The Sixties in Ojai — Part 1

The following article first appeared in the Sunday, December 21, 1969 edition of “The OJAI VALLEY NEWS” on the front page. The article is reprinted here with their permission.

The Sixties in Ojai — Part 1
How has Ojai changed? Valley’s been urbanized

by Gary Hachadourian


Ten short days from now the decade of the Sixties will have ended.

How have the Sixties affected Ojai Valley?

What changes have taken place here in ten years?

The end of a decade is a convenient time to ask long-range questions because people think in units of ten; January 1, 1970, will seem like a new beginning.

It’s a time that’s convenient for pausing and reflecting.

But it’s also a very appropriate time to ask questions of the long-range variety since it’s always being said that things don’t happen overnight, and a decade certainly isn’t overnight.

See trends

Ten years is a long enough time to take a look at and get a good idea of trends.

In the case of a community, a sufficient number of things should have happened in ten years so that some statement can be made concerning where that town has been, what its concerns were, what its problems were, and, most importantly, where it’s going.

What a city does in one decade determines to a great extent what will happen in the next decade.

Well, has anything happened in Ojai during the Sixties?

Views differ

Your reporter has met a number of people who don’t live in the valley but who visit here regularly and say, “The thing I love about this place is that it hasn’t changed.”

He has met people who have been absent from the valley for a number of years and then have returned to find it, in their opinion, “Just like it was the last time I was here.”

On the other hand, the reporter is friendly with a lot of people who have lived in the valley throughout the Sixties; and he must smile fondly when he says he knows a few people have lived in the Chumash Indian’s Valley of the Nesting Moon for a lot longer than ten years.

These people don’t see the valley as being the same. In fact, they see great changes.

The things they say most frequently are, “I’m afraid for this city, Gary,” or, “I just don’t like what I see going on.”

What’s happened

So what has happened? Physically, tangibly, what changes have taken place since January 1, 1960?

Who’s right — the visitors or the old-timers?

They’re both right.

It’s true that when you compare the amount of actual development that has taken place in Ojai with the amounts that have taken place in other cities — the cities many of the visitors came from — not too much has happened in the valley.

A significant amount of development was carried out in the western end of Ojai’s downtown. Also, a shopping center was constructed at the “Y”, and a hospital and various other office buildings and professional centers.

Otherwise, little

As for the rest, it was residential development; and when you compare the residential development level in the valley with what occurred in other areas of Ventura County — Thousand Oaks and Camarillo, for instance — it really wasn’t too much.

During the Sixties, the population of the valley from Casitas Springs to Upper Ojai rose from about 15,000 to a little under 22,000. This is a healthy jump, but not a staggering one when you consider that professional planners have said the population would more than double to better than 45,000 by 1985.

During this same period, the population of Ojai has risen from 4,700 to 5,800, close to 25 percent. But still, that’s only 1,100 people, and a total population of 5,800 is a far cry from the 15,000 that anticipated by planners by 1985 (in an area between Maricopa Road and Gorham Road — slightly larger than the present city limits).

So it’s true that when you compare Ojai with other areas, growth here has been a little bit here and a little bit there — hard for a visitor to see.

Something crucial

But it’s also true that something crucial has happened in the valley during the past ten years. In the end, the old-timers are more right than the visitors in their assessment of the decade.

They can smell something in the air beside a whiff of smog, occasionally. Since they’ve been here for many years, they can sense any change in the trend of things.

What happened was much more subtle than physical development. But it was no less real.

Became urbanized

What happened was that the valley became urbanized.

Much will be made of this term — urbanization — as your reporter sets down what he thinks were the thematic occurrences in Ojai since 1960. So he’d better describe what he means by the term.

Urbanization is the process that changed Ojai from a rural town to a suburban center. It was as much a change in the thinking of the valley residents as it was a change in the physical development of the area.

When people start complaining about dogs running loose, horses in the streets, that ‘s urbanization as much as building apartment houses is.

Natural process

Urbanization really was an entirely natural process in the valley. The 7,000 or so people who have moved in since 1960 were, after all, essentially city dwellers. Many of them moved here simply because they needed housing that was within commuting distance to the office in Oxnard or Ventura.

As those cities began to fill up, other areas began to develop to accommodate the overflow. The valley was one of those areas.

Of course, many of the people who moved in came by choice as well as necessity, wanting to live in a pretty place that was quieter, more restful, and more personal than an urban center. Even so, they brought with them a different type of thinking.

The point is that as the population explosion began to make its effect on the valley, the thinking of the majority of the residents began to change. The majority’s tastes changed. Its thoughts on what an appropriate future was began to change.

Small wonder that the old-timers feared what they sensed was happening. They, the people who would fight tooth and nail to keep the valley a rural paradise, were becoming more in the minority.

Lack of control

But it wasn’t only that the valley was developing that worried these old-timers. What they really feared — and what the reporter fears, he should add — was that the direction of growth wasn’t being sufficiently controlled.

Ojai, as many people who are only occasional visitors know, is a beautiful place. More significantly, it has the type of beauty that can bring in money by being left as it is.

Those mountains that rise up less than a mile from the center of the city are the impressive boundaries of a national forest. There’s a lake nearby and many parks and many miles of riding and hiking trails, not to mention golf courses.

Ojai obviously should be a town that is a recreational oasis for the real city dwellers to the south of here, in the Los Angeles area. It should be an oasis for its own residents, most of whom have chosen to live here in order to escape the oppressive mode of living in other Southern California cities.

Stress planning

This article, which will be published as a series over the next few weeks, will seek to identify what the city’s problems have been during the Sixties as far as planning its future and implementing its plan goes.

In that vein, the reporter will discuss what the combination of forces was that brought about urbanization. In his mind, there were three basic forces at work:

* Forces exerted on the valley from the outside — essentially the population explosion.

* Forces that worked from within the valley — i.e., the need to urbanize and develop in a chosen direction in order to prevent the valley’s being developed haphazardly, at the whim of developers. Emphasis in this section will be on what type of planning the city actually did and what steps it took to make itself an oasis for tourists and its own residents.

The ‘system’

* Forces that prevented the city from controlling the future as much as it would have liked to. Ojai had a personality that was sometimes self-defeating. Also, it lived — and continues to live — under an economic “system” that made it difficult and even impossible to act in accordance with its desires all the time.

The reporter will also discuss what he thinks was a sterile and self-defeating philosophy of government during these years. As will soon become clear, the reporter is eager to shout congratulations for the steps the city’s government has taken to identify and preserve the character of Ojai, to channel its growth.

But he will point out also that a philosophy of government that stresses the right of a property owner to develop his property as he sees fit, rather than a balance between those rights and community responsibilities, is a philosophy that’s incapacitating and essentially murderous to a community.

Lack of imagination

In some instances, he feels the city planners and elected officials have shown an abysmal lack of imagination and guts. While government has taken some life-giving steps, it has also served as the city’s undertaker.

Obviously, the reporter will not try to hide his feelings. He will try for objectivity, but not detachment.

Why? Because Ojai is important to him. It’s important because it’s his chosen home, but also because it is a unique town and has the potential to become something different, something more habitable for human beings than most other cities.

