This article was run in the “Ojai Valley News” on page A3 of the Wednesday, April 19, 1978 edition. The author is unknown.
Five local parks men to be honored for valor
Five Ojai Valley men employed by the Ventura County Parks Department will be honored at the Peace Officers Association of Ventura County’s 5th annual Medal of Valor Awards Dinner April 21. Thomas [Drew] Mashburn, Larry Bintz, Mike Payton, Rip Reed and Bob Bordasch will each receive the Citizen Award for Distinguished Service for their rescue of U.S. Forest Service officer Jim Schellenger from Matilija Canyon floodwaters in February.
Schellenger was hiking along Matilija Canyon Road just past the campground taking photographs of flood damage. He safely crossed a section of road that had been washed out, traversing a narrow ledge about 3 feet wide by 10 feet long. When he returned, the ledge was gone, leaving a breech of about eight feet. To one side was a sheer rock wall; to the other, flooded Matilija Creek.
SCHELLENGER TRIED to scale the wall to cross. A rock he used as a handgrip gave way, and he fell into the river, where he was immediately swept downstream about 40 yards under water. When he finally struggled to the surface, he saw a drain pipe jutting from the river bank, grabbed it and climbed atop. Still in the river channel, however, he could not climb up the bank.
When he called for help, the five park men came to his rescue by forming a human chain to pull him to safety.
The Peace Officers’ Association, which is comprised of officers from all federal, state and local law enforcement agencies of the county, sponsor the Medal of Valor Awards Dinner to recognize citizens and police officers who have risked their lives to save a life or apprehend a dangerous criminal. The dinner will be held at the Oxnard Community Center, and tickets can be purchased through police or sheriff’s departments.
The following article first appeared in the December 31, 1969 edition of “The Ojai Valley News” on Page D-6. The author is unknown.
Are we ever going to do anything about it?
(This is the second half of an editorial which appeared in the October 15, 1969 edition of the Novato Advance, a weekly newspaper serving North Marin county, 25 miles north of San Francisco. The editorial was sparked by a 1,800 pad trailer park seeking approval in the area.)
* * *
City councils and planning commissions, by the character of the people who traditionally are elected or appointed to such bodies, are powerless to lead citizenry to any alternate way of life. As part of the system, they represent the values of the system as merciless and destructive as they are. With an occasional exception, they act as undertakers of the communities they govern, burying without ceremony those amenities which made the community in its early life history bearable and worth preserving.
Planning commissioners are incapable of planning — planning the community in terms of the wants and needs of its inhabitants rather than along the lines demanded by construction restrictions, by conventional standards, by expected norms, and accepted planning principles, hopelessly out of date by the time they are enunciated.
The only substantial function planning commissions and council play is to upgrade standards, and set up hearing processes which a developer if he is patient enough will in time outlast and breach. The automobile has led to basic changes in our civilization, most of them disagreeable. It has brought about the deterioration of our inner cities; led to the scatterization of suburbia and to the fragmentation of the suburban community so a sense of community is barely realizable.
The planners go merrily on catering to the automobile, raising the standards of streets, the parking lots which gobble up so much valuable downtown ground, allowing uses catering to an automobile clientele rather than pedestrians. The Novato Square, a key block in downtown Novato for creating a viable central district, has been sacrificed for the pleasure of the public traveling through Novato and patronizing drive-in hamburger joints and restaurants, instead of being preserved for businesses enhancing the community instincts of the residents here.
Planning commissions raise standards for hamburger joints, so that they not longer may be joints, but the basic purpose remains the same, converting downtown property for uses that are basically non-community. Higher grading standards are set, but in any critical case, which may involve community “progress” the bars are let down.
Planning commissions also set higher standards for mobile home parks, so that they are not longer trailer parks but mobile home parks. City ordinances have been rewritten to assertedly have greater control. The ultimate questions are never discussed in a study of mobile home parks, only the question of what standards should apply. The standards have been raised, so what? Five years from now they will be out of date. What about the standards of the community? Have these been set to determine if proposed development is inimical or friendly to our way of life here?
Goals are always expressed by planners, particularly by professional staff members, in the most acceptable of banal terms, representing standards in American culture which often have been in fact discarded or bear little relation to reality.
