Thursday, April 17, 2008

Valley Sun - Around town: Morals in the storeroom

By Anita Susan Brenner

Spring break was almost over. The noon sun had started to heat up the asphalt. Traffic on Foothill Boulevard was at a crawl.

It was a typical Sunday morning. I was at Dish, seated in a corner booth. Suddenly, she arrived.

It was the Anonymous Source, an attractive lady in her early 40s. Today, she was dressed casually. She wore designer jeans, a pink Dodger T-shirt and an equally pink Dodger cap.

I didn’t know baseball caps came in pink! I exclaimed.

She slid into the booth. advertisement

The waitress came over. We ordered iced teas.

Here, she said. She pushed a small, leather bound book across the table.

I gave the Anonymous Source a knowing look. It was Oberbeck’s 1938 “History of the La Crescenta & La CaƱada Valleys,” the ultimate resource, out of print since the late 1960s. I opened a page at random:

In January 1928 Los Angeles county sheriff constabulary office was stationed on Ocean View avenue, just north of Honolulu avenue, and Judge Charles R. Dyer appointed justice of the peace at that time, and Judge Dyer also presided over the local justice’s court.

My first concern, as always, was Oberbeck’s grammar. No commas. No hyphens. No semi-colons. Even though hyphens are a symbol of male domination, it is disconcerting to note their absence in these vintage histories, particularly given the florid prose in the Los Angeles Times articles of that era.

My second concern was a more trivial matter.

There was a jail house in Montrose? I asked.

The Anonymous Source nodded.

At Ocean View and Honolulu?

She nodded.

I continued to read Oberbeck’s history.

Previous to that our morals were supervised by Constable George Harris, who conducted a branch of the Glendale township sheriff’s office here, and had his headquarters in a small storeroom.

I was happy to see the comma, as well as the oblique reference to morals, which reminded me of something else.

Didn’t folks make bathtub gin in the 1920s? I asked.

The Anonymous Source winked.

I continued to read.

In April 1933, Constable Harris and his force of three deputies were victims of the uniform edict of Los Angeles county and their appearance in their new regalia which included Sam Browne belts added much to their dignity.

Only one comma? I asked.

The Anonymous source shrugged.

After that, the waitress came with our salads.

Salads. The Anonymous Source. Regalia and dignity.

It doesn’t get much better than that.


ANITA SUSAN BRENNER is a lawyer with Torres & Brenner in Pasadena. You may e-mail her at">anitasusan.brenner@ If you like to golf, see

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