He should explain that he has lived here for less than two years, and so hasn’t experienced all that he will talk about. His factual information was gained by going through the 1,000 or so issues of the Ojai Valley News that have been published twice weekly since 1960. Also, there have been talks with many people.

The reporter’s particular interpretation of the facts stems from the belief that even though he didn’t live through everything he’ll write about, the type of thinking that people in the valley do hasn’t changed.

To a great extent, the reporter has undertaken this project to gain knowledge about what happened before he arrived in Ojai. He wanted to do it in order to gain a fuller understanding of what Ojai is, where it’s been, and, most importantly, where it’s going.

Examining a decade allows you to do these things — and that’s what we’ll undertake beginning in the next issue.






Drew learns to drive

The following article first appeared in the Fall 2020 (VOLUME 38 NUMBER 3) issue of “Ojai MAGAZINE”. The magazine is published by the “Ojai Valley News”. The article is reprinted here with their permission. Photos provided by the “Ojai Valley Museum”.

LOOK BACK IN OJAI
with Drew Mashburn
Contributed on behalf of the
Ojai Valley Museum

Drew learns to drive

Sex did not happen for me at 15 years old, but the next best thing did.

Let me explain. Mom was pregnant with my second little sister and fourth sibling, Mindy. Mom was a shorty and her belly got so big that her short legs would no longer reach the pedals in our 1959 Ford station wagon. So, she asked me if I’d like to become the family driver when Dad was at work. It took me all of three whole seconds to exclaim “Yes!” Mom explained I was so close in age to being eligible for a Learner’s Permit (15 1/2 years), if the police spotted us, they’d assume I had a permit. Fine with this soon-to-be Roadmaster! Mira Monte Market, here I come!!!

I had driven back in my early years and by the time I mastered that tank-of-a-station-wagon, I had already had several sets of wheels.

My earliest ride was an old wooden whiskey crate mounted on large, spoked baby-carriage wheels. I was too young to remember it, but Dad made it for me after his return home from the Korean conflict in 1952. (We met each other for the first time when I was 7 months old.) No, Mom & Dad did not drink all that whiskey in order to get the crate.

It didn’t take long for me to upgrade my ride. Dad landed a job in the oil patch not long after his discharge from the Naval Reserves in 1952. He must have been making big money working up in that derrick because he and Mom scored me a brand-spanking-new, shiny red “RADIO SUPER” wagon with white rims and even hubcaps!

Later my parents moved from their W. Oak Street rental to the new home they purchased on E. Aliso Street. Dad must have been makin’ great coin to be able to buy a new home, but I was positive life was good when I received a super-sporty new tricycle on my first birthday. I rode the heck outta that baby until I was 6 years old.

Not only did I have my boss-bitchin’ tricycle, I also got a three-wheeled scooter for Christmas in 1953. Only 2 1/2 years old, and I had a red wagon, tricycle and a scooter in my wheels collection!

I moved up from my trike (that’s biker lingo) to a two-wheeler without even using no stinkin’ training wheels. That’s ’cause my teenage neighbor, Tommy Bugg, taught me to ride on his bicycle. E. Aliso Street was armor-coated with big chunks of gravel in it. Tommy held onto his bike while I pumped hard, then he’d let me go. After falling on that chunky asphalt and tearing the hide off my hands and knees, it only took me about six Bugg-pushes to figure out how to stay upright to save flesh.

My folks must have fallen on hard times. I had to ride an old clunker girl’s bicycle that must have been Mom’s until I was about 10 years old. Later my parents bought me an English 3-speed with a front basket big enough to carry a VW beetle.

I transitioned from leg-powered vehicles to a motorized mini-bike at 12 years old.

Eventually, I got legal and bagged my learner’s permit. I even parallel-parked that bomber-of-a-station-wagon on my first try and nabbed my driver’s license at 16 years old.


MEANING OF ‘OJAI’ IN DOUBT BUT INDIANS HAD NAME FOR IT

The following article was first run in the FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 28, 1947 edition of THE “OJAI” on PAGE TEN. THE “OJAI” is now the “OJAI VALLEY NEWS”. The article is reprinted here with their permission. The author is unknown. Photos have been added by the “Ojai Valley Museum”.

Articles from the past often contain historical inaccuracies. History changes as new information is brought to light. Please read the notes from a local historian below the article for updated information. Or better still, purchase a copy of “The Ojai Valley: An Illustrated History” 3rd edition.

MEANING OF ‘OJAI’ IN DOUBT
BUT INDIANS HAD NAME FOR IT
__________


“A-hawai,”[1] was how the early Indians of the Ojai Valley pronounced what we now call “Ojai,” and they spoke a Chumash dialect; but what it means, has long remained cause for difference. The various Indian dialects used the word with different interpretations, but for many years has been accepted to mean “nest,” (although a number of persons have claimed that “moon” is the proper interpretation.)

However, because of the area’s geographical setting, persons viewing the twin valleys from an elevation are convinced that it resembles a giant bird nest, and for this reason feel that “A-hawai” means “nest.”[2]

[3]From “A-hawai” the name was developed to “Ojay,” and then to “Ojai” when the Spanish and Americans occupied the territory. In the middle of the 19th century, California was about the most interesting place in the world, or at least the entire world wanted to know more and more about this place called California . . . GOLD, you know, interested just about everybody . . . except, probably, a man known as Charles Nordhoff, who was more occupied with the coast scenery and writing about it and the people.

CHARLES NORDHOFF (1830-1901)

Nordhoff was a roving correspondent detailed by the New York Herald to do a few articles about this land by the Pacific shores. While roving around in the year 1872, he came across the Ojai Valley, and what he saw inspired him to write words so forcefully that two men gave a small location his name. [4]

In 1883, an R. G. Surdam purchased 1500 acres of land in the Ojai Valley near the San Antonio creek. Of this land he laid out 160 acres to be established as a townsite, offering 20 acres to anyone who would build a hotel on the property. A Mr. A. W. Blumberg accomplished this feat, and one day while the two families were discussing the townsite over a dinner table, the hotel builder suggested naming it Nordhoff, in honor of the man who wrote so enthusiastically about it. And so was it called in 1884. [5]

Royce G. Sudam
The Blumberg Hotel

However, prior to this, in the Ventura “Signal” issue dated July 26, 1873, the first townsite in the Ojai Valley was advertised as “Ojai,” but this did not develop.[6]

And though legend has it that an unwritten law existed between the Indian tribes, in which the Valley would be utilized to discuss peace terms, and that wars would be religiously forbidden, the land was thickly populated with wild animals.

The early farmers were often troubled by the animals, and so were those who thought themselves safe behind locked doors. Thomas R. Bard, who was sent here to look after the interests of Thomas Scott, assistant Secretary of War under Abraham Lincoln, is reputed to have killed a bear in his bedroom in 1870. One year later, so say the history books, three boys lassoed a bear and brought it home to their astonished parents.

The town of Nordhoff was growing quite rapidly, and on October 27, 1891, the first issue of The Ojai was published at the Ojai library.

Just when the name of Nordhoff was changed to Ojai is somewhat confusing. One bit of reference claims “Ojai” was officially adopted in 1916, however, some records show that in 1917 a Henry Morse, then manager of the Foothills hotel, first petitioned to have the name changed. According to the newspaper masthead of The Ojai, the change from Nordhoff to Ojai appears in the May 4, 1917 issue for the first time. Evidently, however, the change must have been of little importance because there wasn’t a mention of the fact in that particular issue.

