Friday, January 9, 2009

Crescenta Valley Sun:The vigilantes of Foothill Boulevard

I was in the parking lot of Baja Fresh when I saw her. She was revving the engine of a midnight blue Anniversary Edition Harley Dyna Lowrider. The bike looked suspiciously familiar.

It was her. The Anonymous Source, an attractive lady in her 40s who provides ubiquitous scoops to enterprising columnists.

“What are you doing here?” I asked.

“Why are you ignoring me?” she asked.

“What do you mean?” advertisement

“I haven’t seen your columns for a while,” she said. “Time to get back in the saddle.”

With that, she unzipped the pocket of her vintage brown leathers, pulled out a tattered envelope and tossed it onto the ground.

She gunned her engine and took off toward Tujunga.

I heard sirens in the distance. I picked up the envelope.

Inside the restaurant, I opened the envelope. It was a clipping from the Los Angeles Times, dated April 10, 1905, creased and yellowed with age.

I read:

“Boy Stunned, Buggy Wrecked: Dangerous Automobiling in Crescenta-Canyada Valley.”

Fair enough. Automobiling is dangerous.

The next line caught my eye:

“Citizens form volunteer vigilante committee to protect life and limb against devil-may-care chauffeurs.”

Vigilante groups? Did the Crescenta Valley Historical Society know about this?

The article reported that drivers of a death-dealing ‘devil wagon’ (an automobile) collided with a horse-drawn buggy. The automobile was being driven down Michigan Avenue (later renamed Foothill Boulevard) westward at a high rate of speed.

The horse-drawn buggy was occupied by three young boys. Their horse was frightened. The boys were injured.

Even though the buggy was totally demolished by the automobile, the driver continued to spin along the avenue, not even turning his head.

Witnesses described the two men in the automobile. One was about 50 and the other about 25 years old.

Big mistake. Perhaps the driver did not realize that his crime occurred in front of the residence of Judge D. S. Carnahan.

Dozens of residents responded to the scene. Their frustration grew.

Sentiment against the automobile scorcher grew rapidly. A number of the citizens declared their intention of taking the matter into their own hands. Several citizens announced, if necessary, “We will carry arms to protect ourselves against the reckless chauffeur.”

It happened right here, in 1905, when judges lived on Foothill and vigilantes roamed the Crescenta-Canyada Valley.


ANITA SUSAN BRENNER is an irregular columnist. The last time she got a ticket was in Pasadena, down the street from her law office.

Newspaper, local news, Crescenta Valley Sun: La Crescenta, California

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