Tag Archives: ca

nitwit house

In Cambria , California , there is an  odd house upon a hill near town . It’s called Nitt Witt Ridge
Morro Bay Oct. '13 167

Arthur Beal bought the hillside in 1928 and began building his house . Beal was the garbage collector in Cambria in the 1940s and 1950s and used some of the collection to construct the house on  Nitt Witt Ridge .

Morro Bay Oct. '13 169

Cambria is a beautiful little town of about 6000 people  on the central coast of California . Median income per household is about $70,000+   and the median house price is about $700,000 . Average rents run above $ 1000 a month .  It’s a very touristy town . Lots of hotels on the beach  and antique shops in town .

I asked three locals for directions to the Nitt Witt house . I knew that it is  close to town ; just up a hill . None of them knew just where it was . One guy pointed me in the opposite direction , although he knew , at least , that  it was on a hill . Wrong hill .  Another said he and his wife had recently moved to Cambria , only a few months ago , and they didn’t know many of the local sites . No , they weren’t just putting us on . I think it’s typical of locals everywhere often not  knowing the local places of interest . They’re not tourists , after all  ; they live there . Why should they pay attention to tourist spots ?

But Ada and I  wandered around hilly tree -lined streets for a few minutes until we found it .

Morro Bay Oct. '13 175

Creativity . Ain’t it great ! Someone with an idea who makes it happen ! Beal was called Der Tinkerpaw .
Morro Bay Oct. '13 168The Nitt Witt House is for sale . It could be yours !

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VinFiz

On April 3, 1912 , Cal Rogers was flying his aeroplane over Long Beach , CA . Crowds on the beach were watching . Cal flew right into a flock of birds and , as a result , crashed into the ocean and died . His was the first aircraft downed by a flock of birds .orville wright in flight

1911 cal rogers on phoneCal Rogers crash

Of course , CA wasn’t CA back then . 1912 was too long ago . People , at least in this country , still spoke not only in complete sentences but also in complete words . CA was California back then .

Then it became Cal . That got a little confusing since one of our great state universities was also called Cal . I have a nephew who attends Cal . They call it  ” Berkeley” now , I think . I guess you could call it  ” UCB ” , too . I haven’t heard that one much . Maybe never heard that one .(But , of course , I’m a southern Cal guy .)  Not like “UCSB” , and ” UCLA “. Those are all over the place .

I never herd [ intentional misspelling ] anyone talking about UCLA as ” The University of California at Los Angeles ” . Well , I’ve heard that once or twice in my lifetime , but I can’t remember when or where or why or who -( m ). Doesn’t matter , does it ?  Anyhow , I am an alum- (nae ? na ? nus ? ) of LA , so’s I should know  [ Na ! Nobody says  “LA” when they mean UCLA . Leastways , not in my neck of the woods . Could be they’re saying it behind my back , I suppose .I just put that in there to see if your [ intentional misspelling ] still paying attention . (Attention spans have gone down in this country , you know , from an average 16 seconds to an average 12 seconds . )[ type of script unintentional ].phone old

I should know grammar ’cause I took lots and lots of English classes at  LA  UCLA . I imagine they must still be teaching English classes over there . I haven’t been back lately to check . Probably their [ i. m. ] all on computer now , though  . Well , maybe not computers , as such . Maybe it’s all on Smart Phone , or iPhone , or clone phone , or whatever they got nowadays . I’m a little behind on the new tech stuff . I’m just now learning how to add friends’ names to the contact list on my flip phone . Keep learning ! They say it’s important !phone old (2)

Going back a bit :

one : Where you going to school ?

two :Berkeley . 

one :Wow ! Tough to get in there these days .

two : I guess . 