Residents here and elsewhere are often accused of being apathetic and unconcerned with civic issues. It is ironic to us when homeowners turn out in great numbers either in person or through representatives they have elected to serve them, their responses are so casually ignored.
More concern is spent on the wishes of the developers, on the inherent aspects of the plan, on the happiness of the future residents of the mobile home park, than on the present wishes and future goals of those actually involved in the day-to-day life of the community.
If certain technical conditions are satisfied, anything goes. Planners only see their roles as deciding how many mobile home pads should be permitted per acre rather than deciding whether a mobile home park is desirable in the first place.
Apparently it is more important for a plan to satisfy certain objective planning principles in order to be accepted than be acceptable to those whose community is being invaded by an alien and unwelcome forrce.
As we watch our council, planning commission and other local agencies at work and see them so often ignoring the lessons of the past, we increasingly tend to believe that we are losing the capacity to govern ourselves and solve the problems of the day, not only here but throughout the land. Who are we governing for anyway? Novato is being shaped by those who happen to want to risk capital here. Is this the only determinant that should be considered?
The following article first appeared in the SPRING 2021 (VOLUME 39 NUMBER 2) issue of “Ojai MAGAZINE” on pages 122-123. The magazine was published by the “OJAI VALLEY NEWS”. It is reprinted here with their permission.
LOOK BACK IN OJAI with Drew Mashburn Contributed on behalf of the Ojai Valley Museum
OJAI VALLEY Memorable Trees
TARZAN had nothin’ on me and my buddies!
In about 1966, Mark Madsen — Viking descent, not raised by apes, but kinda ape-ish — and I decided we’d build a tree fort. Mark’s parents had moved to Modesto, so Mark moved in with me to finish out the school year at Matilija Junior High School.
We knew of a huge Coastal Live Oak that was on a hillside in the old English Walnut groves that bordered the upper end of Mirror Lake and overlooked the railroad (now, the “Ojai Valley Trail”) in Mira Monte. The grand old oak’s limbs reached the ground clear around its large drip line. It was perfect for slipping under to hide because nobody could see you. This made it a great place to construct our private tree fort. We let a few of our buds know about the fort and had them give us a hand in erecting it. Not just because we liked the guys, but because we needed to rob the wood of their dads. We’d already stolen all of my dad’s extra wood and most of his nails.
I’ll bet that tree was about 60 feet high. I don’t recall how we did it, but we hung a thick, manila bull rope from about 30 feet up or better. We’d swing from one thick limb to about 3/4’s of the way across the tree’s canopy, then latch onto a smaller rope and swing a few feet further and set onto another large limb. We found an inch-thick steel cable, then attached it way up high in the oak. We stretched it out beyond the tree’s outermost limbs, then secured it way high in a Southern California black walnut tree. We even put a pulley on the cable, but we could only hang onto the pulley and ride it about halfway from one tree to the other because the cable sagged in the middle. That cable was just too dang heavy for us to get taut enough. Sometimes, we’d sling a leg over the cable and shimmy under it from one tree to the other.
Our tree fort’s floor was about 15 feet above the ground level. High enough to keep the enemies at bay. We had a bunch of dirt clod, rock and sling-shot fights with Scotty Alderson , Russell Glen and a few other dudes that were jealous of our nesting spot. Eddie Kneeland took a sling-shotted marble in the back. His mom never let him visit again. It’s good nobody got killed or lost an eye, but I’d never give up those fun times.
Unfortunately, the beautiful old oak and tree fort were razed so the Mirror Lake tract homes could be built. Fortunately, tree protection laws have been established to prevent further needless destruction of our heritage trees.
Before Mark’s parents hightailed it to Modesto, they lived in a cool old Craftsman home on N. Signal Street in Ojai. Their front yard was enclosed by many tall bushes. I have no idea what type of bushes, but a couple of them yielded tons of small, firm berries. These berries made great ammo for our small, lightweight sling shots that cost us about a dime each at the TG&Y Store. We’d load up all of our pockets with as many berries as we could stuff in them, then we’d hoof it down to the northwest corner of Ojai Avenue and N. Signal Street. (This was pre-automated traffic signal days.) On the corner was a tall tree. It was just inside the tall stucco wall of The Oaks Hotel’s property. We’d climb up onto the top of the wall and perch there until the coast was clear, then clamber up into the tree where the thick foliage concealed us. Out came our slingshots and berries. We never shot any people or animals, but man, did we splatter bunches of vehicles as they proceeded through the intersection! To this day, I believe Mark was the instigator.