Why the name was changed, is still another story. Many people claim that Charles Nordhoff, born in Germany, was a German sympathizer during World War I. [7]

Nevertheless, on July 26, 1921, the townsite became officially known as the City of Ojai on a vote to “incorporate” by the people. On this occasion, a gavel, composed of East Indian Teak (off a wrecked English ship on Santa Rosa Island) and Iron Wood (found on Santa Cruz Island), was sent with a letter to the city council by a C. W. Rasey, of Santa Barbara, who wrote: “May the sturdy strength and tenacity of the materials of which this gavel is made, prove typical of the enduring future of your picturesque and beautiful little city.”

  1. ‘Awha’y’ (aw-ha-ee) was the name of a Chumash village in the Upper Ojai.
  2. Research and linguistic analysis has shown that ‘Awha’y means moon, probably in the cyclical sense.
  3. With the Spanish, the Chumash name ‘Awah’y became “Ojay.” Later, with the American settlers, the Spanish name was written “Ojai.”
  4. Charles Nordhoff visit the Ojai Valley in 1872, nor did his 1873 book, California for Health, Pleasure, and Residence, mention it. Nordhoff visited Ojai on a later trip to California, in 1881, and wrote about the Ojai Valley in the book’s second edition, published in 1882.
  5. Surdam laid out what is now the town of Ojai in 1874. Credit for naming the town “Nordhoff” is given to Blumberg’s wife, Catherine.
  6. The first proposed town was to be located east of what is now Gridley Road, on the ranch of Lorenzo Dow Roberts. Surdam beat him to it by platting the town of Nordhoff in a wooded area of the valley called “White Oak Flats.”
  7. There is no evidence that Charles Nordhoff was a German sympathizer. There was some antipathy toward German names during the time of World War I, but more likely Mr. Libbey suggested it because the name was more suitable after the Spanish makeover of the town in 1916-17.

THE PLANE TRUTH ABOUT OJAI’S AVIATION HISTORY

The following article first appeared in the Fall 2015 issue of “The Ojai Valley Visitors Guide” which was published by the “Ojai Valley News.” It is reprinted here with their permission.

THE PLANE TRUTH ABOUT OJAI’S AVIATION HISTORY

Story by
Perry Van Houten

Along the airfield’s perimeter was a low barbed-wire fence, and a grove of English walnut trees grew on the south and west sides. A few locals remember a restaurant across Highway 33 from the airstrip, The Airport Cafe, in the present location of Ojai Termite & Pest Control. A bar directly across Baldwin Road from the airstrip was known as The Refuge.

“AIRPLANE RIDES $8.00”
The sign was posted on the window of the two-seat Aeronca Champion parked at Henderson Field in Mira Monte. Twelve-year-old Drew Mashburn lived nearby on South Rice Road and might have been on his skateboard in 1964 when he noticed it. He had never flown in an airplane, and he knew this was his chance.

A few days later, Drew and his best buddy, Mark Madsen, 11, spotted the plane’s pilot standing there. They scraped together eight bucks between them, hoping the pilot would let them both cram into the passenger compartment of the plane. But the pilot insisted the price was $8 apiece.

The boys returned the next day, and the day after that, and begged. “I can remember the pilot actually threw his arms up above his head and he says, ‘Alright, I’ll go ahead and I’ll take the $8, and I mean not a penny less,’ ” Mashburn says. Wild blue yonder, here we come, he thought. His whole family gathered at Henderson Field for the occasion.

Henderson Field
Don Henderson built Henderson Field in the 1940’s, on family property near the intersection of Highway 33 and Baldwin Road. He ran a small flying school there, commissioned by the Army Air Corps during World War II. For nearly 30 years, the 2,100-foot runway accommodated up to 20 aircraft per week.

Back in the ’50s and ’60s, a popular pastime was flying from local airport to local airport; for instance, from Santa Paula Airport to the Ventura Airpark at Pierpont Beach to Henderson Field in Mira Monte. Well-to-do folks from Los Angeles would fly into Henderson on weekends, including Hollywood stars like Robert Young, Claudette Colbert and Norma Shearer.

“It was the only real, genuine airport I knew of in the Ojai Valley,” says Santa Paula pilot Bruce Dickenson, who had just learned to fly and landed his Piper PA-12 at Henderson Field a few times in the late 1960s. “It was a non-event,” Dickenson recalls, although he remembers there was a big set of power lines pilots had to avoid.

In July 1945, Don Hendeson died in the crash of his small plane near the airfield. He was 37. His son, Don Henderson Jr., was 3-and-a-half when it happened. He says his father had taken off in the fog early one morning for Bakersfield when, for some reason, he decided to return to the airstrip. “He overshot the runway and ended up in the walnut grove, on fire,” says Henderson, now 74. “I often think about how my life would have been different if he hadn’t died that day.”

Henderson Field, which had gone public just six months before the crash, stayed in operation and even opened hangars and a waiting area — with restrooms — in 1949. Pilots landing at night remember being guided down by their wives, who would park at the end of the runway and shine the car lights. The airstrip closed around 1970 and was replaced by the Ojai Villa Mobile Estate, which is still in existence today.

Hardly anything remains of the old airfield, except a portion of the runway sticking through the dirt on the north side along Baldwin Road, and some cream-colored rocks. “Almost directly across the highway from AJ’s Express Chinese Food you will see several boulders. The boulders used to line the entrance to Henerson Field and the hangars,” say Drew Mashburn.

Other Ojai Airstrips
The Ojai Valley’s fondness for flying machines dates back to the earliest days of aviation. A 1929 aerial photograph shows a 1,500-foot airstrip near the “Y” intersection, where Vons is today. “It was removed around the time the Krotona Institute was built because the planes were taking off and landing right over people’s heads,” says Ojai historian David Mason. The Theosophical Society had purchased land south of the runway in 1924 in their move from Hollywood to Ojai.

Mason says a private airstrip on Rancho Cola near Lake Casitas may have been used in the filming of the 1950s TV series, “Sky King.” It was also used as a base for parachute jumpers. A landing strip in Rose Valley at Bodee’s Rancho Grande is shown on the 1991 USGS Lion Canyon quadrangle topographic map.

The Ojai area is also home to a number of heliports, including one that’s still in use at Help of Ojai’s West Campus on Baldwin Road — often referred to as “the old Honor Farm” by locals — plus several scattered throughout the backcountry that are utilized by fire, law enforcement and search and rescue crews. The late actor Larry Hagman had his private Majlar Heliport built on his estate atop Sulphur Mountain.

Crashes and Mishaps
When Ojai’s greatest benefactor, Edward Drummond Libbey, opened a new golf course and clubhouse in 1924, everyone wanted to check it out, including a Navy lieutenant who flew a military plane from San Diego to Ojai to see it for himself. “He circled the clubhouse a few times and then decided he would land on the fairway. But he nosedived into a sand trap and broke the propeller,” Mason says.

The damage to the aircraft took a couple of days to repair, and soon the pilot was airborne and on his way back to base, when again he had trouble. “He managed to take off from the green, and in doing so he hit the high wire running along Ojai Avenue, and it pulled the plane back down and he crashed again on the street, and broke the landing gear.”

