Thursday, August 7, 2008

Around Town:Rabbits, helicopters, but no building code

It was a hot valley night. Midnight, actually. Miss Audrey Hepburn (our black Lab-chow rescue dog) and I were walking down the road. No cars on Foothill. The YMCA parking lot was empty. No patrol cars in sight.

I was about to unhook Miss Hepburn’s leash when her ears perked up. Then, she began to bark.

I heard the familiar buzz of a two-cylinder engine. I looked up. It was a vintage Mosquito XE ultra light helicopter, which began to circle above us.

“Hmm,” I said to Miss Hepburn, “doesn’t the Anonymous Source own a vintage Mosquito XE?”

Suddenly, a small rectangular object fell from the chopper. We ran over to pick it up. It was a priority mail envelope. And — in the distance — the sound of more helicopters. Large helicopters.

I looked up. The pilot gave a thumbs-up sign and departed.

Later that night, I opened the envelope. Inside, there was an old book, so old that the pages were stuck together. The cover was torn, faded. The paper was brittle, yellow with age. I began to leaf through the little book. One page immediately caught my eye:

Sierra Rabbit Farm, A Montrose Industry

I continued reading

“In 1926 the fur industry was thriving in Montrose. Rabbit pelts for coat making gained recognition as an important trade. One of the largest and considered to be one of the most interesting was J. R. Thorpe’s Sierra Fur farm located at 700 Ocean View in Montrose ”

Rabbits? In Montrose? I was perplexed. The poor little things. On the other hand, back in 1926, "the Rabbit Farm was one of the main industries in the Foohills. J.R. Thorpe made a huge fortune ” I turned the page. Out fell some sheet music. The title immediately caught my eye:

“I Love You Montrose, A Beautiful Waltz Ballad,” by Allison Phelp (writer of Rattlesnake Rag). Published by Southern California Music Co. (1914).

I continued to read. Suddenly, a testimonial, a paean to the town of Montrose by a man named Ezra Miller:

“The banks did not want to loan young people money in 1935. So I went to Anawalt Lumber and bought the wood and built my own house. It was just a 10x12 building then and looked down on Indian Springs. I’m still in it today.”

Rabbits. Helicopters. No building codes.

What would she think of next, the Anonymous Source?


Published Thursday, August 7, 2008 4:17 AM PDT

ANITA SUSAN BRENNER is a longtime La CaƱada Flintridge resident and an attorney with Law Offices of Torres and Brenner in Pasadena. E-mail her at

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