I attended kindergarten in 1956-57 in Mrs. Sutherland’s class at Ojai Elementary School. Mom and Dad used to let me walk to school and home which was on E. Aliso street and backed up to Sarzotti Park. Why do I mention this? Well, I don’t recall climbing any trees before my kindergarten days. The kindergarten building was behind Ojai Elementary School (AKA: Nordhoff Grammar School) which faces Ojai Avenue. In front of the school are several really old pepper trees that line the sidewalk that parallels Ojai Avenue. I don’t think there’s a single one of them that I failed to scale their gnarly old trunks. They are some of my favorite trees in the entire Ojai Valley.
But, there are many other trees that I have found or find to be special and/or memorable to me in our lovely valley like: The huge old Coastal Live Oak in my front yard that I recently found a barely decipherable ’49 (year?) carved into its bent trunk; the monstrous old oak in my buddy’s (Danny Nickerson’s) Park Road home that had a rope swing on which we’d swing for hours on end; the leaning pepper tree that was in front of the Hitching Post hamburger joint (now, Seafresh Restaurant) and next to the old hitching post where we saw horses tied in the shade; the white bark birch trees my Dad planted on his well-manicured dichondra lawn on E. Aliso Street; the old English Walnut trees at my parents S. Rice Road home that Dad named the “Poor Man’s Ponderosa”; “Sparrow Hawk Tree” near “Crack-In-The-Rock” between old man Mercer’s citrus orchard and Shelf Road. Martin Ford introduced me to this area where we hunted with our wooden “Wham-O” slingshots; Ojai’s “Bicentennial Tree” on Soule Park Golf Course that used to be a stagecoach stop and where I’d cool down the three summers (’67, ’68 and ’69) I worked on the maintenance crew during high school; the huge Modesto Ash at my S. Padre Juan home that I built horseshoe pits under and played many a great game with my friends and family; the enormous Modesto Ash I had to have removed at my present home because it was lifting the home’s foundation. That sucker cost me $2K to remove, but worse yet, because it was so big, I had to pull a $100 building permit and provide an arborist’s report; and the list could go on and on.
We had and have so many wonderful trees in the Ojai Valley. Please….respect and honor them. Some of them will leave you with some very special memories!
The following article first appeared in the Wednesday, December 24, 1969 edition of “The Ojai Valley News” on the front page. It is reprinted here with their permission.
A review of the Sixties — Part 2 How the Ojai valley has changed
(How has Ojai valley changed in the last decade? Reporter Gary Hachadourian scanned the Ojai Valley News front pages — over 1,000 of them — between 1960 and 1970 to come up with some answers. This is the second in a series of eight articles.) by Gary Hachadourian
The urbanization of the Ojai Valley in the Sixties was the result of a combination of forces. True, the City of Ojai took many steps which determined, partially, the direction it wanted urbanization to take. But the community was playing a losing game. Growth was inevitable; growth was occurring.
Urbanization was forced in other ways. The City of Ojai — as most California cities — was living under an economic system that forced it to accept and even welcome development of an admittedly questionable variety in order to raise tax money to meet constantly increasing operating costs. Ojai was forced to develop in order to keep from “going broke.” (This particular “force” will be a subject in a later article.)
The changing makeup of the community was another force. A town is what its people are. A community can be no greater than the men and citizens who control its destiny.
The personality of the valley is kaleidoscopic. Its elemental beauty and peace draws all types. We’ll attempt a description. Nothing specific. Just the spirit of the place, for it simultaneously invited urbanization and helped to determine the direction it would take.
Moon nest here
First, we are a self-conscious community. We are landlocked by mountains on three sides. We are endlessly conscious that we live in a very beautiful place — the “center of the universe.” The Chumash Indians also felt that way, for in their language “Ojai” means that the moon nests here. Many residents feel that the sun does. also.