Perhaps the most famous aviation mishap in the Ojai Valley was a product of Hollywood. Frank Capra’s 1937 movie, “Lost Horizon,” is based on the novel by James Hilton, who visited the valley in 1934 and exclaimed, “This is Shangri-La!” The plot follows a British diplomat and some civilians who crash land in the Himalayas. Some of the movie was filmed in the valley — although the Ojai footage reportedly ended up on the cutting room floor. However, the valley is still often referred to as Shangri-La.

In 1945, a USAAF pilot crashed his P-51D Mustang fighter plane into Nordhoff Peak, just below the fire lookout tower, while attempting an emergency landing in bad weather. Since the crash, debris from the wreck has been found scattered all over the mountain. In 1980, a U.S. Forest Service controlled burn in the area accidentally ignited unexploded ordnance from one of the aircraft’s high caliber machine guns, leaving the work crew wanting for flak jackets.

An aviation mishap in the Ojai backcountry in December 1949 had a much happier ending. Twenty-six-year-old Glendale pilot Robert Bryant disappeared on a flight from Glendale to San Francisco. He was found a week later, several miles from the wreckage of his small private plane on Topa Topa Peak, in upper Sespe Canyon. A ground party struggled through waist-deep snow to get to Bryant, who survived but suffered from serious injuries and exposure.

First Flight
Back at Henderson Field, Drew Mashburn’s family looked on as he boarded the plane for his first flight. “We started to get in the airplane and the pilot turned around, looked at us and said, ‘Hey, how much do you guys weigh?” Mashburn knew what the pilot was getting at — there had to be a weight limit. “There goes our ride, I thought,” he recalls.

In despair, the boys gave the man their weights. It was too much, but the pilot gave in. “He said, well, that’s a little over, but we’ll make it work.” They climbed in and off they went down the runway. “It’s good we didn’t spring the door in mid-air and fall out,” Mashburn chuckles.

At first, Mashburn thought the little airplane wasn’t going fast enough to get airborne. “It didn’t seem like we were moving very quick. I thought we were going to move a lot quicker. The wheels of this thing were going down into the chuckholes, and that’s probably the reason we couldn’t pick up any speed,” he says.

Bouncing down the narrow strip of oiled dirt, the aircraft passed the Mira Monte Market (now Rite-Aid). In those days, Mirror Lake was down at the far end of the runway, where Woodland Avenue is now. “And that thing kept getting closer and I kept thinking, man, we’re just gonna land in the lake. And at the very last second, up we went, and it was just stupendous. It was like no feeling I’d ever had in my life.”

Creek takes ranger’s home

The following article first appeared on the front page of the Sunday, February 12, 1978 edition of the “Ventura County Star Free Press.”

Creek takes ranger’s home

‘We just got out of there in time’

By Gregg Zoroya


“I know I’m not afraid of the river now. I was before. Before, it looked like it was something out of the Grand Canyon. It looked like the Colorado River,” said Drew Mashburn, 26, county ranger for the Matilija campground area.


“Before” was the early moments of Friday morning when Mashburn and his 24-year-old wife Gene-Marie were driven from their home alongside the swollen banks of the creek.

As they turned from the home, wet and cold, with belongings that consisted of little more than the clothes they were wearing and escaped to a neighbor’s house, the raging torrent of Matilija Creek broke out and engulfed most of their house at 2088 Matilija Canyon Road.

In the process of destroying the house, the waters swept away the Mashburn car, pickup and cab-over camper.

A weakened roadside on which their remaining vehicle was parked — a county car containing camera equipment and other family valuables — collapsed and dropped the car into the creek later that morning.

“We lost the front porch, we lost the front screened porch, we lost the kitchen, the dining room. We also lost the living room and the beautiful stone fireplace,” said Mashburn.

The house, remains of which sit precariously on the edge of the creek, is county property and was valued at $40,000 said Paul Lamp, county parks superintendent.

Besides the vehicles, the Mashburns lost much of their furniture — including everything from dining and bedroom sets to refrigerator, stove, television and stereo, and an antique victrola.

Mashburn declined to put a dollar estimate on the property that is gone, until his insurance company can estimate the damage. But he anticipates a loss of several thousand dollars.

Much of the furniture is still under payment, said Mashburn.

“It’s like paying for a dead horse.”

With the stream 100 feet from their house and behind a thick five-foot-high earthen dike, the Mashburns tried to get some sleep late Thursday night.

Mashburn planned to keep checking the creek bank through the night.

“It was my opinion, that it would eat away a little at a time, and if I saw it get ready to go through the dike I’d move my car up on the road,” he said.

“We had trouble sleeping because of the sound of the roaring river. It turned out that the reason it was so loud was because it was right against our door.”

The creek had broken the dike several hundred feet upstream, across from the Paul G. Robinson home at 3080 Matilija Canyon Road. This was at 11:30.

Mashburn later guessed that when the creek broke the dike it shifted its course further up the bank with the Mashburn home right in its path.

At about 12:30 a.m. the couple was aroused by the sound of water smashing up against the door facing the river bank.

“I opened the door and a foot of water came right into the house,” he said.

He slammed the door immediately, “and it just flashed through my mind: This can’t be happening to me.”

In the instant the door had been opened he had seen a mass of water up along the side of the house and two of his three vehicles beginning to lean down into the water over a widening river bank. Other pieces of equipment that he knew had been there were already gone.

“As wild as it was,” said Mrs. Mashburn, “we just got out of there in time.”

They gathered what valuables they could, a traveling bag full of clothes, their two cats and their two dogs and waded up to Matilija Canyon Road, about 25 feet above and behind their house. Mashburn managed to drive one car out.

“I fell in the water and he was dragging me through it to get out,” said Mrs. Mashburn. “It was just awful.”

“I figured the first thing we should do is get up on the road. I figured it would be safe there,” Mashburn said.

It was, for the time being. They drove up the road to the home of John Steen, 2346 Matilija Canyon Road, where they spent a nervous, sleepless night.

But the water wasn’t through with them. The next morning, Mashburn drove back toward his home and parked the car on the shoulder in order to walk past two washed-out areas of Matilija Canyon Road. While he was probing the ruins of his home, a friend came running to tell him that the shoulder of road holding his car had given way and that Mashburn had lost the county car as well.

His wife was evacuated out by sheriff’s helicopter Friday afternoon along with other canyon residents.

Mrs. Mashburn recalled returning to the house Saturday morning.

“I didn’t cry until I saw the house that morning.”

“It is very doubtful that we would restore it (the house),” said Parks Superintendent Lamp.

“And if we did it would be another five years before we attempt it.”

Mashburn must find another home.


Daniel Jensen, left, and Jeff Jones, both of Ojai, and Ranger Drew Mashburn, gesturing, stand where Mashburn’s kitchen was before Matilija Creek swept through his home; his wife, Gene-Marie, is in the background
A car belonging to parks ranger Drew Mashburn lies stranded after storm waters that washed it downstream in Matilija Creek.

Recharge Of Ojai Basin By Purchase Of Matilija Water Proposed To District

The following article first appeared on the front page of the Friday, January 19, 1951 edition of “THE OJAI.” That newspaper is now the “Ojai Valley News.” The article is reprinted here with their permission. The author is unknown. The headline was RECHARGE BASIN SAYS WATER CO.

