LOOK BACK IN OJAI with Drew Mashburn

The following article first appeared in the Spring 2019 (VOLUME 37 NUMBER 1) issue of the “Ojai Valley Guide” magazine on pages 154 and 155. The magazine is published by the “Ojai Valley News”. The article is reprinted here with their permission.

LOOK BACK IN OJAI
Want to know what it smells like under the Jack Boyd Center?
Drew Mashburn knows!
by
Drew Mashburn

I admit it! I’m addicted to coffee. I mean real coffee. Strong and black!

Several years ago, my dear wife bought my favorite coffee mug at Rains Department Store. On it there is a black-and-white photo of downtown Ojai, looking west, when Ojai was called Nordhoff. The photo is mainly of the then-new Arcade. How do I know this? Because at the far left edge of the photo is the post office bell tower as it’s being built. It has scaffolding all around it and the domed top has yet to be added. So, the photo was most likely taken in late 1916 or early 1917 because construction was completed prior to the first Ojai Day that was held April 7, 1917.

Edward Drummond Libbey of Libbey Glass had the common-looking, old, western-style downtown — with its wooden boardwalks and false fronts — made over to create the beautiful downtown architecture we have today. But, he didn’t mess with the Ojai State Bank or the Jack Boyd Memorial Club that were prominent structures on Main Street and east of his new and grand post office. I’m not sure as to why, but I suspect that they were simply too magnificent in appearance to justify changing, or he had a gut feeling that if he did, he’d get his new-to-town butt kicked by longtime Nordhoff folks who loved those old buildings.

The Ojai State Bank’s architectural style was neoclassical with tall, heavy columns that looked like Rome to me. I understand it was built of brick. After Libbey had the Arcade, Pergola and Post Office in the downtown done over in the plaster/stucco-sided Mission Revival style of his liking, the old bank must have really clashed with them in appearance. It was located where the public parking lot is at the east end of the Pergola.

The Jack Boyd Memorial Club sat on the east side of the Ojai State Bank and along Ojai Creek (aka East Barranca). It was a masculine-looking building with a dark roof of wooden shingles and its covered porches were supported by very thick wooden posts. The Craftsman Bungalow-style building was built in 1903 to be a clubhouse for men. If ol’ Edward had dared to change the appearance of this sacred-to-the-community men’s-folk clubhouse, I’m fairly sure his hide would have been stretched above it’s fireplace mantel.

But, change is inevitable. I’m not sure exactly when, but the Ojai State Bank was acquired by the Bank of America. It set up shop in the old building for a number of years and, somewhere along the line, the bank wound up owning the Jack Boyd Memorial Club. In fact, in 1956, the Bank of America decided to build a new bank on the lot occupied by the Jack Boyd Memorial Club. The bank needed to rid itself of the old clubhouse. The Lions Club offered to take it off the bank’s hands, but members changed their minds when they heard that the city of Ojai was tossing around the idea of building a community recreation center. Upon hearing this, the Lions suggested that the city take ownership of the old men’s clubhouse and have it moved to a suitable site. That happened in February 1957. It was decided the Jack Boyd Memorial Club would be moved to Sarzotti Park.

The “Jack Boyd Memorial Club” being moved from its location on the west bank of Ojai Creek (AKA: East Barranca) out onto Ojai Avenue in February 1957. The building was moved to Sarzotti Park.

I was a few months short of being 6 years old, so I wasn’t downtown to witness the Boyd Club being raised up off its foundation and onto the trailer and big truck used to move it east on Ojai Avenue. Believe it or not, Mom and Dad didn’t let me hang alone downtown at that age, but I was aware the Boyd Club was going to be headed up Park Road. We lived on East Aliso Street and our home backed up to Sarzotti Park. My neighborhood buddies and I rode our bikes down to the street and watched the crew move the old building from Ojai Avenue onto Park Road.

We probably drove the crew crazy because, as they ever so slowly moved the building, we kept circling around the truck, trailer and building to witness all we could. We were enthralled with what was going on. At one point, several of us youngsters ditched our bikes and crawled under the trailer because we wanted to see the bottom of the building. I don’t know what the heck we were thinking and some adult guy chased us out from under there. Kids!