NOT :

one : Where you going to school ?

two : LA

one : Wow ………

Well, back to Cal Rogers and Long Beach , California , and pigeons . Maybe sea gulls .  After California became Cal it quickly switched over  to Calif . It was kind of a perpetual question : Cal – if . If only ! No one  [ that I know of ] said  “Calif.” It was strictly a written thing . Businesses did business in Calif . People at the other end of cards and letters lived in Calif.oil field 1930 playa del rey

Calif. was a pretty good place to live [That’s ! a generalization . Kind of depended on who you were , when it comes right down to it , wouldn’t you think  ! ]  during the Calif. days . Lots of water , anyway , and green lawns for kids to play on . Little League Baseball . Pancake breakfasts . Prop planes scooting people around and letting them out on the tarmac . Disneyland . Davy Crockett hats . Smog.  Restricted neighborhoods, etc.   Etc. [  see Kevin Starr volumes ]

I’ve been working with old post cards over at the Arcadia History Museum . It’s no longer the History Museum , though . It’s the Arcadia Museum of Cultural Heritage . The thoughtful people in the city bureaucracy got rid of the history moniker . Too threatening , I guess . Not inclusive enough . ” Heritage ” sounds more  suave and  debonair , I’m sure .

Anyhow .

Some of the cards in the collection have  Calif . , some have  CA , and some have California addresses . Often that’s about the only clue I have to the date of the card .( If the ” Heritage” museum has a carbon-dating machine , I have found it yet .)  And , of course , there’s the zip code /or not , or  the  ” L.A. 46 ” , or ” Los Angeles 6 ” , and the occasional phone numbers , eg. ” Gladstone 4117 ” . Not to mention the stamps on some of the cards , too , as clues : the one cent stamps ; 2 cents foreign .

So , you may wonder , what does all of this have to do with Cal Rogers ? (or , with anything ?) Who remembers Carl Rogers , anyway ! Brought down by a flock of birds . All I can say is : Let that be a lesson to you !  (Or , maybe you weren’t paying attention ? )

Some heritage history : William Randolph Hearst offered a $50,000 prize to anyone who could fly across the country in less that thirty days . Cal Rogers took the challenge . He bought a Wright Bros. plane , took 90 minutes of instruction from Orville , and took off from New York . Cal landed in Pasadena 49 days later . No prize money , too late ;  but , he gave a demonstration over Long Beach for the interested crowds a few days later . His plane he called Vin Fiz , which was the name of a soft drink made by his main financial supporter of the cross-country flight.poster-vinfiz

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VinFiz

On April 3, 1912 , Cal Rogers was flying his aeroplane over Long Beach , CA . Crowds on the beach were watching . Cal flew right into a flock of birds and , as a result , crashed into the ocean and died . His was the first aircraft downed by a flock of birds .orville wright in flight

1911 cal rogers on phoneCal Rogers crash

Of course , CA wasn’t CA back then . 1912 was too long ago . People , at least in this country , still spoke not only in complete sentences but also in complete words . CA was California back then .

Then it became Cal . That got a little confusing since one of our great state universities was also called Cal . I have a nephew who attends Cal . They call it  ” Berkeley” now , I think . I guess you could call it  ” UCB ” , too . I haven’t heard that one much . Maybe never heard that one .(But , of course , I’m a southern Cal guy .)  Not like “UCSB” , and ” UCLA “. Those are all over the place .

I never herd [ intentional misspelling ] anyone talking about UCLA as ” The University of California at Los Angeles ” . Well , I’ve heard that once or twice in my lifetime , but I can’t remember when or where or why or who -( m ). Doesn’t matter , does it ?  Anyhow , I am an alum- (nae ? na ? nus ? ) of LA , so’s I should know  [ Na ! Nobody says  “LA” when they mean UCLA . Leastways , not in my neck of the woods . Could be they’re saying it behind my back , I suppose .I just put that in there to see if your [ intentional misspelling ] still paying attention . (Attention spans have gone down in this country , you know , from an average 16 seconds to an average 12 seconds . )[ type of script unintentional ].phone old

I should know grammar ’cause I took lots and lots of English classes at  LA  UCLA . I imagine they must still be teaching English classes over there . I haven’t been back lately to check . Probably their [ i. m. ] all on computer now , though  . Well , maybe not computers , as such . Maybe it’s all on Smart Phone , or iPhone , or clone phone , or whatever they got nowadays . I’m a little behind on the new tech stuff . I’m just now learning how to add friends’ names to the contact list on my flip phone . Keep learning ! They say it’s important !phone old (2)

Going back a bit :

one : Where you going to school ?

two :Berkeley . 

one :Wow ! Tough to get in there these days .

two : I guess . 