Recharge Of Ojai Basin by Purchase of Matilija Water Proposed to District

Appearing before a meeting of the San Antonio Water Conservation District, L. J. Alexander, chief engineer of the Southern California Water company brought forth a plan whereby the hopes of the underground water basin of the Ojai Valley may be recharged.

Basically, Alexander proposed that all water users of the Valley cooperate 100 percent in an effort to purchase water from Matilija dam to be put in spreading grounds at the terminus of the second unit of the conduit from the dam, now nearing completion.

He gave a brief history of water in the Valley, stating that in a survey by the division of water resources in 1933-36, it was estimated that the mean annual recharge of the basin in the Ojai area would be 5000 acre feet. At that time approximately 1500 acres were being irrigated in all classes and categories in the Valley.

“Recent studies show,” Alexander continued, “that there are now 1500 acres in citrus alone, with 2700 acres susceptible to cultivation. There are some 3000 acres under irrigation at present. With this great increase, there is not enough water here now for all the developments going on.”

When asked what were the boundaries of the 1500 acres in citrus, Alexander said they lie east of a geologic formation one-half mile west of the junction of highways 150 and 399.

The Water company official estimated that the Valley needs 5000 acre feet of water per year. “There will be between 3000 and 3500 acre feet available this summer,” he said, “and someone is sure going to go dry. Last year on the fringe areas of the district some growers lost oranges, some lost groves. The revenue based on the citrus crop in the early part of 1950 definitely surveyed less than in other years. The situation brought about a definite economic loss.”

“Rain is what we need,” he remarked. “I don’t know how to make rain. We are here with a common problem.”

As a solution to this problem, Alexander said, “The pipeline (Matilija conduit no. 2) is here, and the problem is to get water into it. If there were 1500 acre feet available in Matilija that could be used in the Valley, that would make up the deficit.”

At an arbitrary cost of $20 per acre foot, Alexander pointed out that the water would cost $30,000.

“Let’s assume the water is there and we can get it,” he told the gathering. “That would mean $30,000 per year for water in this area. Only a few could get benefits from the pipeline by tieing into it directly, but by putting the water into the ground through spreading grounds and letting everyone pump, it would be there for all.”

He likened the Ojai water basin to a big bathtub filled with gravel. “As long as we keep the water here, everyone who has a “straw” in the tub can get it out,” he said. “This is the easiest way to get water to everyone. It doesn’t matter where you put it in the basin, it will recharge all the levels. Wells within a half-mile area (of the dumping area) would feel immediate benefit. The outlying fringe would feel the recharge in time.”

He cited similar plans which have been instituted in Orange county, Claremont and the Central Basin area in south Los Angeles, and which are under successful operation. He continued to stress emphatically the idea that the entire district should give complete cooperation to the problem, and should enter into a contractual agreement to obtain Matilija water.

“I can’t see any reason for Ojai if we don’t have citrus and agriculture,” the engineer said. “The merchants don’t bring money into the area. The basic income is agriculture, and if we destroy it, there is nothing left.”

He told the group that the Water Company is obligated under state law to supply its customers to the “last ditch.” “We’ll do it as long as we can,” Alexander said, “and when the supply runs dry, there’s nothing else we can do. If we have to haul water in here in trucks, you ranchers will all be gone, and there will be few people left in Ojai. The situation has been dog eat dog for the past two years. Not too long ago our wells were flowing. We are looking forward to pumping at 320 feet this year. The water level is lower than it has been since 1927. The reason for this is the tremendous development which has resulted in the 1500 acres in citrus, plus 1500 acres more in other use, with the additional domestic use.”

Returning to the figure of $20 per acre foot for Matilija water, Alexander stated that it would cost the users $8 per acre foot if the cost were shared equally by all users on a percentage basis. He explained that since the Valley requires 5000 acre feet per year, and the cost of importing 1500 acre feet to make up the shortage were $30,000, paying on a basis of benefits received would put the cost in the neighborhood of $8 per acre foot.

The suggestion of meters for pumps was advanced as an advisable solution to the equitable division of cost.

“The situation must be approached completely, honestly and with full cooperation,” Alexander emphasized.

“There might be 3500 acre feet of water available to the Valley this year with some rains, something should be done to develop cooperative means to take action along the lines I have suggested,” he said. “No matter what you do, the Southern California Water company will play ball all along the line.”

Explanation was made that the District could not take such action as was suggested under present law, since the rate is established on an ad valorem basis, but Alexander stated that the state legislature is being asked for an amendment in Orange county, which might be applied to other areas as an enabling law, so that each area could set up on a use basis.

Supervisor R. E. (Sam) Barrett told the gathering that with Matilija dam as a sole basis, he took dim view of any irrigation water being available. He repeatedly stressed the importance of the construction of a second dam, which would greatly increase the safe yield of Matilija.

Mr. Hoit Vicini, vice president of the Southern California Water company explained briefly that his company had only brought forward ideas which they had found in other areas which they felt might be helpful. “We came to go along with what you decided,” he said. “If there is no copious rain, a serious situation will develop. We hope to preserve the fertility of the Valley, and to work out the problem on an economic basis, so no one will get hurt.”

Alexander added that the company would be ready to assume its share of the cost of the proposed project on a percentage basis. He also stressed the point that the company has nothing to sell in the matter, but wishes to bring information to the District that might be of help to all in the solution of the water supply of the Valley.




ENGINEERS’ REPORT IS EXPECTED TO BE FOLLOWED BY CALL FOR BOND ISSUE

The following article first appeared on the front page of the Friday, July 9, 1949 edition of “THE OJAI”. That newspaper is now called the “OJAI VALLEY NEWS”. The article is reprinted here with their permission, The author is unknown. The front-page headline was “OAKS PLANS NEW WATER SYSTEM“.

ENGINEERS’ REPORT IS EXPECTED TO BE FOLLOWED BY CALL FOR BOND ISSUE

A definite and important step in securing a new water system for Meiners Oaks was taken Tuesday night when the Board of Directors of the Meiners Oaks Water District formally adopted the preliminary engineering report of John A. Dron, Ojai civil engineer. The report as presented by Mr. Dron recommended:
(1) The construction of a storage reservoir with a capacity of 870,000 cubic feet or over 6,000,000 gallons of water;

(2) The separation of the domestic or household supply from the irrigation use;

(3) The installation of a complete new piping system, ranging from 16-inches down to a minimum of 4 inches, with 52 6-inch hydrants and 39 four-inch hydrants for fire protection, and

(4) The establishment of a complete metering system.

Meeting July 26

Upon the adoption of Mr. Dron’s report, the Board discussed the proceedings that were necessary to call for a bond issue, and decided to hold a public meeting on the evening of July 26 at the Church of Christ building in Meiners Oaks when the engineering plan and the methods of financing it would be outlined, and further proceedings be determined. After considerable discussion the Board resolved to go into the matter of a bond issue to cover the cost of the new system and to purchase the assets of the present Company, the Rancho Ojai Mutual Water Co., which would then go out of existence.