The news stories of the Sixties are filled with congratulatory quotations which say, in essence: “aren’t we wonderful to deserve all this.” There was something aristocratic in our deference to outsiders.
The community’s intimate relationship with nature produced a stern protectionist attitude. The love felt for the valley’s natural beauty was real, because most Ojaians were recently transplanted from city-like environments. They knew that soul-saving open spaces were fast disappearing and deserved to be preserved. They knew their valley was vulnerable to the insistent demands of developers who think of land as money.
Most Ojaians of the Sixties seemed well aware that the valley, lying close to the industrial and commercial centers of the county, is a natural target for extensive — and intensive — residential development. Thus, the community exhibited on occasion an isolationist sentiment. As one letter to the editor said: “let’s pound stakes across the highway at the Y.”
But the community as a whole was prepared to compromise . . . and channel the growth. (Valleyites are also red-blooded capitalists. What else should they be? In this country that’s how money is made and in many cases that’s how they earned the living that brought them a home and acreage with a view of the mountains.)
But, there was a difference between capitalism of the Philistines and the capitalism of Ojaians. The Philistines wanted property because it developed into money, while Ojaians wanted money in order to support property. That’s why seldom do the people who live here treat their land badly.
All this leads to an inescapable and stifling contradiction. It preys on the mind: How can Ojaians deny rights to outsiders that they grant to themselves? How can they think of themselves as the owners of their particular parcel while at the same time acting as overseers of the rest?
How, though, if land is currency, can you rightfully keep outsiders out of the market? This contradiction, in spite of all the restrictive planning, was not answered in the Sixties.
You can’t blame the oldtimers. They came to the valley by choice, for what it offered them. Those who would come in the future would do so more out of necessity, needing space and bringing their conveniences with them. So, if land is currency, there was no way to keep the newcomers out. Restriction planning was not enough.
The area has another characteristic that could be self-defeating. Because of the delight residents feel in living here, Ojaians tend to view themselves as the vanguard contingent of a new urban civilization, a community charged with the heavy responsibility of setting an example of how to live in the suburbs.
They may be right, too. But overconfidence can be self-defeating. Overconfidence can mean a dropping of one’s guard — and the community did that on occasion in the Sixties. Thus the apathy on many occasions when the troops failed to march in the Battle to Preserve Ojai.
These characteristics had a great bearing on what happened in the valley from 1960 to 1970. In fact, they largely determined it.
(The next article places in perspective the events in the urbanization of Ojai Valley during the past 10 years.)
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.
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?
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
* 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.
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.
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,” 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.”
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.
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. 
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. 
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.
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. 
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.”
‘Awha’y’ (aw-ha-ee) was the name of a Chumash village in the Upper Ojai.
Research and linguistic analysis has shown that ‘Awha’y means moon, probably in the cyclical sense.
With the Spanish, the Chumash name ‘Awah’y became “Ojay.” Later, with the American settlers, the Spanish name was written “Ojai.”
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.
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.
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.”
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 following article first appeared inthe April 12, 1972 edition of the “Ojai Valley News” on page D6. It is reprinted here with their permission.
Editorial by Fred Volz
Rare conversation with Krishnamurtiabout the Ojai Valley
Last week our long-standing request to interview Jiddu Krishnamurti, world renowned philosopher, was granted. We spent almost two hours taping this interview, mostly about the Ojai Valley. Krishnamurti is now in New York City to give two talks at Carneigie Hall, before returning to England.
Krishnamurti is a slight, aethetic man with golden skin and large, soft brown eyes. He speaks with an Oxford accent in muted tones, pausing occasionally to collect his words.
He was born in 1895 in Madras, India, the eighth child of a Brahmin family. At 16, with his brother Nityananda, he was brought to England where he was privately educated. He first came here with his brother in the ‘20’s, and we begin our interview with that.
The conversation is almost an exact replica of our tape recording.
Sir, I feel that the people here would appreciate your views about the valley. May I ask you some questions about Ojai?
