicity chairman for the steering committee of what is now CMWD. He was elected to the board of directors when the district incorporated in 1952 and did not step down until his retirement in 1970.

“THIS IS THE last thing I ever wanted to do, to come back to the board. You’ll have to take my word on that. I thought some knowledgeable person would come forth and run. We need somebody who is knowledgeable and ready to go to work,” says Purvis, in explanation of his campaign bid.

As leader of the Oak View Utilities Investigation Committee (OVUIC), Purvis has promoted the recall movement, which has two basic complaints about present district policy. The first is the proposed conjunctive use agreement with the City of Ventura. The second is the disparity between water rates for residential, commercial and agricultural users.

The conjunctive use agreement would grant Ventura up to 6,000 acre-feet of water per year from Casitas Dam if the water they were able to draw from the Ventura Rivera at Foster Park should ever fall below that figure. The water would be delivered free of charge. In exchange, the district would be able to divert 20 cubic feet of water per second into the Los Robles Diversion Canal from the river.

PURVIS MAINTAINS that the agreement is designed to ward off a threatened riparian rights lawsuit by Ventura against the district and could leave the district without a sufficient water supply during droughts. He also says the pact may spark similar agreements with other riparian users.

GEORGE PURVIS

The challenger claims that the 20 cubic feet per second the district would get in return would not make up the possible 6,000 acre-foot loss. He also condemns the free water allocation saying the district might incur pumping costs to give Ventura the last of the district water is a severe drought hit.

The second matter revolves around a district rate structure Purvis says was designed by Hansen and former director (and now planning commissioner) Glenn Zogg, who recently endorsed Hansen in the upcoming vote. Pumping rates in the district, which used to vary dependent on the user’s proximity to the supply, are now equalized and charges for water by different users vary widely depending on the use.

According to present rates, Purvis says, a domestic user pays $161 per acre-foot of water. Under a commercial discount, businesses get the water for just $61 per acre-foot , and agricultural users get the biggest saving of all buying their water for just $25 per acre-foot under a discount similar to the Land Conservation Act’s decreased taxing scheme.

Purvis attacks the rates as discriminatory and notes that the rates for agricultural users do not even cover the cost of pumping and storage. In making up the difference, he claims, the other district customers are actually subsidizing agriculture.

EARL HANSEN

RESIDENTS in District 4 used to pay only $8.77 per acre-foot of water to cover pumping charges in the district because they are located in the region closest to the lake. Residents in the Upper Ojai used to pay significantly more. Now the rate is $39 throughout CMWD.

Purvis charges that one of Hansen’s efforts in office as the District 4 representative has been to equalize the rates for all district customers and that this effort has significantly raised the pumping rates in the district as a result.

As the target of the recall, Hansen is in an obvious defensive position. He is upset by the recall because it is aimed at him personally instead of at the board as a whole.

“A lot of people ask me why I just don’t chuck it. Well, I can’t. All I want to do is vindicate myself. And I intend to run again. Of course, if the recall is successful, that may change,” he says.

He answers Pruvis’ complaints about the water rate differentials by saying he merely went along with the board’s decision to adopt the rates, and is not singly responsible for them, though he admits he and Zogg were “probably” on the committee that recommended them to the board.

On the question of the pumping charges, Hansen replies that the single rate system was recommended by a consultant hired when Purvis was on the board and that if makes sense when considering that the differing pumping costs to the district were gradually diminishing due to fluctuations in energy costs and that the cost of pumping in Oak View was lower than the Upper Ojai partly because so much water was being pumped to the Upper Ojai.

Hansen says he is upset by the recall because is it costing the district between $2,500 and $3,000 which will have to be paid by the consumers and he notes there has been no effort to start a recall in any other district, though the issues are virtually the same throughout the district.

ON THE offensive, Hansen asserts that he was responsible for obtaining a new water system for the Oak View area after Purvis failed to do so while on the board, that he helped to cancel the district’s debt from the old Rio Vista Water Company customers, he is actively pursuing the provision of district land for the Oak View Community Center, he has aggressively sought to protect water quality and supply while a director, and he is partly responsible for a drop in the district tax rate of 22%.

Hansen says that he is being forced to run a second time for the same office and that the process trying to drive him from the board will , in the long run, discourage qualified and dedicated candidates from entering the public arena — a factor which hurts the public in the end.






Realtors: time is right to buy home

The following article first appeared in the Sunday, May 21, 1967 edition of “The Ojai Valley News and Oaks Gazette” on Page A-4. That newspaper in now the “Ojai Valley News”. The article is reprinted here with their permission. The author is unknown.

Realtors: time is right to by home

“The Time is Right to Buy a Home” is the theme of the 1967 Realtor Week celebration this week by the 75 members of the Ojai Valley Board of Realtors, Effie Skelton, board president, announced today.

In honor of Realtor Week, a number of observances have been scheduled as Realtors in this area join with their more than 85,000 colleagues across the nation directing public attention to their calling and special character of the services they render.

“A Realtor,” said Mrs. Skelton , “is a profession in real estate who subscribes to a strict code of ethics as a member of the local and state boards and the National Associations of Real Estate Boards.”

The term Realtor, which is a coined term and trademark, can be used only by members of the National Association and its local boards.

In discussing the Code of Ethics, it was one of the first such codes adopted in the history of American business. Under it 30 articles which cover all aspects of real estate transaction, Realtors pledge fair treatment and their total real estate knowledge to both parties of a contract — the buyer and seller.

Realtor week will continue through Saturday, May 27. The slogan this year underscores the resourcefulness of Realtors throughout the nation. For the prospective buyer who is experiencing a little difficulty in securing financing for property, the Realtor can suggest new money sources. For the family which needs more space for growth, the Realtor can fill their needs, both as to size and cost.

