Warren Johnson: a loveable Tehachapi original

Mountain Tales: First-hand stories of life in Tehachapi


April 29, 2023

Jon Hammond.

Brothers Warren and Dick Johnson, who published the Tehachapi News for many years after purchasing it from their father Walter.

Warren Johnson was a former publisher of the Tehachapi News, and he was also a local institution, since he had such an amiable personality. For decades he was the busiest joke-teller in town, and if you repeated a topical joke to a local, they were likely to respond "Oh yeah, I heard that one from Warren Johnson last week." Or if someone told you a funny joke or quip, they would add afterwards "I got that one from Warren yesterday."

Warren was also a landlord, owning more than a dozen apartments and houses in Tehachapi, and it would be hard to find a kinder, more understanding landlord. People who had fallen on hard times could often make partial rent payments or none at all and still have a place to live for many months (or years) with Warren's rentals. This was especially true for those with children, for Warren always loved kids.

Warren was born on February 3, 1921, and moved to Tehachapi permanently in 1946, after serving a two-year stint in Africa repairing planes for Douglass Aircraft as a civilian during World War II. He married Barbara Carr, whose father Rollo Carr was a station agent at the long-vanished depot at Monolith, in 1946 as well.

Warren then found himself drafted into the Army and was sent to Korea. His younger brother Dick Johnson joined the Navy and as a result of their overlapping deployments, the two went three or four years without actually seeing each other. They later became partners together for many years as co-publishers of the Tehachapi News, which they bought from their father Walter Johnson.

Warren operated the old linotype machine at the News, "slinging hot lead" as the expression went, and he was among the last of a handful linotype operators in California who was still capable of using the antique machines at the time the News made the switch to more modern typesetting machines in the 1970s.

Jon Hammond.

Longtime Tehachapi residents Warren and Barbara Johnson.

For many years Warren also had a twice-daily side job taking arriving mail from the Tehachapi Depot to the post office and then taking outgoing mail back to the depot for pick up. After the Johnsons sold the News to Bill and Betty Mead, Warren kept busy doing his own maintenance on his many rentals.

A dog lover, Warren was usually accompanied on his rounds by one of his canine companions, including one who could spell – "Get in the t-r-u-c-k," Warren would instruct, and his shepherd would go jump in the truck.

Warren and Barbara had three children: Ron, Don and Susan, as well as seven grandchildren and several great-grandchildren.

And a large group of Tehachapi friends who loved and cherished the Tehachapi icon known as Warren Johnson.


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