Azusa

When I was six, I watched the Jack Benny Show. It was the first time I watched the skit that depicted a train station. Over the public address system, I heard “Train now leaving on track five to Azusa, Anaheim and Cucamunga. The announcer repeated it and both times pronounced cucamunga with deliberate time between each syllable.

At the time, I never had heard of any of those places. Since then, I found that the show writers chose the locations, all real, because of their funny sounding names. It might also be noted that a train leaving Los Angeles might actually go through all three of those cities, though I have no idea if one ever did. All three cities roughly lie on the path east out of L.A.

Nowadays, we all know of Anaheim as the home of that wonderful place known as Disneyland. Though the city has grown with dozens of major industries there, mostly, it is still known as the home of Disneyland.

When we first moved to the area, it was all orange groves. Occasionally, we drove by the place and noted the progress. My father was a carpenter and actually helped to build the place.

It was many years later when I realized where Azusa was. Occasionally, I heard the name on TV or radio, but I had no idea where it was. As a young adult, I had many occasions to drive around and through Azusa. I have no idea where it got its name, but it really is a nice city, which is nestled right at the base of some pretty ausum mountains. California route 39 goes right through it on its way to the beautiful San Gabriel Canyon.

I say beautiful, because it was. It would appear no more. I heard of the fire there and I saw photos of that area. It wretched my heart. I know what it is going to look like when the fire is done with it, or at least I think I do. Sometimes things like that can be even worse than can be imagined.

I have gone up that highway to where it meets Angeles Crest Highway. I understand they don’t meet anymore. That is a shame too.

I’m sure that, eventually, the forests will grow back. I’m equally sure it will never quite be the same. Fires have a tendency to scar things forever.

I just want to say to those fine people of Azusa, I feel for you, I really do, even from 1800 miles away.

I can think of half a dozen things to add, politically. But tonight, I think I will leave the politics out. It is time to grieve, especially if anyone was hurt or killed. I would only hope that others would also show proper respect.

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