George Probert remembers when Torrance was a community of 300 with only two streets--the houses sold for $3,000, "nothing down and $30 a month."
Probert, 86, arrived in the city in 1913. There was no mailman and people got their mail at the post office. As to the single policeman who did not wear a uniform and who rode around on a bicycle, "we didn't need him."
An ex-chicken coop served as a fire station, the fire engine was a "two-wheeled cart with a hose," and to sound a fire alarm and summon the volunteer firefighters someone struck a steel rail with a nearby sledgehammer.
Probert, who rode the Red Car to his Gardena school with tickets supplied by the Los Angeles school district, will be honored along with Russell White, 75, when Torrance celebrates its 75th anniversary on Saturday at Wilson Park from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
"There was no crime and none of this damn cocaine, either," said White, whose solution to the drug problem is the swift, televised public hanging of dealers. His earliest memory of Torrance is of "one great big prairie," which the rain turned into little swamps with "wild geese all over." More than a dozen younger old-timers--none of them were here 75 years ago when the city was founded--will also be discussing the early days at the celebration.
There will be free rides on hot-air balloons, mini-steam engines and a Red Car at Wilson Park, 2000 Crenshaw Blvd.
A barbecue lunch and entertainment by choirs and bands begins at 11 a.m. A birthday cake will be cut at 3 p.m.
Other goings-on will include donkey softball games, formation flyovers by cloth-winged biplanes and an antique race car exhibition.