The building was offloaded onto heavy, wooden-beam cribbing to where it sits today. I’m not positive, but I think it took two trips to get all of the building from Ojai Avenue to Sarzotti Park. I only recall the one section of building being moved. Guess what? As the building sat there for a few months being readied for lowering onto a new foundation, us kids got under it several more times! After all these years, I can still recall how it smelled. It had a strong smell of musty, old wood. Yet, it was a pleasant smell.

The building sat on that cribbing for what seemed like a lifetime to me. I could hardly wait to have it open into the new recreation center I had heard it was going to become. My buddies and I would go up there often to check on the progress of the building being permanently set in place.

One time, two of my East Aliso Street buddies (Mike Payton and Mark Kingsbury) were behind the building. I think it was Mike who climbed up a tall pine tree in the row of pines that ran from the western side of the park clear to the east side and just south of the building. Mike was throwing down pine cones to Mark and me. There was all kinds of scrap lumber scattered around the building. Mike flung down a pine cone from his lofty position. Mark and I stepped back in an attempt to catch it. I stepped onto a 16d nail that was protruding through a piece of scrap wood. When I lifted up my foot, the wood lifted up off the ground as well. It really freaked me out! I really buried that big ol’ nail into my heel. I think it went clear up to my tailbone. All I could think about was what Mom had told me about stepping on a a rusty nail . . . that being, you can get lockjaw from it! I pulled the nail and chunk of wood loose, then hightailed it for home at close to the speed of sound. Mark could usually run as fast as me, but he was no match for my speeding frame that day. I think I must have left a sonic boom.

I believe it was about April that the building was set onto its new foundation, then opened for public use that summer. My puncture wound had healed by that time and I didn’t get lockjaw because Mom made me get a dang tetanus shot. So, I was one of the first of the neighborhood kids to get to use the new recreation center, which became known as the Boyd Club, now the Boyd Center.

Oh, I almost forgot. Unfortunately, the Ojai State Bank building was demolished in 1960. I know that its big Roman-looking columns were saved, but I have been unable to locate them.

By the way, in case any of you know of a coffee mug for sale with the Ojai State Bank and the Jack Boyd Memorial Club on it, please let me know where my wife might purchase it for me.

Drew Mashburn is a volunteer at the Ojai Valley Museum.

Police mull action to ‘clean up’ park

The following article first appeared in the Sunday, June 4, 1967 edition of the “Ojai Valley News” on the front page. It is reprinted here with their permission

Hippie set
Police mull action to ‘clean up’ park

Ojai police, nettled by a series of provocative acts attributed to members of the Hippie set, were mulling retaliatory action Friday.

Chief James D. Alcorn said his “phone has been ringing off the hook,” with calls from citizens who are plainly disturbed by what they claim are impudent reflections on recent narcotics violations.

Most recent incident was the posting of a sign near the arches fronting Civic Park, proclaiming “Things go better with Pot.” Pot is a slang word for marijuana.

Alcorn said private citizens have also complained about the posting of a routed redwood sign with the capital letters, O-V-D-A, which reportedly stand for “Ojai Valley Drug Addicts.”

He said some of the Hippies hold the sign on their laps as they sit on the wall fronting the park.

Civic Park is a private park, administered by Ojai Civic Association. Alcorn said trustees of the association have been exploring ways of combating the situation, but thus far have failed to find any answers.

In recent discussion of the problem by the Ojai City Council, City Attorney Duane Lyders warned the council that restrictive actions would raise questions of free speech and assembly – thorny issues of civil rights.

As a private park, however, authorities have indicated there might be ways of cleaning up the situation.

The Hippie set has used the front area of the park as a rallying point for some time,, according to Alcorn, but the situation apparently worsened earlier this year when Hippies from coastal cities staged the first of two “Love-ins.”

The first event came off without incident. Barefoot youths with flowers behind their ears strummed on guitars, ate picnic lunches and proclaimed “Love” to all who would listen. It was similar to events conducted quietly in Los Angeles, San Francisco and most recently in an eastern city.

