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.

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