PARKING METERS FOR OJAI . . . ?

The following article first appeared on the front page of the Friday, January 12, 1951 edition of “THE OJAI.” That newspaper is now the “Ojai Valley News.” The article appears here with their permission. The author is unknown.

PARKING METERS FOR OJAI . . . ?

Some of our city fathers let drop a broad hint after their meeting Monday night that they would like to make a present of some parking meters to the city. This is rather a contrast to the propaganda put forward by council members some months ago to the effect that the issue of parking meters was not a serious one, but was introduced more or less to take people’s attention away from the proposal of a city sales tax, since passed.

They have not come out flatly in favor of the meters, but they have repeatedly brought the idea forward as a solution to what they term “Ojai’s parking problem.”

What parking problem? How can a town which has the greater percentage of its merchants concentrated in one block on one side of the street possibly have a parking problem? If the definition is such that the problem consists in not being able to park exactly in front of the establishment in which the driver wishes to shop, then, there is a parking problem. However, there is a large parking lot east of the city hall, and with the exception of a few unusual occasions, there has always been ample room to accommodate a large amount of cars, and without any overtime parking penalties. If shoppers still insist on parking on Ojai avenue, they are always able to find spaces within at least two blocks of the Arcade, which should not constitute a great burden, since many of these same shoppers are willing to beat their way down to Ventura or Santa Barbara and walk many blocks to do their shopping.

Nuts to the parking problem! If the city dads feel that our present rate of growth will demand more parking space in the future, let them make provisions for off-street parking while there is vacant land in the downtown area.

There is the parking lot adjacent to the city hall, already mentioned. There is land behind the Arcade, between Ojai avenue and Matilija street. There are various locations in the downtown section still unoccupied that will serve for parking if the council members fee that space is needed.

As to the financial picture, the meter company estimates that in Ojai, meters will bring in $4 per meter per month. With 110 meters installed, this would amount to approximately $5280 yearly revenue. Of this, the meter company takes half until the meters are paid for, which would take roughly two and one-half years. In the meantime the city would in all probability have to take on an extra employee to service the meters and make collections, since it has been the understanding, under the present city set-up that our city officials and employees are being worked up to and beyond their capacity. The additional employee would reduce the revenue from the meters, since it is a strange practice of people nowadays not to work for nothing.

It looks as though we are getting a little too large for our Levis. A city sales tax—yes. Off-street parking—perhaps, but KEEP PARKING METERS OUT OF OJAI.

My Favorite Town — OJAI, CALIFORNIA

This article was originally printed on pages 42 – 46 in the December 1951 issue of “FORD TIMES” magazine which the “Ojai Valley Museum” has in their collection. The magazine was gifted to the museum by the Ojai Branch of the Ventura County Library System.

My Favorite Town —

OJAI, CALIFORNIA


by Lael Tucker

paintings by Brice Mack

We were looking for a temporary home town. We gave it that designation because, in the middle of a long trip, we had to find a town where we could spend six consecutive weeks writing. It had to be a very special kind of town—one to belong in—in a hurry.

We were rediscovering our own country after four years in Europe. Our own house was leased, our children in transition between languages and schools, our belongings scattered. So we started out to see our country again. Seventeen states and six thousand miles later, we were in Ojai, California.

Nobody told us about Ojai. We were still looking for that temporary home town. This day, we were merely on our way to relax in some hot sulphur springs up a small valley fifty miles north of Los Angeles. The narrow road from the Pacific Coast curled upward like lazy smoke. The gentle mountains on either side reminded us of the Pyrenees.

We came to a road sign that pointed to Ojai. We abandoned the hot springs idea simply because we like the name Ojai (O-hi), and because we felt happy. Six weeks later we still did. We hated to leave.

Ojai’s Main Streeet shops are sheltered in a long, homogeneous block under a continuous, graceful arcade. The post office has a Spanish bell tower, the park has picnic tables under the oaks and the best free tennis courts we ever saw.

The side streets are oak-shaded, and the Valley Outpost Motor Hotel is built on the edge of town under the mountains. Each housekeeping cabin is tree-shaded and private, and flowers bloom in each yard. The sun shines in a painter’s blue sky. Nights are cool in the brown, hot summer, and the winters are green and mild.

Ojai’s citizens come from everywhere, believe all kinds of things, dress as they like, and like what they please, from classical music to bowling at the local all-night short order joint. All kinds of school children go to all kinds of schools. The whole population—old settlers, winter residents, and visitors—have two things in common. They came to Ojai because they wanted to, and are there because they love it.