NOT :

one : Where you going to school ?

two : LA

one : Wow ………

Well, back to Cal Rogers and Long Beach , California , and pigeons . Maybe sea gulls .  After California became Cal it quickly switched over  to Calif . It was kind of a perpetual question : Cal – if . If only ! No one  [ that I know of ] said  “Calif.” It was strictly a written thing . Businesses did business in Calif . People at the other end of cards and letters lived in Calif.oil field 1930 playa del rey

Calif. was a pretty good place to live [That’s ! a generalization . Kind of depended on who you were , when it comes right down to it , wouldn’t you think  ! ]  during the Calif. days . Lots of water , anyway , and green lawns for kids to play on . Little League Baseball . Pancake breakfasts . Prop planes scooting people around and letting them out on the tarmac . Disneyland . Davy Crockett hats . Smog.  Restricted neighborhoods, etc.   Etc. [  see Kevin Starr volumes ]

I’ve been working with old post cards over at the Arcadia History Museum . It’s no longer the History Museum , though . It’s the Arcadia Museum of Cultural Heritage . The thoughtful people in the city bureaucracy got rid of the history moniker . Too threatening , I guess . Not inclusive enough . ” Heritage ” sounds more  suave and  debonair , I’m sure .

Anyhow .

Some of the cards in the collection have  Calif . , some have  CA , and some have California addresses . Often that’s about the only clue I have to the date of the card .( If the ” Heritage” museum has a carbon-dating machine , I have found it yet .)  And , of course , there’s the zip code /or not , or  the  ” L.A. 46 ” , or ” Los Angeles 6 ” , and the occasional phone numbers , eg. ” Gladstone 4117 ” . Not to mention the stamps on some of the cards , too , as clues : the one cent stamps ; 2 cents foreign .

So , you may wonder , what does all of this have to do with Cal Rogers ? (or , with anything ?) Who remembers Carl Rogers , anyway ! Brought down by a flock of birds . All I can say is : Let that be a lesson to you !  (Or , maybe you weren’t paying attention ? )

Some heritage history : William Randolph Hearst offered a $50,000 prize to anyone who could fly across the country in less that thirty days . Cal Rogers took the challenge . He bought a Wright Bros. plane , took 90 minutes of instruction from Orville , and took off from New York . Cal landed in Pasadena 49 days later . No prize money , too late ;  but , he gave a demonstration over Long Beach for the interested crowds a few days later . His plane he called Vin Fiz , which was the name of a soft drink made by his main financial supporter of the cross-country flight.poster-vinfiz

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christmas horns

L.A. 1930 fig.toward temple 1937One of my roommates ,way back when I was a college student ,  had an old  Volkswagon bus which I took out once into the wilds of Westwood . Westwood , where UCLA is , at that time  was an active place  . My roommate lent me his bus but warned me not to hit the horn .

I don’t hit the horn as a rule , but some jerk cut me off there in Westwood and , not thinking , I hit the horn . The horn beeped . That surprised me because I knew that his horn didn’t work . But then , immediately , the engine quit . The horn worked and the engine immediately quit . What ? And I was stuck .

” Make sure you don’t hit the horn ,” Don had said . ” It doesn’t work anyway , but it’s connected to the engine . Just don’t hit the horn. ”

” No , sure , no problem ,”  I said .   I was thinking : horn connected to the engine ? Huh ? You got to be kidding !  But , whatever  , I don’t ride the horn anyway .

