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By Pat Gracey
contributing writer 

The Flood of 1945

The Spirit of Tehachapi

 

January 30, 2021

Pat Gracey.

Mark Twain is reputed to have said, "Everybody talks about the weather, but nobody does anything about it."

Glancing back over my shoulder at the past year, I think that the "dry spell" we have experienced was one for the records. Still, we never know what's just around the corner. I would like you to read a story that my old classmate and friend, Dick Johnson, wrote in 2008 about experiencing the Tehachapi weather in the fall of 1945. – Pat Gracey

The Flood of 1945

by Dick Johnson

It was Saturday in late September and Lancaster High School was playing Victorville High School that weekend at Lancaster. It so happened that Tehachapi High School was to travel to Victorville the following weekend to compete with their team. My father, Walter Johnson, was very generous with the family car (a 1939 Oldsmobile sedan) and he allowed me to drive five other Tehachapi players to Lancaster so we could "scout" our next opponents. It should be noted that we had only 15 players on the team and we played the game with more enthusiasm than skill.

When we left town there was a light rain falling and by the time we arrived in Lancaster, it was raining pretty hard. We sat in the rain and watched Lancaster whip Victorville much to our delight. We exclaimed, "We can beat those guys!

On the way back to Tehachapi the heavens really opened up and by the time we reached Cache Creek* the water was running swiftly across the road. You have to remember that there was no bridge across the road and the water ran wherever it wanted.

It was dark by that time but we could see the rushing water in the headlights. I said, "This doesn't look good, I think we'd better head back to Mojave."

Alfred Damian and his brother, Lewis, helped make up the six in the car and said, "Louie and I 'gotta' get home tonight or our Dad will kill us. Just back up a ways and floor board the car and we'll go right through the creek."

I wasn't sure but with urging from the others I started to turn the car around in order to get a good running start. As I turned the Olds the lights shone down the creek and lo and behold there was a car and a small travel trailer upside down in the creek.

The six of us, Alfred and Lewis Damian, Hugh Vasquez, Leonard Gutierrez, David Navarro and myself, headed back to Mojave. But, where to stay for the night? We certainly did not have enough money for a motel. Probably there was no more than three dollars among the six of us. Someone hit on the idea of going to a gas station/truck stop run by Chauncey and Maude Davis; whose daughter, Pat Davis, was a classmate of ours in Tehachapi.

There was no high school in Mojave at the time so Mr. Davis serviced the school bus that transported the high school students to Lancaster for classes. When they answered our knock on the door, we explained our plight. After pondering a moment Mr. Davis said, "Well, you can sleep in the bus for the night. That was great so we climbed into the old yellow Bluebird and tried to make ourselves comfortable. We found that not too easy so we took turns going to an all night restaurant where coffee was a nickel. Some of us would stay there until we were finally kicked out and then the next shift of freeloaders would grab a booth and drink five cent cups of coffee.

At dawn we piled back into the Olds and wended our way gingerly back up the highway. We reached the creek where it crossed the road but by this time the water was just a trickle and easy to cross.

A few miles up the road we were stymied again because the soaked side of the hills had caused a landslide and blocked the highway. We left the car and walked over the slide area finally hitched a ride to Tehachapi.

I don't remember how we did it but somehow we had communicated with one of our parents who in turn contacted the other parents of the sleepy six. When I saw my dad he said, "Where's the car?" I told him we had to leave it on the other side of the slide. He wasn't very understanding and in no uncertain terms told me to get my rear end moving and bring his car to him.

It's been many years since that day and I don't remember just how I got to the car but the bull dozer had opened the highway and I happily drove the Olds home.

I wish there could have been a happy ending to this story but the next weekend Victorville cleaned our football plows.

*Cache Creek once had a bridge over it but it was washed out by a cloudburst. For many years traffic just traveled across it and the area across the highway was called "the dip." There is a nice bridge over "the dip" but it seems that it still seems to need road work.

 
 

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