Bond Election

After the general meeting as scheduled, the Board proposes to call an election for the bond issue, as soon as the necessary legal steps have been taken. William Selby, attorney for the District stated that he believed that the issue contemplated was reasonably within the bonding capacity of the District, and that there should be no difficulty in selling the bonds, which the Board tentatively decided would run for 25 years.

Irrigation vs. Domestic Use

In presenting his report, Mr. Dron emphasized that the difficulty the community has experienced in their water system has arisen largely from the fact that there is no present storage, and the dual use between domestic and irrigation demand has been in conflict. He therefore had designed the new system to completely divorce the irrigation use from the domestic use.

The water stored in the reservoir would be sufficient, under normal circumstances, to supply all householders for nearly a month, and would reach them under a gravity head with enough pressure to give ample volume at all times and for all purposes. The irrigation use would continue to be supplied through existing lines under low pressure and all together independent of the reservoir.

Metering System

He also pointed out that the sole revenue of the district for operating expenses and for retiring the cost of a new system, was the sale of water, and that therefore meterage to all consumers was imperative. His plan provided accordingly, and a complete metering system was included in the new project.

As soon as the matter has been publicly considered at the general meeting on July 26, the Board proposes to proceed with the necessary legal steps calling for an election on the bonds. If this is carried, then funds should be available about the first of the year for construction contracts.

The Board also directed William Selby to represent the District at an announced meeting of riparian owners of the Ventura river and representatives of the Zone One Water District, when the matter of releasing sufficient water from the Matilija Dam to maintain a constant flow in the river will be taken up.

That was the end of the front page article, but another article concerning the matter was on PAGE THIRTEEN:

HERE ARE PERTINENT PARAGRAPHS FROM THE DRON MEINERS OAKS WATER REPORT

GENERAL.
1. Acreage: The area considered in the report, which has been incorporated as the Meiners Oaks County Water District under the County Water District Act of 1913, as amended, comprises about 960 acres of residential and agricultural land, a part of the Rancho Ojai, lying in and along the east bank of the Ventura river as it debauches from the Santa Ynez range into the westerly extension of the Ojai Valley.

The approximate acreages in each classification are as follows: Residential, 210 acres with about 509 dwellings; Agricultural, 245 acres in citrus and other crops; River bottom, 180 acres of poor land, non-arable, with some housing; Upland or hilly, 325 acres of pasture or brush.

2. Population: Accurate population figures are not available, but estimates based upon the number of water consumers and upon a school census indicate a present population of 2,500. Recently the population, as in general throughout adjoining areas, has rapidly increased, and there is every indication that the increase will continue so long as land and water is available for further development. It must be emphasized that the future growth is dependent upon an adequate water supply, which even now is wholly insufficient during the summer months.

3. Water Sources: The present water supply is derived from a primarily riparian water right to the natural flow of the Ventura river amounting to 231 miners inches (one miners inch equals nine gallons per minute) plus water derived from three wells in the river bottom, two of which were drilled in 1948. The supply from these wells is insufficient to augment the natural flow, which during the present dry cycle of rainfall is greatly below normal

In the future, water may become available from the recently completed Matilija dam on the west fork of the Ventura river, and it may be necessary for the District to contract for a stipulated amount of unappropriated surplus water from the Zone One Water District.

4. History of Water System: In 1928 the Rancho Ojai Mutual Water Company was incorporated and took over the elements of a water supply, as it then existed, from the Ojai Ranch and Development Company, the active subdividers of Meiners Oaks. From about 1931 the system has been operated and gradually extended and improved by the Mutual Company.

Conditions of supply became so serious in the summer of 1948 that improvement became imperative. There being no storage except the water in the intake lines, the dual demand from domestic and irrigation users came into conflict, and it was necessary to schedule the latter use to certain days of the week.

Frequently householders were able to draw water for the most essential domestic use. This condition was aggravated by the impaired condition of the domestic distribution lines which, not alone being undersized to begin with, had become so corroded that their capacity was decreased by 30 per cent. Furthermore, these lines had been placed down alleyways between blocks, which had been abandoned for public entrys and inevitably became so obstructed by fences and outbuildings that the pipelines were inaccessible.

THE ENGINEERING PLAN

1. Water Supply: For the time being nothing can be done about this beyond drilling additional wells . . . but it is suggested that an effort be made to contract with Zone One for additional water from Matilija Dam storage, to supplement the riparian diversion from the river. The District would then be in an advantageously prior position in getting water when necessary, and undoubtedly if the water was not required could sell it to other users until such time as it was needed.

2. Storage: Perhaps the most glaring deficiency in the present system is the lack of any storage capacity. As matters stand the sole water available for emergency or peak demand is that backed-up in the intake line, and when the intake of water is low the pipe had no more water in it than the amount flowing under gravity. There are times when, if a fire should occur there would not be enough water available to supply a hydrant. Once a fire gained headway in the Oaks, under hazardous weather conditions nothing could stop it and the whole community could be wiped out.

From this consideration alone, if no other, the location of a suitable storage site became of prime importance.

A primary survey of the ground discovered a prospective site that upon detailed investigation seemed to fulfill the need admirably. This is located on the NE corner of Lot 3, Section T-4-N, R-23″ S. B. B&M. Water from the intake line could be delivered to the dam at a surface level of Elev. 910 feet above sea level, with a 100-foot lift. A storage capacity of approximately 20 acre feet (871,000 cu. ft. or over 6 million gallons) can readily be obtained at an elevation which will give a house delivery from 50 to 60 lbs. per sq. in. pressure.

3. Distribution System: The present domestic distribution system is so rusted and so small in size that it cannot serve users properly. Furthermore, it is located in the inaccessible center of the occupied blocks. From these considerations it was decided that the whole system might well be abandoned and a completely new distribution system constructed.

The new distribution system would run from the reservoir down the Maricopa road to the intersection of Meiners, Tico and Fairview roads. It would bifurcate at this point, a 12″ main running down the east side of the populated district generally along Lomita Avenue, and an 8″ main running down the west side of the area along Tico Road, with an intermediate grid system on the main streets of 6″ and 4″ across-connected lines.

The size of the outside mains have been determined on the basis of full development of housing in the potential subdivision areas lying east of Lomita avenue and west of Tico Road. The interior system is predicated upon a doubled occupation as there are many vacant lots yet remaining within the community area itself and also to provide adequate fire flow.

4. Conflicting Demands: As has here been stated, a considerable trouble has arised under the present system because of the dual demand for water. The plan advanced here is to divorce the irrigation water supply from the domestic; the irrigation demand to be supplied by the present lines under gravity head.

A great economy can be affected by this, as the irrigation requirements can be met from the free flow in the intake line, independently of the domestic supply, and only the domestic supply need be pumped to the reservoir and stored. It is true that there are certain complications due to the fact that some domestic users in outlying districts will still get their water from irrigation mains which will require chlorination, but it is believed that this will be only a temporary difficulty which can be met as it arises.

5. Water Measurement: Under the Mutual Company, users were entitled to a pro-rata share of available water, for which they were charged on a fixed amount either by acre or by service tap. Undoubtedly this has caused considerable waste, since there was no means of measuring an excessive use of water, or leakages that inevitably occur.

THIS AIRPLANE VIEW OF THE Meiners Oaks County Water District shows the boundaries and the site of the proposed reservoir. The site is at the narrow part of a small canyon or basin with a watershed area of 26 acres. Recorded owners of the site and protective land to be acquired are George Hantgin, M. M. Erro and William J. Fry. —- Fairchild Aerial Photo

War Wagon!