Volz—You came here many years ago and you’ve stayed here from time to time. What are your personal feelings about the valley?
K—I came here first with my brother in 1922. We lived here. We came from India via Australia and lived in a little cottage. And the contrast was enormous. We came in July. The dryness, the heat, the dust. But we liked it enormously. It was the mountains. I’ve been practically all over those mountains, over all these trails. I’ve been up to Topa Topa, up to Chief. And I stayed here during the war . . . and off and on . . . treating this area as kind of my home. I also go to India, that is also my home. I stay in England—but this is one of the most beautiful valleys I’ve seen. I’ve been to Kashmir, and I’ve been to Switzerland, and parts of Europe . . . Pyrenees and various mountains in India. This has an extraordinary charm that the others do not have. It’s extraordinarily quiet at night. Wild. And I used to see deer up there . . . bear. Once, I walked behind a bobcat for several miles. The wind was blowing from him to me. So he didn’t smell me at all. Several miles . . . he was rubbing himself and enjoying himself. I don’t know whether they exist now.
V—Rare. Only very occasionally do I see one . . . just a flash.
K—And I see raccoons, foxes, and I’ve seen several times big brown bear. Marvelous. And somehow I like this place enormously. But I see it gradually being spoiled. I hear they want to put a highway through here. That’s the end of this valley. And they want to develop parts of it . . . a tourist resort and all that. I suppose this is what is really happening all over the world. When there’s a beautiful spot, they want to destroy it . . . exploit it touristically for economic purposes. I know a place in India, a beautiful place, but it’s spoiled now by overpopulation. Get rich quick. Recently, I stayed as a guest in Malibu and they’re destroying that whole hill. Terrible.
V—Well, you’ve answered the first three questions I have. I was going to say you saw Ojai then . . . and you see what’s happening now. I was also going to ask you what exceptional qualities Ojai had in the twenties and what it does not have now.
K—This East end has still got it. Because I can go up one of those hills and not see anyone. In those days I would go . . . oh . . . miles and miles . . . but now it’s gradually being pushed out. It will be destroyed. Unless you all stand firm.
V—Do you see any change in the way it’s going now. Or is gradually the land being used up?
K—I’m afraid so.
V—You don’t see a change. Is there anything we could do about this?
K—Ah, I suppose . . . I don’t know why the government . . . or people congregate . . . and say this is one place in California that should be kept the way it was. Or it will be completely wiped out.
V—As a result of economic motives?
K—The way we are going now in America . . . and the rest of the world . . . in 70 years through overpopulation man will destroy himself.
V—There have been encouraging things happening here recently. For example, the Meditation Group—the private schools . . . Happy Valley, Ojai Valley, and Villanova. So there has been a move in that direction. People coming here to build schools and have them expand. Do you see anything happening here along those lines?
K—Let me tell you about Happy Valley. We came here in 1922. In 1927, Dr. Besant . . . the Happy Valley Foundation . . . she started it . . . she bought land, mortgages and all that. She bought it for one purpose . . . I don’t want to be personal . . . that the teachings that K was giving would bring around a different group of people. Happy Valley land was to be used for that. And now it’s gone into other people’s hands . . . unfortunately. But schools here, if there are a great many schools here. What would happen? Can they maintain themselves? Private schools.
V—They come here for the very reason you and I come here. A beautiful, quiet, peaceful place . . . conducive to study.
K—I believe private schools are suffering a great deal. You see I used to talk practically every year at the other end (near Krotona Hill at the Oak Grove). Many people came here . . . gathered and had camps and all that. It’s all different since then. I’ve not been here practically since 1965. But I could come every year. Things have changed. Can’t serious people come here and maintain this atmosphere and this kind of beauty?
V—I think a lot of us are asking that question. I’m not so sure it’s good for the economy of the valley to have more houses, more people. The very reasons we all came here will have been destroyed.
K—How can we prevent the others from destroying it?
V—I think we’ll just have to say no. That the government will have to say no. That the valley should stay in orchards. In open space. I thought of one time writing to our congressman and proposing this as a national park . . . like Yosemite, like Yellowstone.
K—Will they allow it?
