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Trees of history

The Spirit of Tehachapi

As a young person, when I still lived in Mojave, it was a special day when we could come to Tehachapi to visit friends and I could go to the city park and play among the beautiful green trees. My parents had come to Tehachapi in 1923 but left in 1926 when a job opportunity opened up in Mojave, where I was born.

In 1937 we moved back to Tehachapi and I loved the greenery of the mountains. I especially was fascinated by the two giant trees in front of the hospital on E Street. Tracing down the age of those trees and their official name is pretty easy when you ask the right people. I asked Charles White if he knew what kind of trees they were and he told me Deodar Cedar. I had already had a call in to Jon Hammond who got back to me and verified it as Deodar Cedar and gave me the Latin name, as well: Cedrus deodara. How do you like that? "Ain't" that nice?

Jon also has seen an actual 1910 photo of those trees growing in front of a small home on the E Street location. The trees were small but quite visible. The house burned and the trees were scorched but remained. Jon knew about the fire and a man named Walter Hicks also told me the same story. It's good to have history verified; especially from such reliable sources.

Skipping forward a couple of decades will see us viewing the same trees growing in front of the large, two story Capdeville family residence built on the same location behind the Deodar Cedar trees. The Capdeville family also later rented rooms in their large home and it was known as a hotel.

Moving forward in time, once more, we find doctors Madge and Harold Schlotthauer, young and highly skilled medical doctors and surgeons, purchasing the Capdeville building which made an excellent hospital for the small community. We just used their first names, Dr. Madge and Dr. Harold, when speaking to them. They knew us by our first names, as well.

The 1952 earthquake made the hospital unsafe and it had to be torn down. The Deodar trees survived just fine. So, when the Schlotthauers began plans to build a new hospital, Dr. Madge said she wanted the trees to remain on the property.

I was told by "our" Jon Hammond that upon viewing the architect's drawings Dr. Harold said the trees must remain. The architect said they'd take up too much space and they could not be saved. Doctor Harold is remembered as having said, "Well, I guess I'll need to find me an architect that can draw up what I need, including the trees." Guess who won?

So, in 1969, when Dr. Madge sold the replacement hospital after Dr. Harold had passed away, she specified that the Deodar Cedar trees remain in place in front on E Street. I asked her once some years back for some comments about their years in Tehachapi.

I quote her reply, " You know, we felt such a responsibility to the people of the community." Then, in reflecting about their years of service to the town, from 1934 to 1969, she said, "It was a nice time to practice medicine."

My fondest memories of the old 111-years-plus trees is with snow on them. There used to be banks of lilacs bordering the front in the spring and that also made a lovely picture.