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Sunday, January 27, 2013

The old "octagon" house

     This old house had been built in 1876 and was considered a rarity, owing to its octagonal shape, when the above article was written (not sure when—perhaps the 60s). Pa was aware of its existence, and, as I recall, he mentioned to me that it was about to be torn down—this must have been at about 1975 or so.
     So I (he and I?) went down to check it out. Not sure if we took any pictures, but I haven't found any. The article says that the house was on Villa Park Road. I think that's what Katella changes into as it winds through Villa Park.
     A few years ago, I remembered the incident and so I dug up some of these photos, including the clip above.

Today, I found these further photographs of the house at an online octagon house registry:

From the Scrapbook of Joyce Riley, a onetime resident of the home:

At the end of an article....

Chemeketa Park/Holy City, c. May 1974

      Here we have a group of photos dated May, 1974, though, as usual, it is possible that the photos were taken somewhat earlier. It would have been near the end of my first year at UCI. Ron would have been nearing his eighth birthday; Ray would have been thirteen. Annie, of course, would have been about twenty.
     If indeed they are a group, these photos seem to memorialize a family trip up to the Bay Area to visit Annie, who was by then living with her husband Dave Kook. (At the time, they lived in Chemeketa Park, which is just south of Los Gatos. Los Gatos is in the mountains south/southwest of San Jose.)

     I do not recall anything about these old buildings. No doubt someone will.

March 9, 2013:
     Annie told me that these "ghost town" photos are of Holy City, CA. What follows is the Wikipedia entry for Holy City:

     Holy City is an unincorporated community in Santa Clara County, California. Once a Utopian community, it is arguably now a ghost town. The town is located in the Santa Cruz Mountains, off State Route 17 on Old Santa Cruz Highway, at 37°09′25″N 121°58′44″W
 . . . 
     Holy City was founded in 1919 by cult-leader William E. Riker [February 17, 1873 – December 3, 1969] and about thirty of his followers. Calling his ideology "The Perfect Christian Divine Way", Riker preached celibacy, temperance, white supremacy, and segregation of the races and sexes. 
     Riker bought the 142 acres … that became Holy City. Here he offered tourist services including a restaurant and gas station. 
     The town was incorporated in 1926. A radio station offering a variety of programming was built in 1924 and went on the air on July 7 of that year under the call letters KFQU. The station went off the air in December 1931, and had its license renewal denied on January 11, 1932, due to "irregularities." 
     The religious community had no church; services were held in Riker's home. 
     Holy City expanded to three hundred residents during the 1930s. 
     The town began to decline in the 1940s. With the construction of Highway 17, Holy City was no longer on the main route through the mountains. With the end of the Depression, many of Riker's followers were able to find work elsewhere. 
     Riker was arrested in 1942 for supporting Adolf Hitler, though he was later acquitted. The town was disincorporated in 1959, and Riker lost control of the property. Several of the buildings mysteriously burned down shortly afterwards.

Annie & Dave's home was in Chemeketa Park, between Lexington Hills and Highway 17 (see).
Holy City is a few miles to the south (east of the 17)

ANNIE: The photo of the family on a tractor was located above Portola Valley, Santa Cruz Mountains, not Chemaketa Park. That happens to be George Bower's beloved tractor he named "Cleo". Cleo was a retrofit Frankenstein of a tractor that smoked and groaned its way through Geroge's 42 acres. David and I lived on George's Christmas Tree Farm; working on the farm on weekends and making sure everything was trimmed and watered. As I recall, one rainy day I tried to make it down the mountain after a freak rain storm. I had a couple of finals to take at San Jose State University. I slowly and cautiously crept down the adobe road, when i realized that I was doomed. My VW was sliding down the road under its own weight on the slicker-than-snot adobe. The ground was so slick I was actually caught in this drainage rut, going down-down-down the road. Then I hit the dreaded "hairpin". I ended up going straight into this ravine, 30-40 feet into a ditch full of rattlesnakes and poison ivy. These were that days before cell phones, and the nearest neighbor was a good 1/2 mile away. I sat there and thought how my hideous nightmares of missing a final came true, and how my phobic hatred/fear of snakes made me plug every hole in that VW's floorboard. I sat there half naked to make this come to pass. I shivered and studied the terrain realizing that I would have to either be clothed from head to foot and in "billy-goat style" claw my way up the side to the Simonic Indian Trail. After some thought, I thought that was not possible due to the slippery adobe. After a bit, I heard the squeaks and groans of what sounded like "Cleo". Oddly George took the day off and came up to the "Farm". He saw the top of my little blue bug poking out of the poison oak. He had cut a path to reach the little bug, threw me a chain and pulled me out. I make it to the finals. Yes, I was late for the first final, but the professor had mercy. He just stared at me as I told him my story covered in mud and mumbled something about how "creative" I was. George and his "Cleo" remain as my personal heros to this day!

