4th of July fun in LV goes way back

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By Pat Judkins Leader Correspondent
Over the years Independence Day has been observed in Lucerne Valley in various ways. Regardless of the heat, which has often been well over 100 degrees on the July 4th holiday, the time honored tradition has prevailed here.
    One story we enjoy hearing repeatedly, and one that is detailed in Gobar's Raising the Dust, is the account of the celebration Lucerne Valley pioneers enjoyed in 1912.
    On July 4,1912, the population of this community, then known simply as the Box S, was approximately 105 residents. Box S folks were preparing for their first Fourth of July celebration, and it was so successful that those attending a meeting held at the home of Lucerne Valley's first postmaster Rosa Koehly on July 21 agreed to hold these festivities annually. They also agreed to not always hold them during that hot summer month; some years they would celebrate in the fall.
    In 1912 the Gobar family had the only car in the valley; a California Tourist. It was needed for a trip to Victor (now Victorville) on July 3 to pick up ice for the celebration. On the morning of the third of July, Harold and Junie Gobar left early to pick up Mr.Goulding.  En route they learned the car would run only in low gear, so they took it to the blacksmith shop at Box S, removed the body and realigned the clutch. By that time it was noon and Goulding invited them to eat.
    After "dinner" Harold and Goulding headed for Victor, and that was the last anyone here saw of them for three days. Normally, in Gobar's "Tourist", the 22 mile jaunt to Victor would have been made in two hours. However, they soon learned the car still would not go into high gear. Upon finally reaching Victor, they took the car apart and shipped the transmission to Junie Gobar's father, Frank Gobar, in Fullerton.
    A 300 pound block of ice had been shipped by express from Colton to the J.C. Turner Grocery Store in Victor. The original plans called for Harold Gobar and "Dad" Goulding to load the ice, on a very hot day, and take it back to Box S within two hours. Under the circumstances, they were lucky to find two valley homesteaders, Howd and Gamby, picking up supplies in Victor. The two young men were from Los Angeles, and were homesteading an area adjacent to what would later be known as the Russell tract. They had a team of four burros hitched to a light wagon, and decided to leave at dark to take the ice home. They, and the ice, arrived back at the Box S at 4a.m. -- with plenty of time for the patriotic festivities, and the ice was of sufficient amount for ice cream and lemonade.
The entry in Junie Gobar's diary that day summed up this first July 4 at Box S thus:
    'We played croquet, horseshoes and entered into all the meet events. The men swam in the nude in the reservoir back near the alfalfa field. We froze ice cream, ate roast turkey, fried chicken, pie, cake, cookies, jam, sandwiches, cherries, peaches, various salads and drank lemonade. After the
swim we ate more ice cream till that was gone; then we froze more."
    If that seems like a lot of good food to be had in 1912, remember that the Gouldings were then milking thirteen cows. They made all the butter used at the ranch, and they often made cheese. They furnished all the eggs, cream, and milk for the ice cream, which was frozen in six-quart freezers that folks brought to Box S. Then, the women opened up the washtubs and picnic baskets and there was more food than could be eaten.
    Harold and Goulding missed out on a lot of Box S fun, but Goulding knew everybody on the high desert and was made welcome wherever he went. They joined in the Victor celebration until the car was back together again and they could return home.
    At the July 21st meeting at Koehly's, the subject of the next July 4th celebration was the first item on the agenda. It was voted unanimously to hold annual festivities, but not always in the hot summer.
    This meeting prompted another one a week later; held at Goulding's Box S Ranch. Here the Lucerne Valley Improvement Organization was formed. But, that's another story. And, there are many of them.
    Now only a lone chimney stands, near Highway 18 and Highland, as an almost ghostly symbol of yesterdays' July Fourths other Box S festivities. This charred chimney may be the only physical monument to our past, but the Box S legacy will live on in present and future Independence Day celebrations.

Reprinted with permission of The Leader Publication, High Desert Publishing Company
Published May 30, 2001

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