The second “Love-in”, however, had slightly different overtones. Police arrested two visitors on charges of possessing marijuana. One was a girl from Glendale, the other a boy from Los Angeles.

Observers, however, noted that some of the visitors were not so young and some were estimated to be only juveniles who supported the bizarre costumes and deportment of Hippies years older.

Alcorn said the situation was a delicate one. “We have to be careful how we handle this thing,” he warned, “publicity is what most of these people want.”

He said the most his officers could do at present was to see that no laws are broken.

Recreational Facilities

The following article was in the “Ojai Valley – California” brochure in about April of 1958. It was published by the Ojai Valley Chamber of Commerce. The author is unknown.

No publication date is printed on or in this brochure, but "APR 21 1958" was stamped on the front cover by the VENTURA COUNTY FREE LIBRARY. This brochure is presently in the Ojai Valley Museum's research library.
No publication date is printed on or in this brochure, but “APR 21 1958” was stamped on the front cover by the VENTURA COUNTY FREE LIBRARY. This brochure is in the Ojai Valley Museum’s research library.

Recreational Facilities

One of the outstanding highlights of the year is the annual Ojai Valley Tennis Tournament, sponsored by the Ojai Valley Tennis Association. Housing the players and staffing the event is a community project of major proportions. One of the oldest tournaments in the United States to be held continuously in the same location, its 50th anniversary was celebrated in 1957.

Scene at the 57th annual Tennis Tournament...note capacity crowd.
Scene at the 57th annual Tennis Tournament…note capacity crowd.

Included in the five to six hundred who participate each year are prominent families of the tennis world, with third and fourth generations still returning to play in The Ojai. Among those families are such famous names as Sutton, Bundy, Sinsabaugh, Vines, Connolley, Falkenberg, Browne, Kramer, Brough, Flam, Cheney, Fleitz, Betz, Olmeda, Franks, and Douglas.

The competition covers all age groups, with twenty contests being played simultaneously on the many private, school and public courts throughout the Valley.

The theme of the tournament is “Sportsmanship First.” It is the only large tournament in which an eleven-year-old is on an equal footing with a Davis Cup player; a school girl may play before the same gallery on the same No. 1 Court just vacated by a Wimbledon champion.

The Ojai Valley Trails Association, Inc., an organization of nearly five hundred members, is dedicated primarily to the development and maintenance of the network of trails in the mountain ranges surrounding the Valley. The promotion of pleasure riding, horse shows, camping and hiking is a secondary aim of the association.

A public gymkhana and practice field on a five-acre site on Bryant Street was donated through a lease agreement by the Richfield Oil Company and has been developed as a practice field for gymkhana events and as an arena for public riding events.

Gymkhana! Speed, beautiful horses, superb horsemanship.
Gymkhana! Speed, beautiful horses, superb horsemanship.

During the year the Association puts on at least one official outing a month, including moonlights rides, steak barbecues and brunch and breakfast rides. Twice a year the riders take a two-day overnight camp trip into the mountains.

The Association sponsors two horse shows a year. Other annual events are the gymkhanas sponsored, twice a year by the Thacher School, and the shows conducted by the Skirt and Quirt Riding Group, an organization of women and girls.

The Ojai Valley Summer Recreation Program includes an intensive swimming program led by the American Red Cross. This activity is held every year at the Matilija Pool with four of five hundred children receiving instruction. Private swimming instruction is offered each year of the Ojai Valley School and the Ojai Valley Inn. There are public swimming pools at Wheeler Hot Springs, Matilija and Ojala – all located in the canyon area.

All Ojai children learn to swim.
All Ojai children learn to swim.

The recently organized Ojai Police Boys’ Club, with a gymnasium on South Montgomery Street, features boxing, wrestling, weight-lifting and pool. Baseball, basketball and football are being added to the program. One of the novel features of the program is the appearance of top figures in the Southern California boxing and wrestling world at many of the matches conducted in the Boys’ Club. This has been possible because Soper’s Training Camp in Matilija Canyon is the training base for many of these notables.