 I'm fairly certain this shot was taken from within the family car, a black 1965 Lincoln Continental.

 Annie in her kitchen, I believe.

 Annie: just south of Carmel, heading towards Big Sur.

     Annie: The green cabin was a 16 x 16 foot cabin Dave Kook and I lived in, located on the George Bower Christmas Tree Farm off of Alpine Road, above Portola Valley California. We were the care-takers of the Christmas Tree Farm, working with George and his delightful sons on weekends. The road going through it was referred to as the Simonic (Sp?) Trail, apparently an old Indian trail. This trail connected with Skyline Blvd., where the Fogarty Winery is located. Dave and I got our water off of a small spring that trickled out of the ground, where the Winery is located. Amazingly, an old red ram water pump was the force that brought it all to the surface. Rumor had it that it was placed there many many many years before.

 ANNIE: These "Friends" were Elfieda and Carl Stoll . Their home was located in the Santa Cruz Mountains in Loma Prieta, Ca (epicenter of the famous Loma Prieta Earthquake), located south/west of Los Gatos in the Santa Cruz Mountains.

"You're On Fire!", he screamed

Roy and Ray
     In July of 1978, I was still living at home (in Trabuco Canyon) and I was by then enrolled in the Philosophy graduate program at UCI. Raymond must've been 17 years old—one more year of high school left.
     As I recall, that summer, Raymond had purchased a used motorcycle. I found him working on it, trying to make it run. At some point, he got it to run all right. I suspect that that's me jogging behind Ray, who is on the bike. (Could it be Ron?)
     The pic is a detail of this shot below, which shows that we're on the road that now connects my place with the main house. We're on the part of the road/driveway just over the place where the "shop" would eventually be built. (In the photo, there appear to be a garden where the shop would go.)
     The place looked pretty dry and sparse in those days. Note the trees planted along the road.

     At some point, we were on the other end of the property, on Lambrose (a dirt road then), near what is today the property's current "Bauers' Canyon" entrance (that "entrance" did exist then, but it ended after one or two hundred feet). Raymond decided to give me a turn to ride his bike, so I got on it and road up the dirt road, toward the steep entrance that we used in those days. 
     When I got far enough to reach the end of our driveway (the steep driveway that is nowadays gated and locked), I heard Raymond screaming something. I later learned that he was screaming, "You're on fire! You're on fire!"
     His hollering got my attention: I looked down and saw flames. I immediately stopped, dropped the bike on its side, and stood back. Naturally, this caused the gas tank to leak. The flames spread, pretty soon to the large tree there along the creek. I ran up the driveway to get to a phone.
     Meanwhile, of course, Ma was a hundred yards up the hill, in the house. She heard Raymond's scream--she could tell what he was saying. Imagine! She managed to call the fire department, which soon came out and doused the flames. By then, much of the tree had burned, but not much else. We were very lucky.