After so long in Europe, where everyone does everything for you, I had to learn to keep house all over again. In Ojai, everybody helped me do things for myself. Bewildered by the impersonal superabundance of food in the big markets, I went down the street to Mr. Cox’s family grocery. He helped me plan my menus and select the ingredients, while his chic, pretty wife told me how to cook what I bought. He also took me home in the store truck when I was walking, coaxed my daughter into drinking milk, and brought us orange crates for my son to convert to furniture. The Cox’s came from Oklahoma.

Since public laundering was rather an expensive business, Mrs. McNett, the manager of the motor hotel, loaned me her washing machine, taught me how to use it, and managed to do a big batch for me while showing me how. The McNetts are from Arkansas.

A lady from Maine initiated me into the art of making starch, and a neighbor from Louisiana said it was a pity not to darn good wool socks, and fixed up my husband’s while she demonstrated.

My husband wanted to write his book unmolested, do some walking in the country, hear some music and get a sunburn. Ojai obliged on all counts. Unlike the rest of California, Ojai expects you park your car now and then and take a walk for fun. It also understands a writer’s preoccupied, antisocial behavior. And there were six weeks of bright, browning sun—and a music festival!

El Rancho Ojai was a grant of land, full of streams, bears, wildcats and coyotes, all of which have since diminished. It was the press that really discovered Ojai’s dependable and lavish virtues. Charles Nordhoff, roving correspondent for the New York Herald, dropped up in 1872 and wrote so glowingly of climate and beauty that a lot of people named Dennison, Gray, Sinclair, Van Curen, Pirie, Montgomery, Munger, Waite, Todd, Pinkerton and Jones came out to visit and stayed to winter, founding a sunny, Spanish-style New England village in the western valley. In gratitude, they called it Nordhoff as well as Ojai for twenty-five years.

Its history is a fine mixture of New England and Wild West. A classical Latin scholar from Vermont named Buckman taught school in Ojai. One Colonel Wiggins opened the first hotel with a grand ball for three hundred and closed it again when his guests objected to being treated like company privates at New York prices. Four highly equipped professors, one specialist in Oriental languages, opened a Seminary for Young Ladies, but no young ladies dared the valley. The Thacher School for Boys, established in 1889, flourished, and later graduated author Thornton Wilder and Charles Nordhoff’s grandson, Charles, the writer.

Ojai town was incorporated in 1921 and has grown since from a population of 750 to 2,600. The constant sun, which is its blessing and its reason-to-be, has nearly destroyed it three times by making tinder of its surrounding forests.

But nothing has touched its spirit, its community spirit. Before you have been there a week, you find yourself partisan and citizen of Ojai. You speak of yourself in Ojai as “we.” It’s hard to define what makes it like that.

It’s a town of schools, day schools, boarding schools, progressive schools and prep schools, public schools and two where children take care of their own horses.

It’s a town of religions. Besides the usual denominations of an American community, there are Mormons, Missionary Baptists, and Four Squares. Mrs. Annie Besant tried producing the “new human type” in Ojai. Jiddu Krishnamurti made Ojai his retreat and many gentle people live there in order to listen to him.

It’s a town of the arts. It’s not its artists and writers, its Beatrice Wood, the ceramist, Guy Ignon, the painter, its Chekhov players or its music festival, that make it so. It’s everybody.

The millionaire’s wife will stand next to the talented plumber at the art exhibition. The wintering lady form Maine partners the Mexican ranch worker at the dance. The man who grows acres of oranges for fun or the one who drives in from Ojai to tend a business in Los Angeles may keep score for the school kids at the bowling alley. Whatever squabbles there are, are personal. You’re welcome. Not as a Howdy Stranger, but as Hello Citizen. They only want to keep Ojai the way it is: a place where you’d rather cut off your finger than cut down an oak tree and where you can belong at once, and for as long as you like.



The post office reflects the Spanish influence in Ojai.
TOP PAINTING: The shaded golf course at the Ojai Inn and Country Club BOTTOM PAINTING: Native oaks were here long before the first settlers came.
TOP PAINTING: Even a young town like Ojai has its past BOTTOM PAINTING: Autumn colors come early to the Valley

Bike lanes on Hwy. 33 presages future

The following article was first run in the Wednesday, February 15, 1978 edition of the “Ojai Valley News” on Page B-16. It is reprinted here with their permission. Photo inserted by the “Ojai Valley Museum”.