The boys of the Valley are also provided an exceptional baseball program under the Ojai Valley Recreation Council. There are fourteen teams in three classes –- Farm, Twilight and Pony Leagues. They average more than fifteen boys per team, ranging in age from nine to fourteen, in the latter two groups. The Farm teams comprise more than one hundred boys under the age of nine.

More than 55 men work with these boys. Each team gets over 300 man hours of supervision per week. The schedule for each league totals 18 games. Uniforms and equipment are furnished by merchants of the Valley.

Three diamonds –- in Oak View, Meiners Oaks and Ojai –- are in use constantly from May to early September. The annual season winds up with three All-Star games and contests played with teams from other cities from up and down the West Coast.

Each year has seen more and more boys participating in this program. Wives, who have to serve supper two hours late three days a week, not only have become reconciled to it but are rabid fans for their offspring’s team.

In the Ojai Civic Center Park are excellent tennis courts open to the public and maintained by the Ojai Valley Tennis Club. This facility provides a beautiful open-air bowl with stage and seating accommodations for over 700 persons.

In the canyon area, on Highway 399, fishermen find Matilija Lake and Dam, a camping and fishing paradise, with an excellent stock of trout, bass, bluegill and catfish. Rowboats are permitted and available for rent. The lake and camp area covers approximately two hundred acres, with barbecue pits, tables, restrooms, trailer accommodations and campsites.

Matilija Lake and a quiet fishing scene. No motor boats or outboards here to frighten the fish.
Matilija Lake and a quiet fishing scene. No motor boats or outboards here to frighten the fish.

At the base of Matilija Dam is Matilija Hot Springs. Here are found hot sulphur baths, a pool, barbecue pits, tables and a wonderful trout stream reserved for children under 16 years of age.

Camp Comfort, located on Creek Road, offers about 40 acres of park area with forty barbecue pits, three hundred tables, a pavilion, volleyball courts, horseshoes, swings and slides, restrooms, concession stand and game rentals.

Within the city limits of Ojai is Sarzotti Park, jointly run by the city and county, with barbecue pits, tables, restrooms, swings and playground equipment and a baseball diamond. The Jack Boyd Club, located on this 11-acre park, is a community center for all age groups, community and service organizations. This club is supervised by a full-time director who operates a year-round recreation program supported by funds provided for in the City budget.

In the upper valley, on highway 150, overlooking the Ojai, is Dennison Park with camping, trailer parking, barbecue pits, tables, playground equipment, etc.

The northern and eastern boundaries of the Valley join the 284,744 acres of Los Padres National Forest. Approximately 67,000 acres are open to deer hunting and fishing streams extend over about 150 miles.

A hunter overlooks the rugged valley of the Sespe River. Behind that range of mountains beyond the river is Ojai.
A hunter overlooks the rugged valley of the Sespe River. Behind that range of mountains beyond the river is Ojai.

There are closed areas, due to fire hazards, during the dry season and the Sespe Wildlife Area remains a closed area at all times. This is perhaps the largest remaining nesting area of the condor of North America. Latest count reveals some 50 to 60 birds in the Whiteacre Peak Area.

Camp grounds within the forest include Wheeler Gorge (70 camp units) and Lion Canyon (20 units), where water is good at all times; Sespe Gorge (12 units), Sandstone, Pine Mt. Area (6 and 17 units). Throughout the forest, where trails have been developed, are at least 64 camp grounds suitable for trail camps in open season.

On each side of the Valley are privately owned trout farms.

Available to members and guest of the Ojai Valley Inn and Country Club is one of the best 18-hole golf courses in the country.

Mountain views rival the golf at Ojai Valley Inn & Country Club. The course's back nine is world famous.
Mountain views rival the golf at Ojai Valley Inn & Country Club. The course’s back nine is world famous.

Many auditoriums and halls are used for parties, dances and varied program activities, including the school auditoriums, the Ojai Valley Grange Hall, American Legion Hall, Ojai Art Center Gallery, Woman’s Clubhouse and the Masonic Hall.

Many quiet road and country lanes provide safety for the cyclist or the person who prefers to just stroll in an uncrowded rural community.