V—Well, the list of proposed national parks is long now. A very beautiful place north of San Francisco in Marin County is the newest national park . . . a strip of original seashore . . . in native grasses and sand. It has been preserved in the hands of one family ever since the Spaniards were there. This is the newest national park. Pt. Reyes National Park. We had our hand in proposing that. Now . . . in the Napa Valley . . . with its vineyards . . . they have made that into what we call a national monument which prevents any change to that valley. Not a park, but a national monument. Yet, it’s not as beautiful as this.
K—We have a school in England in Hampshire. There’s the start of a building there . . . the K Foundation owns it. You can’t build new houses . . . you can only improve or pull down old houses. You have to build on the same foundation. And you have to get permission to build from the planning committee—anything at all. We were going to build for 40 people. It took six months to get permission. It’s only an hour from London by train, but it’s a beautiful place and they said let’s not go and destroy it.
V—I think that’s what happened initially to our great national parks. Yosemite . . . John Muir in particular . . . said we’re not going to destroy this. This has to be kept. They brought United States officials there. And they agreed.
K—Can’t this be done here?
V—One of the problems — I was just thinking about this — it’s an exceptional day outside. If you live here long enough, you begin to think the whole world is like this. And it’s not. Locals don’t understand . . .
K—Can’t Ojai be maintained, sir. Through influence . . . through the machinery of government?
V—Let me say, I’m much more optimistic now, than I was last year for the Ojai Valley. Finally, the people who are in charge are getting the message from all of us down below, that we don’t want this to change, we don’t want more shopping centers and tract houses. We want to keep what’s left. What do you think that the citizens here can do?
K—Sir, do you know what is happening in the world? The citizens are responsible for destroying the world. Hmm? I used to go to India, except this winter. Every winter I spent 5-6 months . . . now it’s reduced to 3 months. You have no idea how it’s being destroyed. In Bombay, people are sleeping on pavements. Thousands of them. And under the tree they sleep. And the villages are being destroyed . . . 10 million of them. And the death rate is not so great as the birth rate. Citizens . . . human beings are responsible for this. Why can’t they stop it? Here in this valley . . . live all of you . . . for God’s sake you preserve this place. One place that’s not destroyed. Do you think there are serious people here? Serious in the sense . . . not all economically well established . . . but have roots in the valley . . . serious-minded people who say let’s maintain this atmosphere…this quietness, this beauty, this sense of . . . otherness. Do you know what I mean? Not at all the wrangles of the Catholic, Protestant, Communist, Socialist. Do you think there are such people here?
V—Yes, I think so. Many people of every political and religious affiliation feel exactly the way we do. Recently, a Committee to Preserve the Ojai was formed. They have four-five hundred members and they’re seeking to influence the kind of people who get elected. Working to defeat unneeded shopping centers. They’re working in a very practical way. And their numbers are growing. More people feel sympathy for them . . . and give them money. So, it’s happening here . . . but it has to happen fast. It can’t wait. There has to be a change in thinking. We all have to realize that open space out there is valuable. The most valuable thing we have. Of course, I write about this all the time to the people of Ojai. I don’t know how much attention they pay to it. Nothing much seems to happen. But I like you saying that.
K—You know, sir, in India, in Greece, and in other civilizations, when they found a beautiful spot like this they put a temple. Not a Christian temple or a Buddhist temple, but a temple. A thing that was beautiful and remained sacred because of the beauty of the place. I go to a school in south India. I spend three weeks talking to children. As you enter there, on a hill is a temple. And the feeling you have is of a sacred place . . . be quiet, be nice, be gentle, be pleasant to your neighbor, don’t kill, don’t hurt . . . all that atmosphere makes for beauty.
V—Do you think Americans are different from other people?
K—They’re much more energetic. They’re pleasure seekers. They’re fleetingly serious. I never have seen such race as this that want to . . . they can’t sit quietly. Go to the lakes, go off on guided hikes . . . oh . . . they can’t be by themselves. One year I was walking right up there on your mountains. I was standing looking at the beauty of the land . . . I could even see the ocean . . . A man came down on horseback . . . I was standing very still . . . He said, ‘what the hell are you standing so still for?’ . . . I said, ‘isn’t it a beautiful day?’ He looked at me and said, ‘oh, you’re the Christ child.’ (Much laughter here).