Bike lanes on Hwy. 33 presages future

Editorial by Fred Volz


The fact that the shoulders of Highway 33 are torn up right now between Villanova Road and Tico Road in Mira Monte is good news. That’s because CALTRANS, of all people, is building bike lanes on both sides of the road, as was announced in this newspaper last month.

California’s highway bureaucracy has finally become aware and is doing something about the 75 million or so of us in America who use bicycles as an alternate means of transportation. In 1975, over 7.5 million foreign and domestic bicycles were sold in this country — twice as many as were sold 10 years ago.

THIS TREND is increasing, as is evident to people-watchers in Ojai Valley. As our area becomes increasingly congested with automobiles, and the benefits — to the rider and to the environment — become more and more evident, we expect bike-riding locally to outstrip by far the national trend.

The long-time baby of this writer, in gestation for a decade, is about to be born. Last week, supervisor Ken MacDonald reported that he is confident the county will be able to acquire the abandoned Southern Pacific Railroad right-of-way, whether or not supervisors re-allocate the $300,000 currently earmarked for the project. That’s because the state is pushing the project.

Valleyites must be concerned that this marvelous strip of land which links the three major communities in the valley becomes “multiple use”: hiking, biking, riding. We’ve heard bureaucrats say that the three aren’t compatible. “You can’t have a horse trotting on an asphalt bike path,” has been cited. That’s true; so you pave one side for the bikers and roll dirt on the other half for the riders.

At least, this was the way it was done by the state and City of Sacramento in its marvelous hiking, biking, riding pathway we visited last year in the state capitol. The “trail” stretches along the American River from the suburbs to downtown along a spur line railroad right-of-way that’s still in daily use by freight cars. The pathway was built along the railroad right-of-way to one side of the tracks, which for the most miles run along an elevated embankment. Works fine.

THE MULTI-USE pathway has a 6-foot strip of asphalt down one side with a white center line divider down the middle to mark the opposing directions. Alongside is graded an ample dirt strip for horses.

One Sunday we trotted along the asphalt for 5-6 miles on our usual morning jaunt. Along the way we met other runners and were passed in both directions by hordes of bikers. Horses followed other paths along the river embankment. We all had a fine time waving and greeting each other. The morning proved sunny and clear; the air off the river and the fields was fresh and cool; the experience was such that we remember it vividly.

So, let’s get on with our own pathway on the abandoned railroad, so that someday we may experience the joy of riding/hiking/biking through our beautiful valley.


Fred Volz — Publisher and editor of the Ojai Valley News from 1962 to 1987. (Courtesy of Ojai Valley News)

Meet the Mansons

The following article was first printed in the Summer 2020 “Ojai Valley Guide” magazine. The magazine was published by the “Ojai Valley News.” The article is reprinted here with their permission. The photo of Mitch Mashburn eating a potato was added by the Ojai Valley Museum.

DREW’S ENCOUNTER WITH THE MANSON CLAN

Meet the Mansons

“X” marks the spot!
I’ll explain this in a bit.

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

I’m unable to recall the exact dates of this adventure because it was over 49 years ago, but it was definitely in March of 1971. That’s when the five of us, Mike Payton, Mitch Mashburn, Jimmy Mitchell, Genemarie McDaniel, Heidi Sommers, and myself took a trip back into the remote Sespe Hot Springs in Los Padres National Forest. I drove my 1964 Chevy pickup with my motorcycle in the bed. Genemarie and Heidi rode in the cab with me. Mitch and Jimmy rode in the bed. Mike rode his motorcycle.

We left Saturday morning from Ojai. We drove up Highway 33 to the Rose Valley Recreation Area. Sespe Creek Road was dirt and wound for about 16 miles back to the hot springs so we crossed the Sespe Creek many times. The first crossing was at Lion Campground. We had zigzagged many times when we came upon a Volkswagen van and a Ford Mustang stuck in the middle of the wide, deep, creek. There must have been at least a dozen vehicles waiting to cross, but their drivers were leery about it. All of the vehicles lacked four-wheel drive, including my pickup.

4WD problems were not going to stop us; we figured we had enough able bodies to push the pickup to the opposite bank should the high water flood the engine. We pushed the van and sedan out of the creek, then offloaded my motorcycle. Mike and I rode our motorcycles across the creek in a shallower spot than the main crossing. Then, we waded back across the creek. We loaded into my pickup and I attempted to drive across it. No luck! The wet engine stalled about midpoint in the creek and I was unable to get it started again. We wound up pushing the pickup onto the far bank.