” Don’t eat that apple , you two , ” comes to mind from my old bible studies . And don’t honk that horn .teens and car 1950s

I had to call my roommate ,  Don ,  from a phone booth .  The old VW bus  had stalled somewhere along a busy Westwood  street . I was ready to  answer his question about hitting the horn .  ”  Yeah , I know you told me not to . ”   Fait accompli . What’a ya gonna do !

Cars used to have real horns . Nowadays they have squeaky little beep beep horns like that little VW bus horn . I had to beep a guy today . Maybe that’s what triggered this post , these random memories .  The little beeps of modern horns won’t intimidate anyone . They’re like woosie little pleading squeaks : Excuse me , sir . Please sir , could you consider getting  out of the way ?  If you don’t mind . Beep.

Horns have lost their virility . Watered -down their identity . Weakened . Changed their role in society . Toned down ; softened ; become non-aggressive . Are roads  kinder now , though ,  more peaceful places as a result ?  Maybe so . Maybe not . You be the judge .

My 94 year old neighbor , another  Don , came up with a business idea a few weeks ago . It was on his mind for a couple of weeks . ” Horns .”  I felt like he wanted me to pick up the standard and run with it . After all , he’s ninety-four . He pitched the idea to me with hopeful old eyes that seemed to say :   How fast could I run ? I’m 94 . You’ll have to do it , Dan .

” Horns  , Don ? ” , I responded . Don explained his idea :  With more and  more cars on the roads the more times you’ll be cut off by reckless drivers , he said . A driver’s frustrations are bound to increase . The more need arises , then , for a loud  assertive horn , he said . There’s a market out there , he said .

Yeah .  Don doesn’t even drive anymore , thank God .

I had to honk at a guy today in Hollywood . He wouldn’t go out into the intersection as he waited to make his left turn . He hung way back behind the white line and left all that intersection space vacant . Our two cars could have fit out there , ready for the oncoming traffic to clear . If the light changed to yellow , we’d be able to make the turn . I beeped him . In Hollywood the traffic is horrendous and the left turn arrows don’t last long . You’ve got to squeeze out into that intersection just to get a turn in if you don’t want to be sitting  there waiting the rest of your life to make your turn .

So here’s a guy inexplicably waiting behind the white line . And I’m behind him . I’ll be here forever . Even his car won’t be able to turn by the time the light changes . What’s he thinking !

I honked my little weakling beepy horn  and the guy moved forward a little , enough for me to nose out into the intersection , too . What , he wanted  to be alone on the turn ?

Maybe my old neighbor Don is right , in  a way . Sometimes a real loud and  aggressive  horn would come in handy .  Shouldn’t we have loud horns ? Does that come under the Second Amendment rights somehow ? Or , is it First Amendment ? Eighth  ?

People told me after the Westwood experience all those many years ago that , yeah , Volkswagons are like that . Their horns are connected weirdly to their engines .  Well , no one told me that before I honked . But , I admit , I had been warned not to honk .

A lot of things in life don’t make a lot of sense , if you ask me .

Los Angeles folks tend not to honk much .  Not , anyway , since  car horns have been so emasculated , feminized , wimpisized , and cars have been stuck with horns that are mere satirical shadows of what they might have been , of what they once were . Ah , but things change !

That old Volkswagon horn was wimpy , too , now that I think of it . I suppose it wasn’t much of a loss , after all , when that little beepy horn  wouldn’t work  . I wish I had taken my roommate’s admonition more to heart , though .  Maybe I could have kept myself from hitting the horn .  After all , it  took me a few extra hours to get home when the engine quit . Well , we all have our little mini Adam and Eve moments , I guess, when we’re thrown out of Paradise for some spontaneousy stupid move . Eh ?santa in desert

Anyway , it’s Christmas . I’ve never heard  that Santa’s sleigh has a horn . No need , no doubt . He comes upon no intersections crammed with questionable drivers making bonehead moves . Santa doesn’t have to wait at busy intersections , watching traffic , waiting . He’d never get all the presents delivered if he did . I’m pretty sure that Santa never  suffers  such  frustrations as  dealing with lousy drivers on traffic-clogged roadways  or worries about  the histories and mysteries of car horns  . That’s , probably , one of the things that makes him jolly .

