The Past Is Who We Are Today

The Canyon ChronicleBy The Canyon Chronicle

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The Past Is Who We Are Today
Stage and Post Office mail driver Joe Robison with passengers near the “robber’s hut” stone house at Topanga Forks, 1909. Photo from “The Topanga Story,” edited by Michele Johnson (2012).
On January 1, 1909, [Joe] Robison received a transportation request from four city school teachers who had spent their Christmas holidays at McAllister’s Tavern [near Robinson Road., named after Joe, but misspelled with an “n”]. In spite of recent rains and bad road conditions, the girls were willing to risk the hazardous trip to Santa Monica in order to be at their posts when classes resumed... Robison could see that the stream was carrying almost four feet of dangerously swift water. While his big team and heavy wagon were dependable, the adventure facing them was not without risk and he made this clear to his passengers who pleaded with him not to turn back. “We watched it a little while and the plucky school marms insisted on tackling it, so we did.” So with water boiling in the wagon box and the girls screaming, the stage lurched over the rocks.... When the drenched teachers reached the opposite bank, they urged Joe to continue and the party rolled down grade to repeat one wet crossing after another [The road crossed the creek 16 times then] until they reached the beach, full of praise for Robison’s skill in negotiating the deep fords. “Once the stage body was filled with water, but they laughed and hollered as if it was the greatest time they ever had in their lives, but I am telling you I had a different feeling about it, especially at the worse places in the road.” Theirs had been a wonderful holiday such as Topanga could provide during its early existence as a fun-loving community. —Excerpted from “The Topanga Story,” Page 236 Meanwhile, in 1967, a group called The Nazz had just formed, playing little gigs around town. The group moved to Topanga, sharing a house. It was there, as drummer Neal Smith later recalled, “We changed the name of the band to Alice Cooper.” Topanga was their good luck charm. While there, they met Ship Gordan who became their manager and Frank Zappa, who signed them to his Straight record label. Bass guitarist for the band, Dennis Dunaway, remembers the camaraderie among bands in those days: “The Doors were our friends. When Pink Floyd did their very first tour with Syd Barrett, they stayed at our house. We actually had a séance. The rest of The Doors were there and Alvin Lee was there.... This was before bands started getting so competitive.” He also remembered walking with Alice from Topanga all the way to Hollywood to see Frank Zappa. “I did have holes from my shoes from the walk.” When Jim Morrison heard about it, he upped the ante, threw away his shoes and walked all the way barefoot from Topanga to Santa Monica.
The Corral near Santa Maria Road, Topanga’s rock ‘n’ roll nightclub, 1970s. Photo from the “The Topanga Story,” edited by Michele Johnson (2012).
The Canyon Chronicle

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December 10, 2021

Holiday events