As we were hoopin, hollerin’, generally congratulating one another and wringing out our wet socks, I happened to look back towards the high flowing creek. There was a short, young lady and a fairly tall, young man wading across with heavy backpacks. The water was about chest deep on the gal, and I was fearful that, should she fall over with the pack on, she’d be swept under the water. I hurriedly headed in her direction, and as I extended my hand to her, I noticed an “X” engraved into her forehead directly above her nose. The gent had an engraved “X” too. I was only 19 years old and was more interested in camping, chasing girls, riding motorcycles, and the like than following the news; but, I immediately knew what those X’s meant. These two were, without a doubt, part of the Manson Clan. Now, I didn’t know much about Manson and his clan, but I’d certainly heard about them and the horrific deeds they had committed.

I assisted the young lady to safety. The gal did all the talking. I swear the dude had an I.Q. of a turnip. I suspected he might have blown his mind with drugs, but he didn’t seem under the influence at the time. The gal told me that she and her partner were in search of attorney Ronald Hughes. Hughes had been Charles Manson’s defense attorney in the Manson Clan trials but went missing after he switched to co-defendant Leslie Van Houten’s attorney. I knew that Hughes was considered missing in the Sespe Wilderness. The gal asked if she and her buddy could ride with us. I had her sit next to me in the cab. The turnip-brained friend of hers rode in the bed, and we put my motorcycle back in the bed too. None of my friends asked them about the X’s. Everybody loaded up and off we went with Mike leading the way on his motorcycle.

Ronald Hughes, Manson defense attorney.

The gal and I chatted. I decided that she was a pleasant, but odd chick. She told me she was Hughes’ “girlfriend.” That seemed odd to me at the time. We didn’t have any more difficulties crossing the creek on the rest of the journey. About a mile or two away from the hot springs, I stopped and told the gal this was as far as I intended on giving them a ride. She told me that she wanted to “camp” and “party” with us. I knew enough about the Manson Clan that I didn’t want these two hanging out with us, so I told her that I didn’t want her and her friend showing up at our camp. They got out of the pickup and that was the last we saw of them.

We traveled on to the hot springs, enjoyed them and spent the night. At some point the next day, we decided to head partially out of the Sespe Wilderness. We spent one more night at a campground. It was dang cold the following morning; I was extremely happy to have my down-filled sleeping bag. After a nice breakfast that included potatoes that Mike had boiled before the trip we decided to head for home.

Mitch Mashburn downing a boiled potato for breakfast.

My heavy motorcycle sliding around the pickup’s bed made it unsafe for Mitch and Jimmy riding with it. We offloaded the motorcycle and I rode it. Jimmy began driving my pickup. We had trouble crossing the one deep crossing again, but got the pickup unstuck and kept going.

“The wet engine stalled about midpoint in the creek and I was unable to get it started again.”

Mike and I were quite a ways in front of the pickup. Mike was ahead of me and we were crankin’ and enjoying the bumpy, curvy road. Mike rounded a curve, and a few seconds later, I rounded it with dust a-flyin’! There was a long straightaway after the curve. Mike should have been on that straightaway, but he wasn’t. I quickly braked and flipped a U-turn. Back to the curve I went. I found motorcycle tracks that led over the edge of the cliff at the curve’s midpoint; I feared the worst. I got off my bike and called for Mike before I looked over the edge. I didn’t want to look over and see my lifetime bud laying dead. I called a second time and Mike answered. I quickly moved to the edge and saw Mike about 40 feet below me. There was only one large bush at the base of the cliff and it was next to the extremely rocky riverbed. Mike and his bike had landed in the bush. It broke their fall. One LUCKY dawg! Mike was not injured and he’d only broken the bike’s mirror.

The rest of our group soon caught up with us. We were stumped as to how we were going to get the motorcycle up to the road. Soon, another pickup stopped. The guy driving it asked if he and his passengers might assist us. This guy was in his late 30s or early 40s. He told us he had a rope and suggested we tie it to the motorcycle, then everybody grab the rope and pull it up the steep cliff that was made of very loose shale. Mike and I kept the bike upright and pushed while all the others pulled on the rope. We were successful!

The gent informed us that the lady in his party was a “psychic.” He told us they were looking for Hughes using the lady’s mental powers, but had been unsuccessful. Now, it was necessary to return to their New York residences.