V— That was many years ago, wasn’t it?
K—Yes. I wonder, sir, you know Ojai. Can people treat this valley as a sacred place . . . not as a commercial center? A sacred place becomes beautiful . . . I hope you understand. People will come here because it’s quiet, restful, thoughtful, serious.
V—You don’t see any formal change . . . like, people coming here to form a religious center or a spiritual center. In the practical sense of the word.
K—I would . . . you see, sir, in India we have a place like this. A school . . . but people who come there are serious people. Treat it . . . I hate to use the word . . . as a sacred place. Unless you have this spot where people really can be thoughtful and serious you are going to destroy the world. You’ve heard of the river Ganges in India. We have a school on the banks of it, and it is very old. I found a statue by digging in the garden which is 6th century. Before that, I found something from B.C. So there’s a tremendous sense of atmosphere. I was talking the other day to Frank Waters and he was saying the American Indians felt the land was sacred and the sky was sacred. So keep it clean, keep it unpolluted. Here there isn’t that attitude . . . that feeling for the earth.
V—Yes, we’re supposed to conquer nature.
K—That’s it . . .
V—It says so in the Bible.
K—I know. In the East, there is a respect for the earth, respect for animals . . . not kill them. Here, you must always use it, build a factory, tear it to pieces. There’s that enormous vitality. Every time I used to come back to Ojai, before 1950, I say, “what a marvelous place!” But now I don’t come because it’s marvelous.
V—It would seem to me it would help much . . . if you would come here more often.
K—Oh yes. I’m coming . . . I didn’t come because the people I was working with didn’t want me to come here.
V—When you come, will you be staying here for a long time?
K—Oh, yes . . .
V—Well, this place will become what we think it should become. If we think positively about it, if we think this is the way the Ojai Valley should be, it will be that way.
K—That’s right. You know, Ojai Valley, is known all over the world. Because of the K Foundation. There’s a K foundation in England, in South America, and in India. People want to come here. That’s why that Happy Valley was bought. By Theosophist, by a group of people of whom I was the head. It was for that. Now it is . . .
V—It’s still there, the land, isn’t it?
K—But they’re different . . . and not interested.
V—I’m pleased to hear that you will be back.
V—Do you plan to give up your place in Switzerland?
K—No, sir. There will be a gathering there. For about 3 weeks from all over Europe. And we’ll go on with that. And we’ll go on with Ojai, on with India. I used to go to Paris, Amsterdam, to various towns, but I’ll be glad to give this up.
V—Sounds like you’re more active than ever.
K—Let me tell you a true story, sir. In India, one time I was doing Yoga exercise and I see a shadow in the window. There is a big black wild monkey. I come quite close and it stretches out its hand. And I hold its hand. And its hand was rough and he wants to come inside. I said, ‘I don’t have time today . . . but come and see me sometime.’
V—Well, I understand you rarely grant interviews . . . on behalf of myself and the people of the Ojai Valley, I thank you for your time.
The following article was first run in THE OJAI newspaper on PAGE TWELVE in the November 19, 1948 edition. “THE OJAI” is now the “Ojai Valley News”. The article is reprinted here with their permission. The author is unknown. Photos added by the “Ojai Valley Museum”.
Arlou Wells and Harold Mashburn Married at Santa Barbara Church ______
Mr. and Mrs. Warren E. Wells this week announced the marriage of their daughter, Arlou, to Harold C. Mashburn of Meiners Oaks. The couple exchanged their vows Sunday in the Little Chapel of Santa Barbara.
The altar was banked with white gladioli and yellow chrysanthemums. White tapers surrounded the altar. The double-ring ceremony was read by the Rev. Paul H. Gammons of El Montecito Presbyterian church. The bride was given away by her father. She was attired in a period style white slipper satin gown with a yoke of Valencia lace, tight fitted bodice, and a full skirt, shirred twice at the hemline, revealing a ruffled lace petticoat. The full satin skirt swept into a chapel train.