Happy Christmas horns , everyone ! ( French horns, and cornets , and little toy toot toots…….)Cabin Dec. 2014 angelus oaks 059

 

 

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take a hike

Don and Eric and I were up around Twain Hart , California , one weekend when I was in college . I think that was the name of the place . We were hiking in the woods instead of studying . Don’s a radiologist now and Eric works up in Silicon Valley on  satellite technology , so I suppose they managed to sneak some studying in somewhere . Anyway………

We were sort of last minute campers . Someone would get back from class and suggest that we all climb into Don’s VW bus and head up to the mountains for the weekend .  We would scour the kitchen of the apartment and collect whatever food we could carry that might sustain us in the far off woods for a couple of days . Real backpackers coming down the mountain would sometimes strike up conversations with us , ask us about our provisions , feel sorry for us when they saw our pathetic rations  and give us the remains of their food supplies . That happened more than once . Anyway……..Mountain Oct.2014 022

We hiked past a campsite once . Three sleeping bags , mess kits , firewood set and ready for a campfire , but no one around . We stopped , just for a minute , to look , and just at that moment a forest ranger popped out from behind a tree .

” Can’t camp here ,” he said . ” No open fires allowed anywhere .”  We informed him that the three sleeping bags , etc. did not belong to the three of us . You can imagine the look we got .  So we trudged on along the trail as he stood there watching .

We had a good hike . We swam in a cold pool beneath a huge  boulder further up the mountain . My foot hit something odd and I pulled up an ice cold sixpack of beer . Some poor slob had evidently left it there to cool and lost it . Finders keepers losers weepers ? We might have waited awhile to see if anyone would show up . I can’t remember . It was a fabulous surprise and pleasure  to drink cool beer on a hot day up there on that mountain , though . I remember that . Anyway……..

On the way down the trail we came upon the three-person campsite again .  The late afternoon sun was waning a bit . The Park Service guy was still there , or there again .  He had his hand on his sidearm this time . You should have seen the look on his face now . Well , it did look suspicious ,being three of everything and three of us there . Again .

” What’s under the blanket ? ” he said . There was a blanket spread over a tree stump . It was one of those small olive-colored coarse army blankets . We told him we didn’t know . Wasn’t our stuff . We had no idea .

He walked over to the blanket , took hold of it , and with one swift hand movement flung the blanket  up and away . And he jumped . I think he jumped three feet . His hand gripped his weapon as he turned toward the three of us . We slowly put our arms into the evening air to show him that we didn’t deserve to be shot right then and there .

Oh , I didn’t mention the axe that was lying against the tree stump near the blanket . There was an axe there leaning against the stump . It seemed to fit with the camping gear until the ranger flung the blanket away . On the top of the stump was a bloody  head , wild hair , blood dripping from the severed neck , wild opened frightened eyes .  It was a rubber Halloween mask , but it took a few panicky seconds for this realization to sink in .

We didn’t get shot , which , as Eric might have said ,  is one good thing .  The ranger has probably told this story a few times over the years  , too ,  I imagine . I wonder if those other three  guys ever showed up .

Happy Halloween !Mountain Oct.2014 008

 

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plstr

1927 chevy coupeI’ve been investigating the 1927 murder of the Arcadia policeman which occurred about two blocks from here . I found him listed as “plstr” in the old city directory from 1925 . I thought “plstr” meant ” plasterer”. The old directories listed occupations .

It seemed reasonable to assume that “plstr” meant plasterer . There was a civilian friend of his in the police car when the murder occurred . When I found that the friend was a house painter I thought that I was on to something .