This gent told us they intended to return in the near future to continue their search. He asked me if I’d be willing to rent camping equipment, buy food and organize whatever else would be needed for a second attempt to locate the missing attorney with the psychic. I jumped at the opportunity. He asked me to immediately start locating what would be needed and that he’d send me the money to buy the supplies. We exchanged phone numbers. My group again thanked his party for their assistance and off they went. Soon, we were back in civilization with a sense of having a terrific adventure.

The next week, I searched stores selling camping and expedition equipment. The gent called me. He asked if I had acquired everything and I told him I had compiled a list with the places to get everything. He asked me to buy it all with my own money. I told him I didn’t have that kind of money. He told me he’d arrange to get me the money and call again. I never heard from him.

Undoubtedly that was because on March 27 two fishermen stumbled across Hughes’ dead body in the middle of the creek. The Ventura County Sheriff’s Department conducted the investigation. It’s never been determined if Hughes’ death was accident or murder. Some speculate Manson had placed a hit on Hughes because Manson didn’t like Huges’ trial strategy. In fact, some people suspected the reason Hughes was in the Sespe was to hide from Manson and his clan.

I’ve wondered all these years … did the couple we gave a ride to with the X’s knock off Hughes?

Spreading Grounds Receive Surplus Matilija Water

The following article first appeared in the Thursday, January 24, 1952 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.

Spreading Grounds Receive Surplus Matilija Water

Water from Matilija dam was again being dumped into Ojai Valley spreading grounds this week as county officials gave their go-ahead to the opening of the conduit leading from the dam to land near the junction of Carne and Thacher roads.

Supervisor R. E. (Sam) Barrett said Tuesday that the water is surplus flood water which has been flowing over the spillway of the dam at an estimated rate of 900 million gallons per day. The cascade over the dam has somewhat lessened in the days since last week’s storm, but Barrett stated that the conduit would remain open until there is no longer surplus water in the dam. He added that the supervisors hope to continue to send water to the spreading grounds for several months.

Some doubt was expressed earlier in the week as to whether or not the water would be free enough from debris and siltation to allow its passage through the pipeline to the east end of the Valley. An inspection of the spreading grounds Wednesday noon revealed a good flow of water, only slightly discolored.

The conduit was first opened early in May last year when the county dumped some 300 acre feet of water on the spreading grounds. It was reported that some well levels in the area rose during the period the water was released.


WATER OVER THE SPILLWAY OF MATILIJA DAM, filled last week for the first time since its construction in 1947, has drawn crowds of eager sightseers to the structure following last week’s deluge. Surplus flood waters are now being released from the dam through a conduit to spreading grounds in the east end of the Ojai Valley. —Photo by Ron Reich

New firebreak shields valley

The following article first appeared on the front page of the Wednesday, May 1, 1963 edition of “THE OJAI VALLEY NEWS”. It is reprinted here with their permission. The author is unknown.

TO PREVENT DISASTER

New firebreak shields valley

Ojai was partially swept by a brush fire in the 30’s and again in 1948. A project aimed at preventing repetition of such disasters is now underway in the mountains along the city’s northern boundary.

The project is a firebreak—or fuelbreak, as it is called by the U.S. forest service—to check any fires which might threaten the city.

When completed, the fuelbreak will extend all the way across the county from the Santa Barbara to the Los Angeles county lines. A 16-mile section of the break from Santa Ana canyon, across highway 399 to the Topa Topa bluffs already has been completed. This includes the portion directly north of the city of Ojai.

A second four-mile section from San Cayetano to the Sespe along the southern border of the Sespe wildlife area also has been completed.

Portions from Santa Ana canyon to the Santa Barbara line, from Topa Topa bluffs to San Cayetano and from the Sespe crossing to the Los Angeles county line are still incomplete but work is proceeding on these sections. When the project is complete, it will form a continuous fuelbreak about 60 miles long.

The break consists of a strip of land cleared of brush for a maximum width of 500 feet where the terrain permits and a minimum width of 200 feet. Once cleared of the heavy brush the strip is seeded to rye grass and blando brome grass, hardy and fast growing varieties which require a minimum of moisture.

The object is to have the grass take over, providing a good cover and a minimum of fuel for a fire crossing the strip. The project provides for a continuous program of maintenance of the break, which includes keeping down the brush after it is removed.

