. . . butters the skids that silkens society, the 11th Commandment (which was among the five commandments lost when, according to Mel Brooks, Moses dropped the third tablet coming down the mountain), is much more important:
Thou shalt not get in the way
— especially in department store doorways, single-lane roads, viewpoints established to take panoramic scenic take-home pictures…and anywhere else.
facade that was fractured by an 1812 earthquake.
— Cecil Scaglione photo
By Beverly Rahn, Mature Life Features
VENTURA, Calif. —- One of the biggest mysteries to locals is why the ghost of Erle Stanley Gardner hasn’t lured more visitors to his home town.
Hundreds of thousands of tourists and travelers, most of them from the sprawling Los Angeles metropolis an hour away on the portion of Highway 101 that’s called the Ventura Freeway, visit Santa Barbara next door each year.
They drive right by the Pierpont Inn, where the creator of Perry Mason went for victory dinners after his successes in the nearby Ventura County courthouse. It was straightforward country-lawyer cuisine — steak, baked potato and green salad — but it’s no longer on the inn’s regular menu. Nowadays, you should try the bouillabaisse.
Gardner began his 150-novel career, which he launched with a short story using the pseudonym Charles M. Green, in his second-floor law office at California and Main streets overlooking downtown’s commercial core.
He didn’t have to turn to writing to achieve success, said Richard Senate, who has written about Ventura’s most famous resident and bills himself as a tour guide and ghost hunter.
“Erle Stanley Gardner was a good lawyer and probably would have become at least a California Supreme Court judge,” Senate said.
“He was a founder of the Downtown Lions Club and the Elks Club here. But he was — he would have liked to have been — Perry Mason. He actually did pull off some of the stunts that appeared in the Perry Mason books, movies, radio shows, comic books and television shows.
“To keep from getting mixed up with his settings, Gardner used this courtroom, his office and the views from each of them as models for his settings.”
Visitors to the real courtroom enter the City of Buenaventura — that’s the official name of the municipality popularly known as Ventura — city hall through its bronze sliding grilled entrance adorned with depictions of lima beans. (“Ventura was once the lima-bean capital of the world,” Senate explained.)
Railway officials shortened the city’s name because it was too long for their schedules.
The civic center, perched on a hill overlooking Gardner’s office and the Pacific, served as a courthouse until it was scheduled for demolition after a 1962 earthquake. The city bought it for $140,000 and spent $4 million making it quake-proof. The prototype of Perry Mason’s courtroom is on the second floor.
“After World War II, a young Navy officer named George Bush came here with his family in 1949 to learn the oil business,” Senate said.
Keeping an eye on the comings and goings in front of City Hall is a bronze statue of Fr. Junipero Serra, the Franciscan friar who founded Mission San Buenaventura in 1782.
The mission, a half-dozen blocks below the civic center, features a triangular buttress across its face — a support installed after an 1812 earthquake fractured its face. Also visible are two metal crosses imbedded on each side of the front door. These are assurances that the building will remain operating as a Roman Catholic church into perpetuity.
Visitors can circle these two complexes on a variety of walking and motor tours of such attractions as blocks of Victorian houses, oil-boom mansions from the 1920s, flower gardens, some three-dozen antique boutiques downtown alone, and a meandering string of art studios, galleries and workshops.
Senate offers an array of spirited attractions. On the list are ghost-and-ghoul hunts in and around City Hall, Pierpont Inn and various downtown restaurants, a trip back to 3,000-year-old artifacts left by ancestors of the present-day Chumash Indians, and an opportunity at attempting to unravel the location of Mission San Buenaventura’s legendary treasure chest crammed with gold and silver.
But there are more than mansions, missions and mysteries to experience in this coastal community a $30 shuttle ride from Los Angeles International Airport.
Ventura’s oceanfront harbor, which offers marine diversions to please visitors of all ages, is embraced by a 125-year-old pier and 33 acres of galleries, cafes and restaurants to suit all tastes. Boats shuttle several times a day to and from the Channel Islands for hiking, picnicking, snorkeling and camping.