But , of course , he wasn’t a plasterer in 1925 . He had been a policeman for six years . Somehow  ” plstr” means , obviously , policeman . I have to ask a few more questions .

What I am  finding is that some  guy knows a fact or two about the murder ; that woman can tell me a bit ;  the police department has this information ; the museum has a record of that ; the courts’  archive has this ;  the building department can tell me that ; but nobody has collected all the information together , sorted it ,  pasted it all together yet .

I’m trying to find what buildings were on the street in 1927 . The three boys convicted of the crime were planning to rob ” a barbeque place ” nearby .  The Arcadia Building Department had all of their files digitalized , but , evidently , not all of them survived the transfer from paper . If there was a building on the corner where the murder took place there is no record of it in the city file any more .

I think , guessing , that the plan was to rob Slemon’s Orange Wigwam , a thatched snack -shop business about two blocks down the street . There is a McDonald’s there now .  I’ll find a photograph , eventually , of the area . Insurance companies keep good records of things like that , I hear .  I suspect that that stretch of Foothill Blvd ( White Oak Blvd. , in 1927 )  , at the city limit , was pretty bare at the time .

I know that my house wasn’t there in 1927 . None of them on my block were .  ” It was all chicken farms ,” my former neighbor , Rex, told me .  I should have listened to my old neighbor more carefully . Rex was right . Arcadia exported 5000 eggs a day  in 1926 . The 1928 city directory lists 153 poultry breeders  .

I’m reading a new Bill Bryson book : ” One Summer , America 1927 ” .  I’m going back there for awhile . It was the time of Calvin Coolidge , Charles Lindberg , Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig , Al Capone , and Clara Bow , of flappers and flivvers .  Ronald Reagan was working at his local hometown pool as a lifeguard . Inventors were developing television . Talkies were beginning with films such as The Jazz Singer starring Al Jolson .lee_miller_vogue_3_1927

For the last  few days that July , before the murder , Arcadia had been having a heat wave . The temperature on the 18th had been over 90 .  At about midnight the cooler night air must have been a pleasant relief . The two men might have been talking about baseball or the weather as they drove slowly past a row of Spanish style houses on  Laurel Ave. , vacant land across the street , as they  turned left onto  North View heading toward White Oak , patrolling  the eastern edge of  the sleepy little community  .

There was a  car parked on the west side of  North View with three nervous young men sitting inside .  What’s up ? The policeman stopped his car , stepped out , and walked over to check .President-Reagan-as-a-lifeguard-in-1927

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nitwit house

In Cambria , California , there is an  odd house upon a hill near town . It’s called Nitt Witt Ridge
Morro Bay Oct. '13 167

Arthur Beal bought the hillside in 1928 and began building his house . Beal was the garbage collector in Cambria in the 1940s and 1950s and used some of the collection to construct the house on  Nitt Witt Ridge .

Morro Bay Oct. '13 169

Cambria is a beautiful little town of about 6000 people  on the central coast of California . Median income per household is about $70,000+   and the median house price is about $700,000 . Average rents run above $ 1000 a month .  It’s a very touristy town . Lots of hotels on the beach  and antique shops in town .

I asked three locals for directions to the Nitt Witt house . I knew that it is  close to town ; just up a hill . None of them knew just where it was . One guy pointed me in the opposite direction , although he knew , at least , that  it was on a hill . Wrong hill .  Another said he and his wife had recently moved to Cambria , only a few months ago , and they didn’t know many of the local sites . No , they weren’t just putting us on . I think it’s typical of locals everywhere often not  knowing the local places of interest . They’re not tourists , after all  ; they live there . Why should they pay attention to tourist spots ?

But Ada and I  wandered around hilly tree -lined streets for a few minutes until we found it .

Morro Bay Oct. '13 175

Creativity . Ain’t it great ! Someone with an idea who makes it happen ! Beal was called Der Tinkerpaw .
Morro Bay Oct. '13 168The Nitt Witt House is for sale . It could be yours !

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