The work has been done by tractors and bulldozers in areas where these machines can work; in other areas such as canyons and gullies, the grubbing out has been done by men with hand tools.

The job has involved the gathering of large piles of brush. Some of this has been burned on favorable days. In other cases the brush has been shredded by tractors and worked into the soil of the fuelbreak.

The total area cleared is about 24 acres to a mile, but the brush has been cleared from about 384 acres in the 16 miles of fuelbreak already constructed.

North and east of Ojai many fingers and rectangles of privately owned land extend into Los Padres national forest, and in most cases north of the city the fuelbreak has been constructed across these lands. Forest service officials reported good cooperation from owners in getting their consent to build the break across their property. “We had to do some talking to get their consent in a few cases,” said Fred Bennett, Ojai district fire control officer, “but once they understood why we were doing it, and that it was for their own protection they were cooperative.”

The break has been constructed above the homes on these private lands to afford them the greatest protection. Another reason for crossing the private land was that the terrain becomes too steep to the north of these private holdings.

Chemical sprays and hand cutting will be the means used to keep down undesirable growth and permit the grass to take hold.

Deer have been of assistance in “maintaining” the break because they frequent the cleared area in considerable numbers and feed on the young shoots.

As part of the fire control program, water supplies in Gridley, Cozy Dell, Senior, Horn, Stewart and other canyons will be considered as available in case of need. It is also planned to develop other water storage together with access roads.

As an additional control factor, the fuelbreak has been planned to run as straight as possible considering the sometimes very rough terrain. Object of this is to allow borate bombers as straight runs as possible to spill their fire quenching chemical.

The project is a cooperative venture between the U.S. forest service and the county, with the county supplying the funds.

The break north of Ojai has been carefully planned to avoid a scar on the mountain which would be visible from the valley. The break in this area lies behind the geologic overturn—the row of small rounded hills which are such a conspicuous element of the northern view. The fuelbreak follows a swale or valley behind the hills and it cannot be seen from the valley except for a short distance at Gridley canyon and at highway 399.

FOREST SERVICE officials view portion of fuelbreak. This view is looking east from the head of Thacher canyon.
FUELBREAK to protect Ojai from forest fire is shown on this map. Solid line shows the portion of the 200 to 500-foot wide break which has been completed. Dotted line indicates the uncompleted portion. Map was drawn by Dean Price of U.S. forest service.


Our problem: growth

The following article was first seen in the Thursday, May 24, 1962 edition of the “OJAI VALLEY NEWS” on the “OPINION PAGE” (Page A-2). It is reprinted here with their permission. It was an “EDITORIAL”, and the author is unknown.

Our problem: growth

A recent population analysis issued by the Ventura county planning staff revealed that the “Ojai planning area,” comprising Ojai, Meiners Oaks and Oak View, was growing slightly faster in the period April 1, 1961 – April 1, 1962, than the county average and about twice the rate of growth of the State of California.

Figures showed the county rate of growth as just over seven percent. This compares with an average of six percent the previous year. This is in line with recently-released statistics which told that Ventura had become the second-fastest growing county in the Los Angeles complex, second only to Orange. Its jump of over one percent in a year presages an increase year by year.

In the Ojai planning area the trend was slightly higher than the county average. We inched upwards to an eight-plus population increase this year. With plenty of land and water available, no slackening in this trend is in sight. No impenetrable barricades will be stretched across Highway 399 on the Arnaz grad or across other access, the Upper Ojai. Employees of the industries moving into the Tri-Cities, Oxnard, Thousand Oaks area will drive here some Sunday afternoon, fall in love with the valley and buy a home. Father will join the roughly 50 percent of the present commuters who live here and work elsewhere.

Another pertinent statistic came to light in the county survey. The highest rate of growth in the county was in the Simi planning area — a remarkable 27 percent increase. Second was Camarillo with 15 percent. Ojai was third at eight-plus.

A look at a county map at this point is revealing. Growth, which has been coming in the past from commuters who work in the Ventura area, will soon make a pincer movement into the valley via the Upper Ojai. Planners count on the development of the large ranches of the Casitas lake perimeter, but the Upper Ojai and even East Ojai’s proximity to the 27 percent increase of the planning area is even more startling. This is where growth is spilling over from the San Fernando valley coming this way along a Santa Susana-Simi-Moorpark — Santa Paula line.

Incidentally, great efforts are being made in Santa Paula to obtain industries. And, down the road a few miles in the Tri-Cities of El Rio, Montalvo and Saticoy, vast acreages are zoned industrial. Recently a 133 acre piece was sold to heavy industry.