The following article first appeared in the “Ojai Valley Guide” (VOLUME 37 NUMBER 3 | FALL 2019) on pages 136 – 137. The “Ojai Valley Guide” was published by the “Ojai Valley News”. The article is reprinted here with their permission. The photo of the broken egg was added by the Ojai Valley Museum.

LOOK BACK IN OJAI
with Drew Mashburn
Contributed on behalf of the
Ojai Valley Museum

War Wagon!

“WHERE DO YOU THINK YOU’RE GOING?!!!??” DAD QUESTIONED ME IN A VERY STERN VOICE.

“But, Dad! I’m just gonna drive it down to the corner to show Doug and Rick!” I whined.

“What did I tell you before you bought it?” Dad asked.

“But, but … only to the corner, Dad!”

“I’m not going to lose everything I’ve worked so hard for all these years because you want to risk driving without insurance. You’re a juvenile, so I’m the one who gets sued for all he’s worth!”

Dad was adamant.


My first automobile collected dust while I worked my tail off for about three months accumulating enough dough for insurance. I mowed lawns, filled in ditches, rototilled weeds, baby-sat and whatever to speed me onto the highways and byways!

While I was earning the bucks for the insurance payment, I drove my 1949 Chevrolet pickup forward and backward about 6 feet in the area Dad designated as my parking spot. That old six-cylinder sounded like music to my ears! I painted the rear bumper aluminum and the rims black. I tire-blacked the sides of the old, weather-beaten, cracked tires. She was lookin’ mighty pretty to me, even though she had lots of dents, but had a great coat of dark-red primer. I gave my buddy (“Oakie” as my buds and I called him) $150 for the beauty. Oakie had covered the inside door panels with simulated-wood shelving-liner. He’d put new carpet on the floor and, best yet … installed “Barefoot” pedals on the gas pedal and a floor-mounted headlights-dimmer switch. I tell ya, that girl was chompin’ at the bit to hit the road and so was I!

One of the first places I drove my new wheels was to Nordhoff High School where I was a junior. When my buddies saw the pickup, a few of them posed: “Why did you buy a truck?!!?? You can’t take girls for a date in that ol’ thing!” AHmmmmmmm … they had a point, but I just told them that I’d borrow my folks’ F85 Oldsmobile on date nights. Settled that problem.

Mainly, I bought a pickup because my dad always had pickups. I learned to drive a manual transmission in Dad’s 1961 Chevy.

Pickups were in my blood! Pickups are very commonplace with young people today, but back in the ’60s, not a lot of youngsters cared for them as their primary ride. Yet, when out of school, all my buddies wanted to take my pickup frequently because it was fun. Riding in pickup beds back in those days was allowed, and everybody dug doing it. We took the pickup on camping trips, to the beach, to swimming holes up the Maricopa Highway, to local sporting events, and we cruised Ojai Avenue in it.

I could tell you tons of stories that happened with my ol’ 1949, but I have limited space. Here’s a good one: I’m NOT condoning this type of behavior, but it happened.

In October of 1968, my buddies decided for me that we were going to use my pickup as a “War Wagon” on Halloween to terrorize other pranksters and trick-or-treaters. We bought flats upon flats of eggs. We had serveral hundred egg-grenades. We filled balloons with gallons of water. The projectiles were loaded into my pickup’s bed. Larry Sisk rode shotgun while I piloted the War Wagon. Our buddies were not only in the pickup’s bed, but standing on the side running boards and rear bumper. Off we rolled to downtown Ojai.

None of our lurking enemies were expecting us. As we tanked on down Ojai Avenue, my buds launched eggs and water balloons in all directions. It was like a war zone!

We got the best of the soldiers who were taking cover behind the walls of the Pergola and Arcade. After we made a couple of passes, most of our enemies just hid as they saw us approaching. At some point, we wound up on Grand Avenue where one of our idiot buddies threw an egg at Mr. Hardy’s taxi cab. If I recall correctly, it was Casey Mansfield who did so. Anyway, Mr. Hardy chased us all over the place as I foolheartedly attempted to elude him.

Well, we deservedly got pulled over by the city’s finest on North Montgomery Street next to Ojai Elementary School. One of the two policemen in the black-and-white asked for my driver’s license. He asked me what we were up to. Uhhhh! What was I supposed to say?!!??? I pretty much told him that we were just acting our ages and being Halloween hoodlums. Sisky sat there and smartly remained calm. He was a useless shotgunner!

The policemen spotted all our ammo in the pickup’s bed. Sisky and I wisely remained in the cab. The coppers made the other guys stomp all the eggs and water balloons in the bed of the pickup. The bed was about 2 inches full of broken eggs and water. It was a gooky, slimed mixture that would have made great scrambled eggs, minus the shells. After scolding all of us, the policemen told all my buddies to get back into the pickup, then head home immediately. All the guys resumed their previous seats. WRONG!!! The coppers told all of them to sit in the bottom of the bed in the goop. Do you think a single one of my buds made a break for it!!! Nope! The jokesters all sat as directed and looked like a big ol’ omelet as they whined away. One of the policemen told me to get everybody home right away and to NEVER do what we had done again. Yes, sir!

I wound up selling the ’49 in 1969 during my senior year of high school. I bought a super-clean 1961 Austin Healy “Bug Eye” Sprite. Notice to all of my buddies: That car was a chick magnet. Eat your hearts out!!!




1919 & 1920 Articles about Hotel El Roblar

The following articles were first run in “THE OJAI”. That newspaper is now “THE OJAI VALLEY NEWS”. The articles are reprinted here with their permission. The author(s) are unknown. Dates of editions in which each article was run are provided at the beginning of each article. The articles are about the “Hotel El Roblar” (formerly named “The Ojai Tavern”, “The Ojai Valley Inn”, “The Oaks at Ojai” and others). The 1919 drawing of the “The Ojai Tavern” (now, “Hotel El Roblar”) was added by the “Ojai Valley Museum”.

FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 28, 1919:

THE OJAI TAVERN

Architect Mead, upon whom rests the honors and responsibility of preparing the plans for The Ojai Tavern, soon to be erected, met Wednesday with the directors of the hotel company and tendered to them the complete plans and specifications for the proposed handsome structure.

The directors have asked a few contractors for estimates of cost of construction, and it is apparent that satisfactory information along that line was gained, as the treasurer was instructed to call for the payment of 40 per cent of the stock subscribed, or so much as the law requires of such corporations prior to proceeding to carry out the enterprise.

J. J. Burke, Boyd E. Gabbert and S. D. Thacher have been named as the building committee and work will proceed without unnecessary delay.

Hur-ray!

FRIDAY, MARCH 28, 1919:

OJAI TAVERN NOW NEARING THE REALITY

On Saturday bids were opened for the construction of the new civic center hotel, soon to be erected, and to be known at the “Ojai Tavern”.

Three bids were submitted, but as yet the hotel company has not made public the figures, the matter of accepting the lowest bid having been taken under advisement.

Before another issue of “The Ojai” goes to press, we have every assurance that all details will be finally settled and the work of construction will begin early in April.