     That wasn't the only time trouble occurred at or near the old driveway. One time, Ma and Annie were sitting in our old blue Chevy pickup down that steep driveway. (It was a real heap.) They were pretty far up, but the car was pointed down. It was loaded up with branches or something—it was very heavy. For some reason, the brakes gave out, and the two of 'em went speeding straight down that driveway, across Lambrose, and into the creek.
     As I recall, nobody was hurt. Not badly, anyway. Not by Bauer standards. This would have been more or less in the late 70s.
     The picture above shows Atilla the Pup and our old '71 VW van. The date on the slide indicates February, 1978, but, in those days, we often waited a bit before processing film, so the image might be from months earlier.
     Here's what the house looked like in those days:

     This was long before my own place, the rental (near the entrance), and the "shop" were built and before the roads were paved.
     These two photos (above and below) are dated January 1978, but, again, the pictures could have been taken months earlier.

Photo taken from atop the ridge, showing the same stretch of driveway.

     This last one is dated April 1978. It appears to be the family, on a picnic, perhaps somewhere up Trabuco Canyon (proper). That's Ron and Ma at center. I do believe that's Ray's dog Paco way to the left (Ildy and Attilla are the other two dogs). Ray's to the right and I'm at left. Pa's likely taking the photo. This could be several years later, I guess, but this photo was found among the others.
     I do believe I got to know Kathie by then. She attended my graduation and, as I recall, came home with us for a hike up the canyon. (It was her first year in grad school.)

     This is what El Toro Rd. looked like back then (this appears to be the corner of Rockfield and El Toro, near the 5). January, 1977

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Never Ending Song of Love

     For a time, in the early 70s, this song was "the" Bauer family song. Anyone remember that?
     Re the band:

From AllMusic

     The husband-and-wife duo of Delaney & Bonnie Bramlett created some of the most distinctive and unique music of the early '70s, but their alchemical sound – equal parts blue-eyed soul, blues, country, and gospel – was often marginalized by the attention instead paid to the contributions of their famous "friends," including rock icons like Eric Clapton, Duane Allman and George Harrison.
. . .
     Now [1969] dubbed Delaney & Bonnie & Friends, the group briefly joined up with John Lennon's Plastic Ono Band and toured Europe before returning stateside in 1970. When Clapton dropped out to begin working on his debut solo album – a record that introduced a bluesy, raw vocal style clearly indebted to Delaney – audience interest began to dissipate. Worse, Leon Russell lured away [bassist Carl] Radle and [drummer Jim] Keltner to join Joe Cocker's Mad Dogs & Englishmen tour, forcing the couple to cancel a planned tour of their own.
     Nevertheless, the backing band assembled for 1970's Tom Dowd-produced To Bonnie from Delaney was first-rate, including guitarist Duane Allman, bassist Jerry Scheff, pianist Jim Dickinson [see Alex Chilton], and saxophonist King Curtis.
     1971's Motel Shot was another all-star affair, highlighted by Delaney & Bonnie's biggest U.S. pop hit, "Never Ending Song of Love." The following year's D & B Together yielded another Top 20 hit, a reading of Dave Mason's "Only You Know and I Know." However, the LP was Delaney & Bonnie's last – when their marriage fell apart, so did their musical collaboration….


Saturday, January 12, 2013

Spuddy, cat

     In the late 80s, Kathie and I decided to take the plunge—to buy a home. We really wanted to live in an older neighborhood, preferably in Orange's Old Towne area. We loved that part of town.
     Well, to make a long story short, we purchased a wonderful smallish two-story home two blocks from Hart Park, not far from the fabulous downtown area. The "folk Victorian" was built in 1903. Across the street, there stood a more impressive structure, built in 1886 or so.

     Before that, we lived in an apartment in the Anaheim Hills area (near the railroad tracks, along Imperial Highway), where we adopted the marvelous Katy, our first cat. Soon thereafter, we adopted the assertive Buster (Christie), and then Niki, a very neurotic and retiring beast.
     In about 1990, Kathie found a scraggly kitten dashing across a busy street in Redlands. She swooped 'im up and brought him home. As I recall, he was in bad shape, with a kind of crust surrounding his eyes. We kept him in the garage—away from the other beasts—and soon brought 'im to the vet. Kathie really babied him out there in that garage, and he soon got lots better, as these photos reveal.