Far from Ojai? Not really. From the Tri-Cities it is just as close to Ojai via Santa Paula as it is through Ventura. The same goes for Fillmore, which is due for San Fernando growth.

So here is our problem: proximity to growth. And, to a certain extent the cause of our present problems, for the valley has been growing steadily for a number of years. But the rate is accelerating — probably never to runaway proportions — but nevertheless as consistent as the rising sun. The population should inexorably double in ten years.

So, the future is already upon us. What to do about it?

The obvious answer: plan. The not-so-obvious answer: make decisions.

And, we mean make decisions now. Every decision deferred now means time that cannot be retrieved . . . . more pressure on the day when action is overdue, when action will be forced under pressure, perhaps under controversy, and always under haste, and extra expense.

Honestly now, wouldn’t our valley be a better place to live — a better planned community, if governmental bodies had been ready for growth, such as subdivisions, then years ago.

Only fast, massive, intelligent action on Ojai’s master plan, and by the county on the unincorporated sections of the valley (which are exceptionally vulnerable) can save the valley from a fate it does not want — or deserve.


Cash rings register

The following article was first seen in the Thursday, February 8, 1962 edition of “THE OJAI VALLEY NEWS” on the front page. It is reprinted here with their permission.

TINKLE, TINKLE

Cash rings register
by
HANK PEARSON


On May 10 next several hundred people will be crowding into New York’s famed Carnegie hall to listen to a tall, dark haired handsome young man from Ojai valley as he sings many of his songs that have led to his being called America’s Number One country singer.

That man will be Johnny Cash, a man less than ten years ago was totally unknown in the world of music, but who today has become recognizes as one of the country’s leading mail vocalists in the field of folk songs and religious hymns, as well as a top-notch composer.

Johnny Cash has lived for the year in a beautiful home located on a hillside overlooking the Ojai valley, above Casitas Springs. With him are his attractive wife, Vivian, and the couple’s four daughters, Rosanne, 6, Kathleen, 5, Cindy, 3 and Baby Tara, five months.

Johnny’s appearance at Carnegie Hall is a tribute to the 29-year-old singer’s excellent rendition over the past several years of songs that are typically American – songs that have their roots deep in the soil of the country’s past.

Most of the people in America today are well aware of Johnny’s musical performances. He composed and introduced such songs as “I Walk the Line”, which sold well over two million records; “Folsom Prison Blues”, which did almost as well; “Ballad of a Teen-Age Queen”, and a host of others. His religious albums have been instant hits. He has made many personal tours, both in this country and abroad. He has made many guest appearances on television and twice has been name America’s number one country singer. The list goes on and on.

In spite of such successes, however, Johnny Cash is not by any stretch of the imagination overly concerned with his own importance. He is a devoted family man, loves to hunt and fish; and beneath his quiet and composed mien one senses a deep reverence.

Johnny grew up on his parent’s 20-acre cotton farm in a rather remote area near Pine Bluff, Ark. (His parents now operate a trailer court near Casitas Springs.) It was not an easy life and Johnny can still recall vividly the days he spent behind a mule plowing the fields and the endless hours he spent picking cotton. With four boys and three girls in the family, and the pall of a depression over the land, there was never anything but three meals a day – and often that consisted only of beans and bread.

But it was during those days that Johnny started to sing – mainly to himself – and to make up songs as he did his chores. It was there, too, that he became thoroughly acquainted with folk songs – songs that had drifted down through the years from one person to another, without benefit of the published word.

Johnny’s break came in 1955 and for two reasons: first, of course, he had a natural talent that wished to express itself, and second, because he was about the worst salesman in the country.

Johnny had been married then just a short time – following a four-year hitch in the Air Force – and had taken a job as a salesman in San Antonio, Tex. His job was one of those door-to-door varieties and no matter how many doors he pounded on, no one seemed a bit interested in buying. He had to do something or face the dismal prospect of not having anything to eat for either himself or Vivian.

Armed with a song of his own composition entitled “Hey Porter”, he headed for Memphis, Tenn., and a newly formed recording company by the name of Sun Record company. He didn’t get much past the front door. But he didn’t give up. Several months later he came back and this time luckily, the owner, a gentleman by the name of Sam Phillips, was having a coffee break.