FRIDAY, JANUARY 9, 1920:

“El Roblar” is Name of New Hotel

After some six of eight months “reconnoitering, conflabbing and gestulating”, the directors of the Ojai Valley Hotel Company have finally and definitely decided on a permanent name for the civic center hotel. It is “EL ROBLAR.” the name is of Indian origin and signifies “a cluster of, or among the white oaks.”

The Ojai is pleased that this matter has finally been settled for we started out calling it “The Ojai Tavern,” then it was changed to “The Ojai Valley Inn,” but this last title did not last long, and was cast aside for the more euphonious title of “El Roblar.”

The last carload of furniture for the new hostelry arrived Wednesday and was hauled to the hotel Thursday and is now being placed in order and the official and formal opening of the hotel will take place within the next ten days or two weeks.

FRIDAY, JANUARY 30, 1920:

El Roblar Hotel Opens Its Doors

Hotel El Roblar, the valley’s new hostelry, opened its doors to the general public informally, Wednesday evening, and although not fully ready Manger Roach took care of the large number of guests that “knocked” for admission, in a very happy and pleasant manner.

The opening has been delayed far beyond calculations and plans, owing to the non-arrival of much of the furnishings, which are still “in transit”, and Mr. Roach has been forced to gather up substitutions here and there as best he could, in order to accommodate his patrons.

The supper menu for the opening evening was:

Soup, Cream of Green Peas, Olives, Celery, Roast Lamb, Fried Chicken Southern Style, Red Currant Jelly, Fruit Salad, Potatoes, Posse Duchesse, Garden Peas, Saute Bananas, Raspberry Jelly Mound, Peach Pie, Coffee, Tea, and Milk.

The date for the formal opening has not yet been set, but it will be in the near future, and will be one big evening in Ojai.

The stationery for the hotel, letterhead, envelopes, menus, etc., printed in four-colors, was executed at The Ojai printing office, and they are what critics say, “about the niftiest ever produced of their kind.”

FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 6, 1920:

NEW MANAGER FOR THE EL ROBLAR

W. A. Roach, who leased the new Ojai hostelry, “El Roblar,” before its construction, has relinquished his interests, and Chas. A. Cooke succeeds him as lessee, and has assumed its management.

Mr. Cooke has long been identified with Southern California hotel enterprises, and as directing head has been highly successful, both financially and as a popular host.

For some time he was president of the Hotel Men’s Association, and more recently was manager of El Encanto at Santa Barbara.

He has opened El Roblar under most encouraging conditions, the patronage being excellent, with many reservations listed, among them one-half of the lower floor, the occupying party to arrive soon from Santa Barbara.
———————

Beginning February 5th the following rates will prevail at the Hotel El Roblar:
Breakfast, ……………………………………………………………….$1.00
Luncheon, ……………………………………………………………….$1.50
Dinner, …………………………………………………………………….. $1.50
Special Sunday Dinner, ………………………………………..$2.00
Special Sunday eve. Supper, …………………………….$1.50

Daily and weekly rated on application.

FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 13, 1920:

The Popular El Roblar Entertaining Many Guests

Among the week-end guests at the Valley’s new and popular hotel, El Roblar, were the following:

Mr. and Mrs. Edward Carrington, Mrs. Steward, William Gammell, from the Ambassador, Santa Barbara; Mr. and Mrs. William Sweet, Boston; Mr. and Mrs. L. W. Ballon, Woonsocket, R. I.; Mr. and Mrs. Harold Chase and boys of Santa Barbara; Mr. and Mrs. Chas. P. Austin of Santa Barbara; Mrs. McCrabb and Miss Norton, Seattle, Wash.; Mr. and Mrs. Francis Farnsworth, W. J. Farnsworth, Santa Barbara; Mr. and Mrs. D. Bryant Turner, Colorado Springs; and Mr. and Mrs. E. D. Wetmore, Santa Barbara; J. J. Bayler and family of Chicago.

The hotel has had a large run of patronage all this week, many of whom have engaged quarters for an indefinite time.

FRIDAY, MARCH 5, 1920:

Ojai Hotel Company Hold Annual Meeting

The first annual meeting of the stockholders of the Ojai Hotel Company, owners of the El Robalr, was held at the office of the secretary of the Company in the Ojai Realty Company’s office, Wednesday forenoon. The report of the past year’s activities and accomplishments was presented and read, and proved quite pleasing.

The men who did most of the real work in organizing the company and in the preliminary work of getting the hotel constructed, were congratulated.

The following officers and directors were elected for the ensuing year:

S. D. Thacher, president; D. A. Smith, vice president; B. E. Gabbert, secretary; E. W. Wiest, treasurer; E. L. Libby, Geo. Holsten, J. J. Burke.

FRIDAY, AUGUST 13, 1920:

El Roblar to Open Tomorrow August 14th

The many friends of the El Roblar Hotel will be pleased to learn that the new lessees, Messrs. Flander and Frank Barrington, will open that popular hostelry to the public on tomorrow noon, August 14th. A cordial invitation is extended the public to dine at the El Roblar whenever opportunity permits.



WORK TO START ON “THE OJAI TAVERN”

The following article first appeared in the FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 21, 1919 edition of “THE OJAI” on the front page. “THE OJAI” is now the “Ojai Valley News”. The article is reprinted here with their permission. The author is unknown. “The Ojai Tavern” is now the “El Roblar Hotel” (formerly, “The Oaks at Ojai”).


WORK TO START ON “THE OJAI TAVERN”

A new hotel for Ojai (formerly Nordhoff) and the Ojai Valley.

The Ojai Valley hopes soon to have a hotel. In June 1917, the Foothills Hotel burned when the Ojai was swept by a disastrous fire and sixty dwellings went up in smoke.

The war prevented the rebuilding of the hotel and consideration of the matter was postponed until after the war.

However, Mr. E. D. Libbey of Toledo, Ohio, and a few of the Ojai people subscribed stock, organized the Ojai Hotel Company, and immediately proceeded to develop plans for a popular tourist and business hotel for the town of Ojai.

The architects are the San Diego firm of Mead and Requa, who built the notable “Arcade” and Pergola and Mission Towered postoffice for the town and civic center of Nordhoff, then changed to Ojai, which has just been further beautified by a most charming little Roman Catholic Church in the best Mission style.

The hotel is to be also of Mission or Spanish architecture, a unique piece of work, with low straight lines, tile roof, pergolas, arches, and very interesting and comfortable interior arrangements in the way of lobby, dining room, grill, lounging places, baths connected with every room, etc. There will be about twenty-five bed rooms, each with twin beds. The location is in the town of Ojai, convenient to the stores and business offices, and yet set refreshingly among white oaks, live oaks and sycamores.

The directors wish to have it meet the needs of the community in every way as a home for permanent guests as well as transient business visitors, and also for automobile parties and summer and winter tourists with whom the Ojai Valley has long been a favorite resort.

The directors have specially in mind to make the little hotel—to be known as The Ojai Tavern—a place with a distinctive charm of its own, in keeping with the reputation of the beautiful valley—a place that anyone catching a glimpse of with wish to investigate, and having visited, will be drawn to again and again. They are looking for the right sort of manager to undertake the development of such a unique and alluring hostelry.

The work of building will begin, it is hoped, in a very few weeks.