     We had decided, early on, that we could not take on another cat—we may have added Sunny and Suzie Q to our brood by then (not sure)—and so we already had five or six cats, a motley crew of somewhat incompatible characters. And so the idea was to bring the little, white kitten back to good health and then to find him a new home.
     But the little guy was uncommonly sweet and endearing. Dang!
     I think that, early on, we called him Snowy, but that name gave way to "Spuddy," which really stuck. The name seemed to fit his personality. The fellow was very playful and energetic—a real athlete, inclined randomly to jump straight up into the air, arms and legs akimbo, performing loops and whatnot, and then to land in an explosion of movement in some odd direction. He was a Warner Bros. cartoon cat. Impossible! Hilarious!
     But he also seemed always to be superficially fearful of large or unfamiliar things—including me. He would always maintain that wary/hysterical aspect, freezing with eyes wide open as I entered the room—then running away, unreasonably, into some corner or up the stairs. Increasingly, that behavior seemed more comical and endearing than troubling. It was an expression of his childish and goofy but lovable personality.
     He had, however, no fear at all of Kathie, his "mom." With her, all was well.

     Most of these pictures are from the period before we gave Spuddy to the drunken lady. As you can see, he was quite the character, from Day One.

     The boy had some seriously blue eyes. And if you held him, he'd become as limp as a noodle. We called him the "Noodleman."

     Spuddy was a lover, not a fighter. Here we see him cuddling with Suzie, the world's most peevish cat.

     Observe his wariness—at me, the guy with the dastardly camera. I never gave him a reason to be fearful of me. Far from it. I think it was simply my size that caused him to view me as a threat. I always loved the little guy, but from afar, really, since he tended to stay away from me. Kathie and the Little Man, however, were inseparable.

     Through a friend (Jim), we contacted a woman who lived in a place atop a hill above Laguna Beach. She seemed very nice. We even brought Spuddy to her place once, a couple of weeks prior to the big day, to reduce the little guy's shock upon handing him over to a new mistress.
     The day finally came, and so we left Spuddy at his new home. Everything seemed fine. We were sad to let him go, but we knew it was the right thing to do, and so we headed home.
     A few hours later (it was a Saturday), I got a phone call—it was the woman, who was roaringly drunk. She called to express her appreciation, I think, but she made little sense. I decided to head back to Laguna Beach and to do whatever was necessary to get Spuddy back. I seem to recall promising Kathie that I'd get him back, no matter what.

     When I got to the woman's house, she was drunk, but wary, and so it took considerable blathering to get through the door. Once inside, I found that she had left her balcony door open—and the balcony, on the second floor of a complex, was plainly unsafe for a kitten. So, clearly, the woman was not a fit "mom" to our little guy. So I set about to do what was necessary.
     It took some doing, but after an hour or two, the woman, who was still drunk, let down her guard, and I took the opportunity to grab Spuddy and head out the door. She was pretty pissed, too. She yelled about calling the cops, etc. But I was determined to rescue the little man. I drove straight home and reunited the Spudster with her "mom," who was extremely relieved to find that her baby was safe and sound.
     The next day, the woman called, tearfully pleading for another chance. Nope. Turns out Jim had met her at an AA meeting and they became AA buddies. This misstep obliterated her recent successes staying off booze. In her mind, getting another chance with Spuddy was the key to her bouncing back on the wagon, having briefly, if disastrously, fallen off. But I was not about to allow Spuddy to be a chip in some bad bet on this woman's sobriety.

     Well, there was no question after all that: Spuddy was ours for good. 
     Spuddy would remain the special "baby" cat in his abbreviated life (he later died under unfortunate circumstances after a bout with cancer; at one point, a front leg was amputated, but he seemed not to notice!).  
     He remained a perpetually immature but wonderful boy—always amusing and endearing. Whenever I saw him, he had that comically concerned or perturbed look on his face. But, in truth, he led an endlessly carefree and happy existence, and his expressions to the contrary were plainly his peculiar and endearing way of taking it all in, leaving all observers with a smile or a laugh.
     I remember him fondly and often.