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A Heck of a Trek

November 17, 1985

Just a note of appreciation for all the hard work Dick Roraback put in to bring us his fascinating story of the present Los Angeles River ("In Search of the L.A. River," an occasional series.) I am following his tale with great interest.

You see I lived my Tom Sawyer youth on the Los Angeles River in the area of the Imperial Highway bridge. That was before the "big paving extravaganza." We skinny-dipped in the pools, caught crawdads by the dozen and boiled them in an old can filled with river water and a dash of vinegar. We always kept supplies such as salt, pepper, coffee, cigarette butts (good for a couple of more puffs) in tin cans buried in the river bank. Small-sized trout were plentiful and easy to catch on a bent pin (had to jerk the fish out of the water and onto the bank the first time he nibbled or away went your bait). We slept overnight in the river bed most of the summers (dry, clean white sand). We were almost ridden over by a bunch of horses one night while sleeping. We had made camp in weeds four or five feet high and the fire had gone out.

One time we stole redwood from an irrigation flume and built a boat. We got our caulking by digging the tar from between the expansion joints in Imperial Highway and melting it over a bonfire. The boat was a bust--it kept tipping over.

GENE LIPPERT

Hacienda Heights

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