Straw Roads: A story of Simi Valley from 1908 to 1960 by Gerald Haigh
Straw Roads is a book from a different era. Although published in 1975 the stories inside feel like they are part of TNT's big summer hit " Into the West". From the start to the book is a collection of tales told just like your grandpa would tell them. In fact most of the stories were told to the writer in an old blacksmith shop. Tales range from long forgotten trails to the killing of mountain lions the size of which would shock you ( and backed up with photos).A recurring theme in the book is the poor folk wondering through town.
The book starts out by discussing the hobos cooking pancakes on a old shovel they found in the dump. It tells of the hard work locals would need to do to survive. But more than that it tells how they lived. The title of the book is how farmers would work together and put straw on the roads to keep the dust down. Of course this was before cars came along and because of the threat of sparks ended the tradition.
Different groups are covered in the book. From women, farmers, Mexican-Americans, to kids the daily lives of the people were well covered. Women were an especially tough breed. As Haigh Brags "Could you shoot a tramp in the pants with a shotgun and take him to jail? Could you go out and wring a chicken's neck for supper or kill a mess of quail? Simi would not only could but did these very things and raised a band of kids to boot!"
Overall the book was a kick. From the folksy writing to the hand drawn maps. I learned a lot about early Hindus, farming, ranch families and natural history. I would hope for more political content such as the effects of WW I and II or campaign politics. My favorite part though has to be the map in the very beginning. You can see which camp or ranch your home resides in.
If you want to check out the book one of the very few copies available is at the Simi Valley library. The library has an extensive collection of Ventura County History either in stock or available for order from other branches check it out! And while you are there go to The Friends of The Simi Valley Library Store located by the entrance. There you will find an amazing amount of quality books for about a dollar. Recently I found a book called Guns, Germs, and Steel that I had spent $20 from Borders for only a buck! In addition the Left Behind Series, Romance Novels, Children books and other genres are ready for you to take home. Don't forget the students in your family. They can buy classics for school for a great price. Beats waiting for a library copy, or paying top dollar at Borders.