Thursday, February 5, 2009

La Cañada Valley Sun: Around Town: Not a falafel in sight

It was an overcast Wednesday night on the boulevard. An owl hooted in the distance. Miss Audrey Hepburn, our rescued black Lab, trotted happily alongside. Suddenly, my cellphone rang.

It was her. My editor.

“Come down to the office," she said.

“But it’s 11 o’clock at night! And it looks like rain.”

“There’s a package for you,” she replied.

We were only a few blocks away from One Valley Sun Lane, Miss Hepburn and I. Foothill Boulevard was deserted.

“I’ll be right over,” I said.

As we walked, I began to wonder. Who would leave me a package? The Tower of Tuna project, with the resulting 800-can donation to a food pantry, was long over. So, there wouldn’t be tuna in the package, right?

Within moments, we arrived at the Valley Sun offices. My editor had unlocked the front door. She was waiting for us.

“Nice to see you in town,” she said, as she handed me an oblong-shaped, brown-paper-and-twine-wrapped parcel.

We walked into the inner sanctum. The sanctum santorium of the La Cañada Valley Sun.

I picked up the scissors. Miss Hepburn began to growl.

Inside the package were news clippings. Hundreds of news clippings, yellowed with age.

There was also a note: STOP WITH THE FALAFELS ALREADY.

I showed the note to my editor. She smiled.

Another note lay beneath the first note: WRITE ABOUT LA CAÑADA.

I shrugged. We began to look at the clippings.

Miss Hepburn merely sniffed.

There were hundreds of cut-outs from ancient newspapers, mostly old editions of the Los Angeles Times. Every clipping referenced the town of La Cañada. None of the clippings mentioned falafels or Valley Village.

Suddenly, I saw a familiar name: HOWARD HUGHES.

Howard Hughes? Was this some sort of joke? What did Howard Hughes have to do with La Cañada Flintridge?

I continued reading from a Los Angeles Times clipping dated July 13, 1936:
Sportsman Arrested After Traffic Death

After a night in jail during which detectives sought vainly to learn the identity of the young woman accompanying him on a ride which ended in the death of 59-year-old Gabe S. Meyer, department store salesman, Howard Hughes, 30-year-old millionaire sportsman-aviator, yesterday was released on his own recognizance.
Ah! I thought. Another La Cañada homicide. I continued reading:
The crash occurred at the height of homeward-bound after-theater traffic near midnight Saturday when a sport phaeton driven by Hughes and carrying a young woman struck and instantly killed Meyer at Third Street and Lorraine Boulevard.
Third and Lorraine? That was nowhere near the Foothills. And the Phaeton probably wasn’t the 2009 Volkswagen model. Most likely, the reference was to the 1936 Ford Phaeton, similar to the model driven by FDR, except without the hand controls. I continued reading:
The flyer was given a sobriety test at Hollywood Receiving Hospital by Dr. R. A. Chance , who found that he had been drinking but was not intoxicated.

Ah! The good old days. 1936. No machines to calibrate. No machines at all. This was well before the late 20th Century breath test equipment and the resulting litigation — machines such as the Gas Chromatograph Intoximeter, the Intoxilyzer, and the current incarnations — the Intox EC/IR, the BAC Datamaster and the Drago Alcotest.

Of course Howard Hughes was released. He was, after all, Howard Hughes. But what did the arrest of Howard Hughes have to do with La Cañada?

To be continued ...


ANITA SUSAN BRENNER is a longtime La Cañada Flintridge resident and an attorney with Law Offices of Torres and Brenner in Pasadena. E-mail her at Cañada Valley Sun: La Cañada Flintridge, California: "Around town:
Not a falafel in sight" Feb 5, 2009.

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