The local board was founded in 1962. The parent group, the National Association or Real Estate Boards, was founded in 1908, with offices in Washington, D.C. and Chicago.

1967 will continue to be a busy year for the Ojai Valley Board of Realtors. Last year some members assisted in the Heart Fund Drive, others with the Ojai Valley Museum, one on the Architectural Board, also, a committee working with the high school, in which the board is sponsoring an essay contest for a Calif. Real Estate Assn. scholarship. The board will enter a float in the 4th of July parade in Ojai.

They received a plaque for first award in 1966. They have committees covering local and civic affairs, as well as legislation.

Preditors take over Pony league lead

The following article first appeared in the Sunday, May 21, 1967 edition of “The Ojai Valley and Oaks Gazette” on Page A-4. This newspaper is now the “Ojai Valley News”. The article is reprinted here with their permission. The author is unknown.

Preditors take over Pony league lead

Righthander Dennis Taylor hurled the defending champion Preditors into first place May 16 when he fired a one-hit 9-2 win, defeating the Lions.

The only Lions hit in the abbreviated five inning game was a single by Jim Conrad in the second inning. The Preditors broke open a 1-1 tie in the third when they scored four runs on two hits, two walks and two hit batsmen. In the fourth the Preditors padded their margin with four more. Preditors batters collecting hits were Glen Schrader with a single and a double; Ken Marsh with a single and a double; and Dennis Taylor, Tony Edwards, Jim Strasser and Randy Dill all singled.. The victory gives the Preditors a 2-0 record while the Lions have a 2-1 mark.

C & C, behind the two hit pitching of Gary Gartrell in a five inning contest, won their first game of the season with a 3-2 victory over I.T.I. Monday, May 15.

C & C scored three runs in the bottom of the initial frame and then held on to win. Gartrell got the rally going when he spanked a double to left-center and came home on Kent Sandefur’s triple. Mike Hardy raced home on Rick Larson’s run-scoring single. Gartrell led the winners with a 3-3 performance, including two doubles while Mike Martin had a single. For I.T.I. Drew Robertson went 2-2 with a pair of RBI’s.

Look Back in Ojai, May Day 1958

The following article first appeared in the Friday, May 1, 2020 edition of the “Ojai Valley News” on page B8. It is reprinted here with their permission.

Look Back in Ojai, May Day 1958
by
Drew Mashburn
for the Ojai Valley Museum

Mrs. Sutherland was my kindergarten teacher at Ojai Elementary School. Kindergarten was a blast, but I could hardly wait to move up to first grade so I could be on the other side of the chain link fence with the Big Kids. I managed to graduate kindergarten on my first try.

So, in 1957 I got moved to the other side of the fence. My room was in the northern wing that faced the kindergarten. I can remember a girl in our class swallowing a nickel and being escorted out of the room by the school nurse. I remember another girl peeing in her chair and it running off onto the floor. I found both events fascinating! I don’t recall my teacher’s name, but I do recall Mr. Theriault working with me on my colors. I think he figured out I was color blind after I asked my Mom why I was the only kind that had “green” bread sandwiches. Brown bread looked green to me (still does).

I didn’t know it at the time, but Topa Topa Elementary School was being built. Bidding was put out for construction of the school in May 1957. I’m not sure when construction began. But according to a caption under a photo of the school in the Thursday, October 24, 1957 edition of THE OJAI AND VALLEY NEWS, the institution was taking shape even though strikes and early rain slowed progress. The place was almost ready for paint, more concrete still needed to be poured and interior work needed to be completed. Builders were hoping construction would be done by the end of November.

Things must have progressed pretty much on time because, according to an article in the Thursday, December 5, 1957 edition of THE OJAI AND VALLEY NEWS, the new school was ready to receive its first students the next Monday. I learned to count in school. So, that was December 9th.

The weekend before school opened for the first time, the Ojai Lions Club built metal-pipe bicycle-racks and placed them on the front grounds.

School opened with a flag-raising ceremony conducted by Boy Scout Troop 501. Students, teachers and school officials were in attendance. Among those officials were Principal William Mackenness and District Superintendent A. A. Herman. Part of the ceremony included presentation of classroom keys to the faculty.

I don’t remember much about the ceremony. Not because it wasn’t memorable, but because I was only a first grader. What I do remember is being almost awestruck by everything being so new!!! Now, Ojai Elementary School was a pretty neat school, but it was old and looked old. At Topa Topa, not only the buildings were new, the asphalt was black with crisp white lines on it! The blackboards were actually black! I had a new modern school desk! It was WONDERFUL! I was elated with my surroundings and Mrs. Florence Earhardt was my teacher. I adored her!

Topa Topa opened with first through sixth grades. We didn’t have to put up with any immature underclassmen kindergartners. When May came along, the entire school participated in a May Day Festival. My classmate Gail Gartrell and I were selected as Queen & King of the event. We were the two shortest kids in our class. Seems like sixth graders should have held this honor, but I guess because there weren’t any kindergartners and sixth graders aren’t as cute as first graders, school officials decided to go with Gail and I. It just dawned on me after all these years … Gail and I must have been the shortest kids in the school of 163 pupils! (I was taller than that pipsqueak Gartrell). The worst part of being the King was having to hold Gail’s cootie-covered hand! Honestly, I don’t really recall much about the festival, but am happy to report, Gail and I have been buddies for all these years.

Many people around these parts think I’m a nobody, but I was in the first class to ever go clear through sixth grade and graduate for Topa Topa. And, I’m an educated King! Go, Gophers!

King Drew
King Drew yanking away from Queen Gail’s cootie-covered hand!
King Drew & Queen Gail arriving to the festival on their float
Queen Gail & King Drew departing the May Day Festival