Prices and times vary for the crossing but whatever vessel you choose is worth it just to watch the dozens of porpoise pods slip, slide, slap, soar, swoop and swish all around your boat as pelicans patrol overhead. You might also encounter orcas or gray, minke, humpback or blue whales.
Twenty minutes southeast of town, the Ronald Reagan presidential library is enshrined atop a Simi Valley hill. One visitor declared, after seeing the reproduced Oval Office, “I could sense the power of the presidency.”
According to the writer, Hillary Clinton beat Donald Trump by 4.2 million votes in California. But her popular-vote margin nationally was only 2.7 million, which means Donald beat Hillary by 1.5 million votes in the rest of the country.
Without taking any side, it appears the Electoral College did what it was designed to do: prevent one or more factions or groups or states from determining the will of the entire nation.
Editor’s note: This editorial was written by William R. Mathews, who bought the Arizona Daily Star in 1924 and was editor of the newspaper for more than 40 years. He was married to Betty Boyers and died in 1969.
This editorial, predicting that Japan would attack the U.S., possibly at Pearl Harbor, was published in the Star on Nov. 28, 1941, just days before Pearl Harbor was bombed, on Dec. 7, 1941.
THE MEANING OF MR. KURUSU’S MISSION
Failure of Secretary of State Cordell Hull and the special Japanese emissary, Saburo Kurusu, to find a basis for a peaceful settlement of the differences between the two countries emphasizes once more the apparent irreconcilability of the respective diplomatic policies, and the definite prospect that only with the sword can the differences be settled.
Mr. Hull demands that Japan evacuate French Indo-China and China proper; the Japanese demand that America stay out of that part of Asia, asserting that what goes on in that area is of no more concern to America than South America is to Japan. The Japanese refuse to withdraw. It is probable that any Japanese government that would withdraw from China would be overthrown by the Japanese people. Mr. Hull refuses to modify the American policy. There the matter stands as the economic blockade of Japan pinches tighter and tighter.
Whether American policy is correct or not is now beside the point. The important feature of this affair is that the two policies are manifestly irreconcilable and that unless one or the other gives in war is as certain as the sunrise in the morning. How soon the war breaks out is entirely up to Japan. It is possible that cooler heads in Tokyo will prevent for a while the hot-headed ones from doing anything that might precipitate hostilities. On the other hand as the pinch of the economic blockade grows tighter and tighter the chances are that the feeling this situation generates will precipitate some kind of an incident in Japan and then the war will be on. War may come within a week; it may still be six months off, but hardly more than that.
When war comes with Japan, it will come without warning. The Japanese habitually strike first and then declare war. They did this in the case of Russia when after the failure of the Japanese minister in old St. Petersburg to reach an agreement, the Japanese fleet, without warning, sailed into Port Arthur and sank a part of the Russian fleet. Between that incident and the present situation there is a strong resemblance. America will know that there is war with Japan some fine morning when the people of the country wake up and find that the Japanese have, without warning, seized Guam, surrounded our puny Asiatic fleet or sent submarines into Pearl Harbor and sunk a couple of our battleships. Very definitely Japan will choose her own time.
As matters stand today Japan will probably mark time and go just as far as she can without getting into an additional war. Consequently, since she already has her forces in French Indo-China, she probably can venture to cut the Burma road by a land attack without provoking war with America. With this road cut she will cut the last life line that the Chungking government has and thus weaken China’s ability to resist. Then by waiting for the end of the Russian campaign and the coming attack on Britain she may hope to strike when both America and Britain are desperately engaged in the Atlantic, and our fleet divided between two oceans. And then there will be a real world war on that will require every ounce of American strength to win.
The failure of the Kurusu mission to Washington thus means that war between Japan and America is inevitable. The American people are now in the position where they will soon have to put up or shut up. Since they approve of a policy that calls for war, they must expect to go to war or change that policy.