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Text / Newspaper clipping titled "Rattlesnakes!"

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Newspaper clipping titled "Rattlesnakes!"
Date Created and/or Issued
Publication Information
Pepperdine University Libraries
Trancas Riders and Ropers [digital resource], Pepperdine University Special Collections and University Archives
Contributing Institution
Pepperdine University, Special Collections and University Archives
Trancas Riders and Ropers
Rights Information
Copyright to material in this collection, in most cases, is retained by Pepperdine University. Materials are intended for educational and research use, and may be used for non-commercial purposes with appropriate attribution. Organizations and individuals seeking to use materials for publication must assume all responsibility for identifying and satisfying any claimants of copyright. Such parties should contact Pepperdine University Special Collections and University Archives.
"After the December 27, 1956 fire, there was no place for rattlesnakes to hide. Darrol and I found thirty-five rattlesnakes in three months after the fire. The rattlesnake skin displayed in the photo was one of our snakes. The young boy was Gary Wilcox, not Wilcor as printed. His father was Wayne Wilcox, who took most of Malibu pictures over the many years. Mrs. Wilcox just passed away in 2013, one of Mildred (Lewis) Decker's friends. The two girls were about our age and went to school with us at Webster, Lincoln Jr. High, and later SAMOHI [Santa Monica High School]. Here's my recollection of the 1956 fire. About 4:00 AM, December 27, 1956, my father, Asa Smith, received a call from Harold Sanders. He was a baker in Brentwood and got up early for work. He noticed a glow behind the mountains behind us (to the north). It was a large brush fire headed towards us, fanned by a 40 mph Santa Ana wind. We called many neighbors and warned them of the coming fire. Dad and Mom threw some clothes and personal things into the car, and Dad drove us west. My twin brother Darrol and I were 14 years old. Dad made it only one block on Harvester Road; the smoke was so thick, he couldn't see the road. He even opened his window to see out, but the glare from the headlights did not help. He turned left on Clover Heights Road going south, just past the Sanders' house, which ended in a cul-de-sac. To our surprise, there were three or four other cars stranded at the end also. This was a very dangerous situation because the fire was coming fast and it was still dark out. Darrol and I told our Dad that there was a horse trail beyond the dead end cul-de-sac that led down to Morning View Drive. We rode horses through there all the time and knew that it was safe enough to drive a vehicle down the dry grassy field. Dad trusted us and he drove through the field. We were just ahead of the fire. The smoke was still intense and Dad still put his head out to drive. The other vehicles which were stranded began to follow us and made it out safely to Morning View Drive, which led down to Zuma Beach and Pacific Coast Highway. If we would have remained at the cul-de-sac, we would have burned up, and we could have been burned up in the field, if the fire had caught up with us. The field we drove through is the location of Malibu High School today. I often wonder who the neighbors were in the other vehicles that followed us to safety. The fire burned most of Malibu for a week. Over 250 homes were burned, including some in the Malibu Colony. There were 14 homes burned just in our area alone. Fortunately, only a small corner of our wood barn caught fire, but the fire fighters put it out. Sadly, our neighbor, Mr. Dickover, was burned to death in the fire. He was the only casualty. He drove his family out, then returned to get some belongings. On his way out, he couldn't see in the thick smoke. Going west on Cuthbert Road, the road made a turn to the left, but he continued straight into a deep ditch and was burned up. Later that day, Darrol and I saw the burnt car. He was already taken out. Inside were the house items he tried to save. In the backseat was his typewriter; the keys were all melted together. It was a sad moment for us."
Forest fires
Malibu (Calif.)
Reprint newspaper, black and white, 5.5 x 10 inches
Trancas Riders and Ropers

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