After considerable pleading on the part of Johnny, Sam condescended to listen to the song. He like it, later put it on wax, and Johnny had his start. Sun Records, by the way, had a pretty good start then with another lad – by the name of Elvis Presley.

For years now Johnny has had three musicians with him: a guitarist, a bass player and a drummer. They all have one thing in common with Johnny – none of them can read a note of music.

Not being able to read music has not hindered Johnny because things work out satisfactorily these days in reverse anyhow. Johnny can think up a melody and the lyrics that go with it while, for instance, puttering around his Ojai valley home. He then puts it down on tape in a small music room he has and the proper notes are put down on paper afterward.

When I visited Johnny this week he had just thought up a melody and most of the words for a song entitled “Lost on the Desert.” It was a sad but beautiful ballad – typical of the old folk songs that were sung over campfires years ago or on the front porch of a farm house in the still of a summer evening.

He is also working on a song concerning a disastrous flood; this one from memory of an event which occurred on that small cotton farm when he was a boy. Like he says, these songs just sort of “come to him.”

He will have the big opportunity on May 10 to show people just what he means.

A NEW HIT? Johnny Cash is shown here in a small studio at his home near Casitas Springs as he records on tape a new song he thought up last week. He will take the recording to a studio in Nashville, Tenn., where instrumental music background will be added and, a certain amount of “polishing.”

CITY’S NEW REC DIRECTOR TAKES OVER HIS DUTIES

The following article first appeared on the front page of “THE OJAI VALLEY NEWS” on Thursday, February 23, 1961. It is reprinted here with their permission. The author is unknown.

CITY’S NEW REC DIRECTOR TAKES OVER HIS DUTIES

John Martin, Ojai’s new recreational director, is faced with the budget for the year plus many schedules of events.

Martin arrived in Ojai Monday from his home in Oceanside. He and his wife Carol, and their two year old daughter, Nancy, are living at 207 S. Fulton st.

The new director went to Ventura schools including Ventura junior college. He spent four years in the Navy following which he received his degree in recreation at San Jose State college.

In the throes of getting his feet wet in his new job he ran across Hoot Bennett whom he had known during his term of service, with the Navy. He also ran across an old friend, Bob Noren. He has high hopes of planning programs that will interest not only the youth of Ojai but also the adults.


John Martin (Staff Photo)

MAJOR JOHN DRON WINS ROUND WITH PILLARS

The following article was first printed on the front page of the Thursday, June 16, 1960 edition of “THE OJAI PRESS”. “THE OJAI PRESS” became part of the “OJAI VALLEY NEWS”. It is reprinted here with their permission. The author is unknown. The color photo of the “OJAI STATE BANK” was added to this article by the “Ojai Valley Museum”.

MAJOR JOHN DRON WINS ROUND WITH PILLARS

The Paul Bunyan of the Ojai has done it again! This time Major John Dron has been involved with a day long tussel with the one ton pillars which have long graced the front of the former Bank of America building in downtown Ojai.

Not letting board meetings, limbs of trees, or electrical wires stand in his way Major Dron personally hired the Chuck Major construction company in his “project save the pillars,” and overcame all obstacles, personally seeing the pillars safely stored by the garden gate before retiring to begin a scale drawing, showing the way his “Classic Doric” pillars, will grace the historic “Basic Baroque” Nordhoff Memorial fountain when he undertakes to move it block by block back to its original resting place, about, 30 feet inside the park.

His plan, subject to the approval of the Libbey estate Civic association board, headed by Charles T. Butler, includes the re-activating of the fountain, with water to spew from the lion’s mouth over the existing basin and into a pool of ferns, the pillars, to be covered by wisteria will form a pergola around the fountain. He hopes to persuade the Ojai Valley Garden club to continue to care for planters in the watering trough, or street side of the fountain.

Though he has underwritten the start of the project with his own funds, he hopes Ojai Valley residents will raise the required fund through subscriptions when the board approves the project. He reminds that donations to the historic seven acre park in the heart of Ojai, are “tax deductible.”

He called the moving of the one ton pillars “nothing” compared with the project moving the fountain yet to come. “The blocks will have to come out one by one, and be numbered, in order to put back together properly.”

“Ojai State Bank” which later became the “Bank of America”.


NOTHING TO IT — Major John Dron leans triumphantly on the first of four columns, successfully moved from the old Bank of America building to its temporary storage place by the inside entrance to the Civic Park. (Staff Photo)
A pillar dangles precariously as it is lifted from its long resting place. (Staff Photo)