The deep yoke and sleeves were outlined with imported lace ruffling. Her finger-tip veil fell in tiers from a coronet of seed pearls and a single strand of pearls adorned the high neckline of her gown. She carried an arrangement of bouvardia blossoms over a white Bible, belonging to her mother, which carried out the “something old, something new” theme and carried a sixpence in her shoe.
Maid of honor was Barbara Campbell of Los Angeles, who wore a rose taffeta gown. Her head dress was a bandeau of rose ribbon and seed pearls. She carried a colonial nosegay of pink and white flowers.
Tom Bennett of Meiners Oaks served as best man and Jack Cruickshank of Ventura as usher. A program of nuptial organ music was played before the ceremony. Mrs. Wells, mother of the bride, chose a charcoal gray faille dress with turquoise accessories and a corsage of yellow rosebuds. Mrs. Mashburn, mother of the bridegroom, wore a hunter’s green crepe dress with cocoa brown accessories and a Talisman rose corsage.
Following the ceremony, Mr. and Mrs. Wells entertained with a reception at the Fremont room, adjoining the chapel. The bride’s table was laid with a linen cloth and centered with a three-tiered wedding cake, topped with miniature silver wedding bells, surrounded at the base with white gladioli and yellow chrysanthemums.
Assisting at the bride’s table was Joan Mulligan. Betty Jean Mashburn, sister of the bridegroom, was in charge of the guest book.
Following the reception, the couple left for a wedding trip through the Northwest. For travel, the bride wore a blue wool dressmaker’s suit and brown accessories. Upon their return they will be at home at 555 1/2 South Ventura street, Ojai. The bride is a graduate of Nordhoff Union high school, 1948 class. The bridegroom was graduated from Nordhoff in 1943 and served for three and a half years in the U. S. navy. He is employed by the Shell Oil company, Ventura.
The following article appeared in VOLUME 38 NUMBER 1/SPRING 2020 issue of “Ojai Valley Guide” on page 159. This magazine was published by the “Ojai Valley News”. The article is reprinted here with their permission.
LOOK BACK IN OJAI with Drew Mashburn Contributed on behalf of the Ojai Valley Museum
ROUTE 66 WAS A COOL OLD HIGHWAY. MY PARENTS TOOK THREE OF US KIDS ON 66 IN 1965 TO VISIT DAD’S SIDE OF THE FAMILY IN MISSOURI AND MOM’S SIDE OF THE FAMILY IN INDIANA. WE WERE ON THIS VACATION FOR ABOUT A MONTH.
For a vacation like that, you have to have some reliable wheels. I accompanied my dad to the auto dealership in Ojai to bring home the 1961 Chevrolet Apache half-ton pickup with a 283-cubic-inch engine and three-on-the-three manual transmission he had ordered. I was only 9 years old, but remember the experience like it was only yesterday.
The Tom Mahon Chevrolet dealership is where Jersey Mike’s is now. There are all these big windows at this sandwich shop because it used to be the showroom floor for displaying the new-model vehicles.
Jersey Mike’s is in a long, narrow building that also houses St. Thomas Aquinas Thrift Shop, She Seeks Nomad, Cuts & Curls, The Ojai Donut Shoppe, Kristy’s Nails, and La Fuente of Ojai. All these businesses are in what used to be the mechanic’s bays with really tall, roll-up doors.
Dad and I were led out of the office by the car salesman to the parking lot adjacent to the bays. A few other employees gathered near us. All the bay doors were closed. We waited with bated breath while the salesman had us look at one of the doors. It slowly rose and there was Dad’s brand-spankin’-new pickup. A gent was in it. He drove it slowly out to the parking lot. The keys were handed to Dad as the salesman and others congratulated him. It was a BIG DEAL back in those days! I swear, it was like a grand opening of a new store or something. I’m surprised they didn’t have some uplifting, symphonic music blaring. But, all I could think was something like, “Dad, with all the colors available, you chose coral?” . . . which was basically pink.
Dad never sold that pickup, though he did paint it a number of years later. At one time it was white, then dark blue, then primer gray. When it was younger, he called it Betsy. At the end, he called it Old Gray.
Dad passed in 1998. Mom had me donate the pickup to a charity. It was like cutting off an arm as Old Gray was towed away.