Thursday, February 4, 2010

Around Town: Miss Hepburn and the flood reports

It was a dry Wednesday night in the foothills. I walked the boulevard, mulling over the events of the day.

Trotting at my side was Miss Audrey Hepburn, our black Labrador retriever, a rescue dog from the Pasadena Humane Society.

Like some latter-day form of PTSD, my brain kept returning to recent events. First, the evacuations. Then, the mayor of Los Angeles announced that we were possibly in danger of a “La Conchita” situation.

And then, like most La Cañadans, my entire morning had been spent fielding phone calls, text messages and e-mails from concerned friends and relatives all over the known universe. “Are you OK?” “Were you evacuated?” “Did a mudslide destroy your house?”

No. No. And No!

Turns out that “Good Morning America” had covered the looming mudslides in La Cañada, on the day the storms stopped. Better late than never, but my mind was still boggled by the geologic comparison of the granite-based alluvial fan with La Conchita.

As I walked, I mulled these things over.

Suddenly, a news van sped past, a perfectly coiffed reporter behind the wheel.

But wait. It wasn’t a reporter. It was the Anonymous Source, an attractive woman in her 40s, generally behind the wheel of a helicopter or a motorcycle.

And now, the Anonymous Source was joy-riding down Foothill Boulevard in a stolen, totally-equipped news van, complete with a satellite dish and sound system.

She opened her window.

I heard sirens in the distance as she passed.

Suddenly, news clippings began to fly out of the van. There were hundreds of them, yellowed with age.

Like this OpEd from J.R. McCarthy in the La Crescenta Post, dated March 4, 1934:

“The people who followed ‘our’ disaster were calamity chasers. Probably not one of the had admired a sunrise, for instance, in five years. They watch the doomed. They gloat over the destroyed, these buzzards who have no feathers. They would walk ten miles to see a flogging ”

And this report of throngs of souvenir hunters after the great Montrose Flood, by Mary Darrow for The Los Angeles Times, dated Jan. 23, 1934:

“Stealing, oh my, yes, property owners have to literally sit on their possessions. Washings on the clothes lines are not safe, according to reports of irate housewives ”

At least we don’t have to put up with thieves, I said to Miss Hepburn.

The news van disappeared around the corner. Three patrol cars and a helicopter missed the turn.

The rain was over. At long last, life in the foothills had returned to normal.


ANITA SUSAN BRENNER’s house is fine, thank you for asking. Contact her at (626) 792-3175 if you have any scoops.

La Cañada Valley Sun: La Cañada Flintridge, California

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