Treasures of the Valley

New Book – ‘Crescenta Valley’s Dirty Laundry: Gossip, Crime and Tragedy’

 Gary Keyes and I have produced yet another local history book guaranteed to lower your property values. In the past, Gary and I have written two other books on our local “bad history:” “Wicked Crescenta Valley” detailed various crimes and cons, and the chilling “Murder and Mayhem in the Crescenta Valley,” a chronological reveal that CV can be a dangerous place. Yes, bad things happen in good neighborhoods.

This new book is slightly lighter, going more for standard gossip community members talk about – local legends and Hollywood personalities that had or have local interactions.

As some of you may remember from our previous books, Gary was my history teacher at CV High back in the early ’70s. Even then he had a penchant for the darker aspects of history, a guaranteed draw for a 16-year-old boy. He used the “dark side” to hook me on history. And yes, I still stumble when I call my co-author “Gary” and not “Mr. Keyes.”

The book is laid out geographically: La Crescenta, Montrose, La Cañada, Sunland-Tujunga and Glendale. La Crescenta Gossip covers some of the myths, true and untrue. The usual suspects are here: Hindenburg Park, Whiting Woods and various racial incidents. We have a chapter on the fabled Doors concert at CV High, and the sad story of a major scam run on a local retirement home. A section covers the history of why we are carved up between the county and Glendale. Montrose Gossip is milder, again covering some fun myths and some political figures who have touched our little “Mayberry.”

La Cañada Gossip explains the “Sagebrush district” fight we’ve heard so much about between La Cañada school district and Glendale school district. As well, we have some past gossip about the Lanterman family and Descanso Gardens. There’s the crazy story behind the legendary “Pink Castle” and some more recent racial problems.

Sunland-Tujunga Gossip is brief, detailing the towns’ dual name origins and the difference between the two areas. Extensively covered is their tiny hillside cemetery, which washed down the hill in 1978, spreading dead bodies through the neighborhoods below. Glendale Gossip is brief as well covering the controversial Comfort Women statue and Glendale’s seemingly never-ending association with the American Nazi Party. It contains my favorite story of the founding of a religion, Unaria, whose adherents are patiently waiting for the Space Brothers to land and take Earth into the Confederation of Planets.

Hollywood Stars In Our Community is the largest chapter. Current major stars living in Flintridge include Donald Glover, Angela Bassett, her husband Courtney Vance and everyone’s favorite weatherman Dallas Raines. A little-known story is that superstar Billie Eilish got her big break at Montrose’s Revolution Dance Studio. Past stars who lived here or grew up here include John Wayne, Richard Boone, Kevin Costner, Victor McLaglen and Will Wheaton. Marilyn Monroe had several connections locally.

We can’t have a gossip book without some crazy crime stories. How about the kidnapping and torture of two home loan agents by the La Cañada residents they were foreclosing on? Or the Green Scarf Bandit, a thief and kidnapper whose capture was punctuated by a running gun battle on Foothill Boulevard? Speakeasies, whorehouses and motorcycle gangs round this out, along with a laundry list of recent crimes that will keep you awake at night.

You might ask why dig up all this past dirt? Why air our dirty laundry? You might say that gossip is detrimental to society, that, at best, it’s passive-aggressive behavior and at worst it’s a form of violence. But some psychologists feel that gossip is beneficial to society, that it strengthens social networks, forms individual bonds, and creates a sense of community. And as always there is much to be learned from our mistakes of the past.

I hope you’ll buy this latest book on our local history. I also hope you’ll keep your money local by getting it at Once Upon A Time bookstore (where you can buy it from my daughter!), Flintridge Books, or online from the Historical Society of the Crescenta Valley at