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(By John Boston) Friends. Neighbors. Democrats. We have ourselves one epic trail ride through local history ahead.

I mean to tell you:

Epic.

If you’re perusing this over breakfast (and I hope you’re not reading in church) you’re going to need more coffee.

Saddle up. The winds are just right to duck into the vortex...

 

(PHOTO CAPTION: The anniversary of the St. Francis Dam disaster of 1928 is just a month away. Thirty years ago, one of the heroes of the calamity, was Thornton Edwards. He was the first recipient of the Highway Patrol’s Medal of Valor.

He was the officer who got the call to warn residents that the big water project miles upstream had failed. Edwards hopped onto his big 4-cylinder Indian motorcycle (which he bought with his own money, as he did with his uniform) to warn residents downstream. He was called “The Paul Revere of Santa Paula.” As he was racing through back roads to warn farmers near the riverbanks, his own home was washed 60 feet off its foundation.

Despite his heroics, he quit the CHP when they wanted to transfer him to Sacramento a few months after the disaster.

The residents of Santa Paula made him Chief of Police.

A little trivia. Edwards also supplemented his income in the movie business — usually as a bad guy and had speaking parts as “The Evil Mexican” in several Hopalong Cassidy episodes.

Once, long retired, he was pulled over for making an illegal left turn in Inglewood. Edwards quickly started explaining who he was. The cop smiled and wagged his finger at the hero, telling him never to drive without his medal of honor again.

Edwards was still a vital, chipper fellow in 1987 — at the age of 92. He died a year later.

They have a statue of him and his motorcycle today in downtown Santa Paula. )

 

WAY, WAY BACK WHEN

• Over the years, one creature on the endangered species list became rarer and rarer. That was the American cowboy. Buck Brown was born in 1903 and at the age of 74 was still a working cowboy in Sand Canyon. He grew up on the Cherokee Nation in Oklahoma and just hopped on a horse to cowboy around the country. By the time he hit the California line, someone had stolen his saddle and he rode bareback into the state.

Buck, born John Carson Brown, worked as a stuntman in the Westerns of the 1920s, sharing screen credits with a Hall of Fame daredevil, Yakima Canutt. He also trained horses for the silver screen.

Still a young man, in the 1930s, he had a job running cattle from Newhall to Toluca Lake for movie shoots. One day, he spotted an old-timer mending a fence on Newhall Avenue. Brown rode over to give the senior citizen a hand with a post hole. The old man asked: “You think William S. Hart will ever make any more pictures?” Brown shrugged and said he thought not. Later, he learned the man he had helped was Two-Gun Bill himself.

Read more here: John Boston’s Time Ranger & SCV History: The 1971 Quake, Cowboys, Miners, Anvil